21 March 2008

Advertisers, Here Is Your Future

Apple has launched their AppleTV with the ability of renting movies online. This is a really cool service and no doubt will grow in popularity much to the chagrin of Blockbuster. Many game developers have been releasing titles online as well. We are witnessing the revolution of our entertainment access.

I had to open a membership with Blockbuster last night as my son wanted to rent a game for his Wii. As I looked around the store, I wondered who would occupy the retail space in another 4 or 5 years. One cannot imagine a lucrative or any other future for the video rental industry... or the video reproduction industry for that matter.

Here is a quote from Rahul Sood's blog in reference to PC Gamers and creating new technologies to make the user experience better through online play or downloading of game software:

"Another way to look at this is you no longer have to worry about spending $50 on a game that sucks; you can play it for $1.50 until you close the application. Or if you prefer not to spend any money you can choose to watch an ad for a particular sponsoring product prior to playing and then play."

What Rahul says about choosing to watch an ad for a sponsoring product in return for free access to the game is very intriguing and in my opinion, the future for advertisers. Not too sure if it was Rahul's idea or if it came from the meetings he attended, so credit on the idea itself can't be assigned to him absolutely - although he is very insightful and visionary and it wouldn't surprise me to find out it was his idea. And, as his firm is a client of mine I reserve the right to suck up, kiss ass and brown nose.

After all, pay to play inhibits growth - water follows the path of least resistance - if there are choices between free and pay, you can always bank on free to provide the quickest trials and if the product is good, quick growth. Facebook would not be where they are had they charged even a nominal fee for membership.

Here's how the future will work:

Imagine that you want to watch a new release movie, you go to your digital TV, select the movie you want and are presented with:

You have chosen to watch Bee Movie, it is available for $3.99 to rent. But wait, there are 3 sponsors that are willing to pay for this movie for you in exchange for you learning more about what they have to offer. Would you like to watch an interactive product pitch from one of the three sponsors in return for your free movie rental? Here are the 3 sponsors choices: Bee-Maid Honey (manufacturer), Green Thumb Garden Centres (retailer) or Natural Born Killers (exterminators).

Note 2 key points: sponsors are relevant to the user or content/subject matter of the movie and 'interactive'.

If the pitch is not relevant to the user, it's a waste of a sponsorship - this is a great opportunity for advertisers to target demographics and psychographics in a pay per click environment - much like ad words on Google. Of course, if you don't fully understand the brand you are marketing, you will inevitably select the wrong key words or ineffective key words - but that's a whole 'nother blog.

Unimaginative advertisers will produce a 3 minute pitch in the form of a standard commercial, view only - this will make for a nice break to get a beer and some popcorn ready for the feature presentation.

Advertisers that understand the true potential of this medium will produce an interactive ad that is part sales pitch, part question and answer and requires the viewers attention and response before advancing - if cleverly written these can be informative, entertaining and rewarding to both the pitcher and the pitchee.

This has so much potential in every application, not just gaming and movie rentals. When we finally get to the future, we will see this everywhere.

This free message brought to you by Kevin Franco. Get yours today.

20 March 2008

Spring has Sprung!

How many retail flyers and ads will have that dreadful title or heading this year? It's the first day of spring and what is supposed to be a time when things are fresh and anew.

Spring has Sprung and I think I'm gonna puke.

Let's think outside of the carton on this one shall we? Does the time of year really impact how the consumer interacts with your brand - if so, then tie it in - if not, then how is it relevant? Don't use seasons in your marketing unless it pertains to your brand or how it influences your customer to react to your brand.

Spring cleaning sale - this makes sense as consumers do the bulk of their in-depth home cleaning when the weather warms up.
Spring electronics sale - this makes no sense, electronics sale yes, but there's no rational tie in to a season, so why?

Retailers can drill down even further for irrelevant tie ins - how about time? I think the 'happy hour toy sale' would go over huge.

Here's the bottom line: think about what you're putting into print, make it relevant to your customers, make it real and make sense. Customers respond to offers and information they can understand, not drivel. Unless of course you are promoting reality TV, then you can bank on it.

14 March 2008

The Dregs of Marketing

It's 6:15, the family is at the table, sharing stories about their day and breaking bread... then the phone rings.


You can probably guess who is on the other end of the line, that's right a solicitor. Great.

Me: Hello.

Caller: Hi, I'm so-n-so from such-n-such. I would like to tell you about.... (it goes on as you probably are aware - you can fill in the product and offer).

Me: I'm not interested.

Caller: Let me tell you more about... (keeps talking without time to take a breath).

Me: I'm still not interested.

Caller: How about if we... (seriously!).

Me: What part of NOT INTERESTED are you having difficulty understanding?

Caller: Thank you for your time (hangs up).

These calls range from a variety of companies, but the most obnoxious has got to be the Calgary Herald newspaper. I received 3 calls this past week from them. Each time I said no, the offer got better... until I said that 99% off is still not worth it for me, to which the guy says wow, I've never heard that before. Well, why would I pay money to pad my recycling box each week when there's plenty of news online for free? The world is changing and newspaper publishing is archaic - they should stop printing altogether and move online 100% -now that's a green initiative. Subscription fees? Why? If they don't have to pay for paper and printing the ad revenue would more than cover the salaries of the editorial staff... I think this internet thing is just too new for them. OK, I got side tracked... sorry, back to the dregs of marketing.

