Mobile Advertising Is Growing

August 10th, 2010

Take a look at some of the recent trends in this growing media

We have been writing a lot about mobile lately since we are deep in the planning process for a mobile retail mobile advertising project.

Last year, advertisers spent $218 million on mobile advertising according to research firm IDC. This year the total is expected to be $418 million and reach $1.8 billion by 2014. Recently, Apple announced iAd, its own ad network for iPhones and iPads. And, Google now owns mobile ad networks Ad Mob and Quattro. The market makers are certainly banking on the enormous potential of mobile advertising. Supporting the growth in mobile advertising is the growth in mobile search. Google is reporting a 500% increase in mobile search with 1/3 of the searches seeking local content.

Nielson sees the mobile ad market splitting into two main segments, premium ads and mass market ads. Premium ads are commanding premium prices from advertisers. According to Medialets, cost per thousand impressions ranges from $15 to $50 for a rich media ad. Banner ad costs are ranging from $8 to $15 cost per thousand impressions. Advertisers are willing to pay the premium prices for media rich ads since they are effective in holding a consumer’s attention and brand recall.

So what is working from the consumer’s perspective?

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, consumers are willing to tolerate mobile ads if they are unobtrusive, targeted toward their taste and offer something unique. Interestingly, 56% of the teenagers surveyed said they would be interested in ads with incentives with 37% of adults surveyed saying the same. The number one incentive named by all polled was cash. This was followed by entertainment downloads, free mobile minutes and discounts.

Mobile advertising will continue to grow and evolve. For mobile advertising service providers and ad agencies, the revenue and profit opportunity for mobile campaigns still lags far behind the traditional and online media channels.

Okay. So how will the recent trends in mobile advertising impact how you manage your business in the digital world?

Mobile to Measure Media Consumption

July 27th, 2010

Will the iPhone become the new “viewer diary”?

Measuring media consumption in the multi-media world we live in is a difficult problem to solve.  In the old world, Nielsen recruits viewers who keep diaries and have set meters to track their television viewing.  In the new world, it is the iPhone that is poised to be the anchor of a new initiative to measure media consumption that covers the landscape-from TV to digital media delivered through mobile phones and computers.

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), a group made up of the media and advertising agencies, is planning to give away free iPhones to consumers who agree to log their media consumption into a special application.  The plan calls for 1,000 participants and a budget of just under $1 million.  The Wall Street Journal has a good article on this subject, “Tallying Up Viewers” by Suzanne Vranica that outlines the details of the CIMM’s plans.

Nielsen has been at the media measurement business for nearly a century and has been relied upon as the source for TV viewership.  They started in the 1920s measuring brand advertising, advancing to radio in the 1930s and television in the 1950s.  Here in 2010, they plan to install internet measurement devices and offering data later this year.  It will be interesting to see how the use of the iPhone for multi-media measurement will impact their business.  Yet again, the iPhone could be the catalyst for change and in the media measurement market…not media delivery!

From a practical point of view, it will be interesting to see how accurate data collection will be. Expecting a person to accurately track media coming at you from many sources, in many ways and at a rapid pace sounds challenging.  Nielsen’s television measurement metrics are focused on a single medium and in most cases with meters attached to the device…a television.  Their data is often challenged.  Using mobile, specifically the iPhone, to track media will take some time to mature.

Yet again, the iPhone is playing a part in blazing the trail for measuring media in the digital world.

Okay.  So how will innovations in measuring media consumption impact how you manage your business in the digital world?

Social Slams

July 19th, 2010

How are you dealing with your social media critics?

Last week, we had a long discussion about dealing with responses from social media critics for one of our retail clients.  This includes responding to the legitimate disgruntled customers to dealing with the outright irrational and devious comments.  The latter could include comments from unethical competitors.

Social media makes many CEOs cringe.  They can feel completely powerless.  The ugly stuff is out there for all to see and is viral.  It can snowball with others joining the fray.  Some comments are left just for the fun of it.  The negative side of social media can leave you feeling your brand is indefensible.

The reality is social media is here to stay.  And, it can be a very powerful way for you to engage your customers and build brand loyalty.  Thinking about the positive side of social media is a good way to start assessing how you deal with the negative comments.  If you are committed to social media, and some businesses like our retail client have no choice, you need to establish your strategy for dealing with negative comments.

Our recommendation is to be proactive.  Responding to social media comments whether positive or negative demonstrates as a company you are listening. Don’t stoop to the level of appearing to be negative or bashing a customer for a negative comment.  It is hard to leave your emotions and passion for your business out of the equation and respond in a rational way.  You need to be the “adult” in these situations.  Step back and think before you respond.  Examine all the ways you can reach out and repair the situation. Most of all be positive and sincere in your response.

