Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Determining the Real Value of Media

This is the most controversial and inflammatory issue in media. Its the reason I rail against the Facebook or Twitter numbers. And TV numbers. And Digital. Its the reason I question and challenge all measurement data that is 'Estimated'. And most media measurement is an estimation and thus imperfect. And even hard facts are spun with that spin when it benefits a specific party.

I recently got into an email fight with Fortune Magazine because the Journalism side of Advertising and Media often are not critical thinkers. This time it was because I wanted them to not just regurgitate Facebook's claim of 500million users, and put in some caveats so someone reading can determine the real value of this claim.

Now I need to adjust those numbers. If I use 500 million vs 200 million the numbers become awful:

On Facebook users Like something less than 2x per month. They upload 3 photos per month. And post a comment or update their status once every 5 days! You call that a website you want to engage people on????

I have posted examples of this stuff in my blog, specifically recently for

The whole reason is to determine the real value of something. Brands will pay gladly if they know they can reach someone. Trust me they would rather the Nielsen TV ratings be real than Estimated. It benefits the media outlets when audience size is overstated because marketers pay per person. Brands want bigger reach, its not that they are hoping to save money if the accurate number is lower. But too often media outlets overstate.

In the Facebook case I would tell a client there is 80mil US Consumers logging into Facebook each day. For Twitter there is only 5 to 10 mil logging in each day. Those are facts. I would tell them that any account that isn't logged in today is worthless and don't pay for any 'reach' that is worthless. And where is the marketing being done. Anything being inserted into the Twitter or Facebook live stream will only be seen by 5-20% of the users who stream it enters. This is determined by number of accounts one is following and time spent. Last night I was watching a movie. In 2 hours I missed 850 Tweets on Twitter. Any of those tweets that were meant for marketing...I did not see them. But the Social Marketing person will tell their Boss they have 8000 followers and that is how many that saw it?

My point is everything has a value. It's always one party's benefit during negotiations to inflate or deflate the value of something. And Advertising is the one industry where everything is a Guesstimate. And Agencies and Media Channels both want to increase their billings and while the Brands/Clients want to pay for what is real and not pay for fake numbers. 2 against 1 is why up to 50% if Ad Spend is wasted.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Social Media Authenticity

Social Media is a bonanza for those with limited budgets hoping to promote and market themselves or their businesses. Its a great way to network, to discover and learn, and even to scope out the competition.

Too many big Brands use Social Media just because they think they should be there. And there is also a lot of deception with Social Media. Plenty of services to buy fans and followers by the 1000's. Where they get these fans/followers I have no idea. How the client can keep them I am not sure.

I think it is very important to be as honest and transparent as possible. You also need to have great content or bribes. I mean seriously now. Think of what you offer, your reason for being involved in Social Media, and why should someone engage with you. We are all busy. I know Kraft would love for me to spend 30 minutes a day engaging with them about their products. Why should I? I see their stuff once a week in the market. I see ads on TV. Why should I engage with them online or in Social Media. What is in it for me? A free box of Mac and Cheese? I might take that...maybe not.

I am in the Advertising/Media/Technology Industry. There are many people I view as sources of new information and discovery. Others provide great mind candy discussions on philosophy and theory. Some are just plain funny.

But if your not bringing me value why should I follow you on Twitter or fan you on Facebook and have my stream filled with things I don't care to see. I am ok with you existing in Social Media and you will find people who feel your value and good for them. The great thing is you get to choose who your follow, engage with, etc.

But its important to be authentic. If you play a role like some folks do using Brand Fiction* on Twitter, people should know you are that role. If your being paid to send sponsored tweets, those should be plainly stated. And you can't be afraid to have disagreements, or potentially be attacked if your going to play in the sandbox. Its not pleasant but if your going to be a person or a brand that polarizes you must expect this. We all know no one person or business or brand is perfect.

If your only in social media to advertise and not engage you can pay Twitter to sponsor tweets or pay Facebook to insert ads. But you shouldn't be creating accounts and interacting if you want everything one way...your way.

