Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 2/26/09

static4Twitter: I agree very much with Pete Blackshaw, who pens a piece for AdAge on how Twitter is not only a disruptive communications tool for individuals and marketers alike but something that fundamentally changes the equation. Interaction, listening and message dissemination are all areas that require re-thinking when it comes to getting involved on the site.

Rick Klau promises to share insight on how he and the rest of the Google Blogger team approach Twitter as a branding vehicle.

Anne Thompson is experiencing Twitter Fatigue. While she sees some usefulness for Twitter, she also points out that it’s not the best place for context or insight, two things that are incredibly important.

Joe Thornley points out that because of the narrow funnel that Twitter creates, it actually has shrunk the community of people he once interacted with when he was blogging. It’s an interesting point since one of the fundamental problems with Twitter is that it’s hard to follow everyone you feel is worth following and actually keep up with their notes.

A new study of 700 Twitter users shows that some 56 percent of them use Twitter for business purposes of some sort. Small businesses, large corporations and individuals all have used Twitter to connect with customers or others in the audience.

Advertising: Google has announced that, after a couple months of testing, it’s rolling out ads in Google News search results.  This has been something people have speculated on and predicted since Google News was launched and could be a major new revenue stream for Google. It occurs to me too that the category of business that could most benefit from advertising within these searches would be…wait for it…news companies.

Social Media: The definition of social media largely, Noah Mallin points out, depends on what the person doing the defining is trying to sell you.

Journalism and the idea of community without borders

Amidst all the recent coverage chronicling the death of traditional news media, Robert Niles at OJR pegs the failure of newspapers to actively and respectufully engage with and report on communities as one of the major factors contributing to their demise. More importantly, Niles knows that “communities” means more than just a geographical neighborhood.

That’s a liberating moment: when you realize that journalism is not the business of reporting, writing and publishing newspapers… or websites. It’s the business of community building. And to do that, you must build your publication’s community from within the broader geographical, topical or professional community that you wish to serve.

Unleash the Fury!!

Samuel L. Jackson signs on to play Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D in nine upcoming Marvel Universe movies.

In related news, productivity is expected to drop across the country today as geeks celebrate by watching Iron Man on DVD.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 2/25/09

static3Advertising: Google, unsurprisingly, has come out on the side of “science” in the “art vs. science” debate currently making its way through the advertising industry. The company, which of course has an enormous stake in seeing tech continue to flourish, says that networks and other automated tools can help the creatives who are actually designing the banner ads and other ads that get displayed.

Yahoo continues to roll out new online advertising products, in this case new products that factor in behavioral targeting, delivering ads based in part on where someone has just been online.

Microsoft has convened an advisory panel consisting of many of the biggest of the existing media companies to help it develop it’s new ad-management tool PubCenter.

Email newsletters, while hardly sexy or cutting edge in terms of technology, can still be big providers of ad revenue.

Social Media: Forrester’s latest technographics report shows that B2B buyers are into social media, whether as creators, consumers or at one of the other levels of activity, both in their personal and professional lives.

The fact that Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang is among the top results for a Google search of “jeremiah” points, according to Andy Sernovitz, to just how powerful a tool blogging can be when engaging in search engine marketing.

Todd Defren has a list of tips for social media marketers looking to engage the audience on customer review sites. As I say in the comments to his post, this is a useful reminder in an area that too often gets overlooked in the general social media space until a controversy of some sort emerges.

Media: Americans are watching more TV programming than ever. It’s just that much of that viewing is happening on computers or mobile devices and not on an actual TV.

Mobile: Twiter support has been returned to Canadian users of Bell Mobility, but it’s going to cost customers to get and receive those tweets via SMS.

Movie Journal: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Despite some problems that are primarily rooted in the substance of some of the scenes and characters, I did quite enjoy Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings.

The movie tells the story primarily of Nick (Cera) and how he’s getting over being dumped by his girlfriend Tris. Nick is a sensitive guy who’s into indie music, something that leads him to make Tris all sorts of mix CDs, even now that they’ve broken up. But the promise of a uber-hip band playing a secret gig in New York City gets him out of his funk, at least a little bit.

It’s there that he has an interesting run-in with Norah. She knows Tris from school and, in order to avoid an embarassing situation she unknowingly picks Nick from the crowd to pretend to be her boyfriend.

The two then embark with Nick’s bandmates to find where this band will be playing, with awkward situations all along the way.

