Category Archives: Advertising

Facebook’s Incredible Potential as an Offline Retail Tool

Could Facebook Ads Replace the Circular for Retailers?

By: Dave Williams Published: November 09, 2012

With more than a billion users, Facebook has become a powerhouse in display advertising, but some continue to question whether Facebook ads can drive offline purchases.
That’s starting to change, as studies have indicated that online posts can have a huge impact on consumer action away from the platform. This correlation, along with Facebook’s commitment to new and improved ad products, means that Facebook is about to become the primary marketing tool for retailers and their brand co-marketing partners.
The long-awaited online to offline correlation comes from a study that recently appeared in the journal Nature that found that a single message sent to 61 million Facebook users influenced 340,000 of them to vote when they otherwise would not have. During the run-up to the presidential election, we saw major candidates, political parties, and a slew of advocacy groups turn to Facebook in an effort to sway undecided voters and drive voters to the ballot box.
It also implies that Facebook can influence offline shopping behavior, too, which is great news for retailers. Physical stores still account for 93 percent of total sales, and circular ads have historically been retail’s biggest tool for bringing consumers into stores. Retailers have been looking for a digital way to drive foot traffic.
Several companies have successfully built cooperative marketing structures online. Companies such as OwnerIQ, for example, enable online retailers like Crutchfield to retarget people who visit the web sites of electronics manufacturers, offering the flatscreen TVs they were just studying — at a discount. When it comes to driving brick-and-mortar sales from online, though, Facebook appears to offer the best solution yet. CPG brands gladly pay for retail circulars to help sell their products, and there’s reason to believe they could buy Facebook advertising to drive consumers into retail locations.

One company with which we work, ShopLocal, puts a retailer’s circular content into a database, including images and all the sale prices and details. In so doing it makes local data portable and extendable, so retailers can build online-only pages of the circular, or utilize QR codes to generate more content than exists in the print world.
The future of retail involves bringing circular content into as many channels as possible in a seamless fashion, to maintain consistent messaging across all media, including mobile, video, digital out-of-home. If the retailers or their brand co-marketing partners import that data into Facebook, they could reach a much wider audience with more precise targeting than typical display.
Facebook offers insight into consumers’ interests. So an advertiser using ShopLocal’s services could show someone who Likes a particular brand of soap an ad showing the product on sale at a nearby retailer.
Facebook users not only respond to offers, they actually share them. According to the social network, three-fourths of the 100 most popular “offers” claimed were not from users who were initially targeted, but from someone who saw the offer after it was shared. The offers create more awareness when they are shared, and even better is that they work.

BLiNQ Media was recently able to demonstrate an online-to-offline push to an ice-cream store on a day that normally draws very little foot traffic. By asking these Facebook users to mention the coupon, we could measure how many had come because they saw an ad on the social network.
The Election Day study in Nature validated our anecdotal experience. Local-level targeting gives retailers a huge advantage, enabling mom-and-pop stores to compete with big-box chains.
Another key challenge of course is measurement, which ties us back to the examples mentioned before. The Election Day story took years of research, while the ice cream campaign involved a single coupon good at one particular store. It’s complex to measure the effects of extending multiple offers that are valid at many retail chains in different geographic regions. For Facebook to succeed at driving offline purchases, retailers must feel confident that digital ads lead to in-store sales.
Third-party solutions are popping up, and Facebook is working closely with partners such as Datalogix, which uses robust in-store retail data to prove that ads work and to determine the right frequency, duration, messaging, and targeting that will produce the optimal offline results.

Showing Facebook users customized ad experiences based on the right creative message, targeting, and frequency localized for the consumer clearly helps drive in-store sales, which is the ultimate goal of every retailer. Retailers can take the first step by viewing Facebook as an excellent place to distribute weekly circular offers, expanding their reach beyond newspapers to drive awareness on the desktop, mobile and offers shared by friends.

Dave Williams is the CEO of Blinq Media.


