Monday, December 18, 2006

Atlanta Billboards Not Changing Soon

I’ll be curious to see how the Atlanta City Council decides to regulate digital billboards. Talk about getting your message across in a busy marketplace! I loved the mention of a restaurant being able to tailor its pitch for different meal specials throughout the day.

This topic interests me for several reasons. I am a native Atlantan and like to track how the visual landscape of the city evolves over time. But as a marketer, it’s nice to know that I won’t be subjected to the same, irrelevant messages for extended periods of time.

But how exactly can a billboard operator monitor how many people view each ad (as the above article mentions)? So it’s great that an advertiser can measure its ROI, but there’s something about it that seems a bit Big Brother-ish to me.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Looks Like Philips Has a Winner

Philips Electronics was the sole sponsor of the December 4 edition of NBC Nightly News and in doing so freed up more than an extra six minutes of airtime for the program. This elimination of multiple advertisers allowed all of the attention to be on Philips’ “sense and sensibility theme.” According to this USA Today article, the result was an increase in viewership and more than 4,000 e-mails from viewers thanking NBC for subjecting them to only one sponsor. All but one of the messages were positive and many mentioned they were planning to buy Philips’ products. The consumer electronics was the sole sponsor of an edition of CBS’ 60 Minutes last year as well as a college football broadcast earlier this year. It seems to me like the company is choosing to spend its money wisely. I can’t argue with spending to be the lone pitch in what would be an otherwise crowded marketplace when the feedback indicates a strong tendency to buy the product.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Card in Hand is Worth More Than Two Gifts Under the Tree

I read this blog about the Starbucks card and wanted to throw in my $.02 on the topic. Having given (and received) this card, I know first-hand how easily they can become a staple item in someone’s wallet. But I think this is an example of a good loyalty program. Given that many people make a Starbucks stop a part of their daily routine, and that one in eight visitors use a Starbucks card to pay for their drink, the coffee retailer has a wonderful opportunity to get to know its customers and create tailored marketing campaigns. In this time of holiday gift-giving, I wouldn’t be surprised if Starbucks cards accounted for a large portion of the $24.8 billion in sales projected here for gift cards. As one analyst pointed out, why not give a gift that allows the recipient to choose how its used?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Where Relevancy Road Meets Location Lane

Here’s a great posting about the placement of messages by Seth Godin. With the abundance of clutter, if a message with information about a product I need is mis-placed, it’s likely to go unnoticed (un heard). A key to success is being in the right place at the right time. Right message, right location – as determined by the content being received and acted upon its target audience.

Friday, November 17, 2006

NBC Sells AND Produces Ads

I wanted to point out Jon Fine’s most recent column for BusinessWeek, which discusses the new role NBC is taking with some of its key advertisers. While not so much a discussion of on-point marketing or anything that cuts through the clutter, it’s interesting to point out that the network has found a way to produce advertising and turn messaging into content (or even blend the two together). I guess NBC realized there was more money to be made in advertising. Someone must have thought, “We sell the time for ads, hey, let’s produce them too!”

“Media” is already such a murky concept, and NBC’s latest move of developing an in-house ad agency has added another wrinkle to the information marketplace that is already overloaded. Product placement is nothing new, but this is far beyond that, as the article mentions NBC potentially producing brand-related content for the advertisers and mobile devices. It just seems to me like another source for potentially mis-directed content.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Smell of Success?

Kraft is sponsoring a special issue of People magazine with ads that allow readers to experience the smell of one of the products being advertised. Kraft believes the more a reader can play with the ad, the better the recall of its message, says Gary Gruneberg, director of media buying for Kraft Foods. The idea of scratch and sniff is nothing to magazines, as I’ve received countless issues reeking of various perfumes. But I think this is an interesting twist on the idea, and from the article, it seems as if the printing technology has improved to prevent the scents from being activated accidentally, which would be counterproductive. (The magazines I received with perfume strips have always been delivered reeking and I can’t tell which perfume is which.)

The article mentions that marketers believe the addition of scents to ads is a huge differentiator from other print ads. My former GSU professor, Pam Scholder Ellen, is quoted as saying “scents can be a powerful advertising tool because they ‘transport people out of their current state into a more desirable state.’”

