Talking to your customers
We have to recognize the role of the consumer as creator. That’s the first time this has happened in history.
-Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA, Red Herring article
First recognise that they are not ‘consumers’!
This has to be blogged…
The one and only Hugh MacLeod.
This kind of advertising works for me!
The grandfather of my fiancé, Antoine Clarke, was a famous French writer known simply as Exbrayat. He invented the genre of the humorous detective novel and wrote more than 100 books (plus several plays and films), on which his first name, Charles, never appeared. You can read more about him here, at the Exbrayat blog that Antoine and I set up yesterday.
We hope the blog will be something very special for Exbrayat’s fans. We will be adding more never before published family photographs, podcasts, and other goodies for fans as time permits. For Antoine’s mother, who has always been very publicity shy and has refused all interview requests, it’s a genuine case of blogging and social media as DIY PR - actually conversing with the public, bypassing the traditional media owned by others in order to speak directly with the people who really count, on a platform owned by the family. The network that nobody owns is a million times more valuable and useful to the family than any other.
May 5th would have been Exbrayat’s 100th birthday, and we’ll all be heading to France soon for the various Exbrayat centenary celebrations in that country. Antoine and I will be taking photos there for the blog, as well as noting the family’s observations on the events in France. And yes, we’ll be doing it in English.
Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Lee Daley talks about how technology impacts advertising.
We’re going to have to get the consumers to opt in to the advertising experience. Interactive television, in actual fact, will probably be the greatest opportunity to overcome the threat of the PVR, but I think that consumers may end up paying for the advertising because they will opt in to content for longer, they will opt in to a truly interactive relationship through the television medium.
Jon Lund, whom I take to task (in the spirit of friendly exchange of opinions) over his interpretation of my ‘message’ at an IAA event last week in the post below, has come up with more thoughts on the subject of marketing and where it’s (or should be) heading.
Traditionally marketing has been seen as the skill of creating first Attention, then Interest, Desire and Action – as known in the AIDA model. Some ten years ago, however, something happened. Under the “I am not a consumer"-heading, “consumers” started reacting against the direct call for action – reclaiming their right to decide for themselves what to do and when to do it. In effect the Action-part af the AIDA lost much of its meaning: Hence - I’d suggest - AIDA lost its “A”, now simply crying out “AID”.
He also sees the desire of users to interact and to be part of the content production as great news.
Instead of regretting that advertising today has limited opportunities of controlling the choice of consumers, marketers today are confronted with vast opportunities of resources only waiting to be awoken in consumers. Opportunities marketers can take advantage of, by entering the new sphere of market-"conversations". Conversations – or dialogue – in the true sense of the word, where both parties are allowed to unfold and expressing themselves.
Sounds good. But why on earth would I want to interact with marketers?! If anything, I’d like to interact with the guy who know something about cars or makes wine or
or beautiful jewellery. So give people a story and a reason to interact with marketers and they just might. Or not.
I was rather surprised to see this as a heading to a post describing my talk at the IAA Interactive European Forum last Thursday. This is what Jon Lund thinks I believe:
Is there money in blogs? Not in the advertising sense! That was the message from Adriana Cronin-Lukas, CEO at The Big Blog Company. To her, the blogosphere is a place for conversations - and a sphere where commercial messages are not really wellcome.
While agreeing complety with Adriana that corporate blogs gives great opportuinies for establishing a conversation with customers, and poses great threats as well if you havn’t grasped the basic idea, I’m not really comfortable with the “this is business and this is personal conversation” thing, that seems to run underneath Adrianas presentation.
Hm, I can attest that this is not my message. I’d like to turn tables on this interpretation of my argument. Jon’s distinction between business and personal conversation is precisely the kind of false dichotomy that I am fighting. As far as I am concerned that there should be no ‘commercial messages’ in the world where the eyeball can turn them off and even talk back the ‘messages’ are intrusive and annoying. Markets are conversations.
So blogs are ideal for marketing, but the kind that appears to leave the advertising and marketing industry out of the loop. This is because they are the one who perpetuate the distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘commercial’, both concepts needed a closer examination anyway. Very few of the blogs I read for my work are personal, in fact, I can’t think of any really. But all of them have a human authentic voice, simply because they are written by a human being not trying to be a brand or a commercial message. There is a distinction between human, personal and intimate and you can have a formal interaction with a human being, without the edifice of a commercial ‘constructed’ identity. None of this is new, again Cluetrain Manifesto has made this point ad nauseam.
