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October 2005

When Behavioral Marketing Makes Sense

051031_1These are the eyes of a man who runs a company famous for placing adware on people's computers. Do you trust him? Well, as a database marketer I've always been more accepting than most people when it comes to advertisers tracking my behavior. Despite frequent complaints from my pc-health software, I had the Alexa toolbar installed for years. I kept thinking it would start serving me more relevant searches based on my past behavior, but it never happened.

Those are the eyes of Bill Day, a veteran of the Internet who co-founded About.com and came to WhenU to help clean up its reputation. iMedia Connection features a column from him that looks like 'pay for play.' WhenU ads run all around it.

That acknowledged--I agree with everything he says. If you want to understand the beneficial role that permission-based, behavior-tracking advertising can play in your future...read this article.

iMedia Connection: What You Get When You Get Permission by Bill Day

So now my windshield is still really dirty, and my aversion to squeegee guys in general has deepened (it's a good thing he didn't come at my windshield with a dirty rag or I might've been tempted to deck him). Even though he targeted me with precision and was ready to provide me with something I desperately needed at exactly the right moment, I told him to get lost. No one touches my car without getting my explicit permission first. Most people feel about their computers the same way I feel about my car: don't touch it without asking me first -- even if you're going to provide something you know I want. So relevance isn't everything. Without trust, relevance doesn't mean much.


Jones Soda practices Participant Marketing

051028We have an excellent summary in BusinessWeek of how Jones Soda has created a brand community by assuming they need their customers' help to market the product.

BusinessWeek: Keep Up with the Jones, Dude! from the Corporate Design Foundation

Internet-savvy and youth-aware, Jones Soda makes customers prime participants in marketing the brand and keeping it fresh...

Peter van Stolk, the 40-year-old founder of Jones Soda, was quick to learn the rules of the industry and then ignore them. Since he began selling his iconoclastic drinks out of ice chests in snowboarding shops and tattoo parlors in 1996, he's sold 187 million bottles. In explaining the runaway success of the brand, van Stolk is the first to admit, "The world doesn't need another soda." But what young cynical consumers apparently did need was a brand with which they could identify. Van Stolk gave that to them quite literally. He created a virtual community of fans who gather at the company's website to chat, blog, enter contests, share movie reviews and download freebies. Unlike the slick Madison Avenue spin of huge competitors, Jones Soda -- without any money for advertising -- created a cool under-the-radar appeal by urging fans to send in photographs to the website to use as bottle labels. The Seattle company now has over a million submissions and has used 4,372 of the photos. Consumers collect the ever-changing labels and trade them in web chat rooms, and even have their own Jones Soda custom labels specially made for them.

"We allowed the labels to be discovered and that gave consumers a sense of ownership.


Marketing the Conversation

051027 To encourage its readers to try the new online comments feature of its web site, the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail has launched a fun new contest featuring wacky prizes ripped from the headlines. If readers comment on a news story, their name is entered in a drawing. Winners can get their $10,000 (Canadian) in one of several ways including:

  • soft wood lumber (so they can help make NAFTA work)
  • health care services (private or American)
  • "overpriced" gasoline
  • a deluxe gay wedding.

Discovered via Amy Corr's Mediapost newsletter Out to Launch.


Surprising Ways DVRs Change Audience Behavior

051026_2As usage of TiVo and other DVRs have spread, so has the anecdotal information about how they are used. The equipment manufacturers have some proprietary information about their usage, but advertisers have had trouble comparing the behavior with non-users and catching up with the overall trends. Now more information is coming out and it's not exactly what we all expected. If you subscribe to the WSJ, I recommend the whole article, which includes usage forecasts.

WSJ.com - The Small Screen by Joe Flint (subscription required)

Although more people are skipping ads, the fact that these machines bring more viewers to shows is ultimately good for both the networks and advertisers. Mr. Poltrack's research notes that the potential exposure for programs can be huge. His 2004 study on DVRs showed, for example, that there were almost 10 million additional viewers of "CSI" beyond the 25.6 million who watch it in its regular time slot every week. Even if the majority of those additional potential viewers skip ads, those that do watch them are gravy for networks and marketers.

All of this creates huge challenges for advertisers. Andrew Robertson, chief executive of Omnicom Group Inc.'s BBDO Worldwide, whose clients include Pepsi, eBay and Federal Express, says DVRs are making it even easier for consumers to become disengaged. "It definitely takes more creativity," he says. But when an ad is compelling, he adds, the DVR can be a plus. BBDO's Pepsi ad featuring Britney Spears that ran during the Super Bowl a few years ago, for example, was replayed more than the last-minute, game-winning play.


Advantage to Independent Blogs

0510242 Although many companies are now sponsoring blogs about their products, an article in the New York Times points out that companies and consumers may find independent blogs more advantageous as unbiased resources.

NY Times: Brand Blogs Capture the Attention of Some Companies by Tania Ralli

Robert V. Kozinets, an associate professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, said he thought consumers would be wary of bloggers sponsored by a company. "Consumers are skeptical of things told to them by companies," Mr. Kozinets said. Most consumers are searching for unbiased opinions, a niche that blogs can fill. A testimonial from one blogger can speak directly to readers in a way advertising does not.


Measuring the Success of Interactive Ads

051021An excellent article at the Newsweek web site sums up the value of interactive ads with lots of results and analyses from actual campaigns reported. Pictured at left is a snapshot from the Gap's Watch Me Change interactive site which allows the audience to dress an animated character of their body type and then send the image to friends. (The silhouetted strip tease is just added extra entertainment.) When their success--and the methods of success are becoming well known--these web sites reach a very high level of audience engagement. Experts are predicting that one day all TV commercials may be measured by how many viewers visit the web site afterwards.

Newsweek/MSNBC.com: New Ad Age by Susanna Schrobsdorff

One of most enticing of this genre allows fans to insert themselves, Zelig-like, into a clip from the movie "Wedding Crashers" from New Line Cinema. Thanks to some snazzy technology, the film's Web site lets viewers "crash the trailer" by uploading digital photos of themselves (or anyone else) so that it looks like they are carousing with stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

Visitors to the site have so far created 200,000 personalized trailers since the hit comedy's premier this summer. And New Line reports that the custom trailers got more than three times as many viewings as the official trailer (3.3 million versus 1 million) because people forwarded their masterpieces to friends.


New Advertising Billboard on the Computer Desk

Flimloop2The last line of the product description below should be "or advertisements." Hewlett-Packard, Purina and TBS have already signed up. In fact, if you're a pet store that wants to share cute pet pictures or a clothing manufactuer that wants to stream the latest fashion to your customers' desks, this is a very cool idea. (via MediaPost Selected Stories from Around the Net)

FilmLoop

FilmLoop is free software that gives you the power to create new loops or join existing ones. Loops are strings of images that move across your desktop. They can tell stories, showcase products, communicate ideas, and link to websites. A loop can contain photos of your family's latest vacation, images of the latest happenings around the world, ...