Who’s On First?

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TGIF Random Ruminations

“Have a take, don’t suck” is one of my favorite quips from Jim Rome. If you are even mildly a fan of his over the top in your grill sports talk radio show, you will recognize the phrase.

I use it because as a “face to the screen and finger on the pulse” digital professional, I see most everything that comes down the pike. Of course as soon as I say that I have missed 3 new-new trends …..

In any case, my point is that at times I question whether I really have anything incremental of value to add here. Someone said, it’s all been said before, right?

Value is the critical and oft overlooked component in the “hey it’s cool, check it out!” conversation, which of course adds value cuz it cuts through the clutter and garners you that illustrious15 minutes of fame Warhol envisioned.

Last year I attended the annual In-Store Marketing Expo Conference and one of the key seminar’s Retailing 2015: New Frontiers, a report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers and TNS Retail Forward highlighted the top game changing trends.

It resonated with me that the new-new thing, trends (fads or otherwise) will come faster and end sooner in this age in which technology accelerates the pace of information dissemination. Stay close and be ready to act or The Matrix Meets Boiler Room starring Boy Scouts!

Granted there is no more exciting time in marketing, unless you like to juggle knives, than the current  environment which applauds companies and brands that are truly authentic.

However, here is an interesting conversation pricepoint…

I wonder why I thought that Apple had an outstanding social media strategy? (when in fact it’s quite the opposite)

Jobs, fake or not, definitely abides by an old school, competitive, close to the vest, command and control, information is power mantra. However, it occurred to me that the reason it appeared that Apple was employing a successful social conversation with its constituents was because of the extremely, bordering on obsessive, loyal fan boy (and girl) following.

Could it be that Apple as a culture simply listens more effectively through traditional/conventional business communication mechanisms? That combined with the key success factor of moving quickly to actualize those implicit and explicit customer needs. It’s the combination that is crucial in my book. HHhmmm.

Well, I certainly hope that the new media technologies will not overwhelm the CMO who has less than 2 years to make an impact into being distracted by the shiny new communications tactics and forget “it’s the product (or service) stupid”.

In the final analysis, being a thought leader to me at least, means converting the insights into actionable plans and getting things done… I am a huge fan of the most recent IBM campaign, “Stop Talking, Start Doing!

So, back to work at finding those nuggets of insight to implement for clients….and time to refresh my lens with some of that groovy non-alcoholic monitor spray.

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Sept 16, 2008

Absolutely love the thinking and strategic insight of the Forrester Analysts. This week I am highlighting Jeremiah Owyang who focuses on the Social Media phenomena. Oh, I hear that Al Bundy is the new Seinfeld replacement?

digest3I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an Industry Analyst –a good way to get in my head.


Features: Gigya launches “Socialize”–like Friend Connect
This allows social graph data to move between different containers and websites, learn more about Gigya’s socialize here.

Deplolyment: WSJ launches social network features
Amid criticism for making the community behind closed doors, commenters suggest the new site design to be ‘emo’ and brooding. As more media companies embrace social media content, does this indicate mainstream adoption?

Employment: Is your online profile professional looking?
Dangers of Social Networking, make sure your online profile and reputation is cleaned for your current and future employer. (link via Mike Street)

Advertising: LinkedIn launches Ad Network
In yet another way to monetize, this profitable social network (an oxymoron?) is now deploying it’s own advertising network. I’ve seen these slides before, and was surprised to see Techcrunch published them.

Deal: MySpace music extends labels reach
In theory this sounds like a great match between popular media centric social network MySpace and media labels. With the ability to stream content and share with each other, is this enough to deter users from stripping content and sharing on p2p networks?

Deployment: MTV launches online community
This real time community supports shows, provides additional content, and allows another outlet for users to watch –and engage with each other around media shows.

Showcase: Brand new social networks emerge
A handful of vertical social networks were featured at the recent Techcrunch 50 event.

Acquisition: The Social Gaming Network swallows Fluff Friends
A virtual pet game and community, “Fluff Friends” has been acquired by the Social Gaming Network (SGN) I visited them a few months ago in their small but growing Palo Alto office

Features: MySpace embraces user uploaded video
MySpaceTV announces direct video upload, allowing users to upload video directly from their hard drive or even from webcams. Why? This increases user interaction and media engagement. Could be a win considering the heavy self-expression found in the site.

Partnership: Bebo and ESPN
Bebo’s open media platform allows ESPN’s short form content to be available in their media savvy social network. Programming includes clips from highlights, and sportcenter content.

Deployment: Vehix utilizes Pluck
The Vehix site now integrates Pluck’s “Energizing” features to allow the site to grow social wings –letting members share, comment, and interact with each other.

