July 2010 Archives
Don't miss Jeremiah's report on Facebook Success Factors (embedded below). It is a great read. He references a blog post of mine on how Facebook is suffering from the micro-site syndrome in it as well. In the report Jeremiah explains that nearly half of all brands reviewed fell short in how they're leveraging Facebook's social features.
The success factors established for brands participating in Facebook include - setting community expectations, providing cohesive branding, being up to date, living authentically, participating in the dialog, enabling peer to peer interactions, fostering dialog and soliciting calls to action.
I'd like to take the liberty of adding two behind the scenes success factors - establishing objectives and being clear about how the Facebook effort fits and works with the broader digital ecosystem of the brand. The full report is embedded below.
Marta and her wonderful "What the F**k is Social Media?" franchise is out with a new presentation that puts social media in context of why it matters even more today. PepsiCo is featured on slide 40-41 and I'm quoted on slide 63 discussing what I suppose is some of the new risks to all of us with social media (and I'm not talking privacy). Enjoy the deck!
Pete Carter, who's a Director of Brand Communications at P&G and I just did a joint post for the Harvard Business Review about our experiences judging the North America Grand Effies last month. Below is an excerpt and it links to the full post on the Harvard Business Review site.
Last month we served as judges on the North America Grand Effies Judging Committee. For those of you who do not know the Effies, they are considered the top awards for effective marketing communications around the world. Several rounds of judging submissions in different marketing categories result in a list of finalists for the "Grand Effie" or the award for the most effective marketing across all categories. That's what we were tasked to judge, along with nine other senior marketers representing both the creative and business sides of the industry.The winner was a surprising choice. It wasn't a multi-million dollar television campaign for a Fortune 50 company, nor was it a digital media program or some new-age service. Instead, the Grand Effie award was given to the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) for a very simple, and cost-efficient word-of-mouth program to encourage student enrollment. Here's what they did.
Read the full story on the Harvard Business Review website and tell us what you think.
Why this is so irritating to me
We're all so busy building our personal brands that I feel we're reluctant to criticize anyone who could help us extend our brands. Well, maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot here but it is time to do a bit of criticizing and I'm going to call a spade a spade. The Fast Company Influence Project gimmick is exactly that - a gimmick and a disappointing one. It seems to be a way to build a database of people and participate in link baiting more than a meaningful approach to identifying who's influential online.
Sure it looks beautiful and there's something funky about having your photograph appear in Fast Company. But it seems to be more of a whimsical marketing campaign than something a serious publication that covers innovation would do. Here's why I'm really struggling with this "project." And it begins with how it defines influence -
1. Definition of influence is too simplistic
Fast Company says, " Influence is not only about having the most friends or followers. Real influence is about being able to affect the behavior of those you interact with, to get others in your social network to act on a suggestion or recommendation."
There are some problems with this definition. It is a definition that's marginally less simplistic than counting friends and followers. Yes, influence is about affecting behavior but there's more to it than that. It is about understanding the different types of influencers (expert, positional and referent) and the types of influence including compliance, identification and internalization (see the article I wrote back in 2007 about this or read my book). Influence is also about understanding the travel path of information which this project ignores. What we have here is a popularity contest.
2. Clicking a link is not a measure of influence
What's also troubling about the "Project" is that it assumes that re-tweeting something and more directly link clicking is an accurate measure of influence. Not true. (Amusingly, you get extra credit if someone clicks on your link and signs up for the program too) .Getting people to click on a link is an accurate measure of getting people to click on a link not of actual influence which is much harder to define and track.
To assume that the most influential person online is the one that is clicked the most is inaccurate. If anything, this project promotes the misconception that basic clicks are a meaningful measure alone. It is probably the most important visible measure but definitely not the most strategic one in the influence or marketing space. Many of us in the digital marketing space have worked hard to convince companies that there's more to digital than clicks.
3. Publications like Fast Company should never endorse link baiting
What is most worrying in some respects is that "The Influence Project" appears to be endorsing link baiting because that is exactly what they are doing themselves. As Mike Arrington pointed out, watch the Fast Company July traffic numbers they'll be much higher than earlier. Why - because of this experiment. "The Influence Project" is more about increasing site traffic (which will do well I suspect) than it is about influence. As a result, it is endorsing cheapskate tricks to drive traffic to the publisher website in the guise of a fancy name.
So what should Fast Company have done instead?
1. Fast Company should have a more sophisticated measure of influence. Or at the very least, they should have acknowledged that their measure of influence is simplistic and explained why it is being used. I'd in fact recommend not framing this project as away to identify the most influential person online as that sets unnecessarily high expectations. You're also not going to find out the most influential person online through it either.
2. Fast Company could have used a separate URL and website for this project. That way they would have avoided all potential criticism around link baiting. It would have kept the whole initiative neat and clean in a way that it currently isn't. They wouldn't have gotten all the link baiting benefits but they're not supposed to be the point of the exercise.
3. They should have established guidelines with regards to the promotion of the links. I'm already getting spammed with requests to click on links and retweet them. This project promotes spamming without those guidelines and that's not a good thing. It can never be. Fast Company - you're one of the good guys. Don't go promoting or tacitly encouraging spammy behavior. We've got too much of that online already.
