Aviation Marketing: What’s your media strategy for brand engagement?

Mobile people-to-people marketing

In the digital ecosystem, brand engagement is achieved by continuing the conversation.

I recently attended a seminar put on by the Digital Knowledge Centre in conjunction with the American Association of Advertising Agencies. The topic for the full day event was integrated digital brand strategy.  An excerpt:

First aviation marketers should fully grasp the explosion of media channels and how that is impacting the distribution of content. In the modern media landscape brand, engagement happens in three categories — bought, owned, and earned media.

Bought media is any media channel in which time or space is rented to display advertising.  Its objective is to drive people to owned media channels.

Bought media channels include:

  • Radio
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Online ads
  • Outdoor advertising
  • Television

Owned media are media channels that are controlled by the brand. These destinations provide a platform to drive marketing messages and tools to create earned media.

Owned media channels include:

  • Brick and mortar stores
  • Product websites
  • Corporate websites
  • Direct mail
  • Customer Relation Management technology (CRM)
  • Mobile websites
  • Campaign websites
  • Community websites
  • Email campaigns
  • Tradeshow displays

Earned media refers to first-person commentary and content about the brand posted and shared across a variety of social networks and channels.

Earned media channels include:

  • Video sharing – YouTube, Vimeo
  • Social networks  – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Blogs
  • Subscription sites for syndicated social platforms
  • Personal pages
  • Multi Site Manager (MSM) sites – enterprise with a large number of subsidiaries in various countries sharing similar look, feel and common content.

Judging from the proliferation of owned and earned media channels, it is easy to understand how print newspaper advertising revenue went from $64 billion in 1999 to $20.7 billion in 2011. Naturally, the question that comes to mind is what happened to that $40 plus billion in revenue? One could conclude that print advertising was dropped in favor of online advertising.  However, the numbers reveal that with online advertising factored in, combined print and online advertising accounted for just $22.50 billion.

The answer I propose is that there was a fundamental shift in the way people gathered and interacted with content. The “one-to-many” distribution model of information dissemination was usurped by readers taking control and redistributing content on the web forming the foundation for people-to-people marketing.

For the aviation industry, it becomes clear that old school media strategies are not yielding the results required to justify continued investment. Developing a people-to-people content centered strategy of high frequency with permission drives brand value and keeps the relationship going.

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Aviation Marketing: Ryanair, the marketing brilliance behind the commodity-priced airfare

Call it what you may, Ryanair’s marketing is shrewd and laser focused

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary recently called his customer “idiots.” Having never had the pleasure to fly Europe’s largest low cost carrier, I was glad not to be classified as one of the above. Yet from the decidedly colloquial North American viewpoint, it is a revealing look into Ryanair’s branding strategy.

Ryanair at a glance:

  • Founded: 1985
  • Current fleet: 294 Boeing 737-800
  • Passenger traffic: 75.8 million
  • Revenue: €4,325m
  • Profit after tax: €503m
  • Number of routes: 1,500+ per day operating from 51 bases in 28 countries

Ryanair practices marketing known by such names as gotcha marketing and aggression marketing. Gotcha marketing is based on pushing the boundaries of acceptable advertising in both truthfulness and taste, and penalizing customers that don’t follow the rules.

The penalties for not following the rules come in the form of additional fees such as:

  • Administration fee,  €6
  • Boarding pass fee,  €6
  • Reserved seating fee, €10
  • Airport boarding card re-issue fee, €60
  • Infant equipment fee, €20
  • Sports equipment fee, €60
  • Musical instrument fee, €60
  • Flight change fee – based on season, €30 – €90
  • Name change fee, €110 – €160
  • Government tax refund administration fee, €20
  • Oxygen reservation fee, €100
  • Checked bag fee, €15 – €150
  • Missed departure fee, €110

Advertising plays a critical role in these forms of marketing, starting with media placement. One-color ads are placed in tabloid newspapers. The fare prices are misleading because they don’t include the multitude of gotcha fees and usually include provocative imagery that is associated with tabloid journalism.

