Friday, 31 December 2010

Social media rules

According to WARC the top search phrase on its site in 2010 was 'social media.' Facebook was also the leading brand being searched for (sought after?) on the WARC site, confirming users' thirst for more content and comment in the social media area. Feels almost omnipresent now doesn't it? 'Press Button B' could almost only have happened in an episode of Dr Who it seems.

On the IPA site, of the top six successful search terms used on the site, 'behavioural economics', 'case studies' and 'databank' were all in the top six. This reflects also the desire of users to understand better the decision-making processes that result in hugely effective advertising and marketing case studies, published for us by WARC. Unsurprisingly the IPA databank of case studies increasingly demonstrates the role played by social media in advertising effectiveness.

Refreshingly, cider was the product category most frequently searched on WARC in 2010. Love pear cider and love seeing brand entries for Copperhead, Strongbow and Magners all being submitted as case studies to the annual IPA Effectiveness Awards competitions: over 1400 case studies are available for download from the IPA databank. Cheers

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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Marketing isn't just for Christmas

I read a piece in The Guardian yesterday about the correlation between Christmas and suicide. Venturing into such dark territory it was easy for the journalist to then shine his not very bright torch on Christmas being ..."Dominated by the advertising industry." It seems that bashing advertising and marketing isn't just for the rest of the year but for Christmas too.

On this crude logic the angel Gabriel should have been villified for representing Christ's first real marketing message but got off much more lightly than John the Baptist who was equally on message but off his head?

In the same newspaper, there is talk of the forthcoming VAT increase and 74% of retailers in the British Retail Consortium expecting to raise the prices of their goods in the shops in 2011. Advertising and marketing do not cause that to happen, any more than they cause people to commit suicide. In fact it's probably such monocausal logic that leads lonely people to stress in the first place. Surely individual backgrounds, life journeys, peer pressure, oh, and journalists writing about the 'haves' and 'have nots' have someting to do with it?

Bad news sells newspapers but don't journalists also have a duty to spread Good News at this time and the roles of advertising and marketing in lubricating the economy - goodness knows we need that in the light of banking's failure to do so - as well as keeping the prices of their own newspapers at affordable levels for most of us to be able to read their wise words?

Instead, a bit like with the scribes who failed to see historical prophecy becoming reality with their own eyes, journalists today too often rely on their favourite scapegoats for explanations and wildly inaccurate assertions of biblical proportions when this and every other season should really be about The Truth?

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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Navigating the amazon

I was reading in WARC News this morning that amazon is among the online retailers receiving the highest satisfaction scores from UK consumers.

This is according to a recent survey from ForeSee who surveyed almost 10,000 respondents, and found that "highly satisfied" shoppers registered a 57% improvement in their commitment to specific retailers.

This is obviously great for online retail and I'm personally not surprised that amazon do so well. In the early days of online I found it difficult to accept that there was no telephone support but the e-mail system amazon have in place as well as direct order tracking via the Post Office is great and effective. Or perhaps it is just that like my fellow netizens I am more used to and confident in a system that has finally clicked with me!

John Lewis also do well in the ForeSee survey and I was again reminded of amazon when thinking of the 'never knowingly undersold' slogan. Having bought an item from amazon - and yes it arrived without delay - I got a follow-up e-mail to say that it had subsequently been reduced online and they had paid an amount equivalent to the saving directly back to my credit card. I didn't know about the price reduction so didn't need to ask and certainly didn't need to 'make a claim' with all the bureaucratic red tape that phrase conjures up.

If you run a transparent operation online you have nowhere to hide and it never gets personal. I used to think that the lack of a real person in retail sales was a problem but, as ForeSee are demonstrating, it's actually its biggest advantage.

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The inception of vuvuzelas

Following my post on Google's Zeitgeist report, I was interested to read the Netimperative piece on top tweets of 2010.

Even talking about 'top tweets' is itself a 'breaking phrase' or 'trending topic' as it would have been meaningless just a relatively short time ago. While the Gulf Oil spill dominates Twitter's charts, who would have thought that a word in common use such as 'inception' could take on an entirely new life becaue of the film. Great film though and loved the ending which, unsurprisingly, I didn't see coming!

Vuvuzela is, on the other hand, a word I'd never heard of until this summer's FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Couldn't even have guessed at the meaning of it, though the idea of it is permanently planted in my mind now. Probably could have guessed at England's underwhelming performance; a familiar nightmare squashing marketing dreams.

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Monday, 13 December 2010

Spirits Having Flown

No, this isn't a post about the Bee Gees' fifteenth album, released in 1979, though it is rather good.

I was reading a summary in Netimperative of Google's annual 'Zeitgeist' - or Spirit of the Times - report which looks at search terms used on over the previous 12 months.

It gives us lists in various categories but, with new topics 'trending' by the online second, I'm not sure these are really long-term trends as such, rather long snapshots: a wide-lense camera with the aperture open for a bit longer!

They are of course majorly important to the internet economy which is now judged by the UK Office for National Statistics to be the fourth largest economic sector in the UK - behind Real Estate, Manufacturing and Retail but ahead of Health, Construction and Education.

Internet marketers and SEO specialists - and there are many excellent IPA agencies specialising in the digital sector - will see no surprises in Facebook, the BBC and YouTube dominating the websites being searched for (sought after?) nor webcam chat site Chatroulette or friends' question and answer site Formspring dominating search requests this year.

Interesting that they have a 'top divorce' category. Sorry Cheryl! Perhaps as one of my favourite reads - The Week - now terms it (Politically Correct clearly wasn't PC anymore) it is entirely in keeping with the 'Spirit of the Age' that people search so often for this information.

Comfortingly, argos is still the most popular retail term being searched for, though that little bird may well have flown away too by the time you read this.

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tesco: every second counts

I was reading a piece about Tesco on Yahoo! Finance this morning.

As part of its Clubcard scheme where customers earn points on supermarket purchases, including non-food items, it had launched its Big Clubcard Voucher Exchange back in November. Customers had the chance over the next four weeks of doubling their points by exchanging special vouchers before the closing date of 5th December.

Tesco not only made great play of the vouchers being applicable to a much wider range of items but that vouchers could also be exchanged online. They expected a steady but even flow of voucher exchanges over the four weeks of the scheme. Of course, given the sense of retail omnipresence these days, many shoppers left it until the last minute (literally) causing long queues in supermarkets, slow online response times and eventually the collapse of the entire Tesco website.

As in my last post on online shopping a lot of shoppers today perceive that online servers are uniformly available 24/7. They're not. Online shopping processing speeds depend on online traffic - you just don't have to try and park the car first. If £831,000 can be spent online in one minute how could Tesco not have planned for a possible shopping peak at the expiry date of its voucher scheme?

Perhaps they will learn some lessons about digital before running the scheme again, or is it just basic sales promotion? As they say, every second counts.

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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Crisis? What Crisis?

Did you see the piece in netimperative regarding yesterday's online shopping sales?

According to the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) member Retail Decisions (ReD) we had our busiest online shopping day ever yesterday (Monday 6th December 2010 will now be forever known as Mega Monday) and, at 13.15 our 'busiest minute' when £831,000 was clicked through online shopping carts.

According to IMRG over half the population of the UK now shops online. Their forecast of online sales to reach £6.4 billion in December alone looks vulnerable - in the right direction!

As Supertramp asked during mid 'Seventies economic despair: Crisis? What Crisis?

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Google back down to earth. reported overnight on the launch of the Google Earth Engine

It's a global mapping tool consisting of a database of satellite images of the Earth's surface - 25 years' worth - and specially designed software to spot any envirnmental changes in those images, which are then mapped.

Quite apart from the technological achievement and the benefit that environmental researchers and scientists worldwide will gain from this tool, Google is also donating ten million computer processing hours on its servers each year over the next two years for this analysis. So, it's giving to charity through doing what it's mission set out to do - organising the world's information.

Cynics might say that for Google this is a drop in the ocean - geographically, environmentally, technically and commercially and, yes, there will be many marketing opportunities arising from them showcasing the software capability in this way. But they didn't need to do it.

While others sit on the fence, Google is more akin to Nike: it just does it. Oh, and make sure that fence isn't made of wood or you may be last past the post.

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Monday, 6 December 2010

End of year report!

We've just put together a summary of Rory Sutherland's Behavioural Economics activities to try and gauge what impact his agenda has made on the industry so far. Relative to other presidential agendas it makes impressive reading:

- 160 out of 270 IPA member agencies have been involved in IPA events with over 2000 visits to the BE section of our website

- in addition Rory has spoken on 25 other industry-related platforms including TED and the Marketing Society and written copious articles and columns

- 15 major clients are now pursuing Behavioural Economics with IPA roster agencies

- the Behavioural Insights team in Government have called in IPA member agencies to help

- 3,500 copies of IPA BE publications have been distributed or downloaded.

By Spring of next year it looks like Behavioural Economics will be embedded in the way leading agencies think and work and we'll have live case examples to talk about.

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Big Society

If you don't know Pewsey in Wiltshire you should. It hosts the oldest Carnival in England, originating in 1898 apparently, and is proud of the fact.

My local butcher couldn't stop telling me last Saturday how he was part of the local team of volunteers who put up the street lights for Carnival. It's a race against time and they try to do it in a shorter time every year then celebrate with a few beers and a street BBQ.

Next weekend they'll be putting up the Christmas lights. He was telling me all of these while producing home-made chipolatas for my weekend dinner party. Apparently parties of scouts and cubs come round to the shop regularly to learn how to make sausages too.

Everybody in the village knows my butcher. He doesn't stand out but he does join in. I don't think he's necessarily heard of the Government's Big Society initiative but sounds like he's practicing it.

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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Giving back

It's a Double Rollover on the National Lottery's lotto game tonight.

The Lottery attracts 14 to 16 million users a week, and they invest an average of £3 each. From an income of roughly £100 million £28 million goes to good causes every week! It's an amazing success story. By comparison the BBC's Children in Need is a one hit wonder!

I wonder how many of us go into it thinking we're giving to charity. Perhaps very few. It's a byproduct of what we do. But it works!

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