Monday, September 30, 2013

Mobile Apps, Card Interfaces, And Our Opposable Thumbs

More and more, a "card" based user interface is becoming more prevalent on mobile apps.  According to the author, Semil Shah, this is due to most of us using our mobile phone mainly with our thumbs.  Card apps take advantage of this fact by creating a UI that really takes advantage of the swiping motion on the phone.

Facebook, Google, and Instagram apps all take advantage of a card based UI to help their users navigate their apps more easily.

The easier the site is to navigate, the longer a user will stay on a site.  Thus, increasing the chances that the user can be marketed to.

Read more here:


Facebook vs. Twitter

In an effort to become the go-to-hub for television shows / real time events such as ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS, Twitter and Facebook are fighting it out.

This week, Facebook will begin sending weekly reports to America’s largest television networks with stats on how much buzz their shows are generating on the social network. The stats will include how many “actions” — likes, comments, or shares — a show caused on Facebook, and the number of participating members.

Facebook and Twitter have been fighting it out to win the media giants, because it will undoubtedly draw more user activity, and thus, more advertising dollars. Highlighting data reports and user activity has been key. For example, Twitter is expected to begin distributing the 'Nielsen Twitter TV Rating'. This will be the first measurement report with media measurement company Nielsen. 

It's interesting to think about how various companies use social media to their benefit (or disadvantage). People may tweet just about anything about your company and brand, and the way that companies choose to reply can either bring customers in or push them away. Events take place in real time, and choosing when and how to respond to the public is essential to your brand image. Cocal Cola's group director for digital content and strategy Neil Bedwell gives an interesting view about how it can sometimes be best not responding. 


Distribution: The Queen who "Wears the Pants"

Marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the power of content in attracting attention. To attract attention to their brands in the midst of growing banner blindness and increasing distractions, advertisers need to do more than slap an impression on the side of an article. Instead, they need to create useful, relevant content that attracts audience and simultaneously promotes their brand. But that's old news. Advertisers have figured that out and have turned their attention instead to finding ways to make their content more discoverable.

According to a Blog Post by Brian Honnigman of Contently, a company that links journalist/content creators with brands, the way people discover content on the internet has evolved over the years - from forums, to emails, to blogs and search, to the latest rage, social media. Thus advertisers are faced with the challenge of tailoring their content distribution strategy to social media. According to Honnigman, this requires understanding what makes each platform unique. Buzzfeed is cited as a publisher that helps marketers produce discoverable content. Their "listicles" appeal to specific communities that share amongst each other helping the content go viral. And going viral is a huge win, obviously.

Given this innovative publisher's success, it's no surprise that one of Buzzfeed's own, Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Relations coined the catchy phrase: "Content is King, and Distribution is Queen, but she wears the pants."


HealthFitness Wins 12 Awards: Communicator, Hermes, and Impact

HealthFitness is of the top providers of integrated employee health improvement services to Fortune 500 companies, the healthcare industry and individual consumers. The company has over 30 years of experience in their fields and consistently partners with employers to effectively manage health care as well as productivity costs by improving individual overall health and well-being.

HealthFitness received 12 awards this past May for their digital and brand work. Their works include videos and integrated campaigned for health management.  The company was awarded five Communcatior Awards, five Hermes Creative Awards, and two Impact Awards from various organizations.   "Our marketing team thrives on creating strategic, engaging content for clients and the company. We're thrilled to have our work honored by creative experts," said HealthFitness Vice President of Marketing Deb Marshall.

The Communicator Awards is an annual international competition that honors the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and brand work for print, video, interactive and audio.  The Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies.  The Impact Awards Strategic Communications Competition recognizes people, practices, programs and partnerships in the public relations and communications industries.

For more information visit:,, and


The touch, the feel, of digital: The new fabric of our lives

             We live in a time where everything revolves around the growth of digital and e-commerce. “Soon, everything we purchase will be online,” “Mobile spending is increasing 2000% annually,” “Computers will take over the world,” etc.  The reality is that as these statistics are unavoidable and accurate, they do not full consider the human element of purchasing power.
            You would think that I am biased towards shifting to digital marketing since my core business and experience is in the space. I’ve been developing digital marketing strategies and monetizing social media since its inception. However, my tenure at Variety Magazine proved to me a valuable lesson in traditional media. That there is significant value in utilizing our most underwhelming sense in advertising: touch.
            While our team was working frantically to create engaging, disruptive digital advertising phenomena to satisfy our clients with video, high-tech graphics and gameifying initiatives, we consistently found ourselves hitting a brick wall. The CMOs and heads of marketing for various clients such as Major Film Studio X and Global Production Company Y (no need to expose the culprits as they all partake in this practice) would still have their eyes glued to their hands in the form of tangible advertising.
            Call it nostalgia, call it product life cycle, call it whatever you want. The reality is that the people with purchasing power for these marketing departments value advertisements that they can hold in their hands; ads that don’t disappear into thin air as they Yelp their dinner reservations.  
            I am curious to see how this behavior shifts as these executives age out of the industry and younger, more tech-savvy Gen X’s take their place. But until then, the reality is that large traditional consumer-facing companies will prefer print advertising over digital, and the majority of their ad spend will reflect as such. 


The Mobile Ways of Facebook – How updated news feed could impact Ads

The Mobile Ways of Facebook – How updated news feed could impact Ads

Facebook unveiled its new and improved News Feed on March 7. Facebook became more visual with News Feed having bigger photo displays, making way for a bigger News Feed that mixes in ad-supported messages.

The update will change up both its web portal and mobile apps, and with mobile such an important focal point for Facebook, it is interesting to observe how these presumed News Feed changes will affect users’ mobile experience, as well as Facebook’s own revenue streams from ads.

The majority of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising mostly on its web portal but revenue from mobile ads are slowly making ground. With an improved News Feed, Facebook could leverage this to incorporate more ads in its mobile apps. Since mobile devices have smaller screens, Facebook could focus on more graphic or photo-centric ads placed on its mobile app. This feature can be delivered much better on a mobile device because of location awareness (GPS). It can throw news alerts, warnings, road construction, traffic reports based on user’s current location.


Mobile Advertising Exploding

Total global Ad spend will be $503B in 2013 according to a study released by ZenithOptimedia. Digital advertising is now the largest portion of ad spend and represents 20% of the total (up from 19% in the year prior).  The fastest segment of growth! Mobile advertising grew by 81% this year as the mobile ad spend begins to close the gap between how much time users spend on their mobile devices: according to Mary Meeker's study on internet trends users spend 13% of our time looking at mobile devices, but only 3% of total spend went there.  This trend will surprise nobody, and businesses have started to pour more resources into monetizing our eyeballs when they are looking at our phones.  Google has long dominated mobile ads, but Twitter and Facebook are closing in on. The acquisition of JumpTap by Millennial MediaTwitter’s acquisition of MoPub, and Facebook’s growing mobile ad revenues are three examples of how we are seeing increasing consolidation of resources, and sharper focus on the mobile ad space.  Facebook's traction in mobile advertising has been lauded and its stock price has responded with a 100% gain this year.  Twitter has recently filed its S-1 (privately unfortunately for us) and I have no doubt that its success will be tied directly to its mobile advertising fortunes.


Google's 'Unified Design' and the importance of optimal display

You may have recently noticed that Google has changed the design of its search results on your mobile phones and tablets. The results are reformatted to look a lot cleaner and simpler than results previously appeared, and organized on separate cards so that results are distinctive and thus more readable.

This change may seem minute, but it calls to focus the importance of the display of search to capture and retain the audience. While getting accurate search results is critical, users will likely leave if the experience is frustrating or if deciphering what is actually on the page actually makes the process more difficult.

Assumed is that Google has invested a great amount of time understanding how people use mobile and utilize search before they determine structure, content placement, font, etc. of the results. Perhaps most interesting in the new results is the clear call out to what is an ad, noted by a large orange 'ad' button next to the search topic. This suggests that users highly desire knowing what placements are ads, and that ads may be more effective when they are known to be ads rather than organic results.

In my opinion, Google has done a nice job to reformat its results while retaining its natural, 'original' Google look. However, it initially seemed to me that each actual result is very large and results will require much scrolling. I would think Google would favor smaller results, to reduce scrolling, and thus charge a higher amount for results positions lower than the top few. Alternatively, this may just place greater importance on the top few results and push bids for these positions even higher.


Digital Advertising Growing

Adspend numbers have just been released by ZenithOptimedia showing that digital marketing will make up 22% of all US adspend in 2013. While mobile is growing at a much faster rate (81% this year compared with internet's 16% growth rate), mobile is a much smaller contributor of the adspend, with only 3.7% market share. This breakdown does not segment mobile versus tablet - likely because Google no longer allows separate marketing by device. In the US, the entire digital marketing budget is estimated to be over $100B. That's a massive figure, only dwarfed by TV advertising. This indicates that there will be growing competition for adspends, however, it is curious to think that if Google is able to successfully roll out Google Fiber in major US cities that lack internet - then perhaps enough new users will use the platform that demand (ie internet searches) will increase with supply (the adspend growth rate), and we (as digital marketers) won't see a significant increase in digital advertising rates. If demand cannot keep up with supply, it's easy to see that advertising competition increases, prices rise per search term, and Google just gets bigger. -Elliot Check out the entire Techcrunch article on estimated Adspend.


NSA’s Targeting Prowess Doesn’t Extend To Ads

This Article in TechCrunch struck a chord with me. I have been following the recent news about the extensive profiles that the government has compiled about citizens using information obtained from online activity and sources. While I find much of it intrusive and moral grey area I don't have an objection with their ability to advertise wherever they darn well please.

The article is a rant from a TechCrunch writer who has recently written some scathing articles regarding the NSA's questionable methods for gathering data on U.S. citizens. He doesn't agree with the methods and also doesn't like that the NSA has now started running banner ads (as shown in the article) on the very pages where he is berating them through his column.

