Brand, Others

Marketing and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence

As I was driving back home today and cruising through the chain of thoughts, I was reminded of a few regular comments in my organisation, which my marketing folks will not find irregular- Where are the numbers? Marketing can never get their numbers right? Marketing never backs up data. etc etc.

The war between between sales and marketing lingers on; numbers and leads and conversion. These are eternal debates and has been a discussion point for many research papers and conferences.

However the truth is and the fact remains that at the end of the day and the quarter and the year end, sales is the only factor which has a direct impact on the organisation’s bottomline and it is these numbers that builds CFO’s confidence (and therefore CEOs). Marketing on the other hand, and till this point this would be still contesting and justifying, which gets me thinking- Is marketing an exact science?

Let me elaborate a little on what I’m talking about. I happen to attend a session on ROI marketing organised by ZenithOptimedia, where panel included Mr.Santosh Desai (Future Brands), Mr.Sachin Bhatia (MakeMyTrip.com) and a gentleman from new Walmart team. Mr Desai’s thought were very provoking, he said- Numbers are handled very loosely and sometimes we measure for the sake of measuring. Remember, when we made graphs for science lab test. The line in the graph would come first and then would the figures. Results and targets would come first, then the numbers. All of us would have encountered this situation.

Now, consider marketing, where the greatest tool/invention is the concept of “Brand”. Ironically, it never features in the balance sheet. But it is a brand which drives the consumer mindspace, preferences to use the product and therefore sales and market. Organisations spend huge time and money to build a strong brand. An ideal stage would be something like Google, where one doesn’t have to spend any money, but before one gets to this situation, one has to do a lot of board meetings and meet quarter end sales pressures.

And if I were to ask, how big the brand should be, what is the measure of a big brand and how can it drive business goals, to what extent does it effect the bottomline and will shareholders buy it? Well, it is very debatable, but surely, it is not as easy as to have a future projection for sales. It is like defining the “Quality”, which might empirically precedes any intellectual constructions. Deriving formula for numbers and projection is easy, but creating a brand isn’t. Sales is easy, Marketing isn’t. Thats why there are few marketing guys and very few of them become CEOs 🙂

Let me elaborate a little more and dwell on the realm of philosophy. World’s fastest growing company, Google didn’t know what it would become when it launched “Adwords”. Best of the discoveries were not planned. It happened with a mixture of conscious effort and magic (call it hands of god, stoke of luck, belief etc). Robert R Prisig’s book “Lila” (he also wrote “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintainence”) has a very insightful story. P wanted to reach Newfoundland, and prepared well for it. He trained himself as a sailor, gained proficiency in reading stars and maps. And so one day, he started on his journey to Newfoundland. There was a terrible storm and he lost his map, but then his inspiration kept him going. He used his instincts to guide him towards coast. He saw an island and he remembered that newfoundland was 10 kms to the right. Though he could not measure 10 km, he went further and saw some people. In order to ensure that his calculation was right, he asked these people how far was newfoundland. To his surprise he found that he was in Newfoundland!

In the process to get the right numbers, right target, right stretch target we seem to suppress our instincts and loose the feel for numbers (read business) and can’t look beyond. If we can’t differentiate between business goals and targets, the numbers become useless to reach goals. We loose the bigger picture. We measure for the sake of measuring and we make numbers to defend our options and resort to precision and more precision. The qualification of success would be how precise we are. And so would be the bonuses!

Marketing is philanthropic in its construction and all about hopes, dreams and aspiration and philosophy, which may not follow a polynomial regression equation and extends beyond the number business. Marketing is an inexact science and a creative profession. It is laidback, but performs, we should try to force fit its statistic correlation with bottomline.

Or shall we? I would love to hear from you 🙂
Cheers!!


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Google, Internet Industry, Merger and Acquisition, Microsoft, Microsoft's Bid for Yahoo, Yahoo

Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo!

$45 Billion is the figure. Steve Ballmer’s offer, a “bear hug” in M&A parlance, was the first step. The letter ended with a mix of conviviality and veiled threat that suggests what might come next. “My leadership team and I would be happy to make ourselves available to meet with you and your Board at your earliest convenience,” he writes. “Depending upon the nature of your response, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure Yahoo shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.”

Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay wrote in a research note that “the Microsoft bid of $31 is very astute” because it puts pressure on Yahoo management to take actions that could unlock the underlying value of Yahoo assets, which he estimates are worth upward of $39-$45 a share.

