It All Boils Down to Trust

Are consumers today suffering from a major case of paranoia or do they have legitimate concerns when it comes to the information that is readily available to marketers about their habits, location, or other personal information?  I personally believe that it can be a combination of the two.  On one side, consumers may be a little over paranoid when it comes to the ‘big brother’ watching over their every move.  But on the other side, well… marketers are seemingly watching over our every move.

A recent study conducted by SDL, a content management and analytics firm,  echoes my sentiments.  According to the study, “nearly two-thirds of consumers in the U.S. and around the world are worried about how marketers are using their personal information” – aka, the paranoid part.  While 80 percent are more than willing to provide personal information to a trusted brand as long as brands are transparent about how they collect and use their information as long as they got something in return.

The key word here is trust.  Consumers need to be able to trust those companies that they do business with and companies need to realize that consumers are a fickle bunch.  In addition, if consumers are willing to give up personal information, they want to know they are getting something in return.

So maybe it’s not all about trust…maybe some incentives work too.



The Power of Google

As was noted in our lesson this past week, one of the greatest advantages of emerging media is that, “digital marketing allows for direct measurement of the effectiveness of our marketing actions” (P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2014).  In other words, the use of digital marketing channels allows for companies to justify their digital marketing budget and determine which areas are having the most impact on the bottom line.

Of course, when it comes to web metrics and everything associated with it – search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) – Google is the proverbial guerrilla in the room.  But is Google’s power necessarily a good thing?  Some would argue not, as is evident by a recent class action lawsuit filled against the company this past week in a Federal Court in California.

The suit, which seeks to resurrect some of the themes and arguments raised in a now settled FTC antitrust lawsuit case and repeats familiar abuse of market power allegations, is now focused on mobile search, specifically Android devices.  According to the suit, Google maintains a monopoly in mobile search through something called “Mobile Applicaiton Distribution Agreements, or MADAs.  These agreements, “effectively block Android handset maketers from installing Bing, Yahoo, or another search engine in the default position on Android devices” and, “therefore reinforce and perpetuate Google’s alleged mobile search monopoly.”

So what are your thoughts?  Is the fact that Google become the de facto option when it comes to any and all things search engine related a good or bad thing?


Bills Learn Tough Lesson in SMS Marketing

Just the other week we discussed at length mobile marketing and how we as consumers, has become increasingly comfortable with (and reliant on) digital communications technologies like smart phones, iPods, and iPads (Reed School of Media, 2014).  Of course, one of the biggest allures of this marketing medium is that it can be both highly personal and provide rich, yet simple messaging.  And to give you an idea of just how pervasive mobile technologies are in our society, a recent British study shows that 53 percent of men and 48 percent of women are said to be suffering from Nomophobia – or the fear of being out of mobile phone contact (Lazar, 2013).  Talk about a compelling marketing opportunity through mobile!

One of the most engaging activities as it relates to mobile marketing is the concept of SMS marketing or text message marketing.  With nearly all phones equipped with SMS capabilities and with consumers reading virtually every text within minutes after receipt (according to an infographic created by Slick, 98 percent of text messages are read).

While SMS offers a number of consumer touch point opportunities, there are some potential pitfalls that marketers need to take into consideration.  Case in point – my beloved Buffalo Bills were sued this week over SMS marketing.

Bills Video CaptureThe Buffalo Bills would have to pay potentially more than $3 million for sending too many text messages to fans who opted-in to receive messages from the organization. The team, who has said that the, “purpose of the Bills’ voluntary, opt-in text messaging program was to provide our fans with information they requested about the team,” was sued by a fan who asserted that he and other fans were receiving text messages from the Bills that went over the allowed limit.

According to the lawsuit, The Bills could send three to five texts per week over a 12 month period per the agreement of the opt-in program, but fans said that there were occasions that they would receive more than that. In total, the Bills could end up providing their nearly 40,000 fans who opted to receive text messages with debit cards in the range of $58-$75 with the potential total payout being upwards of $3 million.  Talk about an expensive lesson in mobile marketing!

What are your thoughts on this lawsuit?  Did this fan go too far or was he right to sue the Bills for breaking the rules of the program?

