Friday, December 19, 2008

Dude, where's my slide rule?

Take one part year end list-making tradition.

Mix heaping tablespoons of technology-driven innovation.

Add a pinch of recessionary pressure.

Stir vigorously--or beat relentlessly--your preference.

Bake half way and----and voila! The 2009 list of things on the path toward obsolescence.

Think of these soon to be relics not sadly, but with the fondness of a farewell said before a journey forward.

Play along. Add your own. It's hours of family fun!

In no particular order, here's a starter set:

-Film and film cameras
-Wireline telephones
-Incandescent light bulbs
-800x600 screen resolution
-Prime Time television
-CPM/online display advertising
-VCRs (anything really that plays or records to tape)
-Travel agents
-Printed Catalogs
-DVDs (sorry BluRay fans)
-Record companies
-Fax machines
-The US Postal Service
-General Motors
-Stock brokers
-Any phone that can't surf the web and text
-50% of all social networking sites
-The terms 'Social Marketing' and 'Social Media'

What's on your list?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Publicity + PR

[Today's post is by Laura Schmidt of the R+K's Public Relations practice]

I posted a couple of days ago (here) about the Diet Pepsi and Burger King ads (here) that are gaining a lot of publicity for their somewhat taboo approach to marketing. At the time, I promised to offer more insight into R+K’s point of view. Three points regarding publicity and PR – good and bad – for your consideration:

  1. PR is not publicity. Publicity, which generates consumer awareness, is only one function of public relations. A public relations campaign might include media relations, yes, but it also might solely be about public affairs, crisis communications, internal relations, events or message development and delivery.
  2. Publicity is about getting attention. PR is about influencing opinion. While a straight publicity stunt might gain public attention of a product, person, service, cause or organization, PR is meant to change public opinions and behaviors. At R+K, we dig deeper to identify credible insights and uncommon solutions to challenges that resonate with consumers, ultimately inspiring them to take action.
  3. Bad PR is bad PR. It’s a blessing and a curse, I suppose, that PR offers third-party credibility that other marketing approaches don’t. Why? It’s great for your brand or organization when you generate legitimate exposure among important, influential audiences. But your PR efforts can easily backfire when those same credible sources question, discount or attack you.

Need more food for thought? Check out our consumer education and advocacy Web site at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The selfish gene: self-reference in the AdAge

Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, published a book in 1976 called The Selfish Gene. In an oversimplification of his point of view, the idea is that genes are a means unto themselves (rather than being merely players in supporting the evolution of the organism that employs them).

Sometimes, according to Dawkins, genes even act in ways that benefit themselves at the expense of the organism (think genetically induced diseases for instance).

What does this have to do with marketing? Or advertising? Or the interwebs?

Traditional advertising is a selfish approach to marketing. It not that it presumes to know what others want or need...that's not selfish, it's arrogant. It's that traditional approaches to advertising interrupt and demand that attention be rendered unto it.

Once upon a time when time seemed less scarce, when mass media was the only option, and before media consumers were themselves media producers, selfish advertising worked. It worked for it's own interests.

The environment has changed. Customers and prospects are all selfish, sometimes in a very public way. I'm not talking about people being uncaring or without charity. Quite the contrary. I'm talking about the selfishness of individual choices and self expression in the marketplace.

Consumers (not a term, I trust, most of us would choose to define our interests) have always been's just that in the always-on, democratized media environment today, selfish advertising doesn't stand a chance against the infinite choices in self interest a person now has.

When an environment changes, organisms must adapt to survive. The same holds true for marketers. They must be cognizant that selfish prospects want to decide what's good for themselves. A marketer who takes an unselfish approach to engaging self-interested prospects might just find a way to survive...and thrive.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Word of mouth goes to the dogs

Playing on recognizable relationship stereotypes from across generations, JCPenney has unleashed a long form word of mouth video...just in time for the holidays.

Though there are surely countless numbers of those who won't get it, won't like it, and won't see themselves as the target, the vid plays the foil to the more classically romantic 'Diamonds Are Forever' and the insipid 'He Went to Jared' campaigns using humor, fast moving storyline, and believable actors.

Most importantly, the sell is subtle...and it comes at the end in an unobtrusive reference that fits within a narrative designed around human relationships.

Produced by Saatchi + Saatchi New York, the video is, of course, on YouTube (see below). But it also resides on it's own promotional URL

The site allows one to send someone to the virtual doghouse for prior behavior, to learn how to get out of the doghouse should you find yourself there already, and most forward a message by email to those significant others who may be in need of holiday reminders that no bad gift deed shall go unpunished.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

May I see your papers please?

Last week I flew out of ORD...on time no less.

Big deal, you say, so do 77 Million other people a year (though of course they don;t all leave on time)!

And this would be no special trip (they all are) except that I flew out after using an electronic boarding pass on my mobile device.

American Airlines launched a mobile boarding pass application the week of 11/23 that enables travellers originating out of OHare, LAX and LGA to download a boarding pass to their mobile device (full details here).

The way it works is that you recieve a message on your mobile device. The message enables you to download a data matrix image (A GS1 data matrix I beleive. see below). At the airport security screening station, you hold your mobile device screen over a scanner. The image you downloaded is scanned and confirms you as, if not trustworthy, at least in possession of a valid boarding pass. The TSA agent still wants to see your id of course, but no obscure symbols are marked on your device screen.

At the gate, you hold your mobile phone in front of the scanner that the gate agent uses for those possessing paper passes and...voila...aboard you go.

Boarding passes are small pieces of paper...which is precisely why the mobile device presents an advantage. No small piece of paper to misplace. Not world changing, but an incremental improvement that foreshadows completely electronic identification.

Why not a driver's license on my device? Or a passport? Based on a biometric key like retina scan or fingerprint, it would certainly seem at least as secure as our current paper-based approaches.

Here's my pass

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Accounting for reach: the IAB goes dictionary

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (henceforth, IAB) has released a set of Online Audience Reach Measurement standards for public comment (here).

One might ask what took so long...then again, it is easy to forget that the explosion in approaches to audience measurement--commensurate with widespread adoption of the web and broadband--is fairly recent by historical advertising standards.

The IAB puts it's intent thusly:

"This document is intended principally to guide the definition and application of measures that are to be used for commercial, revenue-generation purposes, and not necessarily those that may be developed and used for other internal or related non-commercial uses."

In other words (mine), now that the traditional media buying entities have accepted online advertising with vigor, we need to ensure that there are some common definitions around what publishers represent and what an online ad buyer can buy...definitions that accommodate the way they are used to buying traditional media.

In some ways I suppose this is an inevitable outcome of the promise of measurement online colliding with the reality of media planning offline. Offline media planning and buying has been all about identifying under of over indexing against spartan human descriptions like age, gender and race (an oversimplification I know, but also a point of understanding I hope).

So codifying definitions of reach and the ways in which they are measured is certainly to be applauded by those entrusted with buying media the old way. How one defines unique visitors, time spent on site, page views and the more obscure implications of technologies like flash, ajax or server-side applications can all result in widely varying estimates of reach.

Advertisers, publishers and everyone involved in the planning, buying and followthrough of online advertising will benefit from transparency and standardization. When a publisher reports that they have 80% reach among a target audience online, the IAB guidelines should help advertisers and their agents make a decision with some certainty that they understand where the 80% came from. It should help them evaluate CPM-based ad rates with more precision.

If you are a reach and frequency fan, then these are good for you.

It is not apparent, though, how any of this addresses the larger issues of pay-for-performance, engagement, user control, or return on investment. If you are focussed on engaging a smaller, long tail audience more intensely, then these guidelines won;t do your bidding.

