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Friday, January 28, 2011

Using Twitter To Sell

If you're like most businesses, you're trying to engage, and make Twitter sell. But it feels like grabbing at customers' fleeting attention. Meanwhile, competitors are capturing market share. While you engage with customers they're finding ways to generate leads and sales.
Case in point: Avaya views Twitter as a better way to generate customer inquiries. Not a better way to advertise. Companies like Avaya are using Twitter to discover demand and "plug it into" existing lead nurturing processes. To sell.
Translate evolving need
The key to selling with social media tools like Twitter is seeing the opportunity itself in a new way. Twitter isn't an opportunity to grab at prospects' attention.
It's a new tool that helps businesses translate evolving customer needs, and capture demand. Let's look at how this is true and how you can immediately apply the idea.
Paul Dunay of enterprise communications company Avaya recently shared a remarkable Twitter experience.
I'm writing a book on making social media sell and always looking for good case studies and examples. In a nutshell, Dunay's social media team uses advanced Twitter search functionality to monitor for explicit or latent demand across the vast, babbling Twittersphere.
In June 2009, Paul's team discovered a 57-character tweet. This started the relationship with his potential customer:
“[...] or avaya? Time for a new phone system very soon,” the tweet read.
Moments after the tweet was posted, an Avaya team member spotted it and notified Dunay, who responded by tweet:
“@[customer] – let me know if we can help you – we have some Strategic Consultants that can help you assess your needs.”
The potential customer did, and 13 days later, Avaya closed a $250,000 sale.
For Avaya, Twitter is a tool to discover demand in various stages. In this case the customer's need was immediate. In other cases it needs to be nurtured along.
Bottom line: Twitter is being used by Avaya to translate evolving need. It's more than listening. And they're not just using Twitter as another channel to hand out discount promo codes or grab at customers' attention.
Sure, Avaya uses Twitter in an outbound manner, but when doing so it is focused, again, on prompting behaviors that capture customer demand (leads).
Put it to work: make Twitter sell
Here's a practical success formula you can use, starting tomorrow.
Expect more 
What makes you buy more? Personally. Awareness or qualitative experiences with service providers? Think about it in your own life. Eschew the notion that attention, buzz, conversation, listening, word-of-mouth are desirable outcomes. Update your expectation of social media. Expect more of it.
Discover and capture demand
Successful social marketers are translators  businesses that find ways to discover customer need and create processes around it. They create ways to capture demand that involve creating behavior.  They're not broadcasters of messages; rather, process-driven customer shepherds that "plug into" the sales function.
For instance, "warm" leads can be placed into a lead nurturing process,like a content marketing program.
That is, an interactive system of prompts or "value exchanges" conducted with leads that helps push prospects down the sales funnel. Typically this involves publishing needs-focused (relevant) video tips, helpful blogs, podcasts, guide books, etc.
In the end making Twitter produce sales is more about prompting behavior, less about broadcasting discounts. Start selling using Twitter today. Discover need, capture it and prompt actions that gently but diligently move potential buyers toward the sale. 
Or maybe you're already ahead of the game? I hope others who are progressing similarly to Avaya may offer comments below.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Super Bowl Ad Costs Up 36%

Last year over 100 million people tuned into the Super Bowl providing a huge audience for advertisers and as a result a 30-second TV commercial is going to cost roughly $3 million (up 36% from last year).
Advertisers this year include Super Bowl regulars such as BMW, Daimler, Kia, General Motors, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Doritos, E*Trade and Budweiser.  In addition there will be a sneak peak of the up-coming film “Cowboys and Aliens.”  Advertisers that are new to the Super Bowl this year include Best Buy, Groupon, Pizza Hut and it is expected that we will see the debut of Motorola’s Xoom as well as Kim Kardashian helping to promote Sketchers.
This year advertisements will be joining the digital age by going beyond the 30-second TV commercial to include online features, social media and mobile media. Advertisers are incorporating Facebook and Twitter as well as contest sites such as
After last year’s successful Old Spice campaign became a viral online phenomenon, this year Mercedes-Benz launches “The World’s First Twitter-Fueled Race,” which gives cars to a two-person team that gains the most Mercedes-Benz tweets and Facebook “likes.” Audi’s spot will include Audi Inner Circle social-media contests. The carmaker’s companion ad airs prior to the Super Bowl – called “Goodnight,” it is about the trappings of luxury:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Economy Boosts Television Advertising

We've been saying this all along, so here's some research to help prove the point.
A new survey from media management software vendor STRATA demonstrates that it's television advertising, not digital advertising, that will benefit most from economic recovery.