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The ‘I Think’ Syndrome Destroys Many a Campaign

It Doesn’t Matter If You Like an Idea, Will the Target Audience Like It?
By: Darryl Ohrt Published: October 31, 2012

How many times in a brainstorming meeting have we heard statements that begin “I think that …,” followed by a personal experience related to the idea at hand. Or one of the team will say something like, “I would never watch that,” in reference to a proposed concept.
When conceiving ideas, we all want to relate to our audience target, and identify with the market. But the reality is, our targets are far different than most of us as individuals. Comments like these have killed great concepts, and can lead ridiculous concepts to execution and launch.
We demand comprehensive creative briefs prior to digging into a project. So why are we so apt to throw them aside in favor of a personal opinion? Because we’re bad scientists.
In psychology, personal construct theory professes that people act as scientists, channeling their thoughts and actions based on what they predict and anticipate. A 35-year-old single, male marketer might expect that a 45-year-old mom with three kids will act in a particular manner, based on his personal experiences. But does he have the life experience to properly identify with a busy mom?
As creative people, we’re opinionated. We want great ideas to see the light. We like our own ideas and project their success on our intended targets. And this is mostly wrong.
How can you avoid bad science? As a practice, I’ve done my best to remove “I think…” from rationalization of concepts. It’s a simple trick, but it forces you to focus on the core rationale for what you’re presenting — not why you think it’s important or destined for success. A response of “the target has shown a propensity toward this type of entertainment” is more impressive than “I think this will be huge. I know that I would totally use it.” Whenever possible, prove it out with research, strategy, evidence or experience.
Sounds like common sense, right? It should be, but once you begin listening for it, you’ll be surprised at how many clients, accounts and creative people suffer from the “I think…” syndrome. In some circles, it’s an epidemic. I’ve heard the phrase uttered by junior creatives, senior creatives and people who should really know better.
It’s time we put science and experience before opinion. I think … we can do better
Darryl Ohrt is a former punk rocker, professional internet surfer and executive creative director at Carrot Creative in NYC. He’s one of the three super-hot bloggers that make up AdVerve, and admits to knowing just enough about the creative business to be dangerous. Keep your distance.

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DISCOUNTITUS, The Disease that’s sweeping the marketing community

