I was flipping through the Economist the other day (because it exhausts me to try to actually read the whole thing) while I was on the plane and came across this insert in the magazine. I found it quite interesting and wanted to get your take.
The point of the service is to send a text message to receive alerts when the print publication is hitting newsstands. It's an interesting idea in the promotion of print with digital platforms. Obviously the content strategy is to release at the stands first and then online to keep print subs up.
What do you think of this? Would you sign up? Would you want this service for other printed materials? There are a number of magazines that I read but don't subscribe to for which this is an interesting idea.
Wouldn't you love to drive people from your physical world marketing efforts to the web in real time? Who wouldn't? This has been a dream of marketers since the popularization of the web and technology is starting to catch up. QR (or quick response) codes are, quite simply two dimensional bar codes. The codes were designed in Japan for the auto industry and they remain popular today.
In marketing, QR codes have started to pop up sporadically in ads and catalogs. I did a post on this technology in 2007 which you can read here. In that post, I noted that this was a potential technology for marketers to leverage in the future. To be blunt, this is still in the future, but the trend is one that is coming quickly (though it may take another form). The ability to grab information and go will build momentum over time.
The entire system works by taking a picture of the code with a cell phone camera, decoding the symbol on the device and taking an action. That action can be directing someone to a URL, passing them a phone number, giving them marketing copy or sending them a text message.
Here is a demo of the technology in this edition of Inside//Out
[Feed readers, click through to the post if you cannot see the video]
Little things are the new big thing, right? Well, in keeping with that notion, I wanted to share a couple of little tips on online identity. Whether you're a blogger or a corporation, these two items go a long way. One is very old school and the other is as new as new can be.
New school: apple-touch-icon.png
This one I found out when my lovely, amazing wife bought me an iPhone for Christmas. Thanks dear!! Through the iPhone you can add a blog/site to your menu just like an application. If you do this without following the next steps, however you get a very generic, non-identifiable icon. It looks something like this:
Not impressive, not readily identifiable. After a bit of digging, however I learned how to add an icon to replace the generic default. To do this you'll need to create a PNG file that is 158x158 pixels. Here is the one I created:
Now, rename that file to apple-touch-icon.png and upload it to the root directory on your website (meaning it will be at http://www.yourdomain.com/apple-touch-icon.png). The iPhone/iTouch does the rest. It resizes and rounds the corners and adds that shiny love to the image.
UPDATE: Here is a quick video overview of how this one works.
[Click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]
Old school: favicon.ico
Depending on how geeky you are, you may or may not know this little file. The favicon.ico controls the tiny logo/headshot that appears in the address bar for a site when you visit (see below). It's a small differentiator, but that's okay.
To create this file head over to this site. From here you can create one from scratch or upload an existing image. Keep in mind the output is around 15 pixels square so make sure you use something simple. Once you have the file, you need to upload it to the root directory for your site. (Ping me if you need more info on this one.)
Shows up in the address bar in your browser
Shows up in tabs when you have them open
Shows up in your bookmarks to help them stand out
These are both easy tactics to implement can make a big difference in user experience and usefulness. Feel free to add Techno//Marketer on your iPhone and let me know your thoughts.
When I was in college, I had a boss who had a massive prejudice against anyone who attempted to give themselves a nickname. You've probably heard people do this in a conversation that looks like this (please picture the guy to the right):
That Guy: Hey there! Do you mind if I join in your pickup game?
You: Not at all. My name is John.
That Guy: Nice to meet you John. My name is Dudley, but call me "Crusher"
You: Ummm...okay Dudley. Why don't you wait over there.
See, it just doesn't work. Now, let's parlay that into a marketing topic that I took issue with the other day. It seems that some enterprising individuals are trying to name the Tuesday after Cyber Monday "Mobile Tuesday". On this date, you're supposed to shop (or otherwise engage) on your phone. Really?
Here is a snippet from an Ad Age article on the topic:
Mobigosee, a mobile-marketing firm, is moving forward with the launch of Mobile Tuesday on Dec. 2, despite the loss of major marketing partners whose budgets have been decimated by the recession.
