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Will Crowdsourcing Work for Search Engine Marketing?

Trada, the Colorado-based company backed by Google’s VC arm will try. 
Launched in March, Trada will attempt to simplify the complex and often-changing world of search engine marketing by relying on a group or ‘crowd’ of experienced search experts to drive results for clients.
On the surface, this approach seems to make sense for most “mom and pop” type advertisers with basic goals and limited marketing budgets.   My concern is how Trada will manage large, multi-million dollar search campaigns which have constantly changing metrics or campaigns which require search experts to strategically create goals with clients.  While this model may be sufficient for selling things like sweaters (Trada uses this example in their YouTube demo video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYgHxjkdq_U), I’m not sure how well the model will hold up supporting sophisticated verticals like finance or healthcare.
Paid search is successful due to how search experts align their strategies with other disciplines and develop partnerships with clients to create marketing strategies, goals and measures of success.  This rationale is reflected in the increasing number of large agencies who have acquired SEM firms over the years.
It will be interesting to see how Trada evolves from simply driving ROI or sales to providing clients with competitive analysis, market trend information, attribution modeling and site analytics. 
I absolutely love the idea of crowdsourcing to solve complex problems, but unless the “crowd” in “crowdsourcing”  is managed properly, I see a number of potental pitfalls in ever evolving search campaigns.

Celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday

Heeding the plea for all South Africans to rally together and dedicate one minute for every year Mandela spent in politics to community work in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday, a plea endorsed by Old Mutual, a team from communications agency, Draftfcb Johannesburg, headed to the Ekhukhanyeni Crèche on Sunday July 18.

Here Percy Matee, Natalie Noel, Khuthala Gala, Vuyo Otto, Rose Ralinala and Craig Page-Lee spent longer than the 67 minutes asked of them to clean and paint the crèche, and play with the children.

Many other members of the agency gave of their time to community initiatives in other areas. And some even reached out in a manner that showed appreciation – Romaine McKenzie took her son Max to the Douglasdale Police Station to hand out coffee, muffins and a smile.

It’s the Seconds that Matter

In Germany, 14- to 29-year-olds spend 32% more time online than watching TV. Add to this the reality that sliced bread is not a hot topic for them. And you know that a typical TV spot for bread would probably never reach them – not even if placed online. So, we took a different approach and created an entertaining Internet film showing the genesis of bread in a fascinating way – completely drawn in flour.

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Network Sourcing

Over the last two years crowd sourcing has been a hot topic for a lot of marketing agencies, either positive in case of gathering more interesting ideas from a wide range of free-lancing type talent, or negative in case of clients who avoid paying high fees to agencies by using crowd-sourcing tools to get free ideas.
Interestingly enough, most marketing organizations and articles on marketing have misunderstood and misused the concept of crowd sourcing. Instead of using the underlying philosophy and related tools to leverage the internal resources that are quite often spread across tens or hundreds of offices, they perceive it either as a cost efficient way to collect ideas or as a revenue threatening danger utilized by clients. The real power of crowd sourcing can be leveraged when it is understood as network-sourcing to truly build a globally connected organization. This requires a few ingredients:
  • Put a clear brief, tight timeline, and a democratic evaluation system in the center of the network sourcing assignment that is distributed to a manageable number of people in the organization’s network. More is not always better.
  • Balance the drive for great ideas with the benefit of utilizing network sourcing as a tool to virtually bring together a normally poorly connected network of physically separated offices. Network-sourcing is both about idea generation and building a connected organization.
  • Celebrate the winning ideas in a public forum to show the power of the marketing agency as an exciting virtual network that is better than just the sum of all the different global locations
  • Slowly learn of how this “Closed loop network” can be opened up to some external players without diminishing the focus on the integrating powers of the network-sourcing
The principles of crowd-sourcing will become increasingly a strong approach of how to join large marketing organizations together against one common challenge and brief without the high travel and communication costs and frictions that we have been used to.

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