Wilhelm, the author, states "I’ve never felt a conflict of interest with an advertisement before, due in no small part to the fact that I tune them out like the rest of you. But to have the NSA directly hawking its wares on pages that sport my name doesn’t sit right with me." he also states, "I suppose it is vaguely democratic to grant them part of our space to make their case, but as this is a financial relationship (they pay us, either directly or through a third-party), it’s not a question of free speech."

So, would it be ok for places like TechCrunch to limit what ads show up on their pages? Actually, they can do this through AdSense. The maximum number of advertiser URLs that can be blocked is 500 per AdSense product. The 500 blocks can be applied at the site level or at the product level and in any combination. I think that the NSA has a right to advertise but TechCrunch has a right to advertise...but will TechCrunch stand behind its writers words and block them? Doubtful.


Google's new "Hummingbird" search algorithm

Search Engine Optimization techniques rely heavily on the power and algorithm of search engines. Google, being the most popular for online searches, has silently introduced a new algorithm called the "Hummingbird". This is apparently Google's biggest overhaul to their engine since 2009 and affects around 90% of searches.

The key change in the new algorithm is that it allows Google to more quickly parse full questions (as opposed to parsing searches word-by-word), and to identify and rank answers to those questions from the content they’ve indexed.This will likely raise concerns for those involved in web development and SEO. Google's guidance for those doing SEO is to use "original, high-quality content, since that’s what’s best for web users.” This again highlights the importance of having relevant content over secondary optimization techniques.


Part II: Contagion of Scraping – Has It Gone Too Far?

Part II: Contagion of Scraping – Has It Gone Too Far? (September 30, 2013)

To pick back up where we left off last week – is the scraping of data legal or illegal? If we take a look back over the history of scraping, it appears that the practice started in a “legal gray area,” and that it was initially deemed to simply be a “nuisance.” However, in 2000, eBay, the online auction company, successfully applied the “trespass to chattels” theory to obtain a preliminary injunction against Bidder’s Edge (“BE”), an "aggregator" of auction listings. Ultimately, the lawsuit was settled out of court so it never came to a head, but the legal precedent was set after the courts found that although BE's interference was not substantial, "any intermeddling with or use of another's personal property" established BE's possessory interference with eBay's chattel. In other words, if other auction aggregators started to “crawl” the eBay site, it could potentially lead to the point of denying effective access to eBay's customers.

In 2001 however, a travel agency sued a competitor who had “scraped” its prices from its Web site to help the rival set its own prices in the case known as EF Cultural Travel BV v. Explorica. The judge ruled that the fact that this scraping was not welcomed by the site’s owner was not sufficient to make it “unauthorized access” for the purpose of federal hacking laws. The competitor had used bots to gather all of the agency's prices and travel data, using it to set up their own website with competitive pricing.
The judge ruled that the competitor's use of the agency's information did not constitute hacking. Instead, it ruled that it was fair use of information that the travel agency had made public. Two years later, the legal standing for eBay v. Bidder’s Edge was implicitly overruled in “Intel v. Hamidi,” a case interpreting California’s common law trespass to chattels.

Over the next several years, the courts ruled time and time again that simply putting a “do not scrape us” on a website’s terms of service was not enough to warrant a legally binding agreement. In order for a website owner to enforce the “term,” a user must explicitly agree or consent to the terms. Based on the courts’ ruling, scrapers continued to operate under the status quo – and there was no change in the norms in the business. 

In 2009, Facebook won one of the first copyright suits against a web scraper. Following the court’s ruling, numerous lawsuits were filed to tie any web scraping with a direct copyright violation and clear monetary damages. For example, the most recent case involves Associated Press v. Meltwater, where the courts concluded that even small percentages, sometimes “as little as 4.5% of the content,” are significant enough to not fall under fair use.

Fast forward to today’s online environment where Internet gurus have grown nervous as the “beat of the drums” against scraping has grown louder over the past 12 months. With the revelation of the National Security Agency’s breaches of privacy (thanks to Snowden) and suspicion of the government by U.S. citizens reaching new highs, there have been a number of calls to institute and/or implement scraping laws to protect all types of data on websites, not only personal data. In mid-August 2013, while most people were on the beach or by a pool, a federal judge in San Fransisco ruled that Craigslist can invoke a controversial anti-hacking law to stop a start-up known called 3Taps from gaining access to its website. 3Taps had argued that the law in question, known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), should only apply to non-public information protected by passwords or firewalls – not free, public data found on sites like Craigslist. Judge Charles Breyer of the District Court in San Francisco disagreed with this view, ruling that 3Taps had accessed Craigslist’s website “without authorization” under the plain meaning of the CFAA. While Craigslist is a public website, the company blocked 3Taps from accessing the site and also issued a cease-and-desist letter in order to stop the start-up from collecting its classified data and making it available to others. After Craigslist blocked it, 3Taps turned to so-called “IP rotation technology” (tools that disguised its identity) to continue to visit the site and scrape data. The judge ruled that this “IP-masking” was enough to violate the anti-hacking statute, dismissing concerns that this ruling would criminalize ordinary Internet use.