...(Mobigosee) is attempting to launch Mobile Tuesday with just three marketers onboard: McDonald's, Finish Line and RedTag. The company is hoping to attract additional retailers with couponing strategies, in which Mobigosee is paid only when the mobile coupons are redeemed."
This is one company trying to start a movement that would require at least one major US mobile carrier to get involved to be remotely successful. The only potential winner here is the company who attempted to launch this thing and I would not call it a success. Companies should, be looking at engaging on mobile if it makes sense, not for the bright shininess factor. Maybe in 3-6 years, but not today.
Permission is key on the mobile platform and each brand needs to build its own audience in its own way. The paths of mass marketing and mobile marketing should never, ever meet.
So let me ask you. Have you purchased on your mobile? Take the poll below.
Kwang works at Chiel Worldwide in their interactive group, "the i". The presentation focused on a case study for Samsung's HAPTIC device. The Haptic looks very similar to the iPhone, but the operating system is unique.
Here is a video overview of the phone's functionality:
Focus of the campaign was on brand experience and contagion
The Haptic phone launch is very similar to the iPhone (full screen touch)
Phone launched with a premium image/brand and technical image
"first is better than better" - Samsung was not the first mover in this space
The touch sensor provides feedback
Japanese book "HAPTIC" gave the team feedback on how to approach marketing the device
Had to explain the haptic term through many media outlets in a way people could understand
Launch show made to mirror Steve Jobs keynote addresses, invited power bloggers
Tagline "touch and it will react" driven through ads
Use of celebrity to drive the "touch" focal point in ads, online, screen saver
Haptic blog helped to engage users, also reached out to power bloggers to get their unique and personal experiences
Samsung also created a new ad where a building transforms in to the phone. The gist of the conversation is the guy with the phone says that his phone can become anything he wants. The other guy asks him to prove it by making the building transform.
I'm here in Seoul South Korea (after 21 hours of travel over the past day). It's 9:30am on Tuesday here in Seoul and I'm going to bring you the best points from the IDG Marketing 2.0 and Beyond conference.
I'm speaking tomorrow as the opening keynote and I'll post the Slideshare deck here tomorrow. The presenters are partially in English and partially in Korean, so it's the first time I've used a translator and they've pulled it off very well.
There is not digital media, it's all media
Viacom global youth study found three groups, the most interesting is the "Golden" age group
Golden age of youth - People age 25-34 continue to consume music, gaming, etc. in the same way they did when they were teens
Golden age groupers are more financially stable as well as happier about who they are as individuals
25 was found to be the ideal age that youth around the world to aspire to
Biggest global trend is a flight to quality
Move to more traditional platforms that deliver their needs
Deals usually span 3-4 media platforms, not 7-8
Examples of mobile campaigns that are well executed and truly integrated are lacking
ROI on mobile is tougher to get to
Video is a huge opportunity on mobile - paid content is very tough to pull off on mobile - ad supported content is the way he has seen success
Undoubtedly the iPhone is a game changing device that has turned the US mobile device market on its head. How many of the new devices that are coming out from manufacturers would exist today without the competition the iPhone provided.
With all of its features and its cool interface, there is one part of the new 3G iPhone (which launches today July 11th) that is the most important for marketers. That is GPS. For the first time ever, GPS will be fully integrated on a user-frindly, consumer device. It's intuitive, unlike previous phones where you had to hack to get it to work. Not only that, but the developer SDK allows you, the marketers, to create applications that use this technology.
Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were? Would you create an app that links people together who are physically close? Would you offer messages that were relevant to their present location? Here are a number of options that GPS location adds to the marketing mix unlike any time in the history of marketing.
Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were?
Geo-tagging - Now that the device knows where you are, it can add geo-tagging information to almost any data you collect. Shoot a photo at the Grand Canyon and upload it to Flickr and Flickr will pull the geo information and place the photo on the right place on the map. Send a message to Twitter and it could update your location to the nearest city name or even the exact location you're standing (creepy I know).
Proximity Awareness - Think about the possibilities of Facebook knowing where you are and where your friends are in real time. Facebook's iPhone app could alert you when any of your contacts are within 1/2 mile of your location. You could private message them to see if they can meet up or send them an SMS message.
For marketers, you could create an application (that people opt-in to by installing it) that allows them to receive promotions and offers whenever they are within a radius of a store. If Starbucks hasn't done this already I am not sure what they're waiting for. Users could adjust their radius or disable the messages at any time.
Mobile Commerce - This goes hand-in-hand with proximity awareness and is very powerful for marketers. The iPhone will allow easier commerce transactions to happen in a more trusted environment. From the application store to mobile song purchases, if you are serving up relevant, geo-targeted messages you can now follow that through purchase with micro transactions. This takes mobile messaging to a new level of effectiveness for marketing organizations.
Localized Search Relationships - Using search on the iPhone is effortless. Now, however, add in the location where the user is standing. Instead of searching for Chipotle and having to scan for the one near you, the phone will present you the closest location, give you the phone number and offer directions (which works like a car's GPS system with turn-by-turn options). Refer back to mobile commerce and apply that to search that is local and it's another way to drive business and conversions.
So, what do you think? More and more devices will surely follow suit. Are you ready for location? What value can you add to your customers that would help them adopt your product or service? What can you do before the competition to really set yourself apart?
UPDATE: Thanks to Jim Kukral's question I looked for car-based GPS info on the new iPhone and found the following video. Since this video veers away from the Apple device and into the actual AT&T service plan I want to have full disclosure in telling you that AT&T is a Fleishman-Hillard client.
Blyk, a free mobile service targeted at 16-24 year olds in Europe, has recently announced their expansion beyond their test markets in the UK, Germany and France. The company provides free minutes and text messages to its users, and in exchange they receive ads from marketers. The ads are targeted based on the profile of the user.
If you remember, this is the model that Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google talked about in November 2006 that got the whole world buzzing. Blyk has been so well received that they reached their initial subscriber goals of 100,000 users six months ahead of schedule.
Here is a short overview movie from Blyk that explains the whole process.
It is only a matter of time before this model comes to the US (though the way our mobile infrastructure is set up it will be much harder to gain the same level of traction). This does however, seem to be a fairly easy way for marketers to reach a targeted audience in a permission-based environment on a mobile device.
Heck, I could see the potential for a very small handful of global marketers try this on their own using this the MVNO model. MVNOs lease parts of a network from a major carrier and re-brand it as a new service. Examples of MVNOs include Virgin Mobile, mobileESPN, Firefly and Amp'd.
What are your thoughts on this model? Would you receive ads for mobile minutes? As a marketer, would you be interested in participating in something like this?
I promised early on with this blog not to talk very much about my work, but I do make exceptions when I think it will add value for you. Within Fleishman-Hillard there is a group of very talented folks in our Next Great Thing (NGT) practice who focus on youth and mobile marketing. It's amazing to have this group as a resource as both of these topics are, and will continue to be, crucial for PR and marketing practitioners to understand in the coming years.
Today, the NGT group released their spring 2008 youth trend report. The group works with young tastemakers around the globe to stay ahead of the curve. Some of the topics in the report include open source thinking, reflex in interactions, individualism, evolution of the language, the importance of RSS, in-game advertising and engagement marketing.
The title of the series of presentations is based around the idea of the future of advertising. I used my experience in digital marketing and PR to give a view of what I see as the future. I would love to hear what you think. The total run time is around 41 minutes. Just hit the play button and you can hear the original recording from the event. I hope you enjoy!
This coming Friday, I am speaking on a very cool panel through PRSA at Kent State University's "You Too social media boot camp and leadership summit". The title of the panel is "Packaging the Presidency online" and will be moderated by John Elsasser, Editor in Chief of PRSA Strategist. Other panel members include a former congressman and CEOs of various communications companies. You can read more about it here.
I want to pick your brain on this topic to add to my own thoughts. Here are some questions that you can answer in the comments or by shooting me an email. I'll recap your responses and what I learn at the panel in a post next week.
How has social media been used during this election?
Who is using it the best?
Do you think they have a plan for what to do with these communities once the election is over?
What mediums have been most successful in reaching you?
Have you become involved in a campaign and used social media to take action?
What else would you like people to know?
If you live outside of the US, how has politics evolved in your country?
Let's use this to open the conversation and talk about the future of politics.
