Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Brands, Agencies and Platforms are Dysfunctional

I have brought this up before that the goals and objectives of the various stakeholders in Advertising/Marketing do not work in Synergy. In fact it is a very dysfunctional ecosystem.

To highlight this recently Ad Age had an article about Facebook replacing Google as the disruptor of online advertising  and when you read the article it becomes clear. If your business makes money by this being true you agree with the power of Facebook for marketing. This means Facebook, App makers, and Social Media Agencies care only about spending as much of your money as they can get from clients and thus Facebook is a must spend. If you are on the Brand or Strategy side you care about selling the most product at the least amount of spend and want to look at all options and maybe Facebook is not the best place to spend money.

See what is wrong here? I can show Pepsi how to spend 10% less on Paid Advertising and still achieve the same amount of sales. Pepsi's lead Agency has no incentive to reduce their billings 10% and do the same thing.

When I talk to clients I advise them that even if they do not hire me, that they need an objective voice who is on their side. Every platform/media channel that offers paid advertising will tell you they are the best fit for your Brand. Every Agency will steer you to what they do for a living ie: TV, Print, Digital etc. They will all have a spin and none of them will give you a pay for performance offer. In fact they will all offer you more ways to sink money into the same hole.

There is nothing wrong with businesses and people being motivated by money and their own self interest. But hiring a consultant to work on strategy or help you decide if your money is being spent well is a great idea. 

How many Brands have been approached by someone in the Paid Advertising or Paid Service (such as farming out your Social Media) that said 'I was looking at your Brand, Product, and Goals and I really feel instead of using us or our product you are best off going to a competitor or other product, channel or platform'?

And when it comes to Facebook they have 850 million users. Who on average spend 20 mins a day on their network. Which means those users are spending on average 15 hours and 40 minutes a day not on that network. And we all know most people spend less than 20 mins. But say everyone did. That comes out to 2.1% of your waking day on Facebook. Where would you spend your money marketing? Disruptive for Advertising? Not yet.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Social Commerce is Just Commerce!

I hate when the tech and media industries create cutesy names for no reason. For some reason when Commerce is conducted in some way through or on a Social Network they name it Social Commerce.


an interchange of goods or commodities, especially on a large scale between different countries (foreign commerce) or between different parts of the same country (domestic commerce); trade; business.
social relations, especially the exchange of views, attitudes, etc.
sexual intercourse.
intellectual or spiritual interchange; communion.
(initial capital letter) Also called Commerce Department. Informal. the Department of Commerce.
Wow did not know number 3 was part of the definition maybe we view this sex for money thing completely backwards?

Anyway, back to my point. Bloomberg had a great article on how major brands are shutting down their Facebook Storefronts. I have seen some of these storefronts. The fact is they are like one of those center kiosks in the mall vs what an actual store holds. And you can't do on Facebook the things you can do on your own website and trick it out with tons of inventory, bells and whistles etc. I called failure on this in the past and not surprised this didn't work. People don't go to Facebook to shop. In fact why would you? If I wanted to buy a product from a brand online why would I go to Facebook and not their website which is just as easy to get to, more robust, or and who trusts having Facebook see your credit card number anyway?

But if I buy something on Facebook is that different than Amazon or physically in Starbucks? No it is all the same. So let us just be honest and call it Commerce ok? E-Tailing? Is RETAILING! E-Commerce? Commerce. Get it? Nope?  Why I aughta.... <SMACKS UPSIDE OF THE HEAD> Capiche? Good.

Oh and for some comedy Forbes which I never read because they are the Mashable of Business Trade Publications allowed a company that makes storefronts on Facebook to counter the Bloomberg article. They give a graph supporting their business with no numbers. Hilarious stuff.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Online Privacy Redux

I have written about this before. Especially in my previous blog I covered this major study 

Today Mike Bloxham had an article on Media Post discussing why Brands need to view this as their issue too.  It is a great read and he makes many very key points. I have railed and laughed at Pete Cashmore of Mashable for declaring privacy dead in 2009. To many of my peers and marketing/ad agencies/tech companies feel because a tool is used people do not care abut privacy. Mike hits some key points on these false view points.

The fact is beware. No one trusts Facebook even though most people use Facebook. But doesn't anyone wonder if there was an easy alternative that we might all leave immediately? Is there a wonder at why in April 2010 Facebook said on it's Fact Sheet Page that users spent 55 mins per day on average? And now that number is ranging from 11 to 21 minutes from various sources (Facebook has removed any claims on time spent now). Yes we now spend time elsewhere. But also many do not trust Facebook.

So Privacy is a Valid Concern for Brands not just Social Networks. Trust is important even if we begrudgingly allow certain activities it does not mean we condone them. What is interesting in the study I linked above is not just the percentage of people against tracking online, it is the high percentage who want jail time for managers of businesses that get caught doing this without a person's knowledge.

