Posts Tagged ‘Digital Media’

Being Visible in the Digital World

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Is your business managing its Digital Footprint?

Just the other day I was talking to one of our partners about some new work for one of our clients. He was telling me how he is still struggling to convince a couple of his clients about the need to extend their efforts beyond their site…something I would call expanding their digital footprint.

A digital footprint is the data trail left by activity in the digital world. Information is captured through interaction with web sites on the internet, social media sites, mobile applications, scanning loyalty cards, and the list goes on.

For consumers, your digital footprint is driving how you are being targeted by marketers for their ads, offers, products, and services. Marketers see it as a source of fresh data to help profile and target consumers. And, it can also determine your reputation based on the posts, comments, and images you leave on social media sites.

For your business, a lot of similar factors are involved. However, the stakes are much higher. Your ability to generate sales, keep customers, and attract new customers is impacted by your digital footprint. Your brand reputation is at stake. It can be as simple as your site being found by a search engine to how you respond to an unhappy customer’s Facebook post.

A business needs to have a practical digital footprint strategy and tactical activities that keep your business visible and vibrant in the digital world. So how can you get started? There are simple steps you can take and a host of free tools available out there to help you.

Here are some questions you can answer to begin to develop your digital footprint strategy:

• What are your online objectives?
• Is your site a commercial site or are you building a community? A commercial site is focused on generating sales; helps sell products and services. A community site is place for people to get information, meet, aware of an issue or group…
• How do your customers or audience interact online? Do they frequent social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter? Are they business customers more likely to be using LinkedIn? Do they actively use their mobile phones? How to they find you? How do they find your products, services, or group?
• How can you listen to what is being said about you on the web? There are some free tools out there that can help. Google alerts will allow you to track who is talking about you and where. Twitter Search allows you to see who’s twitting about you. You can try out SM2 by Alterian social media monitoring tool. And the list goes on…
• How can you interact with your customers and followers? See where they hang out. See how you can leave comments and respond to posts.

All businesses in all industries need to examine how their digital footprint impacts their business.

So will you take a close look at your digital footprint and how it impacts your business in the digital world?

Fighting for Mobile Platform Market Share

Friday, November 12th, 2010

What Business Model Will Win?

The recent release by comScore of its mobile subscriber report continues to show Google Android (promoted as Droid by Verizon) closing the market share gap with Apple for mobile platforms.

Google’s market share is up 6.5% from June to 21.4% and now only 2.9% behind second place Apple which has 24.3% of the market. Apple’s share is the same as reported in June. RIM continues to lead the pack with 37.3% share slipping 2.8% from what was reported in June.

The Google / Apple competition for market share presents two very different business models. Google’s Android or Droid contains an open source operating system. The code is available to manufacturers to add their own features and functionalities. They can listen to their market and shape the product. Apple owns their operating system and keeps their code proprietary. Apple allows developers to build applications on top of their operating system. These applications are then sold through retail or on the web where Apple controls distribution of iPhones and iPads.

It will be interesting to see how these competing business models evolve over time.

Apple’s recent announcement that iPhones will now be available at Target stores through the Target Mobile Centers, located in 846 stores, might be the start of a change in strategy to sell more phones. In the third quarter of 2010, Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones, up 91.4% from the prior year and beat the top competitor, RIM, which sold 12.1 Blackberry’s in the same quarter. Apple is already selling a lot of phones.

Regarding the Google / Apple business model differences, during a conference call with analysts, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying “It’s worth remembering,” he said. “that open systems don’t always win.” “In reality, we think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen,” he concluded. The real issue he said is integrated versus fragmented. “We think integrated will trump fragmented every time.”
We will continue to watch how the story unfolds…
So how are the actions of, Apple and Google, influencing how you will reach your customers in the digital world?

Social Sentiment

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

How will businesses deal with this unstructured data?

Recent news from SAS announcing their release the SAS Conversation Center in 2011 is another clear sign how social media continues to change business in the digital world.

The new product is designed to help companies capture tweets in real-time that are important to a company’s brand or product. The tweets are analyzed for their sentiment and influence of the tweeter and then can be routed to customer service to handle. It is no wonder the unstructured data flowing from social media sites are driving companies to invest in the technology to link them to their customer service operations.

According to Nielsen Online’s research report from last year “Global Faces and Networked Places”, social media sites are now being visited once every 11 minutes and the 35 – 49 year old category of social networking site usage is growing at the same extent as the 18 – 34 year olds. As for the younger generation, in 2010, kids are spending 27 minutes more time online than in 2009 with most of this time dedicated to social media activities. Not to mention the growth in smart phone devices is helping to accelerate the process and access to social media.

So what are the challenges of dealing with customer sentiment?