4. Make it meaningful beyond Fast Company. Do good. Rather than rewarding people by having their photographs appear in the print issue, better still would be to donate money or online ad space (from all those extra views) to the charities of the winners' choices. That way at least something good will come out of this. To say that this is a serious effort to understand the most influential person online is a little disingenuous as there are many other far more rigorous and scientific efforts in this realm. It also lacks meaning.
Sorry Fast Company but you've disappointed me today. It is not innovative, it is gimmicky and as an avid reader of Fast Company I'd even say that I think its off brand.
A few weeks ago I was invited to speak on a panel at The Big Money Untethered Conference along with Steve Hayden (Vice-Chairman at Ogilvy), Chris Wilkes (VP Digital at Hearst) and Randy Rothenberg (IAB President). We were tasked with discussed the role of advertising on mobile devices and most specifically the iPad. I've been thinking about that panel and those questions ever since.
Rather than projecting into the future based on simply early raw impressions, I'm using data points of current iPad advertising and usage numbers to ground some of the thinking that I'm sharing here. Please let me know your own thoughts:
Engagement like TV, Measurability of the Web. Conde Nast says the average reader spends 60 minutes with each monthly issue of its magazine's iPad apps (90,000 downloads for the Wired app beating newsstand sales for that month). In comparison, the average visitor on the Web spends just 2.1 minutes per month at Vanityfair.com and 3.8 minutes per month at GQ.com, according to comScore.
What does this tell me? That the iPad has the potential to garner the same kind of continuous engagement that you can get from TV but with the interactivity and measurability of the Internet. That's an extremely promising sign if usage minutes like this hold.
Immersive iPad ads leave old school banner ads in the dust. The New York Times application served as a great advertising medium for Chase who used it to showcase its credit card to early buyers of the device. The card is aimed at the top 15% earners and people who had bought the iPad (for $499, at least) presumably have extra cash and fit into that category. That's definitely a reasonable assumption to make. Consumers clicked on about 15% of the time that the ad popped up.
15% can you believe that? If you're familiar with banner advertising, you'll know that 15% is a huge click thru rate. At first, I thought that was a typo in fact. I don't believe that click thru rates will continue to be this high but it does bode well for advertising on the medium. It is also a sign that if the ads are targeted sharply and are immersive compelling experiences, they'll attract users for deeper engagement.
iPad Brand Advertising at Premium Prices. The USA Today said that it is charging Marriott about $50 for every thousand times, or impressions the ad appears. The CPM for the USA Today's regular website is less than $10. And in contrast, in a printed world where there is the least inventory, the average CPM for a full-page color ad runs around $103.
What does this tell us? That iPad experiences are deep, immersive experiences for which advertisers are willing to pay a premium. Now it is hard to say whether the Marriott is getting bang for its buck and arguably it is advertising at the moment to reach those early adopters, but if their advertising experiences are translating into bookings more than web ads (which they might well be), this could be a sign of more to come.
Fewer advertisers serve the publishers better. The Wall Street Journal chose to partner with just six advertisers at the time of the launch of their iPad application. They were able to find the six advertisers in a week and each one was charged $400,000 for two print ads and one digital ad in addition to the iPad placement translating into revenue of $2.4 million for them. The pitch was that this would be a deep brand advertising experience and not one about impressions.
It is early days for the iPad and it is difficult to tell the kind of engagement different applications will get. The media publishers are also in the process of building their own brand on the platform. As a result, publishers are smart to limit inventory and not over sell the opportunities to advertisers. It'll serve them better in the long run.
Custom content leads to custom advertiser interest. As shown with the recently launched Sports Illustrated iPad application, custom and more in-depth content leads to the perception that the iPad application is a differentiated product warranting the higher price point. The Sports Illustrated app costs $4.99 and includes an original documentary, multiple photo galleries, athlete interviews and uniquely interactive panoramic photos.
The moral of the story? If you want your iPad app to sell well at a higher price point, you've got to make sure that you're giving the users something special. Otherwise, they might as well just buy the cheaper Zinio version of the magazine. Something else that's important - as the Editor of Sports Illustrated recently pointed out - advertisers love the iPad apps with custom content. He explained that he was on a sales call recently in Chicago showcasing the iPad app. It turned out to be his best sales call ever. Toyota and Gatorade are already advertisers.
Subscription or Advertising. The answer is not clear. The success of the iPad as a publishing platform for newspapers and magazines alike is ironically making it harder for publications to choose the right revenue model. The Wall Street Journal is probably the furthest along where they have free online sections of the newspaper available on a free iPad app as well. Once you sign up for the paid subscription, you get the other sections of the newspaper too.
The USA Today had originally decided to start charging for its iPad application after the first 90 days. However, advertiser reception was so strong that they have just decided against doing so. Instead, they are going to continue giving the application away for free and are bringing on new advertisers like Barnes and Noble, Chrysler and Capital One. CPMs continue to be in the $50 range and the app has been downloaded over 500,000 times. Conde Nast with Wired Magazine has just changed their subscription fees - now its $4.99 for first time downloaders and $3.99 for issues after that.
My hunch - advertising will trump subscription formats with the iPad in the long run. As the iPad and other similar devices get critical mass, holding onto expensive subscription plans will be a challenge. However, in the longer term when inventory increases dramatically and there's less scarcity, the downward pressure on CPMs will force the publishers to rethink subscription fees. It'll be the same story as with the web all over again.