Great examples of product integration in social media

Recently, a couple of product launches have caught my attention and I noticed them (100%) because of social media. I saw them on blogs, through my feeds, in Twitter messages and on Facebook. I did NOT see them on TV, in a newspaper/magazine/billboard or even on a traditional website. A year ago, that may not have been the case.

images-1.jpgProduct: Tiger Woods '09
Two videos have caught my eye. The first, Tiger walks on water, is a very cool example of a brand listening and responding using their assets. This could have passed Tiger by, but it turned out brilliantly. The second video is just odd enough to be passed along.

Interestingly, if you search "Tiger Woods 09" on Google, the walking on water video is the number 2 result.

Tiger walks on water

Tiger square peg, round hole

*Note EA Sports is a Fleishman-Hillard client

D90_1.jpgProduct: Nikon D90
I am an avid Nikon user and I am a huge brand advocate (you're generally either a Canon or Nikon person in photography). I had not heard about their newest digital SLR, the D90, until I came across a video by commercial photographer Chase Jarvis. Chase caught my attention last year with a very cool presentation to NYC's Photoshelter. He creates awesome videos that apply at all levels of skill level.

For the D90, Nikon asked Chase's team to evaluate the camera in a professional environment and they documented their experience. This, to me, gives the product instant credibility (I trust he would not BS me) and makes me interested. (Though I am really looking at their D300.) Nonetheless, I saw it on a blog which drove me to the product site which prompted me to write this post. Here is the clip. I love the espionage aspect and the fact that they turned this into content. Nikon uses the video on their D90 microsite as well as a dedicated site at

Marketing Takeaways:
Are you listening to what your top customers are saying online? Are you agile enough to respond without weeks of legal review? Are you engaging your evangelists to create real, pure branded content?

If you are I think you're in the minority of companies out there who get it. If you are not, what can you do today to make steps toward this? Maybe its listening, maybe its having lunch with an advocate. Doing nothing is the worst thing anyone can do.

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The face of Facebook - a comprehensive eBook for marketers

Picture 12.pngAs a marketer and blogger, there is no shortage of noise about Facebook as a marketing platform. One of my struggles has been to decipher what is accurate and what is mis-guided hyperbole.

I took it upon myself to get some answers using Facebook's own ad targeting system and I created this abridged eBook for marketers to give you a snapshot of what the real face of Facebook looks like on a Global and US level.

Click either of the links below to download this 25 page eBook for free:

High-resolution eBook (3.1 Mb) | Low-resolution eBook (944 Kb)

Picture 15.pngThe eBook answers the following questions:

  • What does the global population look like on Facebook?
  • What percentage of the 90 million users are outside the US?
  • Which countries have the highest percentage of their total citizens on Facebook?
  • What is the age/gender breakdown of the US Facebook population?
  • How many members are over the age of 25/30/40?
  • What options can I use to reach my audience?
  • How targeted can I get in order to avoid waste?
  • How much is it going to cost to reach them?

A couple of interesting points that struck me:

  • 25.33% of Canadians are on Facebook compared with 9.47% of Americans and 0.01% of people in China
  • The US has the highest number of users on Facebook at nearly one third of the total user base
  • There are more women than men in every US age category
  • 84.07% of US Facebook users are under 30 years of age
  • There is a distinct "long-tail" pattern when you look at the adoption levels of countries


This is a report that I will be updating on a monthly basis to show how the population is changing and how marketers can respond. Is there anything else that you want to see?

UPDATE: Jeremiah Owyang has a great post today on new "engagement ads" from Facebook. Will definitely keep you posted as these roll out into beta.

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The single most important element of the new 3G iPhone

Picture 16.pngUndoubtedly the iPhone is a game changing device that has turned the US mobile device market on its head. How many of the new devices that are coming out from manufacturers would exist today without the competition the iPhone provided.

With all of its features and its cool interface, there is one part of the new 3G iPhone (which launches today July 11th) that is the most important for marketers. That is GPS. For the first time ever, GPS will be fully integrated on a user-frindly, consumer device. It's intuitive, unlike previous phones where you had to hack to get it to work. Not only that, but the developer SDK allows you, the marketers, to create applications that use this technology.

Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were? Would you create an app that links people together who are physically close? Would you offer messages that were relevant to their present location? Here are a number of options that GPS location adds to the marketing mix unlike any time in the history of marketing.

Ask yourself, what would you do differently if you knew exactly where your customers were?

Geo-tagging - Now that the device knows where you are, it can add geo-tagging information to almost any data you collect. Shoot a photo at the Grand Canyon and upload it to Flickr and Flickr will pull the geo information and place the photo on the right place on the map. Send a message to Twitter and it could update your location to the nearest city name or even the exact location you're standing (creepy I know).

Proximity Awareness - Think about the possibilities of Facebook knowing where you are and where your friends are in real time. Facebook's iPhone app could alert you when any of your contacts are within 1/2 mile of your location. You could private message them to see if they can meet up or send them an SMS message.

