Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Category — Advertising

Motrin Wins Social Media Marketing Campaign Of The Year

On Saturday, Motrin posted the ad below:

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What followed was a viral social media response that most marketers can only dream about.

In just 48 hours they had:

Additionally, they had the undivided attention of many of the leading pundits in the digital marketing blogosphere, including Seth Godin, Jeremiah Owyang, Brand Flakes, Adfreak, ReadWriteWeb, Hard Knox Life, David Armano, Frank Martin, The Consumerist, Adrants, Mashable, Viral Blog, Peter Kim, Adverganza, Brand Experience, Rogue Agency, and many more.

Now to the fine print:

This social media marketing campaign was all a big, unintended mistake.  And as you may guess, the overwhelming response was negative.

Motrin is now backpedaling, pulling the ad from their site, posting apologies all over the place, and they and their agencies are probably in an all points scramble mode.

Which is all too bad, because, if you just looked at the response numbers, Motrin had a lock on social media marketer of the year with this one.

November 17, 2008   1 Comment

Web Behavior And Better Digital Marketing

There are lots of digital marketing campaigns out there that look great flashing on a page, but in the end, never really seem to connect with consumers.

The main problem is that marketers are trying to shoehorn traditional marketing tactics onto digital mediums.  In this post that appeared in Ad Age, David Armano of Logic+Emotion has a great term for this in between approach to digital; he calls it “Tradigital” marketing:

“Tradigital, in my opinion, means using traditional marketing methods in the digital space. For example, creating an advertising campaign and “extending it digitally” usually ends up as a checklist. Micro-site? Check. Online banners? Check. Social media? Check. Mobile? Check.”

His answer to better digital marketing is a staple of what good marketers have done well in the past, which is understanding consumer behavior, this time in the digital space:

“It’s time to come to terms with how people really use the web (hint — it might not be to figure out your experimental navigation) and how we can harness the true power of digital.”

The way most people use the web, in contrast to something like watching TV, is as an active medium, rather than passive.

Whether it is asking questions through search, uploading family photos to Flickr, or communicating with friends through social networking, most of the time spent on the web is spent doing something.  Or, as Armano puts it, solving problems.

Which is why traditional interruption marketing like flashing banner ads, are not only ineffective, but in most cases, very irritating in their distraction.

A solution to better digital marketing would be to look at the top reasons why people use the internet and then ask how your digital marketing efforts can enhance their activities rather than distract:

  • How can your digital marketing help people better connect with their friends or people with similar interests?
  • How can your digital marketing connect your core consumers with the music or video content they really want to see?
  • Are your digital marketing efforts genuinely entertaining and are they something people would want to share with their family and friends?
  • How is your digital marketing helping people search for information quicker or more reliably?

I know it seems odd to ask digital marketing to simply lever what Facebook or YouTube are doing already.  It doesn’t seem groundbreaking or that creative.

But therein lies the point: how effective do you think your flashing banner ad is when it only serves to stand in the way of what people really want to do online?

August 4, 2008   No Comments

The Premature Death Of Traditional Media

Traditional media has been taking it on the chin recently, with newspapers fading into irrelevance and TV effectiveness plummeting.

As this clip from Microsoft shows (hat tip to Joe Pulizzi), traditional media just doesn’t seem to get it:

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Which is why reading “Traditional Media Not Dead Yet For Marketing” in the New York Times was all the more interesting to me.

According to a study of 16 types of media conducted by Yankelovich, in association with Sequent Partners, when consumers were asked what kind of an impression a particular type of ad made, 56 percent of survey respondents said traditional media ads made a positive impression, in contrast to 31 percent who said that about digital media ads.

Additionally, thirteen percent of viewers reported a negative impression of traditional media ads versus 21 percent for digital media ads

The main explanation is that in mediums such as print or TV, people are experiencing advertising when they are relaxing, versus most of the digital advertising they see that occurs when they are actively trying to do something else (searching for something, communicating, etc.).

As J. Walker Smith, president at the Yankelovich Monitor division of Yankelovich in Atlanta, explains:

“When I’m tracking down information or looking for an answer or trying to compare things or searching for a link, ads are irritating to a degree not true when I’m relaxed and unwinding with TV or a magazine and thus more open to diversion.”

However, this generalization makes universal sense only if you assume that the future of digital advertising is pop-up ads.

In reality, the more effective forms of digital advertising are based on engagement and providing something worthwhile for consumers, all in the context of a branded environment.

Whether it is Alternate Reality Games, what You Tube is doing with buzz marketing, or how Nike is building active communities of users, the sophistication and effectiveness of digital marketing is increasing daily.