Of the major advertising firms polled as part of STRATA's 4th Quarter Agency Survey, the greatest percentage (44%) said that their clients were focused most on television, a 24% rise over the previous quarter. Digital trailed significantly, with 21.1% reporting the internet to be their clients' medium of choice.
According to STRATA CEO John Shelton, major advertisers are feeling comfortable enough to boost their television advertising spend  because "they view TV as having the greatest impact." That might be surprising to some in the digital arena, but according to STRATA's survey, ad firms face numerous challenges with digital.
The largest: "the lack of channel effectiveness." Ironically, a lot of that may have something to do with the digital channels advertisers are most attracted to. According to STRATA, social media is one of the most popular channels, and within it, a whopping 79% of the agencies surveyed indicate that they'll focus their social media investment on Facebook.
Another popular social hub, Twitter, is the second investment of choice for agencies this year. But despite the popularity of and potential offered by Facebook and Twitter, it's questionable whether advertisers looking to drive ROI should be so focused on two platforms that haven't  proven they're capable of consistently delivering it, at least easily.
From this perspective, it seems that STRATA's 4th Quarter Agency Survey confirms what we already know: that agencies are creatures of comfort. When the economy isn't on life support, television advertising is as comfortable a medium as they come.
Buying television ads is a familiar process and it's easy to justify. After all, who has ever been fired for buying a television ad? Digital, on the other hand, has grown rapidly, but it's not nearly as comfortable. New channels and platforms are emerging all the time, picking the ones can be difficult, and still seems more like art that science in many cases. So it's not surprising that a rising economic tide is lifting television advertising.
But savvy advertisers and agencies will recognize that it's not a zero-sum game. If the economy is truly on the mend, those who capitalize the most will be the ones who put all mediums, including television and digital, together and create integrated campaigns that perform better than the sum of their parts.

A Look at Twitter Marketing

  • 42% of Twitter users wish to learn about products and services
  • 41% already provide opinions about them
  • 28% want discounts and offers and 21% claim to purchase products
  • 19% are using Twitter for customer support

If you want to generate some new top-line revenue for your business, you would likely focus on new customer attraction and Twitter is a great place to start. And to do so you should consider putting together a promotional program with discounts to attract those deal hunters.
However; if your goal is to build long term relationship with your customers who will want to keep buying from you, tread carefully before you start tweeting discounts to one-time customers who will never pay full-price.
Knowing your customer on Twitter can greatly increase the effectiveness of your Internet marketing campaign especially when combined with direct response marketing tactics.
Once you know who you’re talking to you just have to find them using a combination of Google and Twitter search.

What to Tweet

Ahhh…the $54,000 question of what do people tweet? What should you tweet? Well, it really depends on why you’re using Twitter and for for what purpose.

Here's some research data on what gets RE Tweeted most often:
what to tweet Social Media Science: The Five Ws of Twitter Marketing

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Google: Doubleclick Ad Exchange growing, boosting CPMs

It has been nearly three years since Google acquired Doubleclick for $3.1bn and despite the fact that Google's largest cash cow is still far and away AdWords, the search behemoth has quietly built up a very strong presence in the display advertising market.
If the numbers from Doubleclick's ad exchange are any indication, that presence will only be getting stronger.
Over the weekend, Google published a report on the progress of the Doubleclick Ad Exchange, and it had some impressive figures to share.
Perhaps the most important: according to Google VP of Product Management Neal Mohan, "when publishers make ad space available in the Ad Exchange, and the Exchange wins the auction, publishers generate, on average, 188% more revenue compared with indirect sales to ad networks and other third-party buyers."
Obviously, that figure will interest a lot of publishers, even if it won't solve the challenges inherent in pure-play advertising business models. The even better news for publishers, however, is that Google is adding a number of new features that could be winners.
As detailed by paidContent, one of those features is Private Ad Slots, which allow publishers to invite select advertisers to bid on exclusive inventory not available generally.
According to Google, display spending amongst its thousand largest advertisers grew 75% last year, and real-time bidding accounts for 56% of buyers' spend.
The evolution and momentum of the display ad space is certainly a boon for publishers, but publishers also will also need tools to protect the value of their inventory and maximize revenue. That's why features like Private Ad Slots, which help publishers retail a good level of control over their inventory, could be very important to publishers going forward.
At the end of the day, it seems pretty clear that Google's billion-dollar bet on display advertising was a good one. The question now, of course, is whether the increasingly sophisticated technology advertisers and publishers have at their disposal for buying and selling display ad inventory will actually help advertisers buy inventory capable of delivering ROI.
Patricio Robles/Econsultancy