Don’t Let Fear Overcome Your Social Media Presence

Having a digital presence is important – we all know that by now.  Of course, a big part of having a digital presence is the active involvement in social media.  Social media is a great avenue for companies to engage with a captive audience AND participate in the conversation.   Notice I didn’t say control the message or dominant the conversation.  Rather, companies are using social media to be an active member of the conversation taking place (good or bad) and helping to shape what presented in social media.Twitter Feed

Overcoming this fear of letting go of control can be difficult for some.  This fear is only exacerbated when we see examples of social media gone bad.  A great example of this is the NYPD’s latest social media campaign.  In an effort to engage with the people of New York via their Twitter account, the NYPD asked people to share pictures of themselves with some of NY finest.  Unfortunately, the response was met with an overwhelming negative response.  Instead of tweets of smiling police officers with happy citizens, a barrage of tweeters hijacked the #myNYPD hashtag with photos of police officers engaged in misconduct or even instances of police brutality.  As one twitter user put it, the first lesson in twitter is that even though you create a hashtag doesn’t mean you own it.

While the the NYPD twitter incident is one of many of examples of how social media can be a fickle beast, there are many more reasons for using the platforms to your advantage.  Many times the best way to overcome the fear of control is to engage with customers via social media.  Get to learn more about what people are saying, what they like and don’t like, and use social media as an opportunity to create positive customer experiences.


Fake Viral Videos; Clever or Unethical

“At the end of the day, viewers decide to make a video viral. Period.”

Today, marketers are always trying to create content that has the potential to go viral whereas the success of the tool is measured by how much the video becomes a buzz builder through social sharing.

Of course, like any great story, the use of short films must have certain elements that make them effective in grabbing the viewers attention, and most importantly, making them want to share it with others.

However, it seems as though marketers are willing to do almost anything to make their content visceral in nature.  There are a number of fake video campaigns that have popped up in recent years that include the hiring of actors to fake “real” events, to using special effects to create unbelievable stunts.

Take Exhibit A for example:

Brilliantly executed, this video is of course, a hoax.  The folks behind this video (Funny or Die) even went as far to create a website and a Facebook page that denied claims that this was indeed a ruse.

Here’s another great example:

This video, titled “Walk on Water” or Liquid Mountaineering, was developed by a running shoe company called Hi-Tec shoes.  While there is no direct mention of the shoe in the video, there are a number of quick shots of the shoe that is responsible for making running on water possible.  After about of month of speculation, the company finally came clean and admitted that the video was a hoax and was indeed a viral campaign for Hi-Tec Shoes.

Both of these examples were widely successful in terms of their reach.  Both amassed million of views in a short period of time.  But at what expense do companies go to when they create these fake videos.  Most often, as was the case with both of these videos, the companies start off with a period of denial, lie about their involvement, and then watch the buzz continue to build.  Then, there reaches a point that they must feel the need to come clean.

While I personally think that these campaigns are great at generating buzz, but what are your thoughts – effective gimmick or unethical marketing?

From Beats to Tweets – Social Media’s Impact on Journalism

Last Monday, I attended a moderated panel discussion hosted by our very own P.I. Reed School of Journalism titled, “From Beats to Tweets:  Media Coverage of the Elk River Chemical Spill.”  The event was held as part of the School’s The Future of Media – NOW! series and addressed local and national coverage of the event and examined how crisis coverage has changed in today’s 24/7 digital media environment.

As we’ve learned early on in IMC 619, consumers today are growing increasingly “connected” and as such, media consumption habits are also trending towards a digital preference.  This is especially relevant for today’s young consumer and more specifically, the ways in which young people get their news.  According to a 2013 article by Jasper Jackson,  young people have all but abandoned print as a news source, noting that only 29 percent of people aged 18-24 say they have read a printed newspaper in the last year. Conversely, the same article notes that 57 percent of that same age group are getting their news online, the most of any particular age group.  Social media is also becoming a predominant source for news.  According to a 2013 Pew Research study, roughly half of both Facebook and Twitter users get news on those sites.
So in the Elk River chemical spill crisis that was discussed at the event, it wasn’t much of  a surprise to hear the panelist talk about the role social media is having on their profession.  Journalist and reporters alike are turning to social media as a valuable communication channel to not only break news to their audiences, but also to acquire their own leads.  However, panelist were also quick to point out that social media, while convenient, also has potentail pitfalls.  As David Gutman of the Charelston Gazette noted, social media can sometimes be “too easy” to send out information impulsively without confirming sources or checking to see if the information is indeed accurate.