These guidelines may help in developing unique, campaign-specific metrics aligned with real business objectives: cost reduction, sales, and service aligned with customer value are but a few examples...but these types of goals will require more than is contained in any set of advertising measures.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The end of slideshows: A world premiere

Tired of trying to make powerpoint move? Not sure you have the creative genetics to make your photogallery project groove?

Animoto is feeling you. Boldly proclaiming "the end of slideshows" Animoto provides a web-hosted application that takes your tired, poor, huddled images and turns them into shining beacons of slideshow movie creativity...with optional DVD quality no less.

The secret sauce (so they say) is that Animoto analyzes your images and then applies algorithms created by real life creative geniuses (directors) to devise a one-of-a-kind movie--complete with transitions, effects and edits all based on your images. And there's more!

Got an ear for a tune? You can upload your own Emmy-winning musical score, or just plain tune, or you can select from Animoto's pre-licensed music (available in a variety of styles from classical to hiphop to, well let's just call it electronic metal).

I created a demo video using random images from my computer (I was curious how Animoto's algorithm would treat them). The entire process to create my 23-second masterpiece took a grand total of 275 seconds (not counting Animoto's rendering time of 5 minutes...which was plenty of time to delete the holiday spam in my inbox).

So what?

Though the output reflects the input mostly, it also reflects an improved end to the one that requires more time or money than you have.

By embedding the expertise of video professionals in software, Animoto creates a tool that gets a job done: all without a battle of wills over creative control. It certainly won't replace professionals in those situations that require them...but it will make a lot of amateurs look a lot better...and like so many other applications of cheap computing, client expectations of cost and complexity will be influenced by consumer tools like Animoto.

And unlike iMovie, Windows Movie Maker or other consumer tools for stringing together the pretties, the hosted application approach of Animoto means it can be done without a wire and without software.

And without further hesitation, I bring you the world premiere of the Animoto collaboration entitled...Demo*

*Bonus points for anyone who can identify with reasonable accuracy more than 5 of the 9 images in this visually stunting movie.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cars, banks and ad performance: The Sporting News

The Hollywood Reporter (no, I don't usually visit, but this is research!) has an article about a report on ad spending among financial services firms: down 10% this year through 3 quarters.

Of course that's overall. Ad spending by formerly fat cats like Bank of America (the #3 financial services ad spender), is down 30% this year...shareholders can only wish the stock price was doing as well (BAC down 70%).  Financial Services firms and the other major beleaguered industry, Automakers, represent two of the big three TV advertiser categories (consumer goods being number 3). 

Automakers have reduced TV spending in 12 consecutive quarters. Even supposing they successfully lobby for taxpayer money, it's hard to imagine those funds will be put to use paying advertising bills.   

So what?

Financial services and Autos represent the two biggest spenders in televised sports (10% of all sports advertising according to Steve Lanzano of ad group MPG North America). Should spending on sports wane, then inventory becomes available. And with any commodity whose supply exceeds demand, prices will drop (see here for a take on ad deflation).

It may be that sports sponsorships and advertising will become affordable for second tier defined as those who have cash. 

It might also be that those with now-scarce cash for advertising demand something more for their money than their name on a 'sponsored by' screen: namely, they may demand performance. 

A recession in ad spending may move all industries once and for all toward performance based models of advertising...the kind direct response marketers have lived with for years.  

How many Buicks did GM sell because of Tiger Wood's celebrity? How many leads did the stunning ad during the Master's generate? In the future, one might expect that question to be answered by a marketing executive in front of his shareholders, in front of the campaign...not by a CEO in front of Congress after the money is gone. 

It would be only sporting:  advertisers pay not just to have their ads show up, but like the athletes they are underwriting, for actually performing. That's a game that's not limited to professional sports.

All grown up now: The Mac OS gets viral

After years of proclaiming a virus-free computing environment, Apple quietly announces its recommendation that Mac users get antivirus software (see the Apple Support forum here).

Or perhaps, just a sophisticated way of generating sales from the Apple store in a down environment?

UPDATED 12/3...apparently Apple has removed the referenced posting to the support page. A spokesperson claims "it was old and outdated information." Computer security experts ask why they wouldn't update the information it rather than removing it.  Especially since Apple's share of the market has grown slightly. Full controversy here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

3600 shots to the groin later: YouTube goes realtime

On Saturday, 11/22/08, YouTube will go live.

Say what?

After nearly a year of promises, YouTube, the video sharing site that brings you--among other things--more than 3560 videos of people being hit in the groin, will broadcast a live show beginning at 5pm PST.

The live event will include popular entertainers (many of whom have had their work incorporated into fan-created videos and parodies) such as hip-hop icon Akon, dance sergeant Souljaboy and even real-life guitar hero Joe Satriani.

Most importantly is the participation of real-life YouTube community stars such as:
  • variety videographer LisaNova (whose YouTube channel has been visited more than 9 Million times.)
  • Blender-maker Blendtec and their 'Will it blend' series (YouTube channel visits more than 2 million)
  • Teen, "I have anger management issues" Fred Figglehorn (More than 9 million channel views)
So what?

Google, YouTube's owner, spent more than $1B for YouTube. And though YouTube's traffic is ginormous, revenues are not. The live event portends two things in my mind:

1. It moves YouTube into the domain of the traditional broadcast networks. Though user-generated videos have certainly captured the timeshares of many timeshifted television viewers, the networks have still dominated live video events...YouTube would seem to be attacking this last bastion of broadcast network advantage.

2. It focusses advertisers on the possiblities of YouTube as a legitimate advertising vehicle by highlighting the YouTube channel offering. Advertisers can treat YouTube as a custom broadcaster for their material...with their own channel...whether it's short form videos, 120 second infomercials or even creative testing, YouTube channels gives advertisers an equal footing with the individual YouTube producer. Integrated with automated subscriptions, feeds and Google's search terms, the YouTube channel highlights the ease of use, doityourself YouTube Channel toolset

YouTube live, it seems, is just the latest step in forcing the definition of a stupid network back to its smart roots (see here and here for a couple of example posts on defining the network).

Who needs an iPhone?

For those who would like their mobile devices to be a little more, um, human, there is Handsolo:

The best part is that this parody is brought to you by those who have an actual stake in the future of mobile devices: Qualcomm.

The call to action leads to a discussion of the wireless future at the Qualcomm site,

And though the gratuitous video of Marketing VP Dan Novak is worth skipping, the scenario-based narratives after the intro do a fine job of explaining innovation so close you might already recognize its presence. Handsolo uses humor and absurdity to engage your attention and then bring you just a step back from the fantastic to the possible.

My favorite is the boxer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Confirmation bias in market research: The circular references

If you've ever implemented a formula in a spreadsheet like Excel, you've probably experienced the Circular Reference Warning at some time or another. That's the one that tells you your formula relies on the value of itself to calculate itself...a self-referencing system of sorts.

I was reminded of the self-referencing nature of some market research when participating in an online survey panel recently. The survey contained many questions with four-box response options. For example:

How likely would you be to invest in a company whose reputation is environmentally friendly?

1. Highly unlikely
2. Somewhat unlikely
3. Somewhat likely
4. Highly likely

Overlooking the construct of the question itself, the challenge with this response format is that it forces the respondent to have an opinion..What if I am neither? Certainly a four box response provides a neat and tidy interpretation for the ambiguity, no fence sitting. But does it capture any truth?

What's wrong with discovering that your survey audience has no opinion? Isn't that an opportunity for marketing? Or would we rather that the survey force the issue? Requiring that the audience declare themselves as conforming to one side or the other of a binary world view?

If the opposite of love is apathy how does a four-box, love-hate response provide a reference point we don't already possess?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flat is the new up: outrunning the ad bear

There's well worn camper's humor about being able to outrun a bear in the wild. If you and your fellow campers encounter a bear, you don't have to outrun the only have to outrun the other campers.

