Google TV Launch – Success or Failure?

December 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Recently professionals are using technology as their main tool to get their messages to target audiences. With the creation of social networks, blogs, and even internet, public relations professionals are able to send direct messages through these mediums that attract the target audiences. Tactics are the ways to attract target audiences by using the information gathered about that audience and directing a message to them using tools such as social mediums or other technology.

There are various tools that can be used in the practice of public relations. Traditional tools include press releases and media kits which are sent out to generate positive press on behalf of the organization. Other widely used tools include brochures, newsletters and annual reports. Increasingly, as previously mentioned, companies are utilizing interactive social media outlets, such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook, as tools in their public relations campaigns. Unlike the traditional tools which allowed for only one-way communication, social media outlets allow the organization to engage in two-way communication, and receive immediate feedback from their various stakeholders.

Was the product launch of the Google TV as success or failure?  Google TV is simply TV plus Internet. Google TV gives users the ability to search for names of your favorite shows or movies; you’ll stumble upon a plethora of options on how you can watch them either through cable or the Internet. Google will be able to serve as a complete web browser that can play Flash videos and even send and read email messages.  Moreover, the users of Google TV can create their customized home screens for their respective favorite TV channels, online shows and web domains. Hence, Google TV is not really TV it’s just like TV with a multitude of other functions.

The following PR tactics are currently being used to introduce the launch of Google TV: Facebook, press releases, corporate web videos, online news release distribution, twitter, blogger relations, corporate podcasting, and viral marketing. Below I have provided an overview of how Google is leveraging each PR tactic to promote the launch of Google TV.

Facebook – Google TV appears to have a couple of Facebook pages. One appears to be the official Facebook page, and the other appears to be created by an anonymous user. Both fan pages contain information about the product, user initiated posts, and a section that allows users to discuss the product in an open forum.

Press Releases – When searching for Google TV on Google I was bombarded by over 666 million search results. All major media publications were included in the natural search results. Abcnews.com, pcworld.com, computerworld.com, reuters.com, msnbc.com, nytimes.com, techcrunch.com, and wired.com to name a few all had featured articles surrounding the new Google TV product launch. Most articles at this point describe what the product is and how it competes with Apple. So far, since the product has not officially launched there is no mention of the users’ experience.

Corporate Web Videos – Google launched a new site that includes instructional how to videos. This site launched prior to the official launch date of the product so users can get a feel for how it works prior to finding out exactly how much the product will cost. The hope is to get everyone excited and familiar with the functionality for free so once Google releases the cost users will be more likely to buy.

Online News Release Distribution – I included this because I came across an article about the Google TV on PR Newswire so I thought it was worth mentioning. PR Newswire has been posting press releases online for a while, but recently they started disseminating information through RSS feeds. This tactics is very important because this enables releases to be spread around the internet quickly and efficiently. Google by nature could be considered a RSS feed but instead of users going to Google to search for product releases they can subscribe to an RSS feed and updates will be emailed directly to them in real-time.

Twitter – The Google TV product has its own Twitter account. I subscribed to the RSS feed which has been sending updates on new content partnerships, webinar invitations that walk users through Google TV’s features and capabilities, and webinar invitations that walk users through how to leverage Google TV’s affordable advertising capabilities.

Corporate Podcasting – Not only was I able to find a large number of podcasts that included interviews with Google’s development team discussing the product launch, Google has their own podcast called Google Listen. This podcast is available through Google.com and is also available on iTunes. The Podcast includes interviews that discuss product launches, industry trends, and up and coming product enhancements.

Viral Marketing – With Google’s strong presence on majority of the main social media sites, users are re tweeting, digging, and re posting as often as new content is distributed. I know when I found out about the Google TV, I posted the article I read on my Facebook page.

Blogger Relations – Many PR firms are now targeting high traffic, high-profile bloggers. Google TV is featured in all major tech blogs including GoogleBlog, TechCrunch, Mashable, Gizmodo, Gawker, and Technoradi.

The above 8 tactics have become the mainstream and many companies have a strong presence across most if not all media channels.  Google is such a powerhouse and they seem to have got their PR initiatives in line with their business objective. The business objective as this point appears to be brand awareness of the Google TV launch.

