Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Interesting thing on ESPN...

Sorry if this is old news, but the other day I noticed on Jim Rome's show on ESPN that for several minutes, the screen showed what looked like a Web page, with Jim Rome's show in the upper right corner, rightfully taking up a large part of the screen, while the rest of the screen showed a sports ticker, and some text boxes. I was on a treadmill when this occured, reading a very engrossing book, so I only noticed this spectacle for a moment.

Is this the future of television, especially with the upcoming broadcast conversion in 2009?

Maybe that "convergence" thing (that is, a variety of media devices and services combining into one platform) really is going to happen.

Imagine the possibilities...!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The winning formula for Web ads!

Many apologies for that tease. The winning formula for Web ads is really just plain commonsense. That's the short answer. There's more to the story...

In this post, we'll go through "Web Creative 101" class.

So, what's the best creative?
That's a common question we hear from our advertisers. The challenge, it's not an easy question to answer because there is no "silver bullet" for Web creatives. Here are some basic best practices to follow.

1. Make sure your target audience sees the ad.
Okay, so that sounds pretty basic. But the fact is, many creatives that we see are not going to be seen by the users. Slow-loading creatives (such as flash ads or artsy film-style ads) are the worst offenders; Web marketers have about 2 seconds to get a site visitor's attention. That means you have to lead with your punch line; save the rich media experience and creative fireworks for later on. Or put 'em on the landing page. Explain to your creative team how great the ad is...but that they need to quickly get the attention of Web users whose attention span has shortened tremendously as the volume of content on the Web has grown.

2. Understand the target market.
That means knowing who the audience is who is visiting the site on which your ads are running. Go beyond demographics; demand that the publisher or their reps provide you with psychographic data and behavioral profiles. Also, learn where the site's traffic is originating; if a cooking site gets most of their traffic from news or sports sites, that provides a clue as to the mindset--and needs--of the site's audience.

3. I'd like to say, "listen to your sales rep."
...But, it's hard to get the attention from a real, live human being anymore. Wow, that sounds like a cranky old dude saying that! In fact, not so long ago, we placed an albeit small budget of $10,000 with one of the leading ad networks, as a test. It was painful to actually speak with a live sales rep. For the obligatory plug for Intermarkets, our sales team actually wants to help you with your campaign, because our perspective is that if we can do everything possible to make the campaign work for you and your client, then you'll come back to us over and over. That commonsense business practice has helped us retain a large and diverse client base over the years. And it's astonishing to me that larger advertising sales organizations don't seem to have picked up on that...yet.

4. Be hypersensitive.
Look at your creative and consider how you're talking to the audience. It's amazing how many advertisements actually insult the target market. Showing your prospective customers as being stupid, or getting physically abused or anything else in the least bit offensive makes it plain in the minds of your prospects what your company really thinks of them. And for a lot of companies, insulting the customer is probably a form of disclosing how they treat their customers. But, would you actually want--or choose--to do business with anyone who thinks and acts like you're stupid and annoying?

More to come.

If you'd like a real, live human being to help with your advertising, check us out at intermarkets.net.

Class dismissed!

Kevin Lucido
Chief Executive Officer
Intermarkets, Inc.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Now they're getting it!

During the past couple of weeks, filled with news of the political conventions as well as the coverage of Hurricane Gustav, an interesting thing happened: Traditional media learned how to use new media to their advantage. Let's look at how they did this.

It's simple. During the Democratic and Republican conventions, we saw a significant increase in placements by the leading cable news channels on our flagship Portfolio site, the Drudge Report.

These news channels knew that the Drudge Report was going to be one of the first sites on the Web that people would visit to get the latest news and information about what was going on in Denver and St. Paul.

And right they were! The Drudge Report racked up its highest daily traffic during the political conventions. And by placing ads on the site, the leading news channels generated enormous audiences.

There are so many other Web-centric opportunities for conventional media, especially television, radio and newspapers, to generate traffic to their sites and users of their core content. Taking out display ads on top Web sites is a great place to start.

The next step...teasers and feeds using streaming technology; polls; "listen/watch/read now" marketing; 360 degree brand surrounding of Web audiences; and...

Oops, our sales team is insisting that we stop giving away the store. Talk to us (visit us here) and we'll give you more ideas.

Now the question is...will the media leaders follow through with even more creative solutions and approaches? We'll be ready to deliver...if they're interested.

Have a great week!

PS Almost forgot--As part of our community support activities, we're sponsoring a concert in Vienna, Virginia on Friday, September 12, at 6:30 PM. We're donating our sponsorship space to a local animal rescue organization, and they'll be there to provide information on how to help save animals. Please join us! For more information, check out the town of Vienna's Web site, here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Political fundraising -- Use the web...or else?

