Archive for October, 2008

The Androids are Coming! The Androids are Coming! Should Apple Buy Robot Insurance?

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , on October 15, 2008 by matts76

They’re coming. Androids are about to invade the U.S. Some estimates show that the numbers could top 1.5 million. Of course, I’m talking about Google’s expansion into the mobile market with the launch of its Android phone on the T-Mobile G1 platform. But this invasion may be just the beginning.

Should Apple be running for the hills and stocking up on robot insurance like we see here in this dramatic clip?  Only time will tell.

The biggest potential for marketers that could come from the invasion depends on whether Google can multiply the number of Android mobile devices.  If so, the company could establish dominance, but, more importantly, a solid framework upon which additional advertising and search could be built consistently.  This would be a major improvement over the fragmented market for mobile devices today.  This would greatly enhance the possibilities for new marketing and advertising frontiers because it’s much easier to build out something that is more widely adopted and consistent.  No other mobile device currently integrates like this.

B2B Magazine reported that the next step for Google could further rewrite mobile marketing rule books.  Beyond mobile , Google could offer additional ad-supported, and potentially free, access to information via a variety of platforms including Web and mobile.  Free offerings benefit the consumer, but, also provide marketers with additional details to build out more robust consumer profiles.   This results in much more targeted marketing that breaks through the clutter.

Ultimately, the issue becomes one of how much consumer information collected via these means is too much.  However, consumers are often willing to provide some information for a tangible benefit.  In this case, if mobile Internet access, search, targeted search results and more becomes available for free in exchange for some consumer information that is disclosed to the end consumer as it’s collected, it could be a win-win.

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Barack Obama – He’s in the Game

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2008 by matts76

While watching the news this evening, I became aware of another creative way that the 2008 race for the White House is utilizing the best of new media marketing tactics to reach the voting public. This time, it’s Barack Obama–he’s in the game (literally).

In-game advertising, as well as building complete video games around a product or brand, like Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, is just the latest in a wave of new, innovative ways that marketers are reaching younger consumers. And, from now through November 3rd, the Obama camp is placing in-game ads in popular X-BOX Live games, from “Guitar Hero” to “Madden ’09” football. I think this is a great way to reach out and remind additional voters of the upcoming election, even if they choose to play video games rather than keep up with politics or the news.

The article notes that the in-game placements are meant to gain more buzz and traffic to the VoteforChange.com website, which utilizes even more new media tactics as part of an overall presidential marketing plan.

Now, if they could only get Obama and McCain to duke it out via a little competitive Wii boxing instead of through another stuffy debate that covers the same old ground and doesn’t really address many issues in detail. That would draw a crowd.

Talk about viral marketing buzz! Name a primetime date and time, and consumers across American would be setting their TiVos, streaming video live, capturing footage for YouTube, and tuning into TV to catch a glimpse of the candidates sparring on the Wii. It would be great.

Getting Dogged by Paid Search Placement?

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2008 by matts76

I’m heading out of town this week and needed to find a local doggy daycare and multi-day accommodations for my beagle-mix, Elvis.

So, like most people these days, I did a Google search for dog care centers in the Rockville, MD area to get some recommendations. I was surprised to see that the top “natural” result as well as the top paid result, via sponsored link, were both for the same care facility.

Of course, after seeing an ad for Ana’s Ark, a local dog kennel, as well as a “natural” search result that listed it at the top, I checked it out. I ended up visiting the facility and ultimately booked Elvis there. Another nice marketing move on the part of the facility was to offer a live doggie webcam so we can watch our dog if we want to. Sold.

From a marketing ethics perspective, I read where over 60% of adults have difficulty determining the difference between paid advertising and natural search results. This number seemed high to me, though, I guess it’s possible as different search engines distinguish paid ads and placement versus natural. I also feel that as younger generations mature, this number will drop significantly. Digital natives most likely can determine paid placement versus normal search results without much issue.

It is up to marketers to use good judgment in helping the current generation of consumers to determine paid versus unpaid. While ad revenue is what keeps engines going and benefits consumers just as TV ads help to keep TV rates in check, being sure that such “advertorial” type of content is distinguishable so that consumers can make their own choices is important.

