Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Is buzz no more valuable than an ad?

What if the experts are wrong and ads are just as persuasive as buzz? This can't

be possible, can it? The experts have told us that there is a new breed of human

being out there who no longer wants to be marketed to. She pays no attention

to ads. She is immune to the "interruption model" and we need to get her

"permission" to market to her.

Not so fast, says David Michaelson Co., a New York-based company that

studies measurement of communications effectiveness,and has compared the

effect of publicity with traditional advertising in a controlled experiment. He

and a co-author presented research subjects with a faked ad for an invented

product, and a faked newspaper article about the same product. On a scale of 1

to 10, the article was a 10 "from the standpoint of a publicist's dream article,"

Dr. Michaelson says. Yet their study showed that the article was no more

effective than the ad in building brand awareness. Now here's something to

think about. I have no idea of the validity of this study. But if it's true that

people are not terribly moved by "buzz" in reputable media like newspapers,

how much power do you think buzz has in dopey social media like blogs, and

Twitter and Facebook?

Maybe buzz is exactly what it sounds like -- just a lot of mouths yapping.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013



On-line research has some major advantages.

It is often less expensive than standard methods and also quicker to yield results. However, as currentlypracticed, it is fatally flawed."We're perpetuating a fraud," is what Simon Chadwick has to say. Mr. Chadwick is former head of NOP Research in the U.K. and is now principal of Cambiar, a Phoenix consultancy.

Surveys tend to poll the same people over and over.In fact, a study done by ComScore Networks indicated that one-quarter of one percent of the population provides about one-third of all on-line responses. This means that instead of getting one vote, each of these respondents is getting the equivalent of 128 votes.We are getting the same people responding over and over again to earn points so they can win a toaster. Or as Mr. Chadwick calls them, "professional respondents who go hunting for...dollars. What's so terrible about professional

respondents, you might ask? Pulitzer Prize winning New York

Times science writer Natalie Angier says: Nothing tarnishes the

credibility of a sample like the desire to be sampled.... a good pollster will

hound and re-hound the very people who least want to cooperate. So not

only are these people ridiculously over-represented, they are the wrong

people. "It's like the hole in the ozone layer," said Shari Morwood,

VP-worldwide market research at IBM in an article in Advertising

Age. "Everyone knows it's a growing problem. But they just ignore it and

go on to the next project." Kim Dedeker, VP-consumer and market

knowledge at P&G, describes an example in which online and mail surveys

came up with diametrical results. "If I only had the online result.... I would have

taken a bad decision right to the top management," she said. In another case,

two surveys conducted a week apart by the same online researcher yielded

completely different recommendations. Furthermore, most of these on-line

researchers don't validate their samples. They don't know who is responding. It

could be my daughter using my computer saying she's me. Or saying she's you

for that matter. And if all that weren't enough, many of them don't limit


I can log in as five different people and respond five different times. Or

fifty. Or a hundred and twenty-eight. Another lovely bit of hokum they

perpetrate is the degree of confidence. They tell us that their results are

accurate with a 95% degree of confidence. However, they never quite tell

us what it is that they're confident about. Is it that, in general, a study with

this many legitimate respondents will be statistically valid 95% of the time? Or

is it that their interpretation of subjective data will be 95% accurate (by the

way, no one's interpretation of subjective data is 95% accurate) Or is it

something else? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt for a minute and

say that their sample is legitimate (which is highly unlikely) and that they

are brilliant people who can interpret data almost flawlessly. Let's take a

look at what 95% degree of confidence means under the best of circumstances.

Once again we'll turn to Ms. Angier from her book The Canon. Here's an

example she gives. You go for an HIV test. You test positive. The test is said

to be 95% accurate. This means you have a 95% chance of having the HIV

virus, right? Not even close. What it means is that 95% of the time people who

have the HIV virus will test positive. But it also means that 5% of the time

people who do not have the HIV virus will test positive. Now let's say

you live in a town with 100,000 people. Fortunately, the HIV virus is very rare

and only appears in 1 person out of 350. So in your town of 100,000 people,

this means that there will be about 285 people with the HIV virus (100,000

divided by 350). But if we tested all the people in your town, we would get

about 5,000 positives (remember, 5% of the time people who do not have the

virus will test positive) and almost all of these 5,000 positives would be

false.,mIn fact when you do the math, after testing positive not only is

there not a 95% chance you have the virus, there is about a 5% chance you have

it. And an almost 95% chance you don't have the virus.* So much for a 95%

level of confidence.We advertising and marketing people are drowning in

opinions and starving for facts. But we have to be very careful about

distinguishing between the two. In the advertising world, research is no

different from creative work. Some of it is very good, some of it is worthless

and dangerous.To figure out the accuracy of the result, you divide the total

number of true positives you'd expect from your sample (95% of 285, or 271)

by the total number of true and false positives (5,257) and you wind up with a

probability of having the HIV virus is actually about 5.2%, not 95%. If you

can't follow the math, and you don't trust me, don't worry. You can trust Ms.

Angier, she has a Pulitzer Prize. All I have interactive marketing


An article in American Express says, "not so fast".

Senior marketers were asked which components of their current digital

marketing programs"search, email, display advertising, social networking, and

mobile advertising"delivered the best results. Only 11% cited social


As you know,IMG is highly skeptical of this type of research. The remarkable

thing, however, is that with social media getting so much hype, the tendency of

people who have invested in it would be to exaggerate its effectiveness.

Instead, it was tied for effectiveness with "I don't know." Marketers also said

that social media is significantly less effective than banner ads (display

advertising), and I just don't know how anything can be less effective than that.