Investment: IBM grows Cambridge facility, focuses on Social Networks
Expect to see more investments in Lotus, as IBM starts to assemble more social networking software features for their enterprise products. Competitors will likely follow suit, and put more blips on the future roadmaps for enterprise social networking features. (Updated)

Finding Forrester

Marketers Approach New Media With Caution
by Laurie Sullivan, Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008 5:00 AM ET
As budgets continues to tighten, marketers are resisting industry hype about emerging “cool” tech tools and are taking a cautious approach to experimenting with new media, according to a recent Forrester Research study.

The research reveals that although 80% of marketers say the benefits of adopting emerging channels are worth the challenges of trialing, 60% struggle to build the case for interactive marketing, and 68% would rather wait to adopt interactive channels until after they are proven. This year, Forrester’s annual Interactive Marketing Channels adoption study looks at where marketers are distributing funds. Participating in the study were 333 marketers at companies with more than 200 employees in 7 industries.

Interactive marketing will experience a 27% compound annual growth rate between 2008 and 2012, as marketers invest dollars in proven media channels that customers actually use, the study suggests.

Email, search, and display media are still the most heavily penetrated interactive marketing channels. Online video and most social media also continue strong growth. Widgets and mobile see less aggressive adoption, and game marketing has lost ground.

Forrester principal analyst Shar VanBoskirk says today’s “interactive marketing obstacles are related more to executing effective programs than validating the method or channel.” Managing content, recruiting qualified staff, gaining support, and measuring ROI are some of the common challenges, she says.

More than half of marketers using online video, display ads and search marketing–58%, 51%, and 51%, respectively–wrestle with measuring ROI. Marketers relying on tools like social networks or user-generated content often struggle with tracking results. VanBoskirk says scissor manufacturer Fiskars got around this by relying on Umbria, which monitors brand marketing, to track the frequency and type of conversations online. The company also built private communities for consumers to share ideas in its top markets, which now see three times more sales than other regions.

Marketers use search, display and online video to integrate these tools with others. Forty-seven percent of search marketers want to determine how search marketing affects offline sales, while 38% still struggle to tie search to other online programs.

The need for integration isn’t isolated to mature channels. Forrester expects that as marketers master the basics of emerging media they will strive to integrate these tools across their marketing mix, too. For example, social media company Doppelganger’s display ad efforts improved after it placed ads on sites that BuzzLogic had identified as conversation hubs for its target audiences.

Marketers experimenting with emerging media are particularly concerned about finding channel-specific expertise to manage their new programs. Those running programs with widgets, mobile, social network, UGC, or RSS components all have limited know-how. More than 30% of social networks, blogs, UGC, and RSS adopters in this study worry about having enough staff. Agencies find that in a tight talent pool, the best people to hire are those who have interactive experience and enthusiasm.

An understanding of the target market, and not arbitrarily choosing an emerging media and accompanying technology, will determine the correct strategy to reach consumers. Forrester suggests marketers use the POST method to guide marketing investments:

P = people: Who are the target customers and how do they engage with emerging media?

O = objectives: What are the brand’s marketing goals?

S = strategy: How to accomplish marketing goals and how will emerging media change the brand’s customer relationships?

T = technology: What new tools best fit customers, goals, and strategy?

Marketers’ Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future

Need I say more?

Greater knowledge of the digital space is at the top of marketers’ list of what they want from their advertising and marketing agencies in the next 12 months, according to a Sapient-sponsored national online survey of some 200 CMOs and other senior marketers.

As it is, more than a quarter of marketers surveyed said from half to all of their marketing is done via digital channels, and nearly 40% foresee that in 12 months from half to all their marketing will be done via digital channels:

sapient-marketers-digital-channel-use-now-future.jpg

The respondents, all of whom are either directly or indirectly responsible for managing digital marketing budget allocation across multiple channels, were asked about the top qualities they sought in their advertising and marketing agencies in the coming year.

Based on the survey results, Sapient Interactive, Sapient’s marketing services group, issued a Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future:

1. Greater knowledge of the digital space

More than one-third of marketers surveyed said they are not confident that their current agency is well-positioned to take their brand through the unchartered waters of online digital marketing and interactive advertising.

sapient-marketers-agency-digital-capabilities-plans-to-switch.jpg

Nearly half (45%) of the respondents have switched agencies (or plan to switch in the next 12 months) for one with greater digital knowledge or have hired an additional digital specialist to handle their interactive campaigns.

Regarding an agency’s area of expertise, 79% of respondents rated “interactive/digital” functions as “important/very important.”

2. More use of “pull interactions”

Nine in 10 respondents (90%) agree that to engage consumers with their brand it is increasingly important that their agency uses “pull interactions” such as social media and online communities rather than traditional “push” campaigns.

3. Leverage virtual communities

An overwhelming 94% of respondents expressed interest in leveraging virtual communities (public and private) to understand more about their target audience.

