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.