There seems to be a concurrent trend. Two companies just announced new projects / plattforms on which they want to listen to consumers, engage them, discuss product development with them.
Starbucks launched the website „My Starbucks Idea“ on which they aks users to provide Starbucks with their ideas:
You know better than anyone else what you want from Starbucks. So tell us. Whatâ€™s your Starbucks Idea? Revolutionary or simpleâ€”we want to hear it. Share your ideas, tell us what you think of other peopleâ€™s ideas and join the discussion. Weâ€™re here, and weâ€™re ready to make ideas happen. Letâ€™s get started.
As you would expect, you can post ideas, vote on other’s ideas, discuss ideas, etc. In addition, there is a blog called „ideas in action“ that covers the project. At the moment, some sources are rather cynical about the project, because people mostly just ask about free drinks, fre Wi-Fi, etc. I am curious to see if there will be some really good ideas with added value resulting from this approach.
Chrysler, on the other hand, will launch a „customer advisory board“ of up to 5.000 consumers chosen of those who will apply through the website to take part. Once they can access the forum, they can submit ideas, get a sneak peak at videos, etc. It will be interesting to see if they can capture the right target audience, to quote autoblog:
However, we’re a little unsure if the tactic will provide Chrysler with what it needs to shape the future of its products and services, considering that the only people likely to sign up are partisan pistonheads who are already married to the Mopar camp or slighted customers looking for a place to vent.
For some companies, this change in dealing with the (online) target group has resulted in successes, as Ad Age writes about the Dell case study:
This sort of online listening post worked for Dell, whose IdeaStorm website resulted in a few concrete product developments and, in turn, helped to turn some of the computer-maker’s fiercest critics. One of them, Jeff Jarvis, went from a state of high dudgeon on his blog to praise the company in BusinessWeek.
In my opinion these approaches should probably work fine, as long as there is added value for both sides. If the consumer ideas and suggestions are crap, useless, unreal or simply silly, the companies might soon stop asking consumers in this fashion. It would then be much easier to go back to the old fashioned model of focus group research, where the noise to signal ratio is much better.
On the other hand, there should be some real improvements/products/ideas coming out of these approaches, making the whole outcome visible to the participating audience, showing them that their little contribution did infact change the way these companies go to market (even if the resulting outcomes were not your own idea, you would appreciate the effort made by the company).
Otherwise we’ll start having similar symptons as you have in German elections nowadays. You feel like your vote is too small to make a difference – and heck, no matter what people vote for, it doesn’t feel like things change much anyway. So why bother.
I usually try not to write negative about things, because unless it’s constructive criticism for the creator of the content, nobody gains much. But since there is no possibility to comment on things at marketingvox, I will do it here.
I am referring to the post with the title „How-to: 9 Basic SEO Tips„. It caught my attention, because just the other day, I had a discussion with colleagues at the agency about how creative agencies rarely know how to properly search engine optimize the websites they build.
However, with the 9 basic tips, we won’t get very far either. Let me quote some of them:
Find out how well you rank online. […] It may be helpful to download the Google Toolbar, which gives you the „PageRank“ score for websites. Pages are scored on a scale of 1 to 10. The goal will be to make this number higher on your website.
Ok – and how? (It doesn’t say). Another great tip:
Submit your site to search engines. Do it personally; avoid „submission services“ or software. You only need to do it once.
I won’t continue with other tips like „place relevant keywords in the title tag“ or „use alt tags on images“ that they also featured.
Was any of this new to anyone? Please ? If so, just leave this blog immediately. In fact – please leave the internet and switch off your computer completely.
Gheez – we’re in 2008 by now, it’s not 1998 any more!
Not sure about the target audience of marketingvox, but for this article, it sure isn’t your average webmarketer!
Mitch Joel pointed me to a business week article about advertising in social networks. In the same post he also links to a blogpost claiming social media sites need advertising.
In short: time spent on social networks is declining, for whatever reason – one could of course be increased advertising on these platforms. So this could be a problem for advertisers in the near future. Secondly: social networks need advertising, the same way media has always been ad supported.
But it’s not only the fact that user numbers are going down, ads on social networks are also less effective than on regular websites:
Many of the people who hang out on MySpace, Facebook, and other sites pay little to no attention to the ads because they’re more interested in kibitzing with their friends. Social networks have some of the lowest response rates on the Web, advertisers and ad placement firms say. Marketers say as few as 4 in 10,000 people who see their ads on social networking sites click on them, compared with 20 in 10,000 across the Web.
The solution to this is new targeting mechanisms, to serve users more relevant messages.
Last fall, both rolled out programs allowing marketers to pitch products to people in hundreds of categories of interest, such as fashion and sports. News Corp. President Peter Chernin said on Feb. 4 that response rates on MySpace improved as much as 300%.
Could be a solution. But at the end of the day, this whole approach still tries to use old answers to new problems. How about taking an approach that looks beyond plain advertising? How about introducing branded widgets, services, or exclusive whatevers to these platforms, so that brands can provide an added value to the interaction between users?
I am thinking of such things as the Red Bull Rosham Bull Challenge in facebook, which is a game that two users can play against each other. Or even just plain and simple things like the fact that you can sponsor digital gifts in facebook. There still is lots of potential for these kind of approaches.
Oh, and from a business model perspective: I don’t think social networks need advertising support. At least not to the extent that their business models are in danger if there is no proper ad solution in place.
Think about the German platform Xing.com. There you have a choice of paying a monthly premium for additional services – one of which is the fact that you don’t get to see any ads.
There could also be other models, like changing the business model slightly and starting e-commerce around certain product groups (i.e. certain information-based, digital products or even real products).
These problems are not really new. But what this whole discussion shows, is simply the fact that social networks have, all of a sudden, exposed the need for new marketing approaches much clearer than any of the previous developments on the web.
The Wallstreet Journal published a list of the best and worst ad campaigns of 2007. Amongst the best were the ad campaigns of Dove, the Simpsons Movie, Cadbury. Some of the worst were bud.tv, General Motors, Snickers and Chrysler.
Interesting fact: while I have seen/read about all of the good ones, I know none of the bad ones. So even while being over here in Germany, I know (about) the good ads. And I did see / learn about them through traditional media. Get it?
This is a rather interesting online advertising approach from Norway:
One of Norways largest online news sources wanted to promote their online services. The idea: several copywriters comment live on the articles on the news portal, during the day and evening hours.
Within around 150 hours, more than 1,000 unique ads have been created this way. Enjoyable idea, and if the live comments by the copywriters were any good, people might have actually surfed the portal for quite some time just to read the ads…