For marketers, you could create an application (that people opt-in to by installing it) that allows them to receive promotions and offers whenever they are within a radius of a store. If Starbucks hasn't done this already I am not sure what they're waiting for. Users could adjust their radius or disable the messages at any time.

Mobile Commerce - This goes hand-in-hand with proximity awareness and is very powerful for marketers. The iPhone will allow easier commerce transactions to happen in a more trusted environment. From the application store to mobile song purchases, if you are serving up relevant, geo-targeted messages you can now follow that through purchase with micro transactions. This takes mobile messaging to a new level of effectiveness for marketing organizations.

Localized Search Relationships - Using search on the iPhone is effortless. Now, however, add in the location where the user is standing. Instead of searching for Chipotle and having to scan for the one near you, the phone will present you the closest location, give you the phone number and offer directions (which works like a car's GPS system with turn-by-turn options). Refer back to mobile commerce and apply that to search that is local and it's another way to drive business and conversions.

So, what do you think? More and more devices will surely follow suit. Are you ready for location? What value can you add to your customers that would help them adopt your product or service? What can you do before the competition to really set yourself apart?

If you're visiting this post on an iPhone check out my iPhone version (hat tip Chris Brogan).

Geo-location applications to keep an eye on:


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Related Posts:

UPDATE: Thanks to Jim Kukral's question I looked for car-based GPS info on the new iPhone and found the following video. Since this video veers away from the Apple device and into the actual AT&T service plan I want to have full disclosure in telling you that AT&T is a Fleishman-Hillard client.

Others bloggers are thinking the same thing I am:

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Don't forget the rest of the digital puzzle

iStock_000005066615XSmall.jpgWith all of the buzz around social media it's easy to overlook the rest of the digital marketing puzzle. Yes, it's fun to talk about Twitter and Facebook and the other new bright shiny objects, but they're just one component of a balanced online marketing strategy.

Take a look at the following chart from e-Marketer that shows how US adults prefer to have companies communicate with them. Note that email is still almost twice as requested as web sites.


That being said, social media has the opportunity to help drive business, create valuable content and serve as a landing point for various customer segments. Content is the foundation of any quality experience online, just ask anyone who's run a website.

Email - Social media (from Twitter to blogs) is centered around constant content updates. It's also a rule that very few people actually participate by commenting or adding content. Most people participate by reading and clicking (which is just as valuable in my opinion). Email is a perfect way, however, to summarize the best, most relevant conversations that are taking place.

Search - Search engines absolutely love social media content. It's categorized, updated frequently and is full of metadata. Results from blogs and other social media outlets are showing up in search result pages alongside corporate websites and official releases. The more relevant, popular, trusted sources will rise to the top...many times they'll be blogs.

Advertising - Sites like Facebook are full of user data that is being leveraged by marketers to create timely, relevant, targeted ads. Facebook made poor decisions early on with their Beacon program, but smart marketers are using the targeting to eliminate waste and only pay for the qualified clicks.

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With social media as one component of digital marketing mix, keep thinking about how it can integrate with other tactics. How can you use the content generated in emails, ads, mobile messaging, search targeting, etc.? How can you extend it offline into physical items for marketing. Look at examples like that allow you to create social artifacts that lead people back to your space online.

Social media is not an island,
it's a high-power engine on the larger marketing ship.

Social media isn't the end-all-be-all, but it offers marketers unparalleled opportunity to participate in relevant ways. It also provides a launchpad for other marketing tactics. Social media is not an island, it's a high-power engine on the larger marketing ship.

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Free mobile for advertising impressions; it's only a matter of time

Picture 29.pngBlyk, a free mobile service targeted at 16-24 year olds in Europe, has recently announced their expansion beyond their test markets in the UK, Germany and France. The company provides free minutes and text messages to its users, and in exchange they receive ads from marketers. The ads are targeted based on the profile of the user.

If you remember, this is the model that Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google talked about in November 2006 that got the whole world buzzing. Blyk has been so well received that they reached their initial subscriber goals of 100,000 users six months ahead of schedule.

Here is a short overview movie from Blyk that explains the whole process.

It is only a matter of time before this model comes to the US (though the way our mobile infrastructure is set up it will be much harder to gain the same level of traction). This does however, seem to be a fairly easy way for marketers to reach a targeted audience in a permission-based environment on a mobile device.

Heck, I could see the potential for a very small handful of global marketers try this on their own using this the MVNO model. MVNOs lease parts of a network from a major carrier and re-brand it as a new service. Examples of MVNOs include Virgin Mobile, mobileESPN, Firefly and Amp'd.

What are your thoughts on this model? Would you receive ads for mobile minutes? As a marketer, would you be interested in participating in something like this?

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Facebook's DIY ad targeting explained

facebook_logo.jpgEver time that I show somebody what is possible with Facebook's advertising system, they immediately see the future of advertising. Facebook allows marketers to create ads that are extremely targeted to a unique, specific audience. The ads are pay-per-click so you only pay when somebody is interested enough to engage with you through a click.

