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microsoft to take over ad business

February 28, 2008

That’s what this article breathlessly announces. Here’s the point:

“Although billions of dollars are gleefully poured into offline brand ads with little or no quantifiable ROI measurement — certainly nowhere near what is possible with search advertising (AKA direct marketing) — the expectation is that when those brand advertising dollars shift online, they will suddenly become much more measurable.”

The problem is, if you don’t tell your story, someone else will.

Every brand has a story. Some have carefully crafted it (think Apple, Harley Davidson, Google) while others have let it evolve (think Starbucks, Microsoft). The story is what consumers think about the brand. that can be built through exceptional products, good service, and marketing.

And marketing means, telling the story. If you tell the story, the only measureable way to know it’s working is to ask people if they know the story. If they do, it’s working. If they don’t, it isn’t. And while it’s as simple as that, it’s also a lot more complicated because getting the right people into the right room at the right time is hard. And plus, if the story they recite back isn’t dead on, but 50% on, then is the advertising working?

At this blog, I’m big on Web 2.0 sites. Social networking, in all its glory, helps people tell stories. If brands begin just worrying about ROI, then they’ll leave people to make up their own stories about the brand. And since they have more and more avenues to make up stories, it means more stories.

And that, to me, is a recipe for disaster.

So please, don’t give up branding. Just be smarter about it, and while you’re at it, help your stories spread. So, here’s the Microsoft presser that talks about this.

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