John Battelle: Networks Don’t Put Brand First

FM founder John Battelle has a great post here that focuses on the fascination with ad networks by the major media players chasing Google. A lot to chew on here and a really lively conversation starting in the comments section. Here is an excerpt from one of the comments:

… marketing departments are currently structured to CONTROL message, not ENTER a conversation. There will need to be a major overhaul of the MarCom structure to change this. Right now, Engagement doesn’t have an ROI, and frankly doesn’t scale on the level that they are used to. The organizations will collapse on themselves if they have to do what it takes to LISTEN as well as speak.

The first big time CMO that cracks this code and truly embraces this will be rock stars of the marketing community in the next decade. They right now are too scared about getting fired to sing more than a few bars.

FM works with marketers to create those “rock star” moments. A number of clients are doing just that. FM CRO Chas Edwards documents many of these on his blog Chasnote. A few clients (current or future) see the potential but get side tracked with the implications. They want the best of both worlds. They want a conversation and they want to CONTROL that conversation. I’ll paraphrase: “Yes, we want a conversation but we want it to be about the product and we want it to be positive. How do we get the world to talk more about our product?”

These conversations can and do happen of course but more often, a marketer will create impact and brand equity by joining a conversation about something the brand and its customers both value. If you sell dog food, support a conversation about how to keep your dog healthy. If you are marketing hotels for business people, underwrite a conversation where business people share travel tips.

Brands gain affinity by supporting the values they share with their customers. The irony is that these conversations are sustained by Google’s ability to efficiently (hell, it costs a publisher nothing) channel people to conversations of quality through its organic search results. The commercial success of Google is dictating the business strategies of the major online portals while Google draws the audience away from the portals to the more conversational sites (wikipedia, BoingBoing, Dooce, etc.)  As the audience leaves the portals, they need to pay top dollar to create networks that allow the portal to again control the inventory….

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