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Archive for October, 2008
Like it or loathe it, Budweiser’s ‘Whassup’ campaign of a few years ago resonated throughout the world as an irritating but catchy and wildly successful way to promote the beer’s brand. Well, the Whassup guys are back, this time on YouTube, and they’re barracking for Barack Obama - and there’s nothing Budweiser or their ad agency DDB Chicago can do about it. Apparently when the ad’s creator Charles Stone III (gotta love those triple-barrelled American names - grandpa would be proud) came up with the concept, DDB licensed the concept from him for five years - an agreement which finished three years ago.
The Whassup ads first appeared in 1999, just before George Bush was elected US president, and the new video shows what’s up eight years later for the original characters - they’re fighting in Iraq, caught in a hurricane, unable to pay medical bills and attempting suicide as their stock portfolio tanks. In 2008, ‘Whassup’, is change, in the form of Obama.
I feel for Budweiser and DDB, but this is a classic example of social media at work - companies no longer have control over their brand and the way it is used. They just have to embrace it and see what the effect is on their brand and their sales. Look for more of this type of consumer power to come in the future.
You can see the ad, which has already been viewed more than 2 million times, here.
BuzzLogic’s Harnessing the Power of Blogs survey, released this week, shows that blogs can have more impact on purchase decisions than social networks, because they create a conversation and trusted resource.
The social media analysis company and ad network engaged JupiterResearch to conduct the study with more than 2,000 US online consumers in order to uncover changing behavior around blog discovery and consumption, how blogs factor into consumer purchase decisions and the nature of blog influence on buying behavior.
According to BuzzLogic: “The results suggest frequent blog readers (defined as consumers who read blogs more than once per month) use blogs as the top online navigation tool to discover other blog content, ranking higher than general Web search or blog search. Demonstrating a 300 percent growth in monthly blog readership over the past four years, the study also confirmed blog readers are strongly influenced by blog content when it comes to purchase decisions across a number of categories, and that blogs play a key role in ushering readers to the point of an actual purchase.”
Go here to see what the media and the blogosphere are saying about this study.
Quotes from it are plastered all over our site - it’s The Cluetrain Manifesto, the revolutionary (this word is vastly over-used, but appropriate in this case) tome about how the new media have changed the way companies do business. Now, for those of you who are too busy to pick up a book and are chained to your computer, Australian blogger Michael Specht has summarised the books 95 theses in an online PowerPoint presentation. Go and save this in your favourites! Good on you, Michael.
From today’s B&T newsletter: “Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia has partnered with the major five online publishers to launch a major study into the effectiveness of internet advertising.
“The publishers - Fairfax Digital, News Digital Media, Ninemsn, MediaSmart and Yahoo!7 – have each provided equal online inventory in a standard IAB ad format to create an ‘average’ online brand building
“The ads, for an FMCG client, have been provided free of charge and will provide an insight into the impact of online advertising.
“The IAB refused to name the brand involved or the media agency handling the placements, citing the need for unaffected results. Nielsen Online is managing the project and will compile the final analysis of the study.
“Results of the five-week project, which is described as ‘unheralded’ by the IAB, will be released on 26 November.”
Read the whole story here.
Forrester Consulting’s online video engagement report , conducted for online video company Veoh, reveals that while some online video viewers still only “snack” on short clips, there is a growing audience of “young, influential, engaged viewers who watch a great deal of long-form online video and pay attention to the brand messages delivered to them in online video environments.”
As Veoh reports: “The study found that Engaged Viewers (viewers who watch more than an hour of online video a week) make up nearly 40% of all online video viewers and watch nearly 75% of all online video. Of these Engaged Viewers, those who spend the most time consuming and sharing long-form content:
- Are more likely to watch videos all the way through
- Pay more attention to online video more than they do TV
- Interact with and rate the videos they watch more frequently
- Are twice as likely to recall in-video ads and post-rolls than non-Engaged Viewers
- Agree more readily that advertising is fair and helps pay for their free experience
- Consider banner ads and ads that come in between videos (mid-rolls) most effective”
The takeaway? Veoh concludes that, “As online video viewing matures, advertisers can take advantage of the unique opportunity to reach valuable Engaged Viewers by starting with the following:
- Think Advertainment, not Advertisement. Engaged video viewers are more open to enjoying the advertising they watch giving marketers an opportunity to create ads that are as entertaining as the video clips they are paired with. Make the advertising a part of this engaging environment by telling compelling stories rather than consistently repeating the same 30-second spot.
- Active mindset = greater action…. Consider having multiple creative units depending on the mindset and propensity to engage with the medium.
- Think about all the ad units on the page as a team. All viewers feel advertising can be annoying. But none of them said it had to be annoying. Engaged viewers respond to ad formats that don’t intrude unfairly. Their preference for banner ads supports this. But banner ads can be supported by a comprehensive ad experience that ties display ads, sponsorships, and in-video ads together into a coherent package.
- Target it and they will come. As more viewers spend more than an hour a week viewing online video, it’s time for advertisers and the sites that enable them to start matching ads to viewers more intelligently. The easiest place to do this is with long-form content, where the choice of programming - an episode of one’s favorite tv show - says more about a viewer than a short clip about a dog on a skateboard ever can.”
Interesting report from the ars technica website:
“A new study of older individuals has now looked at brain activity as subjects undertake Internet searches and it concludes that, for regular Internet users, far more of the brain gets engaged when searching than when reading.
“Like other studies that rely on fantastically expensive functional MRI equipment, this one had a small subject population: a dozen each of regular Internet users and Internet novices. The savvy users typically went online a minimum of once daily, while, on average, the novice group reported using the Internet either not at all or once a month. The average age of both groups was in the early to mid-60s.
“….Volume measurements suggest that nearly twice as much of the brain was engaged when the experienced users searched than when naive users did. The additional areas engaged included those thought to be involved in decision making and complex reasoning. The implications are that those familiar with Internet searches have learned to become mentally engaged in the process in a way that goes well beyond reading.
“….taken at face value, the results appear to suggest that frequent access to information on the Internet can create a higher mental engagement with the content.”
One of the big talking points of the US presidential election campaign, even in far-flung Australia, has been comedian Tina Fey’s razor-sharp portrayal of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the venerable NBC television show Saturday Night Live. Due to the wonders of YouTube, etc. people all over the world have been able to see the same things that are making them laugh in the US.
What’s now emerging is that this new media availability is just as important in SNL’s home market. I read today that only one-third of people in the US first watched those skit on the TV show itself. Instead of trying to limit the clips as most TV networks have been doing, NBC is happily pasting video links all over the Internet in a bid to get more people to watch the show.
And it’s working. When Sarah Palin herself appeared on the show over the weekend, SNL had its highest ratings in 14 years as people warmed to the thought of duelling Palins on the screen. As an expatriate American (from Joe the Plumber’s hometown) who, like most people living outside the US, is backing Obama, I have to admit Palin did a good job on the show. And how do I know this? Because the clips have been posted online.
There has been a lot of debate in journalistic circles of late about the state of denial most journalists and media academics are in regarding new media.
A recent blog on Poynter.org recounted an exchange between digital media entrepreneur Elizabeth Overholser and journalism students at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. Osder refuted one student’s lament that online news business models aren’t working. Then she advised the students that to figure out which online business models can work, ”Start with the impact you want to have. Figure out what audience you need to assemble to have that impact. And what kind of content is needed to do that. Then price it out: How much money do you need to do it?”
According to Overholser, a J-student groaned in reply, “If I wanted to do that, I’d have gone to Marshall (USC’s business school).”
Osder countered that while that response was understandable, thinking through the business side of journalism “forces you to be relevant and useful versus arrogant and entitled.”
I say: hear, hear! Journalists need to get their head out of the sand and embrace the Internet, because, like it or not, it is changing the face of journalism. Being a good writer isn’t enough in the 21st century; you need to be able to write web copy, operate a blog, do your research and link out to your sources, even use a video camera.
Like others who have been writing on this topic, I blame the university programs, who are still churning out journalists who are too “good” to do anything other than report and write.
Much as it pains me to say this, as someone who grew up and started their career believing in the purity and hyperspecialisation of journalism, the Internet, new ways of communicating stories, and citizen journalism are all a fact of life today, and journalists who won’t admit this and who won’t widen their perspective and their activities will end up bitter and unemployed.
A study commissioned by social networking marketer Cone has revealed that 85% of social media users thought companies should interact with their consumers through social media, at least when needed.
The survey, reported by eMarketer, also found that nearly 60% of Americans who use social media interact with companies when they’re on social media websites.
“Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” said Mike Hollywood, director of new media at Cone. “It isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.”
Those recent predictions about the growth of the market for online advertising and marketing which said digital would continue double-digit growth despite recent financial turmoil have now gone the way of most US investment banks after the carnage of the past week.
Yahoo’s share price is tanking and earnings for all major digital companies have been revised downward.
As reported on Clickz, UBS bank slashed Google’s 2009 anticipated revenue by 4%, Yahoo’s by 9.1%, and ValueClick’s by a “stunning” 19.3 percent. Estimates for Q4 2008 were also lowered, though not as much.
Reuters, meanwhile, reports that another investment bank, Wachovia (which if I recall correctly was just taken over the other day to save it from going to the wall) is now predicting that Web ad spending will grow by 10% next year rather than the previously estimated 15 percent. As well, Lehman/Barclays shaved a full $3 billion from its 2008 U.S. online ad estimate, pegging growth for the year at 16.9% rather than 23.4 percent.
But at least they are predicting some growth. The one thing all news analyses agree on is that the overall advertising market is going to contract next year.
UBS analyst Ben Schachter said that “We see no business model based on advertising or consumer spending that will be immune to a downturn…As corporate profit forecasts come down, we expect planned advertising spending will be delayed and/or cut.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that venture capital firm Sequoia called their clients into an emergency meeting and when they came into the conference room they were confronted with a large tombstone which said “RIP, Good Times” on it. They were then subjected to a lecture about how bad things were likely to get and what they needed to do to retain Sequoia’s investment.
An executive who attended the meeting was quoted as saying it was not a “doom and gloom” message, but a serious one. “They basically said: ‘This is a business. This is not an excuse for you and a bunch of your friends to have a pool table and goof around with something you think is neat.’ I didn’t come away thinking that the sky is falling or that I have to move to Canada, just that these guys are taking this seriously.”
That’s a good takeaway - the sky is not falling, but it’s time to get sharp. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Online video ad spending is set to hit US$500 million this year and is predicted to grow to nearly US$3.5 billion by 2012, but is still tiny compared to the US$70 billion TV advertising market, according to eMarketer.
In another sign that media agencies are still stuck in traditional paradigms, eMarketer is predicting that most of the growth in online video will come from major brands booking pre-roll and mid-roll streaming advertisements - in other words, ads that you have to watch, which is the closest thing you can get to traditional TV advertising on the Internet. Oh yeah, product placement and sponsorship are the next biggest spend areas. The move toward innovative advertising models using social media continues its glacial pace…
I have been reading the Copyblogger blog for a while, and it’s obvious why it’s rated as one of the top blogs for writers - it consistently offers practical, commercially-focused advice on how to the writing business. It often uses analogies from popular culture to get its points across, such as “What Fight Club can Teach You About Innovative Content” and, one of my personal favourites, “The Jim Morrison Guide to Strategic Content Promotion” (I am a complete Doors tragic).
Today’s entry is no exception: “Is Your Blog Ginger or Mary Ann?” Every male of a certain vintage can appreciate the iconic appeal of the two young females from Gilligan’s Island (let’s not talk about Mrs. Howell - shudder!). As Sonia Simone writes in this Copyblogger entry, Ginger represents the kind of woman men want to have an affair with, while Mary Ann symbolises the type of woman you want to marry. I never picked up the Jungian nuances of Gilligan’s Island when I was a lad, but today it’s obvious - but no less potent.
Anyway, what the hell does this have to do with digital content? As with other posts in this blog, Sonia does a good job of relating this to two types of successful blogs - the edge-pushing, paradigm-shifting, outrageous kind, and the practical, relevant kind.
As many of the commenters on this entry write, most people imagine themselves as a little bit of both (personally, I fancy myself as a bit more like The Green Hornet, but that’s another story). But one thing is for sure: I will be thinking about Ginger and Mary Ann the next time I post a blog entry - and that can’t be a bad thing!
The Pew & Internet Life Project has released a new survey on how people use the web at work. Here are some interesting numbers from the report:
- 62% of workers use the Internet at work
- 93% of those people own a mobile phone, compared to 78% of all US adults
- 61% own a laptop, compared to 39% for all adults
- 27% of workers use the Internet “constantly” at work
- 46% of those have a salary >US$75,000 p.a.
The Pew researchers who put together the study said that those workers who constantly use the Internet at work are starting to feel too connected, and were finding it hard to achieve a work-life balance.
This is backed up by another recent survey by Beta Research that found that 62% of workers with work email accounts check their accounts on the weekend (19% of them >5 times per weekend).
I don’t know about you, but I reckon that the figure for constant work Internet use might be higher than 27% in Australia. Is too much connectivity a bad thing? Interested to hear your thoughts.
From today’s B&T newsletter:
Telstra’s online and mobile sites are stealing revenue from traditional print and TV sectors, the company has
claimed, with the tough economic conditions aiding its growth while traditional media suffers.
The telco has said its BigPond sites have recorded more than 50% growth in total advertising revenue since the beginning of the year, including strong growth in the September quarter.
While Telstra would not reveal a dollar value of the revenue increase, network advertising GM Chris Taylor
confirmed claims that its online and mobile ads are “bucking the trend reported by traditional print and television sectors, which are watching their revenues shrink”.
Justin Milne, managing director of Telstra Media Group said the growth reflects confidence among advertisers that online and mobile advertising offered advantages over traditional advertising formats.