Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maryland Lottery To Tackle Budget Constraints With Social Media

July 29, 2009: summarized from Washington Business Journal -- The Maryland Lottery will rely more on social media and less on D.C.’s massive media market to tout its games as the state slashes its advertising budget.

The state agency said it will look at Twitter, Facebook and other online networking sites to save money after statewide budget cuts slashed its ad spending by $5.5 million. And instead of buying pricey ads on local television stations that reach the entire D.C. market, it may buy Comcast cable ads that target certain neighborhoods, lottery Director Buddy Roogow said.

Maryland Lottery representatives also may hawk their games at more events. Lottery officials recently promoted their games at Artscape, and for the first time, they plan to sell tickets at a kiosk during Baltimore Ravens games this fall.

Using social media vehicles could help it reach the 18- to 34-year-old set that is less responsive to television and radio advertisements compared with interactive media. Because the lottery already has bought media for the next few months, its changes will not take place until the fall, Roogow said.

“You’ll just see a much more focused advertising and less generic advertising,” he said.

The changes also could help the lottery handle new budget constraints. Television and radio ads cost almost twice as much in Washington compared with Baltimore since it is one of the nation’s top 10 markets, said Michele Selby, executive vice president of Media Works Ltd. in Owings Mills.

Baltimore, on the other hand, falls within the top 25 markets.

But a challenge for the lottery will be to figure how to market itself — a crucial source of revenue for the state — with less money. The state’s cuts left it with a $12 million budget. The lottery hopes to pull in $516 million this year, compared with last year’s $493 million.

“We will have to drive revenue but we’ll have to be more creative,” said Roger Gray, CEO of the lottery’s advertising agency, GKV. The Baltimore firm will not cut any jobs as a result of the budget cuts, Gray said.

The lottery hired GKV to create ads in 2007 as part of a four-year, $17 million contract. It hired TBC to buy media in a separate $52 million contract.

TBC officials could not be reached for comment.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/twi35

IGT Brings Definitive Slot Experience To iPhone

August 14, 2009: summarized from ign.com -- Million-2-1 and International Game Technology announced today Cleopatra is available now for your iPhone and iPod Touch on the Apple App Store.

Now fans everywhere can enjoy Cleopatra, one of the most popular 'real life' slot games ever, on the go. Enjoyed in casinos around the world, this 5-reel, 20-line game replicates the original slot game authentically making Cleopatra? the definitive slot experience on the iPhone and iTouch platform.

"After enjoying so many years of success with the Cleo slots in real casinos, we're thrilled to allow players to enjoy Cleo now on the iPhone and iPod Touch," said Chris Sheffield, Director and General Manager of Remote Gaming for Million-2-1, an IGT Company.

Developed by the original creators of the land-based version, Cleopatra? on iPhone and iPod Touch boasts unparalleled graphics and an unbeatable range of unique features that sets it apart from any other slot games out there.

The innovative and exciting 'Tournament' mode lets you challenge yourself and other Cleopatra? players around the world to achieve the best scores and earn a place on the global leader board! Competitive gamers can apply a winning strategy by changing the number of lines and credit stake on each spin!

Have fun by shaking your iPhone or iPod Touch to spin the reels! Remember, 3 or more Sphinx symbols appearing anywhere on the reels start the Cleopatra Bonus. Not only do you earn 15 free spins but all wins are 3 times their normal value!

This game is for amusement only and does not replicate the odds of winning or the payouts of similar IGT casino games.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/3z22dV

Brands Are Moving Away From Coupons and Toward CRM

CM Comment: Interesting perspective on coupons. Article offers that coupons cannot be used to drive repeat purchase over time, but rather are designed to spur trial among non-users.

August 10, 2009: summarized from AdAge.com -- Advertisers from Domino's Pizza to Victoria's Secret have begun building out mobile-marketing infrastructures that deliver value and convenience for customers in an effort to keep them engaged and loyal to the brand. And for categories such as diapers, where parents can end up spending a few thousand dollars over several years, such relationship building is especially key.

"What makes mobile work is the recognition that the consumer is in charge," said Bryon Morrison, president of Omnicom's mobile agency, Ipsh, which recently handled the Pull-Ups effort for Kimberly-Clark. "This program allows moms to engage with multiple mobile channels and online ... and then builds the relationship by continuously optimizing the program and adding more value for each interaction."