Beyond the official decrees of economists, there are some data points in online ad revenue that may indicate that the ad bear is in the campground. The guys at TechCrunch have, well, crunched the data and it's soft: 3rd quarter revenue at the big four online ad companies (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL) is up just 6 tenths of a percentage over the second quarter (see the chart below):

(chart via TechCrunch)

So what?

One can certainly argue that all growth must slow at some point: afterall, there are only so many ads that can be served to long tail attention spans limited by the 24 hours in everyone's day...but another obvious correlation is the rapid descent of overall economic growth over the last 4 quarters.

And if the most-measurable-of-results ad formats are flattening so rapidly, one might expect the electionless 1Q09 to hold dire results for more traditional forms of consumer dollars become scarcer commodities, cost-pressured marketing dollars can be expected to make their way to performance-based advertising...and if performance-based advertising is flat, it may at least outrun the slower CPM-based ad campers.

So as the ad bear approaches, marketers may do well to remember the importance of being able to measure results against their advertising...anything that looks like an assertion built upon an assumption may look like lunch for the ad bear.

Friday, November 14, 2008

You-pay-me brand marketing

I've always harbored a suspicion that the brand logo on my shirt was free marketing for the company when I wore the garment...why not pay me to wear a logo'd version of the apparel?

In the new era of consumer control, here's someone making a run at that model:

Girl inYour Shirt

For $75/day, this enterprising girl will wear your shirt (you provide the shirt). The line extensions are obvious:

Guy in your car...Mom in your movie...Dad in your bar....and a new interpretation of one's willingness to 'walk a mile in your shoes'.

Search engine secrets: 101

How do I get my website at the top of the organic (non paid) search results on Google?

Google has compiled and released a best practices starter guide sheet. Mostly it aggregates information already available and provides some detail beyond previous releases of information.

The organic results question has spawned an entire industry of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professionals who, to varying degrees, implement practices that they claim will optimize your site for top organic results. As we've previously posted, some of these SEO specialists are selling snake oil...most are legitimately trying to set the stage for success.

Google's techniques are pretty redundant for anyone whose explored this area in detail, but the techniques are a good overview for anyone new to search/web development and include narrative on:

  1. Page titles, tags and meta tags (make 'em accurate descriptions of the content)
  2. URL structure (simplifying URL's and directories to reflect words and content when possible)
  3. Navigation (employing naturally flowing hierarchies and breadcrumb navigation)
  4. Content (using language relevant to the topic and informative anchor text)
Most importantly, Google's guide reminds one of the importance of promoting sites in a manner that generates relevance: Simply building a site and expecting traffic will lead to less than optimal results...from both an organic positioning and traffic volume perspective.

SEO success according to Google it seems is in doing the the things that clearly identify your site as relevant to someone seeking something it supports. In that way, the big secret--and challenge--of SEO is simply getting the thing done.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google's In-Flu-ence: The illness of crowds

In yet another fascinating example of Google's power (both the power of the data they have access to and their power to crunch it), they've announced the availability of Flu Trends.

The premise is simple: track where people are searching on terms associated with influenza (especially symptoms and treatments) to see if there are trends that can forecast influenza outbreaks.

Given the realtime nature of the data, combined with Google as a nearly ubiquitous starting point for information seekers online, one wonders what other wisdom might be mined from Google's data on what the crowd wants to know.

Fire ant sightings? Kudzu migration? Lindsay Lohan sightings? Of course Google trends has been on the scene for years...But predictive epidemiology data? That's where you have to have a baseline to compare the hypothesis against the experiment...and CDC data is the baseline.  Alas, Google searches do appear to be accurate predictors of flu outbreak (see chart).  

The global network becomes the hivemind...I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords' influence.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trust me

I suppose one can point to trust as an issue in the long-building financial crisis of the day. 

To some, it was an abuse of trust that led to no-money down, no-proof-of income mortgages and other forms of cheaply financed debt. The debt that got packaged as exotic derivatives (or government bonds?) and sold down the line to trusting souls (in soulless corporations and sovereign wealth funds!) who, though they didn't understand what they were buying, nevertheless trusted the seller...or at least trusted that they could find a buyer behind them. 

And isn't that part of the culture in a reasonably free market? Buyers trust sellers--and vice versa. And what of reasonably free marketers in a reasonably free market...what obligations to trust do they hold? 

I'm not talking about fraud. I'm talking about the very human tendency toward hopeful exaggeration...the size of the fish that got away...the proximity one has to someone famous...the features, benefits or results that a product will deliver.  How will marketers build trust, let alone maintain it, in a marketing environment that demands proof of truth as a prerequisite?

It won't be built through cynicism, certainly. But neither will it be built through unverifiably optimistic promises and pablums in messages that reflect the wishes of the marketer more than the truth of the customer's experience. 

Spend without spending? Save without saving? Be more doing 

In a show-me-don't-tell-me market, friends and family are the only ones who will have continued access to low cost trust--advertisers will find that the new price of trust can't be financed through words least, not theirs. 

Who do you trust?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Newsmagazines dis paper: Life imitates...gaming

Our Public Relations director, Deron, forwarded an article about US News and World Report's decisions to refocus from its print versions of the #3 news magazine in favor of the the process pursuing something they call Journalism 5.0 (I must have missed versions 2.0-4.9?).

Combatting the same declining readership/decreasing ad revenues as their print newspaper peers, the decision seems appropriate if not a bit overdue...though the article did not go so far as to say that USNWR will abandon print (as the Christian Science Monitor has) ti clearly appears that standing one's traditional ground is going to be more difficult.

Here's what came to mind when the article made it's way to me: Substitute the web as the weapon and it seems to me that the last print pub standing gets pwnd by the N00b.


MyAds: Banner ads reborn?

MySpace, the oft-maligned, drab older cousin to Facebook's freaky fashionability is taking the growing up seriously. Ever since their acquisition by Fox Interactive Media, they've pursued a revenue generation strategy around advertising innovation. 

And now, one month from it's launch, MySpace is generating estimated revenue of $140,000-$180,000 per day using a pay-per-click display advertising model (according to TechCrunch).

So what?

Display advertising (also referred to as banner ads) has known issues (banner blindness and CPM deflation being two among many). But the MySpace model is intriguing for what it enables:

1. Do it yourself ad creation
2. Pay per click pricing

Combined with MySpace's long tail, tribal approach to community (i.e., you associate with those whose interests are relevant to your own--like music, pet ownership or tatoos!), one might expect many community-generated banner ads to actually reflect the community's values rather than an ad agency or marketer's interpretation of those values. 

Combined with pay-per-click pricing, one might expect that these potentially more authentic ads might outperform their less relevant, intrusive messaging foils--and therefore attract more spending. In fact, IAB reports for the 3rd quarter of 2008 show that CPM-based approaches to online advertising are already showing flattening spend levels, while performance-based models continue to rise (see prior post here). MySpace would appear to be on the right road there.

But what about the 'quality' of the ads? That argument, like many subjective arguments over quality, will have to have performance data to back it up or it will be an argument of interest only to those making it. An ad created by someone within the community has alot of intrinsic advantages over an outsider with an art degree.

Online, good design is design that works. If a person with inexpensive, off-the-shelf tools  (e.g., Flash, Photoshop) can create display ads that get measurable results, those who have made a living on self-evident value judgements may have to rethink their approach...or focus on the communities that they are part of. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mobile Video: an army of amateurs

Comscore has released its latest 3-month stats on mobile video use and the numbers are interesting for two reasons:

1. More than one-third of all mobile subscribers in the US have watched video on their device
2. Amateur video clips represent the most viewed type of video followed by music and comedy videos

While a single data point certainly does not equal a trend, the growing number of mobile subscribers accessing video supports the notion of anywhere, anytime, anydata connectivity becoming the expectation. 

