Social media sites and the impact on email marketing

At DMNews, there is a column about the impact of social media on email marketing, which is quite interesting:

Today’s younger generation is the single best predictor of future behaviors. And right now they are leveraging multiple social Web sites: MySpace and Facebook to chat with friends, Evite to send party invitations and LinkedIn to stay front and center for new business relationships. E-mail for these users has become a tool used strictly for the purpose of collecting business information — special offers, promotions and business information.

As we increase our usage of social networks, our use of e-mail will inevitably decline, reducing the success of e-mail marketing campaigns. Marketers need to take the time to understand what sites their users are comfortable in and then evaluate marketing opportunities in those spaces.

I don’t think it’s only that. (But it will be a large factor.) The other email killer is things like skype and other chat tools, mobile phone messaging, and RSS.

For any communication with your contacts, ther is a better way than email. Or at least there will be. With spam still filling most people’s inbox, they will undoubtedly move to other, uninterrupted channels and only open their email accounts to separate the „bacn“ from the spam.

So email marketing is not dead, as people will continue to use it. But in the next 5 years or so, we’ll probably see a shift in usage patterns, decreasing the target audiences attention to email. It is now, that we need to test the alternatives, so that we have working tactics in the future.

Try out producing widgets for facebook, offering RSS feeds (this should already be a no brainer!), sponsor chats and communities (or offer them yourself), and may be start advertising on the long tail of the web…

More on advertising on social networks via widgets

Some more ramblings on advertising on social networks, as I have written about it lately already: Sean Carton also thinks that advertising on social networks won’t work properly using regular ads. His point of why widgets might be the better solution (and I agree):

This is why widgets have been getting so much play lately: they don’t intrude on the user experience. Yeah, they’re branded. Yeah, they’re obviously a product of crass commercialism, but when done well they enhance rather than detract from the experience. They can become part of the conversation you’re having with friends and acquaintances, not an interruption of that conversation. Are widgets the answer to how advertising can work in social networking?

Not at all, but they’re a beginning. The answer will become apparent when we think outside of the ol‘ display advertising box and start to imagine ways we can work with the essential nature of social networking, rather than against it.

How can we join communities of interest in an authentically helpful way? How can we give consumers the tools to facilitate their conversations about our products or services (conversations they’re going to have anyway, with our without our help)? How can we help connect them to get help, advice, or suggestions from others (Dave Evans has a few good ideas)? How can we make it easier for true believers and brand fans to do the selling for us (or help recruit new fans)? How can we work with what’s going on rather than against it?

The question is, whether this is really a solution for all advertisers. Also, these considerations, same as the debate about the effectiveness of contextual ads only focus on the click rate as the only measure of success. I know, I know, we’re in the interactive space, so why go back to the old ad measurement models?

But then again, an eyeball is an eyeball and nobody can deny the value of attention of these eyeballs. Even if the click rate suggests failure, the message might have stuck. Don’t you think? Otherwise you would reduce the awareness and brand building capabilities of the online space to a story of how many people clicked, not how many people saw and remembered the message. That can’t be right, can it?*

But, going back to Seans point: yes, let’s rather entice the consumers with something of value. Something that provides this value at a point in time and (web-)space, where the consumer will most likely associate the best positive times with your brand because of your contribution to their needs and preferences. If it can be done best on social networks providing widgets (at least for now), then think of a good idea and go do it!

(*I am not oblivious at all to the fact, that interaction with the ads (i.e. clicking and interacting with the subsequent pages) will reinforce the message, make the whole awareness campaign x-times more successful!)

The benefits of being a digital addict

At the moment it seems to be a good time to be a „geek“ as the digital addicts in the US call themselves (and think that’s cool). That’s what this article in wired says, at least.

Ad agencies are about to trade three-martini lunches, schmooze-fests and fast-talking account executives for programmers, custom software and anthropologists who can navigate MySpace.

One comment was aimed squarely at all those agencies that are desperately trying to acquire people who understand digital and „interactive“ advertising, which invites consumer participation via digital media — for example, voting on products online or sharing text messages as part of a viral marketing campaign.

„Digital anthropologists are going to be the next people you scramble to hire,“ DeCourcy said.

[…] agencies will need people who can use the tools of cultural anthropology to interpret the overwhelming amount of user-generated data, and come up with strategies for using social networks to sell stuff.

But this trend also won’t last much longer says this article. Two more years, and there will be enough young people ready to fill every remaining gap there ever was. So enjoy while it lasts.

Fox starts ad targeting to leverage MySpace profile data

Clickz writes that Fox Interactive Media buys an ad targeting firm to leverage MySpace profile data. And I ask myself: what the heck have they done before? They have, apparently, used some data to optimise for Google ads, but much was not done.

„The driving reason to do it is to make more money selling ads,“ said Barrett.

I’m impressed by their sharpness. Or by Clickz actually publishing that quote?

Till now, the News Corp division has done little to capitalize on the information that, when paired with SDC’s ad optimization technology, will allow for highly-refined audience segmentation and contextual micro-targeting.

So what’s new?

Anyway, apart from that, it is of course the right move. A little late – and it can’t just be due to the fact that they had to go through „a ton“ of potential firms for acquisition.

The Person of the Year is: Everyone!

Time Magazin has once again named their person of the year. But this time, it’s following the hype of web 2.0 and all that buzz around it, so the person of the year is us. The people of the internet, the bloggers, chatters, homepage designers, forum contributors, the Myspacers and Youtubers, etc. etc. Because we „control the information age“:

The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution. . . .

And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you. . . .

But at the same time, as people sit down and spend their spare time creating things they probably expected main stream media to do, there is equally a lot of crap going on, that nobody ever wanted to see:

Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.

I like that choice. 2006 really was the year of the social web. Not only in the US. Even in Germany („Old Europe“) web 2.0 has started to become a household buzzword. At least most of the major German newspapers had feature stories on it…

So what’s next, who can be the person of the year in 2007, if everyone has been it already in 2006? An alien?