As mentioned in last week’s blog, ~30% of the travel industry website traffic is traced to web scraping bots, according to a study by Distil Networks. If the courts were to reverse course and overrule the precedent set for the travel industry in EF Cultural Travel BV v. Explorica, there could be a dramatic shift and change in consumer’s ability to gain access to the best available travel deals available in the market.    







Google recent study: 70% of Mobile Searchers Call a Business Directly From Search Results

Whether someone is searching on their mobile device for a restaurant, a local service, or a car rental, the presence of a click to call button increases click-through rates and brand perception, according to new Google/Ipsos research.
A new survey of 3,000 mobile searchers who recently made purchases in seven verticals (Travel, Restaurant, Auto, Local Services, Retail, Finance, Technology) revealed that 70 percent of mobile searchers click to call a business directly from Google's search results.
Across all seven of the verticals Google researched (Travel, Restaurant, Auto, Local Services, Retail, Finance, Technology), click to call, whether it appeared in the paid or organic results, was an important feature for people looking to find information and make purchases.
Calls are most important to mobile searchers who are researching (52 percent) or ready to buy (61 percent).
Google ads generate more than 40 million calls each month – 75 percent of those calls last longer than 30 seconds, and the majority of calls from ads lasted an average of six minutes, which suggests that most mobile searchers aren't looking for quick information, Google said.
On average, Google said that AdWords advertisers who implement click to call see an 8 percent increase in click-through rate.
And what about businesses that don't offer a call option? Almost half of those surveyed said "the lack of a call option would lead them to be both frustrated with the business and more likely to turn to another brand. Additionally, 33 percent said that they would be less likely to refer the brand to others and would be less likely to use the brand in the future."
"It’s clear from our findings that driving phone calls should still be a priority for businesses in every industry," according to Adam Grunewald, Google's mobile marketing manager. "Businesses can easily help mobile searchers get in touch by attaching call extensions to their mobile search ads. While the presence of the call button in organic results depends on a number of factors, you can schedule your mobile search ads and call extensions to show only at relevant times or only in specific searches."


Digital innovation in the airline industry

Last week, Mark Powers, CFO of JetBlue, came to speak in my Integrated Marketing Class. He spoke about the extremely, almost inimitably, high complexity of the airline industry and the difficulty of developing any sort of competitive advantage in such a high capital cost/long lead time business. Coming across this article on Mashable, I realized that digital innovations are adding yet another layer of difficulty for airlines. While apps mentioned in the article, such as My TSA, and emerging technologies such as RFID tagging are undoubtedly improving the customer experience for flyers, airlines still must compete on how they integrate these technological advances into their systems, how they communicate them to customers and how they deliver on the experience of the app while still maintaining the integrity of their own brand. Some of the interesting technologies mentioned in the article, and currently being adopted by major airlines, include:

  • Mobile and NFC/RFID Boarding - Delta & United have embraced these technologies by letting passengers check in via smartphone and using a digital code instead of a physical ticket.
  • Mobile Concierge - Southwest and JetBlue are just a few of the major American airlines using the benefits of mobile concierge to make the end-to-end flight experience a pleasant one for their travelers. 
  • FlightTrack Pro - More of a useful tool than an emerging technology, this app sends flyers push notifications in the event of a flight delay or gate change rather than requiring the user to proactively search through this information. Definitely something an airline could potentially investigate as a proprietary, branded tool to engage and inform customers. 
At the end of the day, I go back to something Mark Powers mentioned towards the end of his lecture; and that is that it's not what airlines do with the hand they've been dealt but how they do it that will differentiate them from the competition. With emerging developments in the digital space, I think it comes down to the true innovators and risk-takers who are able to realize a first-mover advantage will come out on top.


Ad Week Highlights Growing Influence of Digital

From September 23rd to the 27th, Ad Week took place in New York.  Each year Ad Weeks is the industry's largest forum to discuss what has been important in advertising in the last year and more importantly what will be the upcoming trends in advertising in the coming year.

Digital marketing and its growing presence took center stage this year.  And deeper within this theme, big data was a popular topic of discussion.  With the growing presence of digital, advertisers are looking for better ways to employ their ad dollars in the digital arena.  Many are looking towards big data as an opportunity to optimize advertising plans to target the right customers with the least amount of spending waste.

Some firms are taking note, and they are using big data as an avenue to offer new services.  One example is the firm RadiumOne Inc., which determines what customers to advertise to by reviewing social media channels for data driven customer clues.  Another firm, Acxiom Corp. introduced a new product that leverages an even greater spectrum of user data to help advertisers determine media buying strategies.


What's too much data when it comes to privacy?

I stumbled on an article in NYTimes describing National Security Agency's program for collecting and graphing social connections between people based on information collected online, which supplements phone calls and etc. Since we mentioned the older generation with location services on iphones in an earlier class, the topic resonated with me to investigate further. It seems that there is a VERY thin line between preventing horrible incidents and interfering too much with people's lives (big brother style). While i understand the necessity to collect and analyze online interactions and movements, I believe people should have visibility into how their data is used. Specifically, the NSA does not reveal statistics on success of the program, as well as not mentioning failures of accusing people based on misconstrued data. The government needs to regulate these program more and introduce some transparency (without undermining effectiveness of the program, if there is any) as online interactions are becoming more and more prominent and integrated in every day life.