Traditional media is certainly not dead. It’s still very effective today in exposing a wide range of consumers to a simple, common message.

However, believing that the future of marketing is still the 30 second spot or the full page print ad is a bit like believing vinyl records are the next big thing for the sagging music industry.

June 20, 2008   1 Comment

Buzz Marketing And The Future of YouTube

Of all social media outlets, the one that may get most of the buzz this year from a marketing potential standpoint is one that’s been around for a bit already, YouTube.

As the viewership of YouTube becomes more mainstream, its potential for buzz marketing is becoming more viable as well. Unlike something like Facebook and their Beacon program, the buzz marketing potential for YouTube seems more organic and less intrusive, since in many ways it falls along the lines of traditional television advertising.

As this article by Tameka Kee at Online Media Daily outlines, Google is piloting some very interesting tools, including the placement of in-video ads through use of their buzz targeting algorithmn:

“YouTube buzz targeting works on an algorithm that looks at a number of viewer activities, including how many times a video is chosen as a favorite, how favorably it’s rated, and how quickly it picks up views, to determine which clips are about to ‘go viral.’”

One of the pilot participants was Lionsgate, which utilized buzz targeting for its April 18th launch of the movie, “The Forbidden Kingdom”. Danielle DePalma, Lionsgate’s director of digital media feels the potential of buzz targeting with YouTube will be strong:

“With so many videos going viral on YouTube at any given time, buzz targeting allowed us to reach a very large, diverse audience….It) was an amazing opportunity for us to capitalize on the most popular videos on the site.”

In addition to their in-video advertising, Lionsgate went beyond the obligatory movie trailers and included an interactive video mixer tool, which allows viewers to create their own clips with sound and video transitions from provided footage from the movie.

It’s these type of viewer engagement tools that makes Google CEO Eric Schmidt bullish on the increased marketing potential for YouTube for 2008.

“We believe the best (YouTube) products are coming out this year,” Schmidt said, in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo. “And they’re new products…much more participative, much more creative…much more interesting in and of themselves.”

If 2007 was the year that the marketing potential of Facebook flashed on and off with Beacon, 2008 may be the year that YouTube gets it right with buzz targeting and other tools.

May 22, 2008   No Comments

It’s Too Easy Being Green

Has “going green” in marketing and advertising got consumers “seeing red”?

Everyone from whom you’d expect (Method home products) to whom you wouldn’t expect (British Petroleum) are crafting messages that play off people’s growing awareness and concern around environmental issues.

However, as this study in Marketing Charts from Burst Media shows, consumers aren’t necessarily buying into all that green messaging:

  • Only one in five respondents (22.7%) say they “usually” or ”always” believe green claims made in advertisements.
  • Two-thirds of consumers (65.3%) of respondents say they “sometimes” believe green claims made in advertisements.

Green Advertising Chart

The reason for consumer skepticism is simple, and it has to do with authenticity. For the vast majority of products being marketed, “going green” is a tactic rather than something central to its brand or design.

Does that mean brands and products shouldn’t go green? And if they do, how should they make meaningful and believable communication?

Seth Godin suggests that marketers should give consumers a number:

Stick with the lightbulbs you have throughout your whole house until they burn out: 175.
Replace them all now with something better: 142.


Drive to Philadelphia: 150.
Take Amtrak: 22.

His reasoning is that seeing a number attached to environmental behavior gives people something to work towards, which then motivates them towards more green behavior.

“The power of a number is the effect we saw when they put a number on restaurants (Zagats) and wines (Parker) and gas mileage (the EPA). People notice a number, and they work to improve it. If every car sold in our country had a real-time gas consumption meter on the dashboard and the rear window, things would change very fast.”

Focusing on a tangible number is certainly more effective than some vague “green” platitudes.

However, until more transparency and authenticity permeates environmentally conscious marketing messages, consumer skepticism around “green” advertising will only continue to grow.

May 5, 2008   No Comments

From Deprivation Research To Deprivation In Advertising

One consumer research technique that has been getting a lot of attention lately is deprivation research. It is a technique where something a consumer uses a lot is taken away, and then the researcher notes how they react both physically and emotionally to this deprivation over a period of time.

An example would be to recruit a Starbuck’s consumer and then take away their ritual morning latte for two weeks. Then you would record their behavior and their feelings over that time frame as their brand loyalty was being tested.

If done right, this type of research can really hone in on why people buy what they do and what can be done to enhance a specific product’s benefit delivery and/or marketing efforts.

What I find interesting is how this research technique has been used front and center recently in advertising campaigns to highlight consumer passions for products and brands.

The most widely known example is the Burger Kinger “Whopper Freakout” campaign. A recent Wall Street Journal article by Suzanne Vranica demonstrates how the technique was used to do both the research and then to form the centerpiece for the campaign.