It also speaks to the growing value that people are finding in their mobile devices, making the mobile device something most would have difficulty giving up (see here for data on wants vs. needs). 

The predominance of amateur and short form video, combined with the resistance to marketing on mobile devices, suggests marketers will have to find ways to engage amateur's (customers?)--either as content providers or as willing participants in the distribution of any mobile videomarketing effort.

Prior postings on mobile here and here.

Comscore press release here

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forrester Day 2 Summary

Day 2 wrapped up the 2008 Consumer Forum. Here's the summary (typos included free of charge!):

  • Consumer 2018: Separating fact from fad (here)
  • Using digital channels to fuesl the world's largest airline (here)
  • Embracing the multichannel customer (here)
  • Why we buy: the science of shopping (here)
  • CRM 2.0: Managing relationships with customers of the future (here)

And in case you missed it, here's was Day 1

Day 1 included:
  • Four ways to identify and satisfy consumer needs for the future (here)
  • The view of change from NBC television's position (here)
  • A poorly defined customer 200.0 from Acxiom (here if you dare)
  • Enthusiastic description of Blockbuster as multi channel distribution network (here)
  • Keeping consumers happy in a cross channel world (here)
  • Using social media to evolve consumer insight (here)
  • Qualitative, Quantitative and Ethnographic maket research approaches (here)
And the highlight of highlights was Patsy winning the Amazon Kindleby texting a promo code during the Acxiom session!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CRM 2.0: Managing relationships with future customers

Bill Band, Vice President, Forrester

  • Groundswell is about people collaborating with one another to obtain things from each other rather than organizations, such as corporations [e.g., self organizing tech support conversations online]
  • Relationships with customers will be simultaneous and collaborative in nature
  • Different level of participation in online activities
  • Claim: 50% of online are active creators; 15% are  critics; 19% are collectors; 33% are spectators [lurkers]; the balance are inactives [I think people probably occupy different personas depending on their social may be more likely to lurk in a context where you are a novice for instance]
New requirements for success in the world of the social customer
  • Create customer-to-customer interaction
  • Enrich customer based differentiation...boost customer experience discipline
  • Build dynamic solutions to support collaboration...put right data into the hands of the right people.
  • Web 2.0 Communities and Usability merge with CRM 1.0 data to enable CRM 2.0
Changing role of customer facing functions, from old role -->new objective 

  • Research--> Listening (monitoring buzz, developing sounding board community)
  • Marketing-->Talking (encouraging loyal customers to spread word, social networks)
  • Sales--> Energizing (USe customer opinions, designate lead customers/LinkedIn)
  • Service-->Supporting
  • Product Development-->Embracing
Early adopters and how they are approaching it
  • Starwood: automated capture of unstructured data on a consumer forum (FlyerTalk) and created an index of sentiment. Included competitive monitoring and isolation of key issues. Support from Anderson Analytics and SPSS.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group: To improve customer experience (in addition to tangible things like towels and such) they leveraged their loyalty program (PRiority Club) as outbound to create a community for discussing and testing new ideas. Find this cost effective alternative to traditional market research methods. Support from Communispace.
  • LucidEra: Online analytics company. Accelerate the process from lead to sale.. Used InsideView to pull together a social media sales profile on the prospect that can be shared with the sales force.
  • Electronic Arts: Incorporated customer support inside the large multiplayer games on line. Partnered with RightNow Tehnologies
  • Dell: IDeastorm as a customer-generated idea platform. Customers directly contribute to ideas and community then votes on ideas as a way to identify the most promising ideas for product development. Partnered with

Social dispticks: Shopping as change indicator

Paco Underhill, Author of "Why We Buy: The science of shopping"
Founder and CEO of Research and Consulting firm Envirosell

  • Claim: Visual language is evolving faster than spoken language. 
  • Claim: Most of the people designing the new visual language are younger...
  • The majority of the developed world's discretionary income is in the hands of the over-50s.
  • Claim: We live in a world owned, designed, and managed by men...and yet a world that expects women to participate. What makes this female friendly?
  • [gender stereotypes are shooting forth from the stage...]
  • Claim: 60% of all university attendees are female.
  • Time: our approach to retail and online is about saving time...but this requires that we distinguish between novice thru expert.
  • Global vs. Local
  • Maslow's hierarchy of needs is being reordered...claim: around the world people are paying their mobile phone bills before housing or clothing. The need to stay connected.
  • Convergence between online, mobile and bricks and mortar are colliding.
  • [Video of how Envirosell does research...instore video and interviews...ethnographic approach...a usability-like approach to understanding consumer behavior at retail]
  • [would be an interesting approach to support consumer brands associated with insect control!]
  • IN 2008 collecting data is easy. The challenge is not collecting data its deciding what to do with it.
Audience Questions
  • How do we integrate data with understanding? Look at inventing tools that can be used in an ongoing basis. Going out and taking a look in place is still important to informing the data that can be collected thru automated means.
  • What do you think about customer centric models? We either have to specialize or supersize...who do we want to serve? Be good at it.Being all things to all people is becoming less and less viable [what does this say about the integrated agency model?]
  • How does your research method work? Always with permission of the merchant. Sometimes put a sign in the store that market research is being conducted. Observational researcher...not particularly concerned with waht the individual does, but rather patterns...does not feel particularly concerned with privacy of those being observed in public. The obligation is to act responsibly with the data.
  • What major changes have you seen in shopping patterns? Their are certain things that are biologically based and true (e.g., right handedness). Some things vary by geography and culture. Other changes are occuring in people as a species...such as evaluating our lives with a different view (such as approaching an age of austerity due to economic conditions and the acute awareness in the disparity between rich and poor)...he beleives suburbia and cars are evil and explain the rise in the need for connection online. [though in this age of self evidence, we will expect no more than this uninformed opinion to support itself ;-) ] 

Credit to the Customer: Citi

Embracing the Multichannel Customer

Debra Coughlin, Executive Vice President, CMO
Citi Brands

  • Dynamic brand engagement
  • Shift from talking at the customer to listening 
  • Four types of consumer: New customer, Loyalist, Researcher, unaware
  • Category clutter: consumers typically have four credit cards
  • Claim: 31% of customer commitment is determined by brand [but what does that mean?]
  • Used innovative research techniques to identify the Citi brand "If you were a credit card company what kind of party would you throw? Who would you invite?" [wow.]
  • Credit card statements are at the heart of 'What's your story" campaign.
  • [fun brand ads...but how does this make me choose citi?]
  • Television: used for...awareness [hmm..]
  • [Engagement here is all on the terms of Citi...I suppose that explains why Citi thought it was ok to sweep customer overpays into an interest bearing account that paid citi...not the customer  see here for more...but enough about Citi, what do you think of us?].
  • [Ok, I'm being critical...not to be confused with unfair, but certainly critical]
  • "We did a program that was so integrated that the results were phenomenal"
  • "The results delivered were stupendous brand stories"
  • "The TV and print were 3x as effective as our other campaigns"
  • [Ok, this explains why some CMOs have no credibility with people who do math].
  • [they did win an award though]
  • [Wachovia should be happy for Wells Fargo]
  • The future is now [true dat]
  • A true dialogue [true dat...but not at Citi]

Fly me courageous: adopting digital channels for American Airlines

Using Digital Channels to Fuel the World's Largest Airline

Daniel P. Garton, Executive Vice President, Marketing
AMR Corp., and American Airlines