Here's the entire article describing the program

Liza Shepeleva

iTunes came out with a radio recently with their new iOS.  In response, Pandora stock took a big dip, recognizing how quickly people would switch to the new system.  However, I question why people would so quickly switch after they have been such loyal fans of pandora.  iTunes has long cornered the digital music scene.  Yet they did not take advantage of the data they received from this dominance.  Many other services have come into place in this space including Rdio Spotify, Rhapsody, iHeartRadio and Pandora.  Yet somehow with the new iOS, the iTunes radio is expected to come to the forefront of this radio phenomenon.  This is especially true because its algorithms have far been perfected.  Even if you click on a song to exile it, it still will come up in your playlist, a seemingly huge annoyance to consumers (EW review for iTunes Radio).  However, this iTunes Radio will still come out on top because of its connection with Apple.  The connection with Siri is also a competitive benefit, although I cannot help but wonder how many people would actually use that feature.
Other internet streaming radio is also using other means aside from data to entice people.  Their iHeartRadio concerts featuring top radio stars is a great way to get people to popularize the app.  Apple has a huge amount of access to data.  It is now up to them to use it to the best of their ability, especially in this age of Big Data.


Sunday, September 29, 2013


I am very greatly for my Columbia Business School experience.

This digital marketing class just proves that CBS is really creating classes that will prepare students for their future career.  Here is a sample of what I wrote for my Digital Marketing final:

"Google’s large influx of traffic has created a huge money making opportunity for the company.  Google primarily generates money from their search engine through AdWords. In fact, 60% of Google’s revenue in 2013 came from advertisements. Adwords is a Google advertising platform that allows marketers to bid on keywords so that their ad will have a higher chance of appearing near the top of the search results.  

The main premise of Adwords works because websites that appear higher in the search engine results have a greater probability of being clicked. Marketers are a huge fan of Adwords because it provides them with concentrated data that they can they use to judge the performance of their marketing campaign.  In the past, marketers had trouble calculating the ROI of the marketing campaign. 

Now marketers can use metrics, such as cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-thousand (CPM), cost-per-action (CPA), quality score (how relevant the content is the user) to maximize the performance of their campaigns."


Do you click on Facebook ads?

It seems that Facebook is cottoning on to the fact that its ads are at best a distraction, and at worst, an annoyance to the majority of its users. This week, it announced that it is tweaking the formula used to determine which ads members will get to see on their homepage, by incorporating more user feedback in the model. If a Facebook member consistently hides ads for a specific product, he / she will no longer see those ads, while more click throughs will result in more ads on a specific product. This move aims to increase ad relevance, though I think it's still to be seen whether users will continue to see Facebook ads as an annoyance rather than a useful feature.

WSJ: Facebook to place more emphasis on user feedback for ads


How apps and social media are changing the restaurant industry #2

It’s a common question: “Where shall we go for dinner tonight?”, and one that was once just asking a significant other or perhaps a friend.
What a friend has to say about a business can steer us to or from an establishment, depending on what’s said.
Social media has gladly taken this effect and amplified it to another level. Social Media Websites are now used to rate different restaurants and the trend has caught on. Consider that:
  • In 2009, 70% of all restaurants were listed on Yelp.
  • A positive correlation has been found between a restaurant’s revenues and its social media reviews.
  • Surveyed restaurants have stated their intent to create or expand their social media presence.
It’s clear that social media is having a large impact on the restaurant industry. Here are a few ways that social media is changing the world of cuisine.
Social Media is Becoming a Serious Marketing Tool
Social media has been a marketing tool for several years. Car insurance companies and others noticed this and took advantage of it, but the restaurant industry seemed to be a bit late to the party. That is almost certainly changing.
In a survey "more than 80% of restaurant operators” stated their intention to use social media as a key tool in their marketing strategy. Over half of the operators surveyed stated that it was their intent to do so within the next two years.
Of the mediums that operators stated an interest in, the most popular were:
  • Facebook
  • Online review sites
  • Twitter
  • Blogging websites
The shift to social media underscores the fact that restaurants are aware of the impact that social sites are having on their business.
It’s also a reflection of the overall business world, as many companies in other industries are also moving into social media.
Ratings Mean Revenues
In a recent Yahoo article about Yelp and its impact on the restaurant industry, it was found that an online rating can seriously influence a restaurant’s revenues.
A one-star improvement in rating correlated to an increase in revenue, usually falling between the five and nine percent market.
While serving quality food has always been critical to a restaurant’s success, that effect is much more pronounced with the proliferation of socialmedia.
A bad experience can be shared through social media much quicker than it can circulate through a community by word of mouth.
On the positive side, that also means a restaurant can build a positive reputation at a much faster pace. While a new restaurant in town used to take several months to build a presence, sites like Urbanspoon let word spread quickly.
A new restaurant serving quality food will turn profitable a lot faster with the help of social media than it otherwise would.
Food Products Are Going Viral
The KFC Double Down is a perfect example of this effect. When chain restaurants rolled out new items in the past, they were confined to a small market and the impact of the item was only local. This meant that a new sandwich could create a local buzz, but not much more.
The Double Down was similarly released in a small market, but the presence of social media caused it to become a national topic.
Even though a lot of this publicity was necessary, it still got people talking about the KFC brand. Similar effects have been seen at the chain Hardees.
Because of instances like this, analysts have predicted that companies will make even more outrageous products. According to analysts, this won’t be in order to just test new items.
Instead, chains will test items in order to create a social media buzz. Despite being highly criticized, the Double Down got people to talk about KFC, and that’s something that any chain operator is going to desire.

