Monday, December 21, 2009

Super Bowl Advertising, Smart Move or Marketing Gluttony? The Refreshing Pepsi Refresh Project

Recently Pepsi made the decision to not place any spots on this years Super Bowl, and instead are directing that money to Cause Related Marketing.

See WSJ Article

I think this is a great move for several reasons specific to Pepsi. As anyone who reads this blog I focus often on Return on Investment. I have a Sales/Finance Background. And while Advertising/Marketing has a big emotional component that the Creative's use to hook us on products, without Sales and Profits all the money spent marketing gets wasted. The one thing that the Industry has to deal with is the Elephant in the Closet we all ignore, especially the Sales/Finance folks (And CFO's this means you!). No matter how good the Creative's are I will use the well beaten saying 'You can't put lipstick on a pig, because it is still a pig.' Why CFO's think Marketers can do this I am still trying to figure out. As a Sales Person for many years I dealt with the same thing. Reality of the Product, or the Company.

And this is where the Pepsi story and the Super Bowl comes in. While we all love Super Bowl Ads because the brands compete to have the funniest, warmest, most memorable Ads that we will all talk about for a year, most of the brands are 1] known and 2] most people already have their view mostly set on that brand for various reasons. I love the beer commercials and can watch them over and over but I never buy Bud, Miller, or Coors because they are bland to me. Nothing they can do except give it to me for free will change that. The one group who are impressionable would be the 10 to 25 year olds who are still developing their views on what they should be identified with in their life, and this goes for most of the products that get advertised.

The one exception is New Brands, Products, and Promotions. The goal here is to get someone to try it....once. And hope they like it to earn repeat business. For launching new things the Super Bowl has superior reach to everything. Everyone is watching and everyone for once actually would rather miss a play of the game than miss a commercial!

So for Pepsi, most everyone has tried their products and has decided if they like them vs the competition. And I have mentioned before that Point of Sale in the store trumps a lot of Marketing spend. I am a Diet Pepsi drinker. When we stocked up for a Holiday Party the other day Pepsi had a big in store promotion so that is what we bought: Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Sierra Mist. Had it been Coke I would of chosen them because I am not rich, the deal was incredible (Two 24 packs of Pepsi Brands for $10 with a $25 purchase of other goods at Price Chopper Super Market) and I can settle. This covers most people no matter what soda brand you prefer unless money is not an issue.

I asked Rob Schwartz the Chief Creative Officer of TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Pepsi's Creative Agency if Super Bowl ads sell more Pepsi. He said, "The Super Bowl is more to keep a buzz about your brand in the Pop Culture Conversation." Talk about a hard sell to the CFO! But then he said, "The goal of the Pepsi Refresh Project is to do some good with our marketing money. The last thing the world needs is another Super Bowl ad. You can quote me for your blog." Now the CFO is listening.

So what will sway me? What will sway the average Joe and Jane out there if there is a price difference or none at all to buy one brand or another? Social Responsibility! But only when it is fully exposed and known, for good and bad. On a National Scale Nike, Walmart, Exxon have been exposed for bad practices in the Third World and had Non-Profits try to rally boycotts. Brands like Starbucks have earned praise for offering insurance to all workers, even part timers. Everyone knows about the Ronald McDonald House. Unless this is exposed for all to see (good or bad) there will be no impact. That is why Brands often don't market their own good deeds enough, and why Brands fight to cover up the bad deeds.

But if you do this on a local level, grass roots, this trumps everything. This is direct marketing at it's finest. If I know that Pepsi helped my community organization, school, park, hospital this could earn my patronage for life. Too many Brands write a check and slap their logo on a Social Cause and think that is enough. Most brands have charities they support. But very few people if asked can name the causes with brands. The best recent one of note was the NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Week for the Susan G Konem for the Cure weekend with many layers wearing pink shoes and accessories. I have also written about the Yoplait Pink Lid Program (which I didn't give a good review on).

So Pepsi is earmarking $20 million from their marketing budget to support local community programs and initiatives. But even more critical, they are asking Pepsi Drinkers to nominate programs for their support. This is true bottom up from the community sincerity. And that Super Bowl 'Buzz' Pepsi is giving up? There has been more articles and free publicity given to Pepsi already from this decision than they will get from the Super Bowl. And in return community programs in need will benefit.

The Marketing Sensei will revisit this program in 2010 to highlight the positive effects on communities and Pepsi's bottom line. The CFO will be pleased.

In wrapping up the Super Bowl Ad Buy view, I get it. It shows you arrived as a company. It will create a buzz. But it might not increase sales, and during tough economic times Brands should analyze how to get the biggest return for their marketing spend, because Sales and Profits are wonderful things. They help prevent layoffs, increase R&D and Marketing Budgets, and keep Share Holders happy. And even more important allow Brands to give back to the world like the Pepsi Refresh Program is doing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Subtle Startegy, Network Greed or Poor Media Buying

We have observed this, we are watching a program on Cable or Network TV and we notice one or two commercials are repeated so often that we actually switch over while they play because we are sick of hearing the same message. I am currently watching a stand up comedian on Comedy Central. I have seen in 45 mins the same I Pod Touch commercial 6 times and an I Phone App commercial 4 times.

So is this strategy on someone's part? To ensure the message is beaten in my skull. So that I get brainwashed into buying the devices.

Or is this greed by Comedy Central? Apple gave them money for inventory to reach a certain demographic and they are light on clients for spots on this show so they just keep plugging Apple?

Or is this poor media planning? Where someone isn't paying attention or not critiquing the performance reports they get from Comedy Central when they come in?

I know media planning and buying for a major national brand across all platforms is as complicated as curing cancer. But Apple spent about 30% more than they should of on spots during this 1 hr program. And as a champion of the brand with a Finance/Sales background I call it wastage.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Facebook, Privacy, OverHype and Bad Business Model

Facebook has just received a lot of flack (deservedly) for their efforts to expose (by force) more of the content people post to their website for all the worlds eyes to see. This is after the failed Beacon service, and other efforts to boost advertising revenue. As an advertising platform this business is significantly over-hyped by a few biased groups:

1] Facebook Employees and Investors - they want to cash out with an IPO then who cares what happens to the business.

2] Social Media Journalists - They are paid to write about social media and of course Facebook is one of the biggest. If Social Media fails to live up to the hype they might be seeking new jobs.

3] Social Media Guru's/Consultants who claim they can help you make bank using websites such as Facebook. Recently it was proven many ex-real estate folks have migrated to Social Media.

4] People who are employed by their firms to be the Social Media Manager - which can be frustrating but also very fun to work on. And who wants to go back to Accounting?

5] Hyper Hype! Facebook and it's promoters spout now 350 million accounts. Yet in August when they had 300 million there were only 92 million unique visitors per comscore. So why the discrepancy? Well I have 2 accounts. 1 personal and 1 for a service of my company Sky Pulse Media. And companies like USocial sell friends and fans by the 1,000's. So there has to be over 100 million zombie accounts!

So those are the vested interests in businesses like Facebook living up to the Advertising Platform Hype.

Considering Facebook is seeking to exploit it's users (community's) information and content to make money as an Ad Platform it really puts their business on the side of Advertisers and not the community who without they would not exist! Kind of like being on the Yankees and offered a massive contract but trying to earn money from the Red Sox instead.

Now I wish to state I don't hate Facebook. The technology is great. It can be bested since it lacks many, many things in terms of the format. But it was the first really simple platform for people to connect with each other. And this is why I get aggro on them. If Facebook took Apple's model and sold their technology to other businesses, or had a subscription model where Advertiser's be damned, then they would be on the same side as the community. It would allow them to do things in a walled garden that people would be willing to participate in more openly. And immediately they would be valued much higher than they are now.

But currently they use this news feed and live news feed as kind of their platform for brands and marketers to listen and reach the community. But just like with Twitter this stream is monstrous. Every time I log in I have 300+ posts I haven't read, of which I usually read the first 25. So over 275 posts I do not see. And 90% of all accounts that I check out are set to private. This proves people want the walled garden. So their business model is going against what the community will champion and as soon as a true alternative pops up people will fly away. If you think they won't social media is littered with the last great hype...Friendster, Myspace, Tribe, sites people spent considerable time developing profiles, uploading photos only to jump away when something better came.

