Thursday, February 26, 2009

Viral Videos, Are Those Things Still Around?

Yes, most people in marketing or advertising hate saying the word "viral". Mainly because it was so utterly overused 2 or 3 years ago, no one can casually grab a cookie around the boardroom table and ask "how's this going to go viral?" - without most people rolling their eyes.

Still, it is an incredibly powerful tool and should be a part of most content deployment strategies. I like to look at Viral Video Chart to get a feel for what is gaining tracking in the video space. Run by Unruly Media (a social web video company), it looks at the top 20 videos over the last 24 hours, 7, 30 and 365 days.

The great thing to take away is not just what videos gain traction, but a simple way to evaluate the success of these efforts. Unruly uses comments, blog posts and views to measure the top videos and growth of videos. Depending upon the objectives of the campaigns you may be developing, you and adjust these inputs and calculate the ROI against your marketing spend. Measurement is generally one of the biggest barriers that stops most companies from creating content without an ad spend, and this is a simple way to show what success looks like to the people in your organization who may not really understand the space.

The key is to create your set of clear, comprehensible and easy to communicate objectives and results. Tailor it to the language and metrics people in your company are used to seeing and deliver the pitch in those terms.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great Perspective On Why Things are Amazing...

Louis CK (comedian/writer) on Conan on why we should really appreciate the world we live in. I especially love his take on the current generation and how ungracious they are of technology and the conveniences of the modern life (1:34).

This is great fodder for demonstrating the differences between generations and illustrating how gen y's expectations on instant gratification is absolutely super-sized compared to anyone before.

Thanks Jennifer R for posting this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hotel Mobile Sites Show Good ROI

An article in Ad Age talks about how various hotel chains are using mobile bookings to generate revenue. Although it doesn't state if this is net new revenue or if this is simply cannibalizing existing channels (which I assume is the case), this shows how a company is using mobile to its advantage to help differentiate it's service offering.

I've often mentioned that marketers need to exploit mobile first by looking at their core business offering and seeing where there are natural synergies to align their strategies against the channel. Then (or concurrently depending on their workload/resources), look at how they should add mobile as a communications element to their overall mix.

The article cites 'convenience' as being on of the major drivers behind m-commerce - which is quite true and obvious. On the business side of the equation, I'm sure that this will also reduce call centre volume and check-in time - although I'm sure that many of the people up-taking these products would just use the web anyway. The question will be how to differentiate their service offering in the long term?

Eventually all hotels will offer this service, so how do you create a unique service to each customer? If the business objective is to reduce call centre/staffing costs and drive retention, what is the core mobile strategy that will encourage customers to do this time and time again? Perhaps rewarding these customers based on their profile (which I assume is an early tech adopter) making their stays more convenient and rewarding. Like, giving free wi-fi for a two-night stay, developing an app making their phone their key for their room, or having them beta test other apps you are looking to develop. Take the service a step further to try to see how you can create a relationship.

I've been using mobile check-in with airlines since they launched. I'm constantly surprised that whenever I show my phone 1) they don't have the 'equipment' to scan my ticket and 2) at least one of the reps say 'oh, I've never seen that before'. But one thing is for sure, I have never thanked or communicated with for being an early adopter of the product.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The CRTC Is Crazy, Or Maybe the Entertainment Business Is.

Recent news about the CRTC is mulling over whether or not to tax Internet Service Providers has me perplexed. If your not familiar with the issue, it basically boils down to this: because people are now watching content on the web, Internet service providers should have to help fund Canadian content in the same way their broadcasters traditional media do. This is the position argued by Canadian producers and artists as a way to help stimulate Canadian developed content.

I am perplexed because the CRTC has already gone on record stating that the web was not going to be regulated (if you can regulate it at all). This was a big step, keeping meddling hands out of a medium that is the great equalizer. I'm also confused because the internet offers artists carte blanche to develop, produce and distribute content free from the shackles of Canadian funding system. The SAG strike in the US showed us that when some of the funniest and talent people can work outside of the existing distribution systems - some of the best and most enjoyable content can be produced - Dr. Horrible, Sarah Silverman's Matt Damon thing, plus lots of other actor mash ups.

