Will e-reader tablets change advertising too?

Just watched this video about the future of magazines via e-readers. Nothing mentioned about newspapers (who need a new metaphor for presentation of content more than do magazines which have evolved over time).

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/8217311[/vimeo]

The video really showcases an elegant interface, but it’s still a very 1 way mechanism- with no discussion of feedback, learning about the user, or delivering custom ad feeds, very much a designers solution as opposed to an advertising based/business model based solution:

The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading, which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reading experience in which high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.

The concept uses the power of digital media to create a rich and meaningful experience, while maintaining the relaxed and curated features of printed magazines. It has been designed for a world in which interactivity, abundant information and unlimited options could be perceived as intrusive and overwhelming.

via Digital Magazines: Bonnier Mag + Prototype | Bonnier AB.

The real value is being able to deliver custom ads, with feedback to advertisers- do you like this ad, this product, do you want to learn more, or you want to buy? Will the content be a pure cash buy for the user, or will advertising still support it? And best of all, we’ll finally know who is reading the ads.

Remember, without the need to print- and distribute, the costs for content producers drop considerably. However, the cost of getting readers willing to pay- that’s another matter. While we may solve the hardware issue, solving the content value equation- and the amount of intrusion of advertising is a much bigger problem.

What will be most critical is a single publishing standard- so that one e-reader can read any content and advertisers can reach all readers based on your personal preferences. The only other remaining challenge is getting enough of these readers out all at once. It will have to be fast for publishers to transition smoothly. With magazines and newspapers dropping like flies, maybe it’s time for a national e-reader initiative as part of a green tech movement. Every newspaper, every magazine, should consider ending printed publications by banding together and delivering an e-reader as part of the subscription cost.

The faster we move to digital print, the faster we move to better, more trackable advertising.

Is CRM the next wave in marketing?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been around for a while. What’s changing is that old ways of reaching and interacting with customers just aren’t working the way they used to.

Now, more than ever, it’s about doing business with people you know and brands you trust. Brand value isn’t just connected to sales, image or size, it’s now based on how well you build and maintain trust with your customers and potential customers. For service to be outstanding, the more you know about your customer, the more opportunities you have to over-deliver and build wow factor into every transaction.

We’ve been looking at data driven CRM and how the 800 lb gorilla in the market is Google with the amount of knowledge they can gleen from your surfing habits, your e-mail (via g-mail) and the relationships you establish online (through links and locations online). Google may become the central clearinghouse for all things advertising, while taking a nice cut to be the agent in between advertisers and customers. Unless you like the idea of paying a middleman, now is the time to start harvesting your data that resides in your A/R files, your Rolodex and card files- looking to establish and continue relationships with people that already know you.

Maintaining connections within your sphere of influence can be time consuming and difficult, if done on an individual basis. Opportunities may be missed, or overlooked due to changing priorities and being asked to do more with less. We’ve started looking deeply into online CRM tools like the open source software SugarCRM and it’s offshoot vTigerCRM at The Next Wave.

Our goal is to make sure we maintain our relationships in a systematized fashion, where the entire organization has access to our collective customer base.

There are plenty of other CRM systems out there, including Salseforce.com and solutions from Oracle, SAP and down to ACT! and Goldmine, however, it’s our philosophy to believe in the power of open source to eventually eclipse the closed wall competition. If your organization hasn’t implemented a CRM system as part of your marketing plan, it’s time to start.

The value of value.

I read an incredibly stupid post this morning about how Google would have to shut down YouTube because it wasn’t making money.

It would seem that a lot of companies should have been doomed for not making money, including the American automotive companies, but that’s not how finance works when you are the 800lb gorilla in your field.

A lot has to do with trust and confidence in a corporations ability to convince people that it has intrinsic value. Newspapers have been getting away with this for years, even though their business model died when CraigsList went global.
Didn’t people say Google would never be able to successfully monetize search?

YouTube is now the second leading search site. People now want to watch video to answer questions as well as reading text.
If you’ve seen the new audio transcription tools in Adobe Premier, you know it’s not long until video is easily searchable as well. That will change the value of YouTube considerably as the largest depository of video online.

Getting back to value, most people don’t realize that all those annoying ads they can’t stand have value to them- because they were used to subsidize the content they’ve been enjoying for “free” for all these years.

The mass media have been asleep at the wheel, believing that as long as they have great content, they’ll have big audiences and can continue to count on advertisers accepting that some of their message will be skipped or delivered blindly.

Those days are over.

No advertiser will be willing to accept less than 100% targeted delivery in the near future, and this is where Google will deliver the ultimate power play of modern business history.

Google was never in the business to monetize content: it’s in the business to monetize you- the viewer. By building a trusted relationship, based on providing a superior service (search) they have earned the right to become your middleman in serving you premium content in exchange for showing you personalized relevant ads.

They know you from your search history. They know you from your browsing habits. They know you from your gmail account, your Google voice account, pretty soon, you realize you have a benevolent big brother who knows you better than you do. Google has been called the database of future intentions- and by comparing you to others like you, they can make some pretty good guesses of what you’ll like and won’t like- much like Netflix and Amazon do with their suggestion engines.

You watch ads relevant to you, they serve you the content you want, advertisers reach exactly who they want, Google gets a better understanding of you with each ad and your response (did I mention you’ll have to respond to every ad with a brief thumbs-up, thumbs-down or answer a few questions?)