In the example I go through in the video (which you can see in the image below) I show you the full range of targeting capabilities within Facebook. While it is very robust, there are some missing elements including ethnicity. Though you may not be able to target the exact individual you are looking for, you can use interests and keywords to achieve the same result.

Here is an Inside//Out look at Facebook's advertising system:

[Feed readers please click through if you cannot see the video.]

Here is the screen capture from the video.

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Picture 22.pngSo what does this look like when done right? Here is a good example that I saw today when I logged in to Facebook. The ad to the right is promoting a Chris Brogan "Twebinar" that is hosted by Radian 6. The ad is targeted to my interests, the headline caught my eye and I recognized Chris' headshot immediately. I clicked through to the Twebinar in short order.

Key Takeaways:

  • Micro-targeting your audience using these services is easier than ever
  • Determine how you can target people directly with ads as well as using meta data to reach them indirectly (for example reaching people who watch Monday Night Football to target football fans)
  • Ads that speak to the audience with the right message at the right time are highly effective
  • The prevalence of broad, un-targeted advertising inside social networks is nearing an end
  • Invasive ads like Facebook's social ads should be used sparingly if at all (there is too much risk at this point)

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The scalability of language; machine translation

iStock_000001812081XSmall.jpgThe scalability of language is something that's been on my mind a lot lately. In my post yesterday, I looked at the top issues that the language hurdle presents with digital content and conversations.

Today, I want to look at the error of using machine translations. If you're not sure what I mean, let's look at an example. Let's say you wanted to go to and get it translated into English. You would go to a site like Google Translate and enter the URL into the "translate a web page" option. Google then goes through the site and does a literal translation for you.

The problem is that the translations don't account for many factors including local dialect, slang and trendy language. As Mario Vellandi put it in his comment on my last post:

"I'm trilingual and must say that although I adore languages, especially English, there are many phrases that are culturally bound and cannot be translated without some serious human assistance to the computer. Sometimes it's metaphors and similes. Other times, humor and irony are at play. Then there's slang and trend/fad language...It's crazy, but fun."

The real test
The true test of any language translation service is the ability to translate language two ways. What I mean is take a sentence that you want to use. Translate that phrase to the other language and then take the translated version and translate it back to the original.

Here is an example:
Take the first two sentences from yesterday's post:

There is a game that every American kid plays in school at one point in time called telephone (also known as Chinese whispers). The idea is that all of the kids line up in a single-file line and then the person on one end of the line whispers a sentence to the person next to them like "Steve Jobs is the CEO of Apple, pass it on".

Now I'll translate it into Spanish using Google Translate:

No es un juego que cada chico juega en América en la escuela en un momento llama por teléfono (también conocido como chino susurra). La idea es que todos los niños de la línea en una sola línea del archivo y, a continuación, la persona en un extremo de la línea susurra una frase a la persona junto a ellos como "Steve Jobs es el CEO de Apple, dárselo".

And now let's look at it when we translate it back to English using Google Translate:

It is not a game that every kid plays in americas in school at one point called by phone (also known as Chinese whispers). The idea is that all children of the line in a single file line, and then the person at one end of the line whispers a phrase to the person next to them as "Steve Jobs is the CEO of Apple, giving it".

Pretty clear isn't it? The overall meaning is totally gone (even reversed in this case). Just imagine what would happen if you were trying to do real-time translations. Google does take steps toward humanizing the machine with their "Suggest a better translation" link which lets native speakers contribute a new, more accurate translation. Here is a screen shot of that process:

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The point here is that if you automate translation, you are not going to communicate clearly to your audience. It's worth the expense and effort to make sure that your key information is translates by a native-speaking human being.

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Video from Startup Camp

Thanks to the multi-talented Neil Vineberg and his stealth video abilities (it's a long story) here is a set of videos from our panel discussion this past Sunday at Moscone South. Kudos again to my fellow panelists CK, Jyri Engestrom and Adam Metz.


Messaging and Positioning

Social Media

[Feed readers click through to the post for the video.]

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Redefining reach; the new marketing equation

iStock_000003345269XSmall.jpgWhile I was at StartupCamp this past Sunday here in San Francisco a few of the future founders came up to me asking my advice on how they should approach PR/advertising.

Many of their questions (as small pre-startups) echo the same quandary that major marketers are facing. What is the right way to get the message out in a measurable, cost effective manner. In larger companies it really seems that they value the medium (seeing a spot run in primetime, an article in a major newspaper) more than the benefits that come out of them.

One of the ways that I tried to help guide them and explain why social media is so powerful is the following scenario. Look at these two equations and let me know which one has the most benefit to you:

1. Message 1,000,000 to possibly reach 100

2. Personally reach 100 who influence 1,000 who influence 10,000 who influence 1,000,000

They are two very disparate scenarios, but that is social media in a nutshell. You're not wasting millions of untraceable impressions on TV, radio and print buys. You're forming real relationships with people that spread their version of your message along the chain.

It seems pretty clear right? But this is a huge mental leap for most marketing organizations. The new model is about building relationships that grow and spread to new relationships. Here is a graphical representation of this shift. Advertising will have diminishing returns over time as social connections will deliver more and more value.

value paradox.png

There is a huge value paradigm shift that has to happen here. The traditional scenario is very front weighted with value, but it is constantly in a state of decline as time goes on. You pay for the creation of the ad and the media buy and then sit back and pray.

