Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 7/17/07

static3Advertising/Marketing

People are voluntarily sharing more information than ever before even as they don’t want advertisers mining their online behavior for the purposes of serving up ads, despite research that shows ad relevance – and subsequently click rates – go up as a result. That’s an interesting paradox of the current age that’s free of easy answers.

People say they don’t go online for product and service recommendations but frequently share their own experiences and recommendations on those social sites. That seeming contrary behavior doesn’t mean brands are free to not participate and in fact should absolutely do so if they wish to remain relevant.

More coverage of the “sponsored posts” issue, this time focusing specifically on “mommybloggers” – the favorite of PR people everywhere for their influence and social circle – and the way they interact with the brands that are keen to get their attention. All of this has prompted one blogger to call for a “PR Blackout” week among mommybloggers that would be free of sponsored posts, product reviews and other such material and instead get back to moms talking about their kids, marriages and other topics that the blogs are *supposed* to be about. Caroline McCarthy points out that a week is not exactly a major period of time and highlights other wholes in the entire frustrating issue.

Nielsen has expanded its web measurement panel to be eight times larger then it had been, allowing for a larger sample size of sites and behavior and hopefully resulting in more accurate results.

Stephen Baker at BusinessWeek takes a look at the evolving world of behavioral targeting in advertising and marketing.

Despite the availability and growing acceptance of other forms of metrics, a Forrester report says most online marketers are still dependent on click-through rates to determine success.

Media

PaidContent rounds-up some of the thinking that’s been published about what to do with BusinessWeek in the wake of news the title’s publisher was looking to put it up for sale.

The editor of The Financial Times made comments expressing his belief that within a year most media organizations will be charging for content. He admits he’s unsure how the payment models will work from either the publisher or the reader standpoint but sees it as something that’s inevitable.

One initiative that’s leading that charge is Journalism Online, a company begun by media personality Steven Brill, that wants to create a single platform for multiple pubs to setup pay walls of some form. That group says it is getting close to launch but hasn’t released an initial affiliate list yet not because of lack of interest but because new pubs are being added so fast the list is out-of-date as soon as it’s updated.

Social Media

Fox Interactive wants to turn MySpace into an entertainment portal, according to reports. I’m confused as I thought that’s what it already largely was. Mashable thought likewise until it saw numbers from Hitwise that said differently. There also seems to be some lack of mission clarity internally.

I’m having increasing problems with companies that only respond to customer complaints when they’re being voiced on social networks and blogs while they still outsource and minimize the importance of their phone or other systems. The story of “United Breaks Guitars” is what’s got me thinking about this again.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 6/26/09

static4Advertising/Marketing

Yes, the FTC is looking into paid placements of online mentions that aren’t fully disclosed by the author. But I’m hoping that what Andy Beal says is right and that most writers won’t have to worry about it since there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing. For those worried, a simple bit of disclosure should suffice nicely.

Yahoo is launching a new self-service ad product, something it’s hoping will attract the attention of local and other smaller businesses. At least one person who deals with the local advertising market, though, thinks that this sets the entry bar too high for businesses that are used to having programs built for them and don’t have the skills or the time to do it themselves.

Research from Harris Interactive suggests people are over-hyping online word of mouth, with their study saying offline recommendations or discussions carry more weight than their online counterparts. The numbers skew slightly more in favor of online among younger respondents. This is another one of those issues where each new survey will suggest something different but it’s worth noting the back-and-forth.

Google is introducing AdSense for Mobile Apps as a way to help developers of applications for a variety of platforms, including its own Android and the iPhone, monetize those creations even if they don’t charge for them directly.

Some shows are commanding higher ad rates for their online streaming through Hulu, TV.com and other outlets than they are for their main, traditional television broadcast. You can mark the day old media began officially dying….NOW.

Media

It shouldn’t be surprising that few news organizations have a solid set of social media guidelines in place when you know that few companies of any sort have a solid set of social media guidelines in place. That being said, there seem to be a couple examples of reasonable guidelines in this story, where the employer is taking a “Hey, just don’t be irresponsible on Twitter” stance.

A newspaper-content licensing agency in the U.K. is actually considering trying to collect royalties on behalf of papers for links to stories. That’s right, links. So even if someone links to a newspaper story without reprinting content the agency would try and collect a fee. Not right on any level.

Google is once again being blamed as the source of all problems for newspapers when it’s actually a combination of a half dozen things, none of which is Google and many of which reflect the “we’re the only ones that exist” attitude that dominated the early web, that have papers in this position.

A Reuters editor has told the governing body of the Olympic Games that they need to change their accreditation rules to accommodate and acknowledge the insta-publishing reality.

Social Media

Wiki creation service WetPaint is launching a new product that seeks to measure online interest – judged by participation and engagement with related social networks and site – in television shows. The most interesting thing about this story is that it’s not a company that you’d usually associate with tracking and measurement doing it.

Similarly, a new deal between TiVo and Quantcast would seek to offer a single, unified metric that spans both TV and online advertising. This would save marketers having to cluge together disparate numbers from two – or more – different reporting services and give them a better sense of how their cross-platform campaigns were running.

MySpace is suffering from a serious lack of cool perception right now. But as Catherine P. Taylor says it can get some of that back by involving social media bigwigs in its future developments and plans.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 5/1/09

staticAdvertising/Marketing

I have to love the story that ABC has some sort of super-secret metric for their advertising that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that those ads lead directly to sales for the advertisers. Unfortunately they can’t prove it because advertisers are reluctant to share numbers on the resulting sales.

Pretty sure I and most of the people I know were already aware of the notion that, in our role as marketers, being polite to people on social networks and not hammering them with irrelevant invitations or messages was a good idea. But just to reinforce that fact the Internet Advertising Bureau in the U.K. has issued a statement to that effect.

Statements being made by the FTC and other governmental regulators make it sound like the window for self-regulation of the behavioral-targeting ad industry might be closing soon. While there are no proposals being bandied about yet, if the big players in this market don’t come up with some guidelines that protect consumer interests and lay out best practices as well as restrictions, it’s clear the FTC is ready to step into this conversation. Unfortunately a rampant outbreak of Don’tKnowWhatTheyreTalkingAbout seems to have broken out among the lawmakers.

General Mills has recruited 900 bloggers – 80% of which are moms – into a new product sampling and review program. Deals like this that are huge in scope and give the marketing industry media an excuse to write the word “mommyblogger” often get a lot of coverage and analysis while more targeted efforts often languish. The program, and others like it, is designed to take advantage of the fact that women put a lot of weight behind the reviews of other women they consider peers in online communities.

If there’s a decent call to action and some value for the consumer, smartphone users are actually clicking on ads they see on their mobile devices.

Media buyers and agencies are embracing the change enacted by some cable news channels that keeps the crawl of news at the bottom of the screen going during commercial breaks. Instead of being concerned it distracts from the ad they feel it’s helping people pay attention and not fast-forward if they’re doing some time-delayed viewing.

An upcoming Forrester report on the state of the interactive advertising industry shows there’s still growth occurring and in it future, with “social media” programs being the biggest winner in terms of percentage of dollars. Mike Manuel, though, points out that “social media” touches a number of different departments and not all of this is going to marketing initiatives.

Greg Verdino writes about the idea of “earned attention” as being something the marketing industry needs to shoot for and I couldn’t agree more.

Media

A new study shows that cross-media multi-tasking, specifically instances of people going online while also watching prime-time programming on television, almost doubles between Monday and Thursday. That could be a boon to advertisers who include a URL in their ads since it means people could immediately react and go to their site, but that would necessitate a strong call to action to visit the site, which is something most ads astoundingly lack.

More people are watching more content on multiple platforms according to research from Accenture. Some of the stats are a tad misleading – the story shifts from talking about television-type shows to the more generic “online video” and I think there’s a broad swath of content they’re talking about – but overall I agree with the notion that as content becomes available on more platforms people will shift their habits to whatever fits their needs.