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The backlash over Google's HTML5 video bet

Recently on Cnet: 

Choosing strategies based on what you believe to be long-term benefits is generally a good idea when running a business, but if you manage to alienate the world in the process, the long term may become irrelevant.
It was hard to miss the response that accompanied Google's announcement earlier this weekH.264, a widely used technology for encoding and decoding video files so they are playable on PCs and mobile devices. that it no longer planned to support the H.264 codec for the HTML5 video tag in its Chrome browser in order to focus on the WebM technology. Depending on what you read, Google is either evil, brilliant, hypocritical, cunning, principled, or confused in dropping support for
What's more possible is that Google is cutting off its nose to spite its face. Google's two-year plan for WebM supremacy rests on a complicated and shaky foundation of assumptions about how video producers, content creators, equipment makers, and patent lawyers will behave during that period.
Google declined to comment for this story, but people familiar with its thinking said the company is aware of the backlash yet believes that painful steps are sometimes needed to make progress on the Web. However, while many of the emotional responses to its announcement were absurdly over the top, plenty were pragmatic, producing another piece of evidence that the tech industry is getting a little tired of watching another episode of Google Knows Best.
Waiting for codec
First, a quick recap: The W3C standards body has been debating how to implement one of the holy grails of the HTML5 standards--a

But Google also supported a rival codec called WebM, which it released to the open-source community last year after acquiring the technology behind the codec from a company called On2 Technologies. The problem with H.264, in Google's mind, is that it is controlled by a consortium of companies called MPEG-LA that have agreed to pool patents involving the technology. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and a long list of household names are members of the group, which receives licensing royalties from companies that want to use H.264 video in streaming content or playing content on devices.
On Tuesday, Google declared itself squarely in the WebM camp, saying "though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies." Two main lines of dissent exploded over the next few days: one, that Google has put philosophy over actual user experience; and two, that Google is two-faced for dropping H.264 because it's not "open" while embedding Flash in Chrome at present, in that all it really wants to do is force people onto its technology and make life hard for Apple.
Let's get the second argument out of the way first: calling Google a hypocrite for supporting Flash at the moment while preaching the WebM gospel is disingenuous. When you see the world as one big battle between two giants, every little development gets framed in that lens.
Google's blog post is talking about a moment in the future, at least a few years down the road when HTML5 ideally has replaced or at least sidelined technologies like Flash, which desktop browser companies really have no choice but to support in 2011 if their users want to watch video on the Web. Apple may have decided to stop shipping Macs with Flash preinstalled, but even it hasn't barred the technology from the Mac the way it has from the iOS device lineup despite CEO Steve Jobs' well-known thoughts on Flash.
As in many cases involving Google, "open" can be defined in many different ways depending on whether you like the company. A Google critic is likely to point out the supposed hypocrisy, while a Google supporter might argue that supporting both Flash and HTML5 technologies is more "open" when it comes to the interests of the user, who just wants to know if this here gizmo thing gets "Family Guy." (We'll save for another day the discussion about what Google's "don't be evil" pledge really means.)
Split decisions
But Google appears to be underestimating the opposition to its strategy from those who see it as bad business, not just the jeers from the Applelistas who have replaced Microsoft with Google as Public Enemy No. 1.