So when I see this whacked out effort to go behind people in a weaselly manner to have them expose themselves more I am allowed to champion the community over the website. I use weasel because instead of having new settings and allowing people to change them...when the window popped up t automatically changed them and you had to change them back. And if your business is a reflection of your ethics, honor, and character then Mark Zuckerberg fails once again on all 3 counts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why Brick and Mortar will never disappear

Media Post Article

I read this article by Laurie Sullivan and really was blown away that anyone in the Ad Industry or Retail for that mater would think we would go all E-Commerce. She blew her thesis up front by saying there will be warehouses to go see/feel product, which if that is true we would need them all over the place (ie stores) and if we already are there wouldn't we want to buy what we like for immediate gratification? I am surely not going home then placing and order and paying for shipping.

But there are a few significant reasons why in person retail will trump online for the foreseeable future.

1] Many, many stores are small businesses and it would be impossible to replace these online.

2] We love exploring unique and interesting stores. And shopping is often enjoyable. And there is much less buyer's remorse in person.

3] Online reduces impulse buys considerably. When you walk into say a Target think of how massive your view is. Imagine changing that view to a 15" diagonal window. You will miss so many sale items and choices.

4] If something is close by and we can get it now we will. Especially if i is something we didn't plan ahead for. Like oops ran out of milk.

5] I can view the whole Cracker/Cookie aisle in 3 minutes in a Supermarket. This would take about 15+ minutes on line. I don't have time for that. And the actual physical packaging makes or breaks a sale. To get the same visual online I have to click on each item to blow it up.

One day it is possible that we might buy commodities or things we don't need to shop in person for online as routine. But until we can shop via hologram or HD-3D with the exact same visuals from our home, E-Commerce will accent not replace our shopping experience. While a store might make more margin on an item I buy directly from a website like my favorite shampoo I always buy, they would lose the volume of impulse buying that is proven from a 100 years of retail and marketing research and studies.

For items like clothes which we are getting used to buying online more and more, it really sucks when something doesn't fit and you have to wait to return it and get a replacement. And shopping for books is so much more pleasurable in a book store than online. You can browser titles and subjects so much faster. And it is very hard to replace that feeling of discovering something via the online experience. It is being worked on but nothing yet is close.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Social Media Update

Sorry my laptop fried and I was unable to post for a while. Since my last post I have read a lot of articles written on Social Media that truly make my jaw drop in terms of ridiculousness. I read from the founder of Mashable that everyone will be living lives without privacy by our own choice where everything we do everyday is seen by everyone. I almost died laughing at someone who made the Huffington Post's Top 10 Game Changers! Well sorry dude your not a game changer when you have no clue. If we all wanted this Facebook Beacon would of been a smashing success. If we all wanted this we would not keep our profiles set to private. 18-24 year olds wouldn't be leaving Facebook because they are being friended by their parents and grand parents!

Then I read that Media Companies will have no Advertising Business for Black Friday and that Brands will be using only Social Media to Advertise. Well I was pretty mad because after laughing so hard at Mashable I sure didn't need something to make my gut hurt so hard I need to be sent to the ER. An example given was a Twitter Account named CheapTweets which posts 800 deals per hour on it's Twitter Account. So I checked it out. Well the fact is to showcase deals and a web link in 140 characters is impossible. It basically forces one to blindly click on link after link after link to see if the deals are worthwhile. And to sift through 800 per hour I could read War and Peace before getting through just 2 hours worth of deals. And considering that CheapTweets had to reach me from OUTSIDE of social media just to be known, and that if I followed them I would have 800 spam tweets showing up per hour clouding out anything my friends post or anyone else worthwhile I would probably un-follow within 10 minutes. So no this view is not only wrong it is hysterically amusing.

Lastly is the lack of reach for social media. I will use Twitter and Facebook as my examples. Anyone who uses these networks knows that attentions are fragmented, most live news feeds and Tweet Streams go unviewed because of the massive amount of posts. Normally when I log onto Facebook I have over 300 updates I have not seen so I read the first 25 from my 259 friends and 60 Fan pages I connect too! On Twitter I average about 75 to 100 unseen and I read the first 20, and I only follow 59 accounts. Now the numbers. Since only 1 in 3 Facebook Accounts is actively logged into once per month, that means either 2 of 3 are frauds created by Social Media Companies that sell Friends and Fans by the 1,000's I estimate only 1 in 6 Americans are on Facebook at least once per month. And since we all chat and talk with friends foremost an amazing engagement campaign can hope to reach maybe a million or two people which is nice but not world beating.

I will end with these observances and state I love Social Media as technology for us all to connect. We should be paying for it directly. Facebook would have 7 billion in sales this year if they could get each account to pony up $2 per month (and eliminate all fraudulaent accounts possibly). But the Guru's and the Networks all self promoting to make a buck are completely biased in the face of logic and Brands should be aware of this. Use Social media to accent your marketing efforts. But don't think it will replace the traditional forms of marketing that have worked to varying degrees for so many years. Remember all marketing channels are valuable, the challenge is how to measure and price them so that you get proper value for the money you spend.

And to all you Social Media Companies, Advocates, Guru's, Journalists you really should stick to highlighting how Social Media affects our lifestyles, the great technology being developed, and stop focusing on the Advertising Side of things. Apple has made a killing selling technology that changes our lives and not by selling advertising. So again sell the technology instead of this Ad Revenue Model. Apple should be role model number 1!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Behavorial Targeting, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This post is aimed at Google, Facebook, Twitter, and all Ad Serving Networks.

My previous post discussed my search for a new laptop. One that will cost me between $650 and $900. So not a small sale. It is worth the various brands and retail outlets to observe me researching specifications and pricing. The specs I seek are for across the brands in terms of the hardware, so they are an equalizing factor. Since I seek to buy in the next 6 weeks the real impetus will be the best deal. I have a few models picked out that I am willing to buy and seek the best price, warranty, and any deals like free virus protection etc. I do have concerns about pre-loaded software. I want minimal. My Compaq that I bought in May 2008 came with too much stuff. Like MS Works..deleted. MS Office trial...deleted. MS Internet Explorer...deleted.

I want to take the BT from various view points. The retailers, Staples, Best Buy, Walmart, and Apple all observe me crawling around their websites. The Ad serving networks that have access to my surfing also could possibly see that I went to these sites (unsure if they see on the sites themselves). And if I post any information about my search on Twitter or Facebook, they have access to knowing I am searching. And of course Google owns this Blogging site!

What I want. I want the retailer to send me a pop up saying if I buy within the next 60 mins I get something. Free accessory. $50 off. Free shipping. Etc. And really that is it.

The retailers. Should want what I want. Try to make the sale right there immediately while I have items in my cart to look at pricing.

Those two are great benefits to BT.

Now the Ad Serving networks, Google, Facebook, and Twitter. It is in their best interest to offer Ads to be served by the Brands themselves to me in hopes of swaying me one way or another. But to do this they would have to serve me Ads at some point, somewhere. Obviously a retail site will bar this. Obviously if I have Firefox with Ad Blocker I won't see them anyway. But I am a very high value prospect. Meaning they could auction or sell Ads served to me to the brands at a high price. Now while I might be fine with 1 or 2 ads popping up, I would flip out if I was slammed because of BT. And that is the danger of BT.

Brands obviously want every single time someone is looking for such a big ticket item to be able to contact you. But if they all do, again I am slammed and upset.

Now get to the value of BT. Who gets the value? That depends. Will BT of Ad Serving help me find the best product at the best price? Or will the Ads bought by the highest bidder cloud out a best solution for me? If I can't see all my options then BT fails me.

And of course the only way to see best option is to work at it. To search via Bing or Google. Read all the Ads and Circulars. Visit stores. Ask friends. And make phone calls. In this case my work (and information found online) will pay off 80% of the effort to find best product/price. And Advertising will actually help since that is how the 'deals' reach me.

Big ticket behavorial shopping, Online, Offline...metrics?