Here is a look at what is happening across social media and new marketing this week. If there is anything that you would like to see in this post or if you have something you think is Buzz-worthy please drop me an email or leave a comment on this post. I want to make this as beneficial for you as I can.
Buzz Friday is also available as part of the Techno//Marketer Podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe and take the Buzz to go.
It's been a couple of weeks since I did a proper Buzz Friday post so here it is. Enjoy!
[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]
Inside the video:
Firebrands launched a preview of their 24 hour, best of advertising network that will span online and mobile. More on this when it releases.
Arun Rajagopal reports that the Age of Conversation has made the cover story of the Dubai-based Khaleej Times ‘Weekend’ magazine! Go Arun!
Sean Scott points to a cool new Google widget that Starbucks has built. It allows you to see the locations near you and invite others to meet you there.
And in other news:
CK and David Reich point out a new service from Pudding Media where they listen to your conversation, discern what you're talking about and then send you ads in email after your call. They claim not to record any info, but it seems a little creepy to me.
Toad reminds us again that "Your Brand Is Not My Friend" in this post. Can't wait to read his inaugural MarketingProfs post on Monday.
I loved this post from the blog Buenos Aires Spotting. The world's first reverse marathon was run on September 8th through Parque Centenario. Runners used CDs fixed to hats to see what was behind them.
Steve Rubel is at it again. He's moving his whole online life and the mining of data into Gmail. Can't wait to see where he takes this and how he manipulates the data to add value.
Joost announced a partnership with MLB. I still wonder who cares about this? Is anybody actually using Joost? Other services are delivering the same experience through a web browser without the annoying application.
Mack points out some excellent examples of why companies need to care about social media.
The iPhone, by most accounts has been a huge success, created unparalleled gadget-envy and has signaled a shift in the US mobile handset market. I've seen a lot of companies riding this wave of popularity and, subsequently, have released exclusive iPhone sites (Six Apart and Facebook to name two). These sites are physically formatted for the device, use specific technology and won't work on most other handsets.
From a mobile marketing strategy view I think this begs the question, should you design a site just for the iPhone? My answer is "it depends". Unless you work for Apple, designing for the iPhone should be part of a larger mobile strategy. Focusing on the iPhone alone isn't an effective way to move in the mobile space. Let's put this in perspective.
Here are the global numbers for some of the larger mobile device manufacturers for their last reported fiscal quarter.
Apple | 1 million units reported
Nokia | 100.5 million units Samsung | 37.4 million units Motorola | 35.5 million units Sony Ericsson | 24.9 million units LG | 19.1 million units Blackberry | 2.4 million units
That being said, designing an iPhone-only version of a product or site is a way to reach the young, hip, early adopters that the product attracts. More and more phones will start to shift to model themselves after the iPhone, but that could take a couple of years to come to market in mass. In the meantime, the iPhone can be a great addition to the mobile mix, but don't put all of your eggs in that iBasket.
I came across an interesting study from Juniper Research about their forecast for mobile social networking. As I've said before, I think this is a huge growth are that is almost entirely untapped.
As phone data network speeds rise and device functionality improves here in the US, the possibilities are almost endless. I know personally, I can operate almost entirely from my phone in a pinch (email, IM, MS Office docs, blog posts, camera shots to Flickr, etc.), but it's getting easier for everybody to jump in.
Here are some key data points from the release that I think you'll find interesting:
End-user generated revenues will increase from $572m in 2007 to $5.7b in 2012
Social networking will account for 50% of that
Active users of social networking will increase from 14m to 600m in 2012
Downloads from mobile content delivery services will increase from 200m to 9b in 2012
The study notes that data fees are really the largest obstacle right now, but I think we're seeing the start of these rates coming down as demand surges and competition heats up. Look for ad-funded models to also gain traction to off-set cost. The model needs, however, to deliver on value to the end user.
Could the next Facebook be mobile-only?
Could the next Facebook be mobile-only? Could you share more with people if your device automatically uploaded everything to this network (imagine that each photo you took was automatically sent to your mobile account)? Your phone's GPS could auto-publish where you are and text/voice/video messaging would all be integrated seamlessly. I think it's a possibility.
I've been doing a lot of thinking on mobile marketing lately and it's sparked me to re-publish my mobile marketing 101 series from earlier this year. If you're thinking about mobile, this is a nice entry point.