{Revisited from}


Twitter launches emergency notifications

A recent CNN article wrote about a new service Twitter is implementing, where it allows both governmental and non-governmental agencies to send emergency messages to users directly to their phones. Over 60 organizations have signed up with Twitter and users can customize which agencies they receive alerts from.

As social media grows, using it in ways to help the general public becomes increasingly important. During national crises such as deadly storms or homeland security concerns, social media can be used to alert the public immediately, and likely much faster than traditional media. In the case of Twitter, an alert that a user gets will go straight to their phone, and with most people attached at the hip to their cell phones, this kind of communication can reach users extremely fast. It is likely that other major social media sites, including Facebook, will adopt this kind of service.



New Bing logo
New Bing logo.
First, and finally, Bing has updated its visual identity. The new look was launched earlier this month and marks the beginning of not only Bing's branding make-over, but also an upgrade to its user experience.

What is it all about? Well, let me start with a question: what do you wish you had more of? If you answered "time" then you are getting at the crux of Bing's new gig -- faster, more anticipatory searches that are visually inspiring and compete directly with Google's "autocomplete" function. Bing's Page Zero aggregates and updates real-time the best search results for what you are, well, searching. Lets look an example from Bing's blog:
Page Zero.
If you search for San Francisco Giants, Bing generates results based on the top links that people click on directly on the search-box page, or Page Zero. Best of all, Bing shows you the results you care most about with regard to the baseball team -- scores, tickets, images, news, etc -- from the most legitimate sources. Page Zero refers to the fact that with Bing you don't have to go to a "results" page to retrieve what you are looking for because Bing, in theory, knows exactly what you want and will show you real-time results. I love the idea, but I'm curious to know what the impetus is for SEO and SEM -- will websites just have to make their pages that much better (with links and popularity)? Will paying to have your result displayed at the top of a results page not carry as much value because searchers will inevitably bypass that "page one" due to Bing's search enhancements?

As a sucker for the underdog, I'm looking forward to future improvements for Bing.



Complementing A TV Campaign With The Second Screen

With the proliferation of mobile phones, laptops, and tablets in use while watching TV, successfully delivering TV advertising messages that fully engage the viewer is more difficult than ever.

Certainly, the teenager who peruses Facebook while watching "The Carrie Diaries" and the housewife who texts her friends while home shopping hosts are peddling their latest bargains are more than distracted. But the reality is that today’s marketers have more selling opportunities than ever at their fingertips–they just have to know how to leverage them.

It starts by looking at that now ubiquitous second screen–a label given to the laptops, mobile phones, and tablets serving as companion devices for the TV. Research from Minneapolis-based Frank N. Magid Associates Inc. shows the degree to which digital device multitasking has become the norm among those who own a device and watch television. For example, nearly half of all tablet owners say they use their tablets while watching TV at least half the time. “This phenomenon will continue to grow at an impressive pace,” according to Rich Ehrman, Magid’s managing director.

Rather than a distraction, though, immense marketing opportunities are at hand due to the second screen’s interactive capability. “Thanks to the second-screen phenomenon, more than 80 percent of TV viewers have a response device in hand while watching television,” added Ehrman, who sees the benefit of the ever-increasing ability for a viewer to make an instant phone or Internet connection to order a product or service at the press of a button. Marketers are well-braced to leverage this behavior in a way that measurably impacts cost per order.

Companies such as Shazam, Viggle, Zeebox, and GetGlue are invading the second-screen space by producing apps to help marketers deliver offers and orders to second-screen TV viewers everywhere. According to Magid’s research, of all the advertising platforms, the second screen is likely to have the greatest impact on the TV lead-/order-generation segment. Inreturn for their second-screen efforts, marketers can transform their 30-second brand spots into direct response advertising and effectively extend their direct response television (DRTV) media into prime time.

We always ask our clients: “How will your DRTV advertising campaign harness this power in a way that positively impacts your campaign’s bottom line?” The answer can be found in combining the clout of targeted and measurable direct-response lead generation with the mass reach of prime-time brand advertising. Through ACR (automatic content recognition), for example, a viewer can not only sync a second screen to a TV commercial, but can also sync it to a sponsor’s Web site, thus enabling the ability to make those “one-click connections” to a phone center, a direct purchase, or telescope into more information.