I had an 18 month old Compaq Laptop just die...completely dead. So I have to shop for a new Laptop. Since I read all the Advertising Trade Journals about the various types of measuring success, ROI, 360 marketing, all the major marketing channels, this is a perfect case study to show how jacked up measuring ROI is. It will also prove the bias in various marketing channels will use to hype their portion of the sale.

First off HP is out. I spent $70 at staples to find out my motherboard is fried (after 18 months of mostly use for work!) and HP wants $315 for a new one. Not only do I flip them the bird, I refuse to buy from them now. Including most likely getting a new Printer for Business that is non-HP! See what customer service and honoring the product means? Plus I am slamming HP in my blog. Touche %#%@&^@%!&!'s.

I am looking at Dell's, Toshiba, Mac's (way too expensive! sigh), and Asus brands. I am comparing Staples, Best Buy, and Walmart (hate Walmart but saw they were trying to put best Buy out of business). I am researching online via the stores vs the actual brand sites. I am looking at pricing online and via the Sunday Circulars. I paid $100 for a 1 year warranty on the piece of crap Compaq I had (it was a great unit until it died!). I want 4GB RAM, Pentium Dual Core, 320GB HD minimum, 15" screen, and the best Warranty possible. Although there are other sellers of Laptops my concern is who can support the warranty. When I brought the Compaq I had bought at Best Buy in they told me since it is out of warranty it will cost $90 to look at and they send it out with a 2 week lead time just to call and tell me what is wrong! Boo Hiss!

In the last 2 weeks Staples, Best Buy, Apple and Walmart have observed me crawling around their sites, reading specifications, pricing, and customer reviews. I have a borrowed Think!Pad with Linux with no rush to buy today, but in a rush to buy before new years.

Now look at my vendors. Apple. Love them. Wish their laptops were a bit less expensive and I am still open to a refurbed model if I can find a deal via the Apple Store. Best Buy. Kind of upset about the Compaq Laptop support. But I like the company, the service, the selection. I will be calling to discuss the warranty support before buying. Staples. Did a good job looking at my laptop that died. Not a great selection. But they are right their in price and they do fix computers on site vs. sending them out.

Walmart. Loathe the company. I refuse to buy from a right wing business owner, who wraps themselves in Christ while treating employees and contract manufacturers as indentured servants. Biggest hypocrites on Earth. You would think they would pay their workers more than anyone, pay their suppliers properly and make sure no 3rd world slave labor is working in the factories, and they would give wrap around Healthcare to all, and make sure all communities with a Walmart benefit vs suffer because that is what Jesus would do. So no sales to Walmart. But I will use them for leverage if need be to get a better price. But they do have a great warranty and if it turns out the price saves a bundle I can consider them. The products I am buying are made in the same place no matter what retailer I go too anyway.

So when I do buy, how will the various marketing channels take credit for the sale? Obviously the heaviest impact is online. But since Best Buy has amazing details on their products, the actual Brand I buy can thank them for helping steer me to them. But in reality quality and service are important, not just specs. And what if on Sunday I see the circular and jump at a deal? Doesn't the Print folks get some credit for reaching me since I still get a daily paper? How much does my sale mean to the retail stores? $50? $100? $150?

Now lets look at Behavioral in my next post and why BT is good and bad.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Do Apps really matter to Brands?

Malibu Rum has 2 million I Phone App Downloads in 6 Months

I am not singling out Malibu Rum. This is specifically typical 'excitement' Branded Apps generate for certain biased parties.

I know I know I always am the cynic. I personally do not see value for Branded Apps unless it is a 'must have must use' App. The reason is it will be hard for Malibu Rum or any Brand to know if the App they worked so hard on is used beyond the first week....or even visible to the smart phone user among the ridiculous amount of Apps an active App down loader will have on their phone. In the case of Malibu Rum, you have a liquor that is very sweet, lower alcohol content than regular rum, and the imbibers will be mostly slanted towards younger people and specifically women. Most adult real men do not drink Malibu Rum, just like they don't drink Wine Coolers LOL. So a bowling game?

There are plenty of ideas for Apps that people will want to use over and over for a Liquor Brand that would get more use and more Brand exposure than bowling. And BTW I love video bowling, it is the Malibu Rum demographic that I found the game choice intriguing.

I don't own a Liquor Brand but my free advice would be an App that has drink recipes and allows people to enter in their own favorites for future reference. Maybe include a calorie counter and allow people to zap drink recipes to their friends and even take pictures of the perfect concoction to share.

Or for Malibu Rum an App that includes lots of topical locales (photos and videos), a way for people to upload their own from such locations when partying in the sun, and even connect to Travel Websites that get Malibu a referral fee for any travel booked during that session.


Friday, October 30, 2009

The transfer reallocation moving about reaily of mobile retail applications

I read today that Pizza Hut has booked $1 million in sales in 3 months via it's I Phone App.

See Article

But some perspective needs to be shed on this. First of all Pizza Hut is a $6 billion company. So the amount is very small. But that being said the key to success for Mobile is getting people to Adopt using mobile devices in ways that benefit your firm. So today Pizza Hut has a clear cut advantage over other pizza delivery companies because I Phone users can easily order from them on the way home from work, or while in transit to watch football at a friends house. That will change over time and eventually there will be applications that collate all delivery places including private one off local pizza places into one App so you can compare all prices and specials and make your decision. But until then Pizza Hut has an edge.

Now for the reality. Pizza Hut can not tell how much of the $1 million was added sales vs sales they would get anyway via traditional phone call or the internet. Obviously Mobile and Online reduce over head because a person does not have to answer the phone. But the fact is I will guarantee more than half the sales were sales they would of gained anyway. So the impact as of now is minimal for ROI, but huge in terms of being a trend setter and conditioning customers to order via their phone. This benefits not only Pizza Hut but the entire Mobile Ecosystem.

It is very important that firms and agencies relay proper measurements. Often in the news 'success' is touted without any data to back it up. They conveniently omit the number of people, or the true bottom line impact of their activities. While this is great PR investors should be wary of buying stock in companies that do great PR without the substance to back it up. In this case the jury is out, but we will give Pizza Hut some kudos on their efforts and progress!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Marketers Salivating At Smartphone Potential..but is the Public?

USA Today Article

My views on this have been pretty blunt. People do not want ads pushed to their phone. Obviously AdMob feels you do. But this person said it perfectly in the comments section of the article:

Oversanitized (1 friends, send message) wrote: 54m ago
Sounds like advertisers can now literally be in your pocket wherever you go. Society acts like that's a good thing. I hate pop-ups on my computer, commercials on TV & radio. Why would I want them in the palm of my hand? I take pride in NOT being a commercial zombie.

Not all marketers and brands feel being pushy is a good for business. But for Ad Server Networks it is their lifeblood. And they will do everything they can to convince clients this is a good thing. Opt-In advertising is the way to go. If people have their small phone screens cluttered with served Ads they will leave mobile web.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is Traditional Digital Advertising Over Rated and Over Hyped?

Center for Media Research Article on Media Post

Billions have been invested on Internet Ad Serving Networks and Companies. This was supposed to be Advertising Nirvana. That Behavioral and Demographic Targeting would reduce Wastage and enable Ad Networks to serve relevant Ads to people. But has this been achieved? Obviously based on the research the answer is no. Search actually was the answer not ad servers.

Why is this? Agencies and Marketers spend millions on research. People do enjoy advertising to learn about new products and services and promotions. They do state they wish more of it was relevant. So what is the problem? Very simple traditional branding doesn't excite anyone. Seeing a banner ad online or a billboard somewhere that just says Drink Coke means nothing even to a thirsty person. People don't like it when advertising permeates everything they do. They see Ads everywhere all the time as it is. So why should they click through a banner Ad unless it states clearly some benefit. Specifically something free, a coupon, sale, or deal, or a new product being launched that interests them. Most Digital Advertising does not offer any of these things. Digital Agency's have sold Brands that they need to put their name out there online because the Ad Serving Networks and Digital Agencies have a vested interest in this even if the ROI and Click Through Rate is completely pitiful. Yet Digital as a gateway to a website when successful is more powerful than a 30 second commercial spot because of unlimited time and creative options!

