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Monday, July 19, 2010

Madison Avenue Eager To Get On Board With Social Media

Recently in The Wall Street Journal
As more and more advertising dollars flow into social media, some Madison Avenue firms are seeking to grab a piece of the action. But it will be a tough fight as the space is overrun with companies seeking to own the segment, from start-ups to public-relations firms.
Universal McCann, the media-buying firm owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., is bolstering its social-media offering by launching a practice this week called Rally. The division will help marketers develop campaigns, track online chatter about their brands and measure how those campaigns perform. Headed by Heidi Browning, a former MySpace executive, Rally will house several new social-media hires. MySpace, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp.
Publicis Groupe's digital umbrella organization, Vivaki, says it also will open a social-media consulting practice by the end of the year. The new group will pool Publicis' social-media tools and experts and use them to beef up the social-media practices that many of Publicis' agencies have already established. Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy officer at Vivaki, says he is willing to use his mergers-and-acquisitions budget to bolster the practice if needed.
The push to form a more formidable presence in social-media advertising is being fueled by the increasing number of marketers who are eager to figure out how they can use sites such as Facebook Inc., which has almost 500 million users, and Twitter, with more than 120 million registered users, as a marketing weapon.
"Social media is now part of all our clients' plans; we can't not be in this space," says Matt Seiler, chief executive of Universal McCann.
Ad spending on social networks world-wide is expected to rise 14% this year to $2.5 billion, according to research firm eMarketer. Although social media represents only a fraction of the $55 billion online-ad market, it is one of the fastest-growing segments.
Some corporations have taken a hands-on role in crafting their efforts: PepsiCo Inc.'s Gatorade, for example, recently created its "Mission Control Center," which is set up like a broadcast-television control room and is charged with monitoring the sports drink around the clock across social-media networks.
But as marketers look to make bigger commitments, they are increasingly seeking experts to navigate the burgeoning space.
Earlier this year, Chrysler Group LLC tapped New Media Strategies, a unit of publisher Meredith Corp., to handle its social-media tasks. In March Kraft Foods Inc. hired 360i, a digital ad agency owned by Japan's largest ad company, Dentsu Inc. The agency has been tasked with monitoring the social-media sites for some of its brands such as Oreo and Jell-O. It also develops campaigns. The agency recently created the "World's Fan of the Week" promotion that appears on Oreo's Facebook page.
Microsoft Corp. is currently searching for a social-media firm to handle duties for its Xbox videogame system, work that is now handled by several of Xbox's agencies, according to people familiar with the matter. Asset-management firm State Street Corp. also has begun looking at firms. A spokeswoman for Microsoft declined to comment.
"We have talked to some PR firms that appear to have established valid expertise over the years, and we are also interested in the new social-media firms that are bubbling up," says Hannah Grove, State Street's head of global marketing.
Creative ad agencies, digital ad firms, social-media boutiques, public-relations outfits and publishing companies are all clambering to get on board.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What You’re Missing By Measuring Social Media ROI Online

BrandSavant/Tom Webster

The short answer is: a lot. If your social media efforts are strictly tied to tweeting out coupon codes, then you have a pretty direct and reliable measure of the efficacy of your efforts: simple conversion. For the rest of us (and, that’s pretty much 99% of us), online measures are not going to capture the full impact and value of social media for your organization. There are lots of smart folks in social media monitoring and sentiment analysis trying to crack the ROI nut, trust me – but mining unstructured data alone will never truly quantify the value of online engagement to offline sales.
For instance, Southwest Airlines (SWA) has a notable presence in social media, particularly with their Twitter account at @southwestair. A lot of people talk about them online, and a lot of the chatter about SWA (particularly in comparison to some of their U.S. competitors) is positive. Buying air travel, however, is not a spur-of-the-moment decision for most people (myself excluded :) ) There is likely to be considerable distance between the point of influence – being favorably predisposed to SWA through their social media interaction – and the point of purchase. In the intervening time, SWA is also likely to run some kind of sale or promotion, and while it may have been that promotion that actually prompted the purchase, it may also have been Southwest’s online behavior that put them into the purchaser’s consideration set.
See where I am going with this? If the offline sale gets the “credit” for conversion, the efforts expended in social media – however important – get little or none. Parsing out the impact of cross-channel media on purchase behavior is a bit of rocket surgery, but well within the purview of a competent CMO – provided, of course, the right inputs are available. If you are only measuring your social media efforts by mining unstructured online data (monitoring, sentiment analysis, etc), then you may be capturing enough to track reputation, or the health of your brand on the social web, but you aren’t tracking enough to make the connection to purchase behavior, particularly in longer sales cycles.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be monitoring or mining this data online; it’s an essential input to the process. You do, however, need to augment it with offline inquiries. This may mean commissioning additional online or offline research projects (depending on where your transactions actually happen), or perhaps adding a few social media indicators into the data you already collect, but the bottom line is that this isn’t really a mystery. It’s done every day by marketing departments all over the world, for other channels and media.
Here’s what prompted me to go down this particular rathole today: I am currently working on a project to measure the impact of a campaign that will target visitors to minor league ballparks across America. The campaign, which has a variety of components, hasn’t run yet, but we are measuring today, in the actual ballparks, before a single tweet, billboard or radio ad has begun. By conducting offline pre-engagement measures at those ballparks, we can sample the fans and develop a reliable baseline for our client. Later, after the campaign has run, we’ll conduct the exact same measures, in the exact same way. Our client will know precisely what worked and what didn’t work (online and offline), because we will have the apples-to-apples, before-and-after analysis to determine what components were successful, and what aspects didn’t perform.
Pretty easy stuff, really: measure before, measure during, and measure after. Measure online, but also measure offline. Works for out-of-home media, works for TV and it will work just fine to quantify the value of your Twitter account. Mining online data can give you a snapshot of what people think about your brand or product on the social web, and tracking this data might even give you a sense of how these perceptions change over time. For most brands, however, the actual behavior change occurs elsewhere. It might happen in an Amazon shopping cart, at a car dealer, or even at a local ballpark. When you can sync your online monitoring efforts with offline measures, one calibrates the other – and the true ROI of social media can be measured, understood and appreciated. For our friends in the social media space, that is what we want for you.

Social Networking Use Will Reach All-Time High in 2014

From Social Media Examiner 
In eMarketer’s recent report, “Social Network Demographics and Usage“, it was estimated that 127 million people (57.5% of Internet users) will visit a social networking site at least once a month in 2010.
They attributed the steady rise since 2009 as due in part to the ever-increasing popularity of Facebook. Not only is the number of users growing quickly, but also the audience demographics continue to widen from just teens and young adults. In 2010, they estimated that 59.2% of adult Internet users will visit social networks monthly, up from 52.4% in 2009.
“The connections and interactions that social networking makes possible didn’t even exist a few short years ago,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report. “Status updating, commenting and sharing openly are all activities that will not go away.”
The estimates outlined in the report show a steady rise by 2014.  Two-thirds of all Internet users (164.9 million people) will be using social networks on a regular basis.  Two age groups stand out the most:  In 2014, 56.8% of 55- to 64-year-old Internet users will visit social networks regularly (34.3% in 2009).  In addition, 37.9% of seniors 65 and up will be social network users (14.1% in 2009).
These two graphs show the steady rise in social networking use by 2014.