Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google ads its' own "like" button.

Google has paid a huge complement to the facebook business model by adding their own "like" button.

Here is the promotion video to explain how it works.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Salesforce buys social media platform Radian6

Enterprise cloud computing company Salesforce has acquired social media monitoring platform Radian6 for approximately $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock, the companies have announced.

Additionally, approximately $10M in stock and $4M in cash will be issued to founders and will be subject to vesting conditions over two years. The acquisition has been approved by Radian6′s board of directors and stockholders and is expected to close by July 31, 2011, subject to customary closing conditions.

“With Radian6, is gaining the technology and market leader in social media monitoring,” chairman and CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff said in the company’s announcement.

This is the third large acquisition in recent months by Salesforce, which has acquired Ruby cloud platform Heroku for $212 million in December. That same month, Salesforce also acquired contact management startup Etacts for an undisclosed amount, and in January, the company scooped up web conferencing service Dimdim for $31 million.

Social media management and monitoring space has been the center of several large investments and acquisitions lately. In February, Vitrue secured $17 million in funding, while Buddy Media raised $23 million last October.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bulk of ad budgets still on TV (not web)

We all hear statistics about millions of eyeballs moving from conventional television to computer and online. Here are some encouraging numbers for those in the broadcast sales industry.

By Edmund Lee

The internet is consuming ever more of our waking moments, not to mention ever more ad spending, but that doesn't mean that traditional media is the loser. At least not when "traditional media" means TV.

According to the latest research from eMarketer, advertisers are spending more than ever on the broadcast networks and cable, around $60.5 billion on commercial time this year, making TV the richest media segment, with 39.1% of all ad spending, up from 38.6% in 2010. The research firm attributes the share growth to the "recovering economy," but also found the industry is expanding at the expense of other media, specifically newspapers and magazines, and to some degree the internet.

The durability and growth of TV has to come as a surprise to many who predicted that TV dollars would shift to the web along with the growing amount of time consumers spend entertaining themselves on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube.

"Even though online advertising has been robust, it hasn't stopped advertisers from keeping the bulk of their budgets right on TV," eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey said, pointing out that even in spite of consumers' healthy appetite for content on laptops and cellphones, it's not having any discernible effect on their TV habits, or on the amount of money marketers are looking to spend to get in front of their faces.

EMarketer estimates that $64.5 billion will be spent on TV advertising next year, almost double the amount marketers will spend on the internet. "TV remains supreme because it's still seen as a mass-reach vehicle that drives awareness," Mr. Ramsay said. But in an age of simultaneous media usage where one media often drives another and back again, it will become harder to justify discrete budgets.

Simultaneous media consumption has become a regular habit among Americans, according to Nielsen Co. Since 2009, around 60% of the TV audience has been regularly clicking through the internet while watching their favorite shows, a fact that is more astounding when considering we're watching more TV than ever, averaging about 35 hours per week in early 2010, vs. 33 hours a week in 2009. But we're not distracting ourselves into oblivion. It turns out that people aren't watching Fox's "Glee" while checking e-mail, but they are more likely commenting on the latest episode on Twitter and Facebook while scrolling through websites such as IMDB to check a particular actor's resume or scan synopses of previous episodes.

"The internet is fueling the TV content," Mr. Ramsay said, noting how the two media have become much more blurred. And as more people adopt the practice of watching internet content on their TV screens, whether via specialized set-top boxes or even a jerry-rigged set up, it will become harder to discern where TV begins and the internet ends, Mr. Ramsay said. "We're already staring to see the semblance of this now," he said, "but TV will remain dominant for some time."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Aflac looking for new duck voice

We talked about the replacement of Gilbert Gottfried recently in this blog. It appears Aflac is going to take a negative and turn it into a positive. After firing Gottfried for insensitive comments he tweeted after the Japanese earthquake disaster, they're now making a well publicized event out of his voice replacement.

When it's covered in Time Magazine, it can safely be called "an event."


After the company canned Gilbert Gottfried for insensitive tweets about Japan, Aflac hopes to get its voice back.

Through a series of casting calls and interviews, the insurance company is looking for America's best quacker. But before the applications come flooding in for what should be the world's easiest job app (aside from the 72-character application needed to be Charlie Sheen's intern, of course), Aflac has laid out a rather detailed list of requirements.

(More on See the tweets that got Gottfried fired)

They're seeking a new quack for the iconic duck, yes, but the winning applicant must be able to translate the onomatopoeic sound into a veritable message. They say they're looking for the quacker who can explain "Aflac is the insurance company that they can count on in their time of need” – using no words at all.

To find the next voice, they're holding live casting (quacking?) calls in six cities across the U.S. and are also accepting your uploaded quacks in mp3 format.

But the job requirements might trip up even the most expressive duck emulator. The company wants a bilingual quacker, presumably for their Spanish market. And slyly added into the job description, to avoid history repeating itself: a candidate that “behaves ethically.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Ameriquest - using humour effectively

We've talked about this before on Creative Excellence Fridays; when does humour work in advertising?
We still maintain that the humour needs to be built around the central sell point, if the campaign has any chance of scoring impression points.

