Marketing Rag

July 17, 2007

Commandments Of Consumer Generated Advertising

Filed under: advertising,consumer generated,marketing — Michael Carney @ 7:58 am

There’s something really appealing about the notion of getting consumers to create their own ads about your products. For one thing, you’re not spending any money on production; and the consumer is (at least theoretically) truly engaging with your brand.There are a few potential problems with the approach, however, as GM found when they invited consumers to make their own commercials for the Chevy Tahoe. “Me not going to toe the corporate line.” You’ll find some, um, interesting examples on YouTube here and here.

If you are going to give the consumer the keys to your new SUV, here, courtesy Max Kalehoff and Pete Blackshaw, are ten commandments to enable you to (in their words) tap the spontaneous passions of loyal consumers to create or explore entirely new formats for creative expression.” Good luck with that.

1. Connect The Program To Larger Business Goals: Ensure that the consumer-generated part of your strategy fits in with the goals and objectives of the rest of your marketing, and create a measurement framework for program planning, tracking, adjusting and evaluating. A consumer-generated campaign is not a license to veer into irrelevance or sloppiness.

2. Keep It Authentic: Leverage the full creative power of the participants and don’t limit their creative. The traditional media framework for inserting creative is losing its effectiveness, even among the pros. Allow for flexibility in shape and form and – and even allow for raw spontaneity where you can.

3. Be Transparent: Don’t play fast and loose with the fact that the brand facilitated content creation. Avoid a potential backlash by being completely transparent – no stealth tactics here.

4. Encourage Advocacy: Don’t be shy about allowing entrants to vote for their favourites and encourage their friends and family to vote. This builds momentum around the campaign, and ensures that (hopefully) the best content rises to the top. 5. Empower Syndication: Make it simple for people to upload their content, simple to share and simple to embed on blogs and other community and video platforms. Let the people become the distribution and evangelical pipeline.

6. Tap The Long Tail: Don’t hesitate to reach out to everyone who takes part. Embrace them as passionate and loyal stakeholders, and use your Web site as a repository for their rich content.

7. Capture The Moment: Capitalize on “great brand moments” when consumers are highly vested and more likely to advocate, such as new product launches, purchases, or (gasp) actual brand use and enjoyment. This will help passionate, credible and authentic storylines rise to the top.

8. Be Consistent: If you create an environment of dialogue and interaction, stakeholders will notice inconsistencies in other areas of your business. While the campaign may end, its equity around “participation, community and feedback” may live on. Decide beforehand if your brand’s cultural values, resources and commitment can live up to the challenge after the campaign ends.

9. Embrace Criticism And Deprecation: You’ve got to take the bad with the good. While a good strategy will acknowledge and plan for detractors, the reality is that everyone is empowered to publish. Get over it – leverage criticism or deprecation as a gift of feedback and opportunity. (Cue whistling, “Always look on the bright side of life …”)

10. Move From Campaign To Platform: Campaigns may have clear beginnings and endings, but there may be dimensions of your program that you want to have a life after the campaign. Look for opportunities to provide longevity and continuing brand engagement.


July 16, 2007

Desperate Networks

Filed under: advertising,dvr,marketing,television,tivo — Michael Carney @ 1:03 am

It ain’t easy being a TV network executive these days, what with all the distractions available to formerly-eager viewers and all. We can only admire the dedication (self-delusion?) required to maintain business as usual in the face of the many issues facing television around the globe. Even so, it takes a particularly desperate soul to maintain that fast-forwarding through ads is a valid way to soak up commercial messages.

Enter NBC, as reported in the New York Times, claiming that “test subjects were just as engaged while watching fast-forwarded advertisements as they were while viewing opening scenes from the NBC show ‘Heroes’ at regular speed” [what this says about ‘Heroes’, we hate to think].

So what exactly was the test? Some poor devils were hooked up to sensors as they watched television, and researchers observed changes in their heart rate, palm sweat, eye movement and breathing patterns.How did it work? According to the Times, “Panelists wear black-netted vests with tubes running out of them. Sensors on fingers measure sweat or ‘skin conductance’, as the researchers like to say. A monitor picks up on heartbeats, and an accelerometer tracks movement when panelists wiggle in their seats or chuckle. A respiratory band can tell if the abdomen and chest stop moving — noticing when someone holds their breath, for example, in a scene of suspense.” Yep, exactly like the TV watching experience at home.

As we’ve noted before now (based on British research which, unfairly or otherwise, we find rather more credible than the NBC data cited above), commercials that survive and thrive in a Tivo or SkyPlus digital video recorder environment are those that are liked or those that provide useful information. The merely mediocre messages flash past at 30 times the speed of light, unwatched and unmourned. Not even researcher-administered shock treatment would save their sales messages.

And, frankly, even in the old analogue environment, we fast-forwarded through the bad and the ugly in our minds anyway. Plus ça change

May 11, 2007

People Who Read This Also Read …

Filed under: advertising,behavioral,marketing — Michael Carney @ 5:06 am

“Do as I do, not as I say”. That’s the secret to behavioral analysis that we learned in kindergarten. It just took a few squillion dollars, a PHD or two and some heavy metal computer components to turn concept into cashflow.

