Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Marketing in Today's Economy

Today's economic challenges have changed the way consumers behave online. Changing your marketing strategy to meet the current needs of your customers is essential to the survival of your business. This presentation will show you key areas to focus on with the changing times from advertising strategies, leveraging social media the right way and keeping pace with today’s technology.

Here is your free copy of my recent webinar "Marketing in Today's Economy" to find tips on changing with the times.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Google Launches Interesting Ad Changes

Yesterday Google announced a beta program launching “interest-based” advertising. The new program will use additional information based on the type of sites users visit and the pages they view to display more relevant ads based on categories of interest. This is consistent with the movement of advertising networks to offer additional services through enhanced advertising features to remain competitive in this challenging market. Yahoo recently added enhanced features offering publishers more control over targeted ads.

Of course this type of advertising sparks debate and concern regarding privacy policies as additional user information is required to provide this type of display control. In an effort to head off negative perception Google has been up front about their changes and is attempting to present features aimed at offering users options. Although this program will adopt an opt-out approach rather than opt-in, meaning users are automatically participating unless they take specific action to have themselves removed from the feature altogether.

Google describes three features that will provide, as they describe, transparency, choice and control. They are providing a new tool called Ads Preferences Manager that will enable users to select additional interests or delete categories based on their own preferences. This may go a long way with the generation that expresses interest in actually receiving ads tailored to their specific needs. They will also display more details about the information being used to serve a specific ad, which will be available by clicking ad labels. In addition, they have created a browser plug-in that will permanently maintain the opt-out selection even if cookies are cleared.

While behavioral targeted advertising has been around for quite some time, it remains a controversial topic. Serving relevant content will always be a challenge. If the new interest based ad serving feature proves well with consumers, it will only contribute to Google’s domination of search.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Skittles Makes Brave Move with Twitter

There has been much talk over the past week as Skittles.com makes continued changes to their homepage. It started with a display of Twitter search results, then moved on to their Facebook fan page, and currently they have a Wiki page displaying. As the brave move with Twitter gained attention and much speculation as to how this would translate to selling more candy, the media attention grew. I’ve been watching the numerous tweets about the topic all week, which I have to say has been quite entertaining.

Let’s take a look at what this campaign really means. First, it may not be original, but it was well timed. Twitter has now become mainstream, 6 months ago this may not have been as impactful. It was an interesting observation in human behavior as people tried various tactics to get their name on the Skittles homepage. It may have brought out a few radicals here. The one great thing about social is the uncensored nature of seeing the raw comments. However, for a corporate site this may not always be what one is looking for. Rather than repeat the tweets I will let you search for yourself if it interests you.

When they moved on to a Facebook fan page speculation moved to it being easier to control or filter posts, triggering rumors that the tweets were too offensive. This may not have been the case at all, as it seems they planned to test a variety of treatments all along. For the most part the fan page was well received based on the comments, although again the translation to increasing sales has most in marketing scratching their heads.

It was the move to a Wiki that had me a bit bewildered as I had predicted they would have moved on to a MySpace next to gain a comparison of the three. Whatever they try next the knowledge gained from this campaign will be most valuable. They not only successfully generated buzz about Skittles and Twitter, but they now have acquired valuable information that can be used to shape future campaigns.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yahoo to Offer New Ad Products

In an effort to keep pace with the demands of improved services in a very sensitive and competitive time where tapping ad budgets is tough Yahoo announces today a major change in their search product, which will leverage new targeting capabilities to provide improved personalization for their search ads.

The new products include features aimed at improving performance such as Search Retargeting, Enhanced Retargeting, and Enhanced Targeting. How will that translate to advertisers is yet to be seen, but today’s press release included an example of a recent trial showing significant increases using the enhanced product over traditional retargeting campaigns The key element here is more control over what ads are presented to audience segments based on prior search history. This is quite important in optimizing an ad campaign.

Search advertising will also recognize improved control over ad selection, as well as offering the ability to tailor bids to reach defined segments. Controlling what is presented to the user has been high on the list of improvements expected from such providers.

SOURCE: Yahoo! Inc.
Full Press Release

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facing Pressure Facebook Retracts Changes to Terms of Use

Facebook announced late last night that it would retract its recent changes to the Terms of Use for their users after gaining very public attention. Although the original announcement to make the changes came weeks ago, it was in the past few days that brought on a slew of complaints. Once again proving that consumers are very sensitive to how their data is being handled.

Sure enough, when I logged in this morning here’s the message being posted.

The big controversy surrounded wording that would grant the social-networking site the ability to own information collected forever, which would include users that cancel their accounts. Power to the people, public outcry still works to cause change. Some would say Facebook should have learned its lesson by now after what happened with its ‘Beacon’ fiasco at the end of 2007. The system designed to help users stay in touch with their friend’s interests turned into an online broadcasting system, sending transaction and browsing information from some 40 merchants that were included in the system.

Facebook has approximately 175 million users worldwide. Perhaps they should consider a more collaborative approach involving them in future changes if they want to keep them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What Are You Doing for Valentine’s Day?

For many of us Valentines is a day associated with flowers, romantic dinners, and chocolate. This year’s advertising theme stayed pretty tried and true, although most offering value in honor of the economy. Online it was FTD and ProFlowers, while TV had plenty of teddy bears and jewelry was also popular. Did they work on you? For some reason I found chocolate irresistible, this is a little out of the ordinary for me. It was the Godiva online ads that got me hook, line, and sinker. Yep, I was heading out to the mall last night for a quick fix even ahead of the festivities, just couldn’t help myself. I kept seeing the same ad over and over for the previous few days and had to indulge.

Did the ads help you play cupid this year, perhaps serve as a friendly reminder of the upcoming holiday, or provide a little creative inspiration to come up with the perfect gift?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Super Bowl Ad Recap

What was your favorite ad? For those of you watching the game or catching the ads online I’m sure you have noticed a rather conservative presentation across the board, most are saying it was a rather toned down year from those in the past. On the field, it was the game winning catch by Santonio Holmes that got everyone’s attention in the fourth quarter of the game. As for the Super Bowl ads, there were plenty of them, 69 to be exact, which brought in a record setting $206 million for NBC, a whopping $261 million total for the day.

The mix accurately described in advance was rather predictable. GoDaddy was in my opinion the only risk taker with their “Enhanced” ad with Danica Patrick. The Budweiser Clydesdale commercials were a hit with members of the party I attended, it also happened to be my personal favorite and according to NBC’s Top Rated the “Stick” was amongst fan favorites as well.

I always find the various Top Ten Lists interesting, as they tend to vary greatly. There are the TiVo highlights based upon a sample audience measurement, then there is a poll from Fox Sports, and of course, NBC listed all the ads with an option to sort by Top Rated. Surprisingly enough only one came in the top 10 across all 3 lists, it was the Dorrito’s: Crystal Ball commercial.

With all that money spent on those great ads the next question is how effective will the advertising prove to those that purchased the $3 million dollar per 30 second spots. How many of you are running off to Denny’s this morning for your Free Grand Slam breakfast. If you do take them up on the freebie, will it have you returning in the future?