Monthly Archives: April 2011

Geolocation Marketing


As mobile computing continues its global penetration and cell towers and Wi-fi hotspots collect more and more user data, we’ll start to see a significant redistribution of advertising dollars away from mass media towards targeted buys. Not a huge redistribution, but an accelerated one. Mass media will always play an important role, but targeted marketing (not just advertising) will soar.

Search advertising has allowed us to target people searching for specific products.  Behavioral targeting has allowed us to profile individuals, based upon what they search for scrubbed with other data, and serve up ads accordingly. But geolocation targeting will take that to a whole other level.

The hubbub about Google and Apple stealing our signals and locations from cell towers and hotspots and recording that data should be our first clue.

If you think there is class warfare in the U.S. today, wait until you see the difference in the advertising targeting people who shop at BMW showrooms vs. The Dollar Store. There will be a feeding frenzy for the former while the latter will be left somewhat alone.  It will come to the point where high-income people will visit the Dollar Store just to fudge the data.

At first, the geo-location targeting thing will be cool as marketers use unique incentives to transact business. But then we’ll experience overload and it will become quite cumbersome.  People don’t want ads and offers all over their mobile devices. People don’t want marketers to know more about them than their friends and family do. Should be an interesting ride. Peace.

Brand Planning and the Data Explosion.


The data explosion is making brand planning more, not less, important. But you won’t hear that from tactical wonks in the marketing business.  You’ll hear “We need a social media program.”  Or “Our web conversion rates need to be higher.”  How about “The user experience needs improvement.”  Don’t get me wrong, all these marketing care-abouts are vitally important.  Though, if not driven by a focused brand strategy, they’re nothing more than values on a dashboard.

Measure, measure, measure.  More data.  More analysis. More trend reports.  It’s a frenzy. But what’s the idea?  Does the brand have a single value proposition consumers can articulate?  Not just recognition of the category the brand is in, the advantage and predisposing quality of that brand. And is there an organizing principle that delivers the product consistently – informing each and every tactic.  If you can answer the question “What’s the idea?” then it’s okay to explode the data. Peace.

The Social Responsibility Mask.


Someone posted a question yesterday on a forum asking if investing in social responsibility programs benefited brands.   The answer is yes. And in some cases no. It’s never a bad idea to do good. But doing good to mask or overshadow the bad a company does is not right.  I sit here typing in a tee shirt with the BP dandelion logo atop the line “We’re bringing oil to American shores.” BP is a joke. And long will be.


Dasani just announced a plastic bottle that is 30% plant based.  That’s 30% responsible and 30% good as it relates to biodegradability, but what we don’t know is if the process chews up more energy or emits more carbon.

Brand Meaning

As a brand advocate, I would answer the social responsibility question this way:  If the program is “brand meaningful” — if it makes a deposit in the brand bank — then it’s worth doing and celebrating. And supporting with paid media. If the program is not brand meaningful, say about child slavery, do it quietly and don’t feed the conversation. Just be proud to do Good’s work.


Brand Mask

The Pepsi Refresh project does good.  It impacts a lot of people who get access to funds.  But Pepsi could do a lot more to clean up itself environmentally and health-wise. Pepsi can do more good with a bigger purpose, footprint and impact than offering cheerleaders new uniforms or putting new bleachers on a little league field.  Is Pepsi Refresh masking? I prefer the Coca-Cola approach to social responsibility. They can do much more, but they don’t wear a mask. And they don’t try to build a sugar water movement around it. Peace!

Black Eyed Peas for Volkswagen.


Pop quiz.  You are thinking of buying a new car.  A Volkswagen Beetle is among your choices. For the sake of this exercise, let’s say you are 25 years old.  Here’s a marketing multiple choice:

A.     You’re invited to a special free concert with the black Eyed Peas performing. There are Volkswagen Beetles positioned at the entry points to the concert.  There is mad signage and car pictures projected on screen throughout the concert but the performers never mention the words Beetle or Volkswagen.

B.     You like the Black Eyed Peas and buy a ticket to their concert. At the show there are no physical cars on display, but there are large display ads tastefully arrayed around the concert space showing car, brand and promise.

C.     Fergie, in workout clothes, is photographed leaving the gym of her personal trainer. She looks particularly aglow and has a hand darting around her bag looking keys — about to get into her new black Volkswagen Beetle.

I can tell you what an event marketing company would pick. And charge. I can suggest what a typical social media company would select (all three, they rarely care.) And I can tell you what a PR company would prefer. Heavy on one, but all three would generate fees.  There is only one true answer here. And that answer is fundamental to marketing. And you all know which one it is. Marketing is hard. Peace!

PS. Answer “A” actually happened… and it’s not correct.


Dirty hands. Dirty brain.


I love the fact that ad and marketing agencies are getting into the business business.  Anomaly, Kirshenbaum, Bond, Senecal and Partners, Horizon Media,
Rockfish Interactive, GMD Studios and a handful of others, rather than just making ads that either work or don’t, or creating websites that click or don’t, are turning business ideas into commercial enterprises. And experiencing that reality.

The biggest gripe between agencies and clients has always been that agencies care about the communication first and leave the sales to the clients.  Sure, the agencies will go flip some hamburgers when they win a new fast food account or sit in the emergency dept. to see what healthcare is all about, but at the end of the week the paycheck shows up and the pain is someone else’s if “the work don’t work.”

By starting businesses with new P&Ls this new breed of shop gets to “feel” all 4 Ps. Plus they get to feel the customers. Feel their own employees. Noah Brier a smart new school marketer suggests every marketer should learn to write little code just to get a taste of what digital is all about. Get the hands and brain dirty.  Agencies that build outside businesses will first flounder a bit and then excel at their craft. Droga5 became a stronger shop thanks to Honeyshed, mark my words. Peace!


Mobile Shopping Is Hurting


A company called Tealeaf recently did a survey on mobile phone shopping and according to an article in The New York Times the study said “mobile shopping was more frustrating than sitting in traffic or visiting the department of motor vehicles.” Does anyone smell an opportunity?

Web usability – the degree to which we make web pages easy to navigate and use – is becoming a fairly important science these days. UI stand for user experience. FUI is first user experience. There are engagement acronyms aplenty bandied about at web shops across our fruited plains but most of this science is web-based, not mobile phone based.

Mobile phone displays are chaotic. Between all the operating systems, web browsers, screen sizes, encryption and security programs and apps, it’s a wonder anyone can buy anything. Amazon has a 5-year head start on everyone and it shows. The promise of mobile phone shopping is to be the exact opposite of the D.M.V.’s “wait forever” experience. The promise is “buy now.”

Union Square and Sand Hill Road need to exert a little pressure on business and software engineers to create a simple, open and secure mobile web interface for two- click purchasing. This is a we’re going to the moon mission and it needs to happen in 2011. Peace.


Mobile Advertising For Everyone?


Quick, you want to buy some mobile ads for your soccer team’s fundraiser and you want them to run locally.  Oh, and you need to run before next weekend. To whom do you turn? Nice question, huh?

I once tried to get a quote to run mobile ads in NY State, contacting Google’s AdMob group. There was no phone number so I had to send them an email.  They got back to me with a very underwhelming form letter months later. New school service.

If you want to run mobile ads these days you need experts, like a digital agency. And then you had better have a half millions dollars or they won’t take your call. Let’s not even talk about ad serving technologies, reports, and optimization of the ads.


The one company equipped to do mobile advertising for the masses is Google, via AdWords. Search is an especially important consumer need while mobile, and search is what Google does best, so why are they not launching a mobile-only version of AdWords? A version with an easy-to-use interface, from a site with DIY instructions, and offers quick turnaround?

As the mobile algorithms get smarter and more ads are served to phones unrequested, people are going to start to get mad.  And that’s a bad future for mobile advertising.  A good revenue future is for Google to own mobile search ads the way they do on laptops and desktops. Google needs to stop diddling around all the other stuff and open up this market. If they make it so that small businesses can buy mobile ads without needing a doctorate degree it will grow the overall market and give them an unfair share. Peace!

3 Ps. The next marketing trends.


Try not to spend too much time in the present when doing marketing planning.  It’s okay to look to the past to help understand big trends and how they have changed. After you get the how, you need to overlay the why – that’s da monies, the why.  Then spend your time thinking about the future.

Most marketers, marketing agents and the less important though well-financed consultants spend their time in the near-past. Today, geo-location services and check-ins are the near-past and though not exactly a mine denuded of its ore, they are where many marketers are spending serious time and money. Slates and tablets are the haps today and as a billion dollar business will take up a lot of time, energy and GDP but like Robert Scoble’s kid said couple of month ago, it’s just more stuff to put in a backpack.   Tech companies are now fighting over form, size and inches.

What’s Next?

So what’s out in front? For marketers, what is ahead of the dashboard?  I believe the answer is politics, planet and populace.  It used to be easy to not pay attention to what went on in the Congo when it was buried on page 27.  But how about when it’s in your stream. In living color? And will people pay for that?  Will people pay for the right to tune in via Google Earth any event in the world in real time?  Who needs Al Jazeera?  I wrote yesterday about the web strategy called the 3Cs: Content, Commerce and Community. Tom Friedman who has more power than 95% of us  will tell you the 3 P (Poppe knows from 3 Ps) is what’s next. Let them guide you. Peace, the verb.

Keeping Score in Advertising.


I like the Effies.  Effie Awards are given out for, ta-dah, effective advertising and marketing programs.  I also like the Direct Marketing Associations Echo Awards — a show that awards those who quantify sales results. Cannes and the One Show are at the high end of the spectrum, with the Tellys at the other, in a long array of other hardware shows that tend to be more fashion than anything else.  I love art and creativity, please don’t get me wrong, but prefer sales with my marketing.

The Effies are like the sports in a way, in that people are rewarded when score is kept. Did the work generate value, sales, and market share?  And how much?  To the winners go the spoils.

I am often reminded of keeping score when I see “We’re here” advertising,” work that simply tells consumers what one does.  We’re here advertising is lazy and a blight.  A print ad today by the very reputable NYU Langone Medical Center proclaims through a one word headline “Whole.” Beneath this is the delicate, italicized and parenthetic word “hearted.”  The picture is of a physician holding a baby. Two sentences of copy mention the hospital does pediatric and adult cases, the doctors are accomplished and work for one of the nation’s top heart programs.  We’re here!   With nothing to say, they favor the say very little approach to readership.

What in the name of Einstein, is the measure of success here? Off to the Tellys. Peace!

Community. Yesterday and tomorrow.


The first web portal or big web project I ever worked on was ZDNet.  It was mid- to late 90s and they were in a dogfight with C|Net for audience. The key care-abouts were what they called the the 3Cs: Content, Commerce and Community.

Content was what ZDNet owned, having come out of the print publishing area. Commerce was all about hooking up buyers and sellers rather than selling on the site and Community was more about aggregating a class of reader than about creating interaction among those readers.

This was all before social networking and social media took off. These ZDNet guys and girls were inventing community and social on the fly. Community is still a big wielder of weight on the web. It’s mobile and location based, and, and, and, but it is still ripe fruit.

Many builders of community look at the offline world for inspiration: book clubs, quilters, home brewers, support groups. People who used to meet in houses or libraries – willing to commune over a topic. But what’s exciting and entrepreneurial today, though, is bringing together communities of like-minds interested in topics not found in the offline world. Quora would be a good place to mine for these. Moreover, it might be a good place to start these communities. Ning attempted to cash in here, but it was cumbersome and had to be orchestrated. Quora already has the settlers. Mick Jagger might say “It’s just a click away.” Peace!