The Age of Conversation, One More Time

16 03 2008

Bigger and Better… What more can you ask for?

Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan are at it again, with the next incarnation of last year’s The Age of Conversation, a collaborative book project where 100+ bloggers contributed short articles on various issues surrounding media today. You can still buy it here.

However, this time around yours truly will a contributor.

It is a fantastic project and I’m very humbled to have been selected to participate.

In addition, all proceeds will be donated to Variety’s LifeLine charity of kids. It’s win-win, you get to gain more perspective on the state of media today, and the budding media strategists of the future will have an opportunity to live full, fulfilling lives.

Finally, we are planning a huge Bum Rush for new book on March 29th, so please support the project and help spread the word.

Details here.





Media Is Not Longer Counted In Impressions

4 12 2007

Time to evolve from impressions to impact.

To quote something everyone has read in their marketing 101 textbook, “You need to make 6… 7… 8… or was it 9 impressions before a consumer will recall your ad?” Truth is it really doesn’t matter how many times someone has had the pleasure of being exposed to your ad, what matters is creating impact. To be fair we still need a base metric for pricing and setting goals; however, everyone understands that eyeballs are moot in the 2.0 realm, so lets start the conversation around evolving metrics.

In the traditional advertising world impressions rule.

The question is framed as, “How many people will see my ad for X dollars?”.

In the mass media world this metric is the gold standard; however, applying impressions based thinking in new media, guerrilla, and experiential executions can irreparably damage a brand, because you have only one chance to make a positive impact.

NBC’s online video viewing experience is a perfect example of how impressions based thinking is killing brands. Last night I plugged my computer into my TV, gathered some friends, and hit play to catch up on some missed episodes of Heroes. Before the show started a recycled Nationwide spot ran, no big deal we thought since we are watching Heroes for free. Then, we saw the ad again… and again… and again for a total of 7 times. To make matters worse I had to get up and full size the screen after every spot. In 42 min Nationwide lost 5 customers. In the traditional impressions based market NBC’s video platform seems incredibly attractive as you get 7 impressions with no clutter, but to reiterate even if your dealing with TV based content the online rules are different.

What’s the solution? I don’t have all the answers, but Nationwide could have easily run a 1-2 min pre-roll spot and I would have thanked them for subsidizing my experience, or if the client insisted on interrupting the show they could have taken a 3-4 min mini-story, say of someone who went through a crash, and broken it up across the length of the episode. At the very least feed me a fresh spot at every break. 7 identical spots in a row? That is just lazy.

What works on TV doesn’t work online, so apply the same strategies at your own risk.





Content Clusters Facilitate Intent Based Advertising: GLAM Network

28 11 2007

Demographics are dead, target topical content networks.

First of all I need to give kudos to Samir Arora, CEO of GLAM fashion network, for the pretty pic and Jeff Jarvis over at BuzzMachine for sharing it.

I’ve talked at length about the power of intent based advertising here and effective targeting of micro communities here.

If you take a look at the diagram above it is a perfect example of a community/intent based targeting model vs. demographic targeting. The iVillage model, which is based around targeting women in general, is far less interconnected than GLAM and is a closed network of iVillage owned and operated sites. On the other hand, GLAM targets topical clusters such as fashion, beauty, etc. and is a hybrid entity build upon a network of GLAM owned sites and partner sites.

The power here is that by targeting topical clusters you are advertising at the point of intent. When people are looking for fashion information they are far more susceptible to targeted fashion ads vs. feeding the same ads based on female demographic information to  highest reach property – the horoscopes component of iVillage.  In addition, GLAM also collects demographic information and behavioral information on how people traverse their network.  Thus, the sub-heading statement that “demographics are dead” might be a little too strong, however, in my opinion it is dead as a solo targeting mechanism and must be augmented by other forms of consumer information.

In addition, GLAM has the opportunity to build passionate topic-centric communities around their topic groups, which they can activate for influencer based campaigns as well as push to other topic areas.

For a broader look at the vertical network space check out this Ad Age article.





Gamers, Geeks, Nerds, and the Power of the Force

26 11 2007

Gamers are an incredibly influential segment.

First of all a happy belated turkeyfest to all, and apologies for the lack of posts over the past week.

I grew up as a gamer and did stints at in-game ad network Massive Inc. (Microsoft owned) and advergame developer Arkadium; thus, I stand behind many of the conclusions in the new report by Ziff Davis Media’s Gaming Group. The report dives into a sample pulled from subsidiary web property 1UP Network, which is a leading source of game related information.

