The end of advertising as we know it?

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I guess this is “old news,” as the data I’m about to share comes from a 2007 IBM Global Business Services study (aptly titled “The end of advertising as we know it”)—but perhaps that makes it even more compelling. Here goes:

71% of the 2400 consumers surveyed across five countries said they spend >2 hours/day on the Internet—not including work-related activities. In other words, almost 3/4 of this global sample spends several hours DAILY of their precious leisure-time online. [side note: do any of these people have children? Because if they do, what business do they have with 2 whole hours of daily leisure time?! I don’t get it.]

Meanwhile, 48% of the folks surveyed said they spend >2 hours/day watching TV.

In 2009, I’d bet my britches that the gap between those numbers has only grown larger with web use (fueled by time-intensive destinations like Facebook, YouTube, MMOs, virtual worlds, etc.), iPhone apps, on-demand TV, TiVo, DVR… and more(!) encroaching at a relentless pace on the Grandaddy of all advertising mediums.

The question is, as a brand, agency, or marketing professional… what are you doing about it?

Three heads in the sand

The “pretend it’s not happening” approach, while popular, is ill-advised. The music industry tried it a few years back when digital music first appeared on the scene. Now they’re hemorrhaging money and market share and being outsmarted by downstream vendors who responded to the shift toward digital.

[sigh]

Please don’t follow in doomed footsteps.

Even if I’m totally wrong about the increased gap (and we all know, the Genius is rarelyif ever—wrong), you can’t hide from the fact that you’ve still got a few disruptive forces that aint going nowhere, notime soon. Namely:

1. Consumers want control.
And not just of what they watch but how they watch it—and interact with it—as well as how they filter what they view, including ads.

And young people? They’re not having any of the “I WILL YELL LOUDLY AT YOU TILL YOU BUY SOMETHING” strategy of old. By next year, young Americans will outnumber Baby Boomers and make the shift toward digital (which they were BORN using, wanting, understanding, and expecting) a fait accompli.

I do hope you’re ready.

2. “Impact” is the new “Reach”.
Admit it. You’ve grown used to a world where “Reach” was the Holy Grail of marketing. For years, it’s been all about “impressions”, the idea being that the more eyeballs you snared, the more sales would result.

Now that the drugs have worn off, many marketers are dealing with a nasty hangover called “REALITY”. Just because you show up at a party looking wicked hot and flirt with EVERY guy, doesn’t mean you’ll go home with a ring on your finger. Get my drift? Same logic applies to the “spray and pray” philosophy of Old Marketing.

The party is over, folks. And the rulers (those funny things you measure stuff with) have come out.

Well… maybe not rulers per se. We’re all still trying to wrestle that nasty Metrics Monster to the ground. Oddly, I think he likes the wrestling and is growing fond of a good Full Nelson. [Dear God, it’s the drugs talking again…!]

Ahem.

Fact: Virtually all of us are enduring the joys of recession-mandated “rectal exams” in the form of account reviews, lowered credit limits, tighter budgets, and greater demand for true ROI. Impressions, clicks, even those new-fangled “engagement” metrics aren’t cutting it. The question is how did those impressions, clicks, and “engaged” consumers translate into increased brand awareness, positive word-of-mouth/mouse, and purchases downstream? If you haven’t figured out how to measure that yet, you’d better hop to it. Quick.

2/3 of the advertising executives IBM polled expect 20% of advertising revenue to shift from impression-based to impact-based formats within three years.

Yep. P.S. that research was published 2 years ago.

And last but not least,
3. The Consumer is also the Creator.
Thanks to technology, consumers have been empowered not just to choose their own destiny—but to create it. In the same way that we’ve seen the rise of “Reality TV” over the past several years, so User Generated Content is becoming The Dominant Force online. IBM’s previously referenced survey, for example, already showed in 2007 that UGC sites are the top destination for viewing online video content.

Look out, Mad Ave!

Which leads me back to my earlier question: Time’s are changin’. The masses are moving from one screen to another… to many. As a brand, agency, or marketing professional… what are you doing about it?

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iPhone app-a-palooza

If I didn’t love my iPhone so much, I would probably find all this brew-ha-ha around the unprecedented success of the iTunes App Store a tad annoying.

But I do love my iPhone.

