Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Wordle is nothing new, but I couldn't resist playing around anyway to present this holiday word cloud card today on the 4th anniversary of my blog. It represents the past year of tweets from my Twitter stream with sizes relative to the number of times each word was used.
Happy Holidays & New Year to All!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Transparent about Transparency
Just last week during the FutureLab LiveBlog a fair amount of the lively conversation turned to the need for greater transparency in how marketers work with their clients (you can still read the thought trail here http://liveblog.futurelab.net). The challenge of companies and brands building trust with their customers has never been greater now that the economy has tanked and budgets for 2009 are in flux.
Mulling all these things over, I was pleasantly surprised to find a new issue of BtoB Magazine in my mailbox a few days later with the timely front page article "Recession forces marketers to be more frugal. Emphasis on trust and transparency among key trends to watch in the new year."1 Beyond the need to cultivate trust as a brand attribute, success in 2009 will require leveraging social marketing, deeper use of analytics and new kinds of metrics to measure Web 2.0 and even broader use of video.
A BtoB Magazine survey found that almost 70% of marketing budgets will either be flat or reduced in 2009 2 — on the surface a grim picture indeed. But the "new frugality" will also open opportunities to leverage other marketing tech: social networks, viral marketing, home grown video, podcasting and more. Where less money is going into traditional advertising and print projects next year, more is expected to go into online initiatives.
A shift away from launching new ad campaigns, for example (see chart above), will see customers scrambling for other ways to generate leads and awareness to meet their marketing objectives in 2009.
When less than half of those surveyed say they use social media as part of their overall marketing strategy, this is perhaps a historic opportunity to nudge along customers who might have been reticent about delving into new marketing media when budget was available for the perceived "tried and true" methods. And in these new and uncharted waters, marketers will need to take care to respect the fragile trust that is earned through the honest, transparent customer communications demanded by social media. It's going to be an interesting year indeed.
1 Kate Maddox. "Recession forces marketers to be more frugal" BtoB Magazine. December 8, 2008. p1
2 BtoB's "2009 Marketing Priorities and Plans" Survey
Monday, December 08, 2008
In-Game Ads? No Problem!
Being a marketer and also a relatively serious gamer in my down time, I usually take notice when I read things about the business of games and in-game advertising. Of course in-game ads are nothing new but as I've put my XBOX 360 through its paces I've come to notice ads embedded within game content more and more. And apparently this is an OK thing: according to a recent survey 82% of gamers have no problem with in-game ads 1
It's fine with me too. I first really became aware of it back with the Ubisoft release of Tom Clancy's tactical shooter Rainbow 6 Three: Black Arrow in 2004. Sneaking around a subway station and catching a glimpse of a station platform billboard for another Clancy game, Splinter Cell. "Isn't that interesting..." I thought as I stared at the ad "Maybe I'll have to check that one out too." Of course while ogling the ad, I was also promptly shot by a terrorist I was supposed to be hunting in the game. That ad never changed in the game.
But just this summer, not quite 4 years later, I realized how much in-game ads had matured. Playing the Electronic Arts/DICE game Battlefield: Bad Company I noted many of the ads change each time I play. I'm not sure I've even seen the same ad twice. As far as I can tell they still all reside on traditional billboards in the various environments/locales where the game takes place and there doesn't seem to be any behavioral targeting of me that I can discern, but still the fact that they change and I that know they WILL change gets me to stop and check them out almost every time — and then I am promptly shot by an opponent.
I find myself wondering why I'm not bothered by the ads (other than the fact that I get killed every time I stop to look), but maybe it's because in our media and advertising saturated real world, the same display ad metaphor translated into bits and bytes feels so familiar it goes unnoticed. There's some interesting psychology going on there and I suspect the game publishers know it, too. When 72% of the population age 6-44 played videogames in 2007 — up from 64% in 20062 — it seems certain that game publishers and brand marketers alike have only just begun to tap into a lucrative channel even as traditional display ad revenue has declined.
1 Nielsen BASES, commissioned by IGA Worldwide. Summer 2008
"Battlefield: Bad Company" screen capture by Matt Brett. Accessed 12/8/2008. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license
"Rainbow 6 Three: Black Arrow" screen capture by Vandal. Accessed 12/8/2008.