My favorite line from this spot from the “Whopper Freakout” campaign is at the end, where a couple of interesting patrons suggest they may need to change the name to “Burger Queen”, now that the Whopper is no longer on the menu:

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March 6, 2008   2 Comments

Who Clicks On Ads?

Any conversation about digital marketing generally gets around to the fact that companies like Google are making a ton of money from people clicking on online advertising. The invariable next question is “Who clicks on all those ads anyway?”

This study by Starcom sheds a little more light on the issue:

“The study illustrates that heavy clickers represent just 6% of the online population yet account for 50% of all display ad clicks.”


“Heavy clickers skew towards Internet users between the ages of 25-44 and households with an income under $40,000. Heavy clickers behave very differently online than the typical Internet user, and while they spend four times more time online than non-clickers, their spending does not proportionately reflect this very heavy Internet usage. Heavy clickers are also relatively more likely to visit auctions, gambling, and career services sites – a markedly different surfing pattern than non-clickers.”

From another study done by AOL, Dave Morgan, head of advertising strategy, describes heavy clickers the follow way:

“They are predominantly female, indexing at a rate almost double the male population. They are older. They are predominantly Midwesterners, with some concentrations in Mid-Atlantic States and in New England.”

They also found that:

“They look at sweepstakes far more than any other kind of content. Yes, these are the same people that tend to open direct mail and love to talk to telemarketers.”

This post on, uses a point from the Starcom study to distinguish between equity driven display ads that do well in delivering on branding objectives, versus the online call to action ads that want you to “Punch the Monkey” that are the type that attract most of the “Natural Born Clickers” the study cites.

The important thing behind all this research is that the meaning to an advertiser of a click, or even a whole month of clicks, is minimal. Depending on the type of campaign, online conversion rates may be more important, or maybe significant movement in some sort of brand affinity measure.

But unless your target demographic looks like the narrow one above, a simple click is probably not worth very much at all.

February 14, 2008   2 Comments

Best In Consumer Insights: Tide To Go Superbowl Ad

While it wasn’t the flashiest or most outrageous Super Bowl ad, the Tide To Go interview spot showed that good consumer insights can still play a role in the high production budget glitz of Super Bowl advertising.

By dramatically and hilariously illustrating how distracting the effect of a stain on your shirt can be to a relative stranger in a stressful social situation like a job interview, this Tide To Go ad takes my best consumer insights award from this year’s Super Bowl.

Beats a herd of Clydesdales any day.

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February 5, 2008   No Comments

Whatever You’ve Learned About Advertising Is Now Probably Wrong

From this January 18th article in Businessweek, a quote from a recent McKinsey Consulting report gave me a significant pause:

“Traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective in 2010 as it was in 1990.”

I had to read that again.

Then I Googled the entire quote, and pulled up some more conclusions from the same study, this time from Marketing Vox:

“According to McKinsey, real ad spending on prime-time broadcast TV has increased over last decade by about 40 percent even as viewers have dropped almost 50 percent.

The Businessweek article goes on to show how just about everything that today’s CPG marketers have learned in their careers to effectively market their brands is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Media fragmentation, the rise of web based entertainment, and the drastically different media consumption patterns of young consumers are all significant factors.

Most traditional marketers have heard that the future of advertising is a two-way conversation, versus talking at consumers one-way. Most have also heard about the growing importance of word-of-mouth, engagement and viral advertising.

But if McKinsey is right in their forecast, these “emerging” techniques and forms of advertising will be anything but emerging in a couple of years.

In fact, they may be the only things that work.

January 28, 2008   2 Comments

Best In Consumer Insights: Mastercard

mastercard_logo.jpegThe Mastercard “Priceless” campaign has been running successfully since 1997, and has been shown in over 100 countries and in over 50 languages.

The insight that the Mastercard “Priceless” campaign levers is that life isn’t about what you buy, but about the relationships you have with the people you care about, and the special moments that you can share with them.

Rather than exclusivity, or status, or the accumulation of stuff, this insight positions Mastercard as more an enabler to the more important things in life.

What I find interesting is that this isn’t particularly ownable, since any card can claim this; but by putting a stake in the ground with this insight, they have claimed it for their own.

It also doesn’t hurt the longevity of this McCann-Erickson campaign that it has struck the right balance of emotional heart tugs, humor, and pop culture references across its almost 400 spots.

Additionally, with imitation being the most sincere form of advertising relevance, this campaign probably has the most parodies, spoofs, and user generated originals of any ad campaign on the web.

The example below is one of my favorite real spots.

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January 23, 2008   No Comments