Is Product Co-Creation The Most Democratic Form of Business?

I’m not sure if it’s democracy, so much as a strange off-shoot of a socialist ideology where people create what they want, and then the masses decide what is “good” or not. It’s more of a combination of democracy and socialism? I don’t really know, honestly. I’m no political science major. I only know what the internet tells me (kidding!). To get back on subject though, product co-creation is easily one of the best systems for businesses, especially online retailers and start-ups.

Let’s start with some of the reasons why it’s amazing for business:

1) Consumers can create something that they want

2) Reduces cost for the business

3) Builds relationships with customers

Those are some pretty great reasons as to why your business should use co-creation in it’s development process. THE END </blog>

wiping hands

I’m out

Just kidding (such a jokester). I’ll go into detail as to why all of the reasons above are good for businesses, and even some techniques for getting consumers to participate more often in creating products.

So, why is the first reason (letting customers create something that they want, in case you forgot already) so important? Well for one, it is a way of knowing that what you put out as a product will more or less be positively received. Why is that? Because the people who will be buying the product, created it. So, unless they intentionally made something that they wouldn’t want to buy (which would be very strange), you know you’ll at least be able to sell to your core audience. This is also able to satisfy some of reasons as to why customers feel the need to co-create something for a company.

There are four main motivators as to why customers want to create (or at least help create) a product. These motivators are financially, socially, technologically, and psychologically based. Allowing customers to create something that they want helps fulfill the social and psychological motivations. Social motivations include being seen as a “good citizen” and being rewarded for making something that others also enjoy. A really good example of this is

Artists can submit ideas for T-shirt designs, which are then voted on by the community. If the shirt receives enough votes, then it is available for purchase the next week. Each shirt has a week to be voted on, and is compared against other shirts submitted that week. If the artist “wins” they are given rights to their design, and I believe there is a monetary prize (fulfilling the financial motivations as well). But, let’s just focus on the users who only vote on the designs.

If they like a shirt, they are able to vote for it, right? As you vote on different designs, your profile is updated to reflect you average rating (it’s a 1-5 scale), and the really cool part of it is there is a section that shows how many designs you voted in actually get printed. There is also a pretty basic community function integrated with the site, so you can see what others users are voting on. You can also follow designers you like, and other users who might have similar preferences as you.


And then you will be best friends forever

The more active members obviously have a greater sense of fulfillment because they are more likely to have helped get more shirts printed. This is sliding into the psychological factors. By helping designers get their name out in the public the users are helping new designers and artists get a foot-hold in a pretty tough industry. This is a very strong motivator, especially in Threadless’ target market (not to assume, but it’s mainly hipsters).

What about the second reason why co-creation is a good tool for companies (reducing costs for companies)? Well, as you can imagine, having customers generate ideas for your company is a a pretty low-cost way to come up with new ideas. This is because you are pretty much “employing” people to do some of the harder work for you.

While you may offer fiscal rewards (see above), these are generally much less than what you would normally pay an employee to come up with the same ideas. And yes, there may be sites such as InnoCentive that pay larger amount of money for solutions to problems, but again, in the long run, these costs are generally less than what the company would normally pay a team to figure out. By using an outside source (usually people with little/no experience in the field), they are able to come up with new ideas that they normally would not have thought of.

The third and final reason why having customers come up with ideas for your company is because it help build relationships. How does this happen? For one, if a company runs a forum on their site, they can engage with their customers (usually the more loyal ones participate), and they are  able to take in their ideas for new products, or how to improve existing ones. This helps satisfy the technological motivation.

Technological/knowledge motivation is derived from the customers learning about new products and giving their input about them. This is especially useful for attracting customers who have a “high need for cognition” meaning they like to learn about products and have lots of information about something before they decide to finally buy something.

Another reason why co-creation help build relationship is because it fosters a community of users who are being heard by the company. A really good example of this is (yes I know I’ve reference this website probably three other times in this blog, but hey, it’s a good idea). By having customers create ideas that can eventually be implemented by the company, users are more likely to go to the store and buy what they “made”.

