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April 10, 2009

Advertising in a down economy.

Last night the Atlanta Ad Club hosted Andy Azula, better know as that dude who draws on a whiteboard in the UPS commercials.

Andy is actually a graduate of the portfolio center here in Atlanta. He is currently Creative Director at The Martin Agency (Geico, UPS, Repower America, Walmart—lots of great work originating there). And while most people know him for his appearances as UPS' TV pitchman, he's also an award winning art director who has racked up more clios than he can count.

The topic for last night's event was "Advertising in a down economy." After showing a 10 minute reel highlighting recent "recession-style" advertising, Andy went right into the reality of our current economic state. Yes, it's bad. But, it feels even worse than it really is. So how should marketers adapt?

Recessions aren't new. This is our 22nd recession in the United States, so it's happened before. The biggest lesson we can learn from past experience is that brands need to maintain their share of voice (the percentage of advertising that you possess in your market compared to other brands) to maintain their market position. Brands that cut back on their advertising during a recession, beyond what others in their industry are doing, risk losing significant market share. The example used was Schlitz Beer. Once the number 2 beer in the US market, Schlitz decided to significantly cut back on their advertising during the early 1970's recession. They lost their share of voice and we're relegated to the back burner of the US beer marketplace.

The other point made was the campaign executions should maintain their essence, but the messages emphasized should change. Messages such as savings, reliability, trust and family come to the forefront. People start adapting the back to basics mentality. Got Milk? is no longer using Christie Brinkley as a spokesmodel, but has replaced her with Suze Orman. Swap aspirational messaging for down to earth messaging.

And last, but not least the final lesson of recession era marketing is to put your marketing dollars where they can be measured. This is a good thing for the interactive agencies like us. While ad budgets are being slashed, money is being re-allocated to online channels. This is because it's more measurable and usually much less expensive.—*warning upcoming sales pitch.... 3.... 2.... 1.... and here's the pitch*—So if you're a big brand reading this. Take a little of that big ole TV budget, set it aside and give us a call. We'd love to build an effective and measurable interactive campaign for you.

Overall, the event was top notch. Andy Azula did a great job presenting the topic. The subject matter was timely and the event was well paced. If you haven't had a chance to check out an Atlanta Ad Club event for yourself. I highly recommend you give it a try.

April 9, 2009

The Future of Expertise

Once upon a time knowing how to put together a beautiful presentation, use and create spreadsheets, stay connected to your inbox, and design basic web sites and applications were all considered specialized skills, but they were never a requirement for most employees.

Now, most people in the interactive industry are expected to have most of these skills. And it won’t be long before this is expected of people working in all industries. The future standard of expertise will be five times, no, fifty times higher than what it is. That is the nature of progress.

And while It’s currently possible to squeak out a living just by knowing what to talk about—consider all the self-proclaimed "social media experts" that have popped up in the last two years—the reality is that unless your creating true value for your clients you won't last very long.

I had an interesting dialogue with Chris Bailey about how we define worth and value. The outcome of the conversation was that the value of an employee is what he produces for the company, but the worth of an employee is what you pay him. These don’t always match up. The same holds true with agencies. Their worth and value won't always match up.

And as formerly specialized skillsets becomes more commonplace in the workforce, creating true value for your clients will be the only way to truly thrive in the coming years. This current realignment (AKA recession) is already bringing this fact in to focus. The question is no longer what do you know, but do you create value.

 

Knowing what to talk about is no longer enough.

 

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April 3, 2009

Blog Recommendation: Daily Sense

Every once in awhile you come across a blog that you just want to spread the word about. Clay Hebert's blog "Daily Sense" is one of them.

And even better, Clay is actually a really nice guy. He's currently working with Seth Godin up in NYC in the Alternative MBA program.

So check out his blog, save it to your bookmarks and enjoy.

http://www.dailysense.com/

April 2, 2009

Ogilvy on hiring

While reading the book "The King of Madison Avenue", it struck me how relevant his approach to hiring was — even today. His core beliefs were simple, but very valuable.

Hire Giants

If you hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If you hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.

Recruiting talent is like finding truffles

Hot creative people don't come around looking for jobs; they have to be rooted out like truffles by trained pigs.

Only hire gentlemen with brains.

We like people who are honest: honest in argument, honest with clients, honest with suppliers, and honest with the company. We admire people who work hard. Objectivity and thoroughness are admired. Superficiality is not admired. We despise and detest office politicians, toadies, bullies, and pompous asses.

In the end his approach was simple. Hire the best people. The only way to do that is to find them. And always hire for character.

March 25, 2009

Google Launches Semantic Search

Google announced today on its blog that it will be sprinkling in semantic search to its regular results. It appears that at the moment the biggest change will be in the suggested search categories at the footer of the search results page, but the search results are sure to change as well.

It's good to see that Google is getting on board with semantic search. At NeboWeb, we have all been expecting such changes in Google, as predicted back in June 2008, in an article we wrote about semantic search. So far, semantic search engines such as Hakia have struggled due to irrelevant results and slow load times.

In theory, semantic search is extremely promising, but has not been put into practice very well. The primary reasons for such failure in semantic search are that it takes a massive infrastructure to accumulate the data necessary to perform semantic search. Additionally, queries need to be returned quickly in order to provide the user experience that users expect. Google is probably the only search engine that can bring semantic search to the web in a successful and effective manner.

It's also interesting to note that at the same time that Google announced its semantic search update we are seeing a toolbar PageRank update as well. Most SEM professionals believe the toolbar PageRank is merely aesthetic as the actual PageRank is months ahead of toolbar PageRank.

In other words, you should not notice a drop in rankings at the same time as a drop in toolbar PageRank.  However, I do think it's interesting though that Google is rolling these two updates out at the same time...

Also, and probably not something that we're likely to see again (as well as a sign of the update) is that Google's Toolbar PageRank was 0 earlier today!!!  Like I mentioned above, this is relatively meaningless during an update, but it's still fun to see this in the screenshot below:

Google PageRank 0