As they say: It’s easy to come up with ideas, it’s extremely hard to execute them. Case in point, below banner ad.

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Ok, the first part gets my attention: 3M will determine the perfect pocket projector for me, based on my Twitter feed. No clue, what they are analyzing, let’s give it a try. Once you type in your Twitter name, a brief message tells me they are analyzing my feed. Three keywords came up: iPad, Awareness (last post) and Social Media. And, here’s the result of their analysis.

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No explanation why that pocket projector is the perfect fit for me. I can’t even click on the ad and explore the product further on a microsite. The only thing I can do is enter a sweepstake to win a pocket projector. I guess, 3M is not really interested in selling anything to me, they want to give their product away. Oh, and get me into their CRM system. The “analysis” of my tweets doesn’t seem to be that deep or my tweets are just very ambiguous: I ran the “analysis” again and this recommendation came up.

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I morphed from a serious businessman to a family man, sharing his memories with loved ones, in a few seconds.

This is a typical problem in digital marketing

We all have been there before: A fantastic idea turns into a sub-par execution. Technology challenges, budget problems, resource limitations. Or all of them at once. It’s hard to execute a display ad that makes a difference. Brands are willing to pay millions of dollars for media buys, they still remain reluctant in signing off on a creative execution above $100k. We’re trained to believe that commercials should cost at least $500k and a display ad should be around $10-20k. That’s the reality but digital marketers don’t want to face it. There is a reason why print ads seem fresher and more creative than any display ad. Agencies have learned to play within the limitations of the print medium. Print remains a sexy medium, display ads are not sexy. They are small, look meek when presenting to client and, oh yeah, that average CTR of less than 0.1% doesn’t really help. Because they are so unsexy, digital marketers try to make them sexy by adding/tapping into new technologies. Often, without understanding them.

So, one day a digital creative presents the CD an amazing idea: “We know the target audience for each of the 4 pocket projectors. Why don’t we analyze the Twitter feed of people and recommend them the perfect projector based on their tweets?” The CD is happy, the client is happy, the account people are in heaven. Executing the creative is easy but the problem is the analysis. Damn technology. This sounded so easy and it turned into a complex task. Ah, let’s just fake/shortcut it. And, while we’re at it, let’s forget about a link to the product page of each projector. Nobody clicks on banners anyway, right? Oh, and the media agency called. Wired just offered free sweepstakes as added value to the media buy. Helps us with the engagement metrics.

Screen shot 2010-11-30 at 9.23.38 AMLast but not least, let’s make sure to add as many form fields as possible to the sweepstakes page. People should work when they want to get something for free.

It’s not that hard

  • If you ask people to share their Twitter handle with you, they expect something in return. A brief analysis of their tweets, their twitter personality. Anything. Teaming up with Twitter analytics companies could have helped to group 4 target audiences into Twitter personalities and make it a more engaging experience.
  • Always, I mean, always have a link to the product page/microsite.
  • If you want people to fill out forms, make sure the forms are integrated into the banner.
  • Less work for people is more return for your client.
  • And, most importantly, don’t get blinded by a great idea. A flawless execution of a good idea always beats a sub-par execution of a great idea. Don’t get me wrong: Always shoot for the stars. But make sure you have the right equipment (budget, resources, technology) to have a good chance to hit the stars. Or you will certainly hit the gutter.