Marion Guthrie, president of Gut3Marketing in Philadelphia, said the interconnection of DRTV and the second screen is obvious based on the fact that “consumers no longer have to get up off the sofa and walk into the kitchen to make a call anymore.”

Guthrie, in fact, is one of those consumers. After seeing a commercial for a recent Walt Disney nature movie, she decided to take her grandson to see that film. Without getting off the couch, she used her mobile phone to search for the Twitter hashtag advertised within the commercial to find local movie theatre show times. “It was a pretty simple and fast process,” Guthrie said, “and it just goes to show how seamlessly the second screen can be integrated into an advertising campaign.” To marketers looking to leverage the second-screen phenomenon, the key is to put yourself in consumers’ shoes and envision what they want and need from an interactive advertising experience. From there, focus on how to integrate ad messages into your customers’ lives across these new platforms.

Remember to always use the second screen as an educational tool versus an invasive one. And always give customers a way to respond. Otherwise you’re just wasting your money.



Who uses the Yellow Pages anymore?

In the last lecture, there was a slide which said that 23% of survey respondents listed print yellow pages as their primary source of local business information in 2010.  Although this was only 2 slides out of the entire class, it definitely caught my attention.  23% is no longer the highest figure (that distinction goes to search engines at 33%) but it is still in the top 3.  I wanted to do a bit of research on the scenarios in which it would make sense for a business to continue to advertise in the print yellow pages.

Most of the articles that I found were written for small business owners.  Here are a few of the justifications for continuing to advertise in the print yellow pages, even as online searches continue to gain market share:

1. To reach older customers.  This segment is used to the print version of the yellow pages, and may not have adopted a smartphone.

2. To reach customers in smaller metropolitan areas and towns, or in rural areas.  Less competition means smaller books, which means that ads placed can more easily lead to sales.

3. To reach lower income customers who may not have regular access to the interent/online search.

4. If you are trying to reach a specialty market.  Directories such as the Korean Yellow Pages serve a specialized consumer segment, and advertising in this type of directory can lend legitimacy and make it easier for customers to find you.

Overall, it seems like the print version of the yellow pages does not have long to live. However, until the US has widespread internet access that pushes the majority of the population on to the mobile and/or desktop online search, print ads in directories such as the yellow pages will continue to be important.  They should obviously be a part of a marketing campaign that includes both online and print, as print alone will not allow a business to reach a large part of any market.


ROI on Social Media?

Measuring ROI for social media marketing is extremely difficult. Do you count Twitter followers or Facebook friends? Do you analyze retweets and likes? Do any of these statistics mean actual sales?

As we discussed in class, a key to developing metrics around social media is setting clear goals. Companies with specific campaign goals are better able to measure the return on their social media spend.

Psoshul created an infographic with examples of 10 companies that set clear campaign goals and successfully measured the effectiveness of their social media marketing.

A few examples:

Coffee Groundz
Goal: Use Twitter to increase direct ordering between company and customers.
ROI: 20%-30% increase in company sales and market share via Twitter.

Jimmy Choo
Goal: Use Twitter to geo-locate and feature upscale stores where their sneakers are available, more precisely targeting potential customers.
ROI: 40% increase in positive tweets about the brand and 33% increase in sneaker sales.

After Steaz - Organic Tea
Goal: Increase sales through coupons downloaded and shared on Facebook and Twitter.
ROI: 250,000 coupons downloaded and 2,830 tweets recorded an hour.



Google's Cookies Impact on Marketing

Some days ago Google announced that it would re-evaluate the way it tracked user online.  The company has traditionally used "cookies" or small files stored on a user's computer that hold data web servers can access to deliver tailored content to that individual. Now that Google, the largest source for online searches and advertisements, is changing its data gathering model, many markets are on edge about the future. 

Google promotes itself as a company that puts the online user first in much of their decision making and a move like this one could be viewed as a measure to protect user privacy.  The battle for the most accurate customer information and protecting users privacy has long been at the forefront of conversations and business decisions like these. Marketers could fear a raise in advertising spending with a shift to anonymous online tracking.  one potential concern for the consumer would be the potential for receiving unwanted ads that don't add much relevance to their life. In making decisions that have grand impacts companies and consumers, Google is a company that effects so many elements of our daily lives and in many ways our future.


Google's Hummingbird

According to Amit Singhal, Senior VP at Google, Google's new search algorithm, titled "Hummingbird", has been in place for approximately a month.  Hummingbird affects approximately 90% of all searches.  According to the article, "The new algorithm is meant to keep up with longer, more advanced search queries that come through Google."  As discussed in class, search is primarily based on keywords and the relevance of of those keywords to the search performed by the user.  Google's search algorithm redesign moves beyond simple keywords to work with more user-friendly queries (accommodating question-based queries which come more naturally to users" such as "Tell me about Impressionist artists".  This is similar to in the sense that Hummingbird is an attempt to provide results that are more relevant to questions asked rather than a string of keywords that a user may enter.