The Internet: The Dominant Media Force in Political Campaigns and Fundraising
I have a stack of direct mailings from a political candidate in my office. I started collecting the material about a month ago, and the stack is now nearly 8 inches high. I receive about 10 direct mail pieces per week from this candidate and their political party. And I ignore all of them.

Think of the time, money and resources that are used for these mailings. And yet, the candidate and their party appear to have completely missed the point that the Internet has grown with such speed and scope that it is the dominant media force in political campaigning and the primary source of political information for generations of millions of Americans.

Why the growth? Three key reasons...Open access, low-cost technology and the fast-growing base of users.

For example, we recently ran a couple of campaigns; one for a non-partisan charity and another for a political candidate.

For the charity, ads on our Portfolio delivered double the amount in donations than the organizers sought; in eight hours we raised more than $1 million.

For the political candidate, we're generating thousands of dollars every hour for their candidate. And we had to practically beg this presidential candidate's campaign to run these ads! Apparently, some, uh, "expert" told the campaign they couldn't raise any money on our sites. Looks like the expert was wrong, just a little bit?

Political organizations, marketers and candidates who "don't get it," will soon find themselves out of power...because the Web is where the voters are now.

Some experts (okay, I lost my sources, but these are real quotes) say:
"TV is being reduced to finding its news coverage in subjects that originate on the Internet" and “The Web is helping to connect people much faster to the issues.” And everyone in media seems to be guided by the reporting on the Drudge Report these days.

The power of online political communication
- Local television news is dropping as a source where individuals learn about political campaigns, recently from 48% to 39%.
- Internet has jumped from 9% to 24%; the largest by any media.

While Intermarkets is a non-partisan firm, we have seen left-of-center candidates and organizations clearly leading right-of-center organizations and candidates in effectively using the Web, blowing away all right-of-center efforts

For example, political ad spending after the New Hampshire primary was more than $50 million with over 80% of spending on the Democratic side alone!
- Total fundraising by party (from earlier this year):
Democrats: $319,103,104
Republicans: $261,989,809
- Online political buzz:
Democratic candidates accounted for two times the share of republican candidates in political discussions online.

Why should political candidates and organizations of all kinds use the Web? Because as elite political marketers have discovered, the Internet delivers crucial advantages over all other forms of fundraising:
- 300% return on investment for political fundraising on conservative websites.
- 20% of tech-savvy users relying on the Internet for political news made a contribution after clicking on an online political ad.
- 3% of total Internet users contributed to an online political campaign in 2006

Failure to utilize Web media now could result in complete loss of an entire generation of voters for candidates and political organizations:
- 18 - 29 year olds use the Internet (42%) much more than older users (15%)
- YouTube channel views: Democratic views: 16,951,309 Republicans: 10,721,805
- Social Network Participation:
Obama (D): 89,486+
Clinton (D): 365,551+
McCain (R): 42,756+

Obama (D): 22,705+
Clinton (D): 40,935+
McCain (R): no presence

The Generation Gap Revisited
Younger voters who are interested in politics rely on online information:
- 92% of users under age 36 rank the Internet as a top 2 primary source of political news and information with 35% citing it as the top source.
- Only 17% of users aged 51 & older rank the Internet as a primary source of political news.

Left-of-center political sites lead in top political websites:
Rank Website - Market Share
1. www.huffingtonpost.com - 4.22%
2. politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com - 3.91%
3. www.freerepublic.com - 3.68%
4. www.realclearpolitics.com - 3.08%
5. www.barackobama.com - 2.78%
6. youdecide08.foxnews.com - 2.63%
7. www.dailykos.com - 2.4%
8. www.ronpaul2008.com - 2.2%
9. www.politico.com - 1.86%
10. www.democraticunderground.com - 1.5%

Where users get campaign news online:
Total % 18 – 29 Y/O % 30 Y/O + %
MSNBC.com 26 30 24
CNN.com 23 30 21
Yahoo News 22 27 19
Google News 9 10 9
Fox News 9 5 10
AOL News 7 5 8
New York Times 6 5 6
Drudge Report 3 1 4

In this Web era, political candidates and organizations need to go where the voters are...which is on the Web.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Opening salvo

Welcome to the new blog from Intermarkets, Inc.'s very own CEO, Kevin Lucido.

Within our company, we've gone back and forth about whether or not to do a blog. But our smart team of marketers convinced me that we needed to create our own forum.

So here we are, and welcome.

Let's make the world a better place. Every day.