We are used to Politicians not listening to the people. But Brands beware if you do not listen the public has a much easier time turning on you and impacting your business.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mobile is a Tool and Make it Simple

Six Tips to Go Mobile without Going Broke 

Excellent post on Spin Sucks by Eric Koester

Anyone who reads this blog knows that we are a big champion of smart mobile.
We recently covered:

Smart Location Based Marketing Tips and What Mobile is Good For


The key with Marketing in general is understanding not just your target audience but also the platform you wish to reach them on. Lately I have been approached by agencies offering inexpensive mobile apps for IPhone and Android. While we LOVE apps just because they are inexpensive doesn't mean they are a positive investment. 


The number one tip that Eric covers is make your website mobile formatted if you intend to reach your customers there. Think about your business. Think about what mobile could be used for to amplify your ability to reach customers and sell. Then implement those tools because Mobile is a tool. Simple is best. If I have to drill through screens you are doing something wrong. If you make an app and hope I find it in the market place you wasted your money. If you invest in something because you think I will use it without asking me first how I want to use it, you are wasting your money.


There is help out there. The best way to address this is find a consultant or agency that does not own a platform or technology, this way they can choose what is best for your business vs forcing on you what they own or sell. In fact ask me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Do We Call it Social Media?

We have a problem with semantics and definitions. On our Website we have a section called Social Media Services because that is what everyone calls some forms of Communication Technologies.

In fact Social Media is actually a Revolution in Interpersonal Communication Technologies. Or in reality a continuing evolution that started millennia ago with the the written word. If you were to use as a definition technology that allows humans to share information among themselves this would include:

Hand Writing. Print. TV. Radio. Film. Which are actually one way communication consumed by many. But it can be reshared via word of mouth, giving the physical media to someone else, etc.

If you take Social Media a step further and claim it needs to be two way communication then Telegraph, Telephone, Email, SMS Text all qualify just as much as Twitter and Facebook.

An article on the Huffington Post is media. There is nothing social about it. Does it matter if I copy the URL and send an email to 20 people or upload it to Twitter the media itself is not social. The Technology is what enables the sharing. And we must look at these platforms as Technology vs Media.

Gini Dietrich likes to call these Tools. Which they are. Others like Joseph Jaffe and Mitch Joel like to call them Shiny Objects because we get enthralled with them, only to move on to the next Shiny Object when a new one comes out.

There is a whole industry of people and revenue and supporting roles, think news coverage, who benefit from the 'mystery' of Social Media. There is no mystery. Just like if I told you I wanted to market a product by phone you know exactly how I will do that...EEK! Telemarketing. If I want to market using Social Media often it really means paid advertising like Facebook Ads. Or trying to spread a message through these networks (btw this is REALLY HARD TO DO ON ANY SCALE!) There are ways to leverage these communication technologies to benefit your brand or business but I wouldn't always place them under 'Marketing'.

But let us not confuse what Social Media really is. Interpersonal Communication Technologies. And whenever a better technology comes out, we will migrate to that because that is human nature. If you don't believe me I bet you have an 8 Track Tape Player and VCR and a Typewriter at home.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Facebook IPO Post

I could probably write 20,000 words explaining why this is a pump and dump scheme. Why you should buy Apple not Facebook. Why Facebook can't be worth the same as Pepsi who has 18 different $1billion brands or Cisco Systems who kind of owns the internet infrastructure world.

I could share 15 great links discussing why this is $100 billion value is crazy stuff. Or my 29 blog posts exposing their misleading activity numbers or how use per person per day is down over 50% since April 2010 (fact).

Instead I am going to link their S-1 filing.

Page 76 Facebook gives proof their main revenue stream which is paid advertising works:

Procter & Gamble chose to advertise on Facebook to generate awareness for Secret deodorant's "Mean Stinks" program and selected a female audience likely to be receptive to the campaign. The ad featured a confessional-style video of a girl admitting that she had bullied others, realizing the damage she had caused, and apologizing. In the 26 weeks after the Mean Stinks campaign launched, Secret experienced a 9% increase in U.S. sales and an increase in engagement with its Facebook Page.

CM Photographics, a wedding photography business based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, used Facebook ads to reach the users it cared most about: women aged 24 to 30 living near Minneapolis who shared their relationship status on Facebook as "engaged." Over 12 months, CM Photographics generated a significant increase in revenue after running a $600 advertising campaign on Facebook.

All these years all these ads and these are the TWO they got to cherry pick. The first for Proctor and Gamble has the nerve to claim a brand that does so much TV advertising (never mind non-Facebook digital) over 26 weeks parallel to the Facebook campaign had a 9% sales increase (whopppeeeeee) all due to Facebook? And they give no details on when this campaign occurred. And the second tells us nothing. No proof, no stats, no sales, no conversions. Both campaigns fail the CFO - ROI test. This doesn't mean they were failures but the reporting fails. Imagine on a book report I said the sky is blue because in daylight it is blue.

The rest of the 'Business Section' bullshit should be enough to scare investors. But why would a stock broker recommend you buy it? To flip it. Any brokerage who's income is not tied to your long term profits cares less if the stock tanks and only cares about the commission for the buy and sell.

And for this you will pay a $100 Billion value?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mobile Location Based Marketing

Instead of throwing out silly numbers of smart phone use or how many people own them, the fact is the answer is a lot. These devices enable users to be empowered when making purchasing decisions if thy are enabled by the right technologies. Businesses that use these wisely will do well and those that don't can experience anything from wasted resources to pricing and sales erosion.

When you think of Mobile Marketing for your business you need to focus on user experience. This means remember the screen is small. And you want as few actions as possible needed to get to the heart of your message or call to action.
Integration across technologies is key. Nothing is more frustrating of marketing started on one platform then not working on another. For example if you want a video watched on You Tube and the link appears in a Web Browser Search then doesn't load. Or you scan a QR Code and then a non-mobile formatted site loads causing users to zoom in and move around the screen.

1] Keep it Simple

Today the SMS Text to Response is still the simplest call to action out there. Yes QR Codes can do more but they still take more time and effort.

2] QR Codes

You must make them large and clear enough to be scanned. And when the content opens it had better be easily readable and usable.

3] Banner Ads

Ad Mob has gotten better. I am seeing many more name brands. Best LBS Ad I saw was for McDonalds McCafe. It was just highlighting their $1 coffee. I never click Banner Ads but I did this one. It opened a map with the nearest McDonald's locations. Very impressed. But I have clicked on 4 Ads in 16 months.

4] Location is Important

McDonald's failed because I live 8 miles from the nearest location. But if that Ad showed up when I was closer the chance of me clicking is higher. If I am in a store I totally want to connect. I am browsing and/or ready to buy. Imagine walking into a store and either with a passive check in or simple activation the store can review my past purchasing and pitch me offers on the the spot that is relative and urgent.

For example say my favorite sporting goods store sees it is April, my last tent was bought 4 years ago, and I get an offer of a better tent and if I buy now 50% off a new lantern. Or in October get pitched a free Ski Tuneup so when I come in you can try selling me on new Skis?

5] Be Respectful

If I am not in your store most likely I don't want contact from you on your terms only on mine. People might ask for push communication from their most favorite brands and be ok getting alerts etc, but from most brands they do not want this. Don't piss them off! The last thing most people want is to feel harassed by unexpected contact.

6] Don't Bribe 

You might say "Well what if I send you such a good deal you have to come in?'. You just hurt your margins. And while might be OK for a brand new customer to get them to check you out, a repeat customer will start waiting for these bribes. Be careful with bribes.

7] To App or Not to App

Most likely the answer in most cases is Not to App. What will your App do for the user? Why would they be compelled to download it and use it? Media Brands Apps are great. But unless you give the user a clear benefit and reason to use the App they will not use it. Amazon's Price Check App? Now that is compelling. A nice restaurant with one location? A Yelp! listing with a mobile formatted website is plenty.

Mobile will be a powerful force for those that leverage the technologies wisely. Others can easily waste money or at worst piss off potential customers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why I Hate the Superbowl Ads You Love

I know this will upset my friend Gini Dietrich because she likes being entertained. And I once had an exchange with Rob Schwartz of TWBA/ChiatDay whom this post would irk greatly. Rob said it is all about chatter. Getting people to talk about your brand all year.

I don't agree. If you are going to pay that kind of jack to reach that many people it should do one of two things. First is show me something new so I get interested in learning more or buying it. Second is show me something that exists and show me I should buy it.

For a new brand with limited exposure this falls into the 'new' category. Like Living Social who wanted people to know they exist. For a national or global brand that everyone knows already why are you creating an ad to tell me you exist?

I came down hard on last years ads:

VW Force....cute. funny. Didn't sell me a car. Waste of money. It showed me I can start my new Jetta from inside the house. Great but what if the car is ugly and a piece of crap? Oh and Buick showed me I can start their car from another city remotely with a smart phone one month later.

Chrysler Detroit ad? Great for Detroit because shows they are tough and gruitty minus M&M (I hate whiny lyrics which he tends to write. What is tough and gritty about whiny lyrics?). But Chrysler? Did it change my view of the worst Quality in the US? No.

Pepsi? WTF assault by soda cans. That does not make me want to buy Pepsi and I LOVE PEPSI! Make me thirsty for Pepsi vs cower behind my couch.

They need to hire Vinny Warren to save the brand before it is too late. I like entertainment and comedy but think of the product. What are you selling me and yes you have to sell.

VW Jetta? Gas Mileage. Safety. Quality. Looks and styling. Performance. Gadgets. Score: D minus. You barely showed the car. You showed me one gadget. Oh boy.

Chrysler? The same. Plus show me you are different now. Change my view on your cars. Score: F I was left with no change of view for your cars or your brand.

Pepsi? Great taste. Refreshing. Lifestyle. Score: D minus. Do you really need to mimic a dumb cheap beer commercial to sell soda?

Tomorrow I will discuss some of the previews and my thoughts.