Skyscrapers not just for New York

It may seem juvenile that this blog entry came from a recent trip to New York but you see when you get to these final years in your college career, you see everything in a different light.  You admire a companies hard work on a campaign, laugh at others attempts and often wonder if you could have thought of that yourself?

Not until this semester did I realise that skyscrapers existed on the internet,  as you roam the search  engines,  the T.V players you see these bright stand alone features, so grand in their design it would give even the empire state a run for its money.

Here is just a quick glance at a very prominent ad that featured on MSN’s homepage


You can see the full extent of what this ad does at

Big brands and companies are willing to pay big enough money in the world of digital media to secure this dominance of a hugely popular search engine. My question though, is it fair?  Competition and fair play are words we throw around so freely. Constantly on the news we see the entrepreneur looking for help and the Irish government begging those creative minds to set up and go, but how is the underdog supposed to survive in this, the most competitive of environments for decades.

Since its invention the internet has given the entrepreneur unknown access to his customers virtually for free. Access that television and print were too expensive to provide and now here we stand amongst towers of these skyscraper ads dominated by the big boys again. Although it may seem as just one big  ad that jackpot bingo have taken up here,  it is in fact three spaces of advertising. Should we be allowing this kind of dominance?

Now it would be hypocritical of me to sit here and say I’m not mildly entertained by the little men who pop out of  their skyscraper ad to tell me what they’re doing. It’s all in good fun (and very clever digital strategy) but what we are seeing is a monopoly on space. In the nature of fair competition I find it very unjust for big name companies to occupy this vast amount of space, not merely for the fact that half that space would have been sufficient but for the impact it has on other ads featured on the page. Similar to walking around the avenues of New York these massive domineering buildings cast an ugly shadow over its small next door neighbour.

It is argued however that of the three types of advertising banners (running along the top), skyscraper (on both sides of the content) and MPU’s (the small square usually just right of the centre) it is usually the MPU’s that have the most engagement. Which though are staying in the user’s mind longer? The video I scrolled across for a second before realising what it did or that collective image taking up my search engine for the day.


Are we being stalked by some of our favourite brands?

I mentioned in a previous blog being chased around the internet by something we know as cookies. Though when I say we know, most of us only really  know that that’s what they’re called, exactly what they do and how we stop them is still a mystery. Cookies are a relatively old (in technology terms anyway) type of software to surface. They are essentially a small piece of information about your web usage. Cookies serve different purposes, mainly to enhance your user experience of a website, to navigate more easily through pages.

Cookies serve another purpose and it is this function that many of  us are still oblivious to. A cookie can be used by some websites to enable them to target you with their advertising or messages based purely on information such as your previous internet usage, or even your geographical location. It is for this reason you may have looked at the Nike website in your domain yesterday and as you pass through the internet today whether it be in social media or search engines you will see an advert or message from Nike, because it remembers you.

I think the BBC have it nailed  as to what a cookie  is, in a pretty easy to understand way:

Now people react very differently to this, most  uninformed people would think “My god, how did it know?” and others might simply find them annoying. What I want to explore is, is it too intrusive? Have we as marketers crossed a boundary? Or have we as the every day person been too naive?

Data protection is something we as a society have come to be very concerned about, though our practice of vigilance is laughable. It’s true that majority of us informed browsers would be aware to click out of a cookie or simply disable them but the worrying thing is that it never stops, when we become savvy to the ways around cookies something new comes along.

Have a read of this about the next generation of cookies to get the hairs on your neck raised:

As a learning marketer I’m always torn between what I believe is right or wrong and simply what will get results. It’s undeniable what technology has done for this age of digital marketing. The awareness that is now generated, the relationship between brand and customer only seems to get closer and closer by the day. Can that be a bad thing? Giving customers what they want, even if they’re unaware of it. I can be caught in a previous blog I wrote about Social Media, singing praises for modern digital media, and to clarify the issue for me isn’t the existence of online advertising, it’s the extent to which marketers are taking it to. I read an article from the Wall Street Journal not too long  ago and I’d  have to agree with what they said, why should our privacy automatically be published and make it our prerogative to reverse it.

If we stop for a second and think of the effect that has on our youngest browsers, they are entering into a predatory environment. As I said much can be praised for the advancements we have made in modern advertisements, but just because something is possible does it mean we should do it?

The Gold Medal Campaign

In other blogs I’ve spent time discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of digital marketing in today’s world. So I figure for this blog I might do something a bit different and have a look at a campaign that I believed to be a success. I chose this campaign for it’s integrity, it was not just about boosting sales (which I have no problem with) but its nice to see something a little bit out of the ordinary for our modern marketers.