With the social media option, you invest up front, but your spending has to scale as your message spreads to new audiences over time. The value you get takes longer to build and catch up with the advertising model, but it will eventually exceed it. That's a hard thing to budget, but it's important to note.

How do you help people make this jump? It's possible, but it takes time and dedication. What are your thoughts on the equations?

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Gooey endings

447561872_e13614c5fd.jpgThe folks at Cadbury are cranking out more great, emotive marketing campaigns. The latest is for the cult-like Creme Egg. The product itself has a very short sales window (around Easter) and I think this campaign is genius. Hat tip to Faris Yakob for pointing it out.

Not only do the website and TV spots convey personality, they make an emotional connection with the audience. Check out a few of the spots below and let me know your thoughts. You can see all of the videos here.

The hairdryer

The tape measure

The Finale

The emotional Finale special edition

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Power 150 roundtable

P28bloggertable041408 The week before last, in between attending Virtual Worlds and the start of Blogger Social, I had the great opportunity to take part in a roundtable discussion at the Advertising Age HQ. AdAge Editor Jonah Bloom invited 12 bloggers from the Power 150 list to have a conversation about blogging, social media, new marketing and the future of print and digital publications.

Jonah has received a lot of flack in the past from bloggers (myself included) for not fully engaging more marketing bloggers to add insights and ideas for stories in the publication. Although AdAge has been making moves to add more blogger input, it's been a bit slow. That seems to have changed for the better. AdAge is looking to (and really should make a big push) add more content from this blogger community and it's a relatively untapped market right now. Some bloggers have connections to print pubs, but for the most part our thinking is confined to those who seek us out. Publications like AdAge reach a much broader market and the thinking that this community provides (along with the comments from you the reader) are invaluable, poignant, timely and unique.

Advertising Age roundtableOne of the key discussions centered around the challenges that marketers are facing and what content they may be looking for. It was great to see and hear such a great mixture of thoughts and experiences from around the table. That, to me, is the power of engaging bloggers as content creators. Ad Age has the opportunity to leverage a veritable army of authors with highly targeted experience to write about nearly any topic from nearly any opinion. You need a digital guy who's working in design with luxury goods manufacturers? David Armano is your man. Looking for a guy with lots of mid-market, hands on experience and a background working for a rock band and Starbucks? Just call Lewis Green. There are thousands of people with very unique voices who are talented storytellers. I am personally looking forward to seeing what else comes from this.

Other bloggers in attendance included Ann Handley, Mark Goren, Gavin Heaton, Lewis Green, Daryl Ohrt, Anna Farmery, Geoff Livingston, Sean Howard, David Armano, Rohit Bhargava, Paul McEnany and Todd Andrlik. You can read the AdAge article here.

*Top photo credit: Andrew Walker (Advertising Age)

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Developing personas for marketing strategy

people2.jpgPersonas are an extremely valuable tool for marketers in any field. If you're not familiar with the term, personas are representations of your target audience based on research and interviews. From PR to digital to advertising, any marketing team or agency can benefit from developing client- and/or brand-specific personas.

As an example, let's say one of your target audience types is a 18-21 year old male who likes emo music, skateboarding and high-end electronics. You would come up with a name for this person along the lines of "Nate" and you would find an image of him to use in your planning. When you start making decisions about marketing strategies, you would check back to "Nate" and ask if it would reach him. What would reach him more effectively? What message does he need to hear. That is a basic model of persona development. Here is some more information to guide you through the process.

Why personas are important:

  • Personas put a face on the customer. Some persona programs give people names so you can refer to them and see them in a physical representation. The agency Organic creates persona rooms where their people live so the project team can become fully immersed.
  • Personas remove the tendency to think of yourself as the customer. You have to step back and this gives you the structure to do so.
  • Act as a guide throughout the process of developing marketing communications programs, cross mediums (print, digital, outdoor, TV, etc.).
  • Keeps designers, copywriters, programmers on track and avoids waste by remaining focused on the customer.

How people screw them up:

  • Personas take time and research to get right.
  • This includes some time in the field and meeting face-to-face with the customer.
  • People think they know their customer without looking at data.
  • Personas are often used up front in the marketing strategy process and don't carry through the process.

How you can avoid screwing them up:

  • Get data. Collect it from the web and third party sources. Analyze web traffic. Do in-person interviews and ethnography. Get a big picture view and then analyze it objectively.
  • Talk to your customers. Videotape them. Record the audio. Take notes. Come back with a real feeling for who you are trying to reach.
  • Compare what you saw to the data and look for the insights.
  • Evolve the personas over time. Adapt them as your product lines change or the economy changes. These should be living, breathing entities.

A great sample model.
I found this great model on Idris Mootee's site in a post where he compared the problems that MBAs and MFAs have in the workplace. It's a great start to being able to wrap your head around these ideas.

persona_10 steps.jpg1. Finding the users
Questions asked: Who are the users? How many are there? What do they do with the system/brand?
Methods used: Quantitative data analysis.
Documents produced: Reports.

2. Building a hypothesis
Questions asked: What are the differences between the users?
Methods used: Looking at the material. Labeling the groups of people.
Documents produced: Draft a description of the target groups.

3. Verifications
Questions asked: Data for personas (likes/dislikes, inner needs, values). Data for situations (area of work, work conditions). Data for scenarios (work strategies and goals, information strategies and goals).
Methods used: Quantitative data collection.
Documents produced: Reports.

4. Finding patterns
Questions asked: Does the initial labeling hold? Are there more groups to consider? Are all equally important?
Methods used: Categorization.
Documents produced: Descriptions of categories.

5. Constructing personas
Questions asked: Body (name, age picture). Psyche (extrovert/introvert). Background (occupation). Emotions and attitude towards technology, the company (sender) or the information that they need. Personal traits.
Methods used: Categorization.
Documents produced: Descriptions of categories.

6. Defining situations
Questions asked: What is the need of this persona?
Methods used: Looking for situations and needs in the data.
Documents produced: Categorization of needs and situations.

7. Validation and buy-in
Questions asked: Do you know someone like this?
Methods used: People who know (of) the personas read and comment on the persona descriptions

8. Dissemination of knowledge
Questions asked: How can we share the personas with the organization?
Methods used: Fosters meetings, emails, campaigns of every sort, events.

9. Creating scenarios
Questions asked: In a given situation, with a given goal, what happens when the persona uses the technology/engages with the brand?
Methods used: The narrative scenario - using personas descriptions and situations to form scenarios.
Documents produced: Scenarios, use cases, requirement specifications.

10. On-going development
Questions asked: Does the new information alter the personas?
Methods used: Usability tests, new data
Documents produced: A person responsible for the persona input from everybody who meet the users.

*Diagram developed by Lene Nielsen of Snitker & Co.

More quality persona resources:

So what else do you do when planning personas? How do you develop them? How do you adapt them? What's the balance between qualitative and quantitative feedback?


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The future of advertising presentation

Many thanks to the members of the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association and to the students of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design for attending the presentation this past Monday. Also, a special thank you to Tim Brunelle for inviting me to speak and for being a great host while I was in town. Minneapolis has a very enthusiastic, warm group of people who were very gracious.

The title of the series of presentations is based around the idea of the future of advertising. I used my experience in digital marketing and PR to give a view of what I see as the future. I would love to hear what you think. The total run time is around 41 minutes. Just hit the play button and you can hear the original recording from the event. I hope you enjoy!

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The future of advertising

crystalball.jpgTim Brunelle of the agency Hello Viking and professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) asked me to speak to his class about the future of advertising. I'll also be speaking to the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association. I've come up with a presentation that I'll post on Slideshare tomorrow so you can see my take.

While I've never worked in an advertising agency, I have been exposed to their inner workings. I've also worked in pure digital shops as well as my current role in a PR company. Overall, I think this gives me a unique perspective on the future of advertising/marketing.

Here is the link to the Slideshare post.   

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Are you a tradigitalist?

Istock_000003557491xsmallIn this increasingly digital world, the skills that traditional communications professionals bring to the table are often taken for granted and/or cast aside. This is a huge mistake for companies to make as there seems to be a growing shortage of people who can think about marketing communications strategy and get it done.  Digital workers often jump to the tactics instead of considering the full scope of how consumers live their lives (it's not all online). Traditional marketers often, certainly not always, see the broader landscape of the full marketing communications spectrum.

Enter the reign of the tradigitalist. This person could have arrived at this title in a couple of ways. Let's look at these:

  1. The digital native with a passion for marketing. This person is a digital native, gets what is happening, understands the power of social media and emerging technology, yet places value on the total communications spectrum. Traditional PR, TV, print, radio, outdoor, WOM, etc. can all play into the mix to reach the potential customer in the most effective way. They understand that a pure-play digital approach is *very* rarely the best way to go. I find myself in this category.
  2. The digital immigrant who sees the potential. This person comes from a traditional marketing communications, PR or advertising background, but sees that digital is the way of the future. They also know the power of traditional marketing and use their depth and breadth of marketing strategy knowhow to shape campaigns using the best options.

One of the things that working in a company with such a strong traditional communications practice has shown me is the value of people who bring traditional marketing knowledge to the table and how excited they can be about the digital future. I personally make sure to keep up on what is happening across all forms of marketing communications for just this reason and I am leaning on these people to broaden my marketing acumen on the traditional side. I am returning the favor on the digital side.

Are you a tradigitalist? Do you know one? Shouldn't we all be tradigitalists?

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Did the Super Bowl ads work?

This is not an advertising blog. There are plenty of pundits out there who know much more than I. But, I have an advertising question for you. It's been nearly a month after the Super Bowl bonanza. Which ads do you remember? Which ads did their job and created a lasting impression that lives with you a mere 22 days later?

