Thursday, October 1, 2009

Distribution revolution? By Even Aas-Eng

Since the arrival of the world wide web we have had three different phases of how we filter information (web sites).

First we had the web portals that gathered useful sites so it would be easy for people to navigate to the information they were looking for. The number of sites where off course very limited and if you tried a search engine to find something else you usually ended up on a porn site! As an advertiser the only real way of reaching a lot of people where through display ads or text links on the portals.

Then search engines (with less spam) changed the game completely. All websites became accessible through a search and a click. Great news for mankind and great news for advertisers that could add paid keywords and search engine optimization to their marketing mix.

Today we are well into phase three, social media. Filtering has again been taken over by humans (facilitated by technology) and social networks and user generated media are increasingly controlling our click streams and influencing our online decisions.

I am not writing this because we need yet another rant on how important social media is and how we can utilize it. What I would like to do is to emphasize one particular innovation, Facebook Connect.

Facebook Connect is a single sign on-service that enables user to logon to web sites outside Facebook with their Facebook login. Facebook Connect was launched in December 2008 and competes with openID and similar services. The difference being that Facebook is the Google of social media and a lot more powerful. For users Facebook Connect means that the actions they do on affiliated sites can be shared with their friends on Facebook. So again, great news for surfers of the web and a massive opportunity for advertisers.

Facebook Connect gives advertisers access to the most powerful distribution platform we have seen since Google took off early in this millennium. Here is why:

1) Facebook Connect lowers the threshold for participation. Who wants to create a new username and password? No one, we have way to many as it is. Using the connect service in advertising campaigns, on smaller niche communities or corporate sites you increase your signup rate massively because most people already have a Facebook account. (The Fluent 09/Razorfish report states that there is a 35% increase in the will for signing up via Facebook Connect)

2) Viral. Everything that you do on a Facebook Connect affiliated site can potentially be shared on Facebooks newsfeed or you can send a Facebook message. So if just ten people make an action and share it thousands may potentially see it. Someone will probably “Like” it and someone will probably comment on it.

It’s that simple and that important.
Try thinking about how you would attract new members to a niche community or how you would recruit users for an online competition with and without Facebook Connect and you will understand the importance of this feature.

I think Facebook Connect represents a distribution revolution, its one of the most important innovations we have seen in years and It will be a game changer.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who thought that a DVD rental would be the coolest place to work? By Even Aas-Eng

Today I picked up an article in a TechCrunch newsletter about Netflix. The American online DVD rental service apparently has a very interesting corporate culture that everyone now can read about after the management added their “Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture” To slideshare.

Some Highlights from the guide are:
- Netflix Vacation Policy and Tracking: "there is no policy or tracking."
- "There is also no clothing policy at Netflix, but no one has come to work naked lately."
- Netflix's policies for Expensing, Gifts and Travel: "Act in Netflix's Best Interests."
- Netflix on compensation: “When top of market comp done right... Nearly all ex-employees will take a step down in comp for their next job.”

So if you work at Netflix you can go on vacation whenever you like, show up naked in the office, receive a 50 inch LED TV as a gift from a Netflix partner (if it’s in Netflix best interest that you accept it) and while you are doing all this you will get the best compensation in the market!
I guess by now you really want to work with online DVD rentals!

Jokes aside, I think the presentation was very interesting. Its miles away from our Nordic “social welfare state” corporate culture, but it’s also miles away from most big American corporations excruciatingly boring “code of conduct”. What surprises me the most is that Netflix is not a small company. They are around 2000 people and their listed on NASDAQ. Alternative corporate cultures aren’t exactly uncommon in cool, tech start ups but they have a tendency to disintegrate as the companies go public.

Most companies like Netflix uses stock options as a way to keep the best talent. Google is a prime example, they gave all employees various number of options. Their strategy was never to be leading in compensation. When they went public in 2004 the initial offering was 85$, in 2007 Google hit 700$. Between 2004 and 2007 Google hired about 10 000 people, all got options. Because of the continuously rise in the Google stock its most have been a very effective way of keeping the best talent. There are two problems with this model though, its volatile and short term. Today Google shares are hovering around 450$.