The Politics of New and Emerging Media

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on October 15, 2008 by matts76

Sarah Palin certainly had a bad day earlier this week when she received a resounding boo when she arrived in Philly to drop the puck at the Flyers hockey game. Have a look for yourself:

This incident reminded me of how quickly the masses can not only turn on the best PR or marketing intentions and strategies, but can also let their thoughts be known to the world in a matter of minutes via blogs, chats, viral video, and social networks.  Even after publications like the LA Times ran the story, it was only as long as it took fans with video enabled mobile devices to get home from the game before the world caught a glimpse of some not-so-great publicity.

As marketers, examples like these remind us of how important it is to do thorough research before embarking on a plan or tactic.  For example, Philly fans are known to be very team loyal and brutal toward any outsiders.  With this in mind, another hockey city may have proven a more positive reception. Know your audience.

This 2008 presidential race itself has taken on more of a presence online and utilizes all online media platforms to reach the masses.  Yet,  it’s amazing to see that even the online marketing efforts by both John McCain and Barack Obama have been scrutinized for not complying with the e-mail and online information solicitation policies set forth by the FTC and other watchdogs.  Again, do  your background research.  Know the standard policies for e-mail opt-in, ease of navigation that makes consumer choice easy and so on before building out an online platform.

The candidates have even inspired amateur marketers to give their product hawking skills a go like the t-shirt design competition that evolved on Cafepress, known for letting anyone design their own graphics to apply to clothing and sell with no up front costs.  This again reflects how far-reaching marketing efforts, in this case to sell a candidate, can reach.  The best course of action before taking your message to the masses online is to know your audience, gauge their possible responses and be ready, evaluate message and responsiveness as the strategies and tactics are rolled out, correct as needed, and change course and respond to negative feedback transparently and constructively to prevent even more damage.

If a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, Then is a Viral Video Worth a Million?

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , on October 11, 2008 by matts76

Last Wednesday, I logged into Facebook to check and see if any friends were online and also to update my status with, at least in my mind, another witty statement to give friends a few laughs. I must say that I do like Facebook’s redesign, as it makes updating my profile easier.

On this particular visit, I look notice of something that I usually ignore completely–namely, the ads that Facebook serves up. It caught my attention because it was a thumbnailed video clip that announced that the new season of South Park was beginning that evening on Comedy Central. I had become so used to, and ignorant of, Facebook’s normal text ads that I was oblivious to them.

However, this ad not only presented me with valuable information, as I didn’t know South Park’s new season was about to begin, but also incorporated a viral video to get my attention, which I found unique amongst the usual ad serving that Facebook usually offers. Since the ad was from Comedy Central, a source that I’m interested in, I clicked the video as well. It offered a preview of that night’s premiere episode.

As seen in the screenshot below, Facebook is now using ads in the right sidebar of the page that go beyond text and incorporate images as well. I’m actually starting to notice them now.

I’m not sure if it’s the use of the color pictures in addition to text that finally got my attention, the positioning in the right sidebar that is Google-esque and familiar, or a combination in conjunction with the relative uniqueness of South Park’s video ad breaking through the clutter that got my attention.

While most of the ads don’t have any relevance to me, which makes them less than effective from an interactive marketing perspective, the occasional ad can have an impact in the case of the South Park video clip. The clip also fit Comedy Central’s online marketing efforts, as video clips of upcoming episodes are often offered as a preview through their website. By extending these same clips in thumbnail format to other platforms to gain interest, the effectiveness and reach goes even further.

Shine It Up Real Nice…Your Online Sales Depend on It

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by matts76

The importance of polished, professional looking web design has been repeated time and time again in the marketing realm. Research shows that consumers tend to purchase from, and have greater trust in, websites that are professionally designed, present transaction security confirmation, etc. Additionally, providing post-purchase tracking information and order confirmations via e-mail is important. Otherwise, consumers can think that the order wasn’t placed properly and credit card data is floating around in an online black hole.