Because the ads are offensive to some, what follows is a formal complaint to the British Office of Fair Trading or the European Commission for Mobility and Transport. Interestingly enough, O’Leary has called the commission an evil empire populated by morons.

Which leads us back to the brilliance of Ryanair’s marketing. The formula starts with aggressive advertising, which leads to a complaint. Then CEO Michael O’Leary, stokes the fire with an inflammatory remark, escalating the pitch of the conversation while gaining free PR in the press and attention for the low cost carrier. This ultimately turns a $30,000 ad campaign into a million dollar public relations bonanza.

Ryanair understands its customers – price sensitive travelers. Ryanair’s brand promise is cheap fares and on-time service. Their customers understand the value proposition – do it yourself, follow the rules, and get from point A to B for as little as possible.

Ryanair and O’Leary are comfortable in their own skin. Each knows what they are –  the premier low cost carrier with a master marketer who knows how to differentiate his product and turn a profit in a super-competitive business.

Aviation Marketing: Customer Insights or Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious?

Captain Obvious

Insights are not shiny objects. Many times insights are buried in the customer’s emotional connection to the brand.

Good aviation marketers believe that customer insights form the foundation for brand strategy. Being able to identify insights about product functionality, user preferences, and emotional connection to the brand help to formulate the brand promise and gives the brand its “reason for existence.”

5 questions to ask when determining true insights:

  1. Does product/service use reveal something about the target audience’s mind set?
  2. Does the functional benefit of the product/service provide the greatest value to the customer?
  3. Does the product/service make customers feel better about themselves?
  4. Does the product/service create lasting value?
  5. Does the product/service act as an internal point-of-view for the brand?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, odds are you have insight for building a strong brand.

5 ways to differentiate insights from merely interesting information:

Insights reveal more about the target audience than about the product or service.

Does the insight identify a particular lifestyle or point-of-view?

Can the insight be traced back to social cause, use a technology or a political leaning?

Insights are more about the category than the brand.

Owning the category benefit is considered an indication of brand leadership.  United Airlines positioning, “Fly the Friendly Skies,” used until 1996, helped to drive category leadership.

Insights reveal more about how people feel than what they think.

Feelings connect to our deepest needs and values. Find an insight based on an emotion and you can build a brand with which people connect. Virgin American continues to demonstrate this approach with mood lighting, advanced cabin technology, and a hip attitude.

 Insights focus on what is enduring, not the latest fad.

Fads come and go. Successful brands focus on staying true to their core values and articulate these through employee/customer interactions. Southwest Airlines’ core value of on time departures and arrivals has not changed in over 40 years.

Insights stimulate new ideas.

Real insights challenge companies to act in new ways. What a frequent flyer considers important is different from what a vacation traveler considers important. Insights can lead to improvements in specific customer segments.

Being able to determine the difference between what is an insight and what is just interesting affects brand leadership. At the same time, don’t reject an insight just because it seems obvious.

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Aviation Marketing: Measuring Digital Display Advertising ROI

ROI data

Define what to measure before the campaign begins

Defining what to measure before the campaign begins in order to yield accurate quantifiable RIO data.

The lines between print and online advertising no longer exist. The Internet has matured and digital networks have become more sophisticated.

Today, digital display advertising effectiveness is measured mostly with ad server based metrics, as if site traffic is a direct indicator of advertising effectiveness. However, click through rates, page views, and time spent on page provide little in the way of measuring advertising effectiveness as it relates to purchasing behavior.

Progressive aviation marketers are evolving past first generation measurement analytics, implementing a single, more accurate set of analytics to measure both digital and traditional print advertising effectiveness.

Why first generation digital analytics are misleading

  • Click through rates fail to measure the cumulative influence that display advertising has on the purchasing decision, as the average click through rate is only about 1%.
  • Gross Rating Points (GRP = frequency x % reached) are used in an attempt to compare digital to broadcast reach and frequency, but are also misleading because the viewer may never see the advertisement due to faulty placement (eg. ad is placed below the page fold, etc.)

Moving to a blended model for determining digital display advertising effectiveness

In an attempt to simplify the metric for advertising effectiveness, many aviation marketers are turning to a blended model of server based analytics combined with brand lift survey measurement.