Where the story winds up won’t be all that surprising but the loose, do-it-yourself nature that permeates the film keeps things fresh and interesting and by and large enjoyable.

The main problem with the movie is that the situations it puts high school seniors in are, well, just awful. Everyone aside from the main characters is either:

  • Drunk throughout the entire film
  • Gay

And even the two leads, along with the rest of the characters, are extremely over-sexualized. Nick’s gay bandmates spend the entire movie driving around with some guy who they picked up in a bar. The ex-girlfriend is all about sex, using it to try and lure Nick back to her in order to not so much win him back but show up Norah, who Nick is obviously beginning to like and who obviously likes him. Norah’s best friend is apparently a constantly drunk slut who Norah has to mother through one night of bar-hopping after another.

So if you’re a fan of conservative values among teens the movie is probably going to rub you the wrong way. It’s a good flick and worth seeing for the dialogue and music, but these things are really problematic and have the potential to eat into your enjoyment of the film.

Finding an Audience: Distribution Notes for 2/23/09

movie-ticket-and-popcornNetflix added more than the expected number of new subscribers to its DVD rental service in the last part of 2008 and continues to expand its streaming service, which is available not only online but also through select set-top boxes and soon TVs themselves.

Indie911 and B-Side will help the producers of the documentary Before the Music Dies distribute their film online via Indie911’s Hooka service, which lets website operators sell the movie and earn a commission of those sales. The movie will be available DRM-free.

While total revenue rose one percent in 2008, actual admissions to movie theaters dropped 2.5 percent, which was actually smaller than expected. Ticket prices rose only mildly on average, something that, combined with the belief that people were seeking out movies as a salve to harsh economic times, contributed to the narrower than predicted drop in admissions.

The new premium cable channel being launched by Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM has a name: Epix. But the wisdom of launching a pay cable channel at the same time streaming movies are more and more popular and people are cutting cable to save money remains questionable. The channel also doesn’t yet have a carrier agreement, which is going to hurt its market penetration. Epix will debut with movies like Iron Man, but it’s unclear how that’s going to be attractive in a world where so many people bought the DVD or Blu-ray and will have watched it many, many times before this channel gets off the ground.

DVD sales dropped sharply in the last quarter of 2008. Ouch. The slide has studio execs looking to re-work deals with talent as they try to balance the desire to keep DVDs, which account for a good percentage of a film’s profit, going at the same time they plan for more VOD and online distribution.

Even worse, despite an optimistic industry declaration, a study predicts sales of “packaged media” – meaning that stuff you actually have to go to Target to get or have delivered from Amazon – will remain flat until 2012. Blu-ray, as others have noted, is not a different enough format from DVD to really motivate consumers and most of the growth is expected to come from online and mobile download sales. Studios are also seeing some of those dollars that used to go to DVDs increasingly go to games and other entertainment options.

That slide has Disney rethinking how many DVDs it releases in a year and how it both packages and markets the ones it does release.

Pericles Lewnes is thinking out loud about applying what is, in essence, a webinar model of “seat selling” to online viewing, bringing a set amout of people together on one site to virtually watch a movie together.

Research firm Piper Jaffey predicts 3D movies could be a $25 billion money-maker by 2012.

Arthouse distribution shingle E1 has signed a deal to make its titles available through online download service Jaman.

Jeffrey Goodman outlines five important things to consider when creating a self-distribution plan or, really, when considering the fate of your film in any regard. I’ve heard many independent filmmakers peg a number of these points as having been problems for them.

Online distribution, while no longer theoretical, still has a ways to go before it’s the kind of everyday technology that truly constitutes a game changer in terms of the consumer market. That, combined with the fact that studios and distributors seem likely to only accept a new business model when it’s either that or lose a leg, means there’s still a ways to go before it becomes a real alternative for the masses.

Universal, Summit and 20th Century Fox will become the latest studios to go day-and-date with the movies hitting DVD and VOD at the same time. Not huge, but it’s a smart and solid step.

Chris Anderson updates his FREE thinking in advance of his upcoming book.

Scott Kirsner points out that while small-scale enterprises won’t support an entire industry, they will support an individual creator.

The rise of streaming services means bad news for cable companies and DVD rentals as previous subscribers move online for their entertainment fix.

Well-known filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is among those who don’t think online distribution is actually a way for creatives to make money, but might still have potential for makers of short films. The question of whether or not an ad-supported model is also taken up by Laure.

Majority owner Coinstar has bought out completely Redbox, the operators of those DVD-rental kiosks you see outside of Walgreen’s and other locations. The transaction also divests McDonald’s of its interest in the venture.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 2/23/09

staticMedia Relations: The Wall Street Journal’s piece on the secrets of achieving viral video success is worth reading but I don’t think it goes deep enough into the role that media relations has to play. Very few things, especially if you’re talking about corporately-produced videos, have been successful that didn’t have an outreach component of some size or another behind them.

Virtual Worlds: The hype behind Second Life in particular and virtual worlds in general has been deflating for a while now, but now seems to be picking up some steam. The primary driver behind this shift is that many of the brands who rushed to be there after Newsweek/BusinessWeek write-ups have now realized they don’t know what they’re doing there, with the remaining ones only the companies that actually have a strategy and an audience.

Branding: The idea that a company would be able to apply for and get its own branded top-level domain name (i.e. “.deloitte” instead of “.com”) is awful in just about every conceivable way.

Brandweek’s Todd Wasserman looks at a number of branded iPhone apps and how well they’ve done.

Metrics: The “click” might not be the best measuring stick for online ads since it’s often the combination of a number of factors, especially exposure to other components in an overall campaign,, that can contribute to where and when an ad is actually clicked on. A re-thinking of the effectiveness of a holistic campaign could mean good news for online publishers willing to charge what the ad is actually worth by this judgment.

Marketers continue to push TV networks for ratings numbers specifically for their ads, not just the shows they’re embedded within. The networks, of course, aren’t thrilled about opening this can of worms since it means rates would drop, likely dramatically.

It’s not just the click that matters. By looking at how the visitor got there, what their experience has been and other metrics, marketers can make adjustments to where they place their messaging and how their site is designed for that user.

Social Networks: Much of the growth happening on social networks is coming from the over-35 demographic. That’s in large part because the under-35 demographic is pretty much tapped out in terms of growth potential. Either people in that group are already on a social network or they never will be.

Facebook is said to be considering a tax on applications for the site as well as putting someone in the position of community laison. The latter is in large part because of the latest user outcry over their terms of service.

Twitter mosaic

I first saw this Twitter mosaic idea appear when Neville Hobson used it to make a mug for himself. After sharing it in my Google Reader Shared Items Rick Klau made one and I’ve since seen it pop up around and about the Interwebz. So I thought I’d make mine and share it here. Go ahead and make your own as well.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 2/20/09

static5Media: A study of journalists shows that 60 percent of them now contribute to a blog or website, with a third of them just getting started in the last year. I’m assuming this means something beyond just having a column repurposed online.

More talk about putting mainstream news content behind a pay wall, including news that the Associated Press is in discussions for just such an arrangement.

User-generated content continues to grow, with social networks being the largest creation platform for said creation.

Advertising: YouTube is selling more video ads to deeper-pocketed advertisers according to a new study. There’s also a significant amount of the most popular videos that came from marketers themselves.

Whatever it winds up looking like, there’s little doubt that the television advertising model is changing as media options proliferate and younger viewers enter the marketplace who have never known a world without on-demand, commercial-skipping viewing.

Creative agencies will this year be invited to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s discussion on banner ads, a discussion that will try to bring together the needs of publishers and advertisers, two sides who sometimes have different views of a banner ad’s place in the world.

Ad networks are great for publishers who aren’t able to sell their own ads, but they’re also pushing rates down, which isn’t so great.

Mobile ads have high recall rates, especially among iPhone users. The format is expected to continue growing this year despite the recession, based largely on that recall number, something that’s falling for other platforms.

Social media: Despite all the talk that social media marketing expertise will eventually be part of everyone’s toolkit, Jim Tobin thinks there will always be a need for a someone or team of someone’s who are specialized in that field and are able to guide the way.

Retailing: A new study by Forrester Research draws a very clear line between effective customer service capabilities and customer loyalty, including the tendency of people to become enthusiasts and evangelists of a particular brand.

Poland on Smith

David Poland’s review of the Zack and Miri Make a Porno Blu-ray has him coming to much the same conclusion that I did after watching the movie, that this movie is a great leap forward in director Kevin Smith’s ability both behind the camera and as a writer.

I read an interview with Smith a while ago that this movie was the first that had the rest of Hollywood thinking he could direct other projects, meaning it was the first one where the film wasn’t filled with all his usual ticks and tricks and positioned him as capable of changing his style to match the material. Completely agree.