Netflix offers stock options to those who want them but their strategy to keep the best talent is to offer them the best compensation in the market and let the employees decide what to do with it. The get rich quick opportunity disappears but you get long term stability and safety. I think most people would prefer the Netflix way.

Personally I have worked in India where I couldn’t wear jeans at the office except on Fridays and I have worked for Google where you got an incentive to buy a bike to save the environment… I prefer McCann here in Oslo where we have a mix of Nordic welfare stat socialism and IPGs code of conduct!

You can find the preso here:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Innovating pitch process

McCann in Turkey are currently in a pitch process with Turkish Airlines (TA) and the process has been very different and innovative. TA has placed clues online on different social media sites that the agencies involved has to find. You can read more about it here on McCann Turkeys blog:!.aspx

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Bing project completed… By Even Aas-Eng

The last two weeks I have used Bing as my default search engine. The mission here was not to look at new features or functionality that only are available in the US version but to see if Bing could handle the day by day stuff.

So here is a little recap of my two weeks with Bing. I started off uninstalling my Google toolbar and got ready to install the Bing. Easier said than done… A search for Bing toolbar in Bing gave no results but I did manage to find a Live toolbar. It didn’t look good, no search history and no search suggestion. Two days after I installed the toolbar it mysteriously vanished…

Ok, let’s move on to the actual search results. I was astonished after searching for Facebook and not finding it on the first page. How is that possible? A search for “Aunan” (A salmon fishing camp at the Orkla river) gave no results at all, a search in Google and their homepage was at position number one.

When you search for a site using the complete domain ( for example Google sends you directly to the site. Bing doesn’t and it’s annoying.

Today I was looking for a hotel in Oslo for a business contact who is visiting on Wednesday. I searched for the hotel name (Gabels hus) in Bing and got no relevant result on the first page. The same search in Google and the hotel web site hade the top rank.

The last two weeks every newsletter from TechCrunch has had at least one article praising Bing and talking about how great it is that someone tries to give Google a run for its money. There seems to be a lot of people wanting change in the search game. I am definitely one of them, but I can’t change my default search engine to something that is untrustworthy for the easiest requests. So for now its bye, bye Bing and welcome back Google.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Going completely Bing! By Even Aas-Eng

After seven years of Googling I will from now Bing things instead. If it’s not good enough I will change back in two weeks.

I will let you know.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The link between display and SEM. By Even Aas-Eng

Online marketers can be divided into three categories:

1) Those who believe the display ad is dead and think SEM will solve all your problems
2) Those who believe the display ad is everything
3) Those who believe that the world is not black or white and that it might be interesting to look at marketing across media channels and platforms and that different companies might need different strategies.

Of these three categories it’s my feeling that unfortunately nr 1 is growing, luckily nr 2 is declining and nr 3 is growing but not fast enough.

Aegis owned SEM agency Iprospect recently released a survey that concluded that display advertising has a positive effect on your SEA campaigns and that display advertising could work even though people don’t click on your ad. Revolutionary stuff…
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Iprospect did the survey, I hope many people read it and I hope we will see more surveys like this in the near future, but it scares me that we are not more advanced in how we utilize new media.

I think it’s funny how SEM fanatic’s have trashed the display ad for years while their favorite company Google in the same period have invested BILLIONS to build the largest display ad network in the world. As mentioned before on this blog, the display ad isn’t dead it has just been revitalized.

I have been a SEM evangelist in the Norwegian market since 2003 but I never meant that display advertising don’t work. If you compare display and SEA by looking at CTR, CPC and conversion rates you are looking at two different planets, that doesn’t mean that one of the planets are about the be blasted out of the solar system. The role of advertising is to create demand and that is possible to achieve trough a social media concept, a display ad, a SEA campaign, a newsletter, a viral movie, a TV commercial, a social media ad, a web site, a DM, or a combination of all or some of the above.

Why box yourself in by just having faith in one type of advertising?

Iprospect survey:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The next pot of gold for the agency industry. By Even Aas-Eng

The SMB´s of the world have always been a key driver in online advertising growth. Google’s success being the prime example of how “uninteresting” companies suddenly became the backbone of their business model.