Take a leap of faith now … believe (if you can) that most marketers are not trying to ambush you, steal money from your wallet and fit you up with useless bling that doesn’t deliver on its promises.

What marketers want (hand on heart) is to identify those consumers who might conceivably have a use for the Widget-O-Matic … and sell it to them. Happy consumer, happy marketer, job done.

The minor issue that’s spawned a trillion dollar quest: identification of consumers who might be even remotely interested in the Widget-to-die-for.

The problem (and it dates back to the 1450s and Gutenberg’s invention of movable type) is that using mass media is an inherently flawed method of reaching consumers with relevant messages. Until and unless the world is populated by clones, messages delivered en masse must fall almost entirely on the deaf ears of people for whom most messages are irrelevant at best, intensely annoying at worst. Only a small proportion of any grouping will find the information of value.

Yes, marketers know where you live, that you’re aged 18-34, have a significant other and 1.7 kids and go to Mickey D’s 3.4 times a month. If you’ve been interrogated by the right research company, they might also know your attitude to new products, recycling, capital punishment and the war in Iraq.

But,, who knew that people who bought “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” might also buy “A Hard Day’s Night” and preview “Knights in White Satin”?

Now, in this behavior-monitored world, marketers don’t just have to guess who might be interested in their products. Every click you take, every buy you make, brings you closer to (or takes you further from) the very model of a modern major customer. Successfully profiling a likely buyer suddenly seems wondrously possible.

Little wonder, then, that marketers have been quick to adopt behavioral targeting. The sentiment usually attributed to 19th century department store magnate John Wanamaker (“Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.”) highlights the random nature of marketing at the time – and, sadly, throughout the twentieth century as well.

Nice to know, a few inches into the third millennium, that we’ve chipped away just a bit at institutional ignorance.

May 9, 2007

Any Color you Want

Filed under: abc,advertising,dvr,espn,luddite,marketing,television,tivo — Michael Carney @ 9:07 pm

Houston, we have a problem. Viewers are fast-forwarding through our programs and (shock! horror!) our ads.

Lemme see, what should we do?

Hmm — make better programs and ads? Evolve to meet the market? Enrich our understanding of our customers, their needs and their desires?

No, wait, let’s just disable the fast-forward capability (MediaPost: “Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and ESPN struck a deal with Cox Communications in which Cox’s video-on-demand service will disable the fast-forward feature on VOD”).

We’ll simply force the consumers to do what we want.

Magnificent thinking. A worthy contender for Luddite Of The Year Award.

For our next trick, let’s brainstorm the ways we can cripple that pesky DVR.

May 3, 2007

It’s Second Life, Jim, But Not As We Know It

Filed under: advertising,marketing,second life,sky,television — Michael Carney @ 10:52 pm

Step away from the keyboard, sir, you’ve gone too far this time.

Brit newscaster Sky News has just announced the debut of its virtual newsroom on Second Life.

“The 24-hour news channel is building a Second Life replica of the Sky News Centre to give residents a unique behind-the-scenes, interactive look at its newsroom. Visitors to the virtual studio will be able to sit in presenter chairs, read the autocue and visit the gallery. Other interactive features planned for the near future will allow visitors to create their own news reports, upload their own pictures and video clips of news events and even bump into and chat with Sky News presenters and reporters.

“Special virtual rooms will allow residents to step in and enjoy news stories and events in an innovative and engaging way. By recreating events and scenarios, such as courtroom cases, crime scenes and natural disasters, in a 3D space Sky News will provide users with a richer experience and a deeper understanding of issues. From time to time Sky’s editors and correspondents will provide exclusive talks to Second Lifers on major home and foreign stories.”

Sorry, we don’t mean to be picky, but is this really what we need to do to engage Second Lifers in news and current affairs:

  • allow them to “sit in presenter chairs, read the autocue and visit the gallery”??
  • Re-enact “courtroom cases, crime scenes and natural disasters”?? 

Come on. Get out of Second Life and get a life.

May 2, 2007

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit Of Dow Jones

Filed under: advertising,Dow Jones,marketing,Rupert Murdoch — Michael Carney @ 11:59 pm

It’s been a while since Mr Murdoch outraged the establishment with his acquisitions. However an unsolicited US$5 billion bid for Dow Jones has drawn negative press from the usual suspects, “won’t sell” noises from controlling shareholders the Bancroft family – and speculation that this bid from News Corp will put Dow Jones in play, leading to an eventual sale.

The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, according to US News & World Report:

  • The Wall Street Journal, of course, and “the website, Dow Jones Newswires, and Barron’s. The company currently generates 30 percent of its revenues online and is expected to increase that to 50 percent by 2009. “

Conventional wisdom (circa 2007) suggests that Dow Jones’ online revenues are the bling most in demand for a multimedia proprietor. Perhaps – though we’re of the view that there’s still some precious sap left in those dead trees yet. Despite his televisual and internet leanings, the hon. senior Murdoch has maintained his interest in key newspapers around the globe. The Wall Street Journal would be a worthy companion to The Thunderer. Great (fleet) street cred, yet another authoritative platform to support or scorn the government du jour – and sweet victory over the chattering classes.

Create a free website or blog at