The Chicago Tribune has put the brakes on a program that allowed online readers to access and comment on stories that had yet to be fully vetted and published. The kibosh came from editors who received complaints from writers and other staff members over this extraordinarily unorthodox idea.

Retail

Consumer feedback site Yelp.com is now allowing businesses to participate in the discussion and correct any incorrect information. There are a number of guidelines they must follow (stay on topic, this isn’t an advertising forum, etc) but it’s nice to see businesses being given an opportunity to at least respond.

The idea of collecting sales tax on online purchases is gaining steam once again as states continue to see falling local sales tax revenue and eye enviously states like New York that instituted such a tax last year.

Seems even with concerns about spending being on their minds, grocery shoppers are still giving increased weight to a manufacturer’s sustainability and other “green” practices when deciding what brand to purchase.

I’m torn between thinking the new initiative by Toys ‘R’ Us to put packaged goods and everyday staples in a new front-of-store section is either the best idea ever or the worst thing possible.

Social Media

Erin at Queen of Spain is calling out all the people who think of themselves and call themselves “mommybloggers” but don’t actually talk at all about their lives as moms, instead filling their sites with reviews and promotions. Kelby Carr hits some similar notes as well.

Data portability – functionality that allows online users to use a single login for multiple sites – will lead the push into the next wave of the social web according to a new report from Forrester Research. The thinking goes that even sites without a social networking component will be able to add “members” (there are hints of this in Google Friend Connect and other tools) and will be able to customize content based on the data these people bring with them about themselves and their networks.

Apparently people use Twitter for timely information updates. Huh. Similarly it’s not that surprising that Twitter doesn’t have a huge return-visit percentage, with a lot of people who sign up with outsized expectations not returning to it the next month. Those numbers are questioned, though, since a lot of people wind up not visiting Twitter but using a third-party app like TweetDeck

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 4/3/09

METRICS

TiVo says it will accommodate advertisers looking for more of its data on who watched what sort of programming – including advertising – by doubling the amount of households whose set-top boxes are included in the sample audience. Selling ratings data is seen by TiVo as being a big source of additional revenue.

PRNewswire will begin offering metrics around where and how the press releases companies issue through it are picked up online. That includes blog posts and more. PRN will then help companies who have a press release that doesn’t get wide pick-up figure out how to make the release rank higher among search results.

MEDIA

180 newspapers across the country have agreed to co-brand their online real-estate sections with Zillow.com. The papers are apparently looking to offload more of the heavy lifting and figured adding Zillow’s search and other functionality was a good place to start.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Blog publisher/ad network Glam Media has launched Tinker, a new tool that aggregates Twitter conversations based on keywords and putting them into a single stream people can customize or simply follow.

Andrew Goodman asks the provocative question: Is Guy Kawasaki ruining Twitter? Well worth reading.

Facebook and Adobe have partnered to bring Flash to the developer platform for Facebook apps. Cause the world needs more Flash.

I’m whole-heartedly with Stephen Baker, who says he has no interest in functionality like a “vote up/down” button being added to Twitter, saying it’s just going to cause more problems than it solves.

Twitter says it’s going to do as good a job as it can in disclosing paid relationships, something that’s important to note as it enters into more of just those sort of relationships.

I’m guessing no, the average Facebook users doesn’t quite understand what they’re sharing when they log in to others sites with Facebook Connect. But I’m also guessing they wouldn’t care all that much if they did because it’s so convenient and online users have shown they’re increasingly fine with their data being used for better ad targeting.

ADVERTISING

Google is shuttering their AdSense for Video units, their program that allowed site publishers to post YouTube videos containing ads, at the end of April. This doesn’t effect the placement of video ads through AdSense, though, so don’t worry.

As part of their deal to post short-form video on YouTube, ABC/Disney will also be able to sell in-stream ads on those videos.