For me, the worst of all telephone solicitors are the ones asking for me to participate in a survey. Most people don't mind taking a few minutes to answer some questions... after all, it will help the makers or distributors of something make it better, won't it? Probably, maybe - who knows for sure... they've never gotten back to me.

So, why do I have a problem with these calls? Because, there is a company that is paying for this information - my information.

Let me put it another way: The person making the call get's paid to collect my information, the company that this caller works for gets paid for collecting my information and the marketing company that was contracted by the manufacturer gets paid for collecting my information.... the only person not getting paid for my information is me.

Other people want to profit off of what is in my head, my thoughts, my opinions, my information. Well, I got news for you - I charge for that all day long, why would I give it away for free in the evening to some company I don't even know?

Reputable companies gather information through paid focus groups and through paid surveys - kudos to these companies. Even if the pay is nominal, it is not only more ethical, but I believe the results will likely be more honest and less skewed than that of a non-paid survey.

Don't even get me started on crowdsourcing.

And, as much as I despise crowdsourcing, I love it and think it's totally hot. So, I'm not even sure what more to say about it, perhaps that will be another blog, once I've got my feelings squared away on the subject.

I guess for today, at dinner when the phone rings, answer it and say, "show me the money!"

13 March 2008

There Are Neanderthals Among Us

Well, I will take this opportunity to vent. I have been sick for several weeks now which has greatly disrupted my life at work and at home... let's just say that I got some catchin' up to do.

Now, don't lay the pity on me, I'm getting better and am finally on some heavy duty meds.

Actually, the reason for this post is disbelief. Disbelief that there are still neanderthal hot heads living, walking and as I found out tonight, driving amongst us. I know, you are probably as shocked as I was.

OK, so, I'm driving my son back from his first music concert and having a nice chat with him, we're nearly home and enter the dreaded traffic circle near our home. Wait a minute - before I get into it too much further... I should back up a bit, just to qualify that we have lived in this same area for 8 years and the circle is nothing new for us. In fact, it took us a few months to get used to it ourselves and a few honks of the horn in my direction to aid in the learning of the circle. So, when it comes to the traffic circle, I have seen most everything and am prepared for the odd surprise and am at the ready on the brakes.... always.

I should also mention, that I try not to use my horn too much although I have HAD to use it a few times. It's been my experience that in Calgary, anyways, that a horn honked produces a middle finger much the same way that watering a plant produces a flower. It's not only expected, it seems to be natural reflex. Long gone are the days where a driver gets honked at and waves and nods, acknowledging their error... ah, the old days.

Here's the rules (real brief like): in a traffic circle, you always yield to the inside lane (the one to your left)... that's basically it. Also, if you are on the outside lane you should turn at the first exit but it is also acceptable to take the second - the third or fourth is a definite no-no. The inside lane can turn at any exit and the outside traffic must yield to the left. Most problems occur when a person on the outside continues through to the third turn - which happens a lot.

Here's my story:

I go into the traffic circle on the inside (left) lane, there is an SUV in the outside (right) lane at the same pace as me. I become cautious as he misses the first exit - this tells me that he may try to go through to the third exit making me hit the brakes or I will hit him. But, alas, he turns at the second exit as is allowed, we both make the turn, he on the outside and me on the inside - like double turn lane...I breath a sigh of relief... but wait! Now he cuts right in front of me (no turn signal of course - I don't think new cars in Calgary come with these any more) and causes me to hit the brakes - I honk the horn. I don't think much of it, obviously he didn't see me - a honk of the horn surely would alert the driver to my presence and hopefully makes him a bit more aware of the surroundings... and the fact that he nearly caused an accident.

So, I follow this vehicle as I am heading to the drug store... and think that would be the last I see or hear of it. Bygones. I go into the drug store, do my business and go back to my car which is parked on the street. As I am about to pull away, this guy starts walking towards the car - I assume it is the guy I honked at looking for an explanation, so I put down my passenger side window, thinking we will have a discussion... here is what we discussed:

"What's your fucking problem" yells the driver of the SUV (apeman, I call him now).

"Hey, watch your language." says me. - (my 10 year old is sitting at the open window that he is yelling at me through).

"Fuck you, you fucking asshole" yells the apeman.

"Nice language" says me (note that I am not yelling).

"Come out here, I'll fucking knock your head off!" yells the ape man.

"Really nice language in front of my son" says me.

"I'll fucking kick your fucking head in" yells the apeman.

I quickly decide that nothing good is going to come of this and that the conversation is going nowhere, so I slowly pull away.

"Learn how to drive!" I say loudly as I drive off (not yelling).

He keeps yelling but all I can make out is 'phrkak fuckin' phrusak fuck hrmph', his wife that was beside him at first, is now red in the face and keeping her distance from him, as she probably should.

We turn the corner of the drug store and I turn to my son and he laughs and says, "what a hot head - he used the F word in every sentence". I says 'yep, that guy's a total asshole, wants to get into a fight over a horn honk, pretty smart guy, eh?"

He laughs again, he's never seen a grown man act like that. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had either. I explain to my son that not everyone has completely evolved and that you always have to be careful when confronting some people - like this (ape)man... safety first, always. I further explained to him that fighting is no way to settle arguments, especially something as trivial as this.

It's only OK to fight if there's fake evidence of WMD's.

So, that's my rant, true story, verbatim. The story of the modern day neanderthal driving among us.


PS - I will get back to my marketing blog soon... had to get this one off my chest.