Posted tagged ‘Connect13’

Where’s the beef?

February 26, 2010

For those of you who may not know, the second largest social network in Canada is an Edmonton company, Nexopia. Want to reach teens? Ninety percent of its subscriber base is between 13 and 23. Nexopia boasts over 800,000 monthly unique visitors, but that’s not what they’re most excited about these days. Connect13, its new advertising platform is what has the local 19-person team all fired-up. So too are the mad men and women of Toronto’s ad industry, according to Kelley Hajar, VP of sales and the lead for Connect13.
The Connect13 ad network has positioned Nexopia as the hub for banner ad distribution across this demographic and several social networks at the same time. “We’re well-positioned in Western Canada, but the top 12 ad agencies in Toronto want national reach,” stated Hajar. “We talked with, guys like MyYearbook, and others who have great reach and additional ad inventory out on the East Coast and in the U.S. We’ve combined our available inventories, and now Connect13 is a streamlined approach.”
If this year’s 44th NFL Super Bowl is any indication, one can expect to wait for more migration toward digital brand integration. Dubbed the “brand bowl” on Twitter, there was considerable discussion about each television commercial. Visibly absent from that discussions were the brands involved. Interestingly, despite seeing the power of a streamlined ad buy opportunity such as Connect13, the critical opportunity that still seems to elude many in the ad game is how to socially engage in support of traditional activities. Connect13 as a place to buy banner type ad space for the teen market is a very cool option. However, unless the top ad agencies in Toronto figure out that digital media buys should also be integrated with social engagement strategies, considerable opportunities for a strong brand halo effect will be lost, as was evident with the Super Bowl.
Some folks will talk about social channel integration as their saving grace on this issue. They’ll taut their many followers, connections and friends as evidence of their marketing efforts gaining ground. Some may even offer the number of digital conversations that have taken place about their brand online. Nexopia would probably offer click-through rates and brand impressions. There’s no doubt that, in order to have a complete picture, you have to include these numbers as elements, but that’s where most stop.
The remaining digital gap here is the difference between brand “impression” and brand “presence.” One is seen, the other is felt. One brand inspires zero reaction and is easily ignored. The other brand hits you right in the gut and has a lasting effect. Strong digital branding today should always include a social engagement component. When customers see your TV ad and go to your one-off campaign website (if you included the URL in the ad), and then talk about that on Twitter, Facebook or Nexopia, you as the advertiser should at the very least be there to engage… not pitch but listen, learn and communicate openly. Once the annoying screaming chickens, non-descript sub-selling digital monkeys or taco chip throwing ninjas are done on TV, the experience—good or bad—should transfer to your customers’ Twitter account or other relevant social channel. If your marketing sucks, get online and get ready to face the music. Take it on your hairy monkey chin and let your customers tell you what they want to see instead. On the other hand, if you or your ad agency would rather not defend your collective creative brilliance online, then maybe everyone should consider it the next time the “old guard” whips out the blank cheque for the standard media campaign.
That way, when you go to look under the bun to consider “where the beef is”, there will be some true customer exchanges and meaningful data offered. Instead of taking back your standard feel-good demo numbers as proof of “return on investment,” you can reference what you learned from your “return on engagement.” √