Monday, April 21, 2014

Porn advertising: You should really think about it.

My latest career move brought me to TrafficJunky, MindGeek's advertising network.
For those of you who do not know who MindGeek is: it is the leader of online adult entertainment.
The company owns the biggest "tube sites" out ther (Youporn, Pornhub, Redtube, just to name a few). Until recently, all advertisers on the TrafficJunky netword were either from the industry itself or from related industries such as online dating companies.
For the last months we have noticed a slight (but apparently ongoing) change: Several mainstream advertisers signed up to our self serve advertising platform.
Why are they giving porn a try? Because it's cheap and less competitive than mainstream networks.
Why are they returning? Because it works and the cheap CPM grants a massive ROI.

One thing with online marketing: it is no longer a matter of branding, it's a matter of reaching out to your potential customers.
Did P&G refuse to advertise the winter Olympic games because they were held in a country with questionable respect for the human rights? You bet not!

Then, what do most of your customers and potential customers have in common? They watch porn from time to time.

Among TrafficJunky's recent mainstream clients were the guys at Eat24.
Here's a quick (safe for work) presentation that showcases their approach and their results:

As it appears, they had better results and better ROI on our network than in most mainstream equivalents.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why you should teach instead of doing.

There's two kind of managers out there: What I call the "Managing manager" and the "Senior manager".

The first is a manager that does not necessarily know much about the trade of the team he is managing. This kind of manager has usually a very strong background in team management and has been hired to drive a usually important number of people. You can usually find this kind of manager in big companies where the important number of members of employees make it necessary to have someone to make the link between the head of the department and the teams working for that department. This specific kind of management implies much distance between the manager and the every day tasks performed by the team. In other words, the main (if not only) task of the manager is to take care of the team and make sure everyone knows what he has to do, when he has to do it and to give him the best environment possible to achieve the best results. They usually do not involve themselves in the projects handled by the team.

The second are usually a former members of the team with more years in the trade than the others. This is fairly common among smaller companies and some industrial companies that chose to use this kind of incentive to reward employees and motivate them.
I personally like the later, they have a greater understanding of the challenges faced by their team on an every day basis, after all, they have been there. However, it's a double edged blade...
I myself have started my managing career climbing up the ladder. I consider myself quite a people person with good human and leading skills and the first team(s) I managed hardly ever missed a deadline or a target. Looking back however I now know I used to do a great mistake that I often see among other managers that followed the same kind of tracks I did:
When someone in the team is facing an issue and does not know how to solve it, in the face of emergency, you step in, solve the issue and step out.
Project delivered, deadline respected, problem solved.
But is it really?
What will happen the next time the issue occurs?
You will have to step in again.

The more complex the projects, the more issues you will come across. If you always tackle them yourself, then you will have less and less time for your tasks and you will eventually fail. Worse, you are wasting part of the benefit of being a "senior manager": You can help the members of the team improve.

Sure, training the team member that is stuck how to solve the problem will take 3 or 4 times as much time as it would to do it yourself and it might put you slightly behind on the schedule... once.
After that you will have made sure that the next time it occurs, the employee will be able to do it himself, it will save everyone a lot of time, you will not have to dedicate time to this task and the employee will not have to stop in his track to come for help. Win/Win.

Back when I was doing that same mistake over and over again, I used to come home proud of myself, proud that I saved the day and allowed the team to deliver on time, proud that I won a battle. I was wrong. Now that I train people instead of doing things for them I come home knowing that I helped win the war.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What being a Rugby player means in professional life.

Call me naïve, tell me that I am not being objective, but there's a few things that I take (almost) for granted when I get a resume on my desk with "Rugby" written in the Hobby section.

I have played rugby for quite some time. In fact, if you except the times I had an injury or some critical times in my life when I had hardly any time for myself, I can say have been playing rugby all my life.