I'm going to be expanding on this series with a focus on social media and new marketing in the next couple of weeks, so it's a great time to refresh on the basics. In the meantime, if you have any questions or topics you would like to see covered, let me know via email or in the comments.
I've been evangelizing the power of mobile technology for about six years now. From the early days of the original Palm Pilot and brutally slow early cell phone browsers the potential for making an impact is massive and is equally untapped. According to M:Metrics 55%+ of Americans now own a cell phone and that number is growing every day. On top of that, data access speeds are getting faster and phone functionality is becoming more robust.
Take these numbers from M:Metrics on consumption:
You can see that SMS (text messaging) is leading the way followed by photo messaging and content browsing. Given this information and looking at the types of MicroMedia that we're dealing with today, the potential uses of mobile for engagement is huge. MicroMedia is a term (coined?) created by Jermiah Owyang at Web Strategist. He saw the need for a missing term that really encompasses "micro-blogging" and "micro-messaging". You can read his definition at his post, here is my altered version leveraging his original:
Text, audio or video messages published to a trusted social community. Content is created and consumed using synchronized, mixed platforms including mobile, web-based and installed software applications, and often distributed using other social media tools.
The traditional web is comprised of high-bandwidth, large/wide format content. The problem is that it's not suitable for the small screen and the clunky (at best) data entry techniques on today's phone. What these new micromedia formats accomplish is creating value through quick, low-bandwidth, low-complexity content creation.
Here are some examples:
Presence apps (Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook): These presence applications allow for quick updates to be published using multiple platforms and distributed using the same platforms to a trusted network of peers.
Social friend networks (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc.): This is more robust, high-bandwidth content, but mobile hooks are still there including publishing from phones, uploading audio/video/photos.
Photo/video networks (Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, etc.): Expanding on this point, more and more phones have photo/video cameras and are connected to the mobile network. Shooting a video or a photo and instantly uploading them to the web is a reality. The process is easy (send the file to a unique address) and near real-time.
All of this mobile, MicroMedia content adds value to the creator as well as the community of people that they're connected to. Social networks are great at serving as aggregators for small, frequent content much more so than traditional content management systems. For a couple examples, take a look at my Facebook profile and homepage and my Jaiku feed (which I just use to aggregate other MicroMedia into one centralized feed).
So, when you're looking at your social media endeavors, keep mobile in mind. Grab a phone and start playing with it. Take some photos and send them to friends. Take a video and send them too. Join Twitter and text message in some updates. Above all, keep an open mind, but don't let this pass you by.
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.
Thanks to CK for providing me the inspiration to start doing this entry with video. This is the inaugural post so check it out! (Would anybody be interested in seeing this become a separate video podcast feed? Let me know in the comments.)
Here are all of the items I think are interesting this week:
Speaking of Twitter, Netvibes launched a module to integrate the messaging platform. If you want more information on Twitter, check out my post from earlier this week.
Real Netoworks is trying to become relevant again in a flash video world. Check out this interview with Robert Scoble on a new piece of technology that lets you take Youtube (and other flash video) offline.
Jason Calacanis' new project Mahalo launched this week. The idea is that it's a search engine filtered by humans. David Berkowitz has a nice take on it on his blog. Yahoo started with this model so it's nothing new, the problem they're going to have is handling the volume of content without bias. I still think the 50matches model has more promise
Twitter, the often maligned service that lets people tell their friends what they're doing at the moment, gets a bad wrap. Journalists join the service, send through a couple of updates, scan the timeline for a couple seconds and write a misinformed piece on why Twitter is sophomoric.
The truth is that we have to look to the core of Twitter to get the full scope of why this matters to marketers. There has been a lot written about this so far, so I thought I would show you in video.
Could you shorten the queue in customer service? If your customers aren't always in front of a computer when they need your help it may allow you to be more responsive across other options. What could you do with real time customer feedback? Scary huh? This technology is powerful in the hands of the right marketers.
Want to know what I am doing right now? Click here to see my Twitter page.
