Updates on Facebooks Beacon

There is an interesting short post at one of the NY Times blogs about the evolution of beacon, Facebooks new project to include behaviour on third party sites within the news feed and profile. They show different types of popups of how Facebook alerted their users in a more or less obvious fashion about including third party information on their feed.

It started with a popup merely stating the fact, that the information will be passed on. Not reacting to it was assumed as approval. It disappeared after a short while and if you missed it, you „approved“ of the information transfer. Later versions included opt-outs, opt-ins, etc.

Facebook executives tell reporters that users who ignore the alert boxes will no longer be considered to have said “yes,” even after two days. If users ignore the alert box, Facebook says it will not post the news of their purchases to their friends. This is a big change, if implemented correctly. Users will still be hassled by the alert boxes from Facebook on its partner sites, but ideally they can ignore them now and not worry about their purchases being shared.

Facebook executives say they do not want to add a universal opt-out button because then users would not be able to try out Beacon on different sites to see what it can offer. One Facebook executive predicts that consumers may “fall in love” with Beacon once they understand it. Only time will tell.

A very broad prediction, which I don’t believe. But we’ll see.

It’s amazing that facebook started with such an opt-out clause – including the fact that you only had a few seconds to opt-out until the popup would disappear. Now I know that in the US, opt-out is legally viable, which it isn’t in Germany. Here in Germany, nobody would have even considered opt-out in the first place.

But that doesn’t make it an „American approach“ per se. I think, it rather looks like an amateurish approach to treat users in that way and I am not surprised that they changed it to the later versions. I would have assumed that they start with the opt-in approach right away, thinking user-centric instead of brand-centric. But hey.

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Firebrand launched – so what?

Firebrand now launched, and it has a wide selection of TV commercials online to watch. You can filter them by brand, animation, celebrity, etc. I particularly like the filter-selection „banned“, which could be quite promising in the future.

What I miss: you can’t comment on the ads. You can rate them, but not comment on them. Might be due to lack of editorial staff, and I hope that is the only reason. Because some say, it might be, because advertisers have expressed concerns about people commenting on ads.

One intelligent feature: as you can see on the screenshot above: offers of the advertisers can be integrated as clickable banners. Not sure if that always corresponds to what has been shown in the ad, but it would make sense.

So who will actually use this? Some people who seek entertainment? They would go to YouTube, wouldn’t they? And the ad folks? Only if this becomes more complete than other ad databases (including YouTube).

And what about including good print advertising?

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5 links for viral and word of mouth marketing

Doing some research regarding viral marketing, I stumbled upon the following 5 posts, here is a summary of each:

  1. 4 myths of viral marketing: it is a replacement for television (most videos won’t get millions of viewers), a viral video is a digital strategy (what happens after the video has been watched?), putting a video on YouTube is a digital strategy (most videos don’t really go viral without some help or trigger), bloggers are just waiting for videos they can write about (because there is so little other information around in this world).
  2. 7 deadly sins of advertising via viral video: Make a white and brown cow (instead of a purple, remarkable cow), pretend you’re not advertising (hoping it doesn’t backfire or gets ignored), spend a fortune on production (instead of a good idea), tell consumer instead of engage them (it’s not an adaptation of a 30 sec. spot), do a video contest because everyone else does (soon enough, it will get ever more difficult to activate consumers to the umpteenth contest), set unrealistic conversion measures (it’s not about conversion anyway, in most cases), throw in the towel and decide to just advertise around viral videos (at least to both in partnership).
  3. Why everyone wants viral video: 57 million Americans watch online video content every day. That’s 19% of the online population. 13% of American adults report they have downloaded or watched video ads! Two out of three viewers ages 18-29 send links to video files, compared with half of Americans age 30 and older. Forty-two percent of the 18-29 year-olds send video links a few times per month or more
  4. Is mass marketing important for viral success: Duncan Watts has modeled the viral phenomenon stating that it is not as contagious as we would like it to be. The circle of influence of superspreaders is far smaller than we thought, which this paper is about, and campaigns are subject to complete randomness, which makes this a channel in need of support of planned (i.e. media supported) advertising. Not true writes Nigel Hollis, saying that the stickiniess factor of the creative is not subject to randomness, as it can be pre-tested in focus groups.
  5. Is word of mouth a discipline or a channel: Discipline: Word of mouth marketing takes belief (based on understanding and knowledge) and discipline. Channel: The media buying companies and some advertising agencies want to see WOM as a channel. Discipline: To deliver on the promise of social media, word of mouth marketing, influencer marketing, conversation marketing – whatever part of WOM you want to emphasize – we need a simple, shared approach to measurement that compares well to what brand managers are used to. Channel: Many ad-based marketers see viral video as the answer to their WOM aspirations. And the conclusion: Word of mouth is a broad discipline like advertising or public relations. It requires technique and methodologies that are particularly relevant to do it well. It is possible to treat it like a channel by tacking on some WOM tactic to a larger advertising program, but it may not pay off in comparison to those more traditional marketing tactics.
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Creativity strangled by the law.

I have already mentioned the TED Talks a couple of times – very inspiring 20 minute presentations you can watch on the web. Now there is a good one by Larry Lessig, who talks about 3 stories in support of one central argument concerning paradigms shifts necessary in todays copyrights setup:

The Net’s most adored lawyer brings together John Philip Sousa, celestial copyrights, and the „ASCAP cartel“ to build a case for creative freedom. He pins down the key shortcomings of our dusty, pre-digital intellectual property laws, and reveals how bad laws beget bad code. Then, in an homage to cutting-edge artistry, he throws in some of the most hilarious remixes you’ve ever seen.

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Coke „bubbles“ widget for joost

Sofar, advertising on joost has only been in the form of short ads at the beginning or end of clips. Sort of like the traditional ad model.

Now we have the first attempt at actually providing added value through a marketing tactic. In this case, a widet:

On Thursday, Joost announced that Coca-Cola’s European division has created the first „commercial widget“ for the software. Called „Coke Bubbles,“ the downloadable advertising widget lets you choose a clip on Joost and then send it to fellow Joost users, appended with a note in the form of a „bubble.“

You can download it at „Coke Bubbles„. While I am unsure about whether this is a really clever idea, I do support the fact that Coke does not just run ads in the clips, but does try to provide added value. It’s a first step in the right direction.

A lot of marketing efforts will have to provide a clear added value in the future. Either through real product information at the points where consumers are seeking information. Or, alternatively, if consumers are not seeking product information, brands can help to provide plattforms, contents or tools for entertainment or networking – two of the other main things people seek out in digital media these days.

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A short story about „death by search“

James Cherkoff tells us a nice little story about how tight marketing programs, the nice shop in a nice part of town, well trained sales people, the glossy leaflets and the good reputation of certain type of kitchen brand has been made obsolete by one single search on the web about what other customers of this brand had to say. The opinions were mostly negative and James ended up cancelling his order.

Of course, you would always have consulted other sources – most of all your closest peers – about opinions on any high involvement product or service. But the chances that you find many sources with the same brand of kitchen (car, dishwasher, etc.) in your closest range of peers was and is rather limited.

With todays possibilities to find opinions on anything on the web (even stuff you didn’t want to know about), it is ever more important for brands to keep their promises. People are fearing the moment of the totally transparent consumer, but hey, brands already face this complete transparency!

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