4. Agency executives who use the technology they are recommending

92% of respondents said it was “somewhat” or “very” important that agency employees use the technologies that they are recommending – such as Facebook, Flickr, wikis, blogs, – in their personal social media mix.

5. Chief Digital Officers make agencies more appealing

43% of marketers surveyed said agencies with chief digital officers are more appealing than those without.

6. Web 2.0 and social media savvy

63% of marketers surveyed said an agency’s Web 2.0 and social media capabilities are “important/very important” when it comes to agency selection.

7. Agencies that understand consumer behavior

76% of respondents deemed this as an “important/very important” aspect of their agency’s online digital marketing and interactive advertising area of expertise.

8. Demonstrate strategic thinking

77% of marketers surveyed ranked strategy/brain trust capabilities at the top of their agency wish list.

9. Branding and creative capabilities

67% of respondents ranked branding at the top of their agency wish list while 76 % ranked creative capabilities as “important/very important.”

10. Ability to measure success

65% ranked analytics at the top of their agency wish list.

“Marketers want agencies that can deliver on these demands today – not by 2009 and beyond,” said Gaston Legorburu, chief creative officer, Sapient. “As the interactive channel becomes increasingly important, only those agencies that can create, manage and measure multi-channel campaigns will stay relevant and thrive in an uncertain economy.”

About the survey: The Agency of the Future Survey is a national survey designed to provide insight into what marketers want from their agencies in the next 12 months. Sponsored by Sapient, the survey was conducted via email and polled more than 200 respondents, all of whom are either directly or indirectly responsible for managing digital marketing budget allocation across multiple channels.

Realizing Your Paucsh-ion and Finding Your Job!

In New York City as I type, just finished a corporate RFP proposal & strategy meeting with Sony. Great fun, lots of intensity and strategic stimulation. Exceptional ideas and a real challenge! The kind of stuff I love… a real business Rubik’s cube or Star Trek 3D Chess.

As much as it reminded me “who I really am” (in terms of career abilities) it also coincided with some personal events that I was recently faced with, reminding me that we all get to make a choice everyday about what is truly important and how we will decide to respond to life’s challenges.

In the spiritual vernacular, karma, the golden rule or what goes around comes around, is a truism which I have absolutely seen manifest and most definitely believe in…..

As the summer begins its sunset close, the Hamptons post vacancy signs, Back-To-School sales abound and the residents of Laguna eagerly anticipate having Main Beach (3 blocks from my place) back to ourselves; it’s time for me to remind myself the true spirit of following your dreams, living to a personal integrity and making a difference!

Driven by a thousand forms of fear (I am certainly no stranger to those feelings, although many are perceived vs. real), we sabotage our dreams and hopes rather than grow.

Fear of financial insecurity, not being good enough, not being accepted or loved, or failure that leads the ego to react versus respond. Sometimes it’s easier to abandon our dreams and retreat back into the safe zone. Shutting down the creative (and emotional juices) that allow us to transcend the fear. And then, of course, there is the case where the dream shows up and you run.

Typically this requires a healthy friend to shine the light of truth (or rest assured karma will)….. as Keb Mo says “life has a way of gettin your attention….”

In my opinion, growth as a concept, whether organizational or personal, is best described in The Fifth Dimension by Peter Senge.

Like a rubber band that stretches and extends beyond its normal range, the first reaction is to snap back rather violently to a known position ……however, over time and with the right amount of consistent effort….. the tension or adverse reaction to change relaxes the bonds to the known and experiences new found fulfillment at the edge of new growth.

Mea culpa here! because unfortunately, I tend to stress the rubber band for myself and on occasion, others prematurely.

I do appreciate the explanation of anger as fear turned outward, which typically occurs when faced with the inevitable prospect of change. Or the inverse can happen, shutting down the process completely, but I digress.

This is a very exciting time for me. In the last week a number of great business opportunities have presented themselves; including an email from the Dr. Phil show ….something about the most eligible bachelor post 30 show.

It’s time for inspiration!! So, let’s get to it…..

First from Maryanne Williamson (a quote that is sometimes attributed to Nelson Mandela), a mantra.

One I tend to forget, but do so enjoy!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Thank you Randy Paucsh and Steve Jobs!

Transcript is found here… http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1422863/posts

Do You Think That Mobile’s Exorbitant Fee Structure Inhibits Innovation?

Pricepoints comments are at the end of this post…

SMS May Be Near Universal, but the Costs of Working With It Are Too High

Craig Daitch Craig Daitch also writes the blog Thought Industry.

Quickly, list 10 social-media success stories.

Not too difficult right?

Now try listing 10 mobile ones.

Gotcha, didn’t I?

Comparatively speaking, it’s easy to see how and why new-media entrepreneurs can bowl strikes with web-based ideas yet the mobile industry continues to throw gutter balls. As a “pioneer in the mobile space” (not my words, I swear), I’ve seen plenty of attempts at mobile innovation. In fact, by the time I’d left Simplewire to start my new-media consultancy with former Sony Ericsson marketing maven and current PHD Senior VP of New Media Ashley Swartz, I’d witnessed approximately 65,000 of them.

Yet of the thousands of developers who applied SMS (text messaging) to myriad vertical applications, I can only think of a handful with staying power.

Flawed system
The reason, my friends, is that the system is flawed. Unlike interactive marketing, the mobile space has set up large roadblocks that don’t allow entrepreneurs the chance to grow their product offering. The primary culprit? Mobile marketing is too capital intensive.

I recently decided to eat my own dogfood and register my very own vanity short code. Like a vanity URL, a vanity short code consists of five to six digits that make up a recognizable name. To register a vanity code, you need to do the following:

  1. Invest $1,000 per month to retain your code.
  2. Commit in three month increments

That’s $3,000 a quarter to just keep your code live. In contrast, I can register a domain name for less than $10 a year. The good news? While a great vanity URL is hard to come by, a quick check of USshortcodes.com shows there’s lots of vanity short codes available.

More costs
Once you’ve spent $3,000 on your code, you now have to host it with an aggregator. Companies in this space historically charge you setup fees to have your code provisioned for SMS campaigns. These fees cost between $3,000 to $5,000, with a monthly recurring fee in the ballpark of at least $1,000.

But wait, there’s more! Aggregators have had a difficult time offering unlimited SMS plans. In today’s current mobile-marketing environment, an SMS campaign is going to cost me between 3 cents and 5 cents per message for standard-rate SMS. And mind you, that’s one-way traffic. If I’m to receive responses from my audience, I’ll get charged an incoming fee as well.

What if I want to offer premium billable services? Well, the good news is you avoid the cost per message because you’re now in business with the carriers and aggregators. The bad news? On average, an aggregator will share revenue with you, taking 50% of your profits per $1. The splits are variable and based on where you set your market price (i.e. a 10-cent ringtone may have a more aggressive split than a $1 one would).

Imagine setting up a merchant account with a credit card company and they told you that their merchant fees were 50%. First thing you’d do is put a sign out at the front of your store stating “CASH OR CHECKS ONLY!”

So let’s quickly rehash.
$12,000 a year to lease your vanity short code.
$5,000 in set up fees.
$12,000 a year in monthly maintenance/support fees
Variable cost of messages or a vacuum of 50% of your gross profits.

Now that I’ve just buried the industry that I cut my teeth on, let me quickly iterate -– this isn’t a letter of complaint (though I’m still stinging from a $3,000 short code bill with nothing to show for it). This is a letter of opportunity.

SMS is still the lowest common denominator in the mobile ecosystem as virtually all phones have SMS capabilities. Yet of the approximately 240 million mobile phone users in the U.S., 82% said that they’ve never used text messaging.

A charge to the industry
Would we use SMS more frequently if we had more variety in our applications? Unequivocally, yes.

Would Mark Zuckerberg have been able to start Facebook in his dorm room if he were up against almost $30,000 in start-up fees? I think that’s questionable.

And that’s why mobile marketing needs to change. Stop prohibiting innovation, start encouraging it. Lower the costs, embrace entrepreneurs and promote those who bring something new and compelling to the marketplace.

Comments
<Craig,

I tend to agree with most of what has been said and certainly agree with Rick that financial success is the true measure.

As one of the most personal devices that we carry 24/7 the fact that market forces have kept spam to a minimum, I believe, is a good thing.

Don’t want to alienate and destroy this channel. And agree with Jamie that the maturity and dynamics of this channel do make it different… not sure it cost $30K in 1997 to build a web page for a site, er er ok, probably.

My POV is that there is a huge opportunity that most manufactuers are missing to provide point of contact information to consumers (and in return capture that potential new customer).

I have been saying to anyone that will listen (including sadly my old company who doesn’t get it) that SMS shortcodes will(should) replace URL’s on pack.

With 70% of the decisions being made at the shelf and a high percentage of offline “tire kicking” then online “price comparison” buying behavior being exhibited, the potential for the ultimate 1-to-1 CRM activation is tremendous.

Imagine if you’re on the dealer’s lot on Sunday and want more info but don’t want to bother (excuse me BE bothered by) the Salesman or Real Estate or the aisles of your local Piggly Wiggly (do they still have those?).

Anyway, if you start to amortize the $30K across the thousands of shoppers out there that are evaluating your product up close and personal it doesn’t take long to hit breakeven of say a $1 per name acquisition cost target (according a Forrester Direct Marketing document).

In the final analysis, as we are seeing, the mobile marketing (not advertising) opportunity is a different dynamic and not just a scaled down web.

RFPrice
Digital Pricepoints CEO
https://pricepoints.wordpress.com/ –Randy F Price, Laguna Beach, CA