Impression from OMMA: I’m Not an IAB Flack!
Being up at the OMMA East Conference in Manhattan last week was a strange mix of experiences. On some level, it could have been a conference beamed in (from the exact same ballroom) from 2001, dominated by discussions and venders from the ad network and PPC/SEO sectors. Many a promising-titled session ended up covering much of the same old ground. It was redeemed, though, by the quality of many of the attendees (and of the conversations bubbling among the participants and exhibitors) and the occassional gems of insight. Face it, even an occassional gem of insight is much better than most conferences.
At the same time, over at the IAB/AdWeek Mixx Conference & Awards the “Art of the H3ist” campaign picked up an embarrassing number of awards (in no small part due to the tremendous overview of the workings of the campaign put together by the agency McKinney.) At the panel I sat on at OMMA (about marketing with “micromedia” like blogs and podcasts), the recent Audi campaign was one of my frequent examples of the unexpected ways to market via community micromedia.
When part of the topic turned to some panelists’ reports that they had to explain to their clients that advertising in blogs frequently produced lower results, it rang very different for me: not only were blog placements great producers of visitors and buzz, they were even more impressive in terms of efficiency because they were so cheap. A number of publications and blogs picked up on the metric soundbyte of the comment, but not necessarily all of the context for why the approach of the ads was as much to blame as the blogs they got placed on.
In a complete example of irony, a comment here and there in the blogsphere on the topic has misconnected the Mixx Awards and who throws that conference with the panel I was on at OMMA, suggesting my comments were “more IAB and agency-driven hype for the purpose of creating new interactive revenue streams.” And I thought I had a tin foil hat!
Without a doubt, traditional media marketers are going to like the Audi campaign, because it used traditional media in untraditional ways (a theme that Joseph Jaffe picked up on) as much as it also used untraditional media in ways that also aren’t at all traditional (but still are in service to traditional metrics and measurement.)
But a big part of the “micromedia” or “consumer-generated content” approach (see Tom Hespos’ excellent post-OMMA thoughts on the topic) is thinking of ad space in a different way. I’m not the only person placing ads on blogs that mentions to one another that there’s a difference in the response rate from some blog networks versus others. I personally think, at least if you’re approaching them as conversational marketing, that the IAB standards are part of the problem. At least in blogs, they establish you as “an ad” — which makes it even more challenging (but not impossible) to convince them that instead you’re a part of the conversation they are already having.
So in places the Heist used IAB standards to remarkable results (by using them in different ways than normal), and in other places embracing non-IAB standards (especially HTML/image combos) contributed significantly to reach and pre-qualification of engagement. In a truly integrated strategy, you don’t have to pick one thing over another, you can have all of the above. Don’t confuse the placement with the synergy between the creative and the placement (as these are strange branded entertainment approaches to ads.)
That said, the category of community media (my preference to “consumer-generated content”) remains this area that marketers continue to try to figure out (and a topic I’ll be writing more about.)