Ameriquest created a series of very funny commercials. But the all important question is, "Do you remember the advertiser?"

Here's commercial number 1. "I'm getting robbed."

Hey, it could happen. That's the scary part.

Commercial # 2 in the series, "Romantic Dinner."

Talk about putting a damper on the mood.

Commercial # 3 "I'm her daddy."


Very funny commercials, but did they sell mortgages? Did the humour overpower the brand?

Given that Ameriquest was dissolved in 2007, I think the results speak for themselves.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liz Taylor's influence on advertising

There is no doubt, long before Angelina Jolie, Scarlet Johanson and Charlize Theron, there was Elizabeth Taylor. She was the first face of classic Hollywood beauty combining fragrance with cache. Oh sure, Merle Oberon and many from the classic era lent their images to advertising, but Liz was the first to do it with such panache.

Here is an article from today's Ad Age that recaps her career and influence on the business of ads.

When Elizabeth Taylor -- who died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at the age of 79 -- wasn't delivering Academy Award-winning performances in some of Hollywood's most memorable films of the 1940s, '50s and '60s, she was lending her image and influence to brands.

Most notably, she teamed with Elizabeth Arden Co. to produce a series of fragrances closely associated with her "Golden Age" persona, including "Passion," "White Diamonds" and "Black Pearls." Her 1991 "White Diamonds" TV spot, in which she delivers her famous line "These have always brought me luck" is still airing, especially during the holidays.

In 1996, she made headlines by working with CBS to integrate her and "Black Pearls" fragrance into the story lines of four Monday night prime-time shows on the same evening. It is testament to Ms. Taylor's legend that no other celebrity has been able to pull off an integration deal of that scope since.

But it wasn't only fragrances; from when she was at the peak of her fame to the final decades of her life, Ms. Taylor's visage was plastered across ads for products like Whitman's chocolate, Lustre-Creme Shampoo, Lux Soap, Max Factor cosmetics and ArtCarved Diamonds.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Samsung tablet an Ipad killer?

The second generation Ipad is getting a lot of buzz for listening and improving on the first generation. The other players are not sitting by idly watching without taking a few notes of their own. Ipad comes with thousands of apps made specifically for Apple, which will, for the foreseeable future be one of their chief advantages.

Here's an eye opening article from Mashable talking about Samsung's improvements.

Samsung’s redesigned 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab is thinner and lighter than an iPad 2. But can it compete against the Apple juggernaut?

The numbers are all there for the specmeisters, with this reworked Galaxy Tab rocking a slightly larger touchscreen over the iPad 2, higher resolution, a 1GHz dual core processor and lighter 595g weight compared with the 601g of the iPad 2 Wi-Fi. But the most important number of all is its price. Unlike Samsung’s overpriced predecessor, the 16 GB Wi-Fi Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will cost exactly the same as the iPad 2 Wi-Fi 16 GB: $499. Bam!

The first Galaxy Tab didn’t fare too well. In fact, the day of the iPad 2′s rollout, even Samsung’s Executive VP of its mobile division Lee Don-Joo admitted its shortcomings: “We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate… Apple made [the iPad 2] very thin… The 10-inch (tablet) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch (tablet) but we will have to think that over,” he said.

We didn’t care much for the first Samsung Galaxy Tab, either. When we got our hands on it earlier this year in Barcelona, it was flimsy, felt cheap, and we thought its much-ballyhooed Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) interface was confusing and buggy. And, the device got uncomfortably hot in one corner.

While this thinner, redesigned model reportedly felt much better in all respects, it’s still missing one key number, and that is the hoard of software Apple offers for the iPad 2, more than 60,000 apps specifically created for the platform. But that impressive number also includes the fart apps, too. Even so, Apple has a huge head start.

Meanwhile, Samsung introduced another contender it calls the Galaxy Tab 8.9, a little more than an inch smaller than its big brother. It includes the same 1GHz dual-core processor, and looks just about the same as the 10.1-inch model, as you’ll see in the gallery below.

Both of Samsung’s new tabs beat the iPad 2 easily in the camera spec department, with a 3-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel up front, both shooting 1080p video. In what could be the clincher for many users, the Samsung tablets boast another capability lacking in the iPad 2: Adobe Flash playback.

Want to try one? You’ll have to wait until June 8 for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Wi-Fi, priced at $499 for the 16 GB version and $599 for 32 gigs. Samsung was not as specific with the release date for the Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi, which it said would be available in “early summer” at $469 for 16 GB and $569 for 32 gigs.

So is the Galaxy Tab 10.1 an iPad 2 killer? I don’t think so, but it’s a lot closer to being competitive than Samsung’s first attempt. Tell us in the comments if you agree.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Burger King looking for new cook

Burger Kings sales have been declining steadily, six quarters in a row to be exact. The decision makers decided it was time to pull the plug on MDC and Crispin Porter Bogusky. Some of the more talked about ads in the industry were coming out of CPB, but its proof that sometimes the most creative thinking out there doesn't automatically translate into sales. Aside from firing their agency, its hoped that Burger King does a more introspective look inside as well to determine if the wheel needs a "retool", and not just the message.

Here's the full article from Ad Age. Maureen Morrison

The seven-year relationship between Burger King and MDC Partners' CP&B outlasted multiple marketing chiefs, ad-induced franchisee tension and controversial campaigns. But after six quarters of declining sales, new ownership severed the knot, setting the fast feeder up for its next challenges: gain back lost share, strike a cohesive marketing message and retain its post as the No. 2 burger chain, despite Wendy's nipping at its heels.
Burger King's Crispin-created Subservient Chicken
Burger King's Crispin-created Subservient Chicken

Notably, the company will hunt for a new agency without a chief marketing officer, as Exec VP-Global CMO Natalia Franco departed in February, only nine months after she filled a protracted CMO absence. North America CMO Mike Kappitt left the company in December.

Last fall, Burger King Holdings was bought by 3G Capital, a New York-based investment firm with Brazilian ties. A week after the ink dried, Bernardo Hees, a 3G partner and Brazil native, was named CEO of Burger King, succeeding John Chidsey, who became co-chairman and will leave the company April 18. Burger King, meanwhile, aligned global brand marketing and global operations teams into a single function.

Burger King did see a sales increase after CP&B signed on, but sales turned south in 2009, with the company reporting negative same-store sales from second-quarter 2009 through third-quarter 2010, the most recent quarter publicly reported. Technomic estimates that Burger King's U.S. sales for 2010 were down 2.5% to $8.7 billion. Comparatively, McDonald's was up 4.4% to $32.4 billion and Wendy's was relatively flat, down 0.6% to $8.3 billion.

While some might blame over-the-top marketing campaigns, a source of consternation among franchisees, Burger King has shown an appetite for over-the-top, offensive and arguably bad advertising -- and not just from CP&B.

In global markets Burger King showed a Hindu goddess perched on a ham sandwich and ran a crass ad for a seven-inch-long sandwich, depicted entering a blonde woman's mouth; copy read, "It'll blow your mind away." Those were created by a local Spanish agency and Singaporean agency, respectively.

"They've lacked a cohesive strategy of what products are, and what the marketing message is," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. "Many consumers wouldn't be able to tell you what they're promoting, other than their spokesman. The sales results speak for themselves."

Much of its menu and messaging targeted young men, a demographic hit by the recession. McDonald's, meanwhile, posted gains with family and value messaging. BK, which spent $301 million on U.S. measured media in 2010, per Kantar Media, also funneled nearly 58% of its U.S. ad budget during the last few months of 2010 into its newly revamped breakfast menu, a day part McDonald's already dominated.

CP&B representatives declined to comment on the loss beyond a joint statement issued with Burger King. But people close to the shop say it's trying desperately to rejigger staff in order to prevent layoffs, as it did when it lost the plum Volkswagen business in 2009.

A Burger King spokesman said it will conduct a review sans search consultants, adding that it typically conducts its own agency reviews. Agencies with large enough presences and without conflicts that could compete include Dentsu's McgarryBowen, WPP's JWT, Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and independents Wieden & Kennedy and Cramer-Krasselt. While WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, Brazil, works for franchisees, Ogilvy is otherwise in conflict due to its global Yum Brands business.

Under CP&B's model, the loss of affect agency's six offices. While Microsoft is probably CP&B's largest account by revenue, Burger King is easily one of its top five and one of the shop's truly global clients at a time when CP&B is focused on expanding its footprint internationally.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Insurance commercial icons

In light of the Gilbert Gottfried fiasco from earlier this week, I thought it might be interesting to look at the icons behind the brands. Whenever you have a human element, "things" beyond your control can happen. Gottfried showed incredibly poor judgment with his tweets criticizing the disaster in Japan. And now Aflak has to do damage control.
However their brand is only partially obstructed. The visual is still the duck, and the use of the vocalized "aflack" is still permissible. Given they released Gottfried so quickly they minimized brand damage.

Note, their commitment to the duck has become fairly minimal in recent years.

Progressive Insurance, however has more at stake. By committing completely to the character "Flo", played by actress Stephanie Courtney, they have put their brand more on the line. If Stephanie decided to pull a similar twitter stunt, or had skeletons in her closet, Progressive would suffer a much more significant brand interruption.
You can be sure Progressive had their best people investigating Stephanie, before signing her to the role.
Here is some of what they may have discovered.
Her Independent Movie Data Base profile. Stephanie Courtney It reveals a storied background with respected LA improv group the Groundlings.
And a more recent search may have revealed this online comedy piece.

Here's the latest Flo commercial.

Following on with the theme, Geico insurance took a safer route with a digitally animated character. However they haven't been without incident on their voice.
Note this article referencing the revolving voices around the character and the tag announcer.
Geico voices
Tag announcer Lance Baxter had some pretty extreme right wing politics which were in conflict with the more neutral stance of Geico. Needless to say he has been replaced.

Geico is a shrewd marketer, however, and realized some time ago, that a "dual brand" is not only a safer bet against incidents such as this, but also a more entertaining route for viewers.
Here's a "non geico" generic branded spot.

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Choosing your online brand colours

In the design realm we all know there are certain colours that work together better. And we know there are "hot" colours; not hot as in warm and cool, but trendy. Lime green was "the" colour a few years ago. Hot orange seems to be the colour this year. Who decides? Well, the design community, and hopefully the "bureau of good taste". (although that bureau has been known to take occasionally extended holidays to parts unknown the odd year)

You've heard the expression, "tone deaf"? There are people who experience the same affliction with colour. Thankfully there are now web assistants who help the "colour challenged" choose more wisely.

Here are a few.

Pictaculous With Pitaculous, you already have an image which has committed you to a colour scheme. You simply upload that image, and their super genius computers palette out the colour scheme for the rest of your project.

Another popular one is Colour Schemer
You simply click on the "magic wheel" with your mouse and the colours miraculously appear in front of you.

Colour has such a powerful impact on our moods, our lives and how we perceive our brands; I hope these tools help make your choices a little easier.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hashable ap getting buzz for uber networking

So let me get this straight. I go to a tradeshow, install this app called Hashable on to my smartphone, and then instead of trading business cards, I'll enter a contact's email on to the phone. Then I can track where that person is going for the rest of the show?
I barely can keep track of the washrooms let alone where all my contacts went, are going, or will be going.
But one can appreciate how this tool can be an interesting way to cyber network.

Here is the source article from AdAgeDigital.

A Little New York Startup Battles Big-Spending Brands, Steals Show

Kunur Patel
Kunur Patel
Ad land, this app's for you.

Here's a common sight in Austin: mustachioed hipster meets cowboy-booted New Yorker for the first time, but they're both staring down at their phones. Some of South by Southwest Interactive's breakout startups have many attendees heads down, tapping away while crossing 6th Street or standing around in groups in the Hilton lobby.

What are they doing? If not texting their rat pack with GroupMe (more on that later), they're hashing.

Hashable, the app for iPhone and Android, has been an instant success at the Austin geekfest, largely because it helps the guy wearing the Disqus T-shirt remember the dude he met at the Driskill. It's a perfect app for conferences where the volume of people met never corresponds to space left in your pockets. Leave your business cards at home -- this is how to trade details with Twitter, Foursquare and contact info that downloads directly to your phone.

Here's how it works: You download the iPhone or Android app (BlackBerry is coming soon) and fill out your contact info. Then you link to Twitter and Foursquare and step out into the SXSW fray. When you meet someone you could hire or pitch to later, you open the app, pick a hashtag like #justmet #beers or #with and then enter the email address or Twitter handle for your new friend. Once you've made the connection in the app, you can post that connection to Twitter or download their details to your phone, if they're still worthy of a slot in your address book the next day.

The best part is that you can track how social circles overlap -- you can designate your inner circle (translation: people that you actually care about, or whose circles you want to get closer to) and then watch who they connect with on the app. While it sounds annoying, it just goes to show how everyone in the industry you want to meet has probably met a friend or will share a beer with someone you know at a conference like this. It's like LinkedIn, except mobile and location-based because you can tag a place to each connection.

Say your old bud from your last gig just sidled up next to the head of social media for Coke at Stubb's, and they exchanged info through Hashable. You see the connection pop up on your phone. Later that night, you persuade your buddy to introduce you since your shop's been on the prowl for a soda client and he's already got one. This app draws all the lines between all the players to show that, really, there are probably only seven connections between you and Cindy Gallop. And probably less. Here, I also must say the app's been a little buggy for me -- it's slow and stalls and I'm not sure how two people ended up in my inner circle -- but I can't help but wonder if over-stressed wifi and faulty 3G may at least be somewhat responsible.

Hashable also wins for smart startup marketing at SXSW. While it's been hard to see the six-month startups for the big brands like PepsiMax and CNN that are dominating the show with their big tents and bands, Hashable is out in full force. Maybe it's the evangelists who will pitch you to death when you're trying to interview its CEO-founder and startup vet, Michael Yavonditte, a VIP party at the Driskill or Hashable T-shirt-clad folks at every party, but the New York startup has managed to rise above. One such T-shirt told me at the Foursquare party this is largely because the startup team is well-seasoned; many are on their second or third company.

(GroupMe too, with the help of BrewPR, has also pulled off startup marketing done right with its grilled-cheese-and-beer outpost a stone's throw from the convention center. While it's tiny in the shadow of the Sobe tent, it's centrally located, yummy and draws an interesting mix of investors, other startup guys and journalists.)

Hashable is still too early for a business model -- the startup launched in private beta last June and is now public. But, down the road, Mr. Yavonditte points out that advertisers could find business folk and road warriors when they're sitting down to meals with other professionals, all within the app. Two of the most popular tags are #lunch and #dinner. "They're like search queries," he said. "It's a powerful way to segment white-collar professionals."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Youtube committing to content

How do you get professional video if you don't want to do big money deals with Hollywood studios? You go straight to the creators.

In recent months YouTube has held talks with producers and agents in Hollywood, some known for producing web video, such as Ben Silverman's Electus, and some not, about providing seed funding for content. They'd provide the money -- $2 million to $5 million, according to those briefed -- to those willing to commit to producing content channels with a certain number of episodes or frequency of episodes over time. New York magazine first reported on those talks in February.

While that sounds like a lot, one person who has heard the pitch says it works out to a production fee of about $4,000 per minute at the high end, big money by web standards but a pittance for TV. YouTube would get the premiere and an exclusive window, and would recoup its investment through revenue sharing of ad sales.

The Economics of Online Video 2011
The Economics of Online Video 2011
Online video and TV content are set to converge on a range of platforms, from Hulu to Google TV. An Ad Age Insights white paper on the contenders for consumers' attention and marketers' dollars.

YouTube execs cautioned that the talks have been exploratory; no deal has been completed and it's just one of many different initiatives to help content creators bring their video to YouTube. But they underscore YouTube's need to attract experienced content creators and to better package higher-quality content so advertisers spend more of their growing online-video budgets on the site.

The question is how to provide initial cash flow to producers who commit to building channels on YouTube, without actually paying for the content itself. "They are exploring all types of models to ignite the system," said Allen Debevoise, CEO of Machinima, one of YouTube's biggest video producers. "How do you get creative people to create better-quality programming on the platform to drive a better user experience and more ad revenue?"

Google, as a rule, is about building platforms and ordering the world's information with algorithms; it is fundamentally not about paying for content. But YouTube execs are realizing that video is different from search or even display and that getting critical mass of premium content -- for which advertisers are willing to pay a premium rate -- requires a human touch, and, in some cases, an open checkbook. Soon there will be more bodies on the case. YouTube plans to expand its 600-employee workforce 30% in 2011.

While YouTube is still feeling its way in Hollywood, it's becoming more aggressive about luring the independent video producers that have long been its biggest source of premium video, including advancing startup funds against future ad revenue and even offering $1,000 coupons for camera equipment.

"These types of producers are the backbone," said Tom Pickett, YouTube's global director of content. "The content gets better and better." These are video producers like Machinima, YouTube's fifth-most popular partner; Phil DeFranco, who video blogs as sxephil; and Ray William Johnson, YouTube's second-largest partner, whose manifesto says a lot about the size of audiences these videos are now entertaining: "I don't promote things in exchange for money, nor do I care to be on television. Thank you."

This economy of video producers didn't exist before YouTube and probably wouldn't exist without it. They're also YouTube's biggest source of so-called premium video that they can sell to advertisers. The goal for all their efforts is to find more talent and help promote their work. "We have hundreds making over six figures," Pickett said. "We are literally creating a new industry here. If you are the kind of person who can create video and build a sizable audience, then you should be able to make a living on YouTube."

Last week, YouTube closed a deal to acquire Next New Networks for its expertise in working with small web producers, as well as programming channels of content for advertiser-friendly audiences. NNN will also work on helping guide users to what's already on YouTube.

YouTube execs stressed there is no single new strategy to bring higher-quality content into the YouTube ecosystem; rather, they're trying many different approaches to widen the sphere of prolific creators who are making money on the platform.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Flo from Progressive Insurance

Coming this Friday, on Creative Excellence Fridays' we're going to compare creative approaches of insurance companies current and past.

Here's an interesting article from Ad News on the newest mascot sensation, Progressive's FLO.

Flo is watching you.

Starting this week, Progressive's perky sales clerk will push a new in-car product the company claims will be as transformative for the insurance industry as the iPod was for music -- a device that plugs in your car and tracks how and when you drive.

Progressive's sales clerk Flo will pitch the Snapshot.
Progressive's sales clerk Flo will pitch the Snapshot.

"This will signal a game changer for this industry in an industry ... that has not been seen as a game-changing industry," Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Charney told Ad Age. "We've been in business for close to 75 years and for the industry this is our iPod, this is our big launch."

The device, called "Snapshot," has actually been around for a while, giving policy holders who opt in a chance to earn discounts if their driving habits are up to snuff. But now Progressive will start to put its significant marketing muscle behind the program. In TV, print and digital ads, the auto insurer will promote Snapshot as "our biggest discount ever," in hopes that the program will lure new customers.

Small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, Snapshot plugs into a car's on-board diagnostic port, usually under the dash. Computer chips collect and store the time of day the car is operating, as well as speed -- factors that determine how many miles are driven and if the driver is making sudden stops. The data are sent to Progressive via wireless technology, and users can view their results almost instantly on a website. People who drive fewer miles and less aggressively can get discounts of up to 30% in as soon as 30 days. Permanent discounts can be locked in after six months, after which customers return the devices to the Cleveland-based insurer.

In a nutshell, here's the pitch: If you can prove you are a good driver, you can save more money. "This appeals to people who say, look, 'I'm subsidizing other people, and I deserve a break,'" said Richard Hutchinson, Progressive's general manager of usage-based insurance.

True to form, Progressive will use a lighthearted theme. One print ad, for instance, shows a man hugging his dog on his lap while driving, and asks, "You don't drive like this guy. So why are you paying like him?" In a TV ad, a smiling Flo pitches the device to a customer in her bright-white insurance "superstore," telling him, "This little baby keeps track of your great driving habits so you can save money." Progressive's agency of record is Arnold Worldwide, Boston.

Mr. Charney did not give spending figures but said the campaign will "be a heavy blitz for a very good bit of time." Progressive in 2010 spent more than $364 million in measured media, up from $291 million in 2009, according to Kantar Media, as the industry continued its expensive battle for market share. With a 7.6% share, Progressive is the nation's fourth-largest car insurer, behind Geico (8.29%), Allstate (9.96%) and State Farm (18.24%).

Other insurers sell similar products, but none as extensively as Progressive. For instance, State Farm partners with OnStar in some states on a program that tracks miles driven in return for discounts of more than 10% if policy holders drive the national average of 12,000 miles a year. Allstate's "DriveWise" program is similar to Snapshot, but so far it is only available in Illinois, although it has plans to expand to another state this summer. Geico does not market a device, but said it is "monitoring" the marketplace.

Users can view their Snapshot results almost instantly on a website.
Users can view their Snapshot results almost instantly on a website.

Progressive began experimenting with the technology in 1999 in Texas -- but the devices were big, clunky and cost-prohibitive. The technology advanced and got cheaper, and Progressive began rolling it out more aggressively two years ago, promoting it on its website, for instance. Now the devices are allowed in 32 states, and more than 100,000 are in use, Progressive said. The insurer has about 11 million policyholders.

Meyer Shields, an insurance analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, said Progressive is wise to make a big push. In the short term, it could improve profitability because those who use the device tend to drive more safely, at least initially.

"When you give people a gizmo that tracks how they drive, for a little bit of time, they drive better," he said. And in the long term, Progressive will be able to build a detailed profile of its customers, which will allow it to set rates accordingly. Most insurers rely on customer estimates to determine how much they drive each year.

But some privacy advocates say the insurer is going too far. It's a "slippery slope," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego. You "start out with something that may appear to be benign, but when you have the capability to do even more comprehensive tracking, there is a tendency to do that type of tracking over time," he said, suggesting that the data could be subpoenaed by courts, for instance.

Progressive says it does not use the data to resolve claims without first obtaining permission, and it will not sell "personally identifiable data to any third parties." However, the insurer said it will disclose data when "we're legally required ... such as in response to a subpoena in a civil lawsuit or by police when investigating the cause of an accident."

Mr. Hutchinson said: "Since we don't have GPS, all we can tell you is the car was on or off. We don't know who was driving it. We don't know where it was."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Really? Microsoft catch phrase

Every expert I have spoken with admits Microsoft has a real uphill battle to displace the mobile phone competition. But their first commercial to promote Windows Mobile 7 is impressive.
Creating a commercial campaign that gives birth to a "catch phrase" is every marketer's dream.
"Really?". It's such a simple premise. But how many times have you wanted to say to someone, "you have got to be kidding!" The marketing team at Crispin Porter + Bogusky did a stellar job on these spots. They have created a universal acceptance of the term, "really?".

The logic is simple. Don't be "that guy". We have all seen people texting while they walk across a busy street. And what's with texting non stop when you're at a party or out with a group of friends? It basically says, "I'd rather be with THIS person but I'm settling for you right now."

This ad doesn't play off the "really" theme, but reaffirms the concept that you should really live in the moment, not virtually.

The mobile market will continue to heat up we can't wait to see who hits the next home run as all the players attempt to cash in on the cool factor.

As always, your comments and contributions are welcome. Thanks to Dave Boire from DB Audio for this week's suggestion.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Facebook's redesign impacts your marketing strategy

Courtesy of David Berkowitz 360i.

This week, Facebook will begin rolling out its redesign to all pages that haven't already been switched over to its new format. The overhaul makes the pages look and feel more like user profiles. Facebook hopes this will create a more cohesive experience across the platform for its more than 600 million users.

These changes can have significant ramifications on marketers' Facebook strategies by giving brands more ways to interact with their communities on a more personal level. For developers, this opens up new possibilities for what can be done on tabs within pages. Here are three ways the redesign can shake up your approach to Facebook page management.

1. Brand pages can now communicate and interact with one another.
As social media has empowered brands to behave increasingly like people, Facebook is propelling the trend forward by allowing pages to behave in a way similar to individual profiles. This means that pages can interact on other page walls as a brand, via "liking" or commenting.

How to make it count:

  • Assess how you can weave cross-page interactions into your content strategy or use them as a fan acquisition tool.
  • If your brand has partner or family brands, create conversations between pages to create a cohesive experience, or alert people to additional pages within Facebook.
  • Consider using the new functionality as part of your influencer marketing efforts. Since major influencers (e.g., popular bloggers) have pages and not profiles, brands can now post on their walls to foster a relationship.

2. Tabs are less prominent, but marketers can now use them far more effectively.
Given the limited visibility of tabs with the redesign, marketers will likely need to bring visitors deeper into their pages via increased paid media, wall messaging, or using the new photo showcase -- which has assumed the position formerly occupied by tabs.

How to make it count:

  • Bring eyeballs and clicks to your inside pages through creative design, messaging or even paid media. Lessen the impact of the move by ensuring that your profile image is not too long, as it could run the risk of pushing tab links lower down the page -- possibly even beneath the fold. Meanwhile, Facebook ads can drive consumers to the tab of your choice.
  • While tabs inside pages may have less visibility, there is a boon for marketers as Facebook has added powerful iframes, which allow similar functionality as a normal website within a tab. Page owners can now integrate tracking platforms like Google Analytics, Coremetrics and Omniture, display Flash elements and video without the extra "click" to activate them, and add other interactive functionality.

3. Your page can now interact as a brand or as an individual.
While most administrators will continue to post as the brand, they can also be featured directly on the page itself. This is ideal for brands interested in transparency and those focused on personalized customer service.

How to make it count:

  • If you represent a brand and want to have a unique voice on the page, look into creating your own page and use that to interact with people within the brand's Facebook community. For example, establishing different voices and personalities would allow customer service representatives to deliver personalized experience on the Wall.
  • If you have a page with fewer fans and limited engagement, set up email notifications so you can stay closer to interactions on your page and respond to them in a timelier manner.

From here, the decisions are yours. How much do you want your page to sound like a brand versus an individual? Do you focus more on photo uploads since they're more prominent on pages? What other pages can you interact with in a way that users will enjoy? While it may be tempting to rush in and play with the new creative options, it's the perfect time to step back and evaluate how they'll help you use Facebook to further your marketing goals.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Facebook to compete with Netflix?

This came across the newsfeeds yesterday. Netflix shares are down nearly 4.9 % with the news that Facebook may be getting into the entertainment download business. and others are also looking at this revenue opportunity as well. It could get fairly crowded in the months/years ahead.


Netflix shares are tanking in the pre-market, in the wake of Facebook's announcement that it has made a deal with Warner Brothers to distribute movies on its platform.

The first instance of this "experiment" will be an offering of The Dark Night for rental on Facebook, with its credits acting as the payment method. Facebook will take a cut of the sale.

Netflix shares are down over 4% in the pre-market today, likely on fears Facebook may creep into their space. The company's share price has been sliding since February 11, on concerns competitors like Amazon may eat into its market share.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Golftown leads Canadian expansion into the US

Golftown is heading for beantown. The successful Canadian retailer, with deep pockets, is going to take Boston by storm just in time for spring golf season.

Meanwhile, Loblaw's "Joe Fresh" is going to take Manhattan. The economically priced fashion retailer is going to try its' luck in fashion friendly New York City.
It's described as a "value driven style concept'. Joe Mimran speaks from experience having taken Club Monaco to New York in 99, only to have Ralph Lauren buy the chain.

With the stronger Canadian dollar it's making it somewhat easier to attack markets south of the border.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Samsung revising game plan for release of Ipad2

Mashable - March 11-11

In a refreshingly honest statement, Samsung’s mobile division VP Lee Don-Joo admitted that the iPad 2 made some parts of Samsung’s 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab look “inadequate,” and the iPad 2′s pricing might force Samsung to lower the price of its tablet.

“Apple made it very thin (…) We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” Lee Don-Joo told Yonhap News Agency. We feel that a bit of information might have gotten lost in translation from Korean to English, as we definitely don’t expect Samsung to pull the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab from the market and release a thinner version. It’s more likely that Samsung simply sees the iPad 2′s thinness as a big challenge for its future tablet models.

The other part of Lee Don-Joo’s statement is clearer and far more telling. “The 10-inch (tablet) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch, but we will have to think that over,” he said.

Samsung, unlike some of its competitors — for example, the Motorola Xoom — won’t try to compete with the iPad at a higher price point just because some of the hardware of its tablet looks better on paper and that, in our opinion, is the right approach. Apple has set the price for its tablet in the $499 – $829 price range (with the cheapest 3G-sporting option being priced at $629), and any Android tablet will have a hard time competing with the iPad 2 at a price too near the upper end of that spectrum.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Creative Excellent Fridays - The greatest commercials of all time - No really, I googled it

It's such a random, and completely subjective statement. Your idea of a classic commercial, and my idea, are about as far reaching as stating "The Bridge Over the River Kwai" was much better than "Godfather2". It's all subjective.

Having said that, I decided as a completely unscientific exercise to simply type into google, "the greatest commercials of all time." Here is what a random google search came up with.

Agree. Disagree. Offer up your own. It's all good. As long as there is excellence of creative intent involved, we're good.

This commercial has such incredible impact when it first came out. It still wins many debates on its' influence. Part "BladeRunner". Part "2001 a space odyssey", it works on so many levels. Directed by Ridley Scott. I can't confirm this, but I'm reasonably sure the voiceover is Allan Arbus, the actor who played Sidney the psychiatrist on the television show Mash.

Does this Terry Tate commercial belong in the list? Probably not. It's entertaining. But not earth shaking. But again, the criteria was simply a google search. Who am I to question fate.