But driving loyalty is more about delivering value beyond price, and most mobile customer-relationship-management programs still focus too much on coupons and SMS alerts about new products. Done correctly, CRM programs spur purchases without compromising price points, and can often reinforce pricing, because the brand is selling benefits and personalization.

"Coupons are almost exactly the opposite of CRM -- [coupons are] not used to drive repeat purchase over time, they're designed to spur trial among non-users and to promote usually new-product introductions based on price," said Eric Bader, managing partner of mobile-marketing firm Brand in Hand, Procter & Gamble's mobile agency of record.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/434h2I

Social Media – Is It A Fad?

August 14, 2009: summarized from Huffington Post -- Erik Qualman has been doing his homework on the social media phenomenon that has been spreading faster than (insert your own tasteless swine flu metaphor here).

His new book called Socialnomics comes out later this month. I think you'll be hearing a lot about it in the days to come because there is no hotter topic in business today than how to leverage social media to build communities around brands and then leverage them into revenue. The thinking is that as we build out our online personas -- migrate toward certain online groups centered around our interests, our likes, dislikes, opinions and friends -- products and services will find their way to us rather than we having to go out to find them. It changes the entire nature of advertising and how companies strive to create brand awareness and loyalty. When word of mouth and peer endorsements become the primary means by which products are sold, making a better product and having a sterling reputation becomes the absolute king of all currencies. Business school teaches us that good will is hard to quantify but having it in spades among your target market has never been more important.

The realization that a competitor who is socially networked better than you will eat your lunch has started a stampede of businesses and brands that are jumping on the social media bandwagon even faster than individual users were adopting Facebook last year -- when 100 million users joined in just 9 months, according to Qualman's statistics. He points out that 34% of bloggers (and there are over 200,000,000 blogs) post opinions about products and brands.

When you start to contemplate the impact of the statistics he cites and sources in his book you begin to understand the rapid shift in how business is seeing and reacting to the social media cascade. Erik discusses how two of the best marketers of the 20th century were Dale Carnegie and David Ogilvy. He says that today's consumers want to be related to "more in the Carnegie way." They want to be listened to and engaged in a dialog and not just hyped at. It no longer matters what you say about yourself. In fact, Qualman highlights that only 14% of people trust advertisers yet 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. What matters is what others say about you.

Another interesting point Qualman makes is how Internet search is evolving to the extent that Google does not see its competition as Bing or Ask but rather Twitter and Facebook. I experienced this personally just the other day when my company's website went down. Our head of technology told me it was due to our DNS host having an outage. I knew if that were the case there would be a number of other companies experiencing the same thing. I Googled their name and came up empty handed. I then typed in a Twitter search and it came back with several tweets by other users complaining about the same issue and asking if others were experiencing the problem. Instantly, I was connected with kindred spirits with whom if nothing else, we could gripe to each other until the service was restored. In this case, the company missed the opportunity to monitor Twitter for their brand name. Had they been paying attention they could have been alerted to the issue quicker and they could have directly responded to those of us whose business was disrupted by the outage to reassure us it was being handled.

Qualman offers that today, 80% of companies now use LinkedIn (a social network dedicated to business networking) as a primary tool to find new talent. It's getting to the point you can't even compete to get a job if you're not versed in the ins and outs of social networking. That doesn't seem to be a problem for most. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is females aged 55 to 65. That's probably because most other demographics just don't have that much more growth in them. With their recently updated figure of 250 million users, if Facebook were a country it would be the forth largest in the world (another statistical gem from Qualman's book).

Others are more skeptical of social media's ability to sell products and it must be said that there's a difference between social media advertising and building real communities around your brand. Many companies have been successful at generating a little buzz around their product for a short time by offering special Twitter promotions and giving away prizes to Twitter users who use their brand in tweets. But it's companies like Coca-Cola, who have built a Facebook community with over 3.5 million members (compared to Pepsi's paltry-by-comparison 226,000 member community) who are playing the game to win.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/SzldE

Twitter Forcing a Strategy Switch for Businesses

LM Comment: Some great examples social media at work in the real world.

August 16, 2009: summarized from Chicago Tribune -- Brand power takes on a whole new meaning on Twitter, where more than a million people follow Sockington, a tweeting feline who muses about litter boxes and salmon.
Companies would like to emulate that kind of success without drawing catcalls.

So far, however, the majority are still on the sidelines, and even most of those that have jumped in are social media newcomers, stepping up their presence in recent months as it became evident Twitter wasn't a quickly fading fad. Facebook, another social site, has let companies create their own pages only for the past two years.