As for advertising on blogs, I never said that this should not be done. True, I do not like it but at the same time I do not begrudge the revenue bloggers who attract large audiences can get from the eyeballs. Who am I to tell them how to interact with their audience?! What I usually point out though, is that ads are a channel format, designed to be produced as some content, packaged and then pushed through a pipeline directed at the appropriate demographic of eyeballs. Blogs are a network format, the content is not finished or packaged and they are connected creatures that distribute information not via pipelines and channels but via many-to-many and one-to-one overlapping networks. So I merely point out the clash and try to give a hint to advertisers that perhaps the best way to approach the blogosphere is not to litter it with the blog equivalent of banner ads.
One thing I noticed about the advertising and marketing industry is the sense of detachment on their part from the ‘consumer’. (I have started to use the word ‘audience’ where they talk about ‘consumers’ to try to undermine this but it’s a long slog.) Hence the use of the word consumer-generate media - it seems that as long as it’s got the ‘consumer’ bit in it, it can be categories and therefore it’s not threatening. I am remined of one of my favourite quotes.
That’s the big thing for me with advertising. There’s something really creepy - in a dirty trenchcoat and mismatched socks way - about people who are willing to expertly manipulate others, but not come talk to them as though they were human.
The recent Cillit Bang affair certainly confirms that. My message to the audience at IAA event was that there is a way forward but they have to respect the audience, the medium and the etiquette. Just like with any social interaction that you participate in.
Communities Dominate Brands could be mistaken for a book which is just about the shape of things to come. And whilst it does indeed have a lot to say about the future, the really interesting thing about this book is that it is about the reality of brands and markets right now in 2005.
The fact much of what Tomi and Alan have to say is controversial and counter-intuitive to branding strategists and marketing insiders is just a measure of the seismic nature of the changes being wrought by the ‘Connected Revolution’. The world is not just changing, it has already changed and many of the axioms and practices which underpin how entire industries operate are now little more than a form of ‘phantom limb syndrome’.
This book is not just an essay about understanding how the convergence of many technologies has changed everything, it is nothing less than a survival guide which I would urge people in businesses of all sizes to read from cover to cover if they want prosper in a world in which the balance of power on so many levels has shifted in favour of the digitally empowered individual and the affinity groups they form. These communities really do dominate brands. Get used to it.
Reading this article in MediaPost made me exclaim - They never learn, do they!
Podcasting, simply put, is just another way to distribute content to consumers. As with all new digital sub-channels, the hype for podcasting can be overwhelming.
Perhaps I am still on the roll from the Cillit Bang affair, but what is it about the media types that they have to use such langague?
We are embracing the change and seeking viable new ways to reach and influence these consumers…
... the golden opportunity for marketers - the opportunity to deepen relationships between consumers and your brand or product.
Deepen relationship between consumers and a product?! People do not usually have relationships with inanimate objects (unless it’s computers, obviously, or other items around which many a ‘premium content’ website has been built) but with other people (or their pets). One can talk about a following, enthusiasts or fans etc but do not pretend that I am ‘relating’ to a brand or a product, especially one that thinks of me as a consumer.
My gripe is not just about the choice of words such as content, consumers, ‘reach and influence’, consume content etc, but about the original point behind the article - looking how to insert advertising in podcasts, although the conclusion gives us breathing space before there will be ads in podcasts.
Although podcasts do represent great opportunities for marketers to deepen relationships with consumers, they do not yet represent viable advertising opportunities for most. Ads within podcasts are innately low engagement ads, even less so than pre-roll and in-stream audio or video. The net result is that the brand impact is more passive than that of other, more engaging forms of digital media.
Obviously engagement in adspeak stands for I push something at you that you can click on, basically meaning the same as interactive that has got worn out about 5 years ago.
Tom receives an apology from the team who handle Cillit Bang, although he wasn’t sure at first as the email domain is different. But then the first commenter pointed out it is from a PR agency specialising in handling PR crisis. Marvellous!.
He posts in full on his blog. Let me count the ways that raise my heckles about it.
The posting on 30th September was unplanned and an error of judgement and we unequivocally apologise for this. We recognise that it was inappropriate in context.