For me, I remember very few of the ads overall. I do, however, still very vividly remember the Audi R8 ad as well as the emotions it conveyed. It also drove me to click through to the site to get more information (sadly I had to look around for it once on the Audi landing page).

I loved the ad for a number of reasons. I think it's well photographed, very cinematic and congruent with the Godfather reference. I think it was a great idea for Audi to take this approach to veer away from their usual image (safe, all-wheel-drive, semi-sporty). The R8 is a new kind of Audi. This is a car that competes on the Porsche, BMW M level and the commercial gets to that point. It's in your face, it's aggressive and it puts you on notice.

So, which ads do you remember? Did any of them convince you to make a purchase? Did they drive you online?

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03 is the new 30

Time_frustrationSo, here's a premise I've been working on this for a while now. The 3 second ad is the new 30. Don't laugh, I did say three seconds. This is a micro-messaging world and 5, 15, 30 and (god forbid) 60 second spots are too long when paired with nearly instant-on content. Three seconds is about as much advertising as I will take and not have an adverse reaction to the message.

Yesterday on my blog I wrote about marketers who know the price for interruption and pay it anyway. Another problem that dovetails with interruption based advertising (and is equally frustrating to web users) is ads that get moved over from TV to the web. You've all seen this happen. You go to a site, click to the content you're interested in and viola! A 30 second spot stands between you and your content.

Read the rest of the post at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog.

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Knowing (and paying) the price for interruption

Istock_000002892305xsmallInterruptive advertising is one of the building blocks of most traditional marketer's communications plan. TV ads break up 20 minutes of actual programming (unless you Tivo your content). Radio ads moan on and on while you trudge through traffic. Pre-roll ads on web video make you wait patiently for 15 to 60 seconds. Everywhere you turn, you are accosted by advertising.

There are consequences to doing this, especially in the digital space. I enjoyed reading this article on the New York Times site points to a Burst Media survey of 2,600 online video viewers. In the survey responses, 53.6% of people recalled seeing some type of interruption-based advertising (pre-, mid- and post-roll). 78.4% of those people said that in-stream ads are intrusive with 50.4% saying the ads disrupt their time. (This means the subtraction of value, not the addition of value.)

The in-stream, or mid-roll, ads (a trend that is rapidly growing and is particularly user un-friendly) had the most negative reaction by far. 50.7% of respondents said to have stopped watching the video when they saw an mid-roll ad and 15.3% were so angry they left the site all together.

While people ages 18-24 are slightly more likely to stay through a mid-roll ad, the worst finding for advertisers was around the recall of the ads. Only 21.4% of people who recalled the ad said they pay more attention to mid-roll versus other ad formats. 

If you're a content creator, does it really make sense to run mid-roll ads if people are abandoning your content? You have to ask yourself where you place your value, ad dollars or content distribution. Moreover, if 1/3 of people leave your site altogether, you're hurting revenue from sponsors and other advertisers not to mention your reputation.

From an advertiser's view point of view, why would you do this? The negative impression of the ad's placement is weighing on your brand. If your goal is to have people take action or remember your product/service, this is definitely going to work.

There are, however, better options. Create a "skin" for the video where your branding surrounds the content, but doesn't encroach on it. Align your ads with content that makes sense and is in your audience's focus. The worst thing you can do is take a 30 and plop it in the path of web users who are trying to get the content they value. You're not adding anything to that situation. The 30 second spot is dead online as well (just in case you were wondering). 

What other advice would you give to advertisers lining up for these placements? What ads have you appreciated or received value from and how have they been placed?

This all leads up to a post I have been working on for a while that will premiere tomorrow. "3 is the new 30".

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Are more ads on social networks inevitable?

iStock_000004415349XSmall.jpgOne of the biggest questions on my mind with all of the hype surrounding Facebook (and the ramp up by marketers) is how they plan on making money. There are some ads on the site now (the lack of ads is one of its redeeming points) and Beacon seems to have loads of potential even though it was poorly launched.

Facebook seems to be leading the way among competitors in opening up the platform for developers and that's a key to growth and future revenue. But they're still not making any money outside of investments. Most of the other networks, however, are still more closed and are heavily advertising dependent. Just take a look at these examples of Facebook vs. MySpace. I've removed the portion of the page that I control and left in the ads and other default pieces.

Facebook without my contentMySpace without my content

Given that example and the obvious focus that MySpace places on ad space, take a look at this chart from eMarketer showing the share of traffic and ad impressions for MySpace and Facebook. Note that MySpace has twice the traffic and 6.5 times the ad revenue of Facebook.


Now, let's look at how eMarketer expects ad spending on social networks to progress. Though the anticipated growth is leveling out, it is gaining attention from marketers as a viable outlet.


Taking all of that into account, is throwing more ads on a page the answer? It seems to get more revenue in the door, but it's far from adding value to the users. Click through rates are also notoriously low, so the value isn't really there for the advertisers either. So what's the solution? Here are some options that we're already seeing, but are sure to see more of:

  • Creating rich, branded applications
  • Helping users centralize data into one place
  • Connecting people from multiple networks around a passion
  • Localization and hyper-targeting

What have you seen that gets you engaged with a brand?

