August 10, 2007

Page Views... RIP

A few months ago I wrote about how page views were not going to be around much longer as a used metric to determine the effectiveness of a website. Well, apparently Nielsen/Net Ratings is replacing the page view metric with "time spent", which they feel is much more valuable.

Frankly, this metric (IMO) can be tough to get accurate data on. For example, if I go to an article on NYTimes.com and spend 5 minutes reading it, my time spent should be 5 minutes. But how is the website supposed to know I spent 5 minutes if my next action is to go to Gmail in my browser? I never followed up with the NYTimes.com server, so it has no way of knowing if I was there for 3 seconds or 3 hours. The only way it can know is if I return a few minutes later and click on another article. But even then it's not terribly accurate since maybe I was on a page, read it for 20 seconds, went to the bathroom, and then a few minutes later came and clicked on a new page. Was my time spent 20 seconds? 5 minutes? As far as the web server is concerned, it was 5 minutes, but that's not really true, is it?

The nice thing about page views is that it's easy to measure and objective. However, with AJAX, widgets, etc., it has become suspect as an effectiveness measurement. Time spent is a lot more subjective, but if we can find a way to feel confident in the data, is more telling about actual site usage.

July 02, 2007

The iPhone Effect

Everyone is talking about the iPhone. I am craving one myself, but having just bought a new car (a mini-van... my second child is due to arrive in December) I don't see myself buying one just yet.

However, I'm kinda curious about something. I am theorizing that by simply posting an entry with the word "iPhone" in the title, my blog traffic is going to spike. Apple has been masterful (obviously) in generating buzz and lust for this product, and I highly suspect that blog posts about the iPhone are being read.

I have nothing really interesting to say about the iPhone as of yet - I have only seen reviews online, watched Apple's intro video, and seen the TV commercials. But if my traffic does spike, I'll let you know. A curious little experiment...

July 22, 2006

Social Networking Silliness

Chris Thilk writes at AdJab about the proliferation of corporate attempts to create online social networking sites. I am in complete agreement with him - this is just silly. People are using MySpace and YouTube because they are easy to use, do what they want, and everyone else they know is using them. Why in the world would anybody decide to go to Wal-Mart's social networking website? I just can't see this working.

Joseph Jaffe also wrote on this topic in the last week and provides 10 reasons why all the YouTube imitators will fail.

June 21, 2006

Brand Interactivism in a Nutshell

Nick Dynice boils down New Marketing (or Brand Interactivism) concepts into a simple formula. While not complete, the simplicity is nice.

Advertising in Virtual Worlds

Second Life is a virtual world where people can purchase land, and then create any kind of avatar and community they want. Want to be a gorgeous model? A doctor? A drug dealer? You can be anything you want to be. People actually purchase (with real money) land on which to build a house. There is an entire virtual economy taking place here. And, with nearly 275,000 "residents" as of today, it seems to be thriving.

People spend large amounts of time in this environment, which is sort of a SimCity on steroids. So what opportunities might there be for marketers? Harvard Business Review recently published an article entitled "Avatar-Based Marketing" that explores the potential.

When marketing online, “you want sustained engagement with the brand rather than just a click-through” to a purchase or product information, says Bonita Stewart, responsible for interactive marketing for DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge brands. “Avatars create an opportunity for just this type of engagement.”

April 25, 2006

TV Advertising - Less Effective, but More Expensive

Something's gotta give. The traditional 30-second spot is becoming more expensive every year, with record fees being paid during the Super Bowl and American Idol. Yet, TV's reach and effectiveness is decreasing. Was TV such an amazing deal in previous years that it still makes sense nowadays to budget huge sums for television advertising anyway?

According to a survey by the Association of National Advertisers, 78% of advertisers say that TV advertising has become less effective during the past two years. They largely blame video-on-demand and Tivo for this, which obviously has an impact. But so does the fragmentation of television and the Internet. Think "micro"... micro-communities, micro-advertising, etc.

It's just common sense. When there were 3 major broadcast networks, a few local channels, and that was it... well of course mass advertising was going to work. But there will never be a MASH moment again. It's VERY rare that a single event brings the entire nation together (and when it does, it's usually some sort of tragic event during which you wouldn't want to advertise.) There is so much choice now, which is great for consumers but not so great for traditional advertisers.

A new way of thinking is required. And it's starting. The leading edge is jumping on the bandwagon and it's just a matter of time before everyone else starts to catch up.

User-generated online media (all that "Interactivism" stuff we talk about) is growing extremely rapidly. Ad spending on blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds grew nearly 200% from 2004 to 2005 and is projected to grow another 145% in 2006. Research done by PQ Media suggests that the root causes are audience fragmentation, the ineffectiveness of traditional advertising, and the desire to reach the 18 - 34 market. Among the paper’s findings:

  • Blog advertising comprised over 81% or $16.6 million of total spending on user-generated online media in 2005, but blog ads will comprise only 40%, or $300.4 million in 2010
  • Podcast advertising is rapidly growing. In 2005, such advertising accounted for only $3.1 million in spending but is expected to grow to $327 million by 2010, which would make it larger than blog advertising.
  • Spending on RSS advertising is currently tiny ($650,000 in 2005) but is expected to grow to nearly $130 million by 2010.
  • Total spending on user-generated online media is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 106% from 2005 to 2010, reaching $757 million by then.

April 19, 2006

Interactivism is about Empowerment

GTM has posted an intelligent overview of Interactivism, or what we have been for years calling "Brand Interactivism" or "Empowerment Marketing". It's all about empowering your audience and letting them take control of the brand. If you have a brand that's worthy of respect, this approach will pay for itself many times over.

April 07, 2006

Interactivism 101

I am frequently asked what I mean by "Brand Interactivism". I've been preaching this mantra for years, but perhaps not as succintly as Courtney E. Counts in an article in Chief Marketer. He writes

But thanks to Internet technology, which has decentralized information and disseminated influences so disparately across lines, a society of young, hyper-heterogeneous consumers has emerged, many with mutual interests but with highly customized and individual tastes. Technology has empowered the consumer so much that the sellers’ market now has become the buyers’ market.

For this reason, integrating the consumer’s voice into a campaign’s development has become the winning formula for any successful marketing strategy targeting today’s youth. We call this social marketing strategy “interactivism” because it invites the target audience to coauthor the campaign.

Now, we've been using this term to mean exactly this for 4 or 5 years now. It contains aspects of the buzzwordy "Web 2.0" to be sure, but ultimately the strongest marketing campaigns online are interactivism campaigns.