…I have come to realize that the true question corporations need to ask is: “How do I get my employees to think like VCs but act like entrepreneurs?” In other words: What’s the best way to impose the challenge of complex, competing priorities on employees who must, in effect, be adroit at living with split personalities? This new frame of mind requires the corporate manager to extract the best from both worlds—entrepreneurs with a bias for action, and VCs with a bias for analysis. Elements of both are required.
Says easy, does hard.
As I’ve said before, for me the basic tension of a new venture is between the two defining characteristics of most successful startups:
- Commitment to a process of iterative refinement, engaging the marketplace open to the truth, and being mercenary about doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
- A team that executes with conviction, almost unreasonable in its commitment to overcome inertia and do something that hasn’t been done before.
Too much “1” and half-assed execution obscures what would work if done well; too much “2” and you miss the turn that would have made it all work.
I guess “think like a VC / act like an entrepreneur” is another way to put that, if it helps get the concept in more people’s heads all the better.
Which do you think makes the idea more clear?
It’s not uncommon these days for Joe Blow Web 2.0 to need to create an ad for something, in digital or physical media. Most of what they produce is a waste of money and time, and though that’s all too often true of The Professionals as well, pros like my friend at right have a distinct advantage in the form of something called a Creative Brief.
A Creative Brief is a kind of intellectual scaffolding for the magic of great ad creation. It frames the communication challenge in a way that helps talented people come up with a solution. While different agencies have their own take on the particulars, most of the big boys use a minor variant of the below.
Get In The Zone
Start by thinking about your target… not as a “Target Audience,” but as a person. Put them in your head… A real live individual, think about what they look like, and what they’re doing at the time they get your message. Ready?
OK… 5 Steps, to be done in order:
- Define the Desired State: What is it, exactly, that you want this person to think, feel, or do as a result of receiving this communication?
- Define the Current State: Relative to the Desired State, what does he/she think, feel, or do today, in advance of receiving this communication?
- Define the Key Thought: What is the singular, essential idea you believe will move this person from the Current State to the Desired State?
- Define the Support Points: What evidence, if any, to you have to prove or evidence the validity of this Key Thought? If more than 3, what are the 3 most impactful?
- Begin Creative Process. Once you have all that straight, we can start noodling ideas that will capture your target’s attention enough to deliver the Key Thought.
While there are no guarantees this approach will yield an ad that does what you want it to do, it will at least give you a fighting chance to come with what the late, great David Ogilvy called a “Big Idea.”
It’s that time of year again, time for the annual beauty contest that is the SXSW Panel Picker.
Here’s our pitch:
“Just For You”… Really?
Category: New Technology / Next Generation
Presenter: Mike Troiano, matchmine LLC
Description: Personalization technologies are all over the web now, with applications everywhere offering recommendations for movies, music, video, blogs and most anything else we might like online. Do any of these systems work, and if so how? Is “Discovery” the next “Search,” or just an excuse for behavioral targeting systems that compromise privacy? Finally… If you’re a site publisher interested in adding personalized recommendations, how do you pick a partner to help you get there, or strike out on your own and get the feature built????
Interested? PLEASE CLICK HERE AND SUPPORT US!
Don Dodge has a characteristically thoughtful post here asking a bunch of good questions about why there seems to be such a big gap between the promise and the reality of online ad targeting:
Lots of startups and VCs are pinning their hopes on this simple premise. It seems obvious, but there is very little evidence to support it. So what is wrong?
- Is the ad serving technology not able to take advantage of all this new “attention data” to better target the ads?
- Are advertisers not willing to pay higher CPM rates for the better targeting?
- Has ad targeting been tried with all this “attention data” and the results are not much better?
- Is there just too much ad inventory which is depressing prices?
- Are we just too early in the game to get good results?
Collectively, kind of.
To be more precise, starting at the top, the ad serving technology has not yet made it sufficiently easy for advertisers and their agencies to better target the ads.
Joe Blow Media Buyer
Sometimes tech folk forget that at the other end of the digital tentacles reaching across the ad-powered web, sooner or later, is a person pulling the levers. Joe Blow media buyer – think pimply-faced state college graduate 2-years out of school making $18K/year and living in Queens – simply can’t keep up with the pace of innovation on the web. They learn a few of the biggest ad targeting systems, which incidentally are the only ones with sufficient scale for them to complete their buys and move on, and crank 90% of their ad budgets through them. Once in a while one of the better ad network sales guys buys them some really good sushi and makes a decent case for some experiment, and voila, that technology gets thrown a $10K “test buy” bone.
If it works as promised – “works” being hard to both define and measure given the current cacophony of competing measurement standards and conflicting data – Joe may up the ante, and pay more for it on a CPM basis than he’d been willing to up to that point. Still, the equation he solves in his head:
- What is the probability that doing this will make me a hero with my boss and/or client?
- What is the probability that said boss and/or client is going to smack me for wasting time on this $35K diversion instead of doing everything I can to “optimize” the $500,000.00 buy we already have in process on Yahoo?
- Is the potential upside of 1. materially greater than the potential downside of 2.?
Goop in the Tranny
My point is simple: The reason all these Ferrari-esque ad targeting engines aren’t driving the wheels as fast as it seems they should is that there are a bunch of messy, imperfect, easily bored and overworked human beings gumming up the transmission.
The pace of progress in the ad targeting business will NOT be constrained by the capabilities of the technology to deliver improvements. The bottleneck is elsewhere… namely in Joe Blow’s ability to identify, grasp, and fully leverage the capabilities of that technology. That’s the lag, Don, at least IMHO.
Good News on the Horizon
The first wave of Internet investing dealt with commercializing the Web, helping companies like Amazon.com and eBay get on their way. The second wave has been about helping people socialize and connect through sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. The third, venture capitalists say, will be about making sense of all the data people create around the Web, and then searching for patterns in the data to improve the delivery of personalized content, search results, or advertising.
Amen. I think we’re getting there, glad some smart folks on the VC side seem to agree.
OK, maybe oversold the headline, but it’s been a busy few weeks here in the ‘Mine.
First was our partnership with Pixsy, whose platform we’ll leverage as our preferred video search and metadata acquisition technology. This will get our video recommendation system off to a great start, and as we deploy the cross-media content selection technologies we have up in our lab, improve recommendation quality across all of our supported media types (now 5: Movies, Music, Blogs, Podcasts, and Online Video.) As a result of the deal Pixsy will also enable their B2B customers to deliver personalized video content recommendations based on our Media Discovery Platform, which is a.) cool, and b.) exciting in terms of further network expansion.
We followed that up with media darling ffwd.com, where matchmine will be powering a personalized video channel. MatchKey users will be able to create a personalized “MatchKey Channel” based on the preferences they express on any site within the MatchKey Partner Network. Again, kewl.
Finally we announced two additional partners, representing four media destination sites. Treedia Labs, which owns Podcast.com and Videocast.com, and MP3 Lunatics, which owns Muzic.com and MP34U.com, will soon use the matchmine Media Discovery Platform™ to enable their users to discover content they love based on their unique preferences, delivering a better recommendation experience that generates longer session times and additional revenue.
We’re rolling right now, working hard to get the next wave of folks out the door and delivering content users will love. In all seriousness I want to thank all of them for getting on the matchmine bandwagon, we will deliver the goods.