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Targeting based on mindset helps ads break through

Picture 22.pngI was poking around LinkedIn today adding some new friends and reconnecting with some old ones. Generally on LinkedIn I don't notice any of the advertising. Most of the ads are very general and the messages don't reach me in the moment and mindset that I have when I am on the site.

Today, however, I noticed a new set of ads in LinkedIn's rotation and they grabbed my attention. As you may know, Starbucks has recently started advertising online and in mainstream media for the first time. Their online ads are in the same style as the TV spots. It's all very harmonious.

These ads on LinkedIn expand on that campaign, but use a very relevant, timely message, geared right at the target audience. The holidays are on everyones mind and gift giving is a big part of that. You can tell these are from Starbucks, it's in the theme of their new campaign, but the message is completely unique.

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This is something that is very easy to do, but few companies do it. How many times have you seen the same ad on a sports news site and on a hobby site or a crafting site? It happens all too often. This is such an easy thing to do if planned correctly. Sites can be grouped to create the messages more efficiently, but sending out one ad for all sites is not going to get you the results you could achieve.

Your audience may or may not change from one site to another, but the context changes as does their mindset. Do you look at how that thinking shifts from site to site? Just having a simple spreadsheet showing the ad's creative, audience and customer mindset will help you plan it out. Think like the customer and you'll see more returns come your way.

Have you seen other examples of relevant messages in display ads that made you take notice?

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First//Look: Firebrand (beta)

Picture 7.pngWhat do you get when you take a great user interface, add in the biggest brands from around the world and pull in all of their best commercials? You get Firebrand. Firebrand is a site that uses commercials at the content. There is precedence for this in the mainstream media where every quarter there is a show in prime time called something like "Worlds Best Commercials". The Superbowl ads are highly anticipated. People do like to watch good commercials, but will they come to Firebrand? Time will tell.

The site is in a private beta, but I'm showing it to you today to get your input. Check out the video.

[Feedreaders, if you cannot see the video, please click through to the post.]

Here are a few of the commercials I saw/found on the site.

Some make me laugh:

Some make me emotional:

Some I just love to watch over and over:

Key takeaways:

  • Great interface for showcasing, searching and navigating video
  • Big brand representation gives immediate legitimacy
  • Social interaction is key to engagement
  • Co-branded promotions and contests could be a driver of traffic
  • Promos are not interruptive (as they should be)
  • This is the long-tail at work, niches like this have an audience you just have to find them
  • Content portability is crucial and well done. I can take it on my phone, iPod, blog, etc.
  • Tie-in with TV channel could help drive traffic to the web

Key questions:

  • What is the revenue model here? Outside of the brands sponsoring their clips or paying to get involved, I am not sure.
  • Will people come? This is the key question.

What do you think of the site? Will you visit it regularly or just every once in a while (or maybe never)? Do you think it has legs to stand on?

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Predictive analytics

crystalball.jpgI stumbled across a couple of interesting tools today (via Steve Rubel) on the Microsoft Ad Center lab site. These are in beta, but from what I see there are some interesting implications for marketers. Microsoft is using their extensive search and traffic data (terabytes of 1's and 0's) to help predict user profiles and behaviors.

Demographics prediction - This tool allows you to enter a URL or search query and it will tell you what the demographic (sex and age) breakdown is. Major trends are highlighted in the search results. Here are some examples from social media:

  • Twitter - Male oriented (58%) <18 (25%)
  • Facebook - Female oriented (60%) 18-24 (63%)
  • MySpace - Female oriented (60%) 18-24 (37%)
  • Bebo - Female (71%) <18 (39%)

Commercial intent - This is a type of research I've not seen before, but I think is very valuable. This predictive analysis ventures to show how purchase-ready users are when visiting certain websites or using certain search queries. Try out your site and compare with your competitors. Check your keyword buys against this search as well. The results are broken down into three categories 1) non-commercial, 2) commercial-informational and 3) commercial-transactional. Here are some example sites and search terms with their respective results:

  • - 41% commercial
  • - 57% commercial
  • - 44% commercial
  • "phone" - 86% commercial
  • "recipes" - 7% commercial
  • "tape" - 78% commercial

These services are in beta and should only be used for secondary research and trend analysis, but I think this clearly shows where all of this search data we generate can help marketers eliminate waste. I'd love to get your opinion on how accurate the data looks. From what I can tell it's pretty impressive and I've already gleaned some insights for customers and future posts.

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Real time marketing; listen, watch and react

Smart marketers know that the web offers the unprecedented ability to be timely and relevant. When an event happens, content can shift in real-time, ads can go up and offers can be made.

I love the Nokia team's response to the iPhone price drop and subsequent buyer revolt. The Nokia team used the news to their advantage and started running search ads inviting Apple's early adopters to enjoy their new Mosh service and some free content. It's timely, super relevant and took advantage of a one-time situation to capitalize on consumer emotions.

