August 03, 2015

Humans Out At MCR

NEW YORK, NY (UPA) -- Marketing communications firm MCR announced today that they will be revamping their staffing practices in 2016 to eliminate the need for "non-digital" staff.

"We think we have identified a new way to look at marketing communication that will create deeper value for our clients by eliminating unnecessary cost factors, such as personnel," said Rich Mandrake, ceo of MCR.

MCR's plan is to utilize technology-based resources such as software, virtual robots, and media algorithms to create and implement advertising and marketing programs for its clients.

"We will need to keep a few tech people on staff to insure that our systems are functioning well and are properly integrated. But that's it. Last-century resources like account managers, copywriters, art directors, and media planners -- in other words, people -- will be replaced by digital resources."

Susan Rottingham, Executive Director of Marketing Matrix, another advertising and marketing firm in East Wilting, PA expressed admiration for the concept.

"I believe this is a first step toward advertising's future. We can drive creative content strategy and design experiences into a highly curated, customized experience across the digital ecosystem by eliminating non-essential pathways."

Thomas Train of A&P Partners in Phoenix was less enthusiastic. "It comes down to this," Train said, "algorithms can't buy lunch."

But Mandrake is unshaken in his confidence in the new system.

"We have developed what we call 'virtual robotics' that can actually understand a client brief when it is converted into code via a proprietary algorithm we have developed. The robot program then goes online and hunts down previously created advertising and marketing campaigns in similar categories which it 'borrows' from -- much like a traditional creative team does," he explained.

Using existing software, a "virtual account manager" then relays the creative content to a newly developed media package called "Planner Z" which generates a media plan and transmits the plan via secure lines to a programmatic buying service or trading desk.

According to Mandrake, the development time from the moment a new client brief is received until a new advertising campaign starts appearing in media can take less than 30 minutes.

MCR was formed in 2002 by the merger of Mandrake & Partners and C.R. Lewin Associates. With offices in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, it currently employs 260 people and is the largest advertising agency in upstate New York.

You can learn more about the new technology here

July 30, 2015

What If Targeting Doesn't Work?

As regular readers know, I have a basement full of oddball ideas about advertising. One of them is that "media science" may be a lot of hooey.

What if all the "precision targeting" we do is mostly unnecessary complexity masquerading as knowledge?

What if there's only one important cut we need to make when planning media -- does the person participate in our category or not?

If we're selling golf balls, the only important targeting question we have to ask is, "Does this person play golf?" If we're selling wine the only important question to ask is, "Does she drink wine?" If we sell tires the only important question is, "Do they own a car?"

All the other stuff -- their education, their income, their weight, height, and serial number, their zip code and psychosexual predelictions, the websites they visited yesterday, and the number of chickens in their backyard -- may be interesting, but what if they don't do a damn thing to make our media buys more effective?

During my semi-brilliant advertising career I would never have suggested such a thing to a client. Clients don't like oddball ideas. They are resolutely devoted to believing what everybody else believes. And everyone else believes that leveraging data to create precision targeting is the future of advertising.

I guess it would be simple enough to either prove or disprove this theory.

I'd love to see an advertiser do a split run. In one market buy media based on the usual  demographics, psychographics, data-o-graphics, programmat-o-graphics, graph-o-graphics, and bullshit-o-graphics.

In another matched market run the same campaign but make the media buy based on one behavioral criterion -- does the person participate in our category or not?

I'd love to see the results.

July 27, 2015

Zombie Apps Suck Billion From Clueless Mobile Advertisers

Last year, in a post called "What Every CEO Needs To Know About Online Advertising" I wrote...
"...the online ad world is so complex and impenetrable, there may very well be types of fraud we haven't even discovered."
Last week, a new kind of fraud was discovered.

According to Ad Age...
"Thousands of so-called zombie apps are infecting mobile phones, expending data usage and battery life at an alarming rate while costing advertisers nearly a billion dollars annually."
A study done by Forensiq found the following:
- In a 10 day period, more than 12 million devices uploaded zombie apps. (If this is typical and projectible, in one year almost half a billion devices would be infected.)
- Apps available at the App store and Google Play store were infected. Infected apps ran on both Android and iOS devices.
- An infected app appears harmless but "can consume two gigabytes of data, severely drain battery life and run more than 16,000 ads without the user's knowledge."
- "...many of the apps were observed generating traffic through most major ad exchanges and networks, establishing 1,100 connections per minute and communicating with 320 ad networks per hour."
- "Sophisticated" advertisers like Coke, Microsoft, and Mercedes were being taken in by these criminals.
Once again, the digital advertising industry has shown itself to be completely clueless and unprepared for another kind of massive fraud.

Google reportedly pulled several titles from the Google Play store after hearing of the report. I guess a little mom and pop like Google doesn't have the resources to test this crap before they offer it up to the public.

Most mobile advertising occurs within apps. Until now, naive advertisers believed that since cookies are not prevalent on mobile platforms, they were protected from the types of fraud rampant on traditional online advertising. Wrong.

The astoundingly feckless Interactive Advertising Bureau (which I am fond of calling the Inactive Advertising Bureau) said the report was "groundbreaking."
"It explores the impact in the mobile space when before the focus was on display advertising,"
Huh? I'd like to know exactly what the Inactive Advertising Bureau does other than issue press releases every time they're shocked by another report of massive online ad fraud.