Using digital media to attract and interact
  • Claim: 75% of people research travel online; 50% of business travelers book online, though 40% of leisure do
  • Claim: is the 11th most visited site in the travel category.
  • Strategy is: be innovative, but watch what others do...sometimes being number two is better (just ask the second mouse to get to the trap)
  • Claim: 1.6 million visitors a day...70% of hte ir customers visited the site in the last 12 months...90% of the gold/platinum customers.
  • Providing options in booking to enable cusotmer needs to be balanced against price, schedule and extra services (such as baggage charges, mileage bonus)
  • For AAdvantage customers, making award booking more convenient and transparent.
  • Downloadable desktop widget (Dealfinder) for searching and presenting user-defined travel options via RSS...automating the search against user what customers are interested in to the revenue management group.
  • Future of mobility, profile based notification, electronic boarding passes, bundlin
  • 25% of advertising is spent, mobile, microsites, messageboards, Facebook, travel aggregators...among others.
Using technology to serve customers during travel
  • Customer technologies: Onboard power ports, entertainment and connectivity, and self service machines...all aligned with the idea of maximizing the customer's time (esp frequent flier)
  • Employee tools: Automating the airport experience using enhanced gate displays, gate advisors, bag finder and Helix...a program that looks at individual customers and aligns high value who have had a bad experience and treat them differently.
Using digital to maintain contact post travel
  • Half of Advantage miles earned are from non-flight partners.
  • New members get 4 emails initially to encourage engagement...monthly memeber statements after opt-in.
  • USe of digital promotions and customized offers to encourage activity.
  • Milefinder Map:  locating ways to earn and burn miles with partners in local context (i.e., your neighborhood...and see comment about the partner).

2018: The not so distant future

Lisa Bradner, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research

Consumer 2018: Separating Fact from Fad

  • People change...what's a truth and what's a phase?
The convenience conundrum
  • Meeting the four needs (connection, uniqueness, confort and variety) with convenience is what drives adoption. 
  • In marketing, the convenience has sometimes been prioritized around our needs...which is thet masss approach. Marketers attempt to provide comfort and convenience to the top of the bell curve, ignoring the uniqueness at either end of the curve.
  • Claim: 72% of consumers say prior experience drives brand loyalty [I trust me, not your ads]
  • Claim: 58% of online adults say they trust online reviews more than any other medium except email from friends [in other words, it's the people!]
  • It's not about the channels [i.e., it's not the vehicles]
  • It's not about messages [interest ebbs and flows based o n macro factors]
  • It's not a one size fits all approach to needs [somtimes I need variety...other times not so much]
The new P's
  • Company focused P's: Product, price, place, promotion are replaced by consumer focussed P's: Permission, Proximity, Perception and Participation
  • Permission: people derive confort by having control over who and when they connect. 68% of US adults subscribe to DO NOt Control list; 59% use popup blocking; 69% have opted out of an email list they opted into. What do you have to do to get their permission? Give them product samples (34%) or enter a sweepstakes (22%). Only 18% would do it for relevant informaiton.
  • Proximity: people tap into the networks and affilitaions based on comfort. 75% online have read customer ratings and 76% say it influences thier purchase decision. 87% say they friend are people they know well. only 8% friend companies or brands. [It's people!]
  • Perception: people inhabit multiple personas. 49% of online youth have more than one online identity. 73% have more than one email address they only share with certain people. [youngest people already are managing their online personas].
  • Participation: 51% online willing to participate in online communcaty organized by a company. 56% willing to give back to a community by writing online reviews.
  • Marketers cannot drive the consumer P's...respect them and try to meet them..letting hteconsumers drive it.
Getting ready for the next decade
  • Brands matter...they are how you sort out the cesspool of the internet (Eric Schmidt, Google CEO)
  • 59% say they were influenced to feel favorable about a brand based on branded content
  • 53% of youth are willingt to receive email from brands. [but what youth use email?]
  • 43% willing to receive texts [which means 57% are not]
  • Permission is paramount...if you don;t have it you have nothing. Use exclusivity to gain only get access with an invite from a friend [Augusta National??]
  • Engage the persona that the consumer shows you.
  • Connect where the consumer wants you to.
  • Embrace participation.

Day 1 Summary | Day 2 agenda

Day 1 included:

  • Four ways to identify and satisfy consumer needs for the future (here)
  • The view of change from NBC television's position (here)
  • A poorly defined customer 200.0 from Acxiom (here if you dare)
  • Enthusiastic description of Blockbuster as multi channel distribution network (here)
  • Keeping consumers happy in a cross channel world (here)
  • Using social media to evolve consumer insight (here)
  • Qualitative, Quantitative and Ethnographic maket research approaches (here)
And the highlight of highlights was Patsy winning the Amazon Kindle by texting a promo code during the Acxiom session!

Day 2 Promises:
  • Consumer 2018: Fact from Fad
  • Using digital channels to fuel the world's largest airline (AMR)
  • Embracing the multichannel customer
  • Shopping as the dipstick of social change
  • Afternoon breakout sessions

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rational and Emotional: Methods for understanding consumers

Using Qualititative and Quantitative Methods to Understand Consumers

A Panel discussion featuring JP Gownder of Forrester; Meredith Lind of Momentum Market Intelligence; and Robin Beers of Wells Fargo.

Research Methods:
  • Important to match the type of research to the organization's culture [numbers versus stories].
  • Qualitative [focus groups; interviews] Quantitative [surveys]; and Ethnographic [observation in context].
  • [Market researchers need help in information design...especially in ppt :) ]
  • Ethnography: all about the context of the participant's life [akin to usability testing in situ]
  • Methodologies work best when mixed [focus groups alone are a dangerous way to proceed unless you are looking for confirmation of your biases]
Recommended sequence of study:
  • Ethnography-->Focus Groups--> Survey 
  • [it does beg the question of online ethnography: studying the conversation online may be it's own outcome. Likewise, participating in the conversation as a marketer may not require formal research to generate ideas, especially if the participants are generating the ideas]
  • Broadening the scope of research to include contexts that span household and work.
"Ethnography privledges the native's point of view" [...applied to marketing this would be privledging the customer's point of view...from software it's user-centered design.]

ROI: Return on Insight

Viva La Evolution: A panel discussion with Deborah Shultz (stratgic Advisor on Social Media to P&G) and David Armano (VP of Experience Design for Critical Mass)

Risks of Social Media
  • Social Media and the legal department haven;t evolved at the same rate [rights management/privacy for instance]
  • Grandiose plans...start small [this is risk mitigation strategy...if you can fail without risk, though, you aren't creating revolution. Most companies are not configured to be revolutionaries of course]
  • [The biggest risk is that you challenge the existing way things are done...and that can be as  much a personal risk as an organizational risk]
Best practices for big companies
  • Brands are broadcasters...this model is dead. 
  • Marketers as customer advocates are the important role...marketers as broadcasters are assembly line workers.
  • The call center associate is closest to the customer and yet viewed as lowliest n the organizational totem pole [is the receptionist one of the most important voices in the organization?]
  • Facilitation versus Managers: you don;t manage your suctomer's conversations, but you can have people who faciliate and seed conversations among cusotmers.
  • Comcast and Twitter example: when people are talking about your brand, the best response is 'How can I help?'
  • Ask forgiveness...not permission
Conventional Marketing
  • Big ideas-->big launch-->big budgets
Unconventional Marketing
  • Plan/Design/Launch/Measure-->insights->little strategy->adjust-->Plan/Design/Launch/Measure [same process as software development...beta, release 1, etc.]
Online communities provide an excellent source of research into the customer mindsight. Verus traditiona research, you are not limited by size, controlled discussion and context-free assessment.

Marketers are not in the business of selling advertising, they sell products [Mad Men reference!]...selling products in the future will require more engagement in directly talking wtih customers. 