Realize you have the advantage.  If it is a legitimate gripe, you know the product and you might have that customer’s purchase history available to you.  Use whatever information you have before you respond.  Offer the person the opportunity to call a specific customer service agent to resolve a complex situation.  This will go a long way when others see how far you have gone.  You might turn a sharp critic into one of your best customers. If and when you resolve the customer’s problem, consider publishing the outcome on social media to demonstrate your organization listens, cares and takes action.

For false and misleading information about your business and products, there are remedies.  On some social sites  (ie: Facebook) you can delete the misleading information and even put a block on the individual making the post. If you identify the individual is a competitor, you may consider sending a formal complaint suggesting such behavior is not acceptable and could result in serious ramifications. Information posted on a web site is not immune to laws related to defamation, fair competition, or trademarks.  If you find yourself in an extreme situation, document the occurrences.  The postings might violate the terms of service of the social media web site.  You can request content be removed.  If things are out of hand, there are legal steps you can take.  Hopefully, you will never have that experience.

The bottom line is to be proactive and try and turn the negatives into positives.  Have a policy on how you respond so it is not emotional but rational.  Realize if things get out of hand, there are remedies.

Okay.  So how will you deal with social slams in managing your business in the digital world?

Digital Media Blur

July 9th, 2010

Do you see the convergence of social media with advertising and retail?

Recent news articles published about Facebook building its advertising business using social-context ads is an example of the building convergence with advertising. Sites such as SwagBucks, Lockerz, and Groupon mixing social media, games, and shopping are examples of the convergence with retail.

First, let’s examine social-context advertising. Social-context ads are ads that members of a social media community have indicated they like the ad or brand. In the case of Facebook, the site collects the data and posts the names of friends of a user as part of the ad on the right side of their homepage. The user also has the opportunity to indicate they like the ad or brand.

According to a study by Nielson, the recall of an ad increases by 68% and awareness of the brand’s message is doubled when the viewer of the ad sees the name of a person they know included in the ad. This creates quite a powerful ad impression for the advertiser and certainly a good CPM (cost per thousand) for selling the ad impression. Facebook, which has about 500 million users, is positioning itself for a bigger piece of the online advertising market. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Facebook Touts Selling Power of Friendship” drills down even more on this topic.

Next there is the mixing of social media, editorial content, and games with shopping. A site called Lockerz allows users to earn points for watching videos with ads, taking surveys, completing social media tasks, and getting others to join. The site recently launched an online shopping mall that will allow users to shop and redeem points for discounts. The mall will carry products from major brands such as Sony, Ben Sherman, and Nintendo. Lockerz claims to have about 16 million registered members.

As for building shareholder value, investors in successful “mixing sites” are realizing great value. Groupon, which offers its members deals for restaurants and services, is reported to be valued at $1.35 billion.

The convergence of social media with advertising and retail is forever changing consumer behavior.

Okay. How is the convergence of social media with advertising and retail impacting how you manage your enterprise in the digital world?

Privacy in the Digital World

July 2nd, 2010

Are you in step with the budding privacy regulation?

Every day millions of people entrust their personal information to a variety of web sites. Social media sites such as Facebook sometimes contain the most intimate details about a person’s life. The intention is not to share this information with marketers and scam artists. Employees of big corporations with access to consumer information sometimes mishandle the data and put it into the hands of fraudsters. We have all read the stories.

Last July, a group representing marketers, advertisers, and internet companies came up with a set of guidelines calling for websites to explain in detail how they track and use information about consumers. The FTC is taking this matter seriously as well and published its goals in a report “Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavior Advertising”. The guidelines adopted by the group are based on the FTC report.

In addition to guidelines, the group tapped a start-up company, Better Advertising Project, for the technology to monitor website activity. The company will collect anonymous data from a variety of sources. They have already mapped about 5 million domains and send the data to the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association which will determine whether companies are violating the industry guidelines. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “To Stem Privacy Abuses, Industry Groups Will Track Web Trackers” by Emily Steel does a good job outlining the plans.

As a leader in social marketing sites, Facebook is in a unique position to protect consumer privacy but has been slow to take a proactive stance. Facebook’s approach seems to be the consumer has to opt-in to keep their information confidential. For the unsophisticated Facebook user, it is not clear when you sign-on that the default setting is all your information is public. Mark Zuckenberg , Facebook CEO, has been openly criticized on blogs and the general media for not taking a more proactive response to protecting their members privacy. Facebook would have a lot to gain if it just adopted its original 2005 of sharing information with just your friends. There is a good article in Newsweek from May that outlines the issues.