Advertisers and TV networks are beginning to take a less adversarial stance toward DVRs and the audience that uses them. Granted, that means a rise in product placement, ads that take over the bottom third of the screen for 30 seconds and other such tactics, but at least they’ve started adapting to the new reality rather than flailing against it.

A study commissioned by a print publisher and distributor of television programming says that print and TV ads have higher ROI than online advertising. Shocker.

The lead in this story about how cable companies are looking into more web-based functionality and viewing is buried. The real meat of the piece is that cable companies want more interactivity through set-top boxes because it means there’s potential for more interactive commercials to be distributed.

Broadcast networks saw online advertising revenue top $1 billion in 2008, a 36% increase over 2007.

ONLINE VIDEO

Hulu is growing in terms of visitors and overall audience but the advertising dollars aren’t growing at the same clip. It’s falling prey, unfortunately, to still being seen as “experimental” by buyers as well as the fact that the high-quality online video market is expanding on an almost daily basis.

YouTube is making a play for more of that professionally-produced – and therefore safe for brand advertisers – content by redesigning in such a way to clearly give that sort of content its own section, away from all the user-generated stuff. It’s clearly a response to Hulu and other sites and might wind up being a turning point in what kind of video gets posted to the site.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Hmmm. A new survey says clients aren’t doing all that great in communicating goals and other important information to their agencies.

Jeremiah Owyang wonders what would happen if PR agencies started representing user communities instead of brands. This is kind of ridiculous since it fails to ask the questions of 1) What would these communities need an agency for, 2) Who’s the lead contact with the agency, 3) What can the agency do that the communities can’t, 4) Who’s going to pay the agency and about 17 others that I don’t have the time to go into.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 3/27/09

static5Social Media: If we do decide to adopt something akin to impressions, a long-valued metric in the traditional media world, to online can we at least agree to call it something better? There’s got to be a better term out there for this concept that doesn’t come with all the fuzzy connotations this one does. Len Devanna also has an interesting post on the subject of social media ROI.

Definitely worth reading both David Griner’s original post and the ensuing comment discussion about whether it’s not allowed and appropriate to be “ourselves” on our online outlets. I personally view this as being akin to a cocktail party. We talk work sometimes, we talk movies sometimes and occasionally someone drops an F-bomb and starts going off on a religion-related tangent, making everyone uncomfortable for a little while.

Advertising: A new study shows that ads appearing within casual online games contribute to high brand awareness in the minds of consumers. The study collected 2,000 responses to a survey but it was run by a company that delivers just those kinds of ads so keep that in mind.

Same caveats apply to a study showing the effectiveness of video screens in grocery store checkout aisles.

The majority of online video viewers are pretty accepting of pre-roll and in-stream ads if it means they can get their shows and other content for free. Viewers of downloads seem to be more tolerant and find the ads more relvant than viewers of streaming content, but the numbers even there are creeping up.

Google is reported to be working on an online platform that would allow those advertisers buying time on Google TV Ads to also place online and YouTube orders as well.

Social Networks: Yes, Twitter is looking to make money, probably through the sale of some form of corporate or professional accounts. This shouldn’t be a surprise, though the “Twitter’s not making money while others who build off their work are” meme seems to be making the rounds once again for whatever reason.

One thing companies are trying with Twitter is using it as a recruitment platform, something I think it has a lot of potential as if used correctly.

Twitter has also changed how it displays page titles in an effort to rank higher in searches for people’s names.

Facebook has changed its design once again, the biggest result of which has been to make a whole batch of people log into Facebook for the first time since the last redesign.

Scott Monty shares his shorthand for describing social networks.

Some stars employ ghost-writers for their Twitter feeds. I’d be shocked, except that I’m very very much not.

Rick Klau shares his experiences managing the Blogger brand on Twitter. Definitely worth reading for his insights and best practices advice.

Media: Nielsen says more time is spent each week playing video games than they do watching some television networks, meaning they’re almost becoming a “5th network” in and of themselves.