*Brand Fiction is courtesy of Helen Klein Ross aka. @adbroad who plays @bettydraper from Mad Men on Twitter. She can also be found at the Brand Fiction Factory

Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook's Crappy Business Model

Not sure who came up with Facebook's horrible 'Lets Exploit Our Users' Business model. Mark Zuckerberg? The VC's and investors?

Here is my question. Would you pay $3 month for a website that allowed you to interact with all your friends and family, sharing info, events, photos etc? If the network was locked down? If your privacy is #1? If no Brands could advertise to you? And if you knew the network was going to invest in making real conversations possible (vs short comment streams with no cohesion).

Forget Brands. Forget Advertising. Forget real time web where all your posts get shown on Google.

This business model would generate $7.2 billion in revenue immediately if you had 200 million subscribers. This would rank the network 314 on this years Fortune 500. It would generate probably 4x the profits if not more than Facebook currently is bringing in and piss off ZERO people, politicians, etc.

Would you pay $3 month? I would. And if you paid some money and invested in your own profile and network would you jump ship as fast as you are going to the moment a better network pops up? Or as Joseph Jaffe likes to say 'The next shiny bright new object'?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Time Time Time Time

We don't have enough time. I know you agree. I don't care how much people are multi-tasking. There is still only 24 hours in a day. And there is so many more things and options competing for our time today than ever before. So Opportunity Cost for Time Spent is a bigger factor today than it ever was.

In Economic/Finance Terms NetMBA has a nice description:

This is very important when it comes to Media, Entertainment, and Advertising. Every time you ask a person to engage with your brand, or your product, that means they have to give up time spent with something else. So this ropes in Value into the discussion. As the link above shows Value is a very important factor whether it is monetary or perceived.

The ways to Engage and Draw Attention include good and bad:
  • Offer greater content than the other choices out there (Perceived Value). Good.
  • Offer greater monetary incentive (Monetary Value). Good.
  • Offset something with greater incentive with ease of incentive. (Lazy Value) Mixed.
  • Force yourself on your target (Negative Value). Bad.
Too often Advertising and Media is a Negative Value. Even when you add creative entertainment value, unless they willingly choose to view something, part of the experience is a Negative Value and a Waste of someones time. This doesn't mean it's a 100% Negative, it just means some of the Positive Value is offset with the Negative Value.

Since we all are exposed to Media and Advertising constantly throughout our day, and often we have choices, make sure what you offer either has better content or monetary value, with your last course of action Lazy Value such as making your experience so much easier to consume than other choices. A great example is the choice of watching TV in Bed with the remote control, vs driving to an overlook to see the city lights at night.

Remember everything is an Opportunity Cost in life and when people choose to Engage or Consume they are giving up other choices. So if you want to be Chosen, step up your game and do things to increase your Value to your target.

Be Engaging, Be Fun, Be Informative, Save them Time, Save them Money, do something!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yes it is the Freaking R.O.I. Damn It!

This is Case Study number 1387 on why CFO's come down on the CMO's for R.O.I.

Mobile Commerce Daily Article on Taco Bell Mobile Coupon Campaign

I know all you 'Creatives' cringe. I know all you 'Branders' don't like this stuff. But us Finance/Sales folks need to measure stuff. And I am going to be the first to defend some things that help create value that are hard to measure. But when you come to me and report on the actions taken with Mumbo Jumbo like this article that would have me write off Marketing from the budget. Chihuahuas wearing Sandwich boards would be a better value.

In this case study Taco Bell signed up 13,000 people into a mobile coupon campaign. Taco Bell has 5,800 stores. It seems 600 participated. That's 21.6 people per Taco Bell signing up over 5 weeks. So 4+ per week?

This is a totally measurable campaign!!! And no one measured it? I will state maybe the data was not shared with the Journalist. Is that because the data sucked?

CFO: This campaign cost us $75,000? How much new business did we get?

CMO: We signed up 13,000 people.

CFO: We have 87 million unique customers in the US. How much new business did we get?

CMO: We sent out 29,000 coupons.

CFO: How many of the coupons were converted/turned in?

CMO: Well 93% stayed in the program.

CFO: Did they have a choice to stay in the program or know they could leave it?