In the lead up to the 2012 summer Olympics in London Procter and Gamble initiated what would be one of their biggest campaigns to date, it was named the “Thank you, Mom” campaign. P&G were marking the journey an athlete makes from their young years to the Olympic Games, and how behind every athlete was a supportive mom. The campaign ran across various channels of digital media online, on social media on TV and Print.

What is remarkable about this campaign however was it’s ability to span the globe. P&G are a international company and to appeal to all audiences with a single campaign is virtually impossible but not when you target something we all has a human race have in common. The biggest part of the campaign was a short movie about moms doing the everyday tasks of getting their kids to practice and being supportive, you see these kids excel in their field because of the dedication of their moms.  If you haven’t seen it, you have to have a look (just don’t forget the tissues)

As mentioned there were many aspects to this campaign that generated an estimated £500 million in sales for P&G, they had an emotive Facebook page as well as an app in which people could take  videos or still images to thank their own moms for all their hard work.


In order to thank mums properly, P&G asked mums what would be the best way to honour them, to which they replied more support in youth sport organisations, a true testament to the selflessness of mums. As a result P&G committed to raising £5 million for that very cause through a portion of sales of its leading brands.

What we have to remember is what we as marketers want to gain from a digital media campaign. We want increased sales sure but what we really want is to get closer to our audience, build a lasting relationship, be able to convey a message or story with them. This campaign by P&G goes straight to our emotions, to probably the single thing in the world that we can all relate to, a loving mother.  Personally I was in awe at the campaign and amongst the hype and misuse of digital media these days here is a brand leading the way for others. A strong message, strong story that is cohesive across all ranges of digital media.  Bravo Procter and Gamble.

Social Media: Is it a place for advertising?

It might seem ironic that the topic for this blog entry came from something I saw a few days ago on Facebook itself.  As I cherished the few moments break I had between work and college I trolled through advert after advert looking for actual content on Facebook from people I knew, and there it was, something I could actually “like”. It was a post by a close friend of mine about a blog she had read in Forbes magazine.

So I ditched my Facebook troll (for now) and read the blog and its following updates. It was exactly what I was thinking at the time but just didn’t have the nerve to say it out loud (All hail king Facebook). I couldn’t help but have a small laugh at the well-thought and cleanly executed response from Facebook, far from my perceived opinions of an edgy Facebook that essentially “stuck it to the man”.  When did they become the corporate sell-out?

Now I’m not here to trash Facebook, even if I was asked to I couldn’t, since its invention has become like another primal need for my brain.  When I’m hungry, I eat, When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I’m bored, I Facebook. No, what this blog entry was about was the sheer escalation of digital marketing in to my supposed free space. Have things gone too far? Knowing that no matter where I went I was being chased by cookies, something I only ever feared for it’s calorie count. Though cookie technology is a whole other blog altogether.

My 20 something year old heart says yes it’s a pain but my mind that I dedicated to business for the last three years screams HOW DID THIS NOT COME ANY SOONER?! It is nothing short of brilliance in my mind to always be where your people are. Not only just where they are if it be waiting on the bus, but related to what they’re doing at that time, what they’re searching for or interested in. It’s smart advertising. Infact we should all be a little more grateful for just  how smart it is. No longer am I harassed for services I care less about (No my pension fund is not a priority right now) but for ones that I may actually have an interest in. That’s why we watch T.V. online now isn’t it? To avoid those ads like pay day money lenders.

What bugs my 20 something  year old heart is not that these adverts occupy space, it’s the laziness they’ve adopted. As if just being on Facebook (all social media) is enough. It’s not and I think a blog I read recently explains very well why that’s the case.

Jason has it right that we are not on Facebook to buy but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I had this experience only  last week. As an avid fan of  Ellie Goulding I follow her on twitter and Facebook and yes, it’s nice to think you have some sort of connection to  them. Does she get  the monetary value of it? Well, yes it was posted on both social media accounts about tickets to an upcoming gig in Dublin and sure enough I bought the tickets. Would I have bought them if I didn’t follow her? Who knows, but it was there and that’s the key. Understanding that I may buy at some point, so just be there for when I’m willing to  do that.

I feel that what most companies are failing to realise is that social media shouldn’t be first thought of as a selling tool, but as a communications one. It is the perfect outlet to get your brand  story across and create a connection with customers, build a base that will keep them informed or from where you can gather information.