Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

What You Think You Know about Advertising on the Web Is Probably Wrong: Part Two

Monday, April 28th, 2014

online-advertisingIn part two of a series, we further explore Tony Haile’s article at, “What You Think You Know about the Web Is Wrong.” Here we examine the effectiveness of online advertising, with lessons for how tech B2B marketers can use better design and better content to reach their audience.

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As discussed in Part One of this blog, Haile thinks that the “Attention Web” is a new way to focus advertising based on a user’s attraction to valuable content and design. But first, he debunks several myths of online advertising.

Myth 3: Native advertising is the savior of publishing

With media companies desperate for new revenue streams and looking for ways to capture audience attention more thoughtfully, native advertising has recently been the talk of the town.

With native advertising, companies create original content and place it on specific news sites in a format that looks and feels like editorial content, because they want their message communicated in a way that is non-disruptive. But does this really work? With regular editorial content, two-thirds of people engage with it for more than 15 seconds – but with native ad content, only one-third engage more than 15 seconds. You see the same thing with page-scrolling behavior: with typical editorial content, 71% of readers scrolled down. But with native content, only 24% of people scrolled down the page at, all based on Chartbeat’s research.

That being said, native advertising isn’t all doom and gloom, some sites have worked hard to ensure the native advertising experience is consistent with what visitors come to their site for. Gizmodo does this really well and they have seen their native advertising perform as well as their normal content as a result.

Myth 4: Banner ads don’t work

The next myth discusses why banner ads are NOT dead. If you listen to the ‘experts,’ click-through rates on banner ads are now averaging less than 0.1% and you’ll hear the words banner blindness discussed at length. But the truth is a bit more complicated…

Research has consistently shown the importance of great ad creative in getting a visitor to see and remember a brand. What’s less well known is the scientific consensus based on studies by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Chartbeat that a second key factor is the amount of time a visitor spends actively looking at the page when the ad is in view. Someone looking at the page for 20 seconds while an ad is there is 20-30% more likely to recall that ad afterwards.

So, for banner ads to be effective, the answer is simple. You have to deliver great creative and then place the ad near it for a long enough period for the viewer to truly see it. The challenge for banner ads is that traditional advertising heuristics demand that ads be placed on the parts of the page that capture the least attention, not the most.

Here’s the deal: 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold. That leaderboard at the top of the page? People scroll right past that and spend their time where the content is.

So while the Attention Web may just seem like a way to structure Web advertising based in consumer behavior, it does indeed have the potential to make a big impact. It’s not just the publishers of quality content who win in the Attention Web, it’s all of us. When sites are built to capture attention, any friction, any bad design or eye-roll-inducing advertorials that might cause a visitor to spend a second less on the site is bad for business.

This means better design and a better experience for everyone. A web where quality makes money and great design is rewarded? That’s something worth paying attention to.

How would the Attention Web change how you structure your next web advertising campaign?

Myth: Click-throughs and shares are the best proof of ad effectiveness

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

share-st-1aMany long-held assumptions about Web-based and social media-driven advertising go under the microscope in “What You Think You Know the Web Is Wrong,” an article at by Tony Haile. Haile is the CEO of Chartbeat, a real-time Web analytics solution provider. The article raises fascinating questions about the effectiveness of online advertising, with lessons for how tech B2B marketers can use better design and better content to reach their audience. This post is the first of two based on Haile’s research.

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At McBru, we pay a lot of attention to the latest trends and research in digital advertising – how they impact customer behavior and customer awareness and affinity towards brands.

In his article on, Haile talks about some of the myths of online advertising and our understanding of it.  The article discusses the “Attention Web” – a new way of focusing advertising based on a user’s attraction to valuable content and design – and how there are powerful new methods of capturing data that can give media sites and advertisers a second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel view of user behavior.

First though, we need to understand some of the myths of traditional Web advertising analytics. Turns out that these “measurement” methods, which purport to peak into customer behavior on the Web and gauge the success of marketing campaigns, simply aren’t accurate.

Myth 1:  Conventional knowledge suggests that publishers have been chasing page views, the metric that counts the number of times people load a web page. The more page views a site gets, the more people are reading its contents, and the more successful the site is as part of a larger marketing campaign.

Maybe not…Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior of 2 billion visits across the Web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. There is a concept of click fraud but the real issue is that customers aren’t reading what the metrics says they are.  It goes without saying that the most valuable audience is the one that reads our content, and finds it compelling enough to come back for more.