Today, my job as a CEO implies that I need to screen applications for job interviews. Often, the resumes on my table are quite similar one to another : same University degree, same kind of work experience,...
More often than not, the difference will be made on small details. I remember that once, what made a difference was that the applicant had spent some time working in a factory to pay for her University... talk about motivation. As it appeared later, it was indeed a good call and that person was indeed very motivated and dedicated.

One other thing that might ticker my attention is if the applicant has played Rugby.

Please do not get me wrong here, this does not mean in any case that I will bring in for an interview someone who's profile simply is not matching what I am looking for on the sole basis that he or she plays rugby. It does not mean either that I will disregard an application from someone that plays another sport.
What I mean is that, according to my experience, being a rugby player means something about yourself.

I am not saying that Rugby players are better people, but playing Rugby for some time means that you have to live up to a certain number of challenges that are inherent to the sport itself. Those imply a certain number of qualities that I deem very valuable :

Favor team work.
The first and most important rule of rugby is the following:
Carry the ball forward (to the try zone) without ever throwing it forward. This simple rule means that the ball carrier needs to evaluate the situation to see if there is any opportunity for progression. If there is none, he needs to find around him someone in a better situation and pass the ball. Whenever a player takes a decision, all other surrounding players need to back him up, wether it is a good or a bad decision, lest they lose the ball.
There are also several game phases where one needs their team mate to join in an effort to move forward (scrum, maul,...).

Can't put the blame on others.
In many ways, rugby is quite a unique sport (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong):
It is one of the only team sport I know where all players of the team are both on offense AND defense according to the situation. That means that there is no one to blame in case of defeat.
In other sports such as (American) football, football (soccer), and many more,  it is always possible for the offense to put the blame on defense for taking too many points or the defense to blame the offense for not scoring enough.
In rugby however, every player on the team will have to alternatively attack (when the team has the ball) and defend (when the opponent has it).

Be responsible for the team.
One other rugby specific thing is that both regular offense and defense phases are played in line.
Sure, in modern rugby, professional players have a tendency to split in several lines to cover the pitch, but overall it remains true: Rugby is the opposition between two lines of players. What it implies is that whenever an attacking player reaches the defensive line, the defending player he is confronting has to tackle him, should he fail in the attempt, the line will be breached and the entire team penalized (either by having lost ground or by having a try scored agains).

Courage and abnegation.
It might seem obvious, but playing rugby hurts, it really does. Bodies crashing in one another at relatively high speeds leaves bruises (and sometimes broken bones). Most of the time, your body will scream for you to stay down but you still have to get back to your feet and to continue playing for the sake of the team.

Of course, you can still find these qualities in people that can't even tell a rugby ball from a soccer football but I reckon these are quite sure to be found in any rugby player.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Please be a polite marketer.

In marketing, as in life, you should be polite in order to get people's attention. As a matter of fact you should be polite and interesting, but polite is a minimum.
Just as you do not just jump on people forcing your point of view (even though it might be valuable) down people's ears.
Intruding and forcing your message through is a no-no.
As a professional with business email addresses I am just amazed (not in a good way) by the number of unsolicited emails I receive.
Sure, I do expect companies to reach out to me and I am not against some prospection by email (even when - still talking about business emails here - I did not register in the first place).
However, just as I expect in everyday life to tell someone I am not interested by what they have to say, I have some expectations regarding electronic communications.

First, I do not want to receive a constant flow of daily emails. If I subscribed to updates and the information update rate requires a daily email (which is unlikely) I can live with that. But if I never heard of your company and you flood me with irrelevant emails, we are off to a bad start.

Secondly and more importantly even. I demand that you do have the proper infrastructure, one that allows you to run your prospection email by the book :
- No webmail email address as a sender
- A working unsubscribe link
- etc...
This really is the least you could do.

If you do not respect me by complying to these simple rules, please do not send me any information. I do not care if your services are good or could help my company perform even better. I will never-ever do business with you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

It's a jungle out there.