And I’m a big fan of the apps we’ve created here at Viximo, particularly TrueFlirt.

And you can’t disagree with the numbers:

  • 17 million iPhones sold
  • 500 million apps downloaded (SINCE JULY!)
  • $1 Million/day in iPhone app sales
  • 93% of iPhone users have used the App Store
  • 3/4 have 5 or more apps on their device

To quote Jim Goldman of CNBC:

“The potential of this store seems enormous, and its success seems to be gaining momentum far more quickly than even the most optimistic analysts out there projected.”

As a marketer, I think these numbers are pretty damn compelling. As a Genius, I think there’s a massive opportunity for brands to reach a highly desirable market segment (think young, rich, and tech-savvy!)—and keep them engaged on a device that is personal, novel, ubiquitous, and downright sexy.

And lest you think that branded iPhone apps are merely a flashy new “branding gimmick,” consider that said gimmick is being broadcast on a device where shopping and sharing are literally a click away.

Want to hear more? Check this out:

Those of you smart enough to want a closer look at this opportunity, check out VixML.com. Believe it or not, we’re actually GIVING AWAY access to the iPhone content authoring tool that TechCrunch calls “revolutionary”.

Of course, if you’d rather have us build you an app, we can do that, too. Either way, I suggest you get off your keister and start thinking about how NOT to let this goldmine pass you by.

“Do 39% of Internet users REALLY subscribe to RSS feeds?” and other social media marketing myths dispelled

Today is the last official date for voting in the “World’s Best Presentation Contest” on SlideShare. (Speaking of which… if you haven’t yet voted for “What the F**K is Social Media?!”, DO IT NOW!!!)

Shameless self-promotion aside (but only for a minute), I thought this was a good time to address some of the questions and understandable skepticism that emerged in response to the not-so-subtle messages in said presentation.

So—let’s separate fact from fiction (or at least fact from hyperbole), shall we?

The first batch of “that can’t be right” criticism (and downright bitch-i-tude—you know who you are) was doled out in response to the following statements (from slides 11-16):

  • 73% of active online users have read a blog
  • 45% have started their own blog
  • 39% subscribe to an RSS feeds
  • 57% have joined a social network
  • 55% have uploaded photos
  • 83% have watched video clips

And now, for the shocking truth:
The Genius herself was more than a bit surprised by these numbers. You might even say they were the inspiration for the big ole “F**K!” that became the content of slide 46.

But the fact is, I didn’t pull them out of my cute little ass… they actually came from Universal McCann’s Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008, and they’re based on a series of surveys they conducted with over 17,000 respondents across 29 countries.

In Universal McCann’s own words:

“All surveys are self completion and the data collected is entirely quantitative. Every market is representative of the 16-54 Active Internet Universe. In this Wave 17,000 internet users in 29 countries were interviewed. To be included you need to be using the internet everyday or every other day.”

So, there!

The next pile of skeptical poo was flung at these juicy tidbits:

  • Only 18% of TV ad campaigns generate positive ROI
  • 90% of people who can skip TV ads, do.
  • Only 14% of people trust advertisements

And did these little beauties come from betwixt my perfectly peach-shaped buns?

Again—NO.

They came from a useful little book called Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution by Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden (buy a copy here).

Just for giggles, take a look at some of the other painfully compelling data you’ll find within its pages:

  • Average return in sales for every $1 spent on advertising: 54 cents!!!
  • The increase in TV advertising costs (CPM) in the past decade: 256%
  • Proportion of B2B marketing campaigns resulting in falling sales: 84%
  • The increase needed in advertising spend to add 1-2% in sales: 100%

Say it with me now: YIKES!!!!!!!!!!

Last but not least, a few people got their panties all in a bunch about the use of http://www.mystarbucksidea.com and the apparent lack of “real” case studies or ROI data.

[Here’s me rolling my eyes]

So, fine, I’ll satisfy your incessant and moderately annoying need for numbers by providing you with a few details on NikePlus.com (others to follow in future posts—maybe). If you want to learn more NOW, you’ll just have to hire me or invite me to speak at your next event.

Here goes:

The Genius Behind NikePlus.com!

Nike’s social media play did two things that most brands fall shamefully short on:

    1) They created a playground for anyone passionate about the activity enabled by the product (whether they owned Nike products or not)
    2) They enabled relationship-building with consumers who do own their product(s) that goes way beyond the initial purchase.