Linking customer sentiment to a customer service strategy extends beyond tracking tweets. It means capturing information from other sources such as Facebook and customer reviews. A company such as Expedia gets about 80,000 customer reviews per month. All this data must be captured and analyzed. Part of the analysis is separating out the real issues from a flip comment before investing time and money into a response. Social media is another source of feedback and analytics.

A recent survey of 2,100 companies sponsored by the SAS Institute found that 75% of the companies did not know what their customers were saying about them. Only about 23% were using some sort of social media analytic tools. With the impact of a bad customer experience being made many times worse by social media channels, there is no doubt this will change over time.

So how are you making use of social sentiment in managing your business in the digital world?

Social Scraping

Monday, October 18th, 2010

What are the ethical boundaries?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal got our attention. The article is titled “Scrapers Dig Deep for Data on the Web”.

This article begins by talking about a “break-in” at a web site called PatientsLikeMe in May of this year. A new member was using sophisticated software to scrape or copy information from private online forums. PatientsLikeMe was eventually able to identify and block the intruder. The company did inform its members of the break-in.

It’s a fact of life that there are companies out there actively scraping data from social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Scraped or not, there is a lot of valuable information on social networking sites companies want and will actively seek. The question is should there be limits placed on what information is available for companies to collect or analyze. There are certainly ethical and legal challenges that need to be addressed.

For the ethical and savvy marketers, information from social networking sites can provide a wealth of customer insight. Social networking sites also have become an extension of customer service and support. Some companies have staff monitoring the sites and in some cases are responding to service problems through social media sites. The use of social networking sites and the information from these sites will only increase over time. According to the Winterberry Group, spending on data from online sources will more than double to $840 million in 2012 from spending of $410 million in 2009.

Users of social networking sites expect marketers will gather and use their data. A survey conducted by Webtrends indicates half those surveyed who use Twitter expect brands to use their information. However half also indicated they would leave social networking sites if they became too commercial.

So how do we ensure collecting this information remains within ethical bounds?

The answer may rest with the social sites and the collectors of this information. For example, Facebook is putting a strong effort into data security. It is important for them to lead the way to taking this issue seriously. Nielsen says it no longer scrapes data from sites requiring individual account access unless it has permission. These are examples on both sides of the issue.

Social network scraping can remain within reasonable bounds that protect information that needs to remain confidential. However, it will take the social networking industry leaders to invest in data security and markers to abide by ethical practices. This is yet another stage in the evolution of the digital world. And, unfortunately, there will always be some individuals and companies that attempt to reach beyond the areas of reasonable ethical behavior. It is up to all of us in the digital world to call their actions into question to protect this valuable world of information.

So how are you making use of social networks in managing your business in the digital world?

That Sign Can See Me!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Where is recognition technology taking direct response marketing?

How would you feel about this scenario?

You walk up to a beverage vending machine. It is a flat screen monitor with high resolution images of your beverage choices. After a second or so of standing in front of the machine, the machine TELLS you what beverage selections might suit your taste and they begin to flash on the screen.

We have all probably seen this technology to some degree in our everyday lives. Whether it’s the camera at the ATM machine or toll booth, in-store digital displays, the voice at the self-serve gas station telling us to reposition the pump…well I am sure you get it.

But this new technology takes things many steps further. It actually profiles you on the spot to determine gender, age, ethnicity, and level of attentiveness. According to NEC digital signage group, these signs can identify the right gender 90% of the time and age within 10 years 70% of the time. This is the transformation of digital display boards into powerful direct response marketing tools. Japan is taking the lead in using this technology for digital public displays. They are also incorporating mobile technology into the display boards to make them even more interactive. The Wall Street Journal has an article titled “Billboards That Can See You” that provides more detail on what’s happening in Japan with this technology.

For privacy advocates, this can be construed as a scary thing. In particular, there are the demographic profiling aspects of the new technology. It has all the possibilities of taking our concerns about internet privacy to another level. We are in the midst of increased consumer sensitivity to privacy issues.

So will there be acceptance of this new technology? Retailers may be motivated. They are already investing in Smart Networks that do not have this extra functionality. A Walmart revealed at the Digital Sign Show this past February revealed there is a sales lift in departments which featured Smart Networks:
• Electronics – 7 percent
• Over-the-counter 23 percent
• Food – 13 percent
• Health /Beauty – 28

It is inevitable this kind of technology will become more main stream and retail will continue to invest in-store digital networks. With the advances in displays, recognition technology, mobile, etc. and the Generation Y or the Millennial Generation who grew up using this kind of technology becoming major consumers, it will become part of our culture.

The question will be how consumer privacy is integrated into the implementation of this technology. The lessons learned from the online privacy should heighten awareness of the need to deal with privacy up front.

Okay. So how will interactive display technology impact you as you manage your business in the digital world?