On top of all this open software communities like Mozilla not only created an incredible Web browser with Firefox, the Ad Networks had the double whammy of the creation of Ad Blocker Plus which prevents the ads from showing up on the browser. And malicious software/viruses led to the creation of No Scripts software. I specifically must turn on scripts for every single new website and I have never activated any of the Ad Networks.

So with me as an example there is an ROI of pretty much Zero. When I want/need something I search or go directly to the company I am seeking. When I want info on a Brand I type in the Brand not the category. And Ad Blocker Plus actually blocks Google Ad Words results!

Now I know you cry foul. That I am blocking Ads that support the free content that I consume and that statement is correct. But Brands don't force anyone to watch commercials on TV or Cable or look at Billboards or Print Ads. So why should I?

Now the worst kicker of all. I do feel guilty so for certain websites that I feel need support like Newspapers (NY Times, LA Times, Huffington Post, and the Economist and a few others) I have disabled AD Blocker Plus! And not only that I specifically click on Ads so that these businesses can make money equivalent to what the subscription rate is or more! And of course my clicks cost the Brands who's Ad it is money. Yet they make zero money from me. On the Economist I click on Ads from Siemens, Lloyds, Oracle, IBM, Shell, BP all the time yet give them no business because I am not interested in their message, and only interested in supporting the Economist.

So is Traditional Digital Over rated and Over Hyped? I truly feel paid content/technology is really the way to go for many digital brands and some are starting to get a clue such as the Wall Street Journal. The Financial Times has been charging for a long time is is very profitable. People will pay for quality content. Ad Networks and Brands be damned. I pay 6.95 a month for a radio show from Premier Networks that I listen to online time shifted commercial free (yet I would still pay even with the commercials because the content is that good!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Response from General Mills/Yoplait is BS

Talk about a canned response that proves 1] They didn't read my actual letter, nor care to discuss why their decision was best. 2] They really do not care about fighting breast cancer.

I challenge Yoplait to prove that 15 million lids are returned from this promotion! That is right it would take 15 million lids to reach the 1.5 million in donations. Yet it would take only 300,000 people each donating 5 dollars online to have the foundation receive 3 million in funds if Yoplait matched!

Dear Valued Consumer:

Thank you for taking the time to write to Yoplait USA regarding your concerns about our recent Save Lids to Save Lives® program.

We have made a commitment to support the Susan G. Komen For the Cure and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, but we feel we are also charged with heightening awareness and participation through national marketing and merchandising efforts, such as Save Lids to Save Lives®.

While we considered a number of formats for our program designed to support breast cancer treatment, education and research, we ultimately selected the Save Lids to Save Lives® program for the unique partnership opportunity it offered and for the potential it had to raise awareness. Because we believe that breast cancer has powerful implications for all of us, we wanted to craft a program that would allow our consumers to take an active role in combating this terrible disease by collecting and submitting the pink lids.

More information about the Susan G. Komen For the Cure is available by calling 1-800-IM AWARE (800.462.9273) or by accessing the Susan G. Komen For the Cure website at

Again, we appreciate your comments about the Save Lids to Save Lives® program. We hope you will feel free to contact us in the future with any comments or concerns you may have regarding Yoplait.


Rhonda Short
Consumer Services

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Does Yoplait truly want to help fight breast cancer? I have my doubts.

Yoplait Yogurt has this program that for every lid sent back from a container of yogurt they will donate 10 cents to breast cancer research up to $1.5 million. Sounds great but why do they not just donate 10 cent for every container sold? Why use the cost of mailing and the added green house gases from sending the lids and the poisons from the papermill that made the envelope to send them in? Is there some sort of ulterior motive such as reusing the lids to save them money a possibility? 10 cents off a container is quite a gross margin hit.

I would bet most people don't bother. So is the purpose then to gain positive PR while hoping to not have to donate the maximum of $1.5 million they state they will donate? They can then use the 'lazy consumer' as the reason that number wasn't met? I personally think a better bargain could struck with consumers that actually makes sense. If Yoplait really wanted great PR, to truly fight breast cancer, and to reduce environmental impact, wouldn't a special code that when entered online to the charity directly with Yoplait matching all donations up to $1.5 million be much better and more lucrative for the charity?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Twitter and Facebook just hit with body blow

Article from Ad Week

I have written plenty about Facebook and Twitter being over hyped. Not the technology, just the business model of using social media behavioral targeting for advertising. I think they are stellar technology companies and should be charging for the service just like a Skype or Google Voice or an I Phone App.

Report from Social Science Research Network

This report adds power to TV/Cable who at least can prove their demographics that watch each show. People are ok being semi-targeted but if you start using social media conversations to serve ads your running into privacy concerns. Think Bush's NSA eavesdropping on peoples phone calls. Remember we got rid of a king in 1776. We don't want one back. Remember McCarthyism and how we rebelled against that. Advertisers for some reason feel they have the right to invade people's lives no matter where they are and this view is wrong. When it is done in classy, unintrusive, or at least transparent ways people do find value in discovering new products, being given discounts or free schwag, and staying current with pop culture.

But advertising done wrong is offensive. So the idea from Twitter about people who Tweet having their location exposed to businesses seeking to reach them scares consumers. It is why Beacon from Facebook was such a disaster. It is also why SEO is so successful. That is classy BT! Your looking for something online and Google or Bing serves up possible vendors but not by being in your face. It is why Social Media is great for listening at what is being said and participating in conversations because that is seen as Altruistic vs throwing branding in their face. Think that every time someone Tweets the word Coke that every beverage maker in the US wants to send an Ad to that person saying try my drink that is not Coke. Or here is a coupon. Can you imagine the volume you would get? And if Twitter limits the Ad Serve to the highest bidder that doesn't serve the consumer because it isn't presenting all the choices.

Point of Sale will always reign King, Queen, Jack and Ace when it comes to decision making and presenting options and enticements. Not mobile or online BT.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Exactly my point on Privacy Issues regarding Social Media

  • ff

  • How do you feel about the loss of privacy that comes from sharing information commercially?
    I am selective about what information I give out and to whom. 56.28%
    On principle, I don't give out personal information for commercial use. 40.62%
    My life is an open book. I'm not at all reluctant to share information. 3.10%
  • Wary consumers: Of the 1,462 readers who voted, 97% are still guarded about the information they'll share commercially. If private information is as readily available as we're told, perhaps their strategy is to stay off the radar and avoid becoming a target. But with so much of the focus on issues like identity theft, we've already rewritten our definitions of privacy. --Eva Schmatz, president, Summus Limited

The above study by Summus Limited proves my point. Consumers do not realize that when they enter an SMS Campaign (especially a loyalty program for recurring contact) that they are giving away their phone numbers. And when Brands and Agencies promote behavioral targeting of people by listening to conversations on Social Networks and then serving them 'relevant' push advertising, this is going to upset a lot of people. The last thing I want is people revolted by Social Networks or Mobile Marketing because of privacy concerns.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bud Lite the Good the Dumb and the Stupid

Just needed to comment briefly on the new Bud Lite commercials. First the Good.The Grooler is ingenious. As a combo of a double cooler and grill all sporting Bud Lite logos (and sold out BTW) I have to give high praise to the creators of this product. The number of impressions these will give at tailgates everywhere is awesome. Won't make me ever buy Bud Lite (I drink only good beer) but if I had one, I would use it...even if filled with Stella, Sam Adams, Pacifico, Becks etc it will still generate impressions!

Now the Dumb. The Foozie which is a combo foam We Are Number 1 Finger and Coozie. Idea sounds good. But ergonomically it is a tragedy. It is the dumbest combo you could create. Just think your team scores a TD and you immediate throw up the Foozie...and immediately douse your neighbor with beer or soda. I will guarantee these wind up in someones closet after one use and never used again. There is only utility inside a sports stadium, park, or arena (or at a local game). No one will ever bring it the beach or use it in their back yard or even when in front of their TV. So the verdict is few impressions and a high probability of starting a fist fight (of course the Foozie owner will lose because one hand is stuck in the Foozie while the neighbor has two fists ready to go.