SMB´s are spending more and more dollars online and their perspective on what is “advertising” is getting broader and broader. Their web site is often their only communication platform towards their clients and it’s easy to understand its importance. This study that I stumbled upon shows that 2/3 of the marketing professionals in these companies wants to spend more money next year in the “media” channel “my own web site”. The next wave of new corporate web sites is a huge opportunity for marketers. Finally the market will approach the job wanting to create value for users and not only show off the new fancy logo and the CEO!

The blurring lines of what is advertising is critical to understand if you are in the agency business today. One side of the coin is a huge opportunity the other a big threat…

The report is here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gulltaggen 2009 a great event. By Even Aas-Eng

Norway is a small country, it’s close to the north pole, there is no people here, shops are closed on Sundays, we are not a member of the EU and the rest of the world couldn’t care less about what happens here. All this according to my Swedish wife and unfortunately she is probably right…

So I thinks it’s worth mentioning when someone puts together an event in Oslo that truly is of high quality even on a international scale. INMA (IAB Norway) arrange this conference and award show every year and this time the lineup is just great, sensational considering that its taking place in Oslo. Chris Anderson, Seth Godin, Jack Myers, Lars Bastholm and Nigel Morris are just a few of the names on the speaker list.

The event gathers a wide specter of Norway’s new media industry and it has really become a “must be” venue every year. Apparently also in 2009 even though most companies are cutting back on their “extra curricular” activities.

So I just want to honor the INMA team that makes this happen and encourage all foreigners to attend the conference. You now have a good excuse to visit Norway.
(shops are still closed on Sundays…)

Check out the event here:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A dash of hope in all the despair. By Even Aas-Eng

IAB`s US spending report for 2008 is out in the open and contains some encouraging figures. Year on year the growth was 10,6% but more interesting is the Q4 figures that shows a growth of 4,5%
Search increased its market share from 42% to 45% and display related kept its position at 33%

The report also shows that CPG (Consumer packaged goods) share of internet revenue increased a staggering 60% in 2008. A very good sign for the years to come as this industry vertical traditionally has been skeptical to online media.

Read the report here

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is advertising failing on the internet? By Even Aas-Eng

My good friend Aleksander Rosinski at sent me this article by Eric Clemons:
Clemons is a Professor at Wharton and he is not a big fan of advertising… I thought the article was interesting but I disagree with him, a lot!

Clemons don’t believe that advertising dollars will not migrate online or to other digital channels, instead he believes that the internet will unveil the failing history of advertising and shatter all attempts at influencing consumers. Clemons says “It is not trusted, not wanted and not needed”
The advertising doesn’t work discussion seems to never end. Normally when this arise it’s a online marketing wizz behind it saying that SEM, affiliate marketing and a good old list of email addresses will solve all your problems but Clemons takes it one further and even dismisses search as a “Monetization of misdirection”!

His article is a long one so I will focus on his three reason on why advertising will fail

Consumers do not trust advertising. Clemons graduated from university in 1971 so he might think that advertising still looks, acts and feels like a Mad Men episode. We might not trust advertising to make important decisions in our life but we are not enemies of advertising. When Nike launches a new trainer, consumers that are exposed to Nike advertising may have thoughts on the design, colors or the price of the product but they don’t accuse Nike of trying to sell them a crap pair of trainers. Consumers don’t trust companies that promises something they don’t deliver and they don’t trust bad advertising. The internet is a transparency tool and the rise of social media means that companies no longer can risk being untruthful in their advertising without the consumers picking them apart, but the idea of truth in advertising is not something new. McCann’s mantra “Truth well told” is almost 100 years old…

Consumers do not want to view advertising. This is definitely true for a lot of “push” campaigns out there, but it doesn’t mean that we are not influenced. Let’s take a horrendous example. has annoying display ads everywhere you go online and I don’t know how many times I have been exposed to their ads. I don’t have a printer but if I did I would surely by both ink and toner from Why? I don’t care about ink, I don’t want to spend time looking for ink and I certainly don’t care what other people mean about ink, so if I remembered the name of someone who sells ink I would buy it there. If inkclub has a positive return on their investment is a different story but it does work even though it’s annoying.
Then there is all the types of advertising that people like to view. Who doesn’t like the text ad from the wonderful little beach bungalow that was smart enough to be there when I searched for a beach hotel at Boracay or what a about the 240.000 consumers (campaign was shut down after two weeks) that participated in Burger Kings last campaign where you could dump your Facebook friends for a free burger.