Mobile advertising, by the way, didn't even make the chart. As I said 6 months

ago in a previous posting. "IMG predicts that when the frenzy over Facebook,

Twitter, and other social media calms down and the dust clears, email and

search will continue to be the dreariest and most productive forms of online


Discover the surprising benefits of using interactive marketing communication

contact PaulAshby on or (UK Landline) 01934


Monday, 11 March 2013


"What was once digital advertising's dirty little secret is now

its big, ugly problem. Online ad performance figures are dismal..."



Any way you slice it, the key fact is that 15 years after its inception, I

cannot come up with the name of one major consumer-facing non-native

brand that has been built primarily by web advertising. It is encouraging,

however, to see some people within the web advertising community finally

coming out and admitting the shortcomings. Maybe if

more web advertising people would stand up and acknowledge the issues

they could help the web become what we all want it to be -- a more

effective advertising medium.

Want more information on Interactive Marketing Communication?

Contact Paul Ashby : or (UK Landline) 01934


About 2 months ago I wrote a piece called "Social Media's Massive Failure".

It was about the failure of the Pepsi Refresh Project. Most of you disagreed

with my observations that the Refresh effort was a failure. Recently The New

Yorker published an article called "Snacks for a Fat Planet". It isn't specifically

about the Refresh project.

It is about PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi's attempt to transform the

company from the world's largest maker of soda and crappy food into a

company with respectable standards and values. It is actually a very interesting

article and Nooyi comes off as an intelligent, thoughtful but somewhat jargony

leader.The article talks about Refresh as part of Pepsi's desire

to be perceived as a "good" company ...the strategy was to use social media to

promote the image of PepsiCo... to bring the flagship brand more in line with

PepsiCo's "performance with purpose" agenda...Then it goes on to note that

Pepsi's share had dropped 4.8% since the program was introduced.

... the Refresh campaign garnered more than eighty million votes,

got three and a half million likes on Pepsi's Facebook page, and drew some

sixty thousand Twitter followers. But the campaign didn't sell Pepsi.Which to

my ear sounds an awful lot like this paragraph from Social Media's Massive


"Over 80 million votes were registered; almost 3.5 million

"likes" on the Pepsi Facebook page; almost 60,000 Twitter followers. The only

thing it failed to do was sell Pepsi." The article concludes...

"It appears that hearing about all the good things that PepsiCo is doing to help

make the world a better place does not tempt you to down a

Pepsi". As we know, there are many in the marketing world who

cannot see the limitations of social media, no matter how compelling the

evidence. Consequently, those of us with open minds and functional synapses

need to remain skeptical and vocal about the "magic" of social media.

"Man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to

believe." -- Euripides

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Do You Understand Why We Need Interactive Communication - urgently?


Quite simply it is the human desire for interaction.

All advertising is a form of learning whereby the advertiser is asking people to change their

behaviour after learning the benefits of the products or services on offer. However, we all

tend to filter out information that we do not want to hear. This clearly alters the effectiveness

of conventional advertising in quite a dramatic way.

The final purchase decision is invariably a compromise and this leads to a certain amount of

anxiety; the worry that perhaps the decision was not the best or the right one. In order to

minimize this anxiety the purchaser seeks to reinforce their choice and begins to take more

notice of their chosen product's marketing communications. Additionally we have created a

media society during the past 40 or 50 years, where the whole communication process has

been de-humanized and depersonalized.

Together with an extraordinary reduction in interaction because conventional media together

with advertising and marketing have become a one-way practice whereby information is

disseminated in a passive form. People have this desire to be taken account of. To affect

change, to learn and personalize their relationship with their environment. There are a

phenomenal number of reasons that cause people to interact, going far beyond just giving

them things.

When people agree to participate in truly interactive marketing programmes they are told that

their efforts and feedback are of positive help to the advertisers. Additionally the attraction of

interactive communication is that it is a return to the prehistoric human fascination with telling tales!


People long for more connection between what we do for a living and what we genuinely care

about. We long for release from anonymity, to be seen as who we feel ourselves to be

rather than the sum of abstract metrics and parameters. We long to be part

of a world that makes sense rather than accept the accidental alienation

imposed by market forces too large to grasp; to even contemplate.

Commerce is a natural part of human life but is has become increasingly

unnatural over the intervening centuries, gradually divorcing itself from the

very people on whom it depends, whether workers or customers. The result has

been to create a huge chasm between buyers and sellers.

Advertising's failure! Conventional advertising has failed the natural human need for social

interaction. We have created a media society during the last 30 or 40 years

where there is an extraordinary reduction in interaction because of the one-way

and more passive form of information that exists. People desire to be taken

account of, to affect change, learn and personalize their relationships with

their environment. These psychological and sociological factors are part of the

incentive to interact with advertising.




Saturday, 9 March 2013

Do you agree that Today, the ad industry is being overrun with people who have no idea what is universal and what is transient in our business?


They are not being taught principles, they are being taught tactics.To them,

Bernbach, Ogilvy and Riney are just names of old dead guys. They never heard

of Ally and Gargano or Scali, McCabe, Sloves. They have no idea what these

people and organizations did, or stood for, or taught us about advertising.

It's our own fault.

No one is willing to take the time to learn the history so he, or she, can

teach it. Our own industry organizations - particularly the I.P.A - are

prime culprits. By desperately trying to remain "relevant" they have sounded a

constant drumbeat about "digital changing everything" that is not only false, it

undermines the importance of young peoples' need to learn the history and

principles of our trade.