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The Relevance Delta: Madison Avenue and Google

DeltaAndy Berndt’s departure from O&M set the tone for Advertising Week. If you were present at MIXX and OMMA and wanted to find out how advanced advertising has become you were in the wrong place. I direct you Mountain View, California where they are eating Madison Avenue's lunch. What I saw the last few days was a troubling view of the future balance of advertising power.

Case in point is Digitas. With eager expectation I listened to Digitas speak about their work for IBM (full disclosure - IBM is also a client of OTTO Digital). What is Digitas doing for IBM? For one they are adding links to social media sites like Digg and del.icio.us to each piece of content. This they said creates a viral effect. The other strategic nugget was that they were able to deliver relevant content AFTER the user registered on the site.

Digitas and IBM are smart organizations. They are “digital.” They are supposed to get it. What about targeting IBM’s content based on source data? What about targeting IBM’s content based on visit behavior? Why does IBM need 30 websites and 15 CMS systems when they can have a single platform and geo-target everything? Why not test before deciding each country having their own creative and messaging was a bad idea? Why not think, deliver and create solutions like a search engine?

What about the consumer brands? Here, video was on the minds of everyone likely due to the fact that brand dollars will roll into digital through video. So, how is Coca-Cola using video in interesting ways? Coke created a “made for the web” video that was so well liked that they used it for a TV commercial. Where is the value creation here outside of reduced creative costs? Where is the value creation with their customers?

- Links to Digg
- Targeting Content to Registered Users
- Putting Online Video on TV

Digital marketers need to do better. Digital marketers need to create value. I don’t care if you are a brand marketer of direct marketer. Value is created by delivering relevance. Google is laser focused on this. After two days at MIXX and OMMA what I can tell you is that this relevance delta is getting wider and wider.

The solution for digital advertising, digital marketing and digital publishing is in products. Products solve problems. Build solutions – be it with your own technology, the technology of others or just leveraging existing platforms. This stands not only for agencies but also for the businesses that employ them.

Take YouTube as an example. I can find just about anything I’m looking for on YouTube. Flinstones, T-Rex or Queens of the Stone Age - YouTube is a video product that delivers relevance. YouTube is a platform. YouTube is a widget. YouTube is everything that Madison Avenue is not creating.

At the end of the day it is this marriage of technology with great creative that will deliver relevance. Why does this work? Look how Google approaches advertising.

1. Viral & WOM- They have never spent a penny on an ad yet have one of the most valuable brands in the world
2. Insane focus on the user – I didn't hear the words “user experience” uttered once in two days. Note that 1 & 2 are inseparable.
3. Optimization – Publisher side, ad side-- create then test, measure and optimize the hell out of it.
4. Technology is the core – Success begins and ends with the platform

Andrew Chen has a great post on the cultural differences between Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue that he saw the past two days at MIXX. The issues that divide the coasts on the product/solutions front are likely greater. Maybe this is a byproduct of the different mindsets however, increasingly these worlds are not coming together.

While Madison Avenue has most of the dollars in their hands now, the purchase of aQuantive by MSFT and the rise of in-house SEM over the last few years due to Google’s interface, reporting and support are just two events that should motivate the agencies to create marketing solutions in new and better ways. Measurable value creation and ROI for clients is achieved by delivering relevance. Relevance is only delivered through technology.

How many products and marketing solutions are you building next year? How many is Google working on? How wide is the delta?

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