If the Yahoo board digs in its heels, reject Microsoft’s offer, and resorts to its “poison pill”—an anti-takeover maneuver to dilute the value of a hostile bidder’s stake in the company—Microsoft’s next shot would be to file a tender offer and nominate a new slate of independent directors. This is otherwise known as throwing the bums out.

Under Yahoo’s bylaws, the notice for such a proposal and new slate of directors must be issued by March 13—enough time for the Yahoo directors to consider Microsoft’s offer, while each side burns through some very high-priced legal advice, and Microsoft heads toward a possible proxy fight.

Google Lawyers have been blogging about the antitrust, with Microsoft’s bid. Will they succeed? There are lot of action in this space. These are few good articles on this news…

The War for the Internet: Why Yahoo! is Microsoft’s best chance to “kill Google.” is my favourite 😉


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Internet Industry

Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo!

$45 Billion is the figure. Steve Ballmer’s offer, a “bear hug” in M&A parlance, was the first step. The letter ended with a mix of conviviality and veiled threat that suggests what might come next. “My leadership team and I would be happy to make ourselves available to meet with you and your Board at your earliest convenience,” he writes. “Depending upon the nature of your response, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure Yahoo shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.”

Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay wrote in a research note that “the Microsoft bid of $31 is very astute” because it puts pressure on Yahoo management to take actions that could unlock the underlying value of Yahoo assets, which he estimates are worth upward of $39-$45 a share.

If the Yahoo board digs in its heels, reject Microsoft’s offer, and resorts to its “poison pill”—an anti-takeover maneuver to dilute the value of a hostile bidder’s stake in the company— Microsoft’s next shot would be to file a tender offer and nominate a new slate of independent directors. This is otherwise known as throwing the bums out.

Under Yahoo’s bylaws, the notice for such a proposal and new slate of directors must be issued by March 13—enough time for the Yahoo directors to consider Microsoft’s offer, while each side burns through some very high-priced legal advice, and Microsoft heads toward a possible proxy fight.

Google Lawyers have been blogging about the antitrust, with Microsoft’s bid. Will they succeed? There are lot of action in this space. These are few good articles on this news…

The War for the Internet: Why Yahoo! is Microsoft’s best chance to “kill Google.” is my favourite 😉


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Accenture, Digital Marketing, Internet Industry, Internet Marketing

Accenture Global Digital Advertising Study 2007

My friend Anuj Anand shared a very interesting report with me last week and as usual i was about to junk it ;). A better sense prevailed and I didn’t regret a bit going through the report.

Though it is called “Accenture Global Digital Advertising Study 2007″and you might think that it pertains only to US (no wonder their local baseball competition is also called World Cup), it does have something for all of us. Coming back to the report, the key takeaways were…

– 79 percent of our survey participants agree that advertising will become more performance-based, as the industry moves towards precise measurement of results, rapidly delivered. This will impose a performance discipline on an industry that has rarely felt this kind of pressure.

– 87 percent agree that analytics will become more accurate and more critical to the business. This shift will drive a decline in the use of traditional success measures — total audience per advertisement — but will enable advertisers to gain increased return
on investment through more accurate targeting of audiences.

– 97 percent agree that advertising relationships with customers will become more interactive, and the other 3 percent say they don’t know, meaning that not a single respondent disagrees. As a result of this greater interactivity, capabilities such as clickthrough buttons on TV will enable a two-way dialogue with the consumer all the way to purchase. These capabilities will also create a more meaningful feedback loop on advertising effectiveness.

– 43 percent of the respondents believe that digital media will become the primary form of programming and advertising content within the next five years, and a further 33 percent say this will happen in between seven and 10 years. The impact of this transition may be
accelerated by the typical pattern that early adaptors tend to be from higher income
demographic groups that are more attractive to advertisers. Traditional advertisers are largely unprepared for the wave of digitally driven change about to engulf them.

– Only 29 percent of executives believe the industry is technologically prepared for the resulting changes in performance measurement. The proportions are even lower in terms
of customer analytics (25 percent), targeted advertising (21 percent) and customer interactivity (13 percent).

– Largely as a result, the highest proportion of respondents (43 percent) believe advertising agencies have the most to lose in the transition to digital advertising, followed by broadcasters with 33 percent.

– Correspondingly, 46 percent believe that online search companies have the most to gain, followed by digital advertising specialists with 19 percent.