So the ‘posting’ was unplanned. Does that mean that every posting a brand would use on its blog (fictional or real) has to be planned?! Whatever happened to markets are conversation… And in any case, the ‘error of judgement’ happened in a comment on Tom’s blog, not in a posting. But let’s not dwell on detail when we have bigger fish to fry.
The Barry Scott character has appeared in a number of spoof websites and weblogs, created by people unconnected to the Reckitt Benckiser brand. The weblog posting on your site was not endorsed by Reckitt Benckiser or any of the advertising agencies that are mentioned and was a one off error from which lessons have been learnt. We are sorry for any offence it has unwittingly caused.
Oh dear. So to quote, Jamie, another commenter (some good stuff in Tom’s comments section):
The say it was an error of judgement, it wasn’t done by them, and they’ve learnt lessons.
We recognise that it was inappropriate in context.
I’d ask them to explain in which context it would be appropriate - and for a years supply of cleaning products.
I think I can follow Jamie’s logic just fine - this seems like an old PR habit of never saying sorry, with the new mantra ‘admit you are wrong’ and the world will forgive you. Or something. Either way, it’s not pretty communicated in a robot-like style.
And finally, they offer a personal apology, which is good, so why is the email signed by “Cillit Bang Team”, not by a name of the person writing the apology?
And really finally, let’s not forget the whole issue with fake blog characters and clumsy attempts by advertising/marketing/branding/PR companies trying to control this ‘blog thing’, shall we?
... advertising in general is designed to get people to pay attention to things that they might not otherwise notice. Sometimes ads are effective, and sometimes they aren’t. But we have to recognize that most forms of advertising, and not just this one, almost always detract from the user experience. But they are accepted by most people as a necessary evil because most of us recognize that developing content costs money, and we accept advertising in exchange for free content.
- Search Engine Spam on O’Reilly’s Radar
I have now installed Google Talk as a proper geek and testing it with my gmail-owning friends… (by the way, the quality of the voice was nowhere near as good as on Skype). I have no plans to move away from Skype that has won my affection over the year I have been using it.
The new Google IM application isn’t yet ad-supported. But if and when Google is ready to monetize it with ads, it doesn’t look like there will be any shortage of marketers. Carat Interactive media buyer Sarah Fay said her agency has placed ads on all the major IM networks.
We’re big fans of it, and we’re using all of the IM products of the other providers of that platform. We would be just as likely to use Google as another IM property--if they get themselves to the same level of usage as the others.
Other instant messaging services have a multitude of ads. America Online’s AIM, for instance, displays banner ads above users’ contact lists. At MSN, users can download “skins,” which will brand their contact list and message windows.
It is the users choice to display skins to their contacts that one of the big draws of IM advertising, which is seen as giving the ads a ‘viral nature’.
As an ad vehicle, I’m a big fan of instant messenger. The proposition is, because it’s viral, and it’s chosen by the person who displays it on the IM screen, you gain an instant credibility.
I must be missing something here as I can’t see how the credibility is generated. So I like the colours or a look of some ‘skin’, choose it for my contacts to see, who know exactly what skins are available and what ads are pushed through them. Something here gets lost in translation, as choosing a particular ad sponsored skin is based on availability and (limited in my view) aesthetic preference, not a particular endorsement of that brand. But that’s may be just my geek side talking…
There is an interesting snippet among all this:
Still, it’s not clear that Google will allow display advertising on the product. Google Director of Product Management Georges Harik told OnlineMediaDaily that Google developers were not convinced that advertisements are the appropriate way to monetize an instant messaging service, and that the company is looking into ways to profit from the service “in a way that’s consistent with the user experience.”
I have a feeling that this view of user experience might subscribe to the don’t-push-the-bloody-adverts-at-me’ school of thought...?
For a new film, “The Constant Gardener,” Focus Features is intent on building its audience in a different way: by taking aim at readers of niche Web sites and blogs.
So far, so good. Using a blog to spread the news about a movie. Hm, nothing new here. But wait, it seems that all this amounts to is…
Focus, an art-house unit of Universal Pictures, has purchased ads for “The Constant Gardener” on the political blog Wonkette, as well as the Web sites of politically oriented publications like Harper’s, The Nation and National Review.