Instead of trying to make a visual impression, the company is hoping use of consumers’ olfactory senses will leave a more lasting effect.

Does Kraft have a nose for clever messaging? I think the marriage of scented ads with a special publication dedicated to holiday entertaining is a great idea. That the interactivity in this issue is extended to editorial content is icing on the cake for Kraft. (Can you tell I like puns?) Food engages our sense of smell, touch and taste, so why not allow a print ad to be more than just a feast for the eyes?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Full or Cluttered?

Seth Godin’s column today touches on what I call clutter. He uses the term “full.” His posting is an interesting take on how repetition of a message can pay off. While I think the marketplace is cluttered and only the relevant content finds its way to an audience, Godin believes consumers are full until they’re ready to listen. Toe-may-toe or to-mah-toe?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"I just want my stuff": RSS feeds & You

I’m a relative newcomer to the world of RSS readers and am now wondering how I ever lived without my Google reader or Bloglines page. Once upon a time I would manually check each blog I liked and found that I was missing content if I didn’t stop by each page frequently enough. Needless to say, I could only read so much and gave up on some that were too time-consuming. Now I am reading blogs and topical news items at my convenience – and have expanded my repertoire to boot.

I’ve mentioned my newfound love of RSS feeds to friends who have looked at me like I am crazy. (I don’t run with a crowd of early adopters.) Now, I’ll just forward them this column, which excellently explains RSS feeds.

RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. J.B. Holston, the CEO of NewsGator, succinctly explains why we should love this technology: "RSS brings the Web to you, rather than you having to go out and find things on the Web."

Holston uses his RSS feed as a customized newspaper, which I have begun to do as well. It won’t be long before that behavior is commonplace. That means that we’ll be getting the information we want, when and where we want it. And thus a marketing challenge is born – or an opportunity, depending on your perspective.

I see ROI measurement increasing in future campaigns. Thanks to Technorati, it’s quite easy to track when an ad campaign is discussed in the blogosphere. So, now I wonder, how to reach an audience that has set limits to what it wants to read? While a marketer has the opportunity to reach a captive audience, the trick will be to reach folks who don’t know they want what you’re offering. Talk about a chance to put your brain to work to think of clever ways to circumvent the filtering process and incorporate your messages into new channels and feeds! How can that be done? Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks to Micro Persuasion for the Yahoo! link.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reaching a Virtual Audience for Real-Life Action

Another posting I found interesting today – this interview Nedra Kline Weinreich conducted with CDC Second Life representative John Anderton about how the organization is using the virtual arena to carry out its mission of public health advocacy and education. I really like how the agency has chosen this platform for communicating with its audience. Second Life has a captive group of participants, but I just hope action isn’t limited to cyberspace – it’s important that the message carries over to real-life. Thanks to Micropersuasion for the suggestion – it’s well worth viewing.

First and Goal: Philips Eyes a TD for its Medical Devices

Philips Electronics has taken a novel approach to eliminating the clutter surrounding its ads. The electronics giant has purchased all of the national ad time available in this Saturday’s football game between Texas and Oklahoma State that’s being televised by TBS. You can read the particulars of the arrangement in this Wall Street Journal story.

I have mixed feelings about this strategy. The article mentions that Philips wanted the ads to be relevant to the viewers of the game, but are the buyers of Philips’ medical devices the same people who will be watching? I suppose this is just an awareness-raising endeavor, but it seems like a lot of money to spend and possibly only be remembered as the company that sped-up the pace of a football game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

Monday, October 30, 2006

Talk to Me So I Can Talk to You

Here’s a nutty idea – listen to your consumer! But listening requires asking questions in the first place, and that could get messy. In what could be mistaken for a Mars/Venus debate, today’s most e-mailed story on has the headline: What Do Women Want? Just Ask Look a little closer and you’ll find a great article about the steps some companies are taking to tailor their offerings and marketing campaigns to the female consumer. Seems like a no-brainer to ask your customer base what they like (and dislike) about your product, but more often than not it’s Mars making assumptions about what Venus wants to buy. A smart marketer knows that success comes not from saying what you want to say but what your consumer wants to hear. There’s enough clutter in the marketplace. Make your product – and your message – relevant if you want to standout and reach your target audience.