What corporate marketers are discovering is that many of the strategies they've used for decades don't apply in the new social realm. For one thing, the companies have had to learn to let go of control. They can't be unnerved by an audience that talks back, often with brutal candor.

Such dialogue is occurring anyway, said market researcher Josh Bernoff.

"You can ignore it or you can try to fix it," said Bernoff, co-author of "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies."

Microblogging site Twitter attracted 21.2 million U.S. visitors in July, according to Internet research firm ComScore Inc., up from 783,000 visitors a year earlier. Facebook's U.S. traffic more than doubled, to 87.7 million visitors, over the same 12-month period.

Yet only 26 percent of companies use social media such as Twitter and Facebook for corporate purposes, although 70 percent plan to jump in, according to a new survey by Minneapolis-based communications firm Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law.

But they should do so with caution, counsels Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Chicago-based hipster T-shirt company Threadless, which is a social media hit. This form of media is so new that it is difficult to predict with certainty what will succeed or bomb embarrassingly.

"Nobody has any idea of what they're doing on social media," said Kalmikoff, the company's chief creative officer. "It's just how comfortable your company is in taking risk. Some things can pay off; some things can fall flat."

Candymaker Mars Inc. saw both with its "Interweb the Rainbow" Skittles promotion. Its Twitter account initially was bombarded with off-color tweets. But the online campaign also has drawn more than 1 million fans to Skittles' Facebook page, where they are trading thoughts on everything from Skittles-infused vodka to whether the tart candies are tastier than M&Ms.

Threadless, which attracted more than 1 million buyers and designers for its T-shirts without any mainstream advertising, finds the best way to reach consumers is through its weekly e-mail newsletter. Facebook is also effective as a communications tool because it has detailed knowledge of its fan base. Twitter is tougher to gauge because it provides little read on who the company's followers are or whether they are even paying attention.

"Twitter is still a giant question mark," said Kalmikoff. "I'm highly suspicious of anyone who says they know how to use Twitter properly in a business setting."

Still, Threadless is experimenting with Twitter, using the site as both a bullhorn to blast messages to its nearly 1 million followers and as a means of commerce. The company currently is marketing "Tweets on Tees," shirts emblazoned with sayings like, "Life would be easier if you could mark people as spam."

But there's little doubt of Twitter's clout to influence public awareness, as JetBlue Airways demonstrated with its rollout last week of the "All-You-Can Jet" monthly pass for $599.

As the promotion became a "trending topic" on Twitter soon after it was announced Wednesday, JetBlue started to see multiple mentions of itself on the site every second. Most were consumers sharing word of the offer, although many peppered JetBlue's Twitter account with questions about how the deal worked.

"We were completely bombarded," said Lindsey Petersen, who works for JetBlue's frequent-flier program in Salt Lake City and is a member of the team that helps manage its Twitter account.

JetBlue planned to make the monthly pass available through Aug. 21. But after less than 36 hours, officials were worried about having to curtail the promotion because the carrier was running out of seats. The airline has only 65,000 airplane seats to sell each day.

"We're going to learn a lot from this," said Jenny Dervin, spokeswoman for the New York-based carrier. "Next time we do this, we may have different rules around it. But, honestly, Twitter will tell us. It's the ultimate market research tool."

To connect with consumers on these new media and to remain timely, companies have to cede absolute control of an advertising message, a risky proposition.

While about five officials at Southwest Airlines typically vet every press release for accuracy and nuance, communications staffer Christi Day flies solo on Twitter. She acts as the discount carrier's voice without editing from her bosses.

"It is a little scary," Day said of the challenge of remaining on point while trying to reflect the humor and playfulness that the carrier encourages in its employees.

JetBlue and Southwest have the largest presence among airlines on Twitter, with about 1 million and 460,000 followers, respectively. Both carriers share a steady stream of information, from flight delays to deals.

Day also has started providing live tweets from the company's news conferences as well as updates of weather-related problems and service issues. This summer she tweeted about a hole in the fuselage of one jet, for example, that forced an emergency landing in Charleston, W.Va.

"That's what people are hungry for: providing the facts," Day said. She added that "having that direct communication with our customers allows us to squash any rumors that may be going on."

After spending decades perfecting slogans and one-way conversations, companies that tap social media have to be prepared for an open dialogue with consumers, whose responses can be blunt.

American Airlines is experimenting with a Faceback application in development that lets families and far-flung friends plan trips together. So far, 21 reviewers have rated it an average of 2.5 stars out of a possible 5, and the airline is using the feedback to improve the planning tool.

"To create a great product, you've got to test it out with loyal customers that will be blunt: 'I like this, I don't like that,' " said Billy Sanez, an American spokesman. "It's like a virtual focus group and an active user group that's testing it out."

American prefers Facebook to Twitter.

"Twitter is more of a mass simple-messaging platform," Sanez said. "Facebook is a more robust conversation. You can get to know the consumer a lot better."

Its Facebook offerings include a page called Travel Bag devoted to trip planning, as well as content from its inflight magazine. The wall also features plenty of customer comments, pro and con, along with flight photos.

United Airlines and struggling country musician Dave Carroll learned the power of these new tools after Carroll gained Internet fame in July with a song tweaking the carrier for breaking his guitar, then refusing to pay for the damage. He and friends used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

Although its brand is known worldwide, United had a difficult time countering the firestorm of publicity because it was new to social media, Bernoff said. "You don't have a lot of defenses because you don't have a lot of followers."

In contrast, Carroll got a huge career boost. His YouTube video has been viewed 4.9 million times, and he plans to release a follow-up Tuesday. Carroll said he's hired three people just to handle the crush of publicity and new bookings.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/10iAvu

Mobile Leaders Recoil From The Spam Trap

LM Comment: Some good background on the SPAM and mobile marketing.

August 17, 2009: summarized from DM News -- Because mobile phones continue to evolve and consumer adoption is still growing, mobile compliance can be a tricky area. While mobile spam is not new, the definition of what is and is not mobile spam is still being studied by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Forrester Research and the Wireless Association (CTIA).

Mobile spam can be divided into two general categories: legitimate marketers not following best practices and sending unsolicited messages, and the more devious malware attacks, in which malicious messages are sent through text or e-mail to attack a phone's operating system. Either way, this spam is annoying to consumers.

"On the mobile device, people have a lower tolerance for spam than they do anywhere else, and they often have to pay for messages," says Mike Wehrs, president and CEO of the MMA.

Contributing to this intolerance is the fact that consumers often will stop what they are doing to read a new mobile message. "When the phone beeps, they go to see what it is, so marketers should be very careful that they are sending targeted messages so as not to disturb the consumer," Wehrs explains.

To help legitimate marketers become compliant in the mobile marketing space and to help define what is appropriate as the landscape changes, the MMA and Forrester have issued a number of best practices, most of which push for marketer transparency and consumer control.

"Marketers should enable the end user to control the communications that are received at the device, and enable them as a user, not through the carrier or customer service, to say, 'I don't want any messages from short codes' and also to create lists of who can get through," says Daniel Hoffman, SVP of communications at SMobile Systems.

One provider offering this particular option is AT&T. Customers can restrict the sources of e-mail that reach their phone at mymessages.wireless.att.com, or reply to unwanted e-mail messages with "BLOCK" in the body of the response. AT&T users also can stop unwanted short code messages by replying "STOP" in the body of the response to prevent future messages from that short code or by blocking numbers at att.com/smartlimitsforwireless.

In addition, the MMA lets consumers report spam on its site.

Legally speaking, mobile marketers are required to follow the CAN-SPAM Act, meaning that consumers must opt in to receive marketing messages.

The opt-in guidelines are much stricter for mobile than e-mail, however, because of both costs and the personal nature of the phone. For example, if a consumer signs up to receive mobile messaging from a retailer for a deal on jeans, that marketer can only text them about jeans. A consumer has to opt in separately to receive messaging about sweaters.

According to the MMA, a consumer should be able to opt out of a message even after opting in. There should be a clear way to do so in every mobile marketing message. In addition, a consumer should know what kind of personal information is being stored and how it is being stored.

While the idea is to be more transparent with the consumer, sometimes letting consumers know what data you're tracking can create a sticky situation, since more targeted and relevant mobile messages require more personal information on the consumer.

"As you eliminate the ability to do targeting what you are doing is making it closer to spam," Wehrs adds. "So, there is a delicate balance to being targeted and relevant without going too far and making the user feel that their privacy is being invaded."

The CTIA is currently working with the MMA to put together its own list of wireless best practices, which are expected to be released at the end of the year.

"We are trying to figure out how the carrier community can facilitate responsible advertising to consumers while at the same time protecting the privacy of the subscriber base," says David Diggs, VP of wireless Internet development for CTIA.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/8DZRR