Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Viacom and YouTube at it again

The Online-Video Takedown Smackdown
Filmmakers say their material is being unfairly removed from video-sharing sites, accusing Viacom and its ilk of censorship
A great piece in this week's BusinessWeek magazine.

To check out the entire article go here.

Awhile back I wrote about Viacom and NBC getting nasty about their content being posted to sites like YouTube. The general feeling was who cares if these large media companies pull their stuff from YouTube? You can find their content on the TV anyway. Reserve the space online for content that otherwise cannot get accessed through traditional mediums. Now, according to this article from BusinessWeek due to Viacom's aggressive content removal approach, content that is not in violation of any copyright laws is being yanked off of YouTube. Wow, this is heating up to be quite a mess for everyone.

One thought I had, it is kind of funny how these large media companies (who by the way make billions off of their content) are going after and upsetting a lot of people who may very well be their patrons in some way, shape or form.

I believe these companies (Viacom, NBC and others) have every right to monetize their content, I mean that is their business model, however their ignorance to how this posting of their content promotes their profit center is astounding.

They are only making heroes out of those they are trying to hurt. You would think with all of the money, resources and personnel that Viacom, NBC and others have, they would be able to come up with a solution that kept their content profitable, kept their patrons/audience happy and helped them transition into the new information age. It is truly amazing that they continue to proceed without a clear solution. Interesting stuff.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Newsletter Can Say a Lot...or Not

I got an email newsletter from a marketing group in town today. I read through the newsletter and spotted a few things I think we can learn from and apply in our own communications.

1. Speak plain English. We know you are smart people. Putting myself in the shoes of a potential customer reading your email, you don't have to show us that you won the metaphorical Olympics or are far superior than us in the field of marketing through your jargon laden writing. Folks tend to appreciate a straight shot of communique, minus the industry jargon and MBA-esque $5 words.

On a side not this is one reason I believe our group resonates so well with executive decision makers - we take what is complicated to them and remove the gobbledy gook techie/hip industry lingo and put it in business terms that they can understand and relate back to what they care about - promoting understanding and growing their business.

Excerpt from the email...
Jane Doe joined XYZ company on January 1. Her role? Funky title that does not bear repeating because it really doesn't mean anything to their audience. The person who knows how to add Tabasco to brand ideas by translating marketing speak to creative speak. Jane Doe brings 30 years of branding creativity to the team, having worked with clients like...fill in the blank with big company names.

I italicized the words I thought would serve only to confuse the hell out of someone not "in the know." Why not say she has great experience, is tremendous at helping both creative professionals and marketing professionals understand business objectives so that the end result is success? Or something simple like that? How does this translate into how we speak about our people, our products and ourselves? As those hired to help market others - is this what is being hired - big words that serve to confuse?

Another excerpt...
Jane Doe has collected over 300 creative awards from One Show, Clio, The International TV & Film Festival, the Emmys and many others. She’s judged many branding and creative competitions and enjoys teaching brand strategy and creativity to Visual Communication students at XYZ school.

Great. What has she done for clients? I bet she has done a ton for her clients - more than we can imagine, yet it is not mentioned. Not even eluded to. From this I gather she enters a lot of her work into contests and judges like it. I understand it is good to win awards. However, from the point of view that this email goes out to potentially hundreds of future clients, what is more important to promote, awards or results? How about both? I have been on the client side and as a potential customer I was always leery of those that promoted themselves as big award winners. I could have cared less. I wanted to know how they grew revenue, grew audiences, and improved processes in the marketing arena.

Is this why so many CMOs get canned after a year or two? Do they get caught up in the same traps that so many marketing, communications and ad folks get sucked into? Is it really more about awards than results? Of course it is not, but perception, as we all know, is a powerful thing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wow, how fickle the media gods can be

Budweiser is succeeding and failing at the same time.

Budweiser had some interesting and some real good spots on during this year's super bowl. Don't take my word for it, scan the web and check out reviews and commentary sites. Many crowned the "King of Beers" as the king of commercials during this year's big game broadcast.

They had one spot that I thought was quite funny - the spot of the auctioneer presiding over a young couple's wedding. Someone (not Budweiser) dropped that spot on YouTube and they have achieved 750,000+ views at the cost of $0. Yes, that is right - nothing to get exposed to hundreds of thousands of people. They spent millions to get exposed to millions during the game.

Here is the other side of the story. Anheuser Busch spent $600 million to launch bud.tv. I usually link to these things, but I am fairly confident that you will not be able to get in the site, so I am not bothering with the link. What makes me so confident you ask? I went to www.bud.tv last week and registered on the site including lots of personal information to help them verify that I am over 21 years of age. The site said it could not verify my age so I could not gain access. I emailed Budweiser and communicated my dilemma. They emailed me back like 3 days later with a nice note and a 1-800 number to call to get registered. I called.