Now the Stupid. Why do all Alcoholic Beverage Sites force you to enter a birthdate? This does NOTHING to prevent underager's unless they are really dumb from entering the site. Nothing stops a 12 year old from entering in a fake birthdate so why even have it required? I understand it saves brands from lawsuits but the law is dumb and does nothing. Same with porn sites. Nothing except parental control software stops someone too young from entering a site and for a parent or adult or organization to sue someone over this, while full knowing this is a personal responsibility issue is a travesty.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Social Media Listening

Social Media ‘listening’ should be a part of every company’s strategy to get feedback and learn how to improve their products and services. And to offer a quick and easy web presence folks can address you at. And this is all FREE! It also provides easy ways to conduct conversations with your customers in a non-sterile comfortable manner. people are much more likely to let their honesty hang out than if they were in person at a focus group. People inherently don't like offending other people even if it means telling the truth, when the other person is right there in front of them.

BUT Social Media is not a viable advertising platform because people find the networks private, kind of like walking into someone’s home so they don’t want to be intruded on. How you feel walking down the street chatting with your friend and every time you mention a word that relates to a product an Ad gets pumped in your face? That is what Facebook dreams of.

So as much behavioral information a Facebook or Twitter has at their finger tips, people do not wants Ad’s cluttering their conversations, and the high level of clutter makes it really hard for a Brand or Business to even get their information read. Much better channels for advertising than social media as it exists today.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mobile Marketing Anonymity

I might not be a proponent of Mobile Web advertising such as banner ads (annoying push advertising that takes up precious screen space). But there is a HUGE advantage mobile web has over SMS Campaigns. Anonymity. Consumer's have not caught on yet, but they will when a brand breaks the covenant with consumers, but when you send a call action US Shortcode (Text Number) you are sending your phone number with it. There is no rules against a Brand or Agency using your number in the future to contact you. Technically by giving your number in an SMS campaign it is very possible the Do Not Call Registry does not apply since you gave the number blindly by signing up for future promotions.

Mobile Web si different. You are accessing the WWW via a IP point. So your direct phone number is not being transferred every time you access a mobile web site. And when Mobile Web Ad Blocking Software get's developed you will be able to download an APP to block banner Ads.

I truly feel that SMS is superior for Mobile Marketing for two specific areas: Immediate gratification with a coupon or free offer. Or using SMS as a launch pad to your Mobile Website Content. These are very measurable, tasteful, and unintrusive. These are call to actions that are permissive and thus truly powerful for Consumer Engagement.

There also should be plainly written expectations on a website to explain policies to consumers that if they send the SMS Shortcode a brand is not taking advantage and adding their phone number to a database unawares. If you ask people if they would give out their phone number to a brand most would say "Why, What for, or No!". If you ask them if they are aware they are giving out their phone number when sending an SMS Code the answer would most likely be they didn't realize this.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Twitter Test should Brands truly be using Twitter to advertise

Anyone who reads my posts here or in the Advertising Trade Journals knows I am not an advocate of Twitter as an Advertising Medium. Ad Age gives 5 new people in the Industry to follow each week. So I decided to prove my thesis about the clutter and use of this medium. I am currently following 15 tweeters, some are industry people and some are news sources like Rolling Stone, Vogue, Silicon Insider etc and one is a friend of mine.

Just from these 15 tweeters I have been seeing over 100 tweets per day. I am going to add a few a day that are brands and see how this volume magnifies. Because while I browse through the list of tweets most I don't have time to read because I have my own personal email, Facebook, and my work email to deal with! Never mind private SMS texts I get from friends.

I will update this are progress is made.

But my three basic premises here are:

1] there is a critical size of tweeters that once your following that many there is no way you can see each tweet, which means brands must increase the number of tweets hoping to get through compounding this problem.

2] The re-tweeting measurement is interesting. It is possible that many people all connected and following each other could wind up re-tweeting the same exact tweet/webpage/article within the group driving up this measurement yet not actually expanding who is seeing the message! So there is major flaws in this measurement number 1, and number 2 there is no proof a tweet is seen so tweet broadcasts are measurable but tweet views/reads are not (not sure if twitter can measure a click through to an article I am investigating). So the volume of tweets is not a true measurement of volume of people seeing something or of news getting around. But trust me whomever has the position of 'Social Media Administrator' is not going to be honest about this to their boss because they need to justify their paycheck!

Also I am curious when the Tweetbots will be developed. Studies have shown that 17% of all Click Throughs for Web Advertising are not people but Webbots created to rack up money for whomever gets paid for the clicks. And since another study has shown that 85% of click throughs are done by less than 20% of clickers (meaning less than 1 of 5 people are heavy clickers and the other 80% barely click at all) compound with the Webbots we have a Web Advertising measurement problem.....but I will address this in another post.

3] So I am not a complete twitter basher the idea of a portable broadcast like the front page of Facebook (which is EXACTLY the same btw except without the 140 character minimum) is handy to me if I followed ONLY my friends/family. Though I can see problems tweeting 'I am at a bar come meet me' and forget people you wish not to know this are following you (and you have no control who follows you!)

I am a proponent of having Twitter and Social Networks monitored as a way to increase customer service, hearing what your customers are saying, and then responding to them. The real struggle is even if you have direct emails response is still a challenge to get through all the email clutter. I feel the best way for Brands to connect is in ways that a consumer is actually waiting and looking for a response. If you can work out how to do this successfully, a brand had better not keep the people waiting!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wearing two hats: Sage Advice for Agencies

This Ad Age post sums up what a Marketing Sensei is:

Wearing Two Hats: What I learned as Marketing Director

Mobile Strategy vs Mobile Marketing Strategy

Domino's Mobile Success from

Too many people/news stories confuse the two concepts. This is a great article which I commented about on the bottom. It has two components for Domino's. The first is a wonderful success story for Mobile Strategy, the second is their Mobile Marketing Strategy which I personally find the incorrect way to handle mobile marketing.

Mobile Strategy should be using mobile technology to enhance your business, whether that be providing information to helping create a sale from anywhere. Once a consumer knows for instance that they can order a Domino's or Pizza Hut pizza with a few clicks on their Smart Phone this can help migrate people from calling up for a pizza. This reduces costs, and increases profits, and hopefully the ease of use helps create loyalty. Though taste and price points also are an issue. For most New Yorker's even an ease of ordering and low price are not enough to order from a chain Pizza Company since the taste is so sub par vs a real NY Pizza. The way Domino's created their mobile web site and ordering system in my view is a major Mobile Strategy Success Story.

Now let's take mobile marketing. How does Domino's use mobile to market their products to initiate a sale? Now that is a big challenge. Domino's feels bugging people at 4:30pm after the consumer 'opt's in' to be communicated with, or a banner ad on the 10 most viewed mobile sites is the way to go. Pizza Hut feels an 'opt in' program to win a free pizza each month is another way to go.

The challenge here is the small viewing space allows limited information to be presented for banner ads. And if you cannibalize even 10% of that viewing space you risk pissing off consumers even if they like your brand. And this is push advertising that the consumer did not ask for. It is my view that someone's mobile device is like their bedroom. Push is bad in the bedroom!
Of course once someone tries out the Domino's or Pizza Hut site and bookmarks it there is not need to informational contact with the consumer stating you can order via mobile web.

As for the loyalty programs where someone sends an SMS Text to be signed up for future communication, just like tweets this will cause clutter in people's inboxes once they sign up for many of these programs just like what has happened with email. You get drowned out in the volume of businesses trying to reach someone. And after the initial sign up this is Push Advertising not Opt In. And another key point which people do not realize, when they send the SMS Text they send their phone number. This can be dangerous if the number get's sold to other parties. So until there is a way to send your Opt In without showing your phone number this is an issue. Ask anyone if they want to give their number to Domino's or Pepsi my guess is most would say no.