Video producers are clearly not thrilled with the move. Some of my colleagues at CNET TV are extremely disappointed that Google has chosen to make their lives much more difficult by forcing difficult choices.
At some point in the future, those folks will either have to encode our video in both H.264 and WebM into what amounts to a huge increase in their workload and costs, bet on one standard or another knowing they're going to cause problems for half the user base, or throw their hands up in the air and continue to use Flash video, which solves the interoperability problem but denies them the opportunity to be more creative with how video is placed on a Web page: the whole freaking point of the HTML5 video tag in the first place. And that doesn't even address what to do with 6 years of archived CNET video.
Those who produce CNET TV are not crazy about the prospect of having to support two different HTML5 video codecs at some point down the road.
Those who produce CNET TV are not crazy about theprospect of having to
support two different HTML5 video codecs at some point down the road.
(Credit: Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET)
Google thinks they'll choose WebM because it's open and royalty free. However, H.264 is a superior technology and companies are often willing to pay for things that they know will work and work well, said Wilson Tang, a producer for CNET TV and co-host of The 404 podcast. And besides, H.264 isn't going anywhere anytime soon: with widespread support from Web video content producers and millions of iPhones, iPads, and other H.264-oriented devices out in the wild, no media company can afford to toss those people overboard in support of Google's desire for a more open standard.
Truth be told, video producers were facing an uncomfortable decision anyway because of Mozilla's insistence that Firefox--with 22 percent of the market--support only WebM and Ogg Theora, and the sense that the W3C standards body would never settle on a standard codec. Still, it's an easier decision to make when 65 percent or so of the market supports one technology as opposed to a more even split, and Chrome adoption is growing while other browsers stay flat or decline.
What if camera makers were to include support for WebM video in their devices? That's one way Google thinks it could skip the extra work involved in transcoding H.264 video over to WebM and get more WebM videos out in the wild, and it's talking to device manufacturers about the technology.
But while that may work for consumers recording vacation videos on their personal cameras, professional video producers don't shoot video in either H.264 or WebM. They use "professional codecs" that allow video producers to do all kinds of post-production work that moms and dads uploading videos of Christmas morning simply don't require, Tang said.
That video then gets encoded into the H.264 delivery format for playback because mobile devices largely use H.264 hardware decoders; WebM hardware decoders are starting to emerge but are far from common. It's possible to decode video in software, but it's a killer for battery life on a mobile device.
The biggest potential landmine for Google when it comes to WebM is in the courtroom. It seems like only a matter of time before someone in the MPEG-LA group decides to test whether WebM's technology infringes on the patent pool behind the H.264 standard.
That means content producers who bet on WebM could find themselves in a position where they get caught up in patent uncertainty, and that's a place no one wants to be. Just ask anybody who bought BlackBerrys for their company five years ago and sweated out the final days of a landmark patent trial involving the gadget.
Shells in the omelet
No matter whether the backlash is emotional or reasoned, Google still has to deal with it if it wants to advance its philosophy that a royalty-free codec is the best solution for the future of Web video. Google has urged adoption of the HTML5 technologies for several years as part of its big bet that the Web will become one big software development platform.

However, if the end result of Google's move this week is that Chrome users switch to H.264-supported browsers, video producers fork the

Quotes Of Note

Here's some musing from this years recent CES (Consumer Electronics show): 
By Colin Dixon/Advisor/TDG

"The Vendors are Treating “Smart TVs” like PCs"

"I recently spent $2,000 on a new “smart” LED TV, and as I entered the manufacturer’s booth at the show I immediately noticed the Internet portal on the TV was slightly different from mine. It now included a search function along with several other new features. I mentioned this to the presenter who told me I must have purchased last year’s model. News to me! So I asked how I could get the update. He told me I could not, that to get the new interface I needed to buy a new TV. Excuse me? Just how many people do you know that are willing to buy a new $2,000 TV each and every year? This is just the PC model all over again and a TV is decidedly not a PC."

We agree Colin.....

“Smart TV”?...... Sounds pretty dumb to us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Digital Predictions for 2011

Here is an insightful article from Dorian Sweet for E-consultancy

Last year was a transitional year for most of the industry and now the traction of these changes are likely to take hold on the cold hard surface of consumer engagement.
We are likely to see elemental change happen faster in this coming year than ever.

Quality becomes the new quantity

Most of what we see or hear has a number tied to it these days. Twitter followers, tweets, retweets, likes, comments and so on. It’s the new personal scorecard. Telling people you have a zillion followers is a kind of reality, but does the largess of the number connote the quality of what you did?
We like approval from others and people that we know especially, but this collusion of opinion and information is not always the truest form of value. Now yes, there is always a blend to that fact and it's not about you or me personally, it's about how the numbers are used. And what will be more important this coming year is how relevant all you see, hear, do, tweet really is.
So as a first step, ratings should become deeper than one out-of-five-star rating or “was this helpful?” if we are going to be able to sift through the hyperbole of quantity.

Agency Consolidation

There are too many agencies and digital services for clients to manage. People like to say that social agencies are winning over traditional digital agencies (traditional digital...really?) but that's too much of a red herring to ignore.
All digital agencies, some specializing in one area or another, are competing. What will hurt them all is too much specialization. Yes, too much specialization sounds sexy but it usually means a very low ROI and not a lot of value for the long term.
There are too many devices and platforms shifting and changing to make pop-up agencies rationalize their value. Many times this past year and in the future months, the mobile and social although inextricably linked will be competing for client budget.
It’s not a competition when eventually you are competing with yourself. So what all agencies need to do is acquire, build, mentor and refine capable technologies and people that are all working harmoniously and are measured in an egalitarian form. Easier said than done I suspect, but it will be the next agency model.