The Ins and Outs of Bidding Wars

December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

PAID PLACEMENT/PAID INCLUSION BACKGROUND:

Search engines have unique algorithms that take many attributes into consideration including, price, promotional advertising copy, landing page quality, etc.  The search engines algorithm ensures that when someone searches for specific keywords the best match will appear higher within the search results. Different search engines weigh attributes differently but all weigh quality of the website, copy, and destination landing pages high.  Most advertisers who have large paid placement campaigns will focus their time and efforts on the quality of their website, copy, and the landing pages (SEO) since these attributes are weighted high therefore driving down the price and still maintaining a high rank.

Paid placement and paid inclusion is important to advertisers because advertisers can track their ROI in real-time vs. running a TV spot and hoping people watch it, but never knowing for sure. With paid placement/inclusion the advertiser knows for sure who searched for their ad, who clicked on their ad, and who purchased their product.  As web tracking become more sophisticated marketers can actually see where the user clicked prior to searching on the search engine and where the user went after they searched on the search engine. This information is important to know because marketers can understand the users buying behavior which is very valuable knowledge.

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ISSUES:

There a few instances where paid placements isn’t the most efficient way to spend advertising dollars. Many advertisers pay to appear when their brand name is queried. Not only does the advertiser have to pay for their brand name, advertisers have limited control over their brand. Google, Yahoo, and Bing make it very easy for a competitor to bid on other competitors brand names which often times can confuse the consumer or lead the consumer away from one brand to the competitor’s brand. For example if someone wanted to buy a North Face jacket they would search for the keyword North Face. If someone from Columbia Outerwear’s marketing team wanted to, they could bid on the keyword North Face fleece or North Face jacket so when the keyword North Face fleece is queried a Columbia jacket advertisement displays under the North Face brand name. The search engines claim to disapprove these ads however many slip through.

There are also problems with bidding wars which ultimately can hurt the advertiser’s bottom line. For example both The North Face and REI what to own the keyword “outerwear”.  Since both want to own the top spot within Google, both are willing to pay a premium.  Because both are willing to pay top dollar they ultimately end up driving up the cost causing their ROI to be very low.

While there are benefits to paid inclusion and paid placements there are negatives. If all marketers played fairly some of the negative aspects would go away but without search engines enforcing best practices fair play won’t always happen.

Are opt – out icons sufficient?

December 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Online advertising data collection is a very big topic right now. Last week the FTC and the Department of Commerce said companies supporting the advertisers lack the ability to self-regulate the online ad industry, which relies on tracking technology to keep much of the content on the web for free. The FTC wants to give consumers the ability to opt out of providing data used for marketing purposes. The solution that was proposed was a do not track list (similar to the do not call list) to stop online data collection.

Many of us know that stopping companies from collecting data won’t work on the internet. Publications make money serving the ads next to their content so readers don’t have to pay to read the publication. In the publication world if users requested to be on the do not track list there would be no ads on free websites such as New York Times, Newsweek, etc. and most publications would not survive.

One way in which advertisers are being compliant is an icon now appears on ads that leads consumers to an opt-out page and more information. Consumers also should have real-time information on what data is collected on them. Based on my experience recently a high percentage of media buys include a demo-target, geo-target, audience, age, or some variation of behavior targeting. If this ability to target based on behavior is removed, advertisers ROI is going to take a hit. Most marketers use behavioral data to be smarter about who they are targeting and if information isn’t shared or sold I don’t think consumers should be concerned. While regulations should be put into place surrounding selling user data I don’t see removing the ability to collect user data in violation of privacy laws.

Is Twitter Just a Fad?

December 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

With more than 20 million people on Twitter in the U.S. there are ample opportunities for audiences to engage with corporations and brands.  Twitter, if executed properly, can help companies engage with customers, build new relationships, deepen relationships and create a new pool of customers talking positively about the brand resulting in an increase in loyalty and ultimately an increase in sales.  With the Holiday season around the corner many retailers are embracing social media like never before.  More than half are including it in the marketing strategies, up drastically from only 4% in 2007.  Of those who reported plans to use social media, 76% are focusing on Facebook, 50% on Twitter, 14% on MySpace and 14% on YouTube .  Despite the fact that 50% of major retailers are including Twitter into their marketing strategies many retailers are not leveraging this powerful marketing tool properly.  Unless used properly Twitter is a missed opportunity for major brands.  Target is leveraging their Twitter account as effectively as they could be and as a result the cheap chic discounter said it expects a key revenue measure to rise more sharply than it has in any period in the last three years.