So how do you get people to try your product or service by using mobile marketing properly in a classy non-intrusive manner? It is called bribery. And it is going to cost you something. But that should be ok since if you get a consumer to send an SMS Text or go directly to your mobile web site this is 100% measurable. This isn't guess work like TV, Print, Billboards etc. This is the real deal. They actually took initiative to engage with you. Willingly. Permissively. There is very few advertising/media methods that can claim this. So offer a coupon, something free, or something ridiculously cool (like a mobile web content treat). It will earn you much more loyalty and improve your relationship with the consumer than any other form of marketing. And use your existing media plan to achieve this. No need to use Mobile to reach out. You are already advertising Out of Home, TV/Cable, Print etc. Ask the consumer to use their phone to get the reward. This will allow a much more real anytime, anywhere engagement than anything else in your arsenal.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Views on Social Media

There was an interesting blog posting on Media post about measuring social media.

Five Ways To Measure Social Media

The intro was great because it rehashes some of advertisers challenges. I put some comments on the post regarding my view of utilizing social media. I truly feel getting people to send your message via word of mouth is important if you can achieve that. Actually advertising via this media channel I feel is going to be more than fruitless for most campaigns.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Google and Twitter the evil side of Mobile Marketing

It is my position that my phone is a sacred place. I will deal with mobile web advertising that is similar to traditional web. Though eventually their will be Ad Blocking technology. Mobile Advertising should be classy and valuable and Opt-In always. But Google via Android and Twitter are developing location based and behavioral targeting ad serving to invade your phone. Eric Schmidt mentioned in a Business Week interview:

What are the biggest challenges the mobile Web presents?
Let's start with the fact that the phones are not fast, the networks are not as capable, the ad formats are not standardized. But on the other hand it's very, very important to solve those problems because a phone is very personal. And so if we know a fair amount about a person, with their permission we can target a useful ad—you know, "It's Eric. You had a hamburger yesterday, do you want pizza today? There's a pizza store on the right." That kind of ad is likely worth a lot of money to an advertiser because it will generate a sale.

In other words, you send a message to the person's cell phone, saying: "Look, we know you had a burger yesterday. If you want pizza today, just go around the block"?
Right. It may sound creepy, but it might also be quite valuable. People could use advice as to what to eat and where the food is—and of course you can turn it off. So the important thing here is advertising that has value to the person is advertising that is a valuable business. That's the business we're in.

The Marketing Sensei wants to know how Google plans this as an Opt-In service vs Push Technology. And how do they know I had a hamburger? BTW this little exchange proves Mr. Schmidt doesn't really know Mobile.

Now Twitter is planning to make public your Tweet location.

From Marketing Vox:

Twitter is preparing to add an additional detail to each and every tweet published by its users: location, according to co-founder Biz Stone on the Twitter Blog.

"A new API will allow developers to add latitude and longitude to any tweet," wrote Stone, adding that with "accurate, tweet-level data" you can immediately toggle to the tweets from users in your neighborhood or city — even if you do not follow them. It would also be of use to Twitterers at events "like a concert or even something more dramatic like an earthquake."

"A small business on Twitter could potentially use the location feature to reach out to local customers, or a Twitter user hungry for pizza could search for nearby pizza joints offering specials," The New York Times speculated.

The question the Marketing Sensei has is if I turn on this feature does that open the flood gates that enables all local businesses to see me and spam me? Do I really want to be located?

Let's break down the last point from the New York Times:

A small business owner will be able to broadcast tweet to all people with this service turned on that are within a certain radius! Basically every store/restaurant can do this flooding your phone!

Now the second part. Why would I use twitter to find Pizza? if I have mobile web I can instantly go to City Search or the Yellow Pages just as easy!

So where is the unique value?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Only following 19 on Twitter and clutter just ruined the experience

I am new to Twitter. I signed up 3 months back and only recently have I started using it in even a minimal way. I had quite a few people following me who I was not following so I returned the favor. One was a music label and I log in and whole front page is 100% an update every 5 minutes what music this person is playing. ARGHHHHHHHH!

Now imagine if that was from a Brand? OMG I would become the biggest terrorist against that Brand instantly. Even though initially I signed up to follow willingly and permissively.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Social Networking and the big lie

I started with Friendster and Then Myspace was the rage. Now Facebook. And even more current Twitter is the newest in new. With all these services the same thing occurs over time. Clutter Creep. Initially it was great reconnecting with friends on Facebook. Or connecting on Myspace (I am into music). But over time when you finally have enough 'friends' you can not keep up with everyone. My old High School friends? Rarely ever see even a post from them on my front page since the initial 'Hey how have you been exchange'. And while Brands, Musicians, etc think this is a great medium to broadcast updates and news, most gets buried in the clutter. Normally I log in check my email....and just like with standard email I delete 90% of the broadcast updates without opening them. And to reach me me through updating what you are up too....if your not on my front page when I log in...I will never see it. I never check my wall so I never see anyone who is posting to my own updates.

Clutter Clutter Clutter!

And thus is the reason why Advertising is a failure on Social Networks.

In my opinion the true value of a Social Network for a brand is to reach the people outside of the network not inside...but to use the information from inside to help narrow who you send your advertising too.

Think of this scenario. Coke wants to launch a loyalty campaign. So they send a message to all their fans on Facebook. Well as I just mentioned since all the broadcasts to my email are ones I opt in for and each possibly important or of value. The fact is if I have 200 of them to go over 90% get deleted without opening. What about just posting on their fan page? Well I am fans of a lot of things but I also never go to any of those fan pages, or have so many I don't have the time. This is not a dilemma. This just means Social Networks are not a great medium to use (though they are CHEAP!).

As for damage control from attack campaigns. Well is this different than email? Not really. In reality the big worry should be search. Coke does not want someone to Bing 'Coke' and have all these anti-coke blogs pop up first. I personally do not think Social Networks are all that more powerful than TV or Blogs or even a bad write up in Consumer Reports.

The other big deficiency in Facebook is the lack of a true profile page. Their set up is very weak. It is not an information service it is a communication service.

And Brands need to understand they are already inundating us with Advertising everywhere. On TV, Radio, out of your home driving around, in stores, in print etc. So why they feel they have to intrude on every single personal space we have to be successful is because Agency's are snowing them into thinking this is the way. But really it only enriches the Agency's.

Google isn't a tech is a Media-Advertising Agency

There has been many articles in the Business News about Google and Apple competing in more and more ways. Well the answer is yes and no. Apple creates products for people. Gadgets and computers and phones. From these gadgets they make money selling software and digital products such as apps, music, etc.

Google is a Media/Advertising Business. They create applications that enable them to make money from Brands seeking to advertise. They have their own Digital Ad Server Business and their search engine is specifically for Advertising revenue.

So in reality Google is closer to a WPP, Omnicon, New York Times or Yahoo than they are to an Apple or Sony.

Recently Eric Schmidt has mentioned the reason for Android is so that Google will eventually be able to serve ads to your phone using behavioral targeting. Google also created the Chrome browser. Why? Because Firefox has Ad Blocking Software so it impacts Google's revenues (not for search BTW). And while Chrome might be promoted to 'improve' your browsing experience, it ensures all Ads Served reach your browser.

Now they are working on Chrome O/S which I am sure will be tightly tied to help behavioral target and serve even more Ads to your desktop or Laptop.

Apple makes their money selling products. Google makes their money selling Advertising. So technically in my view they do not compete.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mobile can bite you in the arse!

As I am pouring through way too many back logged Industry Trade Emails with so many ideas swimming in my head I realized how helpful or damaging the mobile web can be on people's smart phones to their retail business. The technology isn't there yet....but it will be.

Imagine going to Sears and looking for a new Dishwasher. Your budget is $600. Your decide while in the store to do on the spot research comparing 3 brands and 4 models. Specifically to see if Consumer Reports have given a thumbs up as well as any social network recommendations.

You decide that Brand X's Model 1234 is perfect.

Wow....Sears didn't even need sales person to help you with your decision.

Now the three horror film scenarios for retailers.

1] Because your doing research on Dishwashers the behavioral targeting software for the ad server alerts all the stores that use the ad server that your potentially ready to buy. And your phone starts seeing offers from competing retailers.....where you click through to compare prices real time. And you find the same model down the street for $500 and Sears who has you in their store will have to lower their price or lose the sale.