Here is a screenshot of the ad based on the phrase 'iphone price drop':
[Screenshot via TechCrunch]

Apple eventually posted a retaliatory search ad and Nokia has since removed their ad from rotation (the window is closed). Nokia only had to be there in the moment and it could have very easily passed them by. How many situations just like this could companies use to capture the interest of consumers? Relevance is key in getting people to engage with you online and this type of marketing is right on the money

Here are some questions to ask and thoughts to ponder:

  • Are you listening to the web? Are you listening to social media?
  • Where are you listening?
  • Do you have Google alerts on keywords? Search Technorati? Keep an eye on the news? Do you do this in real-time?
  • What events trigger consumer purchases in your industry? Weather, seasons, the stock market, etc?
  • How do those things impact consumers? What behaviors change?
  • If you knew what to look for, how would you react to take advantage of it before your competition?

Search ads are nice because they're quick to implement and highly targeted? RSS display ads (where you control dynamic messaging in real time) are another option. Would video have more impact? Do you have a camera at the ready just in case?

How have you taken advantage of real time marketing to increase sales or gain new customers?

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Video marketing overview, why pre-roll must die

iStock_000003290791XSmall.jpgVideo on the internet is like TV shows on my Tivo. I watch what I want, when I want it and if I don’t like it I’m one click away from abandoning the content. With online video’s boom, companies are scrambling to figure out how to engage viewers and attempt to monetize.

What’s the easiest way to do this? Pre-roll. The lazy man’s solution if you ask me. Companies, in their hurry to launch video ads, are simply re-purposing their :15 and :30 second spots (which are dying themselves) as pre-roll ads. If you haven’t come across this infuriatingly annoying act, you will. Besides the pure interruption that this causes, 15 and 30 seconds is WAY too long for web video. It's an eternity in an on-demand world.

Let’s look at the current video formats playing in the market right now. The areas shaded in red show the interruption point and the most likely place users will abandon the content.


This is usually a re-purposed :15 or :30 spot that normally runs on TV. The user has to wait for the ad to load and play before the content they want is available. Most services are not letting you skip these ads either.

    Pros: Content usually exists in long-form, quick solution

    Cons: Content is too long for the web, irrelevant placements, deters people from watching content

overlay.pngOverlay ads

This is the method that YouTube is going to. The overlay takes up approximately the lower quarter of the content and users can close it at any time. The ads, when clicked, expand over the content, pausing what you were watching until you close it.

    Pros: Less interruptive, generally lower in production cost, better targeting

    Cons: Still interruptive, easily ignored just like the same tactic on the TV

post-roll.pngPost-roll ads

Post-roll ads will play after the content is completed. This is the lowest level of interruption for in-video advertising. Post-roll ads are also typically made up of re-purposed 15's and 30's pulled from an existing TV campaign.

    Pros: Doesn't interrupt content, re-use existing formats

    Cons: Content is too long for the web, targeting is lacking with TV-like broadcast advertising models

splitad.pngThe splice-in

This hasn't happened yet to my knowledge, but it's only a matter of time. Advertising will be spliced into a clip like a traditional ad is in a TV program. Content may or may not be created with this in mind. This is the ultimate in interruption, but users should be able to fast forward through them like on Tivo.

    Pros: None (and I mean it, this will really make me angry)

    Cons: Interruptive, intrusive and stealthy. Nothing good about this one.

So how can marketers create marketing content that works? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Make the content hyper-relevant. Think about using RSS to feed ads dynamically to match the content. Think Flash-animated content with, or instead of, video.
  • Create the message around the content. Sponsor the media player itself. Think branded entertainment.
  • Ask how can you add value to the video experience? Just plopping an ad in place to get some impressions isn't going to do you any good.
  • Use advanced targeting for ads to make sure your message aligns with the content. The days of running a TV spot to reach "18-35 year old males" is gone. You need to think about reaching "23-year-old males in Dallas who play pick up basketball"
  • Make the form MUCH shorter. I'm talking about 3 second ads.

The last point is one I want to expand upon. Web video is dynamic and immediate. When you shoot a commercial (if you're still doing such a thing) are you thinking about short-form alternatives?

The :03 will be the new :30, but that's the title of a post for next week.

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Embracing your polarity

scion_3d_logo_LET.jpgDo you polarize people? Does your product? Some companies seem to have a knack for steering a conversation about love/hate relationships. One of the best in recent years is Scion, the subsidiary of Toyota. A couple of years ago they released their Xb model to much criticism. Here is a picture of it to refresh your memory.

scion.jpgIt's boxy, it's young and aggressive, most of the owners added modifications to them and painted them different colors and it's hard to find two that are alike. The thing about this car is that you either love it or you hate it. You never hear people waffle between "kinda liking it" or "possibly liking it". Love or hate. This is an interesting strategy to enter a market with, but it's been successful for them and many others.

I thought it was refreshing to see this pair of ads floating around the net over the past couple of days which I think play nicely on the polarity. They know it, they like it and they want you to have fun with it either way you feel.

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What other products, services or companies have you noticed that polarize people? What do you love/hate? Have you seen those entities embrace their polarity?

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