Monthly Archives: June 2011

Are We Giving Away The Opportunity to Truly Broaden Our Base?

Sort of following along the lines of yesterday’s post – have recent trends and technological advances caused us to become less effective in marketing and the opportunities or choices available?

It used to be that a commercial could run during a Broadcast Television Primetime Show and you knew the basic demos.  Not every commerical would be relevant or extremely tareted, but you saw the ones that did not occur while you were running to the bathroom or grabbing another drink and you might have been turned on to another product or experience that you never knew about before.  The advent of digital media and the targeting that came with that led to the drive to optimize spends for as little wasted impressions as possible.  Unfortunately, I see a huge negative effect in that.  Certainly its something we’ve got to be aware of and look to diminish any downside.

To get deeper into what I’m talking about, let’s look at some of the realities in online and mobile media:

Narrowcasting: When cable came into play and there were many more channels to choose from, the consensus was that people would have a much broader view of the world – when in fact, most people watch the same 15-20 channels all the time.  In the same way, When the internet planted its flag in the ground, everyone talked about how people would have access to everything – anytime, anywhere.  While the anytime. anywhere is becoming more and more true, the “everything” is just not possible.  Instead of reading through a paper to get to my team’s news, political information or local events and stumbling across bits of information about other things, I am able to go directly to my team app or specific local events feeds with little chance of broadening my knowledge or perspective.  It happens in both cable and online/mobile.  people can go their whole day, month, year or decade consuming media that is absolutely targetted to them  and people exactly like them.  not much chances for new experiences there.

Targeting: Cookies have been around as long as we’ve been connection to the internet.  They, and other techonological nuggets are in place to help us in many ways – including keeping track of our preferences and the places we’ve been to.  I do believe that it is the collateral damage of our privacy that I am willing to give up to be able to enjoy my online/mobile experience – to an extent.  What happens though, is that the information is used in a way that can be offputting and not really advantageous to us or the advertisers that are trying to reach us.   Until now, the emphasis has been on where we’ve been and what we’ve seen.  Even with targeted ads, we see many ads that are no longer relevant to us – we’ve brought the product or our interest was just in an article, not a movement. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but the debate about targeting is certainly in the air based on two other posts today – one by Adam Kleinberg on iMedia and the other by David Morgan on MediaPost. Both are good reads that delve a little deeper into the targetting.  They are from different perspectives, but still get to the point, I believe, of question how targeted do we want to be and what that could mean.

Privacy: There is certainly a growing concern about privacy and it all reminds me of the first 3 episodes of the Star Wars saga (forgive me for referencing episodes 1-3) when everyone voted to give power to what would become the Empire.  Sure, most people would say they want privacy, as long as its not inconvenient. Wendy Davis reports about those numbers – 81% of respondents want an anti-track mechanism – in her post on the Daily Online Examiner for MediaPost.  Her article and a reader’s comment at its bottom already reinforce what I’ve written above if you want to read more.  People already have the power to control their privacy, but its too much to actually do something about.

So, unless there is a mechanism to get into people’s minds and serve them with something pertaining to their wants or needs, there’s going to be a lot of waste with targeting and the opportunity to stumble upon something by accident and broaden minds will diminish.

Even without the rise in DVR usage, it would be harder and harder to have any brand or business reach so many people so easily as to create the water-cooler conversation we might have had about those cheesy Mentos ads, Where’s the Beef, or Mean Joe Green.

Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be as dire as that. 

Of course, it is not as simple to pull a trigger on one execution to reach gazillions of people – as it was just 10-15 years ago.  But, with a good strategy, that could be mitigated.  It’s tough because technology, society and diversity will make it harder and harder to reach larger masses of people and create a zeitgeist – and those who come up with the models to reach the most people in the right way will continue to grow.  Hopefully, they’ll bring the rest of the world with them.

Google+ Will Absolutely Not Be A Facebook Killer

Since Google announced their Google+ project as another social network yesterday  – with the strongest bit being the ability to guard what content is seen by whom – there have been more pundits counting the ways it will kill Facebook or how it won’t.  It’s almost like the debate on who will win a game in sports.  The biggest difference is that in sports, there has to be a winner – in this case there doesn’t and probably shouldn’t.

As a society, there is such a movement in coverage about not only being the best, but destroying all competitors.  Without the realization that being the one-and-only is abnormal and unhealthy, we are destined to be disappointed.

People seem to just now be starting to come to understand that media doesn’t have to be consumed just one way by each person.  With TV, Theater/Film, DVD. Blu-ray, VOD, Digital Download, Streamed Online – and who knows what else may come – trying to force people to consume in one way is a death knell.  We all know that individual’s consumption of media can be different depending on time of day and type of content.  It is those who can truly appreciate that and adapt who will survive.

In some ways, people focus on the social network iterations that came before Facebook or the different ways of accessing the internet and fixate on the fact that each earlier iteration was effectively minimized or done away with. What is happening, though, is that more and more people worldwide are gaining access to all types of content, interactions and communications digitally and they are recognizing how they can interact with things differently on different gadgets.  Additionally, those people are more comfortable with the fact that they can do it their own way – no peer pressure, no societal norms, just choices.

While many pundits are presenting a winner-take-all mentality, it is self-serving and doesn’t really represent the future.  One only needs to look in a grocery store to realize there is not just one.  You have your choice of dozens of creamy peanut butter.  Soda choices are becoming further complicated by minutiae (cherry flavored, vanilla-cherry flavored, caffeinated, non-caffeinated, sweetened with splenda, sweetened naturally – huh?).  Yes, there are some products that are stronger than others, but it is competition that built the world as we know it and without it, the loss of any edge or relevance will be the least of our worries.

I hope Google+ picks up and is popular.  I hope people use it for the reaons they feel comfortable.  I also believe that Facebook will continue to thrive and there will be other social networks that arise that fit the needs of those who use it.  Will anyone other than Facebook rule the roost?  only time will tell.  But to cut opportunities for any entity based solely on what challenges exist in the market will only prove to further diminish the economy.

Let’s stop rushing to declare winners and losers or look for killers and instead push for the best products possible reaching the people the way they want it.

Use The Data, Luke!

Storytellers will be the first to tell you that without an audience, they’re not storytellers.  Could the same thing be said if there is an audience but they’re not engaged by what the storyteller has to say?  The answer to that question could be argued either way, but the real takeaway is whether the storyteller is just wasting their time if they are not making the connection with the audience.

This is certainly nothing new.  Many movies, TV shows and books have come out to find no audiences though they are well-made.  The same thing can be said for brands in general.  That is why it is imperative to not only come up with the best story for the product but the best outlets to reach the people it will most connect with.

With ever-changing growth and diversification, that matching is both helped and hindered.  We are able to find out more details about viewers and users, but there are so many more places we have to track.  With new data streams, we can be helped immensely if we take advantage of those streams and mine what really matters out of it.  We are moving away from the categorization of all people being the same based on their age, where they live and what sex they are.  The new data forms are providing much more detail about particular audience tendencies.

Mark Lieberman points out the gains in TV data in his TV Board post, Got Data?  Find the $tories.  He posits how those old or base metrics “don’t tell the story advertisers need to understand in order to connect with viewers. A soft-drink marketer might know that four programs in a given time slot attract women aged 18 to 49, but those high-level metrics won’t show where to find the best ROI for their particular category. Talk about soda without the fizz!

For advertisers, there is now an opportunity to optimize exposure with actual purchasers of a given product, on networks and programs they might have overlooked. For instance, did you know that NBC’s “30 Rock” rates very highly with European car owners? (VW is actually the highest.) Or that Lincoln and Mercury owners are more likely than owners of other cars to watch the Gospel Music Channel?”

While his story focuses on the same principle of telling the story and driving the best ROI on TV with learnings from those new forms of data, it doesn’t go far enough because it only focuses on TV.  There are now so many ways to gauge the audiences and cost-effectively engage them through so many forms of media – whether its broadcast, cable, online, mobile, social, OOH, print, etc… As metrics and consumption shift, its not always prudent to get the most eyeballs.  Sometimes those big numbers matter and that’s not to be discounted, but all outlets should be evaluated wisely as we all know bigger isn’t always better.

Ultimately, the available tools need to be used to determine who you will be telling your story to because its getting increasingly more challenging to simply repeat what may or may not have worked in the past.  And no one wants to be heard as “wuh-wuh, wa, wuh-wuh,” like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons…

In The Right Place For A Driving Dunk

Sometimes it’s good to be lucky.

It’s called being in the right place at the right time.  When it comes to sponsorships or event marketing, some things just can’t be planned for.  Of course, some of those things can turn into a negative, but when it is a positive for your brand – Oh how sweet it is!