And that this story is so popular on tells me that a lot of people find this topic interesting. I bet a lot of marketers haven’t thought of having a two-way conversation with their target audience. What do you think?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My oh my – Sports News

The two leading sports news sites, and, have taken to the “My” revolution that’s taking over the internet. (Think MySpace, MyCokeRewards, My Yahoo and the like.) Each has its own “My[insert name here]” portal to bring users/fans customized information to an online portal (ESPN) or their desktop via downloadable software (SI). I am all about getting the information I want when I want it, but these sites have taken two drastically different approaches and I already know which one I really like and which one leaves a less than favorable impression.

In the interest of full disclosure, I once worked at, back when it was called and there was a TV network to go with it. I managed the community department, handling celebrity Q&As, user feedback and the message boards.

First, let’s start with MyEspn – I think this site is a perfect example of everything that’s right with a personalized portal. It’s a website with everything I want to see right in front of me. I worry with these “My” pages that I might miss out learning something new about the world beyond my own set parameters because I’ve done too good of a filtering job. But thankfully the ESPN folks have used their good judgment and included a general headlines section. ESPN could stand to lose the video box that starts talking as soon as the page loads. Insta-sound annoys me. But I love that the process takes seconds – complete a short registration form and you’re logged in. From there it’s a few easy clicks to select which teams you want to monitor and you’re off (or on to reading, whichever you prefer).

Now, on the other hand requires you to download software to run their program. (One CD mailed to SI subscribers amazingly was not purchased on eBay recently.) I like ESPN because it gives me the information when I want it, but MySI continually sends the information to my desktop where it seems to be constantly visible. MySI’s explainer/FAQ video was a turn-off to me and prompted more unanswered questions. What does the scoreboard show during the week if I only care about NFL scores? (And why would I need an NBA scoreboard to scroll continuously during my workday? Isn’t seeing it once enough?) Why was she explaining all of this to me in a robe? The swimsuit model that led the FAQ video started off by addressing “the guys.” Um, don’t you think that excludes us female sports fans?

Here’s a story hyping’s launch. I say skip it and go for MyESPN. As much as I love for everything else, this isn’t one for their highlights reel.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Making a personal connection... one buyer at a time

Well lookie here – a cluttered marketplace reference! I’ve found Seth Godin’s blog to be enjoyable and very informative. His advocating the use of data mining to analyze other habits of a product’s target audience dovetails with my last post nicely – anyone who wants to reach my friend who limits her TV watching to Sesame Street (her activities mirrors the interests of her two kids) would be wise to look beyond basic demographic data (sex, age, marital status) for targeting her with messages and look to her behavioral patterns.

I also wanted to throw a shout out to my friend and fantasy football opponent Dan Goldgeier’s blog posting over the weekend. An ad campaign, when done effectively (in my humble opinion), can do wonders for a company, but a consumer sharing a positive retail experience with another can do so much more. I’ve heard of B to B and B to C, but why no C to C? Or is that just WOMMA?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Where Obama and Oscar come together

With my first blog posting, I feel I am setting a precedent for all future writings. So this seems like a good time to say that there will be no set formula or tone to this forum. The constant theme will be me expressing my opinions on life as a consumer in today’s cluttered world. Having worked as a publicist and marketing manager, I’ve experienced marketplace clutter first-hand from the perspective of trying to get my message across an already-crowded marketplace. But I am a consumer too and am intrigued by what hits home and what misses the mark.

In a recent IM conversation, a friend said: “If he's not on Sesame Street or in prime time, I don't know him!!!” We were talking about
Barack Obama. Not exactly a household name, but given his appearances on Oprah and as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he hasn’t been living in obscurity either. But her comment struck a cord with me because despite the abundance of information channels available, our over-programmed lives are such that if a message isn’t placed properly, we’re likely to miss out on some useful information.

Well, if it’s so useful, why am I not finding it? Because it’s a marketer’s job to find you and move you the consumer to action, i.e. buying, voting, etc. With so information channels available to consumers, picking the right one to share an idea it’s that much tougher for marketers.

So, from here on out, I’ll be sharing my observations of what has hit home with me – the good, the bad and the ugly.