The Digital Shelf

October 20, 2008

Researchers are trying to better understand opportunities to increase sales using search marketing.  Millions of people use search engines like Google and Yahoo to search for information everyday.  Marketers in the packaged goods category (baby care, personal care, home care, and packaged food) were interested to see the potential brand building impact of search.

A study by comScore, Inc. found that a substantial percentage of consumers visited a site after performing a search.  “Among visitors to baby products sites, 60 percent arrived via search, followed by 47 percent in food products, 27 percent in personal care products, and 23 percent in household products.” This means that there is a good opportunity for marketers to build brands using search marketing. 

For years, search has been known for finding and obtaining information, not advertising and promotions.  Now, the results of this study helps marketers further explore search for advertising and sales promotions to drive in-store purchasing.  

ComScore’s SVP of Media, James Lamberti, thinks that managers should be considering search advertising to better the brand.  “Brand managers should be placing more emphasis on this channel to influence the long term health of their brands.”  One of the most significant findings in the report was that “searchers spent approximately 20 percent more than non-searchers across the four categories studied, further confirming the importance of search as a potential driver of offline purchase behavior.”  That is more than enough reason to focus more search marketing for brand building and driving offline sales.

Latinos Online

October 19, 2008

U.S. hispanics are America’s fastest growing ethnic market.  Latinos comprise 14% of the U.S. adult population and about half of this growing group (56%) goes online.  There are some key findings in a new report issued by the Pew Hispanic Center about Latino’s online usage.

  • 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent uses the internet.
  • 76% of U.S.-born Latinos go online, compared with 43% of those born outside the U.S.
  •  78% of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76% of bilingual Latinos use the internet, compared with 32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults

This report was based on a telephone survey conducted on 6,016 Latino adults.  The survey results also showed that Latinos do not have access to online resources.  So for those that are not connected online they are communicating by cell phone.  “59% of Latino adults have a cell phone and 49% of Latino cell phone users send and receive text messages on their phone.”

By comparison, 71% of non-Hispanic whites and 60% of non-Hispanic blacks use the internet.  The results show that there is a signifant gap in Internet usage bewteen Hispanics and Non Hispanics.

Girl Power

October 19, 2008

So what do you think about Laura Croft?  She’s a world class adventurer and heroine in the game Tomb Raider.  Lara’s strength and grace are admired by girls all over the country.  I think of her as having the ultimate girl power!  One who is a survivor and protects herself with automatic weapons while uncovering the secrets of the underworld. 

Games like these are played by thousands of teens everyday.  Girls and boys spend hours gaming on the Internet and on television with Playstation, Xbox, and Wii.  When they are not playing games they are socializing, sharing information and connecting on the Internet.  Fueled by new technology, websites, and social networking sites teenagers between the ages of 12-17 are engaged online. 

A new 2006 report from Pew Internet & American Life Project, showed that large numbers of teens share and create materials online.  Artwork, photos, videos, and stories are some of artistic creations shared.  The findings reveal that girls dominate most elements of content creation.  “Some 35% of all teen girls blog, compared with 20% of online boys, and 54% of wired girls post photos online compared with 40% of online boys.” 

The survey results also suggest that some of these teens are what we would call “super communicators.”  They use multiple channels of technology to communicate with friends: land line phones, cell phones, texting, social network sites, instant messaging and email.  Guess what?   They represent about 28% of the entire teen population and they are more likely to be older girls. Now that is what I consider to be girl power.  Go girls!

Searching for Fame

October 17, 2008

Popular search engines like Google and Yahoo deliver information that Web surfers want on a dime.  For the most part, the results look just about the same.  Pages and pages of links to a subject are displayed for you to pick the one that best relates to what you need. Have you ever noticed that these sites display the same information but in a different order or maybe some links on one site may not be on another?

This is because search engines are paid to rank some listings higher or include some listings within an index of possible results.  This is called paid placement and paid inclusion and the industry is beginning to take some heat over how this advertising is incorporated into search results.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a guide to paid placement search engine ads in response to a complaint filed for failing to disclose that advertisements are inserted into search engine results lists.  The complaint states that concealing this information may mislead people to believe that the search results are based on relevance to the subject matter and not paid advertising.  The recommendations to marketers is “to distinguish paid ranking search results from non paid results, clearly disclose and explain paid inclusion, do not mislead consumers as to the basis on which a search result is generated.”   

A survey conducted by Consumer Webwatch revealed that “over 60 percent of U.S. adult Internet users stated that they were unaware that search engines accept fees to list some sites more prominatly than others in search results.”  This could be the next ethical issue in emerging media.

Escaping Reality

October 16, 2008

Unleash your imagination and experience a virtual world where you, the kids and your friends can be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.  It’s the newest media and fascination amongst children and adults alike.  Create your very own virtual pet….adopt them and then take care of them.  You can enjoy having a pet without all the real life problems of actually owning one. 

Better yet, why not adopt a baby?  It’s true, there is a virtual game where you can play mommy and dress them, change diapers, and feed them.  Oh, and you choose what you want them to look like.  Maybe this can give you a taste of the real life of parenthood before you ever experience it.  Just imagine, listening to it cry but never loosing sleep, changing a diaper without ever really smelling it, feeding it without the mess!  Life is good!

Unlike the virtual world itself, these games are becoming an increasingly popular reality with children.  A tech research firm analyst, Barry Gilbert, recently reported in BusinessWeek that “90 percent-plus of the activity is going on with kids.”  Some say that these type of games are not healthy because children sit in front of the computer when they could be outside playing.  Because of this, toy makers like Irwin Toys, created a new virtual gaming device called Me2  which actually is a pedometer that kids wear during the day and plug into a virtual game at night.  Integrating the real world of walking into virtual world “energy” to play the game. 

Companies are quickly starting to realize that children and adults are spending more time in virtual worlds today than playing games.  They are becoming extensions of brands and gaming will just be one of many different activities.  Coca Cola, Second Life, and IBM are just a few of the companies that are promoting their brands in the virtual environment.  According to a media consultancy Screen Digest, subscription sales from online virtual worlds rose to $526 million in North America in 2006.  I think this is the next big media thing for the future.  What do you think?

The Ten Commandments of Web Design

October 13, 2008

Creating a corporate website can be a tedious task but a very important one for marketing a business.  For those of us that are new at the task I found an article in BusinessWeek to help guide us along.  It is the Ten Commandments of web design and it was created from survey results taken from Web design gurus:

1. Thou salt not abuse flash – Excessive animations confuse usability and bog down uesers’ Web browsers.

2. Thou shalt not hide content – researchers say pop ups and full page ads that obscure content hurt functionality and test a reader’s willingness to revisit.

3. Thou shalt not clutter -Sites that lack a coherent structure make it impossible to wade through information.

4. thou shalt not overuse glassy reflections – Creating glassy reflections under photos of products had become a cliche.

5. Thou shalt not name your Web 2.0 company with an unnecessary surplus or dearth of vowels – Names like Flickr, Smibs, and Meebo are destined to sound dated.

6. Thou shalt worship at the altar of typography – Plain text has become cutting edge Web design.

7. Thou shalt create immersive experiences – Creating Web sites that can capture and hold users’ attention is what matters most

8. Thou shalt be social – Designers are now filtering those same elements into diverse sites, from smart advertising to online office productivity.

9. thou shalt embrace proven technologies – Sites that can incorporate these elements into their design will connect with users in a meaningful way by providing functionality and an interface with withich they’re already familiar.

10. Thou shalt make content king – Beautiful can’t make up for empty.

These are the must follow rules top online designers live by in 2008. For a full list of the contributors you can visit the BusinessWeek site.

Social Shopping Anyone?

October 10, 2008

Ever thought about shopping on social networks?  It’s the newest form of shopping combining social networking and online shopping.  MySpace and Facebook are attracting more people to share ideas, pictures, blogs, and now products. 

Think about it.  This could be huge for entrepreneurs with limited marketing budgets.  There could be a wealth of opportunities from  this newest word of mouth marketing.  MySpace users and friends recommending their favorite products and what’s hot, new and exciting.

Entrepreneur Magazine, has some suggestions on why social shopping works:

1. Online research leads to sales – A survey conducted by Consumer Intentions and Actions in 2006 revealed that consumers occasionally or regularly research products online before purchasing them in the store. So, influencing online shoppers may pay for itself.   

2. Peer to peer recommendations deliver credibility – Learning about products on other peers sites will be trusted more and peers are more likely to tell others about it thereby spreading the word and attracting others to the site. The social networking site itself does the talking. “Social shopping sites reflect users’ personal tastes and allow for online conversation.”

3. Site have distinct personalities – ThisNext.com, Crowdstorm.com, Kaboodle.com, Stylehive.com, and Wists.com are some of the hottest, new social shopping sites out there.  See, I’m spreading the word all ready.

4. Social shopping sites are an open door for entrepreneurs – Entrepreneurs should try it out by posting their URL links and measure the results.            

Check the sites out.  I think that it’s pretty clever and everyone on MySpace or Facebook can enjoy a new way of socializing.  One that us women really enjoy!

Mobile Information

October 8, 2008

There are so many opportunities today to obtain information that is readily available on a variety of platforms.  People can download and surf on the Internet, listen to the radio, watch television, or send a text.  Another convenient, easy and inexpensive way is through podcasting.  You can download podcasts about everything from news to food, politics to education, personal logs to sports, music to technology, and more.  

Imagine listening to your favorite television episode, church sermon, or learning Spanish whenever and wherever you wanted too.  You can listen to Podcasts on a several different devices such as computers, MP3 players, Palms, and even cell phones.  You can download some from iTunes store which has over 100,000 audio and video podcasts to choose from. 

Better yet, create and submit your own podcasting for others to enjoy.  There is a site called Podcasting tools  that provides resources and “everything you need to know about podcasting”.  It also accepts your suggestions for any additional podcasting resources or categories by contacting them.

Video podcasting is personal and on demand.  Here is an easy way to understand it in plain english.

 It’s free and you can subscribe to a RSS feed and have them automatically downloaded to your computers.  It works kind of like TiVo where you set which programs you’d like to record then it automatically records them later.  So, now there’s no excuse for missing that lecture.

Drama Sells

October 4, 2008

“Behind every great love is a great story”.  That is the tagline to the movie The Notebook and my favorite movie of all time.  The story follows two young lovers named Ali and Noah who were separated by Ali’s parents because they thought Noah wasn’t wealthy enough for their daughter.  The entire time they are separated they never forget each other to the point where Noah buys and restores an old house exactly how Ali would’ve wanted it.   Years later, the two reunite, marry and grow old together in that house.  It’s truly a heart wrenching, great love story.    

These dramatic films are remembered because they are emotional, capture attention, resonate with the audience and have record sales at the box office.  So wouldn’t it be awesome to market a product by using a much shorter version of film but with the same results?   

Commercial short films can be very effective in marketing and brands like BMW have chosen to break the rules in advertising by creating a series of Internet based short films called The Hire that were directed and produced and were one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all times. 

There are six basic elements that can always be found in short films: hero, wants, action, conflict, climax and resolution.  During research for a recent class discussion, I found a short film that contained all of those elements and more.  Southern Comfort created eight 3-5 minute films and launched the SoCo Music Fund to help raise awareness and funds for the musicians and music culture of New Orleans to help rebuild the music scene after hurricane Katrina.  There are eight artists and bands featured in “Start the Music Up” and each uses voice and music to explain some aspect of the New Orleans music and how it has affected there lives.

The Mobile Brand

October 2, 2008

If you had to leave the house for 24 hours what is the one thing that you would take with you?  An extra pair of clothes, your purse, wallet, lap top?  What if I told you that more than one third of workers surveyed said they would choose their mobile phone.  A market research firm, IDC, conducted a survey of 2,367 people and found that 38 percent of them chose their mobile phones and less than 30 percent chose their wallets first.

Cell phones have become part of life for many people.  It provides accessible communication anytime, anyday, wherever we are located. It stores information that is used everyday and without it, many of us would be lost.  So it makes since that marketers should take advantage of cell phone technology to advertise their products.

Mobile marketing campaigns are emerging everyday.  Taco Bell, McDonalds, Miller, Playstation, and the list goes on and on.  Prizes, coupons, news, area locators, are just some of the few amenities a person can receive by opting in to receive or participate and text messaging a code.  Probably the most popular and well known is American Idol.  Millions of people text a code to vote for the winning candidate.  People are using the cell phone more often for the internet.  According to the Mobile Marketing Association, research reveals that “rather than basic entertainment and ringtones, consumers indicated that their most wanted mobile activities included phone optimized banking and travel planning.”

This presents a better opportunity for mobile marketing.  Consumers will embrace it and respond to purchase products.  Check out Taco Bell’s mobile marketing campaign.  Just simply text a code from a soft drink cup and win food deals, discounts and prizes.  The campaign did more than encourage visits into the store.  Taco Bell’s campaign improved brand awareness, increased sales, and laid the foundations for the company’s future permission-based mobile marketing campaigns.


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