And here’s how they did it….

First, the smart folks at Nike recognized 3 simple things about their target audience:

    1. People who love to run, love to listen to music while running
    2. People who love to listen to music while running typically use an iPod to do so
    3. People who love to run like to measure and track their distance/time

Next, the smart folks at Nike created an online experience that caters directly to these three user objectives. They partnered with Apple to bring iTunes into the mix, offering celebrity running mixes (and a whole lot more), and developed products and online tools (like the ability to track runs, challenge other runners in the community, and engage in competitive events locally) that supported and enhanced the offline experience.

Since its launch in May 2006, the NikePlus.com community has not only grown but THRIVED, earning the brand a much-deserved Cannes Lions 2007 award and lots of positive press.

“But what about numbers? Where’s the ROI? WHERE’S THE BEEF?!”

Feast your eyes on this, my friends! As of February, 2008, Nike+ members have:

• Run over 50,000,000 miles
• Logged over 14,000,000 runs
• Issued over 450,000 challenges
• Created “the world’s largest running club” with >75,000,000 members!!!!!!

And here’s the crown jewel:

  • 40% of community members who didn’t own Nike+ ended up BUYING!
  • 94% of consumers agreed to recommend NikePlus.com to a friend

When was the last time your marketing campaign yielded a 40% conversion-to-sales ratio?

I rest my case.

Now, if you STILL haven’t done so, it’s time to go ahead and vote for the Genius’ presentation here.

Resume 2.0

Although the so-called “Social Media Press Release” (pioneered by my pals at SHIFT Communications) has received [arguably] equal doses of praise and criticism, the Genius, whose word is Gospel!—at least on this blog—has this to say about it:

PURE. UNADULTERATED. GENIUS.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Social Media Release debate, Brian Solis does an excellent job of recapping the evolution and arguments both for and against the SMR. Most of the arguments against, I’d like to point out, smack of a common syndrome I like to call “I-fear-change!”

The problem, my pretties, is that change is a-comin’. In PR, in marketing, and in media at large. And whether you get on the train now or spend the next decade chasing (or throwing stones at) it, it’s leaving the station—with or without you.

The Genius, of course, is not a PR professional, so my interest in SMR is perhaps conceptual—i.e., what value does it have for my clients? For my company? For my career? (Me, me, me!) And the short answer to all those is questions is: PLENTY.

For example: consider applying its principles—or those of the Social Media Newsroom (another SHIFT contribution)—to your resume. What if instead of keeping your entire professional history in a Word doc that you update only when you absolutely have to, you created a Social Media Resume that highlights your experience and interests, provides links to your various online profiles, invites comments, aggregates news, builds “link love”—and (if done well), becomes a virtual vacuum of career advancement opportunities? Heck, even if a social media resume doesn’t open the flood gates to opportunity, at the very least, it will save a few trees and eliminate the need to send monster-truck-sized attachments to prospective employers. And, for the time being at least, it will set you apart from the pack by [at the very least] highlighting your working knowledge of social media tools.

Think about it.

As a Genius who endeavors to practice what she preaches, I decided to do a little experimenting with the idea of a social media resume myself. First, I dug around to see if there were any good examples already out there (the Genius doesn’t like cliches, but will use one just this once: “Why reinvent the wheel?”). I found Chris Penn’s landmark example and the ubiquitous Bryan Person’s famous “Die, Resume! Die! Die! Die!” blog post (which, conveniently, included his own example and ‘how to’). There’s Rohit Bhargava’s social media bio and Matt Dickman’s social-media-enriched ‘traditional’ resume.

Armed with a satisfying portion of good ideas, I set to work on a first draft of my very own social media resume, cherry-picking among the infinite options, and surrendering to the idea that, like all things digital, it will always be a work-in-progress.