The news is that studios advertise on blogs?! I guess it is a big shift if all they did before is used ads indiscriminately everywhere. James Schamus, a co-president of the studio, says:
We looked for the places that sophisticated moviegoers seek out to find things that interest them. These are the people who are engaged with the world, who are informed about the big conspiracies going on out there.
I don’t know about the big conspiracies and I have been hanging around the blogosphere for a while. The point of blogging is that things get a bit more transparent, on the whole. Or does he mean the various nutters who do peddle conspiracies online? A niche audience indeed.
The article lists several films where studios dipped their toes online.
Ever since the release of “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999, movie studios have strived, and failed, to replicate the groundbreaking Internet campaign that made that film a marketing phenomenon. These new ad campaigns on the Web suggest that studios are becoming more determined to identify and reach niche audiences online.
Blogging works. But not if you do not understand the audience and pigeon-hole it before you start, just like the marketing person at ThinkFilm that bought banners at the bawdy gossip sites Gawker and Defamer:
Some movies just lend themselves to online advertising. ‘The Aristocrats’ is dirty, it’s obscene and it’s unrated, which is sort of like the Internet itself.
How about it’s free, dynamic and caters for all tastes… Geez.
But let’s be positive, Seth Godin, whose blog is worth reading, considers Focus clearly ahead of the curve in seeking an audience based on online behavior. I wonder then what he’d make of the Blowing Smoke blog.
Another marketing wonk weighs in, Joseph Jaffe:
The movie is about getting people to talk about a social issue. Blog readers want to be able to respond and add their own points of view.
Spot on. And how exactly does one do that with an advert? Ah, you are supposed to interact…
The “Aristocrats” ad also invites visitors to submit their own version of the film’s unprintable joke. ThinkFilm, which has an advertising budget well below the $30 million that major studios typically spend, is hoping that this interactive component can propel an ad throughout the Web, creating a cost-effective campaign.
Note the language, it is ‘the interactive component’ that is going to ‘propel the ad’ creating ‘a cost-effective campaign’. Not you and me, dear reader.
Apart from taking issue with pretty much everything in the article (my favourite gripes on my blog have been about marketing and advertising, for those who don’t know me), I am blogging about this because it points to a trend that is obvious to most people engaged with blogs. The big guys are starting to notice although they can’t seem to get ‘engaging’ any time soon:
Studios need to stop trying to reach the most people and focus on reaching the best people.
Indeed. But don’t stop there, try to do more than just target interactive adverts at them…
cross-posted from Blowing Smoke blog
From its beginning the Web has looked to many marketers like an opportunity to address micro markets through “personalization” (in quotes because marketing’s idea of personalization is the anti-Christ of real personalization), one-to-one marketing, addressing a market of one, etc. Yes, a car company can build a web page unique to my interests and preferences. Oh goody. But the real difference is that before I get to that page, I’ve talked with my friends and with smart, informed, funny, passionate strangers about the car. The most important characteristic of this new market of “ones” is that we’re talking with one another, and we’re telling one another the truth about your products. Marketing is much less interesting than these conversations.
- Dave Weinberger in Fast Company’s blog 3Qs
Jeff Jarvis writes to Michael Dell…
Today, when you lose a customer, you don’t lose just that customer, you risk losing that customer’s friends. And thanks to the internet and blogs and consumer rate-and-review services, your customers have lots and lots of friends all around the world.
... and describes how that happens:
I blog. And I shared the story of my Dell trevails here. The topic resonated with hundreds more people. Go read the many comments here and here. Too busy? Then have an intern or an MBA do it for you.
And then have them read all the many posts of other bloggers who pointed to my posts and shared their dissatisfaction with your products, service, and brand and, in many cases, announced that they were no longer going to buy your name: See some of those posts here or here and you’ll learn a lot.
Heard of those new podcast things? Well, you’re in one.
Now go read the press this generated, because the press is reading blogs, even if you’re not: here (where Fast company turned consumer dissatisfaction into a verb: you got Dell’d), here (ZDnet not just in America but in India, where your many customer-service people are probably reading this, even if you’re not), here (a mainstream newspaper), here (an influential online news service), here (a consumer PC magazine), here (BusinessWeek, guys), and plenty more here: Just Google it; you should be doing that every day.
Yes, the meme travel gets interesting in the blogosphere nowadays…