Tag Archives: advertising

Demand Generation vs Demand Fulfillment

There are some examples of digital advertising generating demand for a product, but they are unpredictable –  a viral sensation that is hard to manufacture.

It seems that the real money is on digital media fulfilling the demand created by more predictable “mass-media” tactics – TV, PR etc.

The brilliantly controversial Ad Contrarian has said that the internet shouldn’t really be used for advertising at all, or at least only for Google ads and certainly not for those tiny little Facebook ads.

He points out that targeting ads in a highly specific way, based on demographics, does not seem to work in building a strong mass-market brand. This goes against the new conventional wisdom, which is that targeting will change everything.

However, about a year ago, Facebook released its new FBX ads. These ads are not targeted based on the huge amount of demographic information Facebook hold. Instead they are based on your browsing history, on promoting things that you have already looked at on other sites.

So, what Facebook is doing, is moving from trying to generate new demand, but rather fulfilling the demand that has already been generated.


I see a travel show on TV suggesting a trip to Bali. Or someone mentions their trip, and it sounds cool. The demand has been created. So I check it out on a web site (and get a cookie), but I’m not ready to buy the holiday now.

The genius of Google is that – whenever I am ready – I will search for it. And Google will be there at that very moment to take their slice.

WIth FBX, Facebook will be showing me adverts for Bali now. They will also have a chance of “fulfilling” the demand that was generated elsewhere.

And perhaps, with this, Facebook also have a chance of fulfilling people’s expectations that they can make money from all of the time people spend on their platform.

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Why advertising pitches are like ‘The Bachelor’.

For most of my career, I was The Client.

Whenever we needed to pick a new agency, we used to think that pitching was the responsible thing to do – we tested out agencies “for real” as we got to see them work on our problems, not other people’s.

But now I work at an ad agency, and the truth I’ve come to realise is: pitching is the worst way to start a relationship.

Pitching is the equivalent of the TV Show The Bachelor: one guy picking from 30 women according to a pre-defined process and time schedule, regardless of initial chemistry and compatibility.

You get a winner, but you rarely start a genuine relationship.

Just like with personal relationships, it is great when we meet a team on the client side who is so close to us in terms of thinking. It could be the start of a great relationship, a true partnership.

However, nearly always now, we have to pitch creative ideas next. My experience of recent pitches is that, even if we win, it is not a good way start to a relationship:

  1. It distances us from the client at the outset: it sets the relationship on a path of “us” vs “them, of “judge” vs “competitor”.
  2. Partnering and collaborating are not part of the pitching game: Media agencies are told not to intervene, time with the client and other information is limited, and the result is a contest that is more a test of endurance than a test of suitability.
  3. It also frustrates creatives: they know that the work they pitch is only a test, that it probably won’t even be used.
  4. Perhaps, most importantly, by setting agencies against each other, the competition – winning – becomes the important thing. Helping clients and building a true understanding becomes secondary to just beating the other guys.

Instead, when it feels right, when the chemistry in the relationship is there and both parties want to party, then maybe we should just start working and collaborating together and not competing for the prize of a new account. In my experience, working on a real project is the best way to get a team fired up and passionate about the new relationship.

So, to any clients reading this, here’s my advice: have a few “dates” and talk to a few people, and look at their previous work, but then make a decision and start working on something. You’ll find out pretty quickly if it was a good decision, and you’ll be much better off for it.

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Advertising is dead? Depends on your definition.

Some clever people think that advertising isn’t working on the internet.

In a sense they’re right. Advertising is broken and needs to be re-invented. We need to create discussion. We need to add value. We need to do things that matter.

I was reminded by a tweet from @faris that advertising is an old word and has not always meant what it does now.

Originating from the Latin Ad Vert, it originally meant: “to turn one’s attention”.

Since people are increasingly ignoring traditional advertising, we have to find news ways of “turning attention” on the web. The way to get people’s attention in this most Darwinian of environments is to earn it be creating genuine value. This can be usefulness (think Google Maps and the value it brings to so many other sites) or simply great, entertaining content that stands out even in a content cesspool.

Where does it leave the media who have relied on the ad break to fund their content? Well, maybe they have to become the creators of the adverts, just as Saturday Night Live did.

When I tune in to that show, I don’t want to be interrupted by ads that are less funny, but I am interested in their take on advertising Pepsi. Would this work again? Does this constitute a “sell-out” on the part of the show? I’m not sure yet.

Another example is National Geographic. They have great content, and awesome content creators (especially their photographers). and a bunch of different ways to bring that content to life across multiple channels (print, tv, web, even now an awesome retail space). But I learnt recently that they also have a “creative services” unit, which will help harness these multiple content possibilities and media formats in association with the right brands. For a price, of course.

So are professional content creators the ad men of the future? How else do they monetise their skill-set when no one wants to see ad breaks anymore?

So ad breaks and banners may be in trouble. But Creating value including compelling content together with the true professionals, and “adverting” people’s attention in a more worthwhile way is here to stay.

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