Masthead Blogs
Friday, September 15, 2017
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

The October 2017 issue of the Walrus is the Cover of the Week. This grainy black and white cover shot, of what appears to be a terrified and desperate soul fleeing the United States, is compelling.

The headline Escaping America…is Canada really a safe haven?

s emotionally charged. The image and the words work in tandem extremely effectively. The Walrus clearly understands it’s American-hating audience and how to motivate them to action. The cover feature is lengthy and well written, a good read.

Thursday, September 14, 2017
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly

As we saw in article number one, Testing remains front and centre the most important, powerful and effective thing you can do to help your advertising. Regardless of the budget, the message, or the media placement you make.  You need to test and test and keep testing because there is going to be an opportunity for improvement, however modest, in each and every ad. Those cumulative changes can be absolute gold showing you what your customers want and need, and are prepared to put their hand up for. Now that you have testing ingrained and under your skin it's going to be part and parcel of every ad moving forward, correct ? Good.  I'm thrilled to learn that you're onboard with that.


Mistake Number Two that I've seen too often through the years is that far too many advertisers are jumping in at any time without rhyme and reason, not thinking if this is the best seasonality to be in front of the target. Now I understand very few advertisers can afford to be there all the time running their campaign at full throttle, and that's not unexpected.


You have to have some rather deep pockets to keep an ongoing campaign all of the time. You can quickly make yourself broke if you keep marketing, but not testing to see if the ads are working. The whole idea is salesmanship. That goes back to John E. Kennedy in 1904. 


His story starts in a saloon, where most good ones should start. In 1904, he sent a note to Albert Lasker, the new young President of Lord & Thomas ad agency…Let’s go back 110+ years At only 23, Albert Lasker had already earned enough money from salary and bonuses to buy Daniel Lord's shares when Lord retired. One day, he was sitting in Ambrose Thomas's office and a secretary handed a note to Thomas that said: "I am downstairs in the saloon. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don't know. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word 'Yes' down with the bellboy. Signed – John E. Kennedy."


Thomas scoffed at the note, but Lasker was intrigued and sent the word 'Yes' down to the saloon. Kennedy was shown into Lasker's office. He was a strapping 6-foot tall, ex-Mountie who used to write ads for the Hudson's Bay Company. Could he be more Canadian? (Image Source: buildingpharmabrands) When Kennedy asked Lasker if he knew what advertising was, Lasker said, "I think so. It's news." Kennedy said no, news was just a technique .The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words: "Salesmanship in print."

Those three words would change the advertising world forever…"Salesmanship in print" was an epiphany to the advertising world in 1904. Essentially, Kennedy was saying that advertising had to persuade.  It had to give people reasons to buy the product. It had to convince.Up until then, all advertising was just straight facts. Here's the product, here's what it costs. That's kinda why you’re marketing isn't it? (More of this story can be found at this link)


Regardless of what you're selling, a product or service, you want to sell something. so make sure every ad is a sales opportunity for you. Here's what I'd like you to do. Maybe some of you are already doing this and if so that's fantastic, because it will give you a much better understanding of your spending and your planning.


The biggest challenge for many advertisers is not anticipating when their best sales periods are going to be. They end up jumping at every advertising opportunity from each well-intended media sales person, who comes through the door. In the majority they are all very good people and I have some wonderful relationships with many of my sales reps going back decades, which is amazing. They have become true allies for me in making a campaign, which works incredibly hard for my clients. I applaud them and I continue to do business with them.


Please understand their mandate is to sell. To sell the advertising space or time or placement. They want to see you do well but they also want to see some money. Remember it is in their interest to get you to advertise as often as possible with their publication, their website, their outdoor board, their radio station, and kudos to them, they should be. 


But that can really stretch a budget if you're trying to be there all the time, and you're not sure what you should be doing. So here's a simple tip that will really help crystallize for you what your timings should be like.   I want you to map out an entire year on a spreadsheet. Oh it can be any fiscal if you prefer but for simplistic sake I try to stick to a calendar, January to December. (If you’d like a Sample Yearly Calendar, send an e-nail to with Sample Yearly Calendar in the subject line, and I’ll send you a copy)


I want you to pick any two sales periods. If you have more, that's great but two is easier to work with.  So the times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability, will determine the key sales potential period. Let's say April and May for spring and then November and December for winter are your best sales carrots.  I actually have several clients in different industries where that is exactly the case. Those are the pivotal periods for them. What I want you to do is devote up to 50% of your annual ad budget to support these two windows.


That's where perhaps upwards of 80% of your business is coming from. You should be giving those two key periods the best opportunity to maximize your exposure. I encourage you to put much of your marketing muscle in these periods because they are driving the majority of your revenue.  These are the key times that you want to be making sure your name is out there on an ongoing basis, and they will get your most attention and your most support.