I was poking around Twitter this afternoon and clicked into the detail view on one of my tweets to David Armano. I glanced at it quickly and moved on...then I hit the back button. What to my wondering eyes did appear? Google AdSense ads on tweet detail pages. This is the first time I've seen straight out advertising on Twitter in a couple of months. (They used to do this before the crush of traffic hit.) I checked a couple of other pages and it was there too.
The ad on the page I was looking at was for Drucker Centrifuges...not sure what that had to do with me or what I wrote to David. One of the major challenges in social marketing is getting relevant. Throwing AdSense ads on pages is fine if the ads are relevant to the users. I would hope neither Twitter nor Drucker Centrifuges are happy about this and it looks bad for both.
I had a couple of thoughts:
With the short content of Tweets, is there enough to be contextual?
Is this really the model they're going to use to monetize Twitter?
They have an audience using mobile to communicate, why not run mobile related ads or have a dedicated sponsor for mobile posts?
A lot of people have moved to tweeting through applications like Twitterific (away from twitter.com). Will Twitter start ads in tweet updates from friends to reach people?
I was walking through the upper west side in Manhattan a couple of weeks ago when I felt my phone buzz on my hip. I had my hands full with my camera and a venti coffee from Starbucks so I let it go to voicemail. A few blocks later I finished my coffee and grabbed my phone to see who called. To my wonderment I saw a bluetooth connection request from a merchant I had walked past. I even took the picture you see in this post because it caught me so off-guard.
I've posted about bluespamming before, but this is the first time it happened to me. It is a very risky, short-term tactic for companies to engage in and could potentially cause some damage to the brand (unless you're a marketer who doesn't care about your branding). Mobile phones are still very personal for a lot of people. They don't want tele-marketers calling them, rogue text messages or unsolicited bluetooth offers.
I also just came across this post at Helen Keegan's blog which is a great read for marketers thinking about this risky and untested space. In her example, HSBC bank is trying it out in the UK to both of our amazement.
The low cost of this tactic is enticing to many companies and it's only going to get worse I fear. But, this is spam no matter how you dice it. So unless you have the license to send messages to every single phone (like you own the company and the employee phones) you are going to tick people off and damage your reputation.
If you're smart, stay away from this invasive, unrequested form of marketing. If you're innovative, consider (for example) creating an SMS campaign which you promote on a sidewalk ad in front of your store. Tell people that for an immediate X% discount, send a message to your shortcode and show the cashier the reply message. This way you're using technology, but the user is pulling you in.
UPDATE: I read this article on Businessweek.com, via Silicon.com, and the tone of the article paints this as a "mobile ad push". NO! This is spamming. No ifs, ands or buts. Please people. Just say no to unsolicited messaging.
When your customer closes their web browser, do you still reach them? What piece of your brand do you offer them to stay near the top-of-mind? There are quite a few ways to do this effectively and add value to their experience.
Desktop Background: Yes this is old, but that doesn't mean it needs to be mundane. Do something cool, give more options more often and make it something people will want to talk about. Even better if you can personalize the message.
Icons/Avatars: People are using icons/avatars to identify themselves online and make connections. Create something interesting so fans of your brand want to show you off.
Screen Savers: Creating rich, immersive screen savers is a great way to keep people engaged. It's easy to dynamically pull in information like RSS feeds, schedules, press releases and news stories and product information. The more dynamic these are, the more useful they'll be to the user and the better impression they'll have of you.
Widgets: Widgets come in many flavors, but the overriding thread is that they allow people to take normally web-based information and use it in other places. This includes feeding in your blog posts, searching your site from their Dashboard or Vista's equivalent, displaying new photos and video you've published and the list goes on. The point it that you make your content easily portable so they can use it in their lives the way they want.
Instant Message: On top of using an avatar, viable, new information delivery vehicles are emerging. IM allows people to get updates from you via an existing channel. They add you as a contact, you message them with content.
Twitter: This micro publishing tool reaches consumers in the way they choose. This includes SMS, IM or web-based delivery. The power and potential of Twitter is largely un-tapped by marketers.
Content portability: By this I mean, if you have video, offer it for the iPod. If you have audio, offer a podcast and easy ways to subscribe to the feed. If you have a web site, make the content accessible on a mobile device. Allow your customers to engage with you throughout their daily routine no matter where they are or how they got there.