Positioning Is the Only Cure

Published: July 06, 2011
Al Ries
Last month, J.C. Penney hired a new chief executive who used to run Apple stores. In a New York Times article, here’s how CEO Ron Johnson described his plans for Penney: “Take this great American brand and make it become something unbelievably exciting.”
Fat chance.
Most department stores are infected
You seldom see a department-store advertisement based on anything except a sale. The latest J.C. Penney ad was a six-page insert promoting a “Fourth of July sale.”
In addition to dozens of “super hot buys,” the insert features “Red Zone clearance, final-markdowns 80% off. New markdowns 50-70% off.” Also featured is “jcpCA$H,” offering consumers “$10 off any purchase totaling $25 & up.”
Belk, Dillards, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and most mainstream department stores are also infected bydiscountitus.
Kohl’s, in particular. A typical mailing: “Start with these incredible sale prices of 20-60% off. Take an extra 15% off everything. Plus add a $5 bonus.”
Airlines to pizza to car insurance
In industry after industry, the discount is the focus of the advertising.
Here’s the opening dialog of a typical Progressive commercial featuring Flo and a potential customer.
“Are you a safe driver?”
“Discount! Do you own a home?”
“Discount! Are you gonna buy online?”
Over at Geico, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” Geico and Progressive are the biggest spenders in the category. Last year Geico spent $741 million on advertising. Progressive, $506 million. Longtime car-insurance leaders like State Farm ($453 million) and Allstate ($368 million) are lagging behind.
Penney vs. Apple
Over at J.C. Penney, if Ron Johnson plans to use an Apple strategy to turn his company around, it’s too late. Once discountitus has spread through an industry, it’s awfully hard to eradicate.
Take airlines. Yesterday, airline companies competed on the basis of who could build the better brand. Today, airline companies compete on the basis of who can offer the bigger discounts. No wonder Southwest Airlines is a big winner, and most airline customers can’t explain the difference between American, Delta and United.
One reason why discountitus is spreading so rapidly is the internet. Clipping coupons is being replaced by typing on keyboards. Groupon and the other daily-deal websites are only one factor. Anybody who owns a computer today can get competitive prices on a host of items almost instantly.
Unless you want to spend the rest of your life doing discount marketing, you should be asking yourself, “What’s the cure?”
Believers vs. agnostics
Take a closer look at the consumer a company is trying to reach with its advertising and PR.
Psychologically, consumers can be divided into two categories: 1) Brand believers and 2) Brand agnostics. And they vary by category. They can be believers in one category (ketchup) and agnostics in another category (airlines).
Watch believers go through the Sunday supplements. They only clip coupons for brands they already use.
Watch agnostics go through the Sunday supplements. They ignore brands and clip coupons for categories. (Extreme agnostics don’t buy anything without a coupon.)
Discountitus is turning brand believers into brand agnostics. The lure of a “big discount” is enough to seduce a consumer into thinking that all brands in the category are pretty much alike.
In categories that have not been seriously contaminated, the cure for discountitus is a dose of positioning. But as Prophet, a leading marketing consultancy, reported in its latest state of marketing study: “Positioning has always been about differentiation. But in this unfolding environment, differentiation is short-lived.”
We differ on that. The cure for discountitus is not differentiation. Nor is positioning essentially about differentiation, either.
Positioning is owning a word in the mind
As discountitus spreads its way through the marketing community, that word more often than not is “leadership.”
Leadership is what makes Google the most powerful brand in the “search” category. Leadership is what makes iPod the most powerful brand in the “MP3 player” category. Leadership is what makes Heinz, Hertz, Haagen-Daz, Hellmann’s, Home Depot and a host of other brands powerful in their categories.
But how to you get to be the leader? And how does the leader keep from catching the discountitus disease?
Launch a new brand in a new category
Over the past few decades, it’s become clear that the only way to become a leader is to launch a new brand in a new category.
Like Apple did with the iPad, the first tablet-computer. Currently, the iPad has some 75% of the tablet market.
An also-ran that has been line-extended to death has no hope of ever becoming the market leader. The best it can do is to narrow its focus to shore up a position in a segment of the category.
Has Pepsi-Cola ever substantially increased its share of the cola market with Pepsi-Cola Retro, Pepsi Throwback, Pepsi Twist, Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Raw, Pepsi A.M., Pepsi Kona, Pepsi Light, Pepsi Max, Pepsi XL, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi One or Crystal Pepsi?
No, it has not. In fact, regular Pepsi-Cola has fallen behind Diet Coke to third place in the cola category.
What’s next for Pepsi-Cola? More of the same. Pepsi Next.
Lower the boom on price
If you read the papers, you know the regular price of most products or services on the market today is “50% off.”
Every Thursday, our local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, features “This week’s best deals.” Last week, there were eight. One was “free.” One was “40% off” and the other six were “50% off.”
That’s not unusual. By far, the vast majority of daily deals are 50% off or BOGO — buy one, get one free.
When rumors of Apple’s imminent launch of a tablet computer circulated on the internet, the pundits predicted the product would be priced around a thousand dollars.
Apple surprised them with a list price of $495. The company lowered the boom at a level that competitors had difficulty getting under. Today, you find the table-computer market remarkably free of discountitus.
Apple used the same strategy with its iTunes brand by insisting on a 99-cent price. (Don’t feel sorry for Apple. The company is making its money on volume, not on margin.)
When you’re the leader in a category, you cannot be overtaken by a competitor who thinks differentiation is going to make a big difference.
And when you’re the leader in the category and you lower the boom on price, you can inoculate the category from the disease of discountitus.

Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter Laura.

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How FACEBOOK makes your global brand feel local

National Brands Are Only Beginning to Understand What Local Businesses Already Know About the Social Network

Published: July 18, 2011
Dave Williams
One of the greatest aspects of Facebook for marketers — maybe the greatest — is that consumers willingly share their information, opening the door to the precise targeting that advertisers dream of. Yet many brands still look at Facebook merely as a way to acquire fans, with little thought given to monetizing that list. Very few national or international brands take full advantage of Facebook’s targeting capabilities. At this point, between 60% and 70% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from small businesses.
Such businesses are realizing the benefits of targeting consumers on a local level, similar to the way small businesses take advantage of radio, newspaper and billboard advertising to drive local sales. National brands shouldn’t feel excluded — they, too, can engage their audiences on a more intimate level by targeting locally. And unlike traditional display, Facebook gives advertisers national scale on a very local level. Unfortunately, many are leaving this opportunity untapped.
There are multiple uses for localized display on Facebook, including local events, new store openings, holiday offers and other local promotions. Consider a cellphone service provider’s marketing strategy. In addition to the centralized national marketing team, such companies often have local marketing groups responsible for particular regions. Agencies typically like to maintain a single point of communication, pushing the local groups out of the Facebook advertising strategy.
But think of the possibilities for customizing on a local level: New store openings, local promotions, even extended 4G coverage in the region are all valuable opportunities to engage consumers on the local level. It makes little sense to ignore the local angle.
Localized creative is effective at generating awareness and ultimately driving people into stores, building higher order value, and powering transactions. Think of it like the Sunday circular that runs in the newspaper every week. Instead of buying ads in the paper, brands can push weekly specials out to localized audiences, and do so far more efficiently with mass reach and frequency.
We recently ran a campaign to promote a celebrity in-store appearance for a cell phone provider. By targeting the youth market in that region with customized Facebook display ads, we achieved a 0.26% click-through rate, relatively high for any type of display. That high CTR foreshadowed massive attendance at the in-store event, completely surpassing expectations.
Groupon and Living Social are two other companies that know how to effectively leverage this local display strategy, and you’ve undoubtedly seen one or both companies advertise deals in your city in Facebook’s right-hand column. Both companies have national reach, but their business model operates on a local level, so proper targeting pays dividends in scale.
Starbucks is the most popular global brand on Facebook in terms of fans, but it can still use local strategy effectively to maximize reach and frequency in high-density markets. Every Starbucks offers the same products, but consumers often develop relationships with the brand through their neighborhood location. Starbucks often leverages this brand association via campaigns that give consumers coupons for free pastries with a drink purchase. The campaign is national in scope, but it applies the advertising weight at a localized level to maximize consumer appeal and revenues when they visit their favorite Starbucks store.
Nor is local limited to geographic targeting. Brands can target students at specific colleges and universities with unique back-to-school offers, introducing new residents to the local franchises. This is a popular strategy as brands compete for share of mind and wallet of students as they return to school this fall.
Brands traditionally disregard local online advertising because it seems time-consuming and difficult to scale. Localized websites draw small audiences, which offer very little ROI. Facebook, on the other hand, makes it easy to look at which percentage of the population will see your local message, and then build a national campaign customized and targeted on a local level at a reach and scale not previously attainable through traditional display or search advertising.
The local companies currently running campaigns on Facebook rely on the social network’s self-serve ad tool. That’s great for small companies trying to reach a few thousand consumers, but it breaks down for brands trying to reach tens of thousands of people in multiple locales. Doing that requires an entire team customizing and targeting the creative, and there’s just no way to make money that way. Facebook’s direct-sales team doesn’t offer local customization because of the time required.
Fortunately, companies with access to Facebook’s Ad API can automate the process, giving brands fully customized campaigns for individual locations on national (or even international) scale with customized targeting and creative at a fraction of the time and effort.
Marketing on a local level maximizes the impact of your marketing campaigns on Facebook by minimizing advertising waste and maximizing your reach and frequency with the right audiences, making the brand offering more appealing. Customizing an ad makes your brand message relevant to a consumer on a level where he or she can easily engage and take action. It combines the reach and targeting capabilities of Facebook in order to maximize brand awareness and drive consumers into an actual location to make a purchase — which is, after all, the purpose of marketing.
Dave Williams is the CEO of Blinq Media.