As a person I am a very intensive Internet user. I check my emails when I wake up and before going to sleep. In between, I work, communicate, get information and play almost exclusively online. I have spent so many hours on Internet that I no longer notice ads most of the time. It seems like my eyes automatically avoid or my mind fails to take note of banners, sponsored links and all sorts of ads.
Sometimes you can't help to notice when an aggressive format such as a layer ad is forced to your screen, but even then, as soon as I close it I realize I am quite incapable to tell what brand was being advertised.

Long story short, that means that my attention to ads span is very short. And when I do take a look at the ads being showed to me at a given time, there is a true competition between the brands showing on my screen.
I usually scan the ads quickly, if something triggers my attention, then I will likely click.

This is true for all advertising channels. For instance, I receive an average of 20 promotional emails in my main address on a daily basis. I usually bulk send them to the trash for lack of time (after having checked that none of them are critical).
When I am in the process of buying something, I will go through the brands and retailers that are related to that item.
The rest of the time, it will take something out of the ordinary to open a promotional email, just as it takes something special for me to notice any other ad format.

Returnpath, one of Cabestan's partners released in august a great infographic about email's battle for attention :

As always, the advice remains the same: you need to stand out. I agree that it easier said than done. However the more people get used to online advertising, the more they are likely to scoop it out of their mind's. The less they notice ads the more you need to stand out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why not check your information?

If you allow me a side note, something not really marketing related:
I am completely dumb stuck by how information goes around the web without anyone (seemingly) ever checking the truth of it.
I have quite a lot of Facebook friends and people I follow on Twitter that live in Maghreb or middle east.
Every day, I see that continuous flow of posts that gives so called facts and intelligence data. The funny thing I often see on the very same day, two pieces of information from two contacts that are completely contradictory.
Sure Internet made information available to many and speeds up the way in which information can be transmitted.
Problem is at least 50-60% (this is just my personal estimate - not a proven fact) of this data seems to be either false or miss-leading.
I remember, a few years back I kept receiving emails every other day from friends telling me that this girl had disappeared and I had to send her picture to all my contacts ASAP to help find her.
Of course, most of the time it was hoaxes (spottable on hoaxbuster - a french hoax busting site) and I usually answered my friend's email with a link to that specific hoax.
Nowadays, it seems that these hoaxes spread even faster than then and I am very worried (not to say I'm starting to become really paranoid). I don't ever trust anything posted by friends on Facebook or twitter, unless it comes from a reliable source and that it is confirmed by at least one other reliable source.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Is google sawing the branch it's sitting on?

Why is google such a great company? Because they own most of the best software and online tools. They have probably the best search engine, the best email inbox and much more. Would that be sufficient to make Google Google? No, they also are extremely good to display ads to their users. Let's face it, not any google tool comes for free without being packed with ads.

Please note that I am not complaining, as I said in my previous blog post I consider that internet can only be free if sponsored by advertising.

However, one thing is certain: the new gmail inbox will be a great slap in the face of companies using email marketing as a mean of advertising.
Why? Because the new gmail system will aggregate all email advertising emails in a separate tab (that by default is to the far right), that means that Gmail users will no longer be exposed to the subject lines when they open their inbox. They will have to go and check their "Promotions" tab to view the list of ads. The companies will then all be placed in competition for the amount of attention the user is willing to give to ads.

I might be wrong, but I do anticipate a drop in open rates of campaigns sent to addresses.

Now, why would I say that Google is sawing the branch it is sitting on? Simply because, even though Google is not using much email as a mean to advertise its products, they are a massive advertiser non the less. I am afraid that this move, even though it is a very good feature on a user point of view is one more step against online advertising.

As I already said, a good chunk of the Internet is free to browse because it is sponsored by advertising, just as some websites offer free membership because they plan on monetizing their email database. If all these opportunities simply vanish, we will end up with no more free websites.

More information on Gmail's new inbox system : Official Gmail Blog: A new inbox that puts you back in control