And finally, "I want my bon bon." Grocery stores, for generations, have been putting candy low enough on the aisles that any fairly functional five year old can reach, and put in the cart. That's the premise. It it made for a classic commercial.

Again, I realize the concept is a ridiculous one, but a fun exercise just the same. The greatest commercials of all time. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Charlie Sheen wins at social media. Common sense? Not so much

Charlie Sheen has gone on a public rant over the cancellation of his CBS show this past week. Many would question the logic or what he is trying to accomplish. However, one interesting point came out of all of this; it again focusses on the power of social media to distribute a message.

Charlie Sheen got authenticated on his Twitter account in record time. How? By hiring a skilled
tech company called Ad LY. They specialize in setting up and authenticating Twitter accounts for celebrities.

Sheen obviously knew the importance of hiring an astute tech ally. And his account has picked up 1.2 million followers in the last 36 hours.

It doesn't validate the serious trainwreck that is his life, however it does illustrate clearly the power of the messenger.

Who's on AD LY ,s client list? See for yourself Client list AD LY

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Video advertising - impressions or "cost per view"?

As video online advertising becomes more prevalent, pundits are reviewing the monetizing model carefully. Here's an interesting article from AdAge Digital

Why Video Advertising Needs to Dump Impressions and Move to 'Cost Per View'

Video That People Choose to Watch Should Be Treated Differently Than Those Forced on Them

Brett Wilson
Brett Wilson

When a "view" is counted on a site like YouTube, audiences and brands alike know what it means: someone chose to watch a video. Increasingly, there are a proliferation of video ads that capture the same characteristic, from pre-rolls giving viewers a choice of which ad to watch to skippable pre-rolls to in-banner units that viewers click to play.

Despite online video's massive growth -- daily unique video viewers grew 31.6% in the past year, according to ComScore -- metrics for pricing and measuring video advertising have not evolved in tandem. The primary way video advertising is bought and sold today is cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM). As Dave Morgan pointed out, CPM pricing in general has its limitations, leading to cross-comparisons that can be misleading, like comparing radio to TV. Online, CPM pricing equates a "clean-forward" video experience with a rich-media or display ad experience, despite proven differences in effectiveness. Further, as different ad formats proliferate in a pre-roll constrained world (e.g. click-to-play video ads) with a variety of pricing models, cross-comparisons can be difficult.

Baljeet Singh
To address this shortcoming, TubeMogul proposed and Google endorsed a new metric -- cost per view (CPV) -- to the IAB Digital Video Committee for review. CPV pricing would apply to all video ads that are user-initiated, distinguishing ads that viewers choose to watch from those that simply load by default within a video player or on a page, which would continue to be priced in "impressions." For example, a "view" would be counted for video ads watched through pre-roll ad selectors, completed pre-rolls that offered the viewer an option to "skip," or in-banner video ads that users click to watch. An "impression" would be logged for all other video ads.

Why define it this way? Viewer intention to watch an ad is widely seen as a proxy for whether a brand message is being delivered and consumed. In the next year, Kantar Media will release joint research with us analyzing specific benefits in detail. Early numbers from YouTube's TrueView in-stream ads -- which let viewers choose whether to watch an ad and only charge an advertiser if a viewer completes the ad -- are promising, with 20%-70% choosing to watch an ad. Still more research by Vivaki on Hulu's pre-roll ad selector also demonstrates the value in measuring user-initiated views.

Formalizing CPV at the ad server level would also bring clarity to advertisers that are currently buying both user-initiated and auto-initiated video with no ability to distinguish between the two since impression tags are used for both. More broadly, the proposal would likely broaden interest in video for advertisers of all types and sizes since marketers know more about what they are buying.

This proposal does not argue that all placements are created equal, or that viewer-initiated views are inherently more valuable. No one would argue that a pre-roll that automatically plays on a premium publisher site (i.e. Discovery Channel) without viewer choice is less valuable than a viewer-initiated view in low-end inventory. Nor does the proposal argue that simplified metrics, like a gross ratings point, should not exist for online video to provide cross-comparisons to metrics widely used for TV. What the framework provides is an additional level of detail on viewer engagement that never previously existed.

"The demand side of the market is looking for quality measures of engagement, which this proposal helps codify," said Bill Lederer, CEO of Kantar Video. "This just may be the next generation of work previously done by 'The Pool.' We are looking forward to conducting market studies on it.”

"If advertisers knew that they were buying viewers that were actually paying attention, I believe you would see budgets increase," Paul Kontonis, VP-brand content at Digitas. "Standardized 'cost per view' metrics and pricing get us much closer to that goal."

Most video advertising on the Web today is made by brands whose goal is simple: convey a message to captive audience. While "views" should not be viewed in a vacuum and are not a perfect metric, they provide additional detail to measure and price paid media on that basis. This additional level of detail would make it easier for brands of all sizes to adopt video advertising online.

Brett Wilson is CEO of TubeMogul, a video analytics and advertising company. Baljeet Singh is a senior product manager at YouTube.