However, the consensus from the group of panelists was this – social media is not only here to stay, but it will continue to revolutionize the news industry.

Take a listen to some of the sound bites from that evening’s discussion below:

April Kaull – WOWK-TV Anchor
Ashton Marra – Reporter at WV Public Radio

David Gutman – Reporter at Charleston Gazetter


Cradle to Grave Marketing – Marketing to Today’s Youth

In this week’s IMC 619 Emerging Media and the Market lesson and to a further extent, our weekly writing assignment, we explored a variety of highly coveted market segments, and more specifically, the youth market.

Today’s youth represent a potentially lucrative market for marketers.  It’s hard to argue that fact when looking at their spending power – according to a 2012 Harris Poll YouthPulse (SM) study, purchasing power of today’s youth is $211 billion and one that should not be overshadowed by the spending power of adults.  When broken down further, in addition to their own spending, young consumers are also highly influential when it comes to purchase decisionbathroom12s within their households and account for another $150 billion of their parents’ spending.   As such, companies and their brands are spending big money in marketing to kids – $17 billion annually, compared to just $100 million back in 1983.

Of course, new and emerging media is of particular interest to marketers trying to reach this group as well, considering the consumption habits of today’s “millennial.”  Young consumers today are quite savvy as it pertains to the latest media trends and are often the largest consumers of new media.  For example, 77 percent – and more than 50 percent higher than the population as a whole – owns a smartphone and, perhaps one of my favorite (or perhaps disturbing depending on how you look at it) statistics I’ve found indicates that even 40 percent of young adults aged 18-24 even use social media while in the bathroom!  Yes, the bathroom.

So then, marketing to today’s youth is easy, right?  Not so fast!  While there are many who would consider the seemingly relentless pursuit of companies and their brands to further penetrate and cash-in on this group of consumers as strictly business 101, there is a growing concern about just how ethical many marketers are in their efforts, especially as it relates to the use of new and emerging media.

For example, the Federal Trade Commission released a report in 2012 that indicated that the food and beverage industry was particularly guilty of increasing their use of digital media when targeting both children and teens.  According to the report, “spending on new media, such as online, mobile, and viral marketing, increased by 50%.”  And, as indicated earlier, the use of new and emerging media was especially effective, according to the report, in creating or generating what  is referred to as “pestering power” – or the ability of young consumers to ultimately influence the purchase decisions of their parents.

Of course, this is not a new phenomena.  Marketing to children has been around for a long time.  However, what has changed is the ability of marketers to reach these consumers, due in large part, to the advent of new and emerging media.

So what do you think?  Are marketers taking advantage of, what some would consider a vulnerable consumer, through the use of emerging media, or are they simply being savvy businessmen or women in their pursuit of a life-long customer?

How does emerging media “work” in today’s world?

Poor Beatrice – She is really trying to get up to speed on this whole thing they call “Facebook.” But as her friend (or her once friend but now no longer friend) tells her at the end of this hilarious Esurance commercial, that’s not exactly how it works.

And who can blame her, right?  In today’s world, emerging media is evolving and fast.  In fact, as noted in our lesson from week one in WVU’s IMC Emerging Media Course, ” the rules regarding new media are being written as we speak/blog/text” and furthermore, the “rules are often changing because the limitations and applications to these mediums are also changing.”

So what is emerging media exactly?  For those that aren’t familiar with the term, emerging media can be defined in a number of ways.  One definition that I found that I particularly like is that emerging media is the, “evolving use of technology and digital content to enhance work, play, and learning, to broaden access to information, and to enrich personal connection by eliminating the constraints of time and location” (Ball State University).

When looking at this definition, the second half – the elimination of time and location restraints – is what I find to be the key component or key take away from what is emerging media.  In fact, one of the first things we read in our week one lesson from the Emerging Media IMC 619 course is that, “we’re living in an era where we can marketing to anyone, anytime.”  That’s a pretty powerful statement and one that will continue to evolve over time.

Erik Qualman, who developed the concept of Socialnomics has created a number of great videos that highlight the sure magnitude and impact that emerging media (specifically social media) has.  Take a look at the latest video below:Moving forward, the impacts of emerging media will only continue to evolve and grow for both marketers and consumers alike.

My only hope is that Beatrice can keep up…