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Ad Age Digital A-List: Kinect

Microsoft Invited Gamers to Drop Controller and Get off the Couch, but Interface Has Potential Use for Medicine, Education, Advertising and Beyond

By: Beth Snyder Bulik Published: February 27, 2011

Microsoft Kinect’s advertising lure of “You are the controller” appealed to many remote-weary households this holiday. About 8 million of them, in fact, in just the first 60 days after its November launch.
Of course, a $500 million launch budget with co-marketing brand partners such as Pepsi, Kellogg, and Burger King didn’t hurt either. But all said, it wasn’t the marketing blast that propelled Kinect to the Digital A List (Microsoft is no stranger to massive product launches; evidence the reported $500 million launch marketing budgets also for Vista and Windows Phone 7) but the personality of the product, along with its positioning and potential.
Kinect took the idea of motion-sensitive gaming, launched successfully by Nintendo with its Wii console in 2007 and advanced it, not only by adding more gaming “wow” but also by cultivating the potential to go beyond gaming. Reviewers couldn’t hide their delight at the ability to control game play with simple gestures and voice commands.
And that “natural user interface,” as Microsoft calls it, has been hacked and hailed for its possible uses beyond the gaming world, from medicine and education to advertising and e-commerce. Coming this spring is a Microsoft-sanctioned Kinect for Windows software developers’ kit for noncommercial use, allowing “academic researchers and enthusiasts” inside access to Kinect technology. (A commercial version is in the works for an undecided later release.)
As Steve Clayton, editor at Microsoft’s Next at Microsoft blog, wrote: “The possibilities are endless. Natural and intuitive technologies such as Kinect can be more than just a great platform for gaming and entertainment. They open up enormous opportunities across a wide variety of scenarios, including addressing societal issues.”
But just as important — for now, anyway — is that Kinect has revitalized the aging five-year-old Xbox 360 console. Not only does it give Xbox 360 owners an innovative way to play, but it gives potential gamers interested in the hands-free technology a reason to buy Xbox 360 consoles. Xbox 360 was the only console to see an increase in sales for year-over-year sales in December 2010, and it was a hefty 42%, according to Microsoft.
Kinect’s 8 million in consoles sold during the holidays is not only 5 million more than Microsoft’s initial prediction of 3 million, but also comparatively brisk when looking at other top-selling tech products’ first 60 days, such as Apple’s iPad (2 million) and iPhone (less than 1 million), and the motion-sensitive predecessor Wii, which sold more than 3 million during that time.
Of course, those are a bit apples-to-oranges comparisons — Kinect is an accessory, less expensive and not a brand-new product category with breakthrough hurdles to overcome like the others. However, it is still an undeniable out-of-the-gate success.

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Ad Age Digital A-List: All Things D

Blog Thrives by Competing — Aggressively — Against Other Blogs, as Well as Parent Dow Jones’ Flagship Wall Street Journal

By: Nat Ives Published: February 27, 2011

You might not think it sounds like a big scoop: A post last Tuesday revealed the date of a tech company’s next publicity event.
But this one regarded the world of tech, the land of gadgets and the not-insignificant nation of Apple. “Exclusive,” the post announced in the headline, “Apple iPad 2 Event Set for March 2.”

