I saw Kate and Will this past weekend. Yes, I'm on a first-name basis with them. You might be, too. After all, we know them so well. For those of you not in the Royals' inner circle, you might know them better as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
As I have said in some of my presentations, every week it seems the famous lines from Charles Dickens ring so very true: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
Everyone is pretty much past any notion that the ad industry doesn't have a transparency problem. We know it does. The issue has been around the U.S. biz in its latest forms for a number of years, and certainly got worse over the past five. And, thanks to the ANA, K2 and Ebiquity, the issue is now part of the discussion whenever and wherever industry folks get together. We will certainly hear a lot about it next week, when Advertising Week descends on New York City.
For anyone in the CPG industry still unclear about the power of direct-to-consumer models, Unilever's July purchase of Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion in cash was a deafening trumpet blast. The five-year-old startup, which had pole-vaulted from obscurity to huge consumer awareness through brilliant YouTube videos, had also created a large subscription business and millions of direct consumer relationships in the process.
For many years the industry has talked about one-to-one marketing. I've said for year's that's an unrealistic expectation. To target on a one-to-one basis requires customized messaging based on a multitude of inputs that are changing rapidly. The development of a true one-to-one effort would require a massive investment in technology and an unwavering trust in that technology. While I do trust the technology and while I do think an investment is warranted, I would argue that investment should be made against "group-based" segment targeting rather than one-to-one, with a mind toward the maximum ROI for that investment.
If you're looking for a culprit to blame for ad blocking, don't look at the technology or the companies deploying that technology. New technologies don't cause us to change our behaviors. Instead, they enable behaviors that weren't an option before. To get to the bottom of the growth of ad blocking, we have to go to the common denominator: the people those ads are aimed at. More specifically, we have to look at what's happening in the brains of those people.
Have you heard of Rule 40? It is a rule instituted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that regulates the rights of official sponsors and partners, and severely limits what non-sponsors can do. The official sponsors and partners are allowed to use trademarked Olympic terms, phrases, and images in their advertising. For companies that are not official Olympic sponsors or partners, certain phrases are banned, such as "Olympic," "Rio," "Gold," and even "Games."
She's known as the "Napalm Girl," and she appears in a photograph called "The Terror of War," taken by Nick Ut. In it, she is young, naked and clearly terrified. Ut won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo in 1973, which is credited with turning the tide of public opinion and leading to the end of the Vietnam War. This picture -- this image of unfathomably vast historical importance, of undeniably significant social commentary -- was removed from Facebook last week, when the social network's algorithms detected the nudity and deleted it from the account of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, ...
The ability to identify and recognize a person, attaching a face to a name and a background to that person, is an inherently important skill. And a successful brand has to employ these same skills, capable of identifying an audience, recognizing whether these are current customers, prospective customers, or someone who may never be a customer, and personalizing their engagement with the brand. Being able to do so is crucial, especially as we head toward a true omnichannel ecosystem.
In the past few weeks, via the comments I've received on my two (1,2) columns looking at the possible future of media selection and targeting, it's become apparent to me that we're at a crisis point when it comes to advertising.