I gave the guy on the other end of the line tons of personal info. all in the name of age verification - including my driver's license ID number, current zip code, prior zip code, etc. Another three days and they emailed me an access code. I went back to the bud.tv site and re-entered all of my info. plus the access code. No luck. The site said it still could not verify my age even with the access code sent to me by the Budweiser gestapo.

Okay, since this experience I have since seen that these issues are occurring for quite a few over 21 potential site visitors. $600 million and you cannot view the content!! $0 and 750,000 views of a spot. Think about that for a few minutes and as a marketer understand the difference. Accessibility, usability, engagement, ease of use, ease of sharing, open vs. closed environments, transparency and audience segmentation. What roles do all of these play in these very different scenarios for Budweiser?

Digital campaigns - Part 2, Be Relevant

If I had a dime every time I heard a marketer or advertiser state that their job is to change someones mind, convince, alter behavior, create a moment, etc. I would blog on how to spend millions, not marketing.

Before marketers had to compete with thousands of other marketers for one person's attention every single day, they had much better chances to accomplish their goals.

Oh how times have changed. Now it isn't so much about pushing as it is about getting your audience to pull. How is this accomplished? Be relevant. It is that simple. How do become relevant?

1. Understand your audience and what they like
2. Have something that offers real value to whoever it is you are interested in reaching. This is the single most important reason people will want to hear from you and continue to hear from you.
3. Your offering should first address a want, then address a need. People buy on emotion and back up their decision with facts.
4. When you get in front of your desired audience make sure you are giving them what they want in an engaging way - be fun, be original in an earnest way, and understand the value of transparency. In today's world, people are increasingly skeptical and in search of the real story. Give it to them.

It can be that simple. Be relevant.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Marketers, make it easy

What is the true mark of a great marketing campaign? Is it sizzling creative, the best laid strategic plans, enough measurement to make yours eyes bleed? I think those things are great, but seriously, isn't the best marketing campaign one that makes it easy for the target audience to actually make and complete a purchase?

Case in point, a few months ago I wrote in this very blog about this awesome house I saw advertised in Business 2.0 magazine. This home is truly amazing. It cuts your utilities by 85% a month and is about as efficient and eco-friendly as you can get! I think it looks cool too.

I went straight to the web site hell bent for leather trying to figure out how I could move into one of these homes ASAP. Well, here is where it gets rough. I go to the web site, get all of the information about how great this house is and how much it makes sense to have this "hybrid home" and I search hard and long for contact information so I can figure out how to get my hands on one of these homes. I finally find an email address and shoot out a message as fast as my stiff fingers can type. No response, for weeks no response. By now my excitement is waning a bit.

But wait, I finally got an email response. It tells me to call a number to speak with a rep. from the company that manufactures a lot of the great materials this home is made of. I call and leave a voice mail. I get a call back about 3 days later. I speak with a lady in Arizona about how great this house is. "How can I be the first guy in Indiana to live in one of these homes?" I asked. "Well, I do not know." she responds. She proceeds to tell me that I can contact a rep. from her company that resides in Frankfort, IN if I want their super efficient basement wall materials. I laughed and said, "You do not understand I wan the entire house. I have no need for basement walls - I want to build the house you advertised." She replied, "We did not advertise that house, BASF did. We just supplied the basement walls." I already tried contacting BASF and they gave me this woman's contact info. at this company's headquarters.

Let's review: BASF spent tons of cash on slick web sites, an ad campaign in multiple magazines, got me interested enough to call to inquire about building a house, and they could not or would not even take my call. They referred me to one of their suppliers who can't even give me direction other than contacting an area rep. that only sells basement walls. Might I ask what is the point? If I cannot go and buy BASF materials, or even have this home built, why are they paying all of this money to advertise to me? Am I stupid or is it a complete waste of my time and their money? Or is it their money and my time?

If they are going for awareness and not revenue, okay, but even then, why? Okay BASF can make a cool house that is efficient. If this house is not buildable in the markets in which they advertise, what are they going to do with it? Put it in a museum? When I contacted BASF and their partner, neither one had any inkling that they gave two hoots about getting these homes built or even selling their products to a home builder or buyer. I guess I am at a loss here. From a marketing stand point what is the objective? What are they trying to accomplish?

Digital campaigns - Part 1, Get Permission

This is old news to a lot of marketers in the year 2007, but in this day and age when, at last researched count, the average American is exposed to 3,000 - 5,000 messages a day. That includes everything from logos on computers to signage to commercials on the TV, Radio and the web to the symbols on their shoes, labels on clothing, branding on cereal boxes and packaging for their new toothbrush. Marketing messages are EVERYWHERE. And most are interruptive. In other words we do not ask to see them.