Bucking much of their recent history, some media companies are actually embracing the new distribution/conversation platform that is Twitter and finding ways to engage with the audience there. That goes hand-in-hand with research from IBM that says old media companies are ill-equipped to meet consumer demand in the new media world.

People spend, according to a new Nielsen study, an average of 8.5 hours a day in front of some sort of screen, be it computer or TV or mobile device.

Search: You should read this CNET article and get up to speed on changes Google has made to its search algorithm.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 3/18/09

static3Tools: Paul Dunay asks whether small businesses need stand-alone websites or if they can make do with Facebook profiles, especially in light of recent changes to how brands can establish a presence there. I don’t think ditching websites completely is a great idea since there are still advantages there, but it’s a conversation that’s still good to have on a regular basis.

Adobe has introduced a set of tools that will allow creators of Flash-based websites to optimize those sites for SEO, something that has often eluded Flash sites since they don’t contain text.

Media: Caroline McCarthy points out that SXSW has been full of people who already believe in the new media revolution but representatives of traditional media, the people who should be looking for answers to the the questions they keep asking, have been notably absent.

A new Nielsen Online study shows that half of the top newspapers saw gains in unique visitors to their websites.

Terry Heaton shares not only the take-aways from but also his interpretation of Pew’s latest State of the Media report, which is pretty gloomy but also provides a roadmap for the future if you read it closely enough.

Advertising and Marketing: A look at the top brand pages on Facebook shows that many of them aren’t official but are fan created, which really ought to tell you something about both people’s enthusiasm and the quality of the official pages companies have created that people are drawn to the unofficial ones.

Bad news for the the former Sci-Fi network: The name change to SyFy was greeted with largely negative buzz on Twitter and, if my reading is any indication, elsewhere also.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the forecasts for the upcoming TV network upfronts aren’t looking pretty.

A survey of ad agency execs shows that their enthusiasm for online advertising is waning while their opinion of cable TV’s effectiveness is rising.

That actually runs in contrast to a Forrester report showing online media is poised to show continued gains in dollars allocated as the recession continues. Budgets for online media will rise but so will the demand for quantifiable metrics around those efforts,which isn’t a bad thing.

Social Networking: Shock of shocks, Facebook’s decision to give users the ability to make their profiles completely public has been met with a good amount of user unrest.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 2/19/09

static4Tools: Alan Wolk writes an opinion piece for Brandweek that rightly says widgets too often resemble the old way of thinking about advertising, in that the product being marketed gets in the way of the message. The best widgets are those that are fun for the user and actually do something interesting ASIDE FROM marketing the product or brand.

Metrics: When it comes to video marketing efforts it’s a mistake to look to old metrics to define success. While substitutions for those metrics are still being fleshed out, it’s important to look at brand engagement and such to gauge the success of your campaign.

About half of marketers aren’t using analytics at all to measure their online campaigns and many of those that are are using multiple platforms, something that can lead to confusing conclusions.

Social Media: If you’re just beginning with social media Matt Dickman recommends you spend at least two hours a day listening, engaging and discovering and then expand from there as you feel you can or want to.

David Griner shares a slideshow on social media marketing he presented to a trade group recently that’s filled with good nuggets of wisdom, both anecdotal and in the form of hard statistics.

Email, social networking and SEO are the three common themes hit in the MarketingSherpa report outlined here.

The list of companies who are tops in terms of social media executions according to Abrams Research shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Fantastic chart of how many PR agencies who are promoting themselves as being social-media savvy are engaging in social media themselves.

Demographics: Wii is more popular among women and young children but not hard-core gamers. Xbox360 tends to attract those looking for additional features like social interaction and movie downloading. Playstation3 is most likely to be owned by the same people who bought previous versions. All this and more here.

Media: Nielsen has released its report on how the top 15 newspaper websites did as measured by unique visitors in 2008.

Advertising: Yahoo has begun introducing video and image ads in search results. Yahoo has long counted on their image ad abilities to keep them afloat, which makes me wonder why it took this long to get this rolled out.