Posts Tagged ‘advertisers’


Marketing Brand Loyalty: How Far Would You Go?

Monday, November 28th, 2011
Yfrog: the_951

Yfrog: the_951

As I was going through my daily ritual of skimming through my Google Reader and industry headlines, this one caught my eye, “Zappos Founder Launches New Voyeuristic Ecommerce Site.” I figured it was a teaser headline so after only a brief pause, I continued on.  When I saw this one a minute later, “Zappos Founder Wants to Peek in Your Closet.” I knew it was something I had to read!

Nick Swinmurn does want to see what’s in your closet, as do many other marketers and advertisers. According to AdWeek, his new platform RNKD (pronounced ranked) opened to the public (in beta) on Wednesday, November 16th. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Swinmurn said he felt there had to be a better way for vendors to know who their customers are and to create a channel of communication. 

Mashable explains, “The concept is simple: Take pictures of all the things you have in your closet. Tag them by brand and purchase location and get rewards and deals based on your proven likes.”

In a statement to Huffington Post Swinmurn says, “Every consumer has favorite brands and stores they are loyal to, but most have never been recognized or rewarded for their purchases. If you buy more shoes from Nike than anyone else – shouldn’t you be given early access to new lines and different pricing than someone who is trying the product for the first time and may never buy again? ” Swinmurn argued that RNKD, unlike many other social sites, gives people an incentive to share.

There are tiered rewards, presumably to make sure beginners are able to win some deals. Users can earn points, badges and discounts by uploading, “liking,” commenting, or accumulating a particular brand as well as inviting friends and sharing via Twitter and Facebook. There are also individual ranks for the various types of apparel. The user can even peruse other people’s closets to find new brands (although you are able to make your profile private if you prefer).

According to a WSJ blog, the catch right now is that not many brands have jumped onboard yet, and it could be a while before the site reaches the scale that brands really begin to offer discounts.  Currently the site shows users being rewarded based on weekly rankings with gift certificates from Zappos and Dethrone Royalty – two of Swinmurn’s own creations.  The blogger notes brands currently have no control over how their clothing items, shoes, and accessories are being portrayed on RNKD, since the content is user-generated – to which Swinmurn replied, “We’re telling brands, that’s just real life. Here are the $100 shoes in people’s closets, next to the $20 pair, because that’s what people really own.” 

So, as the old BASF tagline goes, “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.” Swinmurn is betting that RNKD will revolutionize the brand loyalty arena by allowing retailers to offer the biggest discounts to those who deserve them – their biggest fans.

What do you think? Will you whip out your phone (yes, there’s an app for that) and start uploading pictures of what’s in your closet? Do you think Swinmurn is on the right path? I look forward to your feedback!

Custom Data and the Quest for Online Privacy

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Jets - Lauren and Cole Simon

Valerie Simon

Tomorrow, David Ring, EVP, business development, Universal Music Group; Gerard M. Stegmaier, attorney, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; and Howard Hogan, partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, will be holding a discussion at South by SouthWest. The question on everyone’s mind: Is the coexistence of data customization and privacy possible?

Custom data, created thanks to the availability of personal information online, creates opportunity for marketers and has the potential to offer users a better experience. Gathering data about users and even their online behaviors – as noted in this post from my BurrellesLuce colleague, Crystal deGoede,– results in increased knowledge about our customers and the potential to serve them better. But re-targeting also has the potential to be “creepy.” Increasing consumer privacy concerns are pushing legislators and the FTC to introduce new legislation that will offer web users more control of their personal data and empower the FTC to enforce voluntary privacy standards developed with Internet companies.

The fear of invasion of privacy is not new. Back in 2009, a White House Memoranda noted:

Potential benefits of web measurement and customization technologies are clear. With the help of such technologies, agencies will be able to allow users to customize their settings, avoid filling out duplicative information, and navigate websites more quickly and in a way that serves their interests and needs. These technologies will also allow agencies to see what is useful to the public and respond accordingly. Services to customers and users can be significantly improved as a result.

At the same time, OMB is acutely aware of, and sensitive to, the unique privacy questions raised by government uses of such technologies. Any such uses must not compromise or invade personal privacy. It is important to provide clear, firm, and unambiguous protection against any uses that would compromise or invade personal privacy.” (White House Memoranda: Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies, June 2010.)

While the government certainly must have a unique sensitivity to privacy concerns, data customization practices in the corporate world are also subject to scrutiny.  

It is clear that transparency, and easy to understand disclosures regarding how personal data is being used online and in social media are essential. In fact, Facebook continues to sit in the spotlight because of privacy concerns and user-control issues. While Facebook’s privacy policy seems to be a step in the right direction, “until Facebook tells its 600 million members what it tells its major advertisers and marketing partners – on how to configure its system to generate data and other desired ad responses – it is failing to protect user privacy,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “We intend to push the FTC and Congress to force Facebook to come clean about its data privacy practices.”

With clear and simple language, I believe that a transparent and mutually beneficial relationship between marketers and users can exist. As a consumer, relevant messages and targeted advertising can be helpful and are certainly more welcome than advertisements for products and services that have no relevance to me and may even be offensive. My frequent postings about my children and the Jets, no doubt resulted in the advertisements for children’s Jets gear that populate my Facebook page, but as you can see from the accompanying picture, it was certainly of interest to me!

But what about other data that is being collected by deceptive methods? “Researchers at Carnegie-Mellon published a study concluding that many websites thwart users’ privacy settings by providing erroneous information to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer,” explains this Media Post article. Amazon.com is the latest company “allegedly circumventing the privacy settings of Internet Explorer users.”

What do you think? Is the coexistence of data customization and privacy possible? If the FTC is able to pass legislation to protect users privacy, how might this impact your public relations and marketing efforts?

Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

by Crystal deGoede*

There are a lot of us that follow people on Twitter whom we have never met or heard of just because everyone else is following them. “They” must have something good to say, right? We should trust them. Or we like a brand on Facebook just because they are giving away an iPad, or friend someone from high school merely to see their photos. Yet, we never even talked to them – then or now.  (I know people that have over 2,000 friends on Facebook…come on. That number might be ok for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. because we are “networking” with peers and colleagues, but these Facebook accounts are mostly personal.)  

In reality, we all are just building our personal brand. In fact, regardless of the Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?network, these people may not really be our “friends” or even acknowledge our tweets but when we update our status or link to an interesting article, they are seeing it and vice versa.  Our own word-of-mouth marketing is taking place with every post, generating a buzz for ourselves, company, brand or clients.

Since the 1980s, when word-of-mouth marketing became the big craze, the continuing efforts of companies trying to create a buzz, by having people endorse their products, has increased. And with social media, it is easier than ever. All marketers know that the ability to generate word-of-mouth advertising is not something that can be purchased, or so they’ve been taught.

However, that may no longer be the case. Celebrities, along with other influencers are receiving compensation to tweet and blog, mentioning certain products to their millions of followers. Can you imagine getting paid $10,000 just to tweet?

Sponsored Tweets, a new Twitter advertising platform, connects advertisers with twitter users. Advertisers can create sponsored conversations on Twitter. Tweeters can earn money for spreading the word. Along with advertising on Twitter, the company also has a sister site Pay-Per-Post, which pays influencers to blog about certain products. Currently they have 400,000 participating bloggers and tweeters, and over 40,000 advertisers.

Besides paying people to tweet and generate a buzz around your brand, you can also gain followers or friends by simply buying them. One way to gain “fake,” “targeted” friends is Twitter1k, which offers several options for the quantity of followers. If you need Facebook friends/fans, well you can buy them too. (Interestingly enough, the use of such friending or advertising services could potentially get you banned from a given social network – though some claim that they are less likely to do so then their competitors – unless of course you are using a service affiliated with the network. Then it seems to be more “ok.” Go figure.)

Why are companies doing this? Well most of us trust a brand that has a higher number of followers, fans, and YouTube views. If a brand has this, many “friends” and most of those friends are speaking positively about them, then we assume they must be engaging or influencing.  We are also more likely to recommed the brands (personal or business) that have lots of friends and followers.  Those artificial friends that are doing your word-of-mouth advertising have real friends that trust them, and that allows your brand to reach different verticals without much effort. Therefore, for some marketers, the incentive to fallaciously drive-up those numbers is very attractive.

If you found out that a brand you trusted had paid for their followers or for praise from someone that doesn’t even use their products or service, how would you feel? Does the ability to buy friends or pay people to be brand ambassadors go against the etiquette for transparency in social media? How does that reflect on the brands and companies who legitimately build their following, slow and steady, over time? Would you ever consider purchasing friends and followers for your brand? Share your thoughts with BurrellesLuce and our authentic Fresh Idea readers. 