You may recall Blake Griffin’s amazing dunk during the NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk competition.  If you don’t, here it is again

Kia was already the sponsoring car for this event.  Griffin decided he wanted to duck over a car.  So, it only made sense to use the car that was already going to be there.

Even before Kia came out with a full commercial centered on the dunk, there had been so much airplay for Kia that money couldn’t buy.  Kia had their reasons for sponsoring the NBA, whose audience Kia described as urban and multiculturally diverse, with educated and passionate fans.  Its good to see that they took that ensuing buzz and success and built upon it with the commercial and larger campaign centered on the dunk.

Now, Kia has named Griffin as their global spokesperson.  In Griffin, they have someone who fits perfectly with their target demo.  He has been a solid citizen – ripe for partnership – and all signs point to that continuing.

So, ultimately, Kia was in the right place at the right time, but they knew where to drive the opportunity once it presented itself.


Ai Weiwei Is “Free”

The good news is that Ai Weiwei is free.  The bad news is that he really isn’t. 

The good news is that a lot of the reason why he was let out of jail was international pressure.  The bad news is that there are at least 130 civil rights activists still held in China with no seeming opportunity to be let out of jail.

The good news is that the movement identity I wrote about in my post last month, Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei? , helped build the groundswell of international support that pressured the Chinese government to release Weiwei from custody. The bad news is that it remains to be seen whether the movement I wrote about will be able to build a push for releasing the others.

The limits that have been placed on Ai Weiwei upon his “release” are quite huge – in spirit if not confinement.  While the full restrictions of his “freedom on bail” are not known.  He cannot leave his home city for a year without letting the authorities know.  He cannot participate in interviews and it is assumed he will not be able to present art or feed his twitter followers with daily messages as he did before he was detained.

Now is the true test of how strong that WHO IS AI WEIWEI movement really is.  My hope is that it doesn’t stop with his
release, but becomes a lot bigger and forces change in a country that is doing everything it can to do anything but, when it comes to human rights.

My hope, also, is that he and others acting out for human right in China finally does find a freedom. Let’s all hope this movement and identity form a stronghold that brings along change.

We See The Future And It Ain’t So Far Away

The following campaign blurb was really exciting until the third line where it describes throwing a consumer on the top of a van:

The makers of Stride gum will go to extreme lengths to have consumers upgrade to Stride 2.0. Stride’s CEO, a human billboard at a mall, accosts a consumer unwilling to upgrade his gum. The CEO hops on a skateboard and chases the young man throughout the mall, eventually catching him and throwing him atop a waiting van. After switching the gum, the CEO hops into the van, driven by snowboarder Shaun White.

Stride is usually pretty good at being ahead of the curve technology-wise (incorporating color QR codes early-on) so I was assuming they were doing the same here.  The thing is, it was all just in a video created by JWT NEW YORK. And it did not happen in a real environment like I was hoping.

I thought they had taken the step that might have been thought of as Science Fiction Fantasy when the billiboards were interacting with consumers in the film, MINORITY REPORT.  That fantasy is absolutely doable now with the progress in RFID, displays, bluetooth, wi-fi and cloud-computing.  You can see elements of it in place in Japan and you will see more of it here when Apple incorporates RFID in iPhone 5.

Companies have made good use of RFID on a limited scale for marketing with the strongest example being the Israel Coca-Cola Village event last Summer that incorporated Facebook. That experience made it simple, immediate and cool to share socially, but there are so many opportunities to build a phenomenal narrative and emotional connection with consumers in the near future.

In simplest terms, imagine that the Stride video was cut into pieces so that consumers could feel that they were the ones being followed through a mall like the Culver City Westfield – where the video was actually filmed.  As the user with an RFID transmitter passed by the specific displays, the videos could be presented progressively – taking them through the narrative.  Certainly, within the next 6-9 months, those folks who have the RFID transmitter would be the most likely to like and engage with the guy pestering them – they just don’t seem like the types who would get annoyed by it.  As part of the experience, there would hopefully be kiosks that allow interaction – whether just posting to FB or registering to get a coupon sent to their email or SMS.

This really is not so far in the future – with a number of groups already developing the technology.  It just takes a strong advertiser with the correct target audience (like Stride is going after) to pull the trigger smartly.  It can be done on a small scale in strategically placed locations.  But, don’t forget to get all your ducks in a row to have your PR and Digital teams ready to pounce and leverage all the buzz, video, etc to turn it into something much bigger than a local execution.

Also, don’t forget to credit Scarlet Strategic with the idea.  Better yet, come to us and we’ll execute the whole thing for you!