New technologies are popping up all the time. Think about the impact of Second Life. Although it's a risky venture right now, we may see a shift in usage demographics if the right model is put in place. What other ways have you allowed your customers to take a piece of your brand offline?
Every now and then, a marketing company decides to abandon a brand which has taken years of effort and millions of dollars to build. AT&T is the most recent example of this with their Cingular absorption. Cingular had a brand presence which resonated as young, hip and fun. These are descriptors that are not (and arguably will not be) embodied in AT&T.
What I am noticing is how Alltel is stepping right into Cingular's vacated shoes. Their recent ad campaigns have the same feel, are young and attempt to be humorous to connect with the consumer. I wonder if they're seeing a shift in people coming in from Cingular. I think people want to connect with their mobile provider on a personal level and is why I think this is an interesting tactic by Alltel.
I see smaller scale examples of this from time-to-time. New companies try to ride the coattails of a competitor by mimicking their marketing voice and then differentiating on features and benefits.
A while back Google's Eric Schmidt shared his vision on the future of mobile phones. In short, phones will be free because advertisers will, in effect, pay for your device and service plan in exchange for you viewing their ads. Sounds good right?
Right now mobile advertising is in its infancy. Carriers are going to try to get away with tactics like this until enough people get pissed off. In the meantime, marketers are going to increasingly have a tougher time using this platform if the carriers continue to cannibalize its effectiveness.
Would you be mad if you started getting served ads on your phone without requesting them? Do you think you should be compensated for seeing them or is this part of the game? What if they were hyper-relevant/hyper-local?
My post from yesterday reiterates the challenge that publishers are facing. The good ones are going to learn to use advertising as a desirable feature and not force it down the consumer's throat.
The user generated advertising trend is hot. Attempts to make consumer created ads pay off is hit and miss, backfiring for some companies and mildly succeeding for others. Still, the best form of user generated advertising comes from people who really love you and your brand, not from a contest or other gimmick. So with all of the hype, does this tactic really create new customers and in the end sell more of what you have to offer? Usually not.
While the focus has been placed on the ads themselves, we're missing an opportunity to really engage users and create more loyal customers through User Controlled Advertising (UCA). I pitched this back in 2005 and the world wasn't ready for it, but now seems like the right time to put it out there again. UCA would allow publishers or advertising networks to serve up ads (created by ad professionals) to users and allow those users to decide what they want to see.
UCA choices could be based on any of the following:
Type or category of ad ("See more ads like this")
Brand-specific ads ("See more ads from this sponsor")
Ability to easily scroll through ads to see what's available
Choose not to see an ad or sponsor
Here is an example of how this would physically manifest itself in the ad enclosure:
This creates new opportunities and solves some key online advertising problems. First, if users are choosing to see your ads, they're going to be more likely to click through or buy offline. They're opting in to your message. Second, using this system there is less waste on people who don't care about you (sorry, they are out there)...why should you pay to show them an ad they'll never click? Third, if you combine this system with user preferences, personalization and reporting and you have created the most powerful, accurate, waste-free, relevant ad system on earth. These technologies are all out there, but nobody has put them together. Fourth, the system serves as a vehicle to extend the ad beyond the typical banner. It offers real estate for promotions and other personalized engagement techniques to connect with the right message and the right time.
Imagine a user comes on to your local newspaper web site (where you advertise). Based on their registration criteria the system knows they may be interested in you, so when they hit the home page there is your ad. If they like you they select to see more ads from you. The site then serves your ads at a higher weighting through the system giving you more impressions. The user wants to see your message and the chance they'll click through is increased. Conversely, if another person logs on and sees your ad and doesn't have an interest in you, they can click to an ad they do like. They get what they want to see and you don't waste impressions serving irrelevant ads.
Taking this a step further, RSS driven ads could be used as part of this new ad system. The messages in ads can be updated by the advertiser in real-time and not necessitate new creative. For example, say you have a campaign to welcome users to your site. You could create an ad format that would take their head shot and name and create a custom ad to thank them for signing up. It would be integrated into the system and allow them to share the ad with friends to get them to sign up. How much more relevant can you get?
The idea here is to give users control over the context and content, not the creative. It forms a mutually beneficial partnership and could have a major impact in the world of online advertising.