As the mass media model fails- Google will be in the unique position to be your agent in brokering ads to pay for your content.
That’s their business model, providing value to you and to the advertiser, and YouTube is one of the keys.

Tweet to connect: building relationships through active listening

Advertising has always about telling your message. Maybe that’s why John Wanamaker famously said “I know half my budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half”- and he was almost half right. Instead of telling your story- listen to what customers say about your brand and make new stories. Take this story about a hotel guest who tweeted about his stay at a hotel- and their follow up and it’s results (read the whole post to get the whole story):

So a tweet, a few emails, and all of a sudden I have a hotel in Boston that feels very much “mine”. Why would I stay somewhere else when I know the people, and feel like they’re genuinely happy when I come back again?

It’s not about the discount – I’d happily pay their going rate to stay there, just for the experience. But it is about the personal connections I’ve made with people, the feeling of being a valued customer, and the sense that I’m dealing with a business that really cares about the people that support it.

via Why It’s Not About the Tools Again | Altitude Branding | Brand Elevation through Social Media.

There is a another old adage: People do business with people they know. Establishing connections, building a network, are part of building those business relationships. Twitter is just one more tool in the social media toolbox. How many tools is your brand using?

The importance of offline in an online world

David Meerman Scott is becoming one of the social media Illuminati, with his books, talks, blog and tweets. The cool thing about all this social media stuff- is a lot of it is good old business common sense repackaged in a 2.0 format.

His post, which I’ve excerpted most of here- is one of those common sense things that corporate America needs to relearn. No matter how many amazing, expensive, beautifully shot car commercials we see- we still have to complete a transaction at the local level- with a, that’s right- car salesman. Note to GM- this is part of the reason Saturn started out so strong- you cut out the worst part of buying a car- but I digress, read what David says:

People want to do business with people. We’re human, and we crave interaction with people who know us. When you build content especially for your buyer personas, you build a relationship with people before you’ve even met them.

How about the opposite case? Have you recently visited a company Web site or blog and said, “Wow These guys understand me” Didn’t it make you feel different from how those boring old sites you usually see do?

When online content seems created by some nameless, faceless corporate entity, it doesn’t entice us. And we’re just not interested in doing business with that company. A corporate-brochure site will never start a World Wide Rave.

We all want to do business with other humans. We want to know there’s a breathing person behind the Web site or blog that we’re reading. And we want to know that those humans on the other side understand and want to help us. A great site or blog or YouTube video, created especially for us, drives us to action. We want to do business with people who understand our problems.

There’s no secret to building great online information. Start by understanding your buyer personas, not by hyping your products and services.

Web Ink Now: People want to do business with people.

The reason social media driven sites work so well, as opposed to brochure sites is that there is a chance to have a conversation. People want to be heard, and the reason they are on your site is they are looking for answers for their problems. They probably came to your site because Google put you there as “the expert” on their search- it’s your job to prove them right.

In my recent search for a printer, the company that I eventually ended up doing business with seemed like the expert in the area of large format color printers. Their site was extensive, but what got me to call, was watching a youtube video explaining and comparing two printers. The people weren’t professional actors- they were the sales team. The production wasn’t slick, it was probably flip. When I called, the people on the phone seemed to care about me getting the best possible printer at the best possible price. It wasn’t about them- it was about solving my printing problems.

A lot can be said about advertising, design, strategy, marketing- but in the end, people do business with people they know. We tell this to our clients. We remind them constantly that if they aren’t in the evoked set of possible suppliers (either in Google or in top of mind) they don’t exist. What can you do to increase your perception of expertise and accessibility to your clients?

Think about it. If you want to talk about it, feel free to call me, 937.228.4433. We’re here to solve your social media and marketing problems by helping you know more people to do business with.

Building affinity programs the web 2.0 way

We are all barcodes

We are all barcodes

One of the problems with affinity programs is that they force the customer to carry a card for every retailer. The same can be said for membership programs- like my Y membership card. Besides making my wallet thicker than a Whopper®, the amount of time searching for the right card slows down the check out/in process.

Some of the credit card companies have experimented with RFID chips in small dongles, “speed pass” etc, yet, this is just another piece of branded trash that’s being forced into my pocket.

In Japan, cell phones have been used to connect to everything from soda machines to public transit, with the billing being handled by the telco provider.

We’re not there yet in the USA, but, a new software application for iPhone or iPod touch allows consumers to carry the barcode image on the card in their phone:

Mesa Dynamics and CardStar have announced CardStar for the iPhone/iPod touch

CardStar

its latest mobile application for personal card management. The program allows users to digitally upload their customer-reward and club cards, enabling cashiers to scan the barcode displayed on the touchscreen, instead of having to bring the card with them. CardStar contains a merchant list of over 100 companies, with six different categories, and supports barcode formats for most commonly used cards including code 39, code 128, EAN 13, and UPCA.Available categories include travel, retail, grocery, gym, entertainment, and drug store. An advanced option allows addition of cards that are not currently included in the merchant lists. CardStar can be purchased from the App Store and is priced at $1.

MacNN | CardStar provides reward/club card tools on iPhone.

Marketers should be rushing to embrace this kind of customer centric use of technology to make it easier for consumers to keep connected with your brand.

Besides, I keep breaking my YMCA keyfob membership number, but, knock on wood, my iPhone can’t snap in half.