IBM, Microsoft turn to the web for advertising insights

24 November 2009

NEW YORK: IBM, Harrah's Entertainment and Microsoft are among a growing number of brands seeking to acquire insights for their advertising campaigns by analysing the opinions of consumers posted on the web.

Many marketers are attempting to utilise social media, blogs and other Web 2.0 platforms both to heighten engagement levels, and as an innovative part of their customer relationship management programmes.

Prior to the launch of IBM's new Lotus business software, the company, along with Ogilvy North America, its lead agency, also used these tools to identify the issues that were of relevance to its potential audience.

This process included tracking conversations across sites ranging from YouTube, the video-sharing portal, to Twitter, the microblogging service.

They found that, rather than core technology matters like "cloud computing" or Voice Over Internet Protocol, this "buzz" was centred around how such processes could help on an everyday level.

One of the resultant print executions was based on the tagline "Lotus knows you're trying to reach the person, not their phone," Kristen Lauria, vp of marketing and channels at IBM, said.

Further marketing materials included posters in airport lounges stating "Lotus knows who will miss you," and a print ad saying "Lotus knows there's something you should read in today's Business section."

Jean-Philippe Maheu, Ogilvy's chief digital officer, argued "ultimately, brands need to have a role in society. The best way to have a role in society is to understand how people are talking about things in real time."

While there was previously "no real technology to be able to do that," the development of a variety of new channels has changed this situation, he continued.

Harrah's similarly discovered that customers wanted to know about the facilities, room sizes, menus and other such details in its hotels from its research on properties like Facebook, the social network, and TripAdvisor, the consumer review site.

In response, it added exactly this sort of information to all of the communications collateral that was sent to travellers, helping produce an uptick in bookings as a consequence.

Similarly, having learned that large numbers of netizens were discussing the "iconic views" of Las Vegas from the Paris Hotel in the city, it made this venue the primary image on its homepage.

Monica Sullivan, Harrah's vp, advertising, said "it is one of those 'Aha' moments, when you think, 'I should have known that all along. Being relevant to consumers is the way to communicate about your brands.'"

Moreover, the organisation is now developing a range of ads for broadcast, print and online that have drawn on information gained in this way.

For the launch of Windows 7, its latest operating system, Microsoft employed insights generated from Reprise Media's regular assessment of material form various new and social media outlets.

Peter Hershberg, managing partner of Reprise Media, said "we are always collecting data in the interest of optimizing search-marketing campaigns."

"Over time, you can start to increase returns. The more data, the more you learn, and the more there's the opportunity to apply it to other areas."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff