The Glass is 14% Full

If you’re out there with online display ads, do you wring your hands when you read in MediaPost that ‘only’ 14% of people can  name the company, the brand or the product for the last display ad they saw? We suggest you should think again.

That’s a huge number!

Think about it. Do you remember the company, brand or product for the last TV ad you saw? Or the last magazine ad you saw? It’s likely that you don’t even remember that there was an ad.

And, when it comes to relevance, “2.8% of respondents said they thought the ads they saw met their needs to either answer a question or provide more information”. That compares well to direct response advertising, especially direct mail.

There’s no question that display ads could be better, more targeted, more creative, and presented in less cluttered environments. However, they aren’t dead yet. This glass isn’t 86% empty. It’s 14% full.

On Twitter, Bloggers Live Longer Than Media

Now here’s some myth busting research about Twitter. From experts at Cornell University and Yahoo.

It shows the power of bloggers, the two-step process of driving media content, and the life span of videos and music (they can last forever).

The stats show that if you want your Tweets to get noticed, it helps to be a celebrity, a blogger, or someone who posts URLs on videos or music.

Key findings include…

1. ‘Elite’ Tweeters account for almost half of all posted URLs. Not tweets. ‘Posted’ URLs.

2. These ‘elite’ Tweeters are a tiny fraction of those with accounts – 0.05%. Not 1/2 of 1%. 10 times smaller.

3. Aston Kucher and Lady Gaga are the top 2 elite Tweeters.

4. On Twitter, there is tendency for individuals to associate with others of the same kind. In other words, celebrities follow celebrities, media follow media, bloggers follow bloggers, etc. No surprise here. We go deep into our own kind.

5. Here’s a big one. A special class of ‘ordinary’ users pass along almost half the information from the media. Here’s a direct quote from the study, “almost half the information that originates from the media passes to the masses indirectly via a diffuse intermediate layer of opinion leaders, who although classified as ordinary users, are more connected and more exposed to the media than their followers.” In other words, the media really can’t control the conversation any more.

6. If a blogger says it, it’s likely to live a lot longer than if the media say it. “…different types of content exhibit very different lifespans: media-originated URLs are disproportionately represented among short-lived URLs while those originated by bloggers tend to be overrepresented among long-lived URLs.”

7. Videos and music are the longest lived URLs. “…the longest-lived URLs are dominated by content such as videos and music, which are continually being rediscovered by Twitter users and appear to persist indefinitely.”

If you want to dig deep into the study, you can download it here at Yahoo Research where you’ll get all the math, stats and stories.

The Huge Canary in The Internet Coal Mine

Facebook’s stuttering IPO has the doomsday drums beating. They will fail. The model won’t hold. The stock will collapse.

It’s all about Facebook and its stock price.

But, there is a bigger story here – one that we wrote about back in 2009 – the Chaos Scenario, Bob Garfield’s theory that the price of advertising would continue to drop online as the available ad inventory exploded while demand grew more slowly than supply. In other words, anyone who is building a model based on exponential ad growth online is unlikely to make it work.

And, Facebook needs exponential growth to make it work.

It’s almost laughable how much growth they need. Unless you are a professor of finance at NYU and you simply ‘assume’ that Facebook will grow advertising at 40% a year for the next five years. In other words from $4 billion today to $15.3 billion.

Based on that assumption, professor Aswath Damodaran, writes that Facebook is ‘only’ worth $70 billion. There’s only one problem with his ‘low’ valuation. It assumes that Facebook knows how to earn $15 billion a year from a customer base who are too disinterested to click on its ads, don’t use Facebook for search, and don’t even trust the company and its founder.

However, the valuation of Facebook may be moot. Because tech finance expert, Michael Wolff, presents a different doomsday scenario about Faceook in the MIT Technology Review – one where Facebook literally brings down the internet advertising model.

It all starts with the incredible growth necessary to keep Facebook stock price up, just as Aswath Damodoran assumes it must.

Woolf says that this will destabilize the ad market online, with negative results. He suggests …

“In its Herculean efforts to maintain its overall growth, Facebook will continue to lower its per-user revenues, which, given its vast inventory, will force the rest of the ad-driven Web to lower its costs. The low-level panic the owners of every mass-traffic website feel about the ever-downward movement of the cost of a thousand ad impressions (or CPM) is turning to dread, as some big sites observed as much as a 25 percent decrease in the last quarter, following Facebook’s own attempt to book more revenue.

You see where this is going. As Facebook gluts an already glutted market, the fallacy of the Web as a profitable ad medium can no longer be overlooked. The crash will come. And Facebook—that putative transformer of worlds, which is, in reality, only an ad-driven site—will fall with everybody else.”

If Aswath Damodoran is right, there will be no collapse. Facebook will be worth a mere $70 billion and Mark Zuckerberg will live happily ever after.

If Bob Garfield and Michael Wolff are right, there is a mighty shake-out coming online, that might be precipitated by Facebook’s massive inventory grab. Which Google and others won’t give up without a serious fight.

We’re watching the Facebook canary very carefully.


Why CBS Radio Will Love Acura (for a while)

The dirty little secret of the mobile revolution is that real ‘mobility’ is expensive. Very expensive. And, the jury is out as to whether the consumer will pay.

Here are the facts. There are basically two kinds of mobile. Wi-Fi and Wireless. For Wi-Fi, you have to stop moving and sit or stand in your home, a Starbucks, an airport or any other Wi-Fi enabled hotspot.

In other words, it’s not fully ‘mobile’. With true Wireless, you’re free to move and take your entertainment with you – but you have to pay a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. And you pay them a lot.

If you’ve got a smartphone or an iPad, you know the wireless drill. At least $30 a month for a ‘data plan’ which is likely to be capped at 2-3 Gb. Verizon is $30 for just 2 Gb. If you use more than your limit in a month, you pay another $10-12 per Gb for data.

To put this in perspective… if you listen to Pandora (or any radio stream, even your favorite local station), you use about 1Gb for 40 hours. In other words, about 1 1/2 hours a day. If you watch about 75 YouTube videos, you use 1Gb. As you can see, it doesn’t take long to hit your data cap. And, at 4G speeds watching HD, you hit it even faster.

So, once you go over your data cap, 40 hours of radio costs $12. That’s 30 cents an hour. Or, it’s 16 cents for a YouTube video.  It can add up fast.

And these numbers raise a big question … have the automakers thought about this as they unveil the 2013 cars, many of which are loaded with bluetooth connections so that your wireless device can run through their dashboard? Have they thought about who’s going to pay to receive all this data?

Honda just announced a deal with Aha for a data heavy service in their new cars. Others, such as Ford and General Motors are right behind.

And that’s why companies like CBS Radio are going to love Acura – because it won’t be long until consumers are hit with huge data bills for using wireless in their cars. For many of them, broadcast over-the-air radio might start looking like a bargain again.

And, this won’t just hit cars. More and more, broadband providers are throttling data speed at home which affects your Wi-Fi. Once you reach about 5Gb, they slow you down so much that Netflix begins to look like a choppy movie.

But, for companies like CBS and Clear Channel, data caps are a sword that cuts both ways.

The tough part for CBS with and Clear Channel with iHeart radio is that their streaming services are also going to cost the consumer money, especially those who listen a lot.

So, broadcast radio and TV will benefit from data caps on one hand and be hurt on the other.

This elephant in the room isn’t going away. It will be interesting to see the reaction of Acura, among others, when car buyers discover the price of on-demand, one-on-one media.


What Latina Moms Want Online in 2012

If you are advertising to Hispanics, it’s more important than ever to understand the nuances in their online behaviors.

That’s our conclusion after researching online Latina moms for Mamiverse, a fast growing website that caters to this influential market.

By researching over 1000 moms, we  identified 6 different types (segments) of online Latina moms, providing information that will help Mamiverse create  highly targeted messages and content.

Mamiverse CEO Rene Alegria shared some of the findings in a detailed press release, including: political hot topics – jobs and education; social networking behavior – 90% go on Facebook and 37% used Twitter in the past 30 days; and the concern among many online Latina moms that their children may be losing touch with their culture.

Mobile Research 2012 – Updates and Best Practices

2012 will be the year of mobile research – as marketers try to reach the increasingly elusive consumer on-the-move.

And, if you think mobile research is tough now, consider this … “Mobile research hasn’t been defined yet”.

That’s the assessment of Dr. Tim Snaith,  researcher, customer service expert and co-founder of OnePoint Global –  one of the leading edge mobile research companies figuring out best practices in this rapidly evolving field.

Tim is working to define mobile research – with an innovative turn-key solution for reaching your mobile customers right when you want them.

And, he gets excited when he talks about how mobile phone research can get you closer to the customer, faster and more effectively.

In a recent interview, he gave an example of how granular and powerful mobile research can be. It drills right down into the customer who is making a purchase in real time.

He says,  “We can reach the customer in lots of ways. They might have already opted-in to the research from a panel, or just scanned a QR code on some form of marketing communication or simply responded to an in-store offer to text a keyword.”

Once they have agreed to participate, the mobile research begins. Here’s how it works…

“We might identify a customer in a store by using geo-location and then ask ‘What products are you looking at right now? Please barcode scan the one(s) you’re considering and then scan the one(s) you buy.’

As soon as our server sees the barcode, we ask the customer why they bought that particular product out of all those they considered. If the customer is using SMS, they might get 6 quick questions on their phone – one at a time. If they use mobile web or the OnePoint app, we can ask them even more.

Regardless of the type of phone they’ve got, the answers will be immediately used as real time feedback to help the client with pricing, product placement, packaging, and the product itself.”

Using this methodology, changes designed to increase sales and service can be made in minutes, not hours, due to real-time management alerts.

However, in spite of its benefits, Tim cautions that mobile research “is not a replacement for the 4 major research methodologies –  online, phone (CATI), mail, or face to face”.

Rather, he sees mobile research as a ‘the 5th methodology’, an essential addition to the multimodal toolkit for a 21st Century marketer. It can be used as a stand alone tool where the process requires it or as a very powerful addition to other methods.

But, getting it right isn’t always easy.

That’s why Tim’s team keeps updating and tweaking their mobile research software based on each new study they do. He sees it as the only way to stay ahead of the pack.

OnePoint went so far as to make their research software backward compatible so that it works not only on a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android but also on older handsets that are still in use by as many as 40% of Americans and most of the developing world.

And, so far, this approach is working.

For example, OnePoint Global did a study for 100 retail stores in LA. When customers scanned a QR code in a store, if their handset was set to Spanish, the OnePoint Global software immediately offered up a Spanish language survey.

They even customized the survey so that if customers scanned the code at a specific time (such as early morning), they were asked different questions than if they scanned at a different time.  This allowed the retailer to test different offers at different times of the day.

Even better, it seems that survey takers like it. Tim likes to brag that OnePoint Global is able to generate “unrivalled completion rates of 55%+ with 80% completed within two hours of interaction”.

In other words, more than half the mobile customers take the survey and 80% have completed in two hours – with data immediately available in the client’s online account.

For now, Tim is exploring every opportunity available for his software. OnePoint Global is willing  to ‘white label’ the software for any client. They already do this for 6 of the top 7 global research agencies  as well as  leading global brands.

They offer apps that help ‘panel’ companies do geo-located instant research and can even capture inbound, or serve up pictures or video very quickly if a client wants to evaluate something visual.

It’s an exciting new area of research that is still in its infancy.

When asked, “What is the best process for mobile research?”, Tim simply says, “Engage the consumer without them feeling like they were being spammed.”

To date, their best practices appear to be…

Ideal survey time is 1-3 minutes. The process is important.  Ask and offer an incentive.  Something like,  “Answer our 6 question survey and we’ll give you a reward.”

The reward needs to cover any ‘reply’ cost that respondents incur as well as the value of their time. For those using panel based responses, it’s easy to deposit ‘rewards’ directly into the panelists account.

Tim says, “We want people to look forward to the next mobile survey.  So keep it short.” He adds, “A mobile survey is a double edged sword. If you abuse it, people will cut you off.”

So far, no one seems to be cutting OnePoint Global off.

Tim is happy to report, “Clients double every year and we have a 98% retention rate. Our cost per complete is low, and we are constantly focused on how to make it really easy for the person who completes the survey and really efficient for the client who sends it out.”

With his eye focused firmly on customer satisfaction, Tim and his team are part of the movement that is helping to ‘define’ the emerging field of mobile research in 2012.

Motivations: Why We ‘Share’ Online

Here’s how to make your blog, your tweets, your Facebook page, and even your LinkedIn profile more effective.

Just check out this new study from CIG and The New York Times.

This new research suggests 5 key motivations for sharing online (they apply when we share offline too).

  1.  To bring  valuable and entertaining content to others – 94% carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient.
  2.  To define ourselves to others – 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
  3. To grow and nourish their relationships – 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
  4. Self-fulfillment – 69% share because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
  5. To get the word out about causes or brands – 84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.

For people and brands who want to optimize social media, the research is clear. It suggests that you…

  1. Make your ‘content’ matter. If it’s not ‘valuable’, almost no one will forward it.
  2. Make it easy for people to share their causes and what they care about.
  3. Let them nourish their own relationships – don’t try to manipulate them to ‘share’ their friends.