CMO: Well 61% responded to our follow up survey?

CFO: Your fired.

Fact: This could of been a measurable success story if the CMO (Or Agency) could prove they made money or showed increased loyalty. But hey who measures profitability these days anyway?

Social Media Reality: Perspective and Value

Reality is being honest about Social Media potential in the future, with reality today. The US has 310 million people. Take away children under 14 and you have the real pool of consumers you can sell too. So minus 60 million gets you 250 million people who can buy your stuff.

Considering Twitter has 8m to 15m users in a day world wide. And Facebook claims 200m logging in world wide each day. What are your customer pools in the US for each platform? Not the numbers I just gave. Last number I saw was 60% of Facebook users are outside the US. Nice pools of potential consumers yes. Not close to the number for TV you can reach with a 30 sec spot on a mid-level TV program that gets 2-5 mil viewers. But still very nice.

The problem is when I see too many statements, workshops, articles, conferences promoting Social Media for Advertising and Connecting with Consumers....that make it sound like everyone is using Social Media. But the fact is over 50% of consumers are not using Social Media on a given day. And your reach is so small compared to TV or even a Billboard on the 405 Freeway in LA currently. And due to the massive live feeds on Twitter and Facebook your posts will only be viewed by 5-10% of your Fans and Followers depending on factors such as time of day and each person in your network's volume flowing through their screen.

t's not a silver bullet and you can't reach everyone with it right now. Just don't get sold on the over hype.

Social Media is really about value. Using the networks right now is free minus your labor costs and any special content. Your not spending 100k on a commercial and then all that ad spend to reach millions of people. You will spend long term thousands to Engage with tens to hundreds of thousand of people in various ways. This can range from them viewing your post or tweet (Impression), to doing some sort of action (Engagement) such as clicking through to a video, a blog post, or participate in a contest.

The difference between say running a contest off line and on line is tremendous. Off line I might send in a sweepstakes card, or play McDonald's Monopoly game. No one knows if I win or lose. And the value is minimized by the isolation of each contestant. But on Social Media I get seen playing the game, I get seen winning the game, and I can give back to the Brand immediately.

A great example is Tony Hawk does an Easter Scavenger Hunt in all 50 States. He hides a box with Tony Hawk gear such as Skateboards, Pads, Video Games etc somewhere in a major city in each state (I am unsure how many prizes total). He then Tweets clues and eventually someone finds the prize. Then they take a photo of themselves with the prize and they tweet it to Tony Hawk. And he just earned himself so many new Brand Ambassadors and Brand Champions that a 30 Sec Commercial or a Monopoly Game at McDonald's can not buy. Tony has over 2 million followers on Twitter and doesn't even have a Facebook presence aside from like 300 small Fan pages created by Fan's.

I recommend using both Facebook and Twitter due to the different attributes of each and funneling people back and forth. Twitter is perfect for games and broadcasting. Facebook it perfect for showing photos, having more cohesive discussions and feed back, and is a bit more viral in nature.

So while the reach of Social Media is over stated right now, the value is actually understated. When you interact and engage properly with your customers or potential customers, it is more similar to direct sales (active) than it is to advertising (usually passive). And you can target people based on what they like versus traditional paid media guess work. And when you run the numbers the closer you get to direct sales the more value each customer/contact is. A traditional advertising channel will cost from $0.01/impression to maybe $0.50/contact to sometimes over $10.00 for a Google Adwords click through. So ask how much an active engagement with 1 customer/potential customer is worth. Ask how much a Brand Champion or Ambassador is worth, especially one that works for free.

And think of all the feedback you get without paying for focus groups. You have a readily available pool or people who will give opinions for free because they care about your Brand or Product. They wouldn't be engaging with you if they didn't!

But remember this starts with a great product or service. You won't earn Brand Champions if your product isn't a good one. If you follow me on Twitter @skypulsemedia you will find I am an active Brand Champion for a few Brands I believe in. Skullcandy, Volcom, Billabong and Vans are great examples. They pay me zero. I buy their stuff. But they make great products and they are fun brands that have incredible content on their websites.