Friday, May 1, 2009

The Trade Me ... Tour

So I was invited to the The Trade Me Revolution Tour which hit Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch last week. I would have blogged about this earlier, but have been too busy to put proper thought into it. Quick rundown: John from Trade Me, Bernard from, Trent from Optimal Useability, Mike from Ad Protocol and Geoff from all talked. MG from Trade Me kind of chaired the whole thing.

As MG quite rightly pointed out, this wasn't revolutionary. Their angle was that we can't let the recession stop us from advertising... basically.

At any rate, I'm sorry, but I thought it was a little lacking. What it was lacking the most was an overarching theme. Everyone was very focused on what their field is/how they could sell themselves. I do understand why they were pushing themselves, but I thought it could have been more cohesive. To put all of this in context, I remember talking to MG about this months ago; his original concept was to try to talk to agencies about the reliability, measure-ability and cost efficiency of online advertising. Basically, he wanted to help agencies understand how easy it is to plan and book online, and how they didn't necessarily need to use the IB to do so.

There were definitely points which were interesting however. John talked us through where Trade Me had been (mostly design-wise) and where it will possibly go in 2010. I did find it interesting that on the day that video went live on the TM homepage John was talking about simplicity and respect for customers and the community they create within TM. It wasn't that long ago that you wouldn't find flash on TM, because apparently the consumers didn't like it. I know that people are probably more used to flash and accept it now, but I do wonder whether there has been compromise in the quest for the advertising dollar.

Bernard was up next, and while the information about how many people in NZ have mortgages etc. was interesting, I wasn't sure how it all fit into the equation. It wasn't particularly relevant to me.

Trent was very interesting, talking about how people use the internet, how they read it. I think the main points I got from him were:
  • You don't have time to capture peoples attention when advertising online
  • People are drawn to text over graphics
  • Avoid using all caps
  • Underlining reduces legibility
  • Italics reduce reading speed
And much more, that was what I noted down. I did find a lot of Trent's messages very relevant and I will be downloading the full report... when I have a chance.

Mike's presentation was nothing really new to me, simply because he taught me heaps when I worked with him back in the days that I worked on Sorted. Online ads that work, all made sense. Would have been interesting to get some really meaty data on the ads which were shown.

Geoff's presentation was good in the way he was the only person to recognise traditional media and its role to play in the support of online advertising. It was a shame that someone had not taught him how to read analytics, or at least the difference between visits and unique visitors. Also, I would imagine that site traffic trending up towards the end of March (and the cut off date) would have been something they would have expected.

I guess I had hoped that the over-riding theme for the whole thing would have been more than 'online'. Yet again I hear the usual '20% of media use is online, yet only 8% of the budget...' I think I have covered this already. Possibly when the online industry start playing the same game the rest of us are in, they'll start getting more budget.

Perhaps MG had the right idea when he first started planning this, maybe it's about educating the people that plan and buy media? Surely finding some nice willing clients who can produce case studies about CPA and ROI isn't that hard. We (agencies) have the research tools that tell us where and how our target audiences are consuming their media. We're capable of selling our recommendations, based on this research, to our clients. But everyone is cautious of things they don't know, if they can't give their clients real world examples of how a medium can work, its possible they are going to revert back to a more traditional schedule. Maybe publishers do need to step back and ask themselves, 'why am I not getting my share? How can I change this?' I'm don't have the answer, but complaining that their slice of the pie isn't big enough, isn't going to help.


MG said...

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the review and comments.

The objective of the event was to educate marketing managers and their colleagues (and agencies, of course) of the power of online. We demonstrated Trade Me's growth and changing face over a decade,'s growth, particularly since the key dates that sparked the recession, and of course,'s new growth after only 7 months as a live website - in a recessionary period. Trent and Mike's superb insights allowed marketers to see how easy it is to build an effective creative execution.

I'm sorry you found it lacking. Perhaps this is because of your experience in the business?

We received overwhelmingly positive email from many attendees who found it very enlightening which gives me confidence that we hit the nail on the head.

I believe that adspend lags media consumption (many attendees did't know this fact) because many advertisers are nervous about committing more of their share online (not just with a publisher, but with ALL publishers). Education will help reduce the friction that slows transfer of advertising onto online - clearly a more measurable medium (as you point out, CPA and ROI results are easy to obtain).

The revolution is clearly upon many of us who live and breathe this medium every day. For some, the revolution has only just arrived.

Liv said...

Hi Monica,

Great to see you blogging.

I attended the Auckland event and thought the sessions were actually very relevant to the audience.

At the Auckland event there were a broad mix of clients and agency folk.

From a client perspective they often don't receive the data that agencies are privy to and I think this session highlighted a lot of interesting points that they would find useful.

I saw lots of people taking notes throughout the session and generally people I spoke to at the end had found the information useful.

I certainly wasn't expecting anything other than an 'online' focus from a Trade Me presentation.

There are still a lot of clients out there that simply don't realise the importance of online or take into account the difference in their spend vs media consumption.

It is difficult to get too deep within an hour long presentation so I think their choice of topics & speakers were good.

I agree with MG that perhaps it wasn't as relevant to you as you already have digital experience.

I certainly found it useful from an account management perspective as it backed up many of my recommendations to client.


iChild said...

Hey MG & Liv,

Thanks for the comments, lovely to see people feeding back.

Perhaps I didn't quite get across my message as eloquently as hoped.

While I am sure that there was a very positive response to the presentations, and that marketers found it interesting with new information, I still think that potentially you're talking to the wrong audience.

From some of the names that I saw at the Wellington leg, your 'marketers' would all have agencies, there were some decent sized companies noted. The risk you run is annoying your agencies who don't understand the medium and therefore have not recommended it to clients. Surely before trying to directly educate marketers, agencies need to understand the capabilities of the medium in order to confidently recommend it to clients.

As with the rapid growth of social media, a lack of understanding means that this medium, which should be included in a complete marketing strategy, is being separated out and does not necessarily sit alongside traditional media as succinctly as it could.

I understand that there has been some fantastic growth with the likes of Trade Me, and but I felt as though that could have been a separate presentation to that of Mike and Trents. Or, perhaps Trent and Mike could have talked about why taxrefunds had such success – we saw their creative very briefly in the montage – I should imagine that, being such a successful campaign, it would have employed some of the points Mike and Trent talked about. Did the advertising use text? Was it dark text on a light background? Did the message support the consumers end goal? (Getting money back from the IRD – I hope so!) I would have loved to know the CPA for taxrefunds – as you say MG this information is easy to obtain, but finding a company willing to share the information, possibly not so much?

Like I did say, I didn’t walk away not getting anything out of it, and it is easy to criticize something when you haven’t/don’t do it yourself, but I think that it could have been more cohesive, and if it is about education then maybe there could be a focus on agencies as a whole, not just the media team (as you say Liv, from an Account Management perspective it helped back up recommendations to clients).