Consumers do not need advertising. They don’t, but that’s hardly the questions here. Companies need advertising and the economy needs advertising to stimulate demand. Increase in demand leads to profits and innovation and that again leads to increased material welfare. I don’t know about Mr Clemons but I certainly don’t mind. Clemons own research shows that people use UGC sites like Tripadvisor when they make decisions and therefore they don’t need advertising. People do use Tripadvisor and similar sites and we are experiencing a influence revolution but this influence is not enough to drive the same amount of demand as you can with a successful advertising campaign. It is definitely possible to influence consumer behavior, advertising is one of the tools companies have at their disposal. Let’s take an example from the travel industry. With the arrival of low cost airlines consumers travel behavior in Europe has changed drastically. In a small market like Norway there are three direct flights to Vilnius from Oslo weekly, that means that 450 people fly there every week. I don’t know what the number was before Norwegian Airlines started their direct flight but I am pretty sure it was less. So by convenience, affordable prices and marketing Norwegian airlines has been able to increase demand for airtravel to Vilnius. How would they fill their flights without advertising and how would I know that they fly to Vilnius without any kind of advertising? And please don’t say word of mouth…

Internet will not kill advertising. On the contrary it will provide us with more relevant models for push marketing so that inkclub doesn’t have to waste money on me and it has already given us the opportunity to create even more relevant, valuable and successful pull campaigns. And the best thing, it will only get better.

Friday, March 13, 2009

“Interest-based advertising”, the rebirth of behavioral targeting. By Even Aas-Eng

Two days ago Google launched their new display product with new targeting options. You will now be able to target user based on their browser history, the site they visit and the pages they view.
The service is still in beta but will soon be launched across Google’s massive adsense network and give it a long overdue facelift.

I assume that the “interest-based advertising” service is based on Doubleclick technology. If that is correct this is the first significant outcome of Google’s takeover of the company in 2007. It has taken two years to take the new display product to market, it must have been frustrating!

I think it’s funny that the term “behavioral targeting” seems to have disappeared after the US congressional hearings last fall about online targeting and privacy issues. In order to stay away from the heat Google has also implemented a lot of user friendly features to their new service. You can choose categories of advertising and you can off course choose not to be targeted at all. No one will probably ever discover these opportunities but Google’s has its back free.

So make no mistake behavioral targeting is back but it has a new name, “interest-based advertising”

More info can be found here:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

God, I was wrong! By Even Aas-Eng

This blog has been dead for a bit over a year now and this is an attempt to bring some life back to it.

One of my last articles was titled “Recession is here” and was posted on January 22 th in 2008. The post was a rant on how a recession will speed up the transition from “old” to “new” media and how the online advertising industry would benefit from this. I was also offensive enough to recommend a few tech companies as potential winners in the stock market during a economic downturn, I wish I didn’t… The concerned companies was Google and Tradedoubler and the stock price at the time was about 500USD for Google and 123 SEK for the Swedish affiliate marketing player. Today Google is trading at 318 USD and I just sold my Tradedoubler stocks at 26 SEK a share…

Well I was right about one thing, the recession was really creeping up on us and we are now experiencing the most severe global economic downturn since the big depression. This has obviously impacted the digital business as well and my rosy prediction from a year ago looks ridiculous today. But I am not going to use this blog to post doomsday prophecies. We live in interesting times of change and transition, new ventures arise and old business models dies, fortunes are made and lost. It’s the age of opportunity.

So the blog is back and the first real post will be ready soon (hopefully) I already know the title, “Black Swans and Creative Destruction”

And I got rid of the sleazy picture!