Another interesting change that Google has made--an attempt to address the growing voice search market--is advanced voice queries.  Users have increasingly relied on voice queries (i.e. Siri) for its convenience and Google looks to take voice queries a step further.  Users receive voice responses and can ask multiple questions regarding their topic of interest and Google search will remember the context so that the user does not have to constantly re-ask. 

Both Hummingbird and voice queries seek to make users' lives easier by adjusting to users' natural behaviors offline.  Thus, instead of users having to structure search queries to accommodate how Google search "thinks", Google search is now adapting to the user.

Original Source:

Josh Elman, a partner at Greylock capital, recently wrote an article on TechCrunch about the impact of 'gesture technology' on how we use IT today, labelling the current generation 'generation touch':
He gave several examples such as how when using Tinder you swipe on someone when you want to connect with them, so you have subconciously already interacted with that person by touching their face. There are many other examples in all new programs being created each day. I can't wait to see the implication of this in the digital advertising world.

I will never forget seeing a mango vendor in a developing make a sale. A young tourist walked up and asked how much a mango cost. The mango vendor immediately put 2 bags of mangoes in her hands at which point they started to discuss the price. The vendor knew that once the tourist had physically committed by holding the mangoes, he had a much larger chance of making a sale.

I wonder how long it will be before digital advertisers can crack the code of triggering the same psychological response by making people 'physically comit' through touch technology. I am sure at some stage ads will allow you to be able to 'pick up' your clothes with a touch on the iphone screen and try it on your body measurements, without ever having to leave the google search page, but will this translate to the same uptick in conversion rates that you see in a department store when people start trying on clothes? I am sure at some point we will reach this point, but I think we still have a long way to go and for the moment we will have to put up with Warby Parker's clumsy "try on these glasses" software.


Lessons from how Amazon has approached digital marketing & sales using social media

I thought it would be interesting to look at how a leading online brand, Amazon, has approached the use of social media for digital marketing and selling purposes.  I decided to focus specifically on social media given these facts:
  • Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online is spent on social media (ComScore, ‘The State of Social Media’ February 2012);
  • Over half of consumer-facing Fortune 500 companies are ‘socially shy’ and do not provide a twitter handle or link to their facebook page from their company website contact page (Genesys, August 2012);
  • Tech tracking firms decry the value of social networks to drive actual sales: for all the time spent on their sites, facebook and Twitter are estimated to have driven only 0.53% of all US online sales on Black Friday in 2011 (IBM/ Coremetrics). has an interesting track record in its engagement with social media. It was an early pioneer of social networking in the 1990s by its practice of encouraging users to share book reviews. But after this progressive start, it lagged behind in the adoption of emerging social media technologies and failed to embrace facebook or Twitter when they first appeared.

In 2010, everything changed.

Amazon integrated its site with facebook to create what it calls the ‘Amazon/facebook shopping experience.’ This integration application allows users to see a list of their friends’ birthdays and interests, along with suggestions for gifts from Amazon. Users are also offered Amazon’s ‘Gold Box’ daily deals, which offer a limited number of discounts on a first-buy basis. The same year, Amazon also released an application for its Kindle that integrated social media into book readings, allowing users to share book passages with followers on facebook or Twitter.

A few statistics show the impact these ventures into social media have had:
  • Amazon’s Facebook page attracted more than 2.12 million fans in its first 15 months and now stands at somewhere around 2.5 million users;
  • Amazon’s Facebook page has now passed 20 million ‘likes’;
  • Amazon’s Twitter account attracted 401,253 followers in its first year, with the total today standing at 603,556.

A differentiator for Amazon’s adoption of social media is its strong focus on getting users to buy, rather than just ‘follow’. As an example, in the lead-up to the US ‘Black Friday,’ Amazon posted messages on its Facebook and Twitter pages urging followers to tell friends about special holiday deals. Statistics for the success of transitioning customers from more passive ‘following’ to buying are rare but a 2011 JP Morgan report assessed that ‘referral traffic’ in October 2010 from Amazon’s Facebook page to its ecommerce site was up by 7.7%. Given the ease of one-click shopping and its strong conversion record, Amazon is believed to enjoy sell rates way about the average for social media.

The lesson? It may have taken its time to launch on social media platforms, but Amazon’s strength in consumer management and platform integration has given it a real edge in turning social media into an effective marketing and up-selling platform.


The operating system iOS 7 affects health in negative way

Users of the new operating system for mobile devices iOS 7 complain of headaches, muscle aches and dizziness. According to them the cause is new animation of the screen. The Apple forum was rained by negative users’ reviews.

Users working with tablets of phones equipped with iOS 7 after some time began to feel themself badly. They were irritated by sounds of notifications reports. More other, even the slightest inclination of the gadget with iOS 7 causes wallpaper change every time. Separate line of discussion was devoted to that problem in the Apple forum.

iOS 7, released September 18, 2013, looks different from previous versions of the operating systems – with  more subtle type, flat icons and animations when opening or closing applications, folders and menu.