5 Questions for Morpheus Media's Shenan Reed

  • by January 24, 2006
Shenan Reed co-founded Morpheus Media in 2001. Today the agency represents 25 clients, including two Fortune 500 companies, and offers customized interactive advertising strategies that help drive return on investment. Morpheus deploys a combination of online media placement, search engine marketing, consulting, e-commerce, and customer relationship management strategies. Tobi Elkin checked in with Reed recently to learn more about Morpheus.

Tell us a bit about Morpheus, and elaborate on a few campaign highlights from 2005.

> Morpheus Media was founded in March of 2001 when dot-coms were crashing all around us. Most people thought we were insane for starting an online interactive advertising agency. We inherited two clients who believed in us from our work at our previous agency, so we took a gamble and gave it our all. Five years later, we rely heavily on our core competencies, which lie on the business side of online advertising: strategy, media planning, negotiation, trafficking, reporting, and optimization that leads to ROI.

In 2005, we launched the first-ever online campaign for Baccarat Crystal. When working with luxury retailers, there is a delicate balance between driving sales and maintaining the integrity of the brand. With Baccarat, we are very proud of the way we managed to both drive sales and present the brand in a way that respected and serviced its time-honored image.

We were thrilled to win a Stevie Award in 2005 for the Best Online Advertising Campaign for The New York Times. We localized designated market areas and partnered with cutting-edge technologies to increase sales orders per month by 2,400 percent and decrease cost-per-subscription by more than 99 percent.

What key trends do you see coming in online media and marketing in 2006?

> We believe 2006 will open up new advertising opportunities in the form of RSS, blogs, and click-to-call. We also expect to see a resurgence in desktop applications that provide consumers with powerful tools that have all the connectivity of Web applications.

The truth of the online marketplace in 2006 is that today's consumers are extremely savvy and proud to own their desktops. In 2005, advertisers realized that users couldn't be enticed by dancing monkeys and kill-the-alien games. Instead of pouring funds into long-term portal deals or run-of-site network media, advertisers are spending budgets on customized planning. The planning begins with highly targeted keyword and content campaigns and culminates in success through repeated testing, analysis, and optimization. It is labor-intensive work, but the results of well-planned and managed campaigns speak for themselves.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business now?

> First, due to the absolute accountability of online marketing, we are held to much higher standards than our offline counterparts. Second, as the barriers to entry in the world of online advertising and search engine marketing are quite low, we encounter clients who believe they can manage their own search engine marketing campaigns without an experienced or trained staff. We often hear back from clients after they've attempted to manage their accounts on their own. Once we completely overhaul their campaigns, the response rates increase quickly and significantly.

What keeps you engaged and excited in this field?

> The world of online advertising is ever-changing. One day search is an afterthought for a campaign and purchased on a cost-per-thousand basis; the next day you are working with search on a cost-per-click bidding model based on an algorithm. There is no such thing as the "average day," and we are never bored.

Name a client or two you most want to work with.

> We would love to add clients who are not only seeking U.S. sales but international as well. We believe there are many luxury brands that are missing out on opportunities to use the online channel -- brands like Tourneau, Van Cleef and Arpels, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, all known for their level of product excellence offline, and coveted by high-end consumers across the globe.

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