Location software used in smart phones such as the iPhone and other devices use GPS, WiFi Networks, and cellular towers to establish a user’s location within 60 feet. This rapidly spreading technology is also raising the concern of privacy watchdogs. Many businesses using this type of technology are not clearly informing consumers about the kind of data they track and how they use it.

Privacy regulation will continue to evolve with digital media as it did with the evolution of database marketing and call centers back in the 1990s. It is important for marketers, advertisers, and technology providers to self-regulate and be transparent. Otherwise, we will face government intervention that can slow down the growth and use of digital media.

Okay. Are you considering privacy issues as your enterprise in the digital world?

The Digital Future of Publishing

June 17th, 2010

Changes in the world of publishing you should know about

The Apple iPad and Amazon’s Kindle have made buying and reading books easier and, in some cases, cheaper.  What about the authors and publishers? How has the digital world impacted their lives?

In 2009, book sales fell 1.8% to $239 billion while eBook sales tripled to $313 million according to the Association of American Publishers. They are also projecting eBook sales to be between 20% – 25% of the total book market by 2012, up from a 5% – 10% share today. Although the numbers now show traditional books are far ahead in real dollars, the growth trend is showing how quickly that lead can disappear. We all are aware of what has happened in the newspaper industry.

EBooks has opened the door for authors to self-publish online. Digital media has given authors more control, speed-to-market, and a way of getting their book published cost effectively. In fact there are a number of ways to get your eBook published virtually for free. Smashword.com and Barnes & Noble’s Pubit! (coming this summer) allow you to make your books available through the #1 book retailer, Barnes & Nobile. Smashwords.com also provides distribution to Amazon’s Kindle book store. These services typically allow you to set the price. This allows authors to test different price points of their eBooks at little or no risk.

The numbers are attractive as well. Amazon, for example, pays its e-book authors up to 70% of revenue. This is much greater than the 10% to 20% an author could receive from a traditional publisher. Apple recently launched a similar program for eBook publishers too.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article “The Future of the Book” by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Jeffery A. Trachtenberg that does a great job outlining the changes in the publishing world in more detail.

There are other options beyond self-publishing to making books and other content available through digital media. You can create an application that is available to iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android users. This is a more complicated and costly option. It would require a developer to create the application.

Today, a savvy writer needs to develop a digital platform strategy. This includes a web site, blog, social media sites, video, Twitter, etc. The eBook is the marquee for the platform and a natural extension of digital media. It is also a pathway for building a following for your book and content. Building an online following through digital media first will certainly help an author sell their book to a publisher for distribution through traditional book sales channels.

Okay. So how are changes in the publishing world impacting your enterprise in the digital world?

Want to Reach Consumers? 10 New stats about mobile’s influence on consumers

June 11th, 2010

A recent study by PriceGrabber.com grabbed our attention.

Mobile technology is continuing to play an ever increasing role in the purchase decision by consumers. Weather information, driving directions, news alerts, and checking sports scores still top the list. Price checking, browsing products and product research are growing.

Here are excerpts from the survey:
• 22% of consumers use their phone to check prices…up 6% from a year ago

• 21% of web-enabled phone owners use their phone to research products… up 5% from a year ago

• 19% of consumers use their phones to browse products…up 5% from a year ago

• 13% of web-enabled phone owners use their phone to research products…up 3% from a year ago

• 35% of smart phone users say they participated in some kind of mobile shopping activity within the past 12 months…up 17% from a year ago

• 13% of consumers indicated purchasing from their web-enabled phone

• 53% of online consumers own a smart phone or other web enabled phone

• 64% of web-enabled phones are 3G compatible up 16% from a year ago

• 77% use their mobile device to check the weather…up 21% from a year ago

• 67% use their mobile device for driving directions…up 19% from a year ago

Okay. So how are the trends in using mobile devices impacting your enterprise in the digital world?

The new Apple iPhone 4G is coming! How Apple is continuing to disrupt industries and make markets

June 7th, 2010

Today, at Apple’s World Wide Development Conference in San Francisco, the iPhone 4G is expected to be launched.

New features of the iPhone 4G include a front facing video camera, video chat, extreme downloading capabilities, improved display, and increased processing and graphics horsepower. The new look includes a flat back, aluminum boarder, and a squared off look. The new phone will be 3 grams heavier with a 16% larger battery.

The impact of the feature rich new phone reaching both Verizon subscribers and more AT&T subscribers will accelerate social media engagement. Better camera features will fuel rich tweets and Facebook posts not to mention YouTube.

