Monday, 19 December 2011

Review of the Year: Top 10 marketing moments of 2011 (Marketing, by Nicola Clark)

Marketers had reason to be concerned as the New Year arrived, but despite continued economic uncertainty, 2011 delivered marketing milestones in droves, writes Nicola Clark.

A year of volatile stock markets, slipping consumer confidence, depressed marketing budgets and ever-gloomier forecasts presented a headache for Britain's marketers. However, as 2011 has proved, a faltering economy does not equate to a dearth of ideas among marketers. The past 12 months have provided an array of triumphs for the industry; here are just a few.

No country does pomp and ceremony quite like Britain. As Kate Middleton unveiled her intricately designed Sarah Burton creation, Brand Britain received its biggest boost in years. Even hardened republicans struggled to resist the opportunity for a good old-fashioned knees-up. With the Queen's golden jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon in 2012, the opportunities for brands such as Hovis and John Smith's to capitalise on their British heritage are phenomenal.

When The Sunday Times Style magazine starts printing festive features extolling the virtues of Secret Santa and festive belt-tightening, it is clear that brands need to tread carefully.
As many consumers face up to a decline in their earnings, limited job security and continued economic uncertainty, John Lewis and its advertising agency Adam & Eve's beautifully crafted TV ad, celebrating the joy of giving Christmas presents, hit the right note.

The axe finally fell on the 65-year-old Central Office of Information (COI) this year when Francis Maude, the minister for the Cabinet Office, approved a plan to close the organisation as part of a drive to cut government communications costs. A mere 20 COI staff will be moved to the Cabinet Office next year, while the others will be redeployed elsewhere or made redundant. The process is due to be completed by April 2012. As Marketing went to press, Jenny Grey, the director of policy and communications for the Cabinet Office, was acting as the executive director of government communications. Grey's remit is to manage the redundancy process of the remaining 400 staff. It is a sad and ignoble end for an organisation which only a few years ago employed more than 700 people and ably demonstrated how marketing could be used as a force for good.

Google and Facebook's rivalry is one of the biggest marketing battles of recent times, as the pair compete for advertising investment and consumers' attention. With Facebook accounting for an increasing amount of time spent by people on the web, Google is prioritising its social strategy. In June came the long-awaited unveiling of Google+, its social network and answer to the strengthening market- ing muscle of Facebook. In November, Google launched its first feature for brands, Google+ Pages, its first large-scale attempt to promote the fledgling network to marketers. Burberry and Pepsi are among the big-name brands to have signed up to the service so far.

Last year Pepsi sent shockwaves through the marketing community when it decided to ditch its flagship Super Bowl spot in favour of digital media. The brand said it was creating a 'movement not a moment'. While curmudgeonly marketing professors may have dismissed the strategy, Pepsi has continued to drive the marketing innovation agenda. Now, through its sponsorship of The X Factor USA, the soft-drinks manufacturer is returning to Super Bowl advertising with a spot that will star the show's winner. The news comes as The X Factor USA has made the bold decision to allow voting via Twitter and Facebook, potentially cannibalising its revenues from phone votes. By harnessing the buzz around the show, PepsiCo is well-placed to deliver a truly 'super-social' Super Bowl strategy, suggesting that its focus on social media is here to stay.

Amazon's long-awaited answer to the iPad, the Kindle Fire, is set to be the most serious challenge yet to Apple's dominance in the tablet market. The device, which began selling in the US for $199 (£128) last month, is significantly undercutting the iPad. Launching the device, Amazon's founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, told an audience in New York: 'This is unbelievable value. What we're doing is making premium products and offering them at non-premium prices.'

Myspace's fading fortunes are an epic tale of strategic blunders, mismanagement and a stark warning about fickle user behaviour in digital media. The social network, which launched the careers of Lily Allen and My Chemical Romance, also acts as a stark warning to marketers on the danger of believing that each and every popular digital channel is here to stay. When user numbers are multiplying at such phenomenal rates, it is easy to forget how precarious the position of social networks can be. At its December 2008 peak, Myspace attracted 75.9m monthly unique visitors in the US, according to ComScore. News Corporation bought MySpace for $580m (£373m) in the same year. However, in January this year, the social network moved to axe the majority of its workforce outside the US. While analysts argue that the site could still re-invent itself, many more are of the opinion that Myspace's time is well and truly over.