Server based analytics are the most prevalent campaign tracking tactic, using platforms like Google analytics or email marketing software to measure online marketing performance.

Brand lift

Brand lift is defined as the percentage increase in the primary marketing objective of a brand advertising campaign. Brand lift can take several forms but is primarily used the measure the extent to which advertising has shifted customer perception against one of the key purchase funnel metrics.

Brand lift metrics:

  • Awareness
  • Attitude
  • Favorability
  • Intent
  • Preference

Brand lift can be measured in real time through survey-based measurement tactics.

Typical brand lift questions include:

  • Awareness: “Have you heard of brand Z?”
  • Favorability: “What is you opinion of brand Z?”
  • Preference: “Will you purchase brand Z in the future?”

In addition, some aviation marketers have simplified even further by using the Net Promoter Score to cut across the complexities of digital and social media channel. A relatively straightforward concept, the Net Promoter Score asks one simple question:

“On a 10 point scale, how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”

 A higher score indicated brand satisfaction.

All of this is based on the simplification of “big data” that online marketing is capable of generating. Determining what you want to measure at the beginning of the campaign will align marketing with achieving business goals and provide the best indication of marketing ROI performance.

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Why internet advertising matters to aviation marketing

IAB internet advertising report 2011

The line between digital and traditional advertising has disappeared.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) released its annual report conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP on interactive advertising.  The results are considered to be the most accurate measurement of internet/online/mobile advertising. Here are some of their key findings along with my insights for aviation marketers.

In 2011 internet advertising revenue in the United States totaled $31.7 billion surpassing cable television, confirming interactive advertising as a valid media outlet only second to broadcast television.

Digital ad formats – search and display – continue as category leaders with mobile emerging as a relevant category.

  • Search accounted for $14.8 billion or 47% of advertising revenue
  • Display and banner ads accounted for $11.1 billion or 38% of advertising revenue
  • Mobile advertising emerged with $1.6 billion or 5% of advertising revenues

With interactive advertising displaying robust growth, aviation marketers should no longer look at web-based advertising as an experiment. Leading aviation marketers are allocating a larger share of media dollars towards interactive advertising supported with the necessary resources for producing web content.

Interactive advertising craves a steady diet of new content.

When interactive advertising fails to produce the desired results, one should review the content at the other side of the click through. Delivering stale content, hard-to-navigate landing pages or content not formatted for mobile devices kills any hope of turning an interest into a conversation. Successful interactive advertising delivers content that is relevant, and encourages the viewer to take the next step to find out more or receive something from the advertisers for the time invested.

Target audiences and interactive advertising

Aviation companies that operate in the retail environment – airlines, charter services, fractional sharing, flight schools – are receiving the benefits of interactive by having their ads appear to viewers that have shown an interest in these categories. This is achieved through advertising networks that target ads to viewers through data collection.

Aviation component and system manufacturers have been slow to adopt interactive advertising because of the belief that their target audience and decision influencers spend little time surfing the web and interacting with social media sites.

However the $14.8 billion spent in the United States on search seems to contradict this belief. When projected globally, just consider Google’s 2011 global advertising revenue of $36,531 billion.

Clearly, customers and prospects turn to the web first when determining suitable solutions and new suppliers for their needs.  The financial facts alone should serve as a testimonial to the relevance of interactive advertising.

To view the complete IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report click on the following link: http://bit.ly/NJjZvG

Aviation Marketing: Rethinking marketing media

Owned, Earned & Bought Media

Owned, earned and bought media provide the platforms for customer engagement.

In the not-too-distant past, magazine advertising dominated aviation marketing.  The proposition from publishers was simple – we will provide the content and the readership base, and aviation manufacturers will rent space in our magazines to advertise products and services. This was a successful business model which lasted over 6 decades.

Then digital technology came along, disrupting the publishing model and fragmenting the media landscape forever.

 “The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers,” Brad Jakeman, President of Global Beverage Group & Chief Creative Officer at Pepsi Company.