Myth 2: The more we share, the more we read.  As page views have begun to fail as a metric, brands have embraced social shares such as Facebook likes or Twitter retweets as the new measurement and currency of success. Social sharing is public and suggests that someone has not only read the content but is actively recommending it to other people.  Obviously caring about social sharing makes sense and companies are likely to get more traffic if readers share their content as opposed to doing nothing at all: the more Facebook “likes” a story gets, the more people it reaches within Facebook and the greater the overall traffic. The same is true of Twitter, though Twitter drives less traffic to most sites.

The rub is that people who share content are a small fraction of the people who visit that content. Chartbeat tracked specific content with social activity and there was only one tweet and eight Facebook likes for every 100 visitors.

Also, conventional wisdom would hold that the more a piece of content is shared or liked, the more likely it is to be read or otherwise consumed. However, according to Haile, “We looked at 10,000 socially-shared articles and found that there is no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content.”

In other words, using shares as a measure of marketing success ignores the behaviors of a huge portion of your audience. And in general, relying on click-throughs and social sharing as a measure of marketing success can often lead us to jump to conclusions that the data does not support.

Watch this space for Part 2 of this series on the myths of online advertising.

Is Emotion Relevant in Tech B2B Marketing?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

For those of us who spend our days trying to solve the riddle of successfully marketing to audiences who hate being marketed to, it can be easy to fall into the trap of “just the facts, ma’am” content and messaging.  But that approach is almost certainly not a winner.

Just because engineers and developers mistrust marketing doesn’t mean they are robots. It sounds corny to say “technologists are people too” but, well, they are. And all humans have a left brain and a right brain; most of us even use both sides.


This image appears in an ad we created for a client in the e-learning space. The target audience: chief learning officers. We were playing around with the idea of “knowledge” and how knowledge is attained; the notion of the tree of knowledge (think Eve, apples and serpents) was tossed into the creative mix. But our client is a very innovative company delivering e-learning in a fresh new way (they’ve been called the iTunes of e-learning, for good reason).

What’s fresher than a just-picked orange? And thus, the “orange of knowledge” was born. He’s friendly, eye catching and makes you want to know more. That emotional appeal breaks through the clutter and allows us to tell the serious story, backed with data, that our client needs to tell. Both sides of the brain are stimulated: the part that makes you smile back at the cute little orange guy, and the part that takes the facts and figures in, and makes an assessment.

The fact that the emotional tug is a little quirky helps. Even as tech B2B audiences resist being marketed to, they would resist overt manipulation of emotions even more. So yes, emotion is relevant in tech B2B marketing… as long as it is delivered with a dose of affection, respect and admiration for the audience.

Rethinking Retargeting for Tech B2B Advertising

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013


In a blog post earlier this year, I questioned the value of ad retargeting in tech B2B. While I’m still skeptical that traditional retargeting is the best route  – we still don’t want our clients’ ads on Zappos – some advancements are making this an interesting option for our clients.

Basic retargeting technologies display your ads indiscriminately across sites deemed to be part of your target audience. But our ad programs contain messaging specific to the audiences only in their job settings. If the ad blindly follows them to a site that has nothing to do with our offers, the audience may not be terribly receptive. However, recent developments give advertisers the ability to fine-tune the targeting of these ads, improving the likelihood they will be effective. Here are a few of these developments:

  1. CRM Retargeting: This technology targets prospects who are already in your CRM system. Does your CRM differentiate between prospects and sales-ready leads? You may messaged to those groups differently.
  2. Email Retargeting: This approach targets those who are part of the email marketing database.  For example, you can target those who opened your emails, but haven’t converted.
  3. Search Retargeting: This technique targets people based on specific search terms. Say you want to reach those interested in “LED drivers” – this level of retargeting allows you to reach those who have entered that search term into Google.

These more targeted options appear to be garnering better results. While one can expect similar CTRs, it’s the conversion rate that sees the most impact. It stands to reason that if you can extend your advertising targeting reach across more sites, you can expand the front of your sales funnel. And we like the sound of that!