Twitter can be used by businesses for many purposes; its value differs for each company.  If best practices are followed, businesses can discuss their news, products and services with a wider audience, increase brand awareness, gain new customers, boost sales and/or provide customer service.   This interaction or customer service is an important factor that can help companies maintain a strong corporate reputation.  While Tweets might be damaging to a brand, success requires a commitment to respond quickly to customer queries, suggestions or complaints.  According to Twitter’s own best practices, “your reply should come with a day, if not within hours”.

The number of active Twitter users in the United States already exceeds 20 million and can be expected to continue to grow.  This is a massive human database to tap; companies that understand the value of Twitter can benefits from its potential as a viable engagement platform.  With numbers like that Twitter is absolutely NOT a fad but a powerful marketing channel.

The Power of Short Film

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Lady Blue Shanghai” is a eerie 6 -minute film that opens in hazy Shanghai, where Cotillard, dressed in a sharply tailored Dior skirt suit returns to her hotel room to find music blaring and a sapphire Dior patent quilted handbag sitting in the middle of the room. Once Cotillard notices the bag, the bag starts to emit smoke and light. Shocked by this site, Cotillard’s character calls two security guards to investigate.

Once the security guards start questioning Cotillard, she admits that within the last 12 hours she was somehow transported back to old Shanghai, where she met a tall, dark, and handsome Chinese man, and fell in love. The director created a flashback of the love affair which consisted of a series of out of focus frames, one in which the highly coveted Lady Dior handbag floats out of a billboard. Back in real time, Cotillard is coaxed into opening up the handbag, which reveals a single blue rose which she clutches to her heard. Once she pulls out the blue rose, the short film ends.

The Dior vignettes are an effective way to market handbags as handbags are a luxury product and without an emotional attachment to a handbag, most people aren’t willing to pay a premium for a product they can get at a lower price. What the Dior handbag vignettes do is bring emotion, drama, and a sense of rebellion into the handbag purchase.  Good short films should have focus, freshness, simplicity, conflict, film like qualities, and structure.  Similar to when you watch a love movie you leave the movies thinking that what happened in the movie will happen in real life. You are taken away from reality and may act differently if you are caught up in the moment. Dior brings emotion and drama when marketing their handbags. When I watched all three short films I got caught up in the drama and thought to myself I would love to be Marion Cotillard, live abroad, and carry a Dior handbag. On the flip side, if I were to walk into a Dior store and see that same bag on a shelf I would have no emotional connection to that bag and an in-store advertisement isn’t going to sway me to buy a $500+ Dior handbag. For this reason, I think that running a series of short films surrounding its luxury handbags is a smart and effective marketing decision.

Top 3 Mobile Advertising Trends

November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Marketers are increasingly interested in mobile marketing as interactive messages can be delivered that are specific to a consumer’s location or particular context consumption.  Services are now available that provide consumers with mobile coupons that are sent directly to their cell phones and can be redeemed at the point of purchase.  Many companies are now making text messaging a part of their integrated campaigns.  Mobile ads can be delivered in the form of messages like SMS and MMS, banner and full-page ads on mobile internet sites, mobile search ads, in-application advertising and mobile video.

The following 3 trends are what marketers are currently discussing or even incorporating into their overall IMC plans.

1.  Continued Importance of SMS

Approximately 90% of the U.S. population owns a cell phone and 98% of those phones being SMS-enabled out of the box, SMS is one of the most popular communication methods in the world.  The increase in SMS can be  attributed to its low cost and ease of use.

In edition to the large volume of traffic SMS also has high CTR’s.  The average CTR for text messaging is 14.06%, while the average conversion rate is 8.22%. E-mail brings in an average CTR of 6.64% and an average conversion rate of about 1.73%, and Internet display doesn’t even hit the radar with an average CTR of 0.76% and average conversion rate of 4.43%, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2010 Response Rate Trend Report.