Okay, with those in place, the remaining eight months of the year will share the remaining 50% of the budget. Perhaps you devote 30% to six months and 20% to the final two months. You can allocate that as you feel comfortable, and as your cash flow allows. In my experience, this gives you an opportunity to have sustained presence, to have even some modest exposure, so you’re always on your prospects radar. You don't have to be running full-throttle all the time. This allows you to ramp up your presence in the four heaviest months split between spring and winter. You have maybe six months that are second tier and that need some increased support. Importantly, they're not the same demand period as your key period, so you don't  have to be with your foot on the pedal quite as aggressively through those time blocks. The intensity is not as critical as your primary periods. 


Then the lightest months for some advertisers, often the summer window, June through August, when people are at last vacationing, or not really thinking of work because the outdoor beckons, those might be your lighter periods. Please keep some spending out there, you don't want to lose all of the equity and all of the awareness that you've built up through your spring periods. Remember you want to have some ongoing presence, however modest, just to make sure that your key audience knows that you're still in there pitching. Your lightest months can just be a sustaining presence. 


The times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability will determine the key sales potential period. Bear in mind, this is only one of many deployment strategies I've discovered. I’ve had the great good fortune of working with both large and small ad agencies and working with some advertisers who had very modest budgets, and some of who have very deep pockets.  You don't have to spend more than your competition. Certainly it helps to increase your media exposure when you have multiple opportunities there. However, you just have to spend smarter, at the right times. So take the time to map out on a calendar what your key sales periods are and maybe those are Spring & Fall. Maybe, just pre-Christmas, but take the time to find out.


This is the single biggest advertising tip I can give you. Importantly, plan and buy early.  Planning months in advance, you will save yourself an enormous amount of grief. No less critical, you will save an enormous amount of money by booking early. I can’t stress that enough. You can save from 30% to 60% or more by buying EARLY.


So take the time to Plan Your Campaign Timing Carefully and Spend Smarter. 



In appreciation of Masthead Readers, you can order my Bestseller – 57 Media Spikes book at 40% off through Amazon for $17.74 Cdn, and if you order two or more copies, they ship for FREE. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

The digital ad race to generate advertising revenue has a lot of online publishers not taking into account the effect it will have on readers. To quote Rodney Dangerfield “ I get no respect, no respect at all” reflects what consumers are feeling today with digital ads. This lack of respect for the reader is having a huge side effect as the use of ad blockers is on the rise with Millennials the biggest adopters. My 19-year old son says that he is getting tired of all the ads he is seeing on Facebook and Snapchat and will be downloading an ad blocker soon for his Apple iPhone. Basically he just ignores the ads now and skips through them. As you can see digital advertising is not very effective when there is so much ad clutter. It needs to be tasteful and not overwhelming to get the attention of the reader.


I first reported about the use of Ad blockers in a 2016 blog posting and it is time to update you on this growing issue to see where this is going. It has been estimated that 17-24% of internet users in Canada are using ad blockers now which suggests the effectiveness of current ad strategies needs to be revisited. The USA market according to Emarketer is seeing this trend also with 24% (2016 estimate) of the internet population using ad blockers and is expected to grow to 30% in 2018. Google is now planning to install one as a default program in the Chrome browser in 2018 so it will look like it will be mainstream sooner than we think.



The use of an ad blocker is pretty even across all age groups according to this survey by GlobalWebIndex. The 25-34 age group had the highest at 26%. It has been estimated 40% of desktop users are using ad blockers and 15% of smartphone users with growth in users to rise in smartphones. 



You can download an ad blocker as an extension for your web browser and one of  the most popular ones is AdBlock Plus (I use this btw) that is available for Macs and Chrome users. In this example on the website 9 ads were blocked, but you have the ability to turn off the ad blockers as some sites in the USA now are able to recognize ad blockers and they ask you to turn it off if you want read the content (called white listing). Since I start using the ad blocker the site’s web pages and video load faster.



Why are people using ad blocking software? According to the GlobalWebIndex study of USA users, the #1 reason is 49% feel that there are too many ads and they are annoying or irrelevant, followed by #2 at 40% there are too many ads and are intrusive.  My favourite at #7 (29%) is I don’t like seeing video ads before I’m allowed to watch video content. I found this so irritating personally when watching sports highlights that I use ad blockers for all my sports web sites as they slow down the viewing experience and crash my smartphone sometimes. 


In another study of users by the IAB in Australia the most common reason for using ad blockers is to prevent from getting a virus. So security against scammers is also a huge concern and this was seen in all age groups.



Here is an ad that keeps coming up on my smartphone for this dating site in the Ukraine, that is annoying as it is following me everywhere I surf now. This site is trying to get me to sign up by using the lure of attractive women that will flirt with me online, that are most likely fake people or a chatbot. They charge me to talk with them or could be a credit card phishing scam. A traditional publisher will never approve this ad for their site but for Google this is OK as they do not care who advertises in their ad network. I would rather now block this ad going forward.



The industry is trying to create a technology work around to circumvent ad blockers but that is not the answer as it most likely alienate the reader even more. The use of behavioural tracking will even make matter worse as users just do not like being spied on and will be just another reason to block ads to protect their privacy (#8 and #9 in why I use ad blockers). The ad tech community will hype the fact they are losing ad dollars to ad blockers, but what they do not realize they are losing customers forever because of this greed and subsequent sinful business practices. The only way consumers fight back against this greed is to install an ad blocker. This total lack of respect of the reader will have the ad tech industry shoot themselves in the foot for short-term gain.