Image source

Top Tech B2B Marketing Posts of 2013… So Far

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

mcbru tumblrIt’s like sitting down with an elite group of tech B2B marketers and finding out what’s working best in today’s markets. Everyone at McBru contributes his or her best insights to this blog, so enjoy these top-viewed posts for the first half of 2013:

  • How a Typeface Can Make Your B2B Brand More Trustworthy – While there is little inherent in the shapes of letters that makes one typeface more authoritative than another, our art director Leigh Brooks explains how historical preconceptions about typefaces color a viewer’s perception of a brand.
  • Case Study: Use LinkedIn to Build an Online Tech B2B Community – This McBru social media case study shows how LinkedIn works as a powerful platform to create community and connections within a highly targeted, worldwide tech B2B audience.
  • Localize Your Tech B2B Advertising Campaign – Your tech B2B ad campaign that’s got them clicking in Germany may not have any response in China. Since most B2B ad campaigns span various geographies, pick up these three tips we’ve learned about localizing your campaign.
  • We’re All on the Same Page: Project Documentation in Tech B2B Marketing – One of the keys to success in a tech B2B marketing project doesn’t happen during the course of the project, but actually before the project ever starts. Project initiation documents give your team all the information they need to do the job efficiently and with vision.

Please take your time exploring all the great B2B advertising, influencer relations, social media, content marketing, and other topics we dive into on this blog. And don’t be shy about commenting on what you agree with, or where we’re missing the boat.

5 Lessons About Using Brand Awareness Surveys to Measure Tech B2B Advertising Programs

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

freeimage-2644573-webAs B2B Tech marketers, we’re constantly wondering how effective our online advertising programs are, and how to measure their success. We’ve talked before about the month over month review of metrics like impressions and click-thru rates, but what about the big picture? How do you know your messaging is moving the needle on your company’s brand awareness? One direct way to measure the big picture is through a Brand Awareness Survey: a research project designed to measure a targeted audiences’ awareness of your brand.

There are many resources for helping you do this research, and we’re happy to provide you with some best practices:

  • Identify your audience – It’s important to be specific about who you will be surveying. A good general rule is to target the same audience profile that you target with your advertising. To avoid biasing your results, you’re best off sending a blind survey, in which the audience does not know who sponsors the survey.
  • Ask strategic questions – Think about your ad program goals for the year. Have you recently added a new geography or language? Are you trying to boost a new vertical market? Do you want to know how your brand compares to those of your competitors?
  • Get into your audiences’ heads – Your survey should ask respondents to rank the importance of key brand attributes (innovation, portfolio breadth, cost, etc.), then ask which vendors they associate with those attributes. That helps you understand your competitive brand positioning, and also gives guidance about what attributes to focus on.
  • Keep measuring – If you’re measuring how much your program has affected your audience’s brand awareness, you need a benchmark. Typically, we do a benchmark survey at either the onset of a program, or the beginning of the new year. Then we send a follow-up survey at the end of the program or the year. Comparing the results is your best way to know how your program did.
  • Evaluate and improve – Now that you have your data, you need to apply what you learned to your awareness programs. For example, you may refocus on the goals and attributes that need more lift.

As you use this tool more extensively, you’ll learn more tricks of the trade, such as aided and unaided awareness. Do you have any of your own best practices? Or have you faced any particular challenges? Let us know!

McBru B2B Videos Win Gold, Silver in International Summit Creative Awards

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

b2b videosMcClenahan Bruer recently earned two awards in the prestigious Summit Creative Awards. There were over 5000 submissions from 25 countries, so the McBru team is proud of the accolades received from the distinguished panel of judges.

The silver award winning video, titled The Ultimate Data Center Challenge, was written and produced by McClenahan Bruer and shot by Bottle Rocket Labs. A light-hearted spoof of athletic training commercials, the content was created for Intel’s Ultimate Data Center Challenge at VMWorld 2012 and, rumor has it, may be coming back for an encore.

Taking home the gold is a video campaign McBru produced in collaboration with Kamp Grizzly. The Intel SBA Campaign features a set of humorous videos that show how PCs featuring the Intel® Small Business Advantage help small businesses, even when no one’s around.

Video is increasingly becoming an important asset in tech B2B marketing, and McBru is pleased that our projects are not only meeting the goals of our clients, but also gaining recognition from our peers for creativity and execution.

Mondopad the Great Takes Over Tech B2B Agency

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

mondopad finalWhat’s nearly five feet long, driven by touch, and kicking up collaboration at McBru?

Our new InFocus Mondopad!  And “mondo” it is: a whopping 55-inch, HD resolution, Windows 7 touch-screen PC.  We operate it by touch, keyboard/mouse, and a stylus. It connects to our wireless network so, with its specially made stand, we can move it anywhere we want within our offices.

So, you are probably asking yourself, ok, what can the Mondopad do? Think of it as a tablet, laptop, and TV all in one. You can use the interactive whiteboard to take notes and mark up a picture, drawing, or text. It has a built-in browser and Microsoft Office applications. You can instantly share the screen with others with a touch of an icon and have a 2-way video conference. In fact, it has seemingly endless capabilities to make collaboration easy and productive.  And just for fun, we had cable installed by Christenson Electric, Inc. (who kindly helped with our training) so we can enjoy TV and movies on it too.

