Posts filed under ‘Channel’

The long tail: digital myth or not?

The “long tail” has been a theory accepted as fact in the digital community. It described and explained what we believed in so well, and it all makes sense. In fact, to some of us it was a source of credibility for whatever it was we’re doing, selling, or referring to: the power of the individual, individual experiences, tailored and customized offerings in a distributed and digital world that makes all of that possible.

Now, some people are rocking the boat and saying that it was all a hoax. Not a surprise, really. Every theory has a counter-theory. Surprising is that it took this long.

Found on Alan’s friendfeed


July 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Neuroscience in Retail

A while back, I posted something on something on doing consumer research with MRIs. I just found this video on Neuroscience in Retail. Looks like it’s more of a protypical research method at this stage?

June 17, 2008 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Facebook “Social Advertising” plans already generating backlash responses

It’s not surprising that right after Facebook announced that they would open up Facebook to more to advertising, taking advantage of the referral-based nature of the web, true web freaks are responding harshly.

To me, “Social Advertising” is an oxymoron at best.

If Advertisers can’t change their mindsets from mass media messaging to conversations, including their brand management and marketing process, they will never be able to join social networks with a meaningful conversation with their customers.

It’s time to realize that within the Customer Life Cycle, generating Awareness is more an more something people do among each other and by themselves. It works  not because, but despite all the mass media advertising out there. Advertisers so far are just reducing brand intimacy by trying to join the fray with their mindsets unchanged. And yes, Facebook is risking losing its credibility to its users, too.

What marketers should worry about way more, is to invest time in understanding human behavior, improve their products and start owning the brand experience people have with their products. If you provide meaningful experiences people will do the advertising for you. Duh.

November 8, 2007 at 3:03 pm 2 comments

The case for Experience Research.

As someone in the line of experience planning, I know how, over the years, hard it has always been to convince companies to pay a little more to learn more about their customers. Even if you get them to pay for research, it is usually limited to research on perceptions and messaging in line with traditional market and consumer research methods, while the methods of user or shopper research such as shadowing, task analysis, user testing, etc have been even harder to sell.

Most of these insight generating practices aren’t even that expensive and bring truck-loads of new insights you wouldn’t have even imagined when you designed your product or service. In the end, this saves a lot of money when you market a product that has usability faults, or when your marketing does not conquer the “last stretch” into the customer’s life-style.

In my opinion, marketing can’t be about awareness and campaign-thinking only. In order to build long-lasting repeated product usage, you need to invest in this type of stategic planning. After all, the product or service your customer buys stays with them longer and/or has a more immediate effect on their opinion of your brand than the advertising you do. It is certainly as, if not more, important than to pretest your print ad on whether that caucasian male in the key visual looks urban enough to the target audience.

Maybe because some of the methodologies come out of software engineering and user experience design, brand and marketing clients have been slow to pick up. However, as the success of brands depends more and more on how relevant they communicate in the context of the touchpoints of today’s empowered digital customer, it’s a good idea to ask your agency whether or not they have capabilities in this line of research, regardless of how digital your product or service is.

It’s good to hear that some companies do invest in this sort of research and allow the customer help build their business. After all, it the an effective way to help brands communicate in a relevant fashion.

July 22, 2007 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

The Problem with Viral Marketing (Part II)

Just recently I posted something on the problem of viral marketing, naming some of the reasons why it doesn’t always work. Just days later I found an article on Adage about an Math Professor explaining it his way, rooted in a much more fundamental theory that some of the readily-accepted theories like “tipping points”, “social network media” and “influencers” may actually not be all that true.

One really interesting point he is making is that it’s not just that you need a viral idea, you need to seed it where you get contagion. So in a way, what planning can do, if anything, is find some potentially advantageous contagion parameters and that, actually, specificity of the target and choosing influencers over “normal” people to spread the idea aren’t necessarily the ones who make a viral idea contagious. As the article states, “sounds a lot like mass communication, doesn’t it?”.

Not only does this fly in the face of Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping point theory, and the hype of social network’s importance for viral ideas, it also says you can’t actually expect an agency to come up with a viral idea that works, except to see if it maybe will work. AND, it also insinuates that the whole discipline and task of marketing in itself, which is dependent on strategies derived from tested insight, does not apply here.

I am totally torn on whether to say: “Duh” or “Wow.” All I can say is: thank god to the math whizzes for providing a contradictory insight that helps us question how we accept theories and let us fine-tune our process to get a more successful communication outcome.

July 18, 2007 at 11:52 pm 2 comments

More news about the death of the 30 second spot

Based on Tivo Stopwatch, a research tool which tracks how TV viewers forward through advertising, some new insights have been generated. Used by Publicis’ Starcom, second-by-second analysis of viewer behavior is being made available to advertisers.

The finding? The commercials least forwarded aren’t the award winning creative ones but the “boring” salesy ones: Direct response ads.

I guess everyone had better brush up on their sales pitch tonalities and get with the program.

Anyhow, the more positive way to describe it is that communications needs to be more and more geared to specific needs that consumers have instead of bombarding them with context-insensitive, over-emotionalized and unauthentic brand messaging. For me that does not mean being more salesy and less creative. It means adapting to market needs. After all, communication ideas are just a product too, so agencies should heed the new needs of the consumer, also when it comes to how he/she wants to be communicated with.

Read the article here: 


July 17, 2007 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

How not to build a brand community site

Patron Tequila (a Tequila I actually really prefer over any other) just launched their Social Club site. While the idea is nice, and fits the brand, it’s missing out on its true potential.

This is just one example of many. What are some of the issues?

  1. Lack of credibility
    • It’s hard to build community sites for brands and stay credible especially for FMCG brands. The attachment to the product doesn’t usually warrant participation in a community for just that one product, unless there is another overaching idea attached to it. For example, I might be in the target and also really like knowing about the latest drinks. If so, why would I not go to a site that shows interactive drink recipes, instead of just getting the company’s product recipes? A coop with a known recipe site that fits the brand attributes might have worked better.
  2. Lack of benefits
    • If you can’t or won’t be product centric, you have to offer other benefits to give consumers a reason to believe in the website, like promotions and give-ways. Simply replicating community tools from other non-brand communities that are then limited to this one brand community won’t cut it, unless the product has such a loyal customer base and a product that deserves explanation, e.g. car community sites. A tequila is a tequila. What else is there to say? If you can’t tell a story, then don’t tell anything at all. Another example of where no functional benefits where given is the Stella Artois site. Does it matter? No. It tells a fun story where you can interact and learn about the brand by learning how to pour a beer correctly in a Belgian bar with a grumpy bartender. But you better have that story. And it better be interactive.
    • So, you could be life-style centric: yep, and that’s what Patron tried to do. The thing is, if you want to get lifestyle information, we all know about a dozen local and national community platforms that are connected through APIs to other sites like youtube, google maps, and flickr, giving me real social web and local information that have more user-generated content and lifestyle information than a company website with a couple posts. Telling people to post only works if you communicate a benefit and if you make the posts publically accessible and allow a free sharing of the information. Inclusion of completely standard blog functions such as bookmarking, ping backs, and commenting would have helped.
  3. Censorship
    • The absolute no-no! The brand asks for your opinion and then censors your posts? Bad idea. If your brand isn’t ready for the prosumer who helps shape your brand because of corporate or marketing guidelines, don’t try to build a community website with user generated content. It just doesn’t make sense. You will find the guys you censor now on your “community” website on other open communities dissing you brand. And if you’re Agency tasked with this project, don’t try to convince your client it’s a good idea, if the brand isn’t ready. Come up with something else.

July 9, 2007 at 6:28 pm 4 comments

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