Return on Insght:
  • Rather than calculating a hard economic return on investement, recognize that much of social media and customer interaction is learning. In that regard, the appropriate metric is return on insight.

Happiness is...happy consumers

How to keep cross channel consumers happy

Adele Sage, Analyst
Forrester Research

  • A story about an intent to purchase a digital camera [you've been get customer service...they can't answer your question...or transfer you to someone who get po'd].
  • [Several key customer experience points ripe with opportunity for epic fail: researching the product purchase; tracking status; obtaining support
Theme: Time to fix cross channel experiences

  • Channels include chat, web, store, phone, email, mobile.
  • Claim: For purchasing, more consumers going across channels (web, phone, instore)...71% of consumers are cross channel shoppers. Only 29% are web only shoppers.
  • Claim: For service/support, 43% used most prevalent is web form at 23%.
  • Claim: Satisfaction with experience is low...61% rate experience across channels as poor or very poor.
How to Fix?
  • Focus on one channel pair at a time: for<-->email...web<-->store
  • Use scenario design for experiences: Who are the users, what are their goals and what path can you help them take to achieve them.
  • Do research...ethnographic research to create a persona based profile. [Sounds alot like observation-based usability research techniques employed in early stages of product/software design]
  • Three components of channel design: CHoice, Consistency, Continuity
  • as a best practice in choice: ability to schedule a time online that a BB associate will call you by phone.
  • Consistency of words and information used [this is a principle of interface design...consistency over elegance in interface design]: Kohls uses same images on line that they use instore on packaging...consistency from a user perspective. 
  • Continuity: Preserving context across channels...providing same 800 number online, in email and during confirmation of order/shipping status communications...providing inventory status instore while researching product online (Circuit City site) agent knows who you are when you've already entered data in voice response system (Macy's).
[An interesting session on looking at cross channel experiences...many of hte points struck me as some of the fundamental principles of designing products and software as promulgated by the likes of Don Norman, Jakob Neilsen and others...suggesting that experience design can learn alot from product design...and that marketing would do well to employ them.]

Brother can you spare a dime?: Blockbuster makes change

James W. Keyes, Chairman and Chief Executive

Creating Value by Making Change

  • Former CEO of 7-11
  • The demise of Blockbuster has been greatly exaggerated
  • A demonstration of change...the 45 rpm record adapter. [Record stores, huh?]
  • People think Blockbuster is going the way of record stores...the stores are a strength, not a millstone.
  • How are 7Eleven and Blockbuster the same? New competitors have emerged to fulfill the changing needs of customers. 
  • But technology enabled 7-11 to customize the items offered in each store in a way that enabled more efficient retailing by looking at store data. 
  • Blockbuster started with the idea as a convenience store for entertainment. 
  • Originally, Blockbuster didn''t even sell DVDs...because the model was rental. [and it's tough for a mature company to think different].
  • Change required adapting to consumer Blockbuster will sell OR rent.
  • Why Blockbuster? The opportunity to change. [Another Apple example...some forget that Apple needed to change in the late was the introduction of the iPod that built the change momentum]
  • The New Blockbuster: Reinventing the idea of convenient entertainment. 
  • Step 1: Name's Blockbuster Media. Not Blockbuster Video.
  • Step 2: Offering Rental, Purchase, Trade-in
Convenience and the Blockbuster Business Model
  • DVDs are convenient because they are portable [yes, but so is a wireless broadband network]
  • People won;t want to be tethered to a single TV such as set top boxes [again, wireless broadband or satellite aren;t tethered].
  • Subscriptions: will be older stuff...not the newest. [I think this is wishful thinking...if you have hot content, you want it on as many networks as possible...what's a cable subscription afterall?]
  • Blockbuster is pursuing a subscription model too, however.
  • Canbe the only company that can go across all channels--store, online, set top-- [does this make them a distribution network? it would seem the reasonable definition of Blockbuster now... the difficulty is getting the physical presence weighting right since brick and mortar cost more than electrons].
  • The instore challenge: fixing the supply chain to have adequate supply of the films people want in store...for rent or buy. 
  • Bringing in gaming: Rock The Block campaign to highlight video games and promotion of games like Rockband and Guitar Hero.
  • Putting Coca Cola cafes in stores to combat low volume days.
  • Stocking hardware...offering Blue Ray hardware for purchase in store...devices for online download...gaming systems.
  • Licensing products: Merchandise associated with films (posters, toys, apparel).
  • Vending and Digital Kiosks: a kiosk that can link to and in an airport load content onto a Flash Memory card (competing with Redbox).
  • Blockbuster is trying to out-convenience Netflix by mail and Redbox in vending and own the instore experience.
  • And unlike Apple and others who are tethering you to one device, Blockbuster is pursuing aggregated digital rights management for multiple devices...independent of platform [A huge opportunity precisely because it is so daunting in a world of open standards and competition].
[The new ad...gotta say its a classic example of brand advertising and it leaves me cold. Tell me why I should care but don;t tell me its cause you're telling me.]

Audience questions:
  • Are you getting ahead of your consumers with some of your new things (e.g., kiosks)? I don;t worry about getting ahead because they are have to worry about getting ahead of the investors. Which is why they havent built a settop box yet.
  • What was the logic behind the Circuit City acquisition (and others)? Generally prefers partnering. Acquiring a subscriber to movie service happens at the retail purchase. The thought is to be there at the purchase of the hardware...not as a separate and later attempt. Try to create a technology-agnostic store for media, hardware, software and service (like Apple Store but without the limit of one brand).
  • Best practices for buy online/pick up instore? Key comes down to not physical versus digital but viewing the cusotmer relationship as central...when you access, wherever you choose to do it, you are identified and have one relationship independent of the platform.

Pleased to meet you...hope you guessed my name

With all due respect to those moss-covered icons of rock and roll, we present...Web 2.0...Meet Consumer 200.0 [I'll guess that the order of magnitude is significant, but...we'll see.]

Tim Suther, Senior Vice President

  • [Register to win a Kindle...just text message the Acxiom number 39763 with the word CONNECT...I suppose you should be here, but hey. Information wants to be free.]
  • [oh, my. What Acxiom this considered product placement?]
  • And now, the content...
  • More choice, more innovation, connection, accountability, execution risk...complexity...blahblah.
  • [Nice background pitures of Deer or Bryce Canyon in hte slide background however.]
  • Claim: $112 Billion in advertising wasted.
  • Claim: only 45% of people (according to Edelman survey) beleive media...same survey says only 22% beleive advertising.
  • Web 2.0 [a taxonomy..better off looking it up on Wikipedia].
  • Consumer 200.0...collaboration is in the DNA of consumers...which are defined by 9 lifestage characteristics. [huh?]
  • Claim: 42% of consumer's time is spent online, but only 11% of advertising dollars are.
Now what?
  • Confluence [the single word that answers it all]?
  • [Let's look it up..."a flowing together"]
  • Confluence 1: Channels...not just coordination.
  • Confluence 2: Browsing and buying. [Nothing predicts in store behavior like shopping online, right? Apparently you beleive Widescreen tv purchase is explained by having viewed online military sites? Me neither] 
  • Confluence 3: Data. Looking at who visits your site and what other sites they visit...and tailoring to that knowledge [great support for understanding the data, but where's the action steps?]
  • Confluence 4: between publishers and advertisers [hmm. Is the publisher a content network or a distribution network? The difference is important in the networked world since its not likely that you can be both]. Bringing a direct marketing sensibility to marketing [ok, that works]
And with that, we'll forego further typing and leave you with a link to some real sympathy for the devil instead.