 The changing media landscape

With every new communication technology and platform, there is a new twist on customer engagement. I find it beneficial to think in two directions for media:

  1. Inbound
  2. Outbound

In addition to the directions, I suggest segmenting media into:

  • Owned
  • Earned
  • Bought

Inbound and outbound media

Inbound media is a relatively new term derived from using social media to engage customers and prospects through conversation. The start of the conversation usually originates on the customer side in the form of an inquiry or comment posted to a web page, blog, or social media platform. Digitally literate aviation marketers monitor their social media sites for posts and respond accordingly to satisfy the inquiry.

Outbound media can be categorized as any communication sent from the aviation manufacturer that was not directly requested. Outbound media can take the form of magazine advertising, email blast, direct mail, promotions, television commercials, podcast, and You Tube videos.

Owned, earned and bought media

Owned media is any media entity or vehicle in which the aviation marketer controls content and distribution. A few examples include:

  • Company newsletters
  • Corporate magazines
  • Corporate websites
  • Product microsites
  • Twitter accounts
  • Facebook pages
  • Linkedin accounts
  • Pinterest boards
  • Videos distributed over a video-sharing site

Earned media happens when information is published by a third party because it is newsworthy, timely, or considered relevant. Examples include:

  • Published press releases
  • Published articles in magazines
  • Retweets from Twitter postings
  • Credit attribution for blog image or posting
  • SERPs (Search Engine Result Page)

Bought media is any space that is purchased for a specific time in which the advertiser places and distributes content. Examples include:

  • Advertisements in aviation magazines
  • Online banner advertisements
  • Pay-per-click search advertisements
  • Purchased email list
  • Purchased mailing list
  • Billboards
  • Radio airtime
  • Bus signage
  • Trade show sponsorships

Astute aviation marketers view the fragmented media landscape through the eyes of a publisher, selecting the media channels that best connect with their customer base and deliver the greatest marketing return.

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Aviation Marketing: Compelling creative starts with a great creative brief

Aviation manufacturing CMOs that take an active role in developing the creative brief are rewarded with creative work that is memorable, strategic, and engaging.

Have you ever smiled after reading a magazine ad or felt an emotional tug after watching a video and wondered where the ideas came from? The ideas came from the hard work of the creative team working in tandem with the aviation marketer.

Creative ideas are like seeds looking for fertile land. If the land has been tilled and nurtured, then the seeds will take root. If the land is inhospitable, then the seeds die bearing no fruit.

The creative brief is the plowed field, ready to receive the seeds of creativity from which the ideas grow that make customers emotionally engaged with your brand.

What makes a great creative brief?

In aviation marketing, a great creative brief starts when the creative team is working in lockstep with marketing and manufacturing. Creative development is a social affair, based on exchanging ideas and insights. Each of these groups brings a different perspective to the process based on their unique experiences. Sharing these experiences provides a well-rounded perspective on product attributes and features, as well as insights gained from customer feedback.

Although gathering each group’s unique perspectives can be beneficial, the number of differing viewpoints on how to achieve the objective can be daunting.   Everyone is  looking at the objective though a different window.

The role of the CMO 

The role of the CMO is to be a nurturer, bringing all the different viewpoints into focus for a complete picture. This is not an easy task because everyone thinks his or her idea is the best solution for solving the objective at hand. A good CMO listens and presents counter viewpoints, challenges assumptions, and strives for clarity of thought.

Creative briefs are fluid

Different objectives require different approaches to developing creative briefs. There is no one-size-fits-all creative brief form. Depending on the marketing objective, customer research may be needed to capture snippets of customer attitude and preference for the brand. A second objective may require in-depth competitor knowledge to exploit a technology weakness and turn it into a competitive advantage.

A good creative brief provides a framework for discovery

Creativity is about connecting the dots. However, dots are pesky things with minds of their own, predisposed to wanderlust. The creative brief provides a safe place for the dots to gather and be tamed so the marketing objective may be accomplished.

Everyone has a creative side. When working together to develop the creative brief, the creative juices flow, nurturing the garden the aviation marketer has prepared.