All of that being said what if you could, as a marketer, discover those that actually want to hear from you? Is this so out of the question? For decades the mindset has been "How do we get their attention and persuade?" Well, now I believe the shift is slowly moving to, and has been for quite some time, "How do we understand what they want and/or need and deliver on that want/need?" How do we become relevant? How do we adapt and stay that way? Wouldn't it be nice if your audience actually looked forward to what you had to offer or say because they valued it? What a concept!

Once you have someones permission the next step to success is to not bore your audience. Engage and motivate. How you do this is entirely up to you. I have found that the more the audience can participate, or become involved usually the more successful you can become in not only keeping their attention but getting them to spread the word.

Permission, in my humble opinion, is the absolute foundation for today's most successful marketing campaigns. It sets the stage for a lot of great communication and a dynamic relationship. It shows your audience that you respect them enough to honor their desire on whether or not they wish to engage. That goes a long way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Grey's Anatomy, wireless broadband and my laptop...

Anymore I have a very hard time sitting down and watching television. Not because I do not like to sit and watch the tube, but because so much of what is on is just flat out bad. The writing, the character development, etc. is just poor. What I like to watch is not on when I want to watch it.

Enter wireless broadband connectivity and a laptop. Aaahhhhh relief.

Recent research pointed out that those that spend any significant time at all on video based sites like YouTube spend considerably less time watching television. Not really a shocking find, but interesting none the less.

Back to Grey's Anatomy. My lovely wife Beth likes to watch that show. I like to end my day relaxing with her, but I despise that show. Herein lies the problem. That is until I hooked up the wireless broadband in the house. Now she can watch that crappy show and I can get on the laptop and get work done, surf the web and actually find content that I enjoy. Maybe create a new post to this old blog. If Beth was not into that show the TV would probably be off and we would both be laughing at some clip that I found online.

The moral of this long story is this - research or no research, with wireless broadband I can get what I want, where I want when I want. It is that straight forward. Any company that wants to sell me something listen up. I am spending increasingly less time in front of the tube and more time online. I like interacting with content and people when I am online. Does this mean quit your TV spots? No, but it does suggest you might want to start understanding how you can diversify your media budget to accommodate tomorrow's audience. It means fundementally the way we communicate and engage with communication is changing. My behavior is driving the change based on content that I like to gather, watch and interact with. It is approaching critical mass and is the future. Media companies you can keep creating "Grey's Anatomy", keep writing more bizarre plot lines that are so ridiculous that they mirror 1970's psychodelic b-movies except everyone is in scrubs, keep adding more suggestive scenes, murder, sex, hot chicks and hunky guys (this seems to be the standard network formula for getting attempting to get a bigger audience) but you will still keep losing your audience.

People, even if they like your shows, will continue to gravitate to a model that allows them to do things on their schedule, without interruptions, that gives them the chance to become a participant. Relevancy and timeliness are more paramount now than ever before. Freedom should not be discounted in this country - even as it relates to consuming media.

I will end here. In the next couple of posts I will start getting into some basic step by step approaches to creating future-focused communication. There are so many opportunities with new media it can be overwhelming. But if we all understand a few basic ground rules, it becomes easer to figure out what can work for you.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Keep it up NBC, Viacom and others...

In the last couple of days it is great to see Viacom and NBC showing some of their real colors as it relates to how they want to approach their content and open range digital distribution.

I personally think this is a good thing. If you want to see NBC's content or one of any of Viacom's offerings you can tune in on any given night of the week on any television in the country. However, to catch content created by you, me or some other independent producer where can you go? That's right you go online because that is the only place you can find it. It surely is not on NBC, MTV or any other broadcaster's feed. So, if NBC and Viacom want to take their toys and go home leaving YouTube and a handful of other online content distributors to the masses...I say great. More bandwidth for the next Steven Spielberg to get his masterpiece out to a willing audience. Click the title of the article below to view the entire piece.

NBC’s Zucker lashes out at YouTube
By Joshua Chaffin and Francesco Guerrera in New York

Published: February 6 2007 22:12 | Last updated: February 7 2007 02:03

Jeff Zucker, on his first day as chief executive of NBC Universal, came out swinging at YouTube, accusing the online video site of failing to deploy its technology to protect the copyrighted materials of traditional media companies.

“YouTube needs to prove that it will implement its filtering technology across its online platform. It’s proven it can do it when it wants to,” Mr Zucker said, referring to the site’s controls to block pornography and hate speech. He added: “They have the capability. The question is whether they have the will.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Web 2.0

Here is a video that Ryan Hupfer sent me that does a pretty good job of explaining the evolution of the web from static sites to what a lot of people are now calling Web 2.0.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bear vs Colt proving the model

In about 4 days the ongoing saga of Bear vs Colt has taken the world by storm. Being featured as THE #1 web site on Yahoo's "The 9" yesterday and now being featured on Fox Sports own FunHouse web site , Bear and Colt are definitely proving that a viral campaign that has some strategic objectives is not only doable, but also can be incredibly successful.

If you are here, we'll make it simple on you - vote for your side right now.