Audience questions:

  • Role of economy in affecting growth of online ad spend? Forsees online growing due ot the accountable nature of online ads...sees some flattening of growth, especially in branded advertising online (see prior positng on IAB stats here)
  • Privacy...will new administration legislate online privacy concerns? Sees other issues as dominanting attention but anticipates some form of behavior based targetting legislation [see prior posting on Network Advertising Initiative here]

NBC Universal: A television network's point of view

Cameron Death (like 'teeth')
VP Digital Content 

Fundamental Shifts
  • DVRs...34% of people who watch The Office watch it when they want [Death, rhymes with breath, of appointment television]
  • Broadband...>half of homes have it...consumers able and willing to watch video online...have to find new  ways to give consumers content when and where they want it [hmm...really?]
  • Adoption rates of technology increasing [or time to reach critical mass of adoption is decreasing]
  • Changing attitudes toward television...attention shifting while multiple screens are competing for attention...engaging and active experience rather than passive, network controlled experience
So what are they doing giving all this?
  • Accomodating the wired [wireless??] consumer. They've invested in building as a destination site...28.8 million short form video streams in September. Average visitor spending 80+ minutes each per month [which is one third of the daily TV average according to the Ball State Media Consumption study]
  • Interestingly, Heroes had 24.5 Million viewers for TV...8.1 Million viewed it online.
  • Online reach is extending reach, not cannibalizing it [for now].
  • Example of interactivity: Enabling people to create their own virtual office with content they wouldn;t get simply watching the show.
  • Hulu...a syndication platform where users can ingest content where they are [ingest...consume...traditional terms for media imo].
  • NBC Universall Digital Studio: Create original digital-only content produced with brands, marketers and writers working together.
[gotta take a break and find a power outlet]

Satisfy consumers for the next decade

James L. McQuivey, PhD
VicePresident, Principal Analyst

  • The adoption curve (the hockey stick!)...70% of people are connected by...wait for it...household electrification rates from the 1930s. So all the technology adoption curves behave according to an adoption curve that looks like a hockey stick.
  • How can we use this to forecast consumer behavior? 
  • Why do some people adopt technology sooner than others? [Enough question, we want answers!]
  • The answer: eventually, obtaining technology becomes convenient enough. 
  • Put another way, when the technology becomes convenient enough, it is rapidly adopted. 
  • Point: people share a set of universal needs...satisfy these needs with convenience and you will win. [the challenge is idenitfying the need, not the device]
  • What do people really need? How can you give it to them? What should you do to be ready? That's the agenda for this.
  • What are universal human needs? [Well, Maslow is a start]...but he thinks Maslow was wrong in a particular way: they are not ordered...they are messy [and this is where we get to the individual, right? your order is not my order]

Here's the Forrester view of 4 universal needs:
  • Connection--being connected to something bigger than ourselves [why politics and religion work for so many]
  • Uniqueness--we are special [the individual!]
  • Comfort--[hope?]
  • Variety--[play and learning?]
  • So what?: Everybody has all four...they just vary by individual. [of course the variety embedded in the term variety is, well, quite variable].
  • Our needs shift over time, and we'll tradeoff our needs against themselves [ourselves?]...we'll trade comfort for variety for example.
  • [haha...fictional tradeoff in choosing between a PC and a Mac..against the four types of needs].

How do you give people what they need [against these needs]?
  • You win with convenience. It is a means of access to their is not a need unto itself.
  • Convenience = All the benefits of you product/service minus all the barriers of it
  • Digital camera example: $1669 sony 1Megapixel camera in print service online in 2003...17 models with 5 megapixels for under $100 at Walmart in 2008...Digital Camera penetration at >70% in 2008. [Convenience driven by the cheap revolution]
What do you need to do to succeed?
  • Know your customer's target need profile [there's an average, but you have to leave room for variation or this is little more than another attempt to define prism-like clusters!]
  • Know and increase your convenience quotient [and of course Forrester offers reearch to define the quotient for you]...the quotient is a single score between -1 and expresses the benefits - the barriers. [obviously useful for establishing directional baselines versus competitiors and alternative approaches from the same organization...can R+K establish a convenience quotient for our service offerings? Perhaps a meaningful approach to evaluating innovation at the agency?]
  • Examples in customer service application of the cQ like evaluating FAQs, sending an email and calling an 800 number.
Summary, Audience Questions and Random Thoughts
  • People share a set of universal needs--satisfy them with convenience and you will win.
  • [Diane and I think it would be an interesting exercise to apply a Convenience Quotient exercise against some of our clients brands]
  • Forrester shooting for a 12 question approach to identifying the four needs.
  • A fair amount of qualitative/subjective data applied to the profile.
  • Do you think needs analysis will carry across cultures? We have confidence these needs are universal. 
  • [the challenge is of course that defining these needs with specificity is where we are different].
  • [Convenience is not the same as simplistic...if you enjoy complexity, convenience is not about simplifying things that are part of the complicated need...hiding the data associated with training for a marathon is not the same as providing convenient access to it and the tools to manipulate it...spreadsheet software, web applications are examples?].

Opening: 10/28

Carrie Johnson, Forrester Vice President of Research, introduces the session. 

Keeping Ahead of Tomorrow's Customer

  • Starting off with reference to 'elephant in the room' (no John McCain isnt here!)...the downer jones industrial average and its impacto on all of us.
  • I hope they didn;t have to revise their presentation much...
  • Are people fundamentally different? No, she says, when it comes to certain things...obviously referring to 'people' generally as opposed to people individually.
  • What's changed? Active media consumption vs. passive...hmm.
  • Nice  chart of internet penetration and broadband...the broadband curve is rapidly apporaching the internet penetration curve.
  • We can;t predict the market, but we can forecast customer behavioral trends.
  • Customer data is the key to these, I mean forecasts.
  • The case is made that behavioral trends are happening independent of economic cycles (but have we really had a realistic economic cycle in the last 15 years?).
  • The peril of short term thinking..not staying ahead of your customers.

Event Schedule: 10/28 morning

If you have a particular interest, you can check it out as follows this morning (of course it will always be here in perpetuity!):

9:00 AM: Satisfying consumers for the next decade
9:35--Tuninng into Online Consumers
11:00--Web 2.0 meet consumer 200.0
1145: Creating value by making change

Monday, October 27, 2008

Semi-live blog: Forrester Consumer Forum

I'll be sharing perspectives from the Forrester Research Consumer Forum Tuesday and Wednesday, 10/28-29.

In addition to group sessions on the 20 year view of technology, change management, social media 3.0 (argh!) and their impact on--or from--the consumer, I've scheduled small group sessions on research methods, customer data and relationship management and segmentation among others.

I'll also share the perspectives of Diane, Robert and Patsy as they navigate their own forum sessions. 

If you have specific questions or areas of interest, leave a comment and we'll try to tailor the commentary. 

YouTube Video gets to the point

One of the challenges of video snacking on YouTube is that sometimes the best part of a video is buried inside a longer cut. When forwarding to friends and colleagues, YouTube now allows you to send a link to the specific part of the video by adding the timestamp to the end of the link.

Like this: 

Getting to the point...or the lack of one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Broadcast news: a million monkeys

One of the struggles of being a TV broadcaster these days is how to make money. You have expensive content...expensive infrastructure...and lots of people. 

Well, here comes the technology-enabled, always-on, hyper networked world to the rescue in the form of Syndicaster. Syndicaster does what good technology always drives out the inefficiencies of some task. In this case, the inefficiencies of TV stations being able to post their news clips online.

Syndicaster removes the need for:
  • TV stations to have separate, expensive video conversion equipment (it handles it online)
  • Separate video editors at each station to run the expensive conversion equipment
  • Keyword indexing and posting to online video networks such as YouTube or AOL videos
...among others.

