And, uh, the aha is…

@adscientist posed the following question to me about Advertising Week’s overflowing goody bag of panels and presentations: “Did you learn a lot last week or did you look at it as a lot of obvious statements? I was looking for more insight than i got.”

His comment made me stop to think whether I could identify 5-10 true  “a has” from the conference. Here they are:

1. The ruling on the purchase funnel is not final.  Most agree publicly that the traditional funnel, e.g., awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, loyalty – or as I was taught in business school, AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Acquisition, needs to be updated.  The patch to purchase is no longer a straight line.  The funnel of choice seems to be the McKinsey oval, which you can view in my summary of the panel.   (No mention of the Forrester “path to purchase” in the age of social engagement – see below).   The key takeaways being that: (a) the process is iterative and circular (b) must include advocacy (b) many include “loyalty,” but that’s not new, that’s just “adoption.”  However, when we got to the TV panels, the upward and lower funnel nomenclature was still front & center.  A disconnect?

Figure I: Forrester Path to Purchase in the Age of Social Engagement

Figure II: Harvard Business Review – Traditional Funnel and McKinsey Consumer Decision Journey

2. I was incredibly impressed with Comcast’s Xfinity vision of how its subscribers will be able to interact with their cable TV menus and the ways in which it will connect to the digital world in terms of (a) broadcasting “likes” (b) finding out what friends “like.”  And, RADICAL, there will be KEYWORD SEARCH!  (When I asked about search functionality at an Advanced Advertising panel in 2010, I received a combination of perplexed and blank stares…) – See Graphic to the right

3. Everyone is on the Facebook bandwagon.  We’re convinced that consumers want us there, and, while I don’t necessarily disagree – after all, a truly successful brand is a “friend” to an emotionally connected consumer, I’m concerned that we may tip the scale and kill the golden goose.

It’s (a) about the balance of push and pull in terms of broadcasting info (b) the ratio of real people to brands.  If kids leave the service when there are too many adults, what will adults do when there are too many brands?

4. Brands are content creators.  This is not new – see Larry Kramer’s recent book C-Scape, Conquer the Forces Shaping Business Today and recall Coke’s Polar Bear campaign (ahead of its time, or pre cursing the future that is today?), but it was a major theme, which means that it is becoming more mainstream.

5. SEM and ad networks are getting more advanced.  Google has new multi-media listings.  aol, yahoo and microsoft are creating a three-way ad network.  Programmed trading (wait, are we talking about finance), is growing.

All for now except:

If you don’t have an iPad, you’re so not cool.  Get thee to an Apple Store pronto!  (iPads, like Facebook profiles of a few years ago, have reached a point where it’s not that you’re cool if you have one but that you’re NOT cool if you don’t have one.)


  1. I am glad it made you think. 🙂

    I sat through one of the panels that discussed the intricacies of a social media partnership. During the discussion the moderator turned and reiterated a phrase that he felt was a golden nugget (which I didn’t write down and now have forgotten). I thought to myself, “that doesn’t help anybody.” He continued to do so throughout the hour and then listed afterward what his 8-10 take-aways were. The digital space is not like anything we have seen before, yet, the take-aways he had were text book to what a partnership needs… but is it that cut and dry? If so, why was I listening to it as if it was new?

    Even as we have switched from AIDA(S), ACT(CAB), and other models to McKinsey, it feels as if we are already jumping to something new… something… tough to construct. Almost as if the model gods are playing a foolish trick. Well, McKinsey felt right for a few years there, but then the adoption process went out of whack! Is that because the communications models went out the window as well? And is that because of the fragmentation of media and how people are using media? One thing I do know is that I can’t show that maze of a model you have above to an agency client. 🙂 This could be an incredible discussion… one I would certainly enjoy as a business nut. I’d like to know if a new model can be figured out that will work for many situations and how long it will last before we create another model. NOW THAT IS A PANEL!

    I was fortune enough to sit down with an amazing guy from Arnold NYC a few weeks ago and he made me think deeply about the entire “Like” system on Facebook. What do Likes equate to? Do we really know? Clients were skeptical about getting into the digital space a couple years ago. Now they request it because everybody else is doing it… even when it doesn’t fit with their current marketing strategies. I have the same concerns as you do. A friend today asked me why she had a Lysol FB ad. I concluded quickly that it was because her friend “Liked” the brand so they did an ad targeting her friend’s friends. Is that what we have come to? 🙂 Where does that fit into the model? in your maze model, is that impression considered “A recommendation from a friend.” Does that really get someone to purchase other than a +1 impression to frequency?

    Brands as content creators… YES! This is not new, but it seemed like some of the panelists pushed it as such. What they should say is that it is coming back with greater importance with the new ways to show branded content conveniently online…. and not just as branded content, but as branded entertainment and branded media. These are not new concepts either, but certainly have trended upward in the last few years (Sony’s Rocket Project, Coca Cola’s Happiness Factory, BMW’s The Hire, HBO’s Cube, Tampax’s Zach 16, Gatorade’s G-Series, etc.).

    I went away for a year. I was in Afghanistan. I am very thankful for all the presentations and the work put in by the panelists, but I think I went in expecting to learn more newer material from before I left. I have a passion for marketing and I often have more questions when posed with answers about a topic. What I have concluded is that they know as much as we do about the digital space! Experience in the old space may be the downfall in the new space.

    Again, I am glad I made you think. 🙂 Maybe if we could rethink the “panel” for next year.

    (I wish I could develop my ideas a bit more and discuss them more in depth)

  2. Dan – These are fantastic comments and insights. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply so thoughtfully. Often I find that these weeks of panels are good “reviews” and “barometers” of what the hot topics are and the key buzzwords but not necessarily thought provoking or mind-shattering. I would like to see more diversity and debate within panels at this and all such conferences. Sometimes I find we are preaching to the converted, particularly during something like Social Media Week where everyone takes it as given that Social Media should be at the center of every marketing strategy.

    I must admit that for the sake of simplicity I do sometimes defer to the traditional marketing funnel or path to purchase – making sure to include advocacy as the step after adoption and as a tool used in evaluation.

    I wish I had more time to respond in depth to all of your comments – perhaps another day. Thank you again.

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