Thursday, April 17, 2008

Short Takes: 4.17.08

Here are some interesting XM and online marketing news items and links for your perusal:
  • Internet Advertising Bureau Overstates the Case: Everyone knows that User Generated Content (UCG) and Social Media are incredibly powerful forces on the Internet today, but the IAB's report on UCG is so breathlessly overstated that it seems more like advertising than an objective assessment. Rarely will a 17-page report lose me from the very first sentence, but here's how it starts: "If you’re not on a social networking site, you’re not on the Internet." No hype there! Several sentences later, the report states, "Gone are the days when power rested in the hands of a few content creators and media distributors," a statement that will come as a great surprise to Yahoo, Time Warner, and Microsoft, three of the top online content providers, collectively accounting for traffic greater than the population of the U.S. in February 2008. The report isn't a bad primer, but anyone who has been tracking social media will find this report adds more heat than light.

  • More Self Promotion Masquerading as Data: Yet another report was released recently that aggressively promotes a form of online advertising without telling the whole story. Podtrac, "the leading network of podcasts", reports that podcast advertising works. (Shocking! Who would've seen that coming?) The organization studied podcast listeners and found a 73% increase in likelihood to use or buy an advertised product, which is nothing to sneeze at. Problem is, the report only shares data on those who listen to podcasts, which is a remarkably small audience. According to a 17-month-old Pew Internet study, just 1% of Internet users report downloading podcasts on any given day. If your audience is comprised of podcast listeners, podcast advertising is worthwhile, but with a such a small user base and the huge number and dispersion of podcasts, podcasts are still a very niche ad medium.

  • Engagement Metrics: Pick the One That Works: Here's a very good article on MediaPost about Engagement and why it's so difficult to measure. Peter Hershberg of Reprise Media makes several terrific points. He first discusses how Time Spent is not a terribly accurate measurement of Web engagement because, "Tabbed browsing and online multitasking means people can frequently spend hours on a site without actually looking at it." (I have four tabs open, and the measurement tools for all four sites think I'm glued to their site content right now.) He goes on to make a very important point: "We all need to realize that there won't just be one standard." We marketing folks love standards, but trying to create a standard to measure engagement across RSS feeds, Twitter Tweets, Facebook, online games, brand sites, video, and the thousands of other online activities in which consumers engage is counterproductive. If you're not with the metric you love, love the one you're with!
  • Mr. Clean Turns His Attention Toward Cars: In what seems like a smart brand extension, P&G is getting Mr. Clean into the car wash business. Results at the first two car washes have been so strong that Procter & Gamble is looking for more locations just a year after the company's first car wash opened. Waiting areas have wireless Internet, flat-screen TVs and a coffee bar serving P&G's Millstone brand. The foundation for the strategy is rock solid--provide a great experience that fits the brand, build synergy with related brands, and furnish a service consumers will welcome. It will be interesting to see how wide P&G takes this program.

No comments: