Marketing is full of contradictions and tautologies. I have a favorite in each category; the first is the pause before making a decision "let's stand back and take a closer look at this". The second is "if you want to sell someone something, give them something to buy."
Both are relevant in the pursuit of scale, relevance and value sought by the buyers and sellers of inventory.
Let's stand back and take a closer look at what advertisers pay for. It amounts to one or more of five things:
Reach: an increasingly elusive commodity. They pay premiums for simultaneous reach, they do not pay premiums for fragments that require aggregation; such is the curse of the long tail.
Precision: an increasingly available waste reduction commodity made possible by geo-personal targeting filters and delivery technologies that identify in-market prospects at the most granular levels and that joyously, creates the potential for meaningful video strategies for almost any brand.
Outcomes: Google and some re-targeting businesses built a handy enterprise by connecting advertising costs with commercial outcomes. Costs of goods sold, not expenses.
Affluence: rich people trade at a premium to less rich people; willingness and ability to pay have always defined economic value.
Influence: people whose opinion are valued and acted on by other people is worth more than the average.
The last of these is hardest to prove.
Increasingly in social media and in some new publisher segmentations and tools the idea of reaching influencers is ascribed increasing importance. 10 years ago my friend and colleague David Fletcher executed an analysis of single source data that merged media and product consumption with lifestyle statements and produced a report called "Where's Debbie". The report showed us which media properties had the highest composition of self-reported influencers in any given category. Debbie's shortcoming was that no mechanism existed at the time that allowed us to buy JUST the influencers.
Now it seems that we can, via the New York Times Ricochet product, by appending 'Klout like' data to inventory and via new audience segments like those being announced by Conde Nast which promise to deliver the superfecta of affluence, influence, context and reach across the portfolio and beyond.
If they can do this and demonstrate that influence is more definable than survey driven self-reporting they, and others, have an opportunity to create a new version of premium and value to advertisers who still believe in the long term value of brand building and persuasion. It's still about outcomes but takes a little longer; critically it gives us something to buy.
Rob Norman is Chief Digital Officer Global of GroupM. Rob’s principle tasks are developing the interaction organization within GroupM, developing positioning and thought leadership and leading the interaction contribution to business development. You can reach Rob at @robnorman or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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