OMMA: The ROI of a Smile

In my previous posts about the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising Conference and Expo, I wrote about my perspective as a user generating content that feels someone disconnected with the advertising and marketing folks at OMMA. Here, I explore the ROI discussion a little bit.

First, let me outline the issues as I see them. As these worlds collide, online digital media is having a big impact on the advertising world. Here, I’m less concerned with the movement of content away from radio, local papers, or broadcast television to hyperlocal journalism sites online and to YouTube. Yes, that is manifestation that people are seeing. But ad executives are smart. They can buy advertising in whichever medium is the choice du jour. Instead, there are two important aspects of this change that are much more significant. The first is that advertising needs to become much more of a conversation. I touched on that a little in my previous posts. The second is that in this wonderful new digital age, everything can be measure, or so many people seem to believe, and so, we should be able to come up with much better ROI calculations.

This results in some fairly detrimental black and white thinking. Either the advertisement results in a sale or it doesn’t. As an advertiser, you should only pay when you get a sale, or at least a clickthrough. Yet this ignores how people really act. Instead, people may see multiple ads before they decide to make a purchase. They may develop brand loyalty independent of advertisements and then simply use the advertisements as an easy way to act upon their brand loyalty.

One company that seems to get this, at least somewhat, is eyeblaster. They ran a session entitled Campaign Management: The Holistic Approach to Digital Advertising. I only caught a little bit of their session since it overlapped with some other good sessions. Yet the takeaway I got from them is that if you use eyeblaster, you can track not only who clicked through to buy your product, but also where else they saw your ad, and then you can allocate the revenue across multiple impressions.

There were plenty of other firms touting their ability to track behavior and more carefully target advertisements, but generally I didn’t bother with them. To me, it seems like there is so much more to advertising than the direct sale. Not only are you trying to maximize brand loyalty, but on a greater level, you are focus on increasing corporate goodwill.

Eric Kessler, Co-President of HBO did a great lunchtime presentation about this. He started off his presentation talking about how to build a positive brand image. It was a humorous look at what HBO did with The Sopranos, but the bottom line boiled down to, have a good product. He then spoke in detail about HBO Voyeur. This was not an effort to allocate revenue based on some pay per click basis. This was about communicating the HBO brand.

In essence, the HBO brand is to be innovative, and Kessler did a great job of communicating that. He spoke about creating online campaigns as creative as the shows they were promoting. He talked about creating avatars and streaming part of a Justin Timberlake concert in Second Life.

The HBO Voyeur campaign did this incredibly well. Kessler spoke about how today’s viewers want to be in control and discover things for themselves. Perhaps this gets to the biggest issue. Traditional advertising wants to be in control, and until they relinquish some of that control, they will continue to spiral down to obsolescence. Kessler and HBO seem to get this. Others there get it, but too many don’t. Too many are still trying to calculate the ROI of being in control, instead of the ROI of a smile.

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