Take 5 Mr. HTML

You'd expect me to say "Flash is Dead" or that "Javascript is too hard" and someday maybe I will. For now I'll hold back.
What is going to happen is that HTML 5 will start invading a lot of work. Some of it super creative work and some banal and purely functional. Again, this wasn't purely because it was better than everyone else, it's a device-driven change, and yes, it's a Steve Jobs-driven change too.
In the end HTML 5 will take a sizable share of the development work for new media and to what end only our collective imagination can tell us. Let’s get comfortable with HTML 5 before HTML 6 comes out with Web 4.0 at its side.

Group shopping therapy

Yes, the billion dollar baby of Groupon is probably the first to come to mind. And the principle in itself will be the next phenomenon of online retail madness. What it has and probably will become is a natural progression in social media and online shopping.
One scenario might be that, rather than buying through Facebook, you'll be linked through Groupon and do your own kind of collective bargaining with brands that are willing to talk to you. Facebook may not like this, but even the investment cash rich have to adapt or adopt to be in on the group game.

Paying for it

The last stage of adolescence for publishing is upon us. The big publishing brands have been our “virtual parents" of content for long enough. This will be the inevitable jumping off point for the poignant and the popular in publishing.
The NYT will be a paid subscription in the early part of the coming year and many others will follow. What will separate the wheat from the chaff of online magazines and news is how valuable they are to the reader.
The paying for professional online content will be the true end of the physical publication and it seems that the public is ready to cut bait.

Virtual acknowledges the physical

Retail is the last bastion of the counter-digital experience. Apart from a few interesting showings, apparel retailers have been the last to take digital to the physical experience. And to be fair, buying an article of clothing is a highly personal and particular psychological experience for the buyer.
Apart from the tactile, what will change is in the service methods that consumers receive in stores. Best Buy has done an amazing job in re-engineering its model to the products and consumers through training, design and digital.
Now digital you say, big whup! Well, the interesting thing is that Best Buy didn't develop any new digital technology to change its business, they just used what was out there.
The TWELP force idea was one of the best things Best Buy could do for themselves, not to engineer the virtual world of Twitter to its wishes, but to adjust its customer service to the use of Twitter as a service tool. Brilliant thinking and a sign of things to come.

Location, location, location

We all know Foursquare has made an impact on social media and those who consume it. In the coming year Facebook will simply turn up the volume dial and have quintupled the subscribers of Foursquare.
But this isn’t just about people checking in anymore. Now businesses can instantly register all their locations and you’ll have a networked location experience. If you travel a lot like I do, this may be a good thing.
Like many features that come and go, this one won’t go away and Facebook will dominate. So 2011 may see an end to the first footer in location-based marketing (sorry Foursquare, you needed a better logo) and exciting forays into location-based marketing.

The year of mobile...again

Mobile has been the Godot of the technology launch world. Since 1998 I've been hearing that next year mobile will be big, and each year it never happens. Well I think the mobile era has finally come to reality.
The Android and Apple platforms are solid, well engineered and ready to change our world. Applications and optics have been the two elements that completed the mobile cake. Gone will be the short-lived and quickly unused "app candy" that has been prevalent in this first era of smartphones. 2010 was a platform building year for mobile, now its time for lift-off.

White spaces will be filled

Mobile's eminent arrival to the vanguard will not be purely due to its longevity in the device game. Remember back in June when in the US the broadcast signal was no more? Well now your mobile phones will be on it in a big way.
Recently AT&T added to its bandwidth portfolio in a play to win the mobile war. This along with other purchases will give consumers a lot more to do at the end of the arm than wait for a signal to come up or for email to download. The age of dial-up speed on mobile devices is coming to an end. 

Content and malcontents

Now with all this newness around, one cannot help but notice the burnout that ensues when engaging in this new world. Why? We first need to wake up and understand that the life blood of all these devices, applications, networks, widgets and the like is the content that is delivered through them.
In the past couple of years, media and content didn't work out this relationship and the dissonance of random information has been shortening attention spans every minute.
Our next evolution in the digital world is in moving beyond the simple fascination with new apps and devices and the true application of them in our lives through valuable and relevant content.
Bad content will fade and the rise of “storied products” will be delivered by transmedia producers through multiple screens in a multitude of contexts.
So, Get whatever rest you can before starting the year. It's going to be a good one.