Thursday, September 07, 2017
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

Closer, the French gossip magazine, lost a court battle in France yesterday regarding photos showing the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middelton, topless. The court ordered the defendants to pay damages to the duchess and her husband Prince William, however, the amount was significantly less than the royal family had requested.  They were seeking 1.5 million Euros.

The court ruled that three photographers, and three newspaper executives, invaded the privacy of the duchess, formerly known as Kate Middleton, by taking and publishing the photos. Two executives of Closer magazine were slapped with the maximum 45,000 euro fine, plus the two executives, along with two photographers working with a celebrity photo agency, were collectively ordered to pay an additional 50,000 euros in damages to Kate and the same amount to William to boot.


The magazine was reported to be a sellout, according to reports from overseas.

Monday, August 28, 2017
57 Media Spikes
Dennis Kelly

It strikes me that there are quite a number of opportunities out there for you to showcase your product or service using just about any form of media and that's fantastic. There is no shortage of media players and opportunities, but what I found the most powerful is utilizing all of those resources to their respective individual and then collective advantages. Sometimes things work wonderfully well using the more traditional radio, television, newspaper, magazine, or out of home advertising. More recently some advertisers have had some success with one or more of the social media platforms and that's terrific. I think they should all be embraced and be part of your media mix.


Please make no mistake that it should genuinely be a mix of media because you never know exactly which particular component is going to pull the trigger and get your target group to say; that's for me, that's the product that I want! You want to make sure you give yourself every opportunity to be seen and to be heard to promote whatever service or product you have out there. You want to stand head and shoulders above the crowd, in front of as many of the right crowds as possible.


So, what I'd like to share with you starting today is a series of the Top Ten Mistakes in Advertising that I've seen through these three decades of being a professional media planner and buyer and share some secrets and tips on how to avoid them. We're going to space this out one at a time, today being the intro will perhaps be a tad longer . I do hope you will you will indulge me but let's get started with Mistake Number One.  


The single biggest mistake I see repeated over and over and over again is the failure to test and measure your ads. All too often too many advertisers simply write a cheque for the ads in the newspaper, online, TV, radio, regardless of the media and simply hope for the best.


Well as many of you will attest, hope marketing really doesn't pay an awful lot of bills. You wouldn't put your own product, table lamps, lawnmowers, keyboards, post hole diggers, floor tiles, into the marketplace without putting them through an extensive battery of tests to see if they can live up to your standards. You’re testing the ad that sells the product and, unfortunately, maybe you've encountered this yourself, or you know a friend who had this happen to them. They put all of their muscle into one media without finding out how effective it could be on a smaller scale and all they heard was crickets. That's a devastating sound when you're in advertising, so here’s what I want you to do. 


Here is how you fix this mistake. What you want to do is to see how every single piece of creative is performing in each magazine, website, outdoor ad, and/or radio commercial. You should have an identifier, a tag of any description that's exclusive to that ad so you can go back and say we invested X number of dollars in this media and it brought us two returns, five returns, a thousand returns, whatever.


This helps you to know exactly what worked that helps you on future campaigns by identifying  what has been your best performer. It challenges you to come up with even better ads, better media mixes, better dollar spending, because now you know what's performing.  So when you're preparing your ads make sure that all of that creative excellence that's been developed has a chance to be evaluated and measured so you can go back and track it. You can see how engaged your audiences are, like how many times did they purchase the product, how many times did they go to the website, how many times that they raised their hand to say I like your product and I want more info.


That's what you want to deliver. So code your ad with the coupon exclusive to that campaign or magazine. Create a different URL or even a 1-800 number that can be tracked and monitored for every single ad.  You want to see how each ad is doing. Then, only then, only then can you tell if it's working and giving you a return on the investment. You are setting a template that will help you refine every ad moving forward. And if you get it right, right out of the gate, then kudos to you and congratulations. 


But, there's always going to be some refinement, some improvements, some opportunity to tweak subsequent ads. There is a famous advertising gentleman by the name of John Caples who was an aggressive and prolific advertising tester, way before the Internet came onboard. He discovered through testing different headlines of one ad he raised the performance 19.5 times. Same product, same newspaper or magazine, same service, same price point, all he did was change the headline multiple times until he found one that struck gold. You want a good return?  Two times, three times better?  Try 19.5  times better!  That's the difference that testing delivers.  Please remember when you're testing there is no failure, there's only results.


One enterprising client in my history treated it this way too. He came from a financial background so each ad to him was considered a different mutual fund in his portfolio and he named them before they went into the media. Now, because they were coded in names he liked, he was able to remember them but he was able to soon see how well each of his investments, as he put it, was performing. And he put more money against the ads which were performing and changed any ads which were underperforming to a new one. 


So my message to you for tip number one is to Track Every Single Ad you prepare. It's the only way to accurately measure what's working.

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Rick says:
So what's the solution going forward? I know all about the challenges the industry faces in this reg...