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41 posts from May 2005

Ultramercials Working for

Many months ago (unfortunately, in an earlier, now unreachable incarnation of this site) I mentioned how much I liked a smart new advertising device called the Ultramercial, where you are offered the opportunity to see normally subscriber-only content in return for agreeing to watch an advertisement.

Over at Wired, Adam Penenberg reports on the success of this device. Link: Wired News: Salon's Balancing Act.

Even someone as jaded as I am might be willing to take out a minute of my day to watch an ad if it means I can read stories I can't find anywhere else. (Especially when I can turn the sound off.) Not that it's new, mind you. Salon has been offering it in various forms for three years. What's special is that Salon is, for the first time, inching toward profitability because of it.

Numbers, we love to hear the numbers...

While Salon has only about 85,000 paid subscribers, between 175,000 and 200,000 users visit each day using the Site Pass. According to Melissa Barron, Salon's senior vice president of sales, these ads receive a clickthrough rate between 5 percent for a typical campaign and 20 percent for a movie release -- with one spot inducing an astounding 40 percent of visitors to click on it during the presidential election. (The industry standard clickthrough is about 1 percent). What's more, 85 percent of users who start an ad watch it until the end.

Cable TV Looking at new Loyalty Initiatives for Viewers and Advertisers

Jeanne Rogers works on the New Technology Task Force for Adelpia and speaks out about where she thinks cable tv is going. I like the idea of being able to get pay-per-view movies as a bonus when I order something. She has a lot of terrific ideas, so read the whole two-part article.

Link: iMediaConnection: Customer Retention is Everyone's Issue.

Interactive loyalty programs like Cable Retention Technologies (CRT) can improve the process of retention. A loyalty program’s favored value is to reward membership purchases -- like a PPV or On-Demand VOD movie -- by extending discounts, coupons and product introductions. I’m suggesting that we sell to our advertisers the opportunity to discount and coupon their products and services directly and personally to our subscribers. The fastest growing ad medium is the internet and the great news is cable is an internet provider. We’ll invite subscribers to opt-in for the program and we’ll email their incentive to not interrupt their entertainment viewing. We’ve changed the terminology a bit and will include the tactics of coupons and discounts, however, incentives complement the loyalty agenda. These incentives can be an attached coupon, a discount code or we can link subscribers directly to the advertiser’s website. Multi-taskers will love it. So, if we can’t keep them in front of the TV to watch our commercials then let us say “hello” right in their personal email boxes. Apply the measurability of household purchases, a dribble of traditional website metrics, and then a squeeze of redemption factors and voila…you might just have a recipe for an appetizing solution.

Magazines Responsible for Finding Compatible Advertisers for their Readers

Starcom MediaVest Group buys magazine advertising space for major advertisers including Starbucks and Proctor & Gamble. Their CEO, Renetta McCann, spoke at the International Federation of Periodical and Press (FIPP) World Magazine Congress on what magazines have to do to survive.

"I believe the success of magazines can and will be achieved. But it will pivot on three deliverables: engagement; connectivity, which moves you toward addressability; and accountability." Ms. McCann said her firm's own survey showed the extent to which consumers were already engaged with magazines. In one study, 36 women and teens flipped through magazines and were told to pull out what was most valuable to them. One third of the pages were advertisements. Ms. McCann said she wants the magazine industry to delve even deeper to provide information about recall, brand association and readership.

Not blurring editorial lines
The aim at Starcom MediaVest Group is to marry advertising clients with magazine projects that speak in the voice of the magazine delivering it, she said. "Let me be clear here. We are not interested in making ads that blur the lines of editorial. Instead we seek a voice and tone that will resonate and be consistent to the reader." The aim, Ms. McCann said, is to make content more personal and individual. "That means, in the long term, you're going to have to figure out how to give magazines more of a screen-based entry point for consumers."

New Manual for Community Building

Here's how I found out about Jim Dier's book, Neighbor Power (linked below), which I hope will be an important source of tips for me in building community. I visited the Fast Company Now blog where Heath Row pointed my attention to John Thackara who is guest blogging. Although my awareness of Thackara is low, I admire his Doors of Perception conference and hope to attend one day. In one of his postings for Fast Company, Thackara mentions picking up a copy of Neighbor Power. So two existing resources intermingled and bred a new resource. How organic.

Link: Neighbor Power: Building Community The Seattle Way.

In the 1990s, Jim Diers helped Seattle neighborhoods face challenges ranging from gang violence to urban growth. The Neighborhood Matching Fund grew to support over 400 community self-help projects each year while a community-driven planning process involved 30,000 people. Diers provides evidence that productive community life is thriving, not just in Seattle, Washington, but in towns and cities across the globe. Both practical and inspiring, Neighbor Power offers real-life examples of how to build active, creative neighborhoods and enjoy the rich results of community empowerment.

Clorox Keeps it Useful

Clorox markets their bleach pen to the sophisticated consumer.

Link: Home Care Essentials for the Savvy Modern Girl.

Being a modern domestic goddess isn’t about doing it all: it’s about taking shortcuts to give the impression of having it all. Together with the Clorox Bleach Pen, author Jane Buckingham has compiled some simple tips in Homecare Essentials for the Savvy Modern Girl that are sure to make your life easier without making you feel like you cheated.

It's just marketing, but it can be infuriating

Over at, Andrew Leonard has a sensible riff on advertising and its effect on kids. Really, it makes you stop and think about the effect of advertising on all of us. It doesn't control us unless we let it. And sometimes it can be a wonderful, imaginative lift. But it's just not marketing, not real life.

What really frustrates me is that I can't influence the companies whose products I buy. I wish I had more influence at Fast Company magazine, for instance. I want marketing to become a two-way street. If they want to influence me, then I get to influence them.

Link: Life | Embracing the dark side of the brand.

Isn't this where I am supposed to wring my hands at the way kids today are hammered by the movie of the moment at every possible access point, from their cereal to their Cheez-It snacks to their juice box to every commercial on a 24-hour kids network? Shouldn't I be alarmed at how crestfallen my son was when I failed to remember to tape "Revenge of the Brick" -- the "Star Wars" Lego movie?

Advertisers spend some $12 billion a year marketing to children -- and this is what happens! The kids start dreaming about the Lego representations of "Star Wars" characters! It's a national outrage! Alert the media!

Oh poppycock. My daughter grew out of Barbie. My son will grow out of "Star Wars." The only difference is that I'll be sad when Jedi Starfighters lose their ability to spark, because my son's burgeoning sci-fi fixations give me a not-so-secret thrill. And there's no getting around it: "Star Wars" Lego sets are way cool. (Not half as cool as what my son does with them after he's finished following the instructions -- which torpedoes the whole cramping-kids'-creativity argument -- but still really neat all by their lonesome.)

Nothing, not even Buzz, as Simple as it seems

Over at MarketingProfs, Emanuel Rosen has a nice summary of common misperceptions about buzz marketing. He also attends carefully to definitions.

We're all looking for strategies to stimulate people to talk about our brands, products or services. For this article, let's define buzz as all the person-to-person communication about a brand, and buzz marketing as a company's efforts to stimulate positive buzz.

The 5 misperceptions are

  1. Buzz always spreads fast and far.
  2. Good products automatically generate buzz.
  3. If you have buzz, you don't need to do any other marketing.
  4. All you have to do is find the early adopters.
  5. Online, offline, it doesn't matter.

If you want to generate buzz, you got to read this article. I think you'll have to register...