The relationship that they have with the company is pretty strong because it is built on the company taking their ideas into consideration. By being a company that listens to your customers and takes their ideas into consideration, you are creating a relationship that is based on mutual respect.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some issues with co-creation, the biggest one being a reduction in control the company has. Mountain Dew found that out the hard way (language warning). However, incidents such as what Mountain Dew faced are not common enough to be a pressing issue for companies. And despite the media coverage, the company did have the final say and did not allow any of the suggested names to go on the market (I hope…). In the end, the biggest resource that will be wasted for the company is time, since they are going to have to take down the site or whatever the medium is for the contest.


Curse you internet trolls!

Overall, I would say that product co-creation is a win-win for customers and companies. Customers get to see products that they want, and companies save time and money (assuming no pranksters get a hold of your project). Also, with sites like Quirky and Kickstarter gaining popularity, consumer created products will become a much more prevalent segment of the retail marketplace.


Not All BitCoin Users Are Drug Dealers, But All Drug Dealers BitCoin Users?

It was bound to happen once the first online purchase was made. It probably wasn’t Amazon, but they definitely ushered in a new digital era of online commerce. It only makes sense that we are beginning to use a digital “wallet” for purchases in real life. Some big retailers are starting to get on the bandwagon with one of the “bigger” digital wallet services, Google Wallet. However, not a lot of older phones have the capabilities to make real time purchases using Google Wallet’s technology. However, as people upgrade their phones (as they are known to do) this service can perhaps expand out and have more people using it. Yet another service that Google will dominate. (Seriously, when will THIS happen?)

In the meantime, what are some of the alternatives to Wallet? One emerging service is from a company called LevelUp. It seems like a pretty awesome service, where you link your card to a LevelUp account, and when a retailer uses that service, they scan a QR code on your phone, completing the transaction. It’s a pretty nifty service, only it seems as if not too many retailers are getting on board with it. LevelUp definitely seems like it’s really good for smaller businesses, since they don’t charge for each transaction. Also, they implement loyalty programs (such as buy 10, get 1 free), and that is the only time they actually take money from the retailer. So, they only make money once the retailers have created a brand loyal customer. That seems like a pretty solid system for small companies trying to get off the ground.

There aren’t any “major” retailers using it yet, but it can definitely reduce the transaction time at the POS, which could reduce the amount of time spent at that stage of the buying process (pretty much the wrap-up). Also, it reduces the amount of “hardware” you would need to use, such as  a cash register. Instead, you have a small scanner that is just used to scan a smartphone, so it really isn’t that large. There are currently 5000+ businesses using LevelUp’s services (according to their website), and I would like to see more companies start using a service such as this, or even Square.

Square is probably a service that you have seen in use. It was developed by Twitter founder Jeff Dorsey as a new project after Twitter. It is not as “technologically” forward as LevelUp, as in it still swipes debit cards, but similarly, it gets rid of the need for things such as cash registers, which can be large and cumbersome, as well as require a bit of maintenance. Square is pretty straight forward, at least compared to Google Wallet and LevelUp. You just swipe a card that is attached to a smart device, such as a phone or tablet. It then deposits the money into whatever bank account you determined where you wanted it to go. Pretty easy.


It’s so easy, a baby could do it?

The Square app also has reports and analytics built into it (which only makes sense) which can track your bestselling items and loyalty programs. Opposed to LevelUp, there is a fee for each transaction, 2.75% of the total transaction ,or $275 per month, whichever is more. So, how many businesses are using Square? According to this website, about 40,000. And that was just at the end of 2012. They brought in around $10,000,000,000 (10 billion) in profit. Needless the say, they are definitely are leading the way for mobile payment systems. Oh yeah, there are two major companies that accept Square payments, Starbucks and now Whole Foods. They are gaining traction and are leading the way for the growth of mobile payments.

Alas, it is time this post take a bit of a change. It is time we enter the deep web.