So far, we have used the Mondopad for weekly staff meetings with PowerPoint presentations and training, and for on-the fly research during group brainstorming. Moving forward, we plan to use the Mondopad for video conferences and in office movie nights!

The Mondopad has quickly become a favorite office gadget, and the touch screen capabilities make it easy to experiment and play! As Alexander the Great said, “There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”

Do you have a Mondopad? How is it helping your company collaborate? Contact me at to share your Mondopad adventures.

5 Ways to Conquer the B2B Customer Reference Dilemma

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

If you can’t go big, in customer reference programs, do you go home?

This year and last, one of our clients has generously invited me to speak to their annual sales meeting on the topic of customer reference programs. My mission is to evangelize the power of customer references as a core element of highly successful B2B influencer relations campaigns. One of the misconceptions I’m there to dispell – that I hear from sales pros and marketers alike –  is some version of the following:

“Our audiences only care about big, brand-name customers, and those customers won’t let us use them as media references. Therefore, there’s no point to pursuing customers for references.”

I like to call this the customer reference dilemma. And like most dilemmas, it’s based on some false assumptions. We’ve had the opportunity to devise and collaborate with customer reference programs (CRPs) for clients across many industries, and whether we’re owning the CRP from end-to-end or just leveraging those customer references in outbound communications programs, what we’ve learned is that the size or name recognition of a customer isn’t the most important measure of its value as a customer reference. In fact, for most businesses, I wouldn’t even place it in the top five. Customer references get their value from how they align with your go-to-market strategies and core messages, and how they clearly demonstrate the business impact of your products or services. With that in mind, here are the five criteria I think are most important in evaluating a customer’s potential value as a reference for your communications efforts:

1)   Market alignment: Are you heavily targeting a specific market segment or vertical in your marketing efforts? Customer references that match the profile of that market provide valuable reinforcement for those marketing messages;

2)   Product alignment: Customer success stories for your legacy offerings may be very compelling, but if your sales force is focused on selling the new generation, case studies, news announcements or media coverage of customers who demonstrate the value of your new products or services will provide better air cover;

3)   A great narrative: You’ll get great customer reference value from a company no one has ever heard of if their success story is particularly novel or compelling. A great before-and-after story – especially if you can name a key competitor as the “before” scenario – will leave a strong impression as to how your company can transform a customer’s business;

4)   Great quantitative results: Numbers-driven customers who can deliver the hard data that demonstrate vast improvements in the metrics that matter most to them – and most likely, to your prospective customers – are extremely attractive as customer references;

5)   ROI: Customers who diligently track the impact of your products or services in the form of return on investment, and will sign up to extoll those results publicly, can be tough to come by. When you find one, you’ve found an unbeatable opportunity to quantify the true impact your company can deliver.

Are there criteria would you add to this list? Please use the Comment field below, or don’t hesitate to contact me at

Tech B2B Events: Our Top 5 Questions And Answers

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

We’re now helping our clients navigate the sometimes choppy waters of a busy tradeshow season toward flawless execution. We find that some of the same questions invariably come up, year after year. Here are five of the most frequently asked:

  • Do we really need to have giveaways at our booth? The short answer is yes! The right give-away is more than just a tchotchke that an attendee passes on to their kid. It can act as a conversation starter and be used as a bargaining chip in exchange for a coveted business card.
  • How important is it to stay active on social media while at an event? It’s very important. A good social media strategy will generate buzz pre-event, capture exciting interactions during an event and maintain connections with new contacts post event.
  • Are lead-capturing devices worth the extra cost? Most of the time – especially at larger events where you are likely to get heavy traffic to your booth. Many lead capture devices let you do more than just scan an attendee’s business card. You can also add extra fields to further qualify that lead (e.g. size of company). The best part is that, at the end of a show, you may receive that information in a ready-to-use spreadsheet. That certainly beats having to input all that information manually!
  • Should I add a speaking opportunity to my sponsorship? It depends. If you are cultivating yourself and your company as thought leaders in a specific area, and you have compelling, useful information to share with your tradeshow audience, it is a worthy investment. However, please refrain from a presentation that skews heavily toward marketing your product and services – that will annoy your audience. Plan instead to share practical, useful information.
  • How quickly do I need to follow up with leads after an event? Faster is better. In general, follow up within two weeks after an event. The event, and your value to their work, is still fresh in their memory.

What questions do you have about tech B2B event marketing? Let me know in the comments below.