For those of you who believe that following in the Genius’ footsteps might result in a little genius rubbing up against rubbing off on you (Pervert!), here my recipe:

  1. Create a WordPress account.
  2. Buy your domain name (if you don’t own http://www.YourName.com yet, first, slap yourself upside the head, then DO SOMETHING about it, puh-lease!)
  3. Write a short “About me” intro. This is in effect your ‘cover letter’ or ‘executive summary’. That doesn’t mean it should be boring or lame.
  4. Add all of your contact info, links to all of your social media profiles (I added LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, & Slideshare—for now).
  5. Add links to your blog(s) and any work samples readily available online. If your work samples aren’t yet online, consider posting them on Scribd.com, Slideshare.net or similar service.
  6. Add a link to your traditional resume, so that folks that insist on killing trees can do so at their convenience.
  7. Add a feed to your purpose-built del.icio.us links.
  8. Consider adding any of the following: headshot, intro audio or video, your speaking/travel calendar, any rich media you’ve created (podcasts, videos, etc.), recommendations/rave reviews.
  9. Turn commenting ON. This is a 2-way dialogue, remember?
  10. Make it easy as possible for folks to reach you, blog about you, hire you, link to you, and so on.

For those of you wondering why it’s not enough to have a complete LinkedIn profile, I say—that’s a really good start. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, well… do not pass Go, do not collect $200… go directly to LinkedIn.com and start there.

But for those of you looking for an ‘edge’ or simply sharing Bryan’s “Resume, Die!” sentiment, this new approach just may be the ticket.

A double dose of Genius

While the term “Web 2.0” has become rather cliche, it’s ugly step-children, Marketing 2.0, PR 2.0, Branding 2.0, Advertising 2.0, and (Dear God) Business 2.0 are just beginning to see their days in the sun.

Unfortunately, there’s a gigantic gap between coining a term and embodying it—and thus we hear a lot of talk and see very few results on any of the above fronts (though the Genius does her best to chronicle those rare gems that do).

Today’s Bonafide Genius Awards go—for better or worse—to two shining examples in the “talk” category. (It seems my search for examples of “results” this week has been fruitless.) Clever, pointed, entertaining, and spot-on in their articulation of the industry cross-roads that smart marketing pros are responding to, they’re shining examples of how dull, cliche terms get a new shine when someone puts a little Genius into their message.

Congrats to Openhere for The Break Up and Paul Isakson of space150 for What’s Next in Marketing & Advertising.

Advertising 2.0 Genius (a.k.a. “The Break-Up”)

Marketing 2.0 Strategy (a.k.a. “What’s Next in Marketing & Advertising”)

P.S. A good number of you (the smarter ones, that is) have already seen these, but for the rest of you… watch and learn.

Why Big Pharma is Smarter Than You… And Other Thanksgiving Musings

It’s hard to be a genius when you’re surrounded by family. And numbed by food. And liquor.

Yet in spite of these challenges, I managed to elevate my thinking to at least curb-level for the average Joe or Jane. And here’s where that thinking landed (random but brilliant, as you’ll soon see):

1. Pharmaceutical companies have us by the balls.

Why? Because they know exactly where we’re weak. Where we FEEL. And they feel no shame, no restraint when it comes to poking us there.

Depressed? Our pill will drag you out of a suicidal stupor!

Impotent? Our pill will resurrect your love life and repair your self-esteem!

Fat? No problem! Our happy little pill will melt away the pounds and ensure you’ll be the envy of all your “friends” at the upcoming class reunion!

Dying of cancer? We can make that better, too! Uh… somehow.

Seriously, folks. If you’re looking for the secret to effective marketing, look no further than Big Pharma. They’re selling us a fairy tale of happiness and perfection like we haven’t seen since Barbie and Ken built their Malibu beach house… and we’re buying it to the tune of $350 billion per year.

You want a benchmark for good marketing? Benchmark Viagra, baby.

2. Smart companies are thinking “lifestyle” not “brand”.

Let’s face it: most companies are obsessed with the concept of “building or extending their brand.” It’s all about domination. Bigger, better faster… or all of the above. The problem with that is that nobody—but the company—really gives a hoot about the brand. Unless of course it enhances your personal sense of self-worth to have said brand plastered alongside your sunglasses (or your tshirt or car or other unmentionable).

The brands that have shifted their thinking toward the concept of “lifestyle” are, meanwhile, quietly winning the race. Which is why I think that ultimately, privacy issues will lose to the subtle and clever juggernaut that is otherwise known as “behavioral targeting”.

Takeaway message: Stop focusing on your brand, your product, or how miraculously cool and unique you are. Figure out what blood-curdling problem your product/service solves and describe that in the context of the torturously boring, frustrating, and otherwise unsatisfying lives that most people lead these days. Show us how it will TURN OUR LIVES AROUND!!! HALLELUJAH!!!

If you think I’m kidding, think again. And take a quick peek at the highly-profitable business of evangelical preaching, for further evidence.

3. CEOs, even the smartest and most successful of them, still share the same Achilles heel: believing that their uber-unique product can and will be all things to all people.

“No need to do market research or focus on a specific market segment: This widget is for E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y!!!”

Christ, if I had a penny for every time I heard the head of a company—large or small, young or mature—make that claim (implied or otherwise), I’d be a gazillionaire. Everybody thinks their brilliant idea will cure cancer, solve world hunger, and make them the object of Angelina Jolie’s (or Brad Pitt’s) desire.

And monkeys are flying out of my butt in big droves right this very minute.

Seriously, folks: if you want to blow a whole lot of money really friggin’ fast, then please, don’t stop for a second to think about your market or define it with any specificity. Launch a balls-out half-assed, totally generic marketing campaign that touts the wonders of your miracle product! Send your sales people on a wild goose-chase of “landing any account with a heartbeat and a bank account” and wrap yourself in the warm embrace of Denial, Ignorance, and Downright Stupidity!

Yeehah!

This kind of thinking, by the way, is what keeps me gainfully employed and my services in CONSTANT demand! So please… don’t stop!

4. Accept the fact that the way you do anything is the way you do everything:
Half-assed or balls-out. Strategic or reactive. Creative or cliché. Know your strengths and cater to them. NOURISH THEM. Know your weaknesses too, and deal with them.

And for God’s sake, don’t be a lemming… Rise above the temptation to follow the heard and blaze your OWN trail this season—and the next. Trust me when I tell you that the worst thing that can happen to you isn’t a bad sales quarter: it’s having to hire me to help you out of the grave you just dug for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Conscious consumerism + good creative = RIGHT ON!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed at least some of the buzz about corporate social responsibility and the growing trend toward buying from companies that reflect an individual’s values. Just the other day, BBMG published a report that states nearly nine in ten Americans believe the “conscious consumer” label applies to them.

Side note: The Genius disagrees. You have to have a brain to be conscious. Most of you lemmings don’t have one. Or at least you don’t USE it much.

So I felt particularly giddy this morning when I cast my eyes on the latest ad campaign for CREDO Mobile, a socially-responsible outfit that lives under the Working Assets umbrella and donates 1% of “your charges” (whatever that means) to progressive nonprofit groups.

The cleverly named “Say Much More” campaign launched last week in two markets, Seattle and San Francisco, and combines a nice mix of print, outdoor and online ads, running on Ideal Bite, Huffington Post, Evite.com and [hey, let’s see if we can piss off a few conservatives! why not?!] Weather.com. The ads, which look like a text-message-gone-wrong, juxtapose common mobile-friendly quips with provocative political/social statements, inviting the reader to [what else?] “say much more.”

The Genius approves! Yes, folks, for a change, Madison Ave has produced something compelling, emotive, personal, meaningful, and simple—all wrapped into one neat little package. See it and weep!

Incidentally, the creative for this campaign was done by SS+K, who get double points for their cleverosity (Geniuses can make up words whenever they wish! So, zip it!) because of this: a guerrilla marketing effort that marries the use of their product with an entertaining spin on some controversial/sensitive social issues.

Here’s the 411:

As part of the campaign, Credo is producing political street theater in select cities using projected cartoon images on the sides of buildings drawn by political satirist Tom Tomorrow. Images of people such as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are shown next to blank dialogue boxes. Passersby can use their mobile phones to text in what they think the characters should say and then the words appear as part of the images.

“The concept of [the projection] was about how the Credo phone is not an everyday tool but a tool for change. In launch areas we wanted to target social media, beyond the everyday voice,” said Alice Ann Wilson, design director, SS+K. “This is voice that contributes to larger issues. The text projection creates a sense of community where everyone can use their phone to actively engage in the brand.”

Love it!!! I may be an acrid-tongued genius, but I’m also a sucker for really good creative. Particularly when it’s inspiring, clever, and… uh… reflects my personal values. If that makes me a “conscious consumer,” so be it. Consciousness is one [and perhaps the only] trend this genius is willing to yield to.