I’ll try to keep this as short as possible, but no promises, since the deep web is something that I find incredibly interesting. If you thought the things pretty much anyone with a computer can access is bad (don’t worry, it’s just a BuzzFeed article about Reddit), then you are in a treat. How I like to imagine it, is the web that the vast majority of people use is pretty much where people “talk the talk”. Yes, bad things can arise from the internet, but a lot of the time it is someone trolling on the internet just for a reaction. The deep web is more of “walking the walk” where the actual bad things happen. You know, like hiring hit men or buying drugs to smoke, or something.



So, the deep web is where you can pretty much buy whatever you want. But, who would want to leave a paper trail? Enter BitCoins: the first all digital currency. BitCoins area  very interesting by-product of the internet, since they are not really backed by anything, nobody really knows who created them (at least, who really created them), and they can be anonymously used. So, why should we pay attention to them? For one, they are gaining traction, both in their exchange rates , and in how many companies are starting to use them in their everyday business dealings.

There are several companies accepting them in Vancouver, which makes sense since it is a pretty culturally diverse city. Also, with the United States so nearby, it makes sense that they would begin to accept a currency that will not be affected by exchange rates. In fact, it really makes sense for most major cities to start accepting BitCoins, mainly so that they can reduce the amount of money lost due to exchanges. So, are BitCoins here to stay? I think they are. Or at least, some form of online currency is. It might not necessarily be BitCoins (they could be the MySpace of digital currency), but I think that we will begin to use a digital currency, mainly for the ease of it. It would be so much easier if we could buy something across the world, and it is the same price on both ends of the transaction (hopefully that makes sense). As to whether or not we will be paid in BitCoins, I highly doubt that. I don’t think that they will be popular enough to warrant companies paying out in them. Also, that would mean that governments would have to acknowledge it as a legitimate currency. Since there is no central structure behind it, that would create chaos in the economic system.

If you want to learn more about BitCoins, I would listen to this introduction.

Until next post!

Are Apps The Cookies of Mobile Marketing?

The age of mobile media is here, and it’s here to stay. With more than half of all US adults owning smartphones, it is easy to see that this is not just a passing trend. With more than $10 billion worth of income from the App Store, and Google Play earning about $5 billion (estimated), it is easy to see that the mobile marketplace is rapidly expanding. So, why aren’t companies putting more of their money towards their mobile marketing campaigns? Apart from 100% of the population having a smartphone, I don’t really see any argument against it.

For one, mobile marketing is pretty much one of the best direct marketing channels. Why? Because everyone who has a smartphone can be reached, one way or another. A consumer could be reached via text message, but let’s be honest, who really reads those and takes them seriously? So, if SMS marketing is out the window as an effective channel, what is the best option? Utilization of apps. Apps are able to aggregate information about the people who are using their product. For example, I have a Android OS phone (because I’m just cool like that) and Androids use the Google Play store as their app store. Since I have a G+ account, Google already has a bunch of demographics on me, right? And, if they see that I download an app, and lots of other awesome people similar to myself download the same app, then that can be used to narrow down who sees what ad. And, as I’ve probably mentioned before, there is no AdBlock software for mobile devices (yet), so you have to see ads that come up on your screen.

So, if people are easily “tracked” via the mobile marketplace, why don’t more companies use it? For one, they might not know how to use it effectively. If marketers still have the notion that mobile devices are primarily used “on the go”, they need to reconsider their positions. In fact, a study found that 75% of mobile ads were seen at home. So, what does that mean? For one, marketers should start treating mobile marketing as something that is a direct offshoot of digital marketing as a whole, not just a new form of marketing in general. Mobile marketing is a direct descendant of digital marketing, in the sense that mobile pretty much has all of the good traits of digital, as well as a few new things (such as the utilization of apps). As our society grows more and more mobile, the use of mobile devices will continue to increase. I for one got a tablet thinking that I would start to use it instead of a laptop (that didn’t really work out), but it is still much easier to carry around as opposed to a laptop.


Sometimes, things are just too bulky to carry around. Like popcorn…

Segmentation through the use of apps is probably one of the best routes for a mobile marketer to take. As I said before, there are some demographics stored on most app stores, making it easier to see what type of people are using what apps. For example, you probably wouldn’t see an ad for Lowe’s on the Victoria’s Secret app (that’s very common sense, but you see the point I’m trying to make, right?). And yes, I did look up the Victoria’s Secret app on the Google Play store, although I’m not too sure how many ads they actually use. Anyways, the point I am trying to make is, it is much easier for a mobile marketer to place ads on certain apps that would interest the person who is using it, as opposed to just guessing what apps their target market are using.

Even though I already said that a lot of mobile ads are seen in the home, using the smartphone’s GPS is another good idea for marketers. When the users are out and about, an app could potentially use the phone’s GPS to locate the nearest store. Maybe they haven’t made a purchase in a while and send them a notification with a discount attached. That is one of beauties of mobile marketing. It can pretty much go anywhere/everywhere. And, it isn’t like the use of GPS is an invasion of privacy. In the Android app marketplace, at least, before you download a new app, it gives you a list of what features on your phone it is going to access. It’s sort of like an End User and License Agreement, where all of the information is there, but nobody really reads it. But, you could if you really wanted to.

Mobile marketing is getting huge. And, marketers are finally starting to realize the implications of it. According to one projection, mobile marketing spending should surpass desktop marketing spending by 2017. That would be a huge milestone if that were to happen. Through the use of apps, marketers will be able to target their consumers much more directly. They will be able to show them ads that are relevant to their interests, and hopefully entice them to click (or would it be tap?) on their offering. The age of mobile marketing is upon us. And, if you don’t get on the bandwagon, you’re going to be left behind.

You Will Fail Colbert

Preach it Colbert

Database Marketing: From “Time=Money” to “Data=Success”

This is it.

The post where the more technical aspects of the digital marketing culminate into one topic. A/B testing? It’ll be covered. SQL? It’ll be covered. Databases? I’ll get to it.

So, databases, why should we, as marketers care about them, and how are they useful? For one, I would check out my previous post where I discuss the aspects of SQL and it’s advantages for marketing professionals. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. SQL is just what we use to communicate with databases. It barely discusses the importance of “big data” (buzzword that will probably reappear in this post at least 10 more times). Big data is pretty much the aggregation of all of the data company records for each individual customers. This can be used for things such as what products a customer likes to buy (such as types of coffee), what kinds of movies you’ll go see (remember John Carter?), and even if you are pregnant (something I’ve discussed before). So, why are databases so important?

It’s pretty simple. The more information you have on your customers/perspective clients, the better you can suit their needs. Time may equal money, but nowadays data equals success. We are living in the age of start ups, where you can pretty much start a business doing anything you want. If there is a market for it, then you can sell it. But, how do you know who is buying what? What if it isn’t effective. Enter databases: larger collections of data used to store whatever information you have on your customers. So, you may think that time=money, but if you have a lot of data, you don’t really need time. You have all the time in the world (so long as you don’t go out of business, you DO need to make money somehow). You start-up may take a while to get off the ground and be popular. But if you are able to collect data on who is buying your product, then you can target your audience in a much more cost effective manner, thereby reducing the need to rely on the adage of “Time=Money”. Want an example of databases in action? Well, if you have the right team, with the right data, you can help win a presidency.


Mind blowing

So, how is that even possible? Well for one, lots and lots of A/B testing. It was disclosed after the election that the Obama campaign tested about 17-18 different emails. That’s an insane amount of data to analyze after the testing was completed. So, what were the determining factors for which email format to use? Donation amount. That was pretty much the main purpose of the email campaign. The lowest one brought in an estimated $400,600. As far as campaign money goes, that’s not that much. The winner however, brought in about $2.5 million. That’s a huge difference. “Yeah, that just proves how important A/B testing is. How does that relate to databases?”

Well, as this article says, “the days of politicians saying the same thing over and over are done. It’s all about telling the voters exactly what they want to hear: data-driven pandering”. Information is quickly becoming one of the most important parts to a campaign, even more so than money. Why? Because money comes from data. As the email testing showed, the difference between two emails can be huge (about a $2 million difference). Depending on what segment you are in can even change what email you get. Some people might not respond to a call-to-action based on Sarah Jessica Parker (notice there is no link to a Family Guy video). If data can help raise money, doesn’t that make it more important than the money itself? I think there is a pretty strong argument for that.

So, who was behind the Obama re-election campaign (at least the online portion of it)? May I present to you Harper Reed; certified cool guy/hipster (I guess hipsters ARE the definition of cool though, right?) Reed determined that one of the best things for the campaign to do was to compile a database of all of the people who had voted for Obama in the 2008 election. This was paired with the database that the DNC had, so that they might be able to reach a wider audience, and have a more complete picture as to who these voters are. This was an incredibly effective tool, because it allowed for the campaign managers to see who was probably going to vote for Obama, and how they could potentially influence them.

This is where the marketing comes in. Essentially, all of the voters can be broken down into segments based on a variety of things. There could be a mom with kids, a working professional, or someone who is a hipster. From there, marketers can figure out what the best channels to reach these segments are, when to reach them, and how to retain their interest. Pretty much, it’s a much more effective marketing technique for politicians, which previously relied on tactics such as canvasing to try and reach a wider audience. So, databases? Check. A/B testing? Check. SQL? …

60s Spiderman

I thought I could get away without mentioning it…

How does SQL fit into all of this? Well for one, it allows the marketers to search for certain criteria within the database. Say they want to look at all of the people who are on their list, and have one child. Through SQL they would be able to narrow down their data field so that it is easier to pick through exactly what those people are interested in. Then they could create a couple of emails, try both of them (A/B testing strikes again), and compare the results. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the search criteria is far too vague, so they would then narrow down the data again (using SQL) and then start another batch of emails (more A/B testing). They would then continue this until they found the *perfect* email.

Does this sound time consuming? Most definitely. But when the campaign is pretty much to help someone who is trying to be president… You can expect a very time consuming process. In fact, Harper Reed once said that the only time he was really stressed about the work he was doing was when he was CTO for the campaign. Hipsters don’t like being stressed… Or so I’m told.

So there you have it: Databases. While maintaining databases isn’t necessarily part of a marketing job description, it goes along with coding and SQL. It definitely cannot hurt to know it. Instead of relying on an IT person, or statistician, you can analyze these databases yourself, cutting down on the time required per query. Even though the saying may be “Time=Money”, can’t that also mean that the MORE time you put into something, the more money you can get out of it? Or maybe it should be “Testing=Money”. Although, that may be true, the meaning could be lost. After all, testing does cost some money. So, therefore, I propose we enter into our society a new phrase: “Data=Success”. Time may be money, but if you don’t know your customers, then you probably won’t last as long as the company who knows their customers interests and buying patterns.

Data=Success. That has a nice ring to it.

Optometrists Are The Original A/B Testers

With the creation of the digital marketplace businesses have been able to refine their presence to the point of near perfection. I say near perfection, because nothing is perfect even the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl (you guys let them score 8 whole points?).


An indicator as to how many interceptions there would be?

Back to the topic at hand- A/B testing. What is it? How is it used? Why should we care about it? The concept of A/B testing is a relatively simple one: Create two versions of a website and see which one gets better results for whatever you are looking for.  For example, say you are the owner of an online retailer, and want to see if having a list of products on the top of the webpage generates more sales than having it on the right hand side of the page. You would create both versions of the webpage, and split your web traffic in half to see which one does better.

When I was reading about this type of testing, the only thing I could thing of was going to an optometrist. When reading my description, that’s what you probably thought of right? Because I have absolutely terrible eye sight (somewhere between 20/200 and 20/100) I have come to become very acquainted with the question “Now  is this lens better or worse?”  Wouldn’t it be better if that could be done in real time, without you even knowing? In my case, no.  I’d probably crash my car, or fall of a cliff. But for most people who can see, I can only imagine that it would be far more efficient for that to be done without them even realizing it.

So, why should we care about it? Well for one, doesn’t it make sense to have your webpage designed so that more people go through with what you want them to do? The answer to that is yes.

So, who has used A/B testing? Probably most of the websites that you have used. But, have you noticed it? Probably not. And that’s one of the beautiful aspects of A/B testing. You can test out two versions of your webpage, and pretty much get real time results as people interact with it. The equivalent of this in the “real” world would be having two versions of the store, where every other person who enters sees a different store layout. Unfortunately, something called “science” doesn’t allow us to do this.


Any chemistry I know came from Breaking Bad and Bill Nye

Would you like some proof that A/B testing works? I hope that was a “yes” because, that’s what you’re about to get.

One of the best examples that I have found increased lead generation by about 368%. Pretty much, one version of a form worked 4 times better than the alternative. That’s huge.  When you look at what was different between the two versions, it really doesn’t seem like that big of a difference.

On one version, there is more of a description at the beginning, and then a few boxes to fill in (like company name, phone number, email) and then options for different to click on. The other version has the same boxes to fill in, but instead of the options to click on, there are text boxes to fill in. It looks a bit more intimidating to fill out, compared to the first one. It’s pretty incredible that by changing one aspect of the webpage increased the leads by 368%. This goes to show that it is very important to  not” overestimate your user’s tolerance, goodwill, and patience”.

So, changing up how customers fill out forms can make a huge difference. But, what about probably one of the most important parts of your website, the landing page? There have been several tests conducted to see which landing pages receive more interaction.

One of these was done with the Mitt Romney 2012 campaign. On one landing page, viewers saw an image with the a link to enter a contest to go to a conference in Tampa. On the other landing page, the “chance to win” form was right on the front page. Entries were 632% higher on the latter. This goes to show that through A/B testing you can increase your viewership. Even though he didn’t win the presidency, at least he still has some career opportunities…

This can also be seen through another page layout, where the site was able to determine the users location (at least what state they were in) and then post it on the landing page. So, instead of saying “Get the latest news & updates from the campaign”, the landing page said “Florida, get the latest news & updates from the campaign.” Not a very big change, but by including that one extra word, users were 19% more likely to give the campaign team their email address.

Another example of how A/B testing can increase web traffic was through different designs a group tried out for their site. On their website they first compared the original design against a “long form design”. The long form design was pretty much all of the base information that the user would want to know to sign up for updates, but it was a bit more reading, and almost no pictures. However, this increased the sign-up rate by 37.5%.

Then, they decided to try a radically different design. They tried the original site against a site that featured a smiling person in the background, and less information than the original design. Despite the lack of information, the sign up rate was 102.5% higher than the original design. They then added the information to the information from the long form site underneath the picture, assuming that there would be an even higher increase in sign-ups. However, the sign-up rate went down about 23%.

They then tried different people in the background, and each had different results, although there was no increase or decrease more than 5%.

The moral of the story: Keep testing your website with different designs. There is always room for improvement.

Tired Of Banner Ads? Tom Brady and Oreo’s Are Here To Help

To say we are entering into a new era of media would be a lie.  We are already in this age.

In fact, I would say this started back in 2005, with the launch of YouTube. With the launch of the famous video sharing site, the age of earned and owned media emerged.  One of the “big” questions being asked by companies right now is “Should firms still invest in paid media?”

The short answer:  in the digital marketplace, no.

In reality, the uses of paid media are still relevant. Banners and paid ads are still constantly seen throughout the internet (unless you have AdBlocker). However, the million dollar question is: how effective are these ads?  This blog post from HubSpot highlights a few of the negative aspects of banner ads, such as the fact that “The average clickthrough rate of display ads is 0.1% ” and “you are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner “.


The characters of Lost probably never clicked on a banner ad

So, there are no reasons to invest in paid media, right? Not necessarily.  Apparently, the incidental exposure rate for digital paid media is much higher than other mediums, and these exposures can have a positive impact on the consumers’ attitudes., even despite the low clickthrough rate.

So, we come back to the original question: Should you invest in paid media? In this day and age, it does not seem as necessary as it once was. In my opinion, it seems as if smaller companies who do not have a larger budget for a variety of media campaigns should focus more on owned/earned media. It is relatively cheaper than paid media, and if done correctly, can drive consumers to your product.  As far as larger companies go, a good mix is probably a good option. While paid media isn’t as relevant as it once was, it is still a good thing to have in your portfolio. In the end, created content is what will win over your consumers. If you create something that your target market wants to see, then it will be much more likely that they give you their business.

So, let’s say you are a larger firm and have decided to invest in some paid media. What are your best options? As I mentioned before, banner ads are a very popular choice, but they are not necessarily effective. And with cookies potentially going on the lam, what are your best options? The two that should be highlighted are: Native Advertising and programmatic ad buying.

Native Advertising is an evolution in paid media.  Essentially, it is when a company creates content for a website (sponsors it) and it is very similar to the content available on the site’s regular content. To me, this seems like a pretty good idea. It might technically be considered “paid media”, but in the end it is a hybrid of earned and paid media.  On one hand, this type of advertising is a really good idea. It is providing the content that users want to see on a medium in which they would normally see it, such as a targeted webiste. On the other hand, however, the advertising can sometimes come off as fairly obvious (especially when you already know that you are looking at an ad). A perfect example that shows off both of these extremes is this video from the website Funny or Die.


The first time I watched this, I already knew that it was sponsored by Under Armor, so for me, the advertising was pretty plain to see. It would be interesting to see what somebody who regularly views the website would say. Another good example of native advertising was Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign, where they posted a photo of an Oreo that represented something important that happened on that day.


If they posted one commemorating the first Oreo, what would it be a picture of?

This is another great example of native advertising. Oreo sponsored this event, and people who saw it genuinely appreciated it. According to this article, the campaign “managed to increase customer engagement 110%, according to the company. Oreo also added nearly 5 million likes during the campaign’s run”. That is a pretty significant increase, as far as posting a picture every day. And the people who wanted to see this were pretty much wanting to look at an advertisement. A very interesting move on part of Oreo.

The last part of this post will be dedicated to programmatic ad buying. My understanding of this is iffy, at best, so bear with me. P.A.B. is when advertisers do a bunch of research and determine what ad to buy, when to buy it, where to put it, and who they want to see it. It operates in a real time bidding way, where at any point in time, an advertiser can buy a spot for an ad, and then place one. It’s a rather complex system. It doesn’t matter when the “ad slot” is cheapest, more on when the optimal audience will see the ad.

If a marketer wants to drive sales for their product, let’s say a higher end camera, they would find out when their target market would be online, and where they would be on the internet. They would then purchase ad time on the specific websites they wanted, and hopefully increase their sales. P.A.B. is a system in which the dollar spent for online ads is spent a bit more wisely. Now, will this system ever spread to another medium, such as TV? Personally, I don’t think so, at least on a large scale. As it was discussed in this article, the best area for P.A.B. on TV is on local channels. This is because national channels have such a wide variety of audiences, it would be too difficult to have a really specific time to target a specific segment. P.A.B. is a really efficient system, and in the end, I think it will replace media buyers. A programmer can just upload an algorithm to their system that determines what to look for, how much money they want to spend, and then let it loose, so to speak. This “Dummy’s Guide to Programmatic Ad Buying” is a really good starting point if you want to try and learn more about it.

See you next post!

Google Plus: Where Social Media And Searching Come Together

Following the post on social media, it is only right that we dive head first into one of these social media platforms. So, what should it be? The “dying giant” Facebook? Maybe Twitter, who is gaining popularity and it has been showing in their stock prices. Or, even LinkdIn, the social media platform that is more related to business. No, this post will be dedicated to the butt of most jokes about social media platforms: Google Plus.

Oh, Google Plus… You are trying so hard. It is quite a commendable effort, I’ll give you that. But, where did you go wrong? Some would make the argument that you never did anything wrong, per se, and in fact, I would say you did a lot of things right. For one, it is  amazing for businesses. For one, the “like” system (in Google Plus denoted by +1), makes it easier for SEO based on popularity. In fact, it is the best signal in ranking factors, as seen here.  If your company is linked to a Google Plus (or G+ as the kids are calling it nowadays, hooligans) when your company is searched on Google, then the profile is seen on the right hand side of screen, thanks to the newest update that Google has implemented. From there, the customer can then go right to your page and see what you are up to, such as posts you have put up recently and where they can find you, both online (website) and in real life (address of your business).

In regards to an inbound marketing campaign, G+ is a fantastic resource to utilize. One of the best resources available currently is Google Authorship. This allows you to link back to articles that you have written, columns or companies that you are currently writing for, guest blogs you have done in the past, etc… Essentially, links all of the content that you have created back to your G+ profile. And, because G+ is a part of Google (SURPRISE), the content that has been created, and your company who created it are linked together, further increasing your SEO. That’s pretty good, right?!  Also, the complete integration of G+ with your Google profile allows for an easier consolidation of information. Want an example?

Say you are a having an event at your company, like a trivia night. You could go onto your company’s Facebook and create an event page, and have people say they are going to go. Simple, right? Well, with G+ you can do the same thing. Go to your profile, create an event, and have people say they are going to go. Those are pretty much the same, right? G+ takes it a bit further, by integrating that with your Google Calender and you Gmail account. The person who says they are going can easily add the even to their Google Calender, and then they will get reminders about the even as it draws nearer. And with Google  owning Android  developing and maintaining the Android OS for phones, that event will go right into your phone’s calender, so you can get a notification if you aren’t on a computer. It’s all tying together!

I'm Awesome- Shades


G+ is like the cool new kid

One more really cool, notable aspect about G+ for your business is the use of the Local Business feature. This is a bit different than Google Places for Business. Google Places for Business is more reliant on how optimized your website is. For example, if you are looking up something, such as a business where you can buy office supplies, the first businesses that come up would probably be Office Max, Office Depot, and Staples. However, Google recently launched their “Local Results Carousel” , which helps smaller businesses get noticed. This works by rotating smaller, local businesses on the front page so that they get more exposure. That is an aspect of Google Places. With Google Plus Local, your G+ account will look like a Google Places for Business, but it will integrate your +1’s, as well as your entire G+ profile (pictures, posts, etc). It’s a pretty cool system, and for more on how the two systems differ, check this article out. 

So, G+ seems to be pretty much the best social media platform around, right? It’s a lot like Facebook, only you can separate who sees what content you put out, the integration with your Google account is pretty awesome, and the SEO aspect alone should be enough to get your business to start using it. But, why aren’t people using it?

For one, a lot of people already have social media sites that they maintain, the most prevalent being Facebook and Twitter. G+ was sort of late to the social media game and was left behind, even though they do offer a better service in a variety of different ways. Also, there have been some announcements lately that said any G+ user can email any other G+ user, without their consent. That’s a big deal. Granted, the person who sends the email needs to be a “Follower” of the person they are emailing, but you can start to follow someone without their consent. Well, the users both also need to be users of Gmail, but odds are, they both use it as their primary email service. There is a way to opt-out of receiving these emails, but it’s the notion of it that have people up in arms over it. This new policy can easily lead to some privacy issues.

The Wire Headshake


Reference: The Wire

For the other part of this post, I’ll briefly mention a Twitter conversation I was a part of yesterday.  It mainly involved people in the marketing field (B2B focused) and the topic was about gatekeepers.  Pretty much the facilitator would ask a question, then people would reply to them with their answers (the use of the hashtag was also required). Overall, it was a rather interesting experience. Some of the people were giving tips on how to get around these gatekeepers (most ethically, others not). I learned a few new things, but for the most part it was a refresher on the main functions of the gatekeeper and why they are so important (I came in towards the end of the conversation). Overall, I think twitter conversations are a pretty good idea. They allow for the fast transfer of information, and let a wider audience see what you have to say. If I have the opportunity to, I would participate in one again.