Apple iPhone users and those that just must have the latest cool device will be looking to purchase a new phone. This trade-up activity continues to disrupt and make markets.

One industry that is being disrupted by Apple’s continuing development of more robust features is the networks that support mobile phones. T-Mobile and Sprint already have networks in place to support a 4G device. AT&T and Verizon are working on the capabilities and will need to catch up. It is rumored today that AT&T may be moving up their upgrade date for all existing iPhone users. This may be their response to the speculation Verizon will be offering the iPhone later this year. We are all waiting for common standards in this industry that will allow mobile to explode.

One of the markets that is being made and reaping the benefits from Apple’s continuing development of more robust devices is the used iPhone market. Local companies like NextWorth make an upgrade to the new iPhone virtually free to existing 3GS iPhone users. Other trade-in companies like Gazelle also offer cash for iPhone trade-ins but have less competitive pricing. There are companies like Cexchange which offer attractive cash prices but will typically reduces the buy-back price when they receive your goods by downgrading the condition of the device. In addition to free shipping, they also provide an economical way to get an earlier version for a great price. In any event, these services eliminate the hassle of establishing a price or negotiating if you tried to sell your phone on eBay or CraigsList, for example.

These are only two examples of how advances in mobile media are changing businesses.

Okay. So how are the latest advances in mobile media impacting your enterprise in the digital world?

Are you thinking about monetizing content using Social Media?

June 1st, 2010

This week we had the pleasure to present the strategic framework for the digital media platform for a new specialized health content site. The founder has written extensively in the field. He is a well know subject matter expert. This should provide for an abundance of quality content.

As we walked through the framework, questions came up as to why the need to spend time and money for a Blog, a Facebook page, tweets, etc. This is a new world for our client. The main question was:

How will all this help me make money?

As part of our research, we reviewed the dominant business models for monetizing social media networks. We found a simple and clear outline of the business models on VentureDig.com. The models outlined in the article are Display Ads, Branding Elements within Applications, Virtual Currency, and Virtual Gifts. It was interesting to read about the top models and how they drive monetization. The article does say social media monetization models remain fluid and the “big four” are expected to change over time.

What was our take away from this?

Content is king. For our client’s content (granted…even more so given the business) will generate revenue. The content we will provide on the social media networks will establish our client as a subject matter expert by providing valuable information. We will provide free content and excerpts of paid content at no charge as well. This will generate followers and direct them toward the blog and site where the paid content is sold. And generate the…oh so valuable inbound links to the blog and site. We are planning ads and maybe there is an app in the future…but our point of view is focus on the content; the monetization will come. To us, there is no question the same principle with using content stretches across most products and services. This is just one example.

Okay. How will you thinking about monetizing social networks managing your business in the digital world?

How is social media impacting your employer / employee relationship?

May 23rd, 2010

Earlier this week I was browsing news stories on the web. A headline caught my eye: “ Waitress fired for griping about a tip on Facebook”.

The brief story from the Charlotte Observer tells how a waitress “blasted” a couple she served on Facebook mentioning the restaurant by name. A couple of days later, the waitress was fired because she violated a company policy banning workers from speaking disparagingly about customers and casting the restaurant in a bad light on a social network. It did not say who reported the post to management.

Managing employee social media behavior may seem like a daunting task. The key is to have a company policy in place and regularly communicate policy to your staff. Social media etiquette should be incorporated into your training programs. Employees need to understand that anything posted on social media may reflect negatively or positively on their personal and the company’s reputation.

In addition to situations like the one above, recruiting and employee evaluation is impacted by social media. Facebook provides profiles, pictures, gender, friends, and sometimes much more than you’d care to know or see. Is your company using this information in evaluation and recruiting decisions?

In a recent article in The National Law Journal, Renee M. Jackson lists some great points to consider when turning to social media in evaluating employees and recruits. Employees or recruits can claim information posted on a social media site was used to influence decisions. The question is a legal one: was the information viewed or used in a hiring decision, for example. You really don’t want to go there if you can avoid it.

The point is social media is impacting employer / employee relationships. The impact will only continue to increase with the growth in social media usage. Our recommendation is to take a proactive position with social media. Put a policy in place now and communicate with your employees regularly about managing their personal and the company’s reputation.

Before the Internet a wise businessman once said “ how would you feel if what you just did was published on the front page of the New York Times.” Today anything recorded on the social media can reach people around the world instantly. So make sure your employees are proud of what they are writing or what is being published about the company in this new medium.

Okay. How will you react to the impact of employer / employee relationships and social media while managing your business in the digital world?