Notch another win for All Things D.
Since the brand began as a conference in 2003 and added a news site in 2007, All Things D has become a particular sort of powerhouse in the overheated space devoted to tech news. It’s part of Dow Jones, so it’s got that gravitas, not to mention the talent, reputation and influence: Its first conference attracted speakers including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin and Larry Page. But it’s got the speed and humor of a blog.
It’s hard to imagine the Journal publishing an article entirely about the date of Apple’s event to introduce an upgraded iPad in the first place — although it might — but the All Things D post got to write it in a style that the Journal simply doesn’t: “It’s not clear when Apple will begin sending out its famous invites for the gathering, but I am guessing soon, in order to get the Apple faithful to the proper level of froth.”
That post was by Kara Swisher, who co-founded All Things D along with another longtime Journal writer, Walt Mossberg, initially as just a conference. “Just” a conference, the idea went, but also a good one.
“We both went to a lot of conferences and we thought they mostly sucked and they didn’t have real journalistic value,” Mr. Mossberg said last week. He spoke from his house, where he was testing a competitor to the iPad in his capacity as personal technology reviewer. “The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones had a conference division we didn’t know much about. We went to them and said, ‘Let us do this.'”
This was years ago, of course, before changes in the media landscape forced some variation of “entrepreneur” or “business development” onto the modern journalist’s job description. “They looked at us funny because we were columnists, we were reporters, and that was it,” Mr. Mossberg recalled. “To their credit, they let us do it.”
It may have helped that, even though this was also before “paid content” became a bit of a grail for the news business, tickets to the first D conference would begin at $2,495 and rise to $2,995. It sold out.
The news site, which now pumps the All Things D brand into the ecosphere every day all year, took a little longer to sell. But the tech space was crawling with upstarts of varying degrees of quality. The Journal was missing an opportunity.
“I’d seen a lot these blogs, especially these tech blogs, which were just not done by professionals with standards and ethics,” Ms. Swisher said, minutes after posting her iPad 2 event exclusive. “It irked me that they did so well.”
The “previous administration” at Dow Jones, meaning those in charge before the Bancroft family sold to News Corp. for more than $5 billion, didn’t leap on the blog idea as quickly as it green-lit the conference, Ms. Swisher said.
“It took awhile to explain blogs to a mainstream media company,” Ms. Swisher said. “We started with the conference, which was immediately profitable, which they get. Eventually we had such a well-known brand we could kind of explain what we wanted to do with the web.”
The site went live in April 2007, coincidentally right around the time Rupert Murdoch was making the Bancrofts an offer. It began with four writers: Mr. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, who also continued to write for the Journal; Ms. Swisher; and John Paczkowski. Peter Kafka, focusing on the media piece of the tech world, joined in October 2008. And however far and fast last week’s iPad 2 exclusive traveled, the site has often produced meatier scoops. Traffic is on the rise, averaging 1.4 million visitors a month last year, up from 887,000 in 2009, according to All Things D.
The conference has, meanwhile, become a tech touchstone of its own. You may have seen the video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sweating and blinking as he struggled to answer questions about user privacy at D8, the eighth D conference, held last summer. The ninth iteration of the D conference, this May 31 through June 2, sold out weeks earlier than anticipated. Standard ticket price: $4,795. Sponsors include Microsoft, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Ricoh, Advanced Micro Devices and NYSE Euronext.
It’s less clear, because Dow Jones won’t say, whether the site is profitable in its own right. While the conferences, including the first D: Dive Into Mobile conference last December, benefit from dual revenue sources of attendees and sponsors, the site has only ad sales. Dow Jones points to recent hires at All Things D as a sign of the site’s strength, including Ina Fried on all things wireless, Tricia Duryee on e-commerce and gaming, Liz Gannes on social media and Arik Hesseldahl on the enterprise beat, all new since October.
“We really don’t talk about profitability, but sometimes actions speak louder than words,” said Kelly Leach, senior VP-strategy for Dow Jones. “The fact that Dow Jones felt strongly enough about the site to essentially double down and make a significant investment in the journalism, that was done because there’s a belief that this can be an even bigger contributor, that this has the potential to scale in a way that the conference can’t.”

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Pretty Polly Legs 11 – Behind The Scenes

Wow very creative that’s what’s all about in 2011- my compliments “A sneak peak behind the Scenes”

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