If you really love me you’ll let me go

I’m sorry, but if Facebook really wants to “improve the user experience” then they’ll go the full nine yards and give those users a handy, easy to use “Delete” button they can use to erase their profile from the social network.

The ability to opt-out is one of those basic user rights I believe need to be part of any and all sites, platforms and services. That’s simply good customer service. There’s nothing to be gained by keeping a user penned in, not letting them leave and only honking them off. The only thing that results from that sort of policy is a useless number that, unfortunately, advertisers and analysts will be all too eager to buy into.

The number of active users in any given period is always more interesting and accurate than a generic “membership” number. Heck, I’m a member of Facebook but haven’t done much of anything with my profile in about two weeks. So I’m essentially useless if an advertiser has bought an ad based on membership numbers in that time.

Much better to let people leave when they want. Or at least make “deactivation” of an account mean something, with friend requests and other communications from the site actually ceasing. All of that, even the time someone opts to take off from actively participating on the site, is part of the user experience and policies need to be in place to optimize that.

Clone Wars to get theatrical release

clonewarspic.jpgAs has been widely reported, the first few episodes of “Star Wars: Clone Wars” are being sewn together and released theatrically as a feature. The movie will hit screens August 15th, meaning it’s avoiding a summer crowded with other, similar genre fare, including Indiana Jones 4, which Star Wars honcho George Lucas created and produced.

Like I said over on my off-topic blog a few days ago, that puts the campaign for the movie back in play here at MMM. So not only am I interested to see this as a fan but it’s going to be very cool for the site here as well.

Recession-driven adjustments favor online over print

“Just over half” of B2B marketers have left their estimated budgets for 2008 alone despite fears of a recession in the U.S. economy. About 30 percent have trimmed what they were expected to spend, with most (45 percent) of those making cuts saying print budgets were getting hit the heaviest.

Conversely, the 12 percent that were increasing their budgets said almost half the newly allocated money, 48 percent, would go to online efforts.

So B2B marketers are following roughly the same outline established by other marketers in finding more value online in 2008 than they do in print. They’re likely driven there by the lower prices (something that’s going to change with time) and the stronger, more direct call to action they can include in their messaging.

They trying to make me go to YouTube, I said No, No, No…

Interesting piece from Mediaweek on the continued resistance of the big media companies to dropping their resistance to YouTube. Companies like Viacom and others still linger behind their entrenched position that YouTube is a bad actor and that it’s going to violate some part of their core business to allow film clips to appear there.

Ad buyer hesitation I can see to some extent. If your creative process hasn’t undergone the necessary evolution to grow beyond pre-roll 30-second spots then YouTube’s policy against such ads is going to be as confusing to you as a “courtroom” or “cell phone” are going to be to Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. “No pre-roll” ads is just going to give them a headache, so best just to go elsewhere and leave well enough alone.

But media producers should, as I’ve continually said, be looking for just about any piece of online real estate that might be available to use as a distribution platform. Here are their two options:

#1 – Insist that everyone consume content on your terms, a policy that limits audience exposure because of technology, time, established behavior or other factors.

OR

#2 – Allow your content to grow online like a sea monkey through viewer forwarding, embedding and a variety of other tools. I’m not talking about outright piracy of the entire film. That’s wrong. I’m talking about someone pulling their favorite four-minute scene from a movie and use it in a blog post.

I would rather my content get seen – as long as it’s not in the context of theft of the whole thing and with appropriate attribution – than effectively hide it to anyone I didn’t deem cool enough. But I’m kooky like that.

At some point Viacom and others are going to have to look beyond their noses and embrace YouTube and other players, even if it means slackening the control they try to maintain.

I’m really hoping they don’t clamp down on YouTube versions of the Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trailer that’s set to debut on Thursday. That would be a tremendous mistake since that’s likely to be so popular it could even give Dramatic Chipmunk a run for its money. Saying people can’t share the video in that manner is going to cut off a powerful, passionate chunk of the word of mouth that’s going to be generated about the trailer and the movie as a whole.

If online buzz is supposed to be this Holy Grail of marketing then media companies need to facilitate and not interrupt that buzz when it happens, even if it falls outside their comfort zone.

Perspective matters

Because I like to extrapolate (it’s my second favorite thing to do after insinuating) from one vertical to another, this AdAge story on what women want out of the Internet certainly got my interest. It’s certainly filled with some interesting information on current trends of female behavior online and how traditional behaviors might be shifting or changing, all presented via graphics that, if they were static and not interactive, would not be out of place in People Magazine or Entertainment Weekly.

Aside from that, this sort of story could be written on just about any given demographic any given week. That’s how fast things are changing. That’s why blogs and the industry watchers and players who pound them out are so valuable to marketers. If you’re going to try to reach people where they are, then it makes sense to know where that is, no?

The audience, now more than ever, is a constantly moving target. If one tool stops meeting their needs they’ll move on. And the early adopters are never going to sit still long enough for you to get a bead on them.

So while trade mags like AdAge and others serve a great role in terms of providing context and in-depth reporting, for insights on consumer trends I’ll take blogs any day of the week. That’s especially true since those blogs are often written by people who are trying to dissect and analyze the data for themselves, making their perspective all the more relevant to the reader that’s trying to do the same thing.