The high level conclusion of the survey is that gamers are, as a whole, an incredibly influential group when it comes to technology purchases, music, and movies. Being an ex-hardcore gamer and current technophile I can atest to the powerful nature of word of mouth in this passionate segment. Members of this group are often the family tech gateways and also have an innate ‘need’ to share information with their peers.

However, gamers are a tough crowd. If you try to deceive them – Sony PSP Blog – they will smear you with a level of ferocity found in few other segments. In addition, many marketers still approach gamers as pimply 14 year olds, which is a myth that needs to be dispelled NOW. That said, if you make an effort to talk to them on their terms they can also be your most vocal advocates. The Toyota/World of Warcraft spot, which can be viewed here, is a fantastic example of infiltrating the gamer world and speaking their language (just check out the positive comments). The spot was a parody on one of the most famous World of Warcraft clips where a character named Leeroy Jenkins – who is now a cult icon with mentions on Jeopardy – rushes into battle. By parodying a reference that only Warcraft fans would pick up on you are building in a level of exclusivity into the message, which appeals to the segments as you are identifying them as a valuable group.

Here is a brief overview of the conclusions via MarketingVox

“The survey, which garnered response from a predominantly male audience, with an average age of 24, reflects interest particularly in the entertainment and technology realm, such as consumer electronics, music and movie purchases.

Some survey highlights:

  • The gaming community is heavily composed of technology enthusiasts. Over 80 percent own a mobile phone, DVD player, and desktop computer and over 50 percent own a digital camera, MP3 player (without video), Wi-Fi products, PC storage/hard drive and flat panel PC monitor.

1up-network-gamers-consumer-electronics-ownership.jpg

  • Gamers are looking ahead to the latest technology for future purchases, with about one-third considering a purchase in the next six months of flat panel/plasma/LCD TVs, HDTVs and high-end audio systems; another 25 percent is considering purchasing digital camcorders and laptop/notebook computers.

1up-network-gamers-consumer-electronics-purchase-consideration.jpg

  • Gamers are enthusiastic about and comfortable with new technology and consumer electronics (93 percent), with 76 percent described by their friends as being into the latest technology and 61 percent being the first among their friends to buy new technology gadgets.

1up-network-gamers-attitudes-toward-technology-internet-lifestyle.jpg

  • Music is an important part of gamers’ lives. MP3 players are on the rise within the gaming community, with 71 percent planning to purchase an Apple iPod in the next six months, 43 percent Microsoft Zune, 28 percent Apple iPhone, and 24 percent Creative Labs.

1up-network-gamers-mp3-player-purchase-consideration.jpg

  • Gamers are also avid movie watchers, with 64 percent going to theaters at least once a month, 91 percent watching a DVD movie at least once a month, and 76 percent renting an average of 7 movies in the previous 6 months.

1up-network-gamers-movie-watching-frequency-medium.jpg

  • Moreover, Gamers enjoy a variety of movie genres:
    • Comedy (89 percent)
    • Action/adventure (88 percent)
    • Science fiction (79 percent)
    • Animated (64 percent)
    • Comic book (59 percent)
    • War (58 percent)
    • Martial arts (58 percent)
    • Anime (51 percent)
    • Horror (51 percent)

About the study: comScore surveyed 1UP Network visitors, 989 of whom completed the survey, which was conducted August 13 – 31, 2007. Visitors to the 1UP Network were recruited directly off the site via house banner ads.”

 





Facebook Fan Pages Guide: Destinations vs. Collaborative Conversation Spaces

13 11 2007

Facebook Fan Pages need to be conversation spaces not destinations.

There are a lot of posts flying around the blogs on Facebook‘s new Fan Page system, covering privacy, just outright outrage, and even a couple kudos on tapping into the influencer hierarchy.

However, very few are addressing the core issue: How to implement a successful execution and how it fits into the mix.

First of all, DON’T create a destination, no one needs another “branded space”.

People don’t need another location where they can download Mountain Dew wallpapers. The approach that is being pitched is basically just an extension of the groups feature with some extra bells and whistles attached, wrapped up in the ‘products’ category. Now let’s be honest, groups are just badges to show off to other people, in essence, cool by association. There is very little running interaction on most groups and most of the content is lackluster. Some of you may disagree, but you probably run in new media circles and thus are more inclined to interact. You’re not the status quo.

