Tag Archives: marketing

Yahoo’s Mixed Finances

Right, so Yahoo beat the analyst expectations (GOOD!), but still posted a fourth quarter loss of some £212m (BAD!).

That’s a lot of money to lose, especially considering Google contiues to lead the pack – Last week they also defied analyst predictions, but still made a profits of £266m. Impressive amounts, but rather worringly for them, it’s a drop of 68% year-on-year.

Returning to Yahoo though, it’s even more depressing. Profits fell by 34% compared to the same period last year. Although they’ve got a new CEO at the helm, (Carol Bartz), who I’m sure actually do a great job in turning the company around, I’m not entirely convinced that her $19m YEARLY salary is going to help improve the revenue streams of the business.

Advertisements

Viral Importance

Ok, lets talk viral videos.

To me, a great viral video is simplistic and direct – the content should be orginal, to the point of being infectious… I should want to tag it, email it, stick it on Twitter, tell everyone about it, whatever.
Equally, what I also love about viral videos, is the fact that amazing marketing campaigns can be runnning, but often, you won’t realise it. They sneak up on you like stealth bombers… a perfect example would be the following:

 

It looks brilliantly authentic; the real McCoy, so to speak. The fact that it’s also backed up by a second angle that’s been filmed on a mobile phone makes it look like this guy really has gone nuts:

 

It’s flawless, but fake. I admit now, it had me completely fooled, until I did a bit of digging around – it actually seems  that it was created by Timur Bekmambetov as a promotion for the film Wanted. I realise this might be old news to some people, but somehow this video completely bypassed me, (despite getting thousands of downloads), and I feel it perfectly illustrates my point.

There seems to be a fine line between reality and fantasy with viral videos; I’m under the impression that they’re a modern version of the Victorian sensation theatre, where a mixture of illusion, grandeur, entertainment and promotion captured the audience. Viral can easily captivate a user and often influence them strongly, leaving them shaking their heads in wonder at what they’ve just seen and going off to tell their friends about it; branding at it’s best.

Unruly Media are an agency specialising in this area and have helpfully set up the Viral Video Chart, where the most powerful videos doing the rounds on the internet are recorded and reported. It’s a great site for seeing what’s popular, what’s working and what’s not, but it doesn’t separate the wheat from the chaff for me, as it includes a mix of both marketing videos, shameless self-promotion, music and content submitted by the general public at large. This is both a curse and blessing; I’m of the opinion that decent marketing virals should not stand out obviously as marketing campaigns – they need to be subtle and select in order to reach the user and be spread around the net.

Great examples for me include GuitarMasterPro, where an amazing guitar player has recieved over 50m impressionson YouTube alone, accompanied by the message that he learnt to play through their website.

 

Quicksilver’s viral apparently did more for the brand than the rest of their advertising combined, with a supposed 10m impression in the first few months alone.

 

The infamous Cadbury’s Gorilla. Need I say more?

 

One of the most successful campaigns of 2008, the Awareness Test from TFL, got nearly 4m views just in the first few months alone.

 

Viral video marketing can be infectious amongst users if done properly. It can raise brand awareness and promote products whilst being relatively cheap and with an almost minimal amount of work once it’s online. My last example of this is from Nike, who usually pull off great advertisements anyway. They certainly didn’t disappoint a few years ago, with their amateurish-looking Touch of Gold, which to date has recieved over 25.5m impressions on YouTube, let alone the other sites it’s spread to. That said, however, viral videos can also go badly. Examples of poor campaigns include Malibu, where they celebrated the release of a new product with this:

 

Shocking. Unsurprisingly, it recieved only a few thousand hits.
 

My final example of a terrible viral video(s) come from the genuis marketing guys a Chevrolet a couple of years ago. The idea was good: A micro-site would allow users to create their own advertisement for the Chevy Tahoe, allowing them to take stock footage and insert their own captions. Guess what happened when environmentalists got hold of the concept?

 

What amuses me the most is that these ads went live without anyone reviewing them. Although they had massive amounts of views, it’s done some serious damage. Even funnier, is the fact that Chevy’s amazingly professional marketing team left the videos running on the website until the PR team told them to pull them down. Happily for the rest of us though, they were leaked into other areas of the internet and still remain there now.

Apocalyptical Confusion

Ok, there seems to have been some confusion over my opinion that the digital industry will flourish as the economy takes a down-turn.

My original comments related to online marketing.

Alongside my otimistic agency views, I’m also of the opinion that other internet-functioning businesses could be hit pretty hard. Examples:

E-Bay