I’m currently in the market for a new watch. I’ve been doing some comparison shopping online and was once again reminded of the importance of professional web design. While design that isn’t as flawless as most professional sites may not be an indication of a website that is any less secure or trustworthy, aesthetics definitely play a role in influencing my purchase.

I’m looking to purchase a watch in the $200 range, so, the watch isn’t high end but costs enough to warrant the need for a seemingly trustworthy retailer from which to buy. After doing an online search, I was presented with a variety of retailer results, including many who incorporated SEO and paid advertising marketing strategies to improve results and traffic.

The first site I clicked into was found via a Google ad. I personally feel that the look of the site, despite having security and Better Business Bureau online seals prominently displayed, didn’t look as professional as sites like Amazon.com, which also had the watch I was looking at, for the same price. Maybe it’s the way the page was laid out or the way links to products were presented, but the first site didn’t gain my trust. It just felt cluttered or somehow unofficial. It almost has a more amateur feel than Amazon.com and others. See samples below of Amazon vs. the other site:

Ultimately, Amazon will probably win when deciding the site from which I purchase my watch. I’m sure positive brand equity and previous experience with the site helps to enhance the clean, polished product presentation made on Amazon’s website. Even with the other website’s marketing offer promise of free shipping and a free Swiss army knife with purchase, I just wasn’t comfortable with providing my credit card information.

This online buying excursion reminded me of the importance of maintaining a polished look. But, really, in the business world, I think this is a common sentiment that is also something I was raised to believe. As my dad would say, have a polished look, maintain eye contact, smile, and have a firm hand shake to market yourself.

Compact Car Tries Making Sexytime with Consumers

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by matts76

As global economies continue to teeter on the edge of oblivion, consumers everywhere are being more conscientious about spending. The auto industry is being hit particularly hard, especially in the U.S. Drivers are traveling less to conserve on gasoline spending and trading guzzling SUVs for more practical, gas-sipping alternatives.

It seems that as vehicles become more fuel efficient and practical, they also move further away from the sexiness of, say, a Lamborghini or Ferrari. So, what’s a marketer to do? The last time I checked, talk of fuel efficiency didn’t get the average consumers pulse racing in anticipation.

French automaker Renault, known for fuel efficient, yet otherwise uninspiring cars that are sold primarily in Europe, is taking a stab at sexing up one of its compacts, the Twingo, in a new integrated marketing campaign. It is driven primarily via online videos and a racy website and is supplemented with print and TV ads. To me, it seems that they’re taking a page from the Mini Cooper playbook in making compact sexy.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the forthcoming campaign that focuses on the theme of being “in tune with today” and markets the Twingo through ads that inject sex, cross dressing, and even stripping to push the car that otherwise doesn’t appear to have had major redesign or look much different than the average compact.

Like it or not, porn has helped to drive the growth of the Internet, for better or worse. Renault has taken this concept and integrated it into the site that’ll launch to promote the Twingo.

It will apparently feature an age verification landing page where users confirm that they’re at least 18 years of age, a la porn sites, and then, upon clicking yes, are greeted with envelope-pushing (at least by U.S. standards) video clips and risque shots of the car itself, complete with pasties over the headlights, as seen here:

One of the viral videos that is launching to promote the Twingo features a guy driving the car to a nightclub with a group of friends, who, upon arrival, see the guy’s father dressed in drag waiting in line to get into the club. Despite what the viewer thinks will happen next, the guy asks his dad if he can get he and his friends into the club. Then, the Twingo tagline “In tune with today” runs to further promote the cars alleged “edginess” and hipness. Give it a look, and decide for yourself whether you think this viral tactic will actually convince consumers that the car is hip.

I think, from an integrated marketing campaign perspective, Renault is taking a unique approach in using humor and sex to change perceptions about an otherwise practical, yet uninspiring, car. It will be interesting to see if the campaign gets legs and helps to boost sales especially given the state of the economy. If nothing else, I think the videos that will be tied to the campaign are humorous enough to build some buzz and pass along.