Advertising Week! Cats and dogs living together!

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It’s Advertising Week 2012! Ok, so no one’s actually jumping out of a chair to run to New York, but Tanzina Vega and Stuart Elliot do have an interesting story in the New York Times about the five-day event.

As the world relies more on digital, companies are trying to figure out the best way to reach more segmented audiences, sometimes with shrinking budgets. This year’s conferences are increasingly focused on social, mobile and digital media – a far cry from the “Mad Men” days of beautiful print ads.

It was also a chance for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to help advertisers better understand the value of advertising on social networking sites. From the story:

Facebook took the opportunity of a session at the Mixx conference to answer questions about the efficacy of buying advertising on its site — questions that were widespread even before the company’s disappointing initial public offering.

Brad Smallwood, director of pricing and measurement at Facebook, discussed the findings of a study the company hoped would change advertisers’ minds about depending on measurements like clicks to determine the success of campaigns on facebook.com. The goal is to have them perceive the social network more as a medium akin to television for branded advertising.

“If you ran a campaign in the last five years, you focused on clicks,” Mr. Smallwood said, but “demand fulfillment is only one piece of the marketing puzzle.”

“We have to provide a solution for the brand marketers of the world,” he added.

The study was conducted with a new Facebook partner, Datalogix, a company that measures in-store purchases. Fifty campaigns on Facebook were measured, for brands from giant marketers like Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. When purchase data from stores was combined with data about ad impressions on Facebook, the study found that 70 percent of the campaigns enjoyed three times greater return on their budgets, and 99 percent of the sales came from consumers who did not interact with the Facebook ads.

I’m not sure that last part proves the point (unless it’s an error), but needless to say, advertisers are definitely looking for more engagement and better ways to measure their success.

I’m bringing this up since the topic of advertisers was discussed by one of the more interesting panels at last week’s Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference last week. The person with some of the most radical ideas: Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel.

Web advertisers are struggling and seem to be constantly chasing two-year-old trends, Tyrangiel said. For example, right now the hot buy is video and video pre-roll, but adding a 30-second advertisement to the beginning of every video is bad for advertisers and creates a terrible user experience, he said.

Tyrangiel said he’d like to see advertisers spend more money and not just slap the same banner ad up on every site. Companies who spend more to create a custom ad experience on different sites will “nail it on engagement.” With the rise in specialized content and people willing to pay for the information they want to receive, advertisers will have to consider a different approach to their online and mobile campaigns, Tyrangiel said.

And if customization is the key for online advertisers, then companies need to figure out how to better use social media tools to engage customers. From the Times story:

At another Mixx presentation, Joel Lunenfeld, vice president for global brand strategy at Twitter, shared data about the relationships people have with brands on twitter.com.

Nine out of 10 people on Twitter follow at least one brand, Mr. Lunenfeld said. Although most said they did so for promotions, coupons and free products, he said that 87 percent said they followed brands for fun and entertainment and 80 percent said they did so for access to exclusive content.

Among the examples presented by Mr. Lunenfeld were how brands like Panasonic and Procter & Gamble use Twitter. Perhaps most interesting was Mr. Lunenfeld’s connection between Twitter posts and television commercials.

“Twitter is the EKG of action for television,” he said, adding that 50 percent of people who use Twitter do so while watching TV.”

I find this factoid about TV and Twitter staggering. Smart companies don’t just slap a Twitter icon on the bottom of advertisements; they’re finding a way to engage the audience. And another key question for companies is how to integrate all these platforms to create a cohesive experience.

Forbes.com contributor Rhonda Hurwitz wrote in a recent post that companies typically fail with social media in one of three ways. They either outsource too much, put the department responsible for social media off to the side or don’t engage employees in the process.

As companies spend more on social advertising – it’s expected to more than double during the next five years to 18.8 percent of total marketing spend, Hurwitz said citing CMOsurvey.org.

That’s a lot of people throwing money as something not fully a part of the business. And for those who write about advertising and marketing, it’s important to pay attention.