What needs to be done is for Canadians to get more daring with the production of content and use the web for distribution. We have lots of talented actors, writers, comedians, animation houses and producers - yet we can't seem to get outside of the shadow of needing government handouts to produce content.

I think it is about time that we take advantage of the smart people we have in the entertainment business and go outside of the CRTC and other government bodies to create alternative distribution and monetization for our content.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Creepy or Cool - VW Let's You Make Babies

In promotion of the Routan, VW launched a site that lets you make a baby. All you need to do is simply upload a picture of you and your partner and presto - you know what your kid(s) will look like! At first I found this a bit creepy, but then I used it and it was kind of cool.

Creepy, because I gave up rights for VW or Crispin to have unlimited use of my pictures for use or to edit/alter however they want. Then I started to think about it and although I don't really post too many of my own pics in public domains - lots of other people do and I do upload many of my person pics to closed areas on Flickr. Also, because when you use the app - the baby you create follows your cursor around the screen. That was creepy.

Cool, because one of my favourite things of all time is the 'Game Face' feature EA Sports has in Tigers Woods 08. In this application, I've uploaded pics of myself and EA has created a golfer with my face - which is really cool. I play golf as me, complete with all my equiptment and clothes that I typically wear - and my FACE! It's amazing. Personalization on the web is what sets it apart from all other mediums - and this VW feature automatically involves two people which basically guarantees that this will be viral. They also included so many ways to share, users will definitely show off to the world what their offspring will look like.

This app also ties really nicely with their strategy - which I assume is to target young couples with growing families in an engaging way. VW should reap the rewards off additional branded impressions that this app should create though the momentum effect.

I also think a good side effect will be that office folks everywhere will use this as a time killer - matching all their co-workers to see what their kids will look like! Now that's creepy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Google Latitude is a Killer GPS App

I'm usually a big fan of things that Google does and their latest version of the mobile maps product does not disappoint. Running on my Blackberry Bold, I recently downloaded Latitude, which utilizes GPS or mobile carrier cell towers to identify where people are and shows their location on the map. If your familiar with the mobile maps app already, you'll know that it is just as good/functional as the full web version (complete with satellite view).

Now before you start freaking out and thinking that this is far too big brotherish, you have to think of the possibilities and utility of this product.

First, you invite your friends from Gmail or directly entering their email address (the Gmail integration and overall Google integration is good - it automatically selected my profile pic from my Google profile as my image). Now you can have tabs on your pals wherever they are - whether you are shopping at the mall, grabbing a coffee or having a night on the town. Think about how many times you are delighted when you bump into a friend and have a spontaneous lunch. Or, extend this to traveling out of town and you can reach out to those friends you typically wouldn't on a short business trip. They've added elements like 'status updates' so you can add notes like 'I'm looking to hook up' or change your profile pic from your camera phone to reflect your location.

Privacy is obviously a huge issue with location based services - but Latitude does incorporate privacy features where you can either manually set your location (i.e. you said you were at the dentist but were really at a job interview) or you can simply go off the grid and hide your location. Don't worry, big brother isn't always watching.

There are deficiencies. First, there is a complete lack of any advertiser integration. I want to be able to serve up ads to people based on their location. Currently, there isn't any obvious place to do so, but I'm sure this is part of the road map. If you think about the user behavior that Google will track (morning commute routines, entertainment districts traveled, shopping areas visited) the amount of behavioral data collected and the ability to target customers modeled against your target segments is very exciting.

Another small gripe is that although this is touted as a community product - I can't ping people or contact them directly from the app. Any 'community' product should have communication as a key element - and with this being a location based service the with the core feature being able to find friends - you have to be able to contact them. If you combine this with the above issue of advertiser integration, marketers are missing out on a huge opportunity. I would love to be able to pull key words from a conversation, know where the people are and serve up relevant ads - 'want to go for dinner' = restaurant suggestions - 'want to come back my pad?' = the nearest drug store for condoms.

I love the app and the ease of integration with the device. Add a few more small elements core to the communications piece of the phone and its a total winner. Now all we need to do is work through all those pesky privacy issues and marketers can really use this to serve up smart, location based advertising that adds value to the consumer.