2] You immediately go to Google/Bing and punch in Brand X and the model and a list of all prices come up for this Dishwasher that also includes total price including shipping and you find a retailer out of the area but for the total cost for $550 and you show the salesperson at Sears and demand the lower price.

3] You immediately go to the 'IAuction' I Phone App software. You enter in the brand and model and a real time auction takes place between all the retailers carrying the Dishwasher with the lowest price winning the sale.

Even worse.....Imagine going to Nordstrom's and trying on clothes. And immediately putting out to bid the exact same ones, you place the order with Macy's and say thank you to Nordstrom for letting you try on their clothes, but sorry they lost the bid.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Perfect Ad Perfect Content Perfect Placement

So recently I was walking around NYC observing advertising content and placement. The true problem with out of home advertising is it is impossible for one person or even a small group to physically choose where their signs and billboards they rent are in relation to reality. Though Google Street View can help. But just imagine trying to make an out of home buy in NYC. How many signs and locations there are, and coordinating the actual installation of the ads!

So even a massive media buyer has to rely on small fry to get all this work done at a reasonable cost and timing.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I am a cynic. I truly feel that certain locations are very effective to get your message out. But this one was the winner.

Dr. Scholl's ad for the gel inserts. Placed outside a bus stop on 3rd Ave that is seen by anyone who just walked up the gradual hill heading south. Anyone who has spent time walking NYC know that your joints and feet ache after pounding the concrete...and that pain starts sooner and hurts more as you get older. So as I am returning from a long walk to a book store and having jogged central park in the AM....just as I am burnt and feeling the pain....there is the Dr. Scholl's Ad!

Nearby there was an Ad for America's Next Model which is great for their narrow demographic (wasted money to have me included in the CPM), the Dr. Scholls really reaches it full demographic which is anyone who has walked up the hill and feels their feet could use some loving!

That being said....I will guess the actual choosing of that window was probably random from a map of all available properties in the city at the time of the buy.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Behavioral Economics stresses that Human's often act irrationally. This is the bane of Advertising and Marketing. It causes people to buy things on impulse that they shouldn't buy and thus have buyers regret. And it also prevents people from buying things they should buy out of fear of change.

And the worst of all scenarios someone who resists trying something (major acquisition cost!), and then finally gives in and has buyers remorse.

As much as I read behavioral studies on how people act in general, you still can't guarantee people will act as expected. It is what makes like unique and wonderful, but it also adds significant cost to consumer retailers and businesses.

Think of the Supermarket Discount Loyalty Cards. Your data shows that Mrs. Jones comes in once a week and buys a Dark Chocolate Bar. Murphy's Law and Behavioral Economics will show that stocking the bar specifically for Mrs. Jone will most likely be the right choice. But 5 weeks of the year she buys White Chocolate with Almonds!

Think of all the gun and ammo manufacturers who ramped up production because of the buying spree of guns prior to Obama coming to office (irrationality to the extreme). Now they have over stock because the same paranoid people realized they were foolish and sales dropped! So irrational behavior did a double hit on the gun makers. They failed to meet unexpected demand. Then the demand died just when they ramped up!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do not patronize your target audience!

Most marketers stick to simple ways of product promotion. When it comes to young adults often marketers try to show their product is hip, just like their audience. But sometimes this effort will actually offend your target by showing not only are you not in touch with what they are about, but they know it is some 'old person' just trying to make some money off them.

I wish to highlight two brands who do this right. And one that failed miserably.

The best example of doing it right is Mountain Dew. They know who buys their product. And because of this they sponsor Extreme Sports events. They are synonymous with the edgy fun young adult. This gives the Dew hipster credibility.

A more recent campaign is the 79 89 99 commercials from taco bell. They show funky young adults with a hip hop/street attitude. It is a fun commercial with music and focused on 'we know you want more food for less money'.

Now the flat out failure. This campaign even offends me and I am 41!

Motorola! The last thing this company needs is to alienate the youth from it's new cell phones. The intent is great the message is abominable. They have a print campaign in Rolling Stone to show off the A455 phone which is a cool looking device and specifically geared to text messaging. The problem is they don't know their audience. Yes the 3 models look kind of cool 18ish year olds. But the narrative is ridiculous. One is texting while at the concert gate. One is jumping a fence...uhm what fence? And you can not text while you are jumping a fence! And the last one which is most offensive is the girl 'on the glow stick line'. Obviously the creators have never been to a rave or techno party. First off there are no gates at most events that have glow sticks. Secondly Bush passed the Rave law preventing glow stick sales at public events. And if anything they will bring their own glow sticks!!!!!

Maybe Moto should stick with being what they do best. A provider of solid electronic communication gear for adults and industry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When Opt-In Content Becomes Spam...Email, Facebook, Twitter...

Today everyone is bombarded with media spam and clutter in our every day life. Walk or drive and you see billboards and company's advertising on their buildings/storefronts. Advertising is now in gas stations and the supermarkets. Even the men's room of bars have advertising!

Many brands, organizations and businesses use email and social networking with Opt-In programs thinking that these are superior to the traditional methods of Push Advertising. But in reality this is true only in the beginning. Eventually all those Opt-In methods become spam to consumers.

When the volume of Opt-In subscriptions reaches a point where they become clutter then your program loses it's effectiveness.

For example the front page of Facebook and Twitter shows a stream of events in time. Your friends/contacts/followers post information about current happenings that can be viewed by a consumer. But people don't crawl through the whole volume of postings once those postings become hard to follow due to volume. If you have 200 every time you log in then those posts drown each other out.

Same for email. I have a personal account that I have signed up for emails from Brands/Stores, News Providers, Sports Teams, Non-Profits Orgs, Political Groups, and Social/Lifestyle Events as well as friends contacting me. Today of my first 100 I combed through I deleted 93 of them without reading or opening them. Every single one of those 93 were Opt-In by me.

Yet when the CEO asks the CMO to review their marketing channels/programs the CMO will claim me in their tallies for the various Opt-In channels I subscribed too (from Cable TV to email) and the CMO will claim they reached me...yet that would be a lie.

The point of this post isn't to specifically offer a solution as much to be aware that Brands must get creative if they want to ensure they stand out. This goes beyond crafting a message or an image. It goes to the heart of Advertising and why CMO's have such high turnover. Specifically how you prove your value and your budgets value to the CEO! And to be fair sometimes the CMO or Agency is successful in their general mission yet are considered failures by the CEO. Other times the product or service is so good that no matter what the CMO or Agency does, they are a successful and take credit.

It is best to figure out a media plan that will increase the quality vs the quanitity of impressions/contact with the consumer. People will get your message out for you if you do a good job. Media plans should incorporate as much pay for performance as possible that is measurable/trackable.

Everyone looks after their own best interest. Your Agencies and Marketing Departments for years have relied on fuzzy math and logic to ensure you keep spending your ad dollars no matter what happens. Often with little proof of accomplishment. Some branding efforts will never be able to be truly measured.

Some image building programs will be done less with regard to increasing sales as much as supporting the demands of the brand. Think of a Rolex Bill Board or Panel Ad in an Airport. They know most of the people viewing the ads can never afford their watches but they need to present themselves to the common person so that the elite will feel special when they buy a Rolex. So these programs should not end, but brands should break out of their media budget the actual dollars they wish to allocate to actually bringing in sales and figure out how to maximize the return on those invested dollars vs. using the dart board/shot gun/me too-follow what everyone is doing approach.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How legacy infrastructure can negate marketing and features

This one is just a short whimsical observation. The advent of flat screen TV's ended the need for the same type of entertainment centers for the home. Yet millions of homes have these as either stand alone's or wall built. My folks have been talking about replacing their TV in the living room with a flat screen HDTV. My father measured the space. Only one Brand, Sharp, can offer a 42" screen size to fit that space. So instead of Brand Name, Quality, Features, or seems luck is how Sharp will win this sale.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Individual Irrationality

I was recently exposed to Personality Typology. I instantly found a parallel with Advertising in trying to determine how people generally behave. And if a marketer can predict certain behaviors to a large enough degree it should be able to tailor products and marketing styles to be successful.

