Sunday, November 23, 2008

Internet advertising revenues to keep growing?

The latest figures of the IAB show that Q3/2008 Internet advertising revenue for Internet advertising rose by over 11% compared to the same period of 2007. While some people feel that this is a "proof" showing earlier assertions that interactive and online marketing would not suffer and possibly benefit from the ongoing economic crisis, the question is open as to the sustainability of what appears to be a healthy situation. My take is that:

  1. advertisers are going to seriously reduce their spending at least for some time if not for reasons of substance at least to achieve cosmetic impacts on their quarterly figures and send a message to their employees;

  2. the commercial efforts required for agencies to sell their services will increase very substantially making life very difficult for ad agencies that do not have ciritcal mass whether in terms of finances or in terms of personnel;

  3. advertisers are poised to become much more demanding when it comes to getting verifiable and measurable impacts resulting from any interactive initiative, something that basically makes it even more relevant today to have adequate infrastructure and personnel for reliable and consistent web analytics

Let's see what happens.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lousy ads

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That's the tag line for Windows. Does Microsoft really think that it's smart to be speaking of a life without walls at a time when many Americans are not sure to be able to keep a roof over their heads? This is almost as bad as the campaign Fortis had launched in the midst of its recent woes with the red sinus curve and a message saying something like "in life there are ups and downs and Fortis supports you in both"... well these days Fortis and many other financial institutions are indeed experts in the lows...


Ending an interesting trip to North America

I'am in New York and about to take my flight back to Europe. This trip to North America has been an interesting one mainly because of the stuff I learned as part of my current efforts to understand a bit better business performance measurement in a number of fields. It's also been a good opportunity to meet business contacts and friends. Anyhow, here are a few reasons why I am currently so interested in performance measurement:

  1. the seemingly unending financial crisis is in part the result of inadequate measurement of the actual business performance of quoted companies in general and banks more specifically. The rating agencies messed up, the regulators messed up, the quants messed up, senior management was caught off-guard and crucially the "financial reality" of the stock exchanges had been increasingly divergent from the reality of real businesses out there, especially when it came to measuring value creation. Now the question is to find out whether or not we will be capable of measuring properly the rescue programs and that starts with proper definition of objectives in the first place, which is far from "mission accomplished";

  2. I've had yet another couple of opportunities recently to witness the very material consequences ill-focused performance metrics can have, from misguided sales efforts to chaotic software development. Of course the trouble gets compounded usually since a company that fails to focus on what matters to the successful development of its "system" will mess up all facets of its business operations;

  3. for the past couple of years, working in the field of online and interactive marketing, I came across situations in which advertisers were demanding "return on investment" and in 99% of those situations they had no specific idea of what that concept actually meant, but they were complaining about the actual impact of viral or buzz campaigns. Now, the issue here was even more basic: they did not know what their marketing objectives were in the first place, something that I think is attributable to the fact that they were carrying out their first major online initiatives... which means that as the market becomes more educated it will also become more demanding and that's not necessarily good news for new agencies that emerged out of the blue thesepast few years, unless they considerably improve their discipline. So I took the opportunity of my trip to attend a training seminar of 2 days with the American Management Association on the topic of ROI (more in a separate post);

  4. the issues of the environment and the imperative to change our ways of dealing with the planet show how critical it is to actually measure the performance of companies by integrating into the performance measurement model the impacts of each company on the environment and on local communities... which calls for expanding the scope of business performance measurement to include "systems of companies" and "systems of systems of companies"... which means that the approach that characterized financial analysts' meetings on Wall Street is dead wrong and misleading;

  5. I have a little project on which I am currently working that will need a different framework for assessing performance because it is aimed at making a contribution to durable development... but I'll tell you about that later :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Words matter, vision inspires and hope enables

One of the best speeches and an example of leadership, in the sense that leadership is not about a person but about the people that person is called upon to serve...

The power of coherence

What a day and what a night! Today, the nefarious potency of incompetence is not diminished, but incompetence is no longer in power at least for some time. Barack Obama's win is the most beautiful piece of news in a very long time!

There is considerable value in a coherent approach to any venture as I wrote on this blog inspired by the US Primaries... That is true today perhaps as never before, especially as we see the collapse of ways of running businesses that subject people, their dreams and hopes, their craft and their daily work to the tyranny of a profoundly distorted conception of finance and figures. Pretty much like for a Presidential election, in business the figures are merely the reflection of something much more important: how the job is done, how the craftsman works day in day out, how the customer is served, how the product is built and the service delivered... Therefore the purpose of business is not to produce numbers for investors, even though when the job is done with passion and professionalism profits reward investors.

Anyway, let me give you some pictures from the US Elections Night that was organized by The Bulletin in Brussels at a hotel and bar which must have broken their all-time records of turnover. Again, the figures are merely the reflection of something much more important going on, not the result of bean-counters or little business dictators running around and bullying people into "producing the figures".