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Media Predictions for 2012 by Soap….

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Is the iAd doomed?

So I read the following article, and immediately felt the need to share some basic thoughts.

I’ll start by stating that I think the creation of mobile advertising standards are a good thing, they will certainly help streamline the business, and bring some needed conformity. However, in my 20 yrs of being in this business, I have never had a client who was “satisfied” with the norm. While I believe these standards will help the mobile industry grow, clients will always look to break the mold, and iAd provides marketers the opportunity to do just that. Whether or not iAd will be the platform that succeeds remains to be seen, but lets face it – were talking about a company who’s motto is “Think Differently”.

Does Social Media Help TV Viewership?

Regardless of whether your a Digital or Traditional marketer, this post isn’t about singling out a “preferred” medium, its simply about the convergence of behaviors.

While the DVR, Apple TV, Hulu, Boxee etc etc give us control over when and how we watch our favorite TV programs, I believe Social Media has altered consumer behaviors, and has actually allowed TV networks to once again feel good about “appointment television”. While I don’t have stats to back up this statement, my own behavioral experience absolutely supports this point of view (the power of one…prove me wrong).

While I watch very little network programming, there are a few “prime-time” shows I enjoy, and whenever I do tune in (at the time of airing), I feel like I’m in my virtual living room watching with my friends and family. With iPad in hand, I sit there watching TV, and then it starts – facebook friends light up the news feed, and the discussion begins… not only limited to the program, but the advertising as well.

We all know this behavior is abundantly apparent when watching live events such as Sports, Awards shows etc. but, is it enough for TV networks to once again make a case for appointment viewing? After all, appointment TV is still one of the most successful way to reach a mass audience at a specific point in time.

Welcome your thoughts.

This is not another Verizon iPhone Comparison!

iPhone coming to Verizon is no doubt, a much anticipated event. And while the expectation is that millions of Verizon iPhones will be sold in the first week alone, the best part of all the hype is seeing all the iPhone naysayers line up to buy it.

I have listened to Verizon users talk down the iPhone (not just the service) for over 4 years – all the excuses from closed platform to the touch keypad etc etc.

Now that the time has come, I find it comical to hear that pre-orders were sold out in less than 3 hours. But the best part of this event is that all the once haters are now acting like kids on Christmas Eve.

I can’t count the number of emails, tweets, facebook posts etc, I have received in the last few days, touting “my iPhone can make calls”.

My initial reaction is to “tell them where to go”, but then I stopped to think about what these pour souls have missed for the past 4 yrs. The reality is that all these newbies will finally understand why the iPhone is a superior product. And as an investor in all three companies…that’s not a bad thing.

As a marketer, I can’t wait to see the impact that ViPhone, has not only on future ATT subscriptions, but more importantly, how much potential marketshare is gained back from the Android OS.

As an ATT user, I am very excited by the prospect that maybe…just maybe I can somehow benefit by Verizon putting pressure on ATT pricing plans.

Fun times ahead.

“How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free”

I think Mr. Tom Petty was onto something when he wrote “The Last DJ”. We are at a point where time is such a precious commodity that we are willing, eager, and able to pay a premium for its convenience.

Stop and think about the course of media, Broadcast TV delivered on the promise of providing free content supported by advertising. However, consumers were bound to ridged airtime schedules.

Then Cable TV, introduced the “pay for content – no commercials” model. Shortly thereafter, commercials make their way to cable tv. Why? Because ad revenue far outweighed the revenue generated from subscriptions alone. (Besides, who doesn’t want to get paid from both sides (consumers and networks) Satellite Radio – same thing, originally offered with no ads, today – ads appear on most popular channels.

Today, in a world where time truly is money, and instant gratification is the expected norm, more and more people, (particularly the younger generation) are willing to pay for content that is otherwise free, so long as they can consume it when, where, and on whatever device they choose.

So if you buy into the belief that future consumption will be a-la-carte, why not start cutting the cable cord now?

Well, for some, they have already taken the plunge. However, for most, it will take more convincing that they will be able to get the same (if not more) content than currently available by cable providers.

Today’s reality is that the average consumer can get at least 60-70% of their content either free or at a-la-carte pricing (on any device), however the services by which to get this content are too fragmentized, thus making it financially unattractive. Once the cream rises to the top and companies begin to acquire/merge, much more streamlined services will attract consumers to make the shift.

So, are you ready to take the plunge???

Free doesn’t translate into social.

Many companies are still under the impression that because they use facebook, twitter etc, to toss freebies out into the social sphere, they satisfy “social” on their marketing checklist. Obviously this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In order for brands to truly be viewed as “social”, and in touch with consumers, brands need to deliver long term and ongoing value.

Does this mean it’s bad to offer incentives? Absolutely not: incentives are great to encourage sampling and boost sales – but the key is to make sure those who act on an incentive don’t fall into cyber abyss. Understandably, there are those “coupon clippers” who just care about a deal, and are only loyal to saving money, but I believe if you provide a valuable, and quality experience you will gain a life long customer.