This is a group roll ripped off an average female college student’s profile and it is more kosher than most:

groups.jpg

She is trying to express that she is liberal and somewhat politically inclined by being in the Stephen Colbert group, environmentally motivated with the Climate Change group, of course she wants us all to know that people think she is good looking by being a part of 5 or so groups themed around “Smoking Hot Beautiful Stunning Girls”. Think she ever interacts with any of these groups?

Empower your core base and win over your enemies.

The first couple product pages will most likely operate like every other branded group. Attract people with some discounts or “hot news”, a couple thousand sign up, spam them, spam them, spam them some more, people start to leave, and finally the marketer gets bored. The end.

Sounds bleak; however, there is a huge amount of potential in amplifying the voice of your advocates. If done right.

So here’s what I propose: Build the fan pages into conversation hubs.

Online influencer outreach programs typically are comprised of identifying various online communities and influencers – usually in the form of bloggers -, and trying to chat with them without pissing them off. These types of programs take time, can be expensive, and are difficult to manage and track. So instead of scouring the net, piecing together a patch work of comments and posts, why not have them come to you.

Build areas that become conduits between your evangelists, your nay sayers, and your company. Build a space where people can voice their opinions, good or bad (I know this can be scary for some), and be heard. Having a corporate blog is nice, but let’s face it blogs are still 90% one-way. With Fan Pages you are built into a social ecosystem where people want to connect and express themselves, take advantage. What you get in return is an IV thrust deep into the pulse of sentiments surrounding your product. What people love, where you got it right. What people hate, things you need to work on. What people just don’t get, areas you need to clarify. This information is invaluable, and just by listening you can convert your loudest nay sayers into friends. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen countless times.

That’s my 2 cents. I’m gonna wrap up this post with a challenge to marketing and companies:

Be the first company to use Fan Pages to collaboratively build or improve a product with your consumers.

Want people to use the network to amplify and pitch your product? Give them a stake in it, and allow them to spread a personal message.

Turn, “Hey, a bought cool pair of Nike high-tops”, into “Hey man, check out my new shoes that I helped design, I know you’ll dig ‘em”

Now the shoes have transcended mere mortal shoes, and have become conversation pieces, perhaps even mythical. You bet that everyone of your ‘designers’ will be telling everyone they know, and the Facebook platform will make that voice infinitely louder through the ‘products’ feed.

UPDATE:

Check out this article on Marketing Vox discussing the rising trend in people wanting to work with companies to build better products.

UPDATE #2:

Video post on AdAge of a presentation given by Facebook COO, Owen Van Natta.  He says, “Our users love the [SocialAds] system”.  Since when do people like being accosted by brands in their private communities.  Wake up.





Building the Anti-Siloing Case with Meeting Miser

12 11 2007

Break down silos to save money, talking to management.

I’ve addressed the issues surrounding siloing a number of times on this blog from varying perspectives; however, when it comes down to it, siloing causes inefficiency, which in turn costs $$$. Anyone who has worked at a large organization knows how much of a time waster cross-functional meetings are.

Well here’s a little tool that helps you calculate how much money is actually being wasted due to inefficient meetings. It has been floating around a number of blogs for a that past week or so. $$$ is the language of management, so MeetingMiser can hopefully provide you will a little more ammo to pitch collaboration promoting initiatives.

Finally, it is a great execution of a branded widget – sponsored by Payscale.com – that promotes its core values and adds a dash of worked related fun.





Does The Glove Fit: Social Media Isn’t One Size Fits All

12 11 2007

Web 2.0 isn’t dead.

Says BL Ochman in his recent post on MarketingProfs. Couldn’t agree more. But, companies need to find what works for them.

Ochman’s central point is that there are a number of larger companies that still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and they can benefit greatly by integrating more 2.0-ish components into their corporate machines. An example he provides is the publishing world, and how publishing houses are getting a little bit closer with social media tools lubricating communication between previously extremely siloed operations. Great!

Again, I agree complete.

A number of my previous posts may have been perceived as anti-2.0, but in reality they are anti-hype. In the 2.0 media landscape where marketers are seduced with new buzzword daily and company valuations are ludicrous (Facebook, anyone?), we need take a step back and take a deep breath. Instead of just jumping because everyone else is, take a long hard look at your customer base, your targets, what your brand represents, and look for tools, communities, and networks that work for you.

Make sure the glove fits.








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