– 77 percent agree that advertising will be viewed in an integrated way on three screens — television, computer and wireless handset.

Indian scenario can’t be more rosier. Digital agency Zenith Optimedia expects Internet ad spend to double, from 210 crores 2006 to 450 crores in 2007 and can potentially rise to 2,250 crores mark in 2009 (a 10 times increase). As a share of advertising pie, the share will rise to 6.8%, which was 1% last year. There is another interesting report on digital industry.

It just certifies a fact that we already know, that the advertising industry is facing a radical transformation — in terms of its technological and cultural impact. We need to focus strongly on the use technology to offer advanced customer interactivity. Targeting and analytics are gaining real competitive differentiation.

Therefore the implications for us are…

– If you are a new media company — build, partner or buy systems (sales, reporting, delivery) to support products across three screens and to deliver targeted advertising in privacy-compliant ways.
– If you are a marketer — escalate your integrated marketing and advertising initiatives across three screens, keeping a critical eye on performance metrics.
– If you are a technology company — focus on developing front-end and back-end systems specific to each medium’s unique needs.

If you can’t locate PDF on the net, do write to me and I’ll send you a copy 🙂

Cheers!

Digg!

Advertising Industry, Digital Marketing, Internet Industry

Accenture Global Digital Advertising Study 2007

My friend Anuj Anand shared a very interesting report with me last week and as usual i was about to junk it ;). A better sense prevailed and I didn’t regret a bit going through the report.

Though it is called “Accenture Global Digital Advertising Study 2007″and you might think that it pertains only to US (no wonder their local baseball competition is also called World Cup), it does have something for all of us. Coming back to the report, the key takeaways were…

– 79 percent of our survey participants agree that advertising will become more performance-based, as the industry moves towards precise measurement of results, rapidly delivered. This will impose a performance discipline on an industry that has rarely felt this kind of pressure.

– 87 percent agree that analytics will become more accurate and more critical to the business. This shift will drive a decline in the use of traditional success measures — total audience per advertisement — but will enable advertisers to gain increased return on investment through more accurate targeting of audiences.

– 97 percent agree that advertising relationships with customers will become more interactive, and the other 3 percent say they don’t know, meaning that not a single respondent disagrees. As a result of this greater interactivity, capabilities such as clickthrough buttons on TV will enable a two-way dialogue with the consumer all the way to purchase. These capabilities will also create a more meaningful feedback loop on advertising effectiveness.

– 43 percent of the respondents believe that digital media will become the primary form of programming and advertising content within the next five years, and a further 33 percent say this will happen in between seven and 10 years. The impact of this transition may be
accelerated by the typical pattern that early adaptors tend to be from higher income demographic groups that are more attractive to advertisers. Traditional advertisers are largely unprepared for the wave of digitally driven change about to engulf them.

– Only 29 percent of executives believe the industry is technologically prepared for the resulting changes in performance measurement. The proportions are even lower in terms of customer analytics (25 percent), targeted advertising (21 percent) and customer interactivity (13 percent).

– Largely as a result, the highest proportion of respondents (43 percent) believe advertising agencies have the most to lose in the transition to digital advertising, followed by broadcasters with 33 percent.

– Correspondingly, 46 percent believe that online search companies have the most to gain, followed by digital advertising specialists with 19 percent.

– 77 percent agree that advertising will be viewed in an integrated way on three screens — television, computer and wireless handset.

Indian scenario can’t be more rosier. Digital agency Zenith Optimedia expects Internet ad spend to double, from 210 crores 2006 to 450 crores in 2007 and can potentially rise to 2,250 crores mark in 2009 (a 10 times increase). As a share of advertising pie, the share will rise to 6.8%, which was 1% last year. There is another interesting report on digital industry.

It just certifies a fact that we already know, that the advertising industry is facing a radical transformation — in terms of its technological and cultural impact. We need to focus strongly on the use technology to offer advanced customer interactivity. Targeting and analytics are gaining real competitive differentiation.

Therefore the implications for us are…

– If you are a new media company — build, partner or buy systems (sales, reporting, delivery) to support products across three screens and to deliver targeted advertising in privacy-compliant ways.
– If you are a marketer — escalate your integrated marketing and advertising initiatives across three screens, keeping a critical eye on performance metrics.
– If you are a technology company — focus on developing front-end and back-end systems specific to each medium’s unique needs.

If you can’t locate PDF on the net, do write to me and I’ll send you a copy 🙂

Cheers!!

Digg!