2. Mobile Sites vs. Mobile Apps

Many marketers are tasked with the responsibility to build either a mobile site or mobile app or both.

Google is betting on mobile web and search as the future, and Apple is taking the app route, it is still not clear which platform consumers will prefer in coming years. Because of this fragmented mobile browsing experience, developing either can seem like a huge commitment to marketers, especially since mobile spending currently makes up less than 5% of marketing budgets in many organizations.

To further complicate this decision marketers are faced with choosing from a number of different device types, operating systems, and available screen sizes.

Because of the intricacies with mobile, less than a third of U.S. marketers think optimizing the mobile marketing experience is important to their customers, according to an April 2010 survey by eROI.  Furthermore, just 23% of marketers responding to the survey reported having a mobile-optimized website.

3. The Growth of Mobile Video

Mobile video will be adopted in the coming years.  Currently video isn’t a huge focus for advertisers because of broadband and technology barriers.

The number of mobile video viewers in the U.S. will grow nearly 30% in 2010 to reach 23.9 million, according to eMarketer’s forecasts,  representing a reach of about 7.7% of the total U.S. population and just under 10% of mobile phone users. Those numbers are set to double by 2013 and increase still further in 2014.

By 2013, some even believe that video will be so widely adopted that it will be a significant driver of mobile data usage — occupying an estimated 66% of mobile traffic Cisco forecasts.

With video taking an increasingly important role in the mobile marketing, advertisers should keep their eyes open for opportunities to try out this new advertising opportunity.

AARP.org is an example of a company who is leveraging all mobile devices in order to capture the increase in mobile demand.

Is Advertising Creepy?

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Have you ever looked for a new jacket on gap.com but decided to buy it either when it goes on sale or you have a coupon?  The next time you are online did you notice an ad with that exact coat you last looked at following you around everywhere as if the Gap had a salesperson following you around.

“For days or weeks, every site I went to seemed to be showing me ads for that jacket,” said Ms. Matlin, a mother of two from Montreal. “It is a pretty clever marketing tool. But it’s a little creepy, especially if you don’t know what’s going on.”

People have grown accustomed to being tracked online and shown ads for categories of products they have shown interest in, be it tennis or bank loans.

Increasingly, however, the ads tailored to them are for specific products that they have perused online. While the technique, which the ad industry calls personalized retargeting or remarketing, is not new, it is becoming more popular.  Retargeting since it first launch has become very “smart” which is causing people to feel as if they are being watched as they navigate online.

In the digital advertising business, this form of highly personalized marketing is being hailed as the latest breakthrough because the objective is to show consumers the right ad at the right time.  With more consumers skeptical about their privacy, the technique is raising a new the threat of industry regulation.

Retargeting, however, relies on a form of online tracking that has been around for years and is not particularly intrusive. Retargeting programs typically use small text files called cookies that are exchanged when a web browser visits a site. Cookies are used by virtually all commercial Web sites for various purposes, including advertising, keeping users signed in and customizing content.

In remarketing, when a person visits an e-commerce site and looks at say, a Gucci satchel on eBags.com, a cookie is placed into that person’s browser, linking it with the handbag. When that person, or someone using the same computer, visits another site, the advertising system creates an ad for that has that very purse on it.

Google began testing this technique in 2009, calling it remarketing to promote a customized messages like special offers or discounts being sent to users. In March, Google made the service available to all advertisers on its AdWords network.

For Google, remarketing is a more specific form of behavioral targeting, the practice under which a person who has visited NBA.com that user may be tagged as a basketball fan and later will be shown ads for related merchandise.  From an advertisers perspective retargeting is a very appealing tactic as their ad will have a higher ROI if it is displayed to a person who they know something about vs. displaying to a person that the advertiser has no behavior information on.

I think one way to avoid the “creepy” factor is to enforce frequency caps.  I think if a user sees the ads 2 – 3 more times following the initial interest that is enough to get the message across and avoids the feeling that there is a salesperson following you around the web.

 

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