But I am always reminded that individuals do not always behave as predicted. There is a large enough percentage of sales from irrationality and pure luck to prove this. These are impulse sales for right place, right time, right price. You are on a business trip and the restaurant for dinner is two blocks from your hotel, the menu prices were within your per diem budget, and you don't have to wait to be seated.

Brands can capitalize of Individual Rationality by creating Ad Campaigns that promote it. Luxury Brands and Upscale Services can benefit when people splurge even when they shouldn't due to their lack of spending power. The object though is to figure out the right channel for the right price. Why waste your Ad Dollars on fringe sales. But a campaign message can be crafted for the Advertising done on more Mass Channels such as local publications. If your forced to make a Media Buy just to support your Presence in people's minds use the opportunity wisely. And yes every Media Buy is an Opportunity and should be viewed as such.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Danger of Brands Launching Celebrity Products

The safe way to market your products is through celebrity endorsements. This is when Brands sign up a celebrity representative who will use/wear the products and be involved in the Advertising and Media Campaigns. If a Celebrity does something negative you can always end the relationship. Usually just the announcement of severing ties is enough to mend the damage to the association with your brand. On occasion this will backfire. Kellogs recently severed ties with Michael Phelps over the photo of him using marijuana where quite a few people vocally called for boycotts of Kellogs products. But usually it is just the celebrity who becomes damaged.

But when a Brand actually develops a product with a Celebrity such as the Air Jordan sneaker a brand risks being left with a ton of inventory and a waste of resources developing the product that could of been used elsewhere.

Sometimes the celebrity can actually do nothing illegal yet a Brand can get left holding the bag. A great example is Nike just launched a Men's Sneaker co-developed with Kanye West who is a music entertainer in the Hip Hop Genre. The same week of the launch unwittingly to Nike, South Park a cartoon on Comedy Central had Kanye as the focus of an episode ridiculing him for not being heterosexual, for being vain and self focused, not very bright and that he has sex with fish.

It doesn't take everyone to watch the episode but word of mouth could damage the celebrity brand. Brand's beware!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Beware using Social Networks can harm more than help

Brands need to be careful regarding the use of social networks to promote products and services. Most people do not want advertising or corporate intrusion into their social lives. I still can not understand why Brands or Advertising Agencies are pursuing this so hotly. It is very illogical.
Obviously the lure of social networking makes sense. But it only works in my opinion if you can have people themselves sharing with friends. NOT you pushing advertising.

Let me start with some perspective. Advertisers want your attention and eyeballs. So they follow your eyes. Their goal is to have products and service advertisements follow you everywhere. If they could blast ads to the back of your eyelids to view while sleeping the would. With so many eyeballs on Social Sites it is logical to want product placement or ad placement on those web pages. That is no different than buying the space behind home plate at a baseball stadium knowing everyone watching on TV will see your Ad behind the batter when he is being pitched too.

The deficiency of the Stadium Ad is that really you can show a product or a business name and not much else. On a Social Network like Myspace if you place a banner Ad you hope for a click through to your website. But the person on that social site could care less. They are there to socialize. They already see your ads everywhere. So in effect just like the baseball game the value on that web page is the same as the Ballpark. You can show the company name and whatever benefit you get from that is about all you can ask for. In fact the click through rate for Social Networks has been shown to be half the rate of regular non-social site web pages.

Now lets discuss a little recent history. The problem is clutter in peoples lives. Every Brand/Company has a web site. Most offer email updates for special offers, new products, promotions etc. Since you already have your Brand with national advertising and product exposure and your website address everywhere people can and will sign up for the email updates. But eventually when you sign up for so many of them a persons inbox and spam box get filled.

I myself receive a ton and I only read a small percentage of them because of the volume and the fact a person only cares when the subject is a right fit. An example is you begin planning a vacation and now you will start opening emails for travel companies.

So if all these tools are there for people and they still aren't using them like a Brand would like, you can't force yourself on people. It turns them off. People will wear designer gear and friends will see and want the stuff themselves. But they do not want advertising forced into their personal space. Try standing forehead to forehead with a stranger or even a friend. See what happens!

This gets me to Twitter. Twitter has some great attributes. But it can be a very bad place for advertisers. If I already sign up for email offers from a Brand and do not take advantage of most, or even view most why would I want Brand updates on Twitter on my computer or phone? It doesn't make sense. Nothing is that urgent!

Now where Twitter does make sense is such times as a product recall. Like the peanut butter or pistachio recalls to get the word out for people's safety. Or if I buy a new car and the dealer says they will send me reminders for service. Though SMS Texting works just as good. But do I want my phone filled with updates from Keebler that a new cookie is on sale this week at Safeway? No freaking way.

There is nothing wrong with Brands chasing eyeballs. But there is a wall/line of personal space that people do not want crossed. So say yes to Brand Champions online and off line. But I feel that forcing your way into someones personal space is the wrong way to go.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Engagement does not equal sales!

Often the Advertising World discusses Consumer Engagement and how important it is. I think Brands need to take a step back from this assessment and think about what they are advertising, how they advertise, and who their target demographic is.

If you are launching a new product that is revolutionary and unique like when the I-Pod came out, you want consumers to interact and test the product. Whether that is online, in person, or if a friend has it. If your a beer company and your promoting Bud over Miller/Coors you want people who drink Miller/Coors to try Bud and hope they buy on taste not on price.

But the Marketing/Advertising people who come up with the Ad Campaigns like to use Engagement with the advertisement as a measurement of success for their campaigns. There is a ton of engaging advertising out there especially on TV that people love to watch but yet they will never buy the product for various reasons. I will not buy Bud/Miller/Coors because they are mass market bland beers with no taste. Yet I am engaged with all their ads and always watch them because they are hilarious. They even create positive views towards the makers of the product because I like that they entertain me.

So the marketers would claim success reaching me and engaging me and the sales folks will claim a failure because I bought zero product.

So the fact is if your product is mostly purchased based on price and not the actually product attributes stick with promoting your price points because no matter how much you engage people they will still buy your competitor if they are significantly lower in price.

The only way to trump at this is by spending money to go above and beyond to win loyalty. But they want something from you in return beyond your product. Like some schwag.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One Size Does Not Fill All

As I scan the Advertising Landscape it becomes very clear that different brands and products have unique needs and attributes when determining what the components of a media plan should consist of. Coming from a Sales and Finance back ground long term growth in sales, profits, and market share should be the focus of a Brand's marketing efforts.

One of the reasons that the CMO has the shortest average tenure of C level jobs is the inability to present clear and concrete results based on the marketing budget dollars available. Every other business discipline is measurable in ways that can not be challenged.

So when the CMO and the Marketing Creators/Planners brainstorm for new ideas as well as utilize the available tools to market a Brand or Product there needs to be clear cut goals and a method to measure the Return on Investment.

A perfect example of Marketing trying to sell Upper Management on value and achievement without hard measurements is Viral You Tube Videos:

Ad Week March 30th Article

In the referencing article the benchmark being used by Marketers is number of Video/Ad views on You Tube and other sites. Sales, Finance, Operations will all want proof this success equals more sales and profits. Yet while the generated buzz and views might be free to the Brand, the effort and results might be wasted with zero increase in sales or profits.

Marketing has several aspects that all together hope to equal a cohesive funnel of customers towards the final purchase. Yet at the point of purchase many factors contribute to the decision including immediate ones such as price, availability etc.

A man might still buy Trojan Condoms over Lifestyles because the price points are significant enough to sway at the point of purchase. Guitar Hero has a limited audience who might want to purchase the product but an exponential amount of non-potential purchasers might find the video hilarious and forward it on.

Yet the CMO could very well tout the volume of views as equaling a successful marketing effort.

When a Brand has clear goals vs just being given a budget and a shotgun to blast that money all over, it becomes possible for Media Plans to show clear cut ROI that is measurable and proof of success vs failure. CMO's who can accomplish this will have much longer tenure than their more inept counterparts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


This blog will focus on what is right and what is wrong in advertising and marketing. I will be commenting on developments in the world and the news as it relates to better principles and techniques to reach consumers and businesses. I will also include views on a wide array of products and services in relation to world at large. Stay tuned for more......