This simple concept of providing quality/value derives from the premise that if a consumer is willing to friend or follow a brand without incentive, they are more likely to have a deeper affiliation with a brand. These types of consumers are more likely to not only engage more with the brand, but also contribute their own thoughts thus making the experience for other fans/followers much more richer.

As all you marketers prepare to take on the Holiday Season, remember this – every brand, product, service company etc will be flooding the market to gain the attention of consumers. How will your brand break through the clutter and actually win over a life long customer vs. just making a quick sale?

Happy Holidays!

Social is not a Campaign!

A recent study of US marketers by the Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY found that brand awareness was the most popular objective of social media “campaign”. How can this be I ask? For starters, “Social” is not a campaign, it is an ongoing dialogue between a brand and a consumer. Secondly, how can companies expect to build brand affinity without first establishing customer loyalty?

My opinionated attempt to explain:

Think back to the days when marketers referred to word of mouth as the best form of “advertising” a company could ever hope for, yet there were very few ways to prove that positive or negative word of mouth affected brand or impacted the bottom line. Even more puzzling was the fact that marketers had very few ways of touching consumers on a personal level if they needed to remedy a problem, or thank someone for being a loyal supporter.

Today, those same “word of mouth” conversations still take place, except now marketers have an opportunity to see them, understand them, influence them, and most importantly, connect them to individual customers. Never before, have Marketers and Brands had an opportunity to get as close to their customers as they can today, yet so many of them limit their “social efforts” to simply “advertising” to consumers within social forums.

Those who understand the value of today’s social ethos, know that social media is not about a “campaign”. Its not how much money you sink into advertising on social networks, and it’s not about how many leads can be delivered. It’s about making sure your company in sync with its customers – It’s about providing value. When you provide value to consumers you establish trust and loyalty, which lead to brand affinity & awareness. It is only then, when companies can expect to see the fruits of their labor through increased sales, and overall growth etc.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I will say that I do believe its beneficial for Marketers and Brands to “advertise” in social environments, but these efforts should not be looked at a social media, they simply should be looked at as advertising campaigns (which is what they are). And should not be measured any differently than other “campaigns” with specific and measureable KPI’s.

I welcome your thoughts.

Are Brands racing too fast into social?

It sure feels like it. Much like in the early 90’s when every company had to have a website, today brands “need to be social”. Only problem is many of them don’t know how, and unlike yester-year, today they are getting called to the mat when their efforts are disjointed.

While I’m an advocate of the social world, I strongly believe brands should not dive in until they have strategically defined a reason for being. I see too many brands participating in things that are not in sync with their customers or their employees.

Allow me to share a personal experience. I recently walked into a Sports Authority (@sportsauthority) to purchase a good amount of equipment. As I checked in using @foursquare, I was excited to take advantage of their $10 cash card offer (which I had unlocked). As I attempted to pay for my merchandise, I showed & told the cashier about my offer, but no luck (this is when things started to get ugly). For starters, the cashier didn’t know what Foursquare was, never mind the offer I was trying to redeem. It gets better, she calls for a manager (takes about 5 min for someone to show up at the register), and when he arrived, he did not know about the offer either. I think you see the problem here – the left side of the brand pushes out a great promotion, but the rights side of the brand has no idea what’s going on…an obvious recipe for disaster. To finish the story, without making a stink, I simply paid for my merchandise and walked out. On a positive note, both folks were pleasant to deal with; they were just unfortunately not informed.

The fact I was unable to redeem my offer isn’t what concerned me. I was more bothered thinking that a brand like Sports Authority couldn’t connect the dots on what should have been a great case study, but is now a missed opportunity to connect with me in a meaningful way.

I write this post not to criticize Sports Authority, but to merely illustrate my point of how a brand rushed into a promotion/campaign, and did not have all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. I actually applaud Sports Authority for leaping in by using Foursquare as part of their marketing mix. However, the experience was not seamless, and their efforts fell short of satisfying – which I have to believe is their end goal.

Hoping this helps create a “Social” Authority.

Always On…A good thing?

Remember the day when “Always On” meant you didn’t have to use dial-up to connect to the web? By today’s standards, “Always On” is amplified exponentially and carries an entirely new meaning. Within a matter of seconds, through a multitude of devices, we are connected to work, personal/professional conversations, social networks etc, regardless of where we are and what time of day it is. This begs the question: is this what we really want or are we doing it because we fear missing the latest “urgent email” trend/news?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being connected to everything going on at the office, participating in personal and professional conversation, staying abreast of the latest news etc, but I have to admit – I now find myself looking for opportunities to “Disconnect”.

With that I tried an experiment over the 4th of July weekend – could I remain disconnected for a few days? While I must admit, with the exception of 3 brief check-ins the first day (withdrawal people), I succeeded, and man was it wonderful. I actually stopped to smell the roses, admire children playing, enjoy company without interruption – It was splendid.

I found that after a few drinks and days full of activities, I quickly forgot about the connected world. Now that I’ve re-connected – I’m finding I didn’t miss much. So, even though we have the means to be “Always On”, do we really need the anxiety of feeling the need to always be connected? I know my answer.

Here’s to hoping everyone can find their own little time to experiment.