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*Bio: After graduating from East Carolina University with a Marketing degree in 2005, Crystal DeGoede moved to New Jersey. In her four years as a member of the BurrellesLuce marketing team and through her interaction with peers and clients she has learned what is important or what it takes to develop a career when you are just starting out. She is passionate about continuing to learn about the industry in which we serve and about her career path. By engaging readers on Fresh Ideas Crystal hopes to further develop her social media skills and inspire other “millennials” who are just out of college and/or working in the field of marketing and public relations. Twitter: @cldegoede LinkedIn: Crystal DeGoede Facebook: BurrellesLuce

When It Comes to Online Media, Just The Facts Are Free . . .

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual report is once again upon us. As in the past, it confirms that the majority of us get our information online and that we do not want to pay for it, subscribe to it, or pay-per-click for an article.

The facts may be free, but getting them collected, edited, checked, and delivered to you online or otherwise still costs money. Like almost every else When It Comes to Online Media, Just the Facts Are Freeyou do in this life, you do get what you pay for. The old joke of “hiring’em young while they still got all the answers” may work fine for opining in the blogosphere, but may not cut it in the “knock three times and tell’em Dan sent you” world of investigative journalism.

Then there is this little issue of legality. At the recent OnCopyright 2010 conference put together by the Copyright Clearance Center in New York City, a self-proclaimed investigative blogger lamented the chilling effect of the many defensive lawsuits filed against him. While we may be prejudiced against the larger media organizations at times, they can stand up to this type of intimidation. To preempt the criticism they vet their sources and data prior to publishing and if that’s not enough they have financial resources to support their position.

Back to free; the cry is that everything should be free on the Internet . . . Well it never has been and never will be. The content and information you get every day on the web is being paid for by somebody, usually advertisers. For lots of reasons we can look at later, this subsidy is just not cutting it.

So if we want reliable, vetted information we have to support its creation. In other words, we have to pay for it. The organizations that are creating vetted content are searching for a way to do this. There are a number of models being tried currently.

  1. The pay-wall which is in place at a number of sites and variations are being implemented by the Financial Times and the New York Times.
  2. The pay-by-article model for which you pay only for what you read á la iTunes.
  3. A central subscription service for many participating providers.

I believe all of these are doomed to fail. However, I do believe there is a fourth solution that could prove viable and consumer-friendly. It would be a hybrid of the pay-by-article model and the aggregated subscription combined with some as of yet unreleased technology.

Over the coming weeks, I look forward to examining more closely some of these monetization options and having a bit of discourse on the topic. In the interim, I strongly recommend that anyone whose livelihood, especially journalists and public relations professionals, is tied to media read the Pew Report. And share their thoughts with myself and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Magazines Strive to Find Their Place In The Emerging World of Publishing

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Valerie Simon

bl1.jpgAs I relaxed by the pool this Memorial Day Weekend with a few of my favorite magazines and a glass of lemonade, I couldn’t help but ponder the future of the magazine industry and what it will mean to the PR profession. The magazines we read for our clients here at BurrellesLuce have changed quite a bit this year. While magazines such as Domino and Portfolio shuttered in 2009, new magazines, Best You and Sandra Lee Semi-Made come to mind, have launched. Still others, such as Newsweek, have undergone a dramatic transformation. Several trends are emerging while magazines strive to find their place in the emerging world of publishing.

Trend 1: Digital initiatives
As publications take advantage of their websites to attract and engage both readers and advertisers, new opportunities for public relations professionals to reach readers are created. It seems as though every magazine is currently in the process of designing or enhancing online features – striving to build communities and provide additional value to readers. Magazines now have Facebook sites where readers become “fans.” Twitter feeds are becoming standard. The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) website offers a full list of the digital initiatives by magazines.

Trend 2: Going niche
Magazines with a narrow but intense focus and targeted audience are finding loyal readers and advertisers. While readers are getting general news and information from more sources than ever, they crave more detailed, focused, and in depth expert coverage of their special areas of interest. Targeted advertising can also be extremely profitable, since each view has a greater value to the advertiser.

Trend 3: Identifying new options for advertisers
Allocating space on the cover for advertising, something which still generates controversy in terms of acceptability, has been attempted in various formats by Scholastic Parent and Child, ESPN the Magazine, Esquire and others. US Weekly did an entire “faux” cover to promote the movie “Grey Gardens.” As the MPA site demonstrates, publishers are also working feverishly to appeal to advertisers through new portals, interfaces, and integrated opportunities.  

What other trends are you seeing in the magazine industry? What do you think the future of magazines will look like?