In a year of extreme change, the enduring appeal of Coca-Cola, which celebrated its 125th birthday in May, served to underline the staying power of a strong brand. Coca-Cola remains one of the world's favourite drinks, despite its high sugar content against a backdrop of concerns about rising obesity levels, particularly among children.

When Unilever revealed its plans to take a more 'More magic, less logic' approach to marketing, the initiative was applauded by marketers across the company. The FMCG corporation revealed it wanted to shake up its numbers-led strategy to reward marketers who are prepared to take risks, and back creative ideas. At a global briefing, senior marketers Keith Weed and Marc Mathieu outlined its 10-year plan, designed to 'enable marketers to fail', where previously they had been 'scared' to do. At a time when many marketers have complained privately that the industry is becoming too focused on 'meaningless metrics' at the expense of creativity, Unilever's shift seemed apt.

Amid the national soul-searching that followed in the wake of this summer's riots, it was impossible for brands not to speculate about the long-term impact of the unrest on their businesses. Commentators have warned that British consumers are facing up to a 'social heart-attack' as citizens lose faith in the country's biggest social institutions and political processes. The images of London's streets ablaze and rioters looting from stores such as JD Sports, PC World and Carphone Warehouse flashed across the world and served to underline the precarious social and economic climate. The growth of the Occupy movement suggests that anger over global capitalism is more than fleeting unrest. The generational gap between fearful parents and an activist younger generation is growing, and the shift has major implications for brands, which need to ensure they are sensitive to the political and economic climate.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Apple Inc. is learning to compromise.
Facing challenges winning over customers for its iAd mobile advertising service, Apple is softening its approach as it loses ground to Google Inc. in the fast-growing mobile-ad market.

Following a tepid response to iAd, Apple's mobile ad service, the tech company is making changes to prices in hopes of landing more clients, Emily Steel reports on digits.
Launched in July of last year, and championed by former CEO Steve Jobs, iAd is Apple's service for selling ads within mobile apps on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.
But response so far has been tepid: Marketers say they have been turned off by iAd's high price tag as well as Apple's hard-charging sales tactics and its stringent control over the creative process.
Google's AdMob service, on the other hand, is priced more reasonably, ad executives say, and is available on a wide array of devices—not just Apple products.
In response, Apple is making some changes. It is showing more willingness to bargain on the spending commitment it requires of advertisers.

Having originally asked marketers to commit to spend at least $1 million—an amount later dropped to $500,000—Apple is now discussing ad deals with a minimum commitment of just $400,000, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Apple has also introduced more flexibility to a pricing structure that had befuddled advertisers, ad executives say. Instead of charging marketers every time a user taps on an ad—a policy which often led to ad budgets quickly being exhausted—Apple is willing to put a cap on what it charges for the taps, according to the person. Advertisers pay $10 every time an ad is viewed a thousand times and $2 every time it is tapped on.
Apple is softening its approach to advertisers as it loses ground to Google in the fast-growing mobile ad market.
Pricing for Google's mobile-ad products vary widely, according to one ad executive. Ad executives say display ads on apps from a range of providers vary from $4 to $12 per thousand views. Advanced targeting or mobile video can command higher premiums than static banner ads, this person said.
In an effort to woo more advertisers, Apple is establishing a training program, arranged in conjunction with its media buying agency OMD, part of Omnicom Group Inc., to teach the firm and its clients about the mobile marketing landscape.
In recent weeks about 30 senior marketing executives, from firms including PepsiCo Inc., Clorox Co. and J.C. Penney Co., visited Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The marketers got a tour and a series of information sessions with Apple designers and product teams.
Participants concluded the tour with a visit to the Apple company store where they were able to make purchases with a discount, according to ad executives who participated.
OMD is planning a trip to Apple in February with more of its advertiser clients, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The event demonstrated that Apple is trying to adapt to the ways of Madison Avenue. Inviting marketers for campus visits has long been a standard tactic for ad-dependent Silicon Valley firms like Google, Yahoo Inc. and Facebook Inc. While it has hosted big customers of its electronics products at its campus, this is one of the first times Apple has tried such an approach with advertisers.
"They are still learning the advertising world," says Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo Beverages.
Mr. Jobs envisioned iAd more as television advertising than online marketing, which he viewed as irritating, according to people familiar with the matter.
A typical iAd is one for Unilever's Dove Men + Care soap brand. In it, a consumer sees a banner ad at the bottom of an application on a phone or iPad. When the consumer taps on the ad, videos featuring baseball players like Andy Pettitte appear, as well as more information about Dove products.
Some marketers say they are pleased with the results of their iAd campaigns and are eager to renew deals. Unilever, which has bought 13 iAd campaigns for brands including Dove soap, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, said that consumers spent an "amazing" level of time with the ads, on average 68 seconds in the U.S., across mobile devices.
Apple is hoping to gain back ground that it has lost to Google in the mobile-ad market. Last year, Apple shared the top spot in the mobile display ad market with Google, with each company capturing 19%, according to research firm IDC. This year, Apple fell to the No. 3 spot, behind Google and independent mobile ad firm Millennial Media, capturing 15%, or $95 million, of the $630 million market, IDC says.
A spokesman for Apple declined comment.
While Apple's moves to placate marketers won't greatly affect its business, which is humming on hardware sales, the state of the service could affect developer loyalty to its platforms over time.
The company launched iAds to make building Apple apps more attractive for developers, who are increasingly interested in building software for Android devices and getting advertising checks from Google.
Hordes of developers have activated iAd, but they say that Apple hasn't sold enough to make any meaningful revenue for them. David Barnard, founder of mobile app company App Cubby, says he earned $320 from iAd in the past 30 days and that the service is only filling roughly 13% of his apps requests.
Unilever recently agreed to renew its iAd agreement with Apple for the next year, including launching iAd in developing markets across the globe.
"We got in there early and we're both learning together. They learn from us and we've learned from them," says Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed. He declined to discuss pricing.
Even so, marketing executives say Apple needs to modify its approach to win over more.
"Apple said, 'Let's try to disrupt the advertising business.' On this one, they didn't succeed," says Alexandre Mars, head of mobile for Publicis Groupe SA. "They know that they need to adapt themselves now if they want to survive - even if it is Apple."
One major challenge Apple faces: because the company only sells ads that appear on Apple devices, marketers are forced to buy ads from competitors to reach broader audiences, says IDC analyst Karsten Weide. "Apple we believe will, over time, fade into the background," he says. "It was attempted to make sure that even consumers advertising experience on Apple devices was perfect, but it hasn't really worked."Read more:

Monday, 12 December 2011

Apple Changing Terms for iAd Program (

Last July, Apple Inc launced iAd, which is a service for selling advertisements in mobile applications on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. Apple is losing ground to Google Inc in the mobile advertising market, which is why the company has decided to change some things around in iAd. Marketing companies claim they are turned off by the high price for the service and how stringent Apple is when it comes to the creative process for the ads.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has lowered its commitment to spending from $1 million to $500,000 to where it stands now at $400,000. Apple also introduced flexibility in its pricing scale, one that previously confused its advertisers. The program used to charge advertisers each time an ad was clicked, which caused advertising budgets to become exhausted quickly. Apple is now willing to put a cap on the user tap ads. Every time an ad is tapped on, advertisers pay $2 and $10 each time an ad is viewed.

Apple has also announced that it will release a training program, in conjunction with its Omnicom Group Inc and OMD. The program will teach the firm and its clients all about mobile marketing. Over the past couple of weeks, close to 30 senior marketing executives from various companies received tours and information sessions from Apple designers and product teams. Those companies included J.C. Penny, Clorox, and PepsiCo. According to some of the execs who participated, they received a visit to the Apple company store, making purchases at a discounted price.

“They are still learning the advertising world,” says Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo Beverages.
One of the most common iAd advertisements is that of Dove Men + Care soap. The ad banner will be at the top of an application and when clicked on, the ad will load videos featuring athletes such as Andy Pettitte. Additional information about Dove is in the videos as well.

There are some marketing companies that are very happy with their iAd campaigns and are looking forward to renewing their deals. Unilever, which is responsible for the Dove ads, are happy with the time spent by Americans on their ads. Most of their ads are viewed for a total of 68 seconds on mobile devices.
“We got in there early and we’re both learning together. They learn from us and we’ve learned from them,” says Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed.

“Apple said, ‘Let’s try to disrupt the advertising business.’ On this one, they didn’t succeed,” says Alexandre Mars, head of mobile for Publicis Groupe SA. “They know that they need to adapt themselves now if they want to survive – even if it is Apple.”

IDC analyist Karsten Weide said the following about Apple’s iAd program: “Apple we believe will, over time, fade into the background,” he says. “It was attempted to make sure that even consumers advertising experience on Apple devices was perfect, but it hasn’t really worked.”