Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apple is joining Facebook in Info Sharing

A recent Wall Street Journal article reveals that Apple apps are also selling users information to ad networks including Pandora, The Weather Channel,, and Paper Toss. According to Bloomberg reports, "some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users' location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views."

The worst offender was found to be TextPlus4. The WSJ reports that it "sent the phone's unique ID number to eight ad companies and the phone's zip code, along with the user's age and gender, to two of them"

Ouch. We'll see if Android users catch wind of the lawsuit and file on of their own. Interestingly enough, most apps require that you agree to the terms and conditions, including information sharing. The problem is that 45 of 101 apps studied in the article, WSJ found that they did not have privacy policy.

The question is: how do marketers and advertisers get the information they want without violating user's privacy? And why weren't these companies following the integral rule of marketing to respect the user's privacy?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Xtranormal - An Internet Phenomenon

Have you seen the newest Geico commercial? There is the one with the cartoon bears and the computerized voices. Or there is one with the animated superheroes with computerized voices. They were both created for free on the text-to-movie website Xtranormal.

What started as an inexpensive way for regular folks to create quick and easy animated videos has caught on mainstream. Even my business school professors are getting into this. To date, the Xtranormal website claims that over 9 million projects have been created on their website.

Here is my list of the top Xtranormal videos of 2010.

1. "It !@&$ing prints money." - iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo
YouTube views: 10,939,319

Caution, there is some bad language, but it's a mostly hilarious video about consumers' commitment to all things Apple.

2. "The Ben Bernacke has a nice beard" - Quantitative Easing
YouTube views: 3,720,273

They compare Ben Bernacke and the Fed to a plumber. (There is only one unsavory word in this clip.)

3. "Facebook is doing what's best for you" -So you want to close your Facebook account
YouTube views: 43,564

They definitely got some good jabs in there about Facebook culture.

Unfortunately, after watching video after video on YouTube that is all I could come up with.

Friday, December 17, 2010

American Idol: Failure to Sell

A common understanding in marketing is that what people say on a market survey or in focus group are not always the best indicators of their actual behaviors. For example, a consumer can tell you that they like a product at first glance and would be inclined to purchase it. Then the product hits the shelf and people are not buying it like they said they would. This is called a product launch failure. Think New Coke or the DeLorean.

This is the condition from which American Idol suffers. On America’s most watched television show viewers vote weekly about which participant is their favorite. The network is surveying it’s consumers to determine which album people will actually want to buy. They wouldn’t want to launch a product without doing some market research. Unfortunately, the show’s premise is built around a fallacy that consumers will buy what they say they like on the show. Remember season five of American Idol? The winner was Taylor Hicks. The real winner, however, was Chris Daughtry. To date, he has sold more albums and been more successful than that season’s winner and winners of every other season with the exception of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Yet he didn't win.

So what happened? My first thought is that American Idol is open to the public meaning than anyone can call and vote. Generally, a marketing survey or focus group is geared toward the consumer group of a particular product. They aren’t polling album buyers. They’re polling TV show watchers. Second, the format doesn’t allow people to showcase their best music each week. Being a great singer across all genres like 60’s night, love songs, or country music doesn’t equal great success. Most musicians have a genre and brand from which they rarely stray. With the exception of country artists and pop artists, rarely do musicians try to appeal to all audiences. 

Where does American Idol go next? I’m not sure that the net judges will re-invigorate the show they way the hoped. (I secretly wonder if they did focus groups or surveys to see who consumers would be more likely to watch.) Because the format of the show has not changed, I don’t expect next year’s winner to do any better in album sales than this year’s. If they want to sell albums, they need to find other ways to figure out which artists consumers want to hear more from. Another idea, albeit a crazy one, is to have each artist record a short album prior to the show’s launch. Whoever sells the most is crowned the winner. They will then be given the recording contract and can record a full length album. This could also be easily done in partnership with itunes which tracks the more relevant digital sales and doesn’t require expensive CD manufacturing. 

Once the hit British TV show X Factor is launched here in the US, it will be interesting to see who does a better job of producing a star.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Facebook Marketing

Like I mentioned in my post on Stickybits, Facebook is gold mine of valuable information for markers.

For more information, check out the article Yahoo Finance just published talking about what companies are doing now to get more information about consumers from Facebook.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2011 Trends Part 2

2. Discount Retail - the high fashion kind

Recently, stores like and have cropped up allowing regular joes access to fashions usually found at Barney's and Neiman Marcus. These online shops carry entirely different merchandise than what you would find in a TJ Maxx or Ross type discount outlets.

Their process is to require all users to sign-up to gain access to the sales. Additionally, most of the items are "limited time only" so the preview emails and announcements of when items go on sale are key to beat the your friends to the good deals.

The economy has been difficult lately so I can see how these retailers would have been affected by the downturn. Their items are a serious discount from their original price, but still not in the price range that would appeal to a wide selection of buyers. Personally, I feel like all the items are things I would still need to save up for, but with the limited availability I'm torn.

On the other hand, these stores really know their marketing. Not only do they get all their customer's info in order to have them view the merchandise, but they have nailed the scarcity concept and keeping their public waiting. Their biggest asset is that with the limited time for sales, consumers buy items very quickly. I like to place items in my cart and re-visit them until I've made a decision, but there is no way to do that with these sites. They also have a daily record of what items sell the best so they know which items are more valuable. Other stores have to carry alot of pesky inventory and wait weeks to know what people like. This quick turnover model allows them to know same day what was a popular item. Being a fashion buyer just got easier.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TED Talk for your entertainment - "Life Lessons From an Ad Man"

Rory Sutherland gives an excellent talk on intangible value that includes funny and clever examples.

If you're skeptical about marketing then this video is a must see.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2011 Marketing Trends- Number 1

Recently, iMedia Connection published an article on-line titled, The Companies that will rule 2011. You can find the article here. This has inspired me to make my own list of 2011 Marketing Trends.

1) Social Media, but not what you're thinking...

While Facebook and Twitter are kings in the social media domain, I think blogging is going to become more of a trend in the next year. In the past year, blogs were pivotal in breaking news. For example, when Michael Jackson died, I remember going to to check that it was true. Another example is when Gizmodo broke the story about the iPhone 4. Plus there are sites like Wikileaks where the whole premise is leaking government secrets.

Right now, the difficulty with blogging is it's fragmentation. Blog's like receive millions od daily visitors; Hilton's one day record is 13.9 million page views. Additionally, The Huffington Post receives 28,000,000 unique visitors a month. It is, by some accounts, the world's most popular blog. Then there are small blogs like this one that are more niche.

The key to their growth is that most blogs are now posting fragments of their articles on Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to their websites. These channels plus RSS feeds are helping to decrease the fragmentation and allow readers to get all their content in one place. Now news will spread even faster.

For more info on blogs, check out Time's list of the 25 Best Blogs of 2009 here.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Great Ad!

I thought I would upload a great ad from the British group, Sussex Safer Roads Partnership.  This commercial has been viral for sometime- it has 12 million views on YouTube. If you haven't seen it though, it does an excellent job of building a compelling message in a memorable way.

Thought I would ad something small until I can get a longer article typed up.