Sunday, September 09, 2007

Searching for Sophistication....

It has taken a little while to get around to this blog (end August / early September are a busy time with half-year reporting and investor presentations), but an article I spotted in one of the business papers frustrated me a little and I thought I need to comment. Both readers of this blog will know that if there is anything which gets up my nose, it is the fact that some of the traditional media and marketing businesses are now taking to selectively reporting the data about the shift in marketing and advertising onto digital channels.

The article concerned reported that online advertising company Atlas (part of the Aquantive group acquired by Microsoft recently for around US$6 billion) had done research which had suggested that "search advertising is about as effective as advertising in a directory(like Yellow Pages)."

This sounded a bit surprising to me, so I thought I would look into this a little more.

I hunted around the internet for either the report (as far as I can tell it will eventually be released here) or more journalist coverage of the report. As I suspected (and as reported in this article from BusinessWeek) there appears to be more to this data than the print newspaper had reported. From what I have been able to deduce, the conclusions of the report are not that search advertising is less effective than previously thought, but rather it is a waste of money to over-simplify your online advertising.

It appears from the Atlas research that successful online advertising is built through a compound effect of multiple types of advertising. Banners help referral marketing which helps display ads which helps search which helps websites which helps ..... you get the picture. Atlas calls this "overlap" and I think that this is another sign of the increased sophistication of successful digital services and digital marketing.

From all of this reading I have reached the conclusion that we really are still in the early stages of a significant structural change in customer attraction, engagement, servicing and transactions and the science of what we do is getting stronger and stronger every day. We see this in the work our teams are doing with our clients as the reach, variety and volume of digital activities continues to grow.

The epicentre for a lot of the client drivers for this still seems to be the US, but there is some strong innovation in Europe and som great entrepreneurialism out of Asia. Traditional businesses in our markets are coming along, but they could always do more... there is a lot of potential in the digital services market - and it is exciting to be in a company which is well placed, rightly resourced and with the right team to leverage this outstanding opportunity.

So.... I'll finish this where I started.... the traditional media continue to face some challenges as the market continues to evolve and change. There are a number of ways that they can respond to this change and adapting their business models and leveraging their strengths is probably the best of these.... feeding their customer base with selective reporting which skews the data supporting the change we are going through is certainly not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everyone's going to muddy the waters until someone categorically difines what's going on in this new arena. Anyway, you must feel better with that off your chest. And of course, you're right!