Most intriguing is the impending release of a consumer version. And in this case, Syndicaster may be the tough love broadcast news needs to survive: if blogs turned everyone into a potential editorialist, Syndicaster could conceivably turn everyone into a syndicated a smartphone video camera and Syndicaster? On the scene of the story? Your news footage (with commentary) could get worldwide distribution across all the (online) networks of importance in a matter of minutes.  Think of it as RSS feeds for video news.

In that world, broadcast news may have to focus on being broadcast or news. Aggregating the best locally produced, amateur-shot news and sending it out over the airwaves is one possible role reversal of fortune. The other might be enlisting an army of amateur videographers and aggregating the content under a branded news organization (can you say AP?)...sort of like America's Funniest Videos...only timelier and more newsworthy than videos of people being hit in the crotch with baseballs.

With a million monkeys typing at keyboards and shooting video for syndication with their point of view, sooner or later you'll get a few thousand Walter Conkrites in their own virtual news rooms...the dumb networks (e.g., YouTube, AOL) will be there to distribute whatever it is they create...which will be one more step in the democratization of news.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apple advertises the value of...advertising

Apple's quick comeback in the escalating advertising war with Microsoft seems to question the value of advertising in attempting to define the brand experience... 

An interesting attempt by Apple to define Vista as 'broken'...a much narrower definition of the battle than when it was then entire PC vs. Mac hardware/OS combo...if you are Apple, that pile of advertising money probably looks like a lot.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Online advertising: No immunity?

Price Waterhouse Coopers released it's 2008 first quarter online advertising report (here) for the IAB a couple of weeks ago.  It contains some interesting data on the state of the online advertising business:

1. Online advertising continues to grow in double digits (newsflash, I know)
2. Performance-based pricing models (i.e., clicks vs. impressions) now represent a majority of revenues (52%)
3. Display advertising, rich media and other traditional ad formats moved online are flat or on the remains the growth story.

chart via PWC 

So what?

As we've harped on previously regarding banner blindness, CPM deflation and more, the notion of passive, intrusive ad models online makes little sense in a lean-in, user controlled experience. The data from the report would indicate that search, which melds the user's defintion of relevance with pay for performance pricing, is looking like the most sustainable model of online advertising. Relevance remains a challenge for search marketers though lesser than CPM/Intrusive models.

The economy affects everyone of course. The economic downturn can be expected to exert even more pressure on CPM pricing. If and when search revenue tracks flat or turns down, expect display and rich media to have paved the way by many months.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mail Goggles: Protecting users from themselves

Google's corporate missions is to 'Do No Evil' And so here they come with tools to help you adopt their mission in your own email life: Mail Goggles.

If you activate Mail Goggles on your gmail account, then you'll have to answer a series of simple questions to send email late at night...that's right, if you are up late tapping away that impassioned missive to the boss, or that reminiscence of the past good times with the ex, Google's Mail Goggles intends to help you avoid embarassment or a lawsuit.

It works by asking you to solve a few simple problems within a time limit before it will send your email...the premise being that if you and Jack Daniels have gotten a little too cozy, then a failure to send might prevent an Epic Fail of poor form communications when you wake up the next morning muttering to yourself about how it seemed so much better when you wrote it.

See for yourself here at the GMail Blog  

Friday, October 17, 2008

Under pressure: Tribune vs. AP

The Tribune company gave notice to the Associated Press that it would drop the APs service in 2010.

Interesting that the AP could get a contract that required two year's notice in the first place, but the Tribune company may be firing the shot in an attempt to hedge their bets against a possible sale...or just to have negotiating leverage. 

Full story available at Editor and Publisher, here

So what?

Newspaper readership continue to slide nearly as quickly as the stock market (see prior post on reaership here)...with so much of the AP's content available online via news aggregators--and essentially free--one might see an analogy to manufacturing:

"a manufacturer (AP) sells through distribution (the papers)" 

The trouble, if you will, comes from AP going direct to consumers (via aggregators)...while trying to maintain pricing power as if the distributors had exclusivity!

As the newspapers struggle to find their voice in the community they serve, I'd expect more of them to question the ROI of AP-provided stories.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mastering Word of Mouth: Liveblog

Several of us are attending a word of mouth audio conference that includes: Andy Sernovitz of GasPedal; Mike Manuel of Voce, and the Dell Computer Vice President of Communities and Conversations, Bob Pearson. Here's what I hear as I hear it:

Bob Pearson:

Dell community starting do we solve customer problems online?

Theme: providing venues and tools for customers themselves and other customers in tech support....morphed to customer idea generation via Ideatorm site...everyone get smarter together...including Dell.

Importance of real conversations versus content dumping on customers.

Andy Sernovitz:

What is word of mouth marketing? Giving people a reason to talk about your stuff and making it easier for them to do it.

Sometimes we get obsessed with the 'how to make it easier' before thinking through the reason to talk.

A simple question to ask: Would anybody tell a friend about this? 

If the answer is no, then the idea is not good enough for a word of mouth approach...'no' means you have to do something unpleasant and boring: advertising or...PR.

Bob Pearson:

Avoid conference room think...if you are monitoring blogs and other customer-in ideas, then better batting average than when coming up wiht an idea and throwing it out there.

Mike Manuel:

Two most important things to do are: put yourself in a position to identify conversations...especially the conversations of influencers. Also, finding ways to implement new platforms for entering in the conversations (e.g., press release platform is failing).  [such as??]

Bob Pearson on issues management applications of WOM:

Radian 6 Blog monitoring software enables them to identify trends/issues that may be brewing...enables rapid response.

Andy Sernovitz:

Steps of a word of mouth campaign:

id talkers: whose going to talk
topics: what's the message
tools: how do you make it easy for talkers to spread the conversation
tracking: how do you monitor the conversation


Creating word of mouth that matters is a doesn;t happen without earning it.


Word of mouth includes both good and bad..there is now a permanent record in Google of bot good and bad that can become word of mouth fodder.

[...and now we get the two cents on twitter and other tools...argh and blahblah!!]

Q: How does reputation management fit in with--or differ from--word of mouth mktg?


Do you want to be part of shaping the brand via the conversations taking place or let your customers manage it for you?

Q: How does PR work in the word of mouth space (i.e., should you identify yourself?)?


Anyone talking about Dell business should identify themselves as Dell. Scripting isn;t real [authenticity!]. 


Blog Council [ ]has published a document on how to do disclosure the right way...bottom line is that you always disclose all the time...if you don;t consumers will ifnd out [transparency!]

Q: role of search in WOM?


Search becomes the archive of these conversations online...and so many start there, that they become the entry way to conversations that may or may not be update.

Q: Role of video in word of mouth?

Bob: is an example of aggrergating company, customer, and 3rd party reviews and perspectives on Dell products.


Video is difficult to get to work well if you haven;t defined the audience well and what they are willing to tolerate/engage [useful, usable, desirable!]

The Role of Infuencers in WOM


Talkers and owners are not necessarily the same people. Ferrari owners are not the folks who are going to be the talkers...its the people who wish they had one.

Creating opportunities for talkers to volunteer is a simple first step in identifying the influencers.


Dell forums have scales...some become MVPs or platinum levels. For various reasons these infuencers have chosen to be way to guess who they are, rather provide the atmosphere for them and then support those who step forward.

Q: How is word of mouth different for large and small companies?


I can't see alot of difference. We don;t look at our peers in understanding this...we look at Zappos and others. 


The biggest difference for big and small is that big companies are a little more complicated. For small companies is that you can try it...and see what works without spending alot of money. Try a word of mouth something every week.

Q: How to measure ROI of WOM?


Micromeasures...what does success look like in the Twitter site we created, the Facebook account, the blog?

Macromeasures...what are we trying to accomplish overall with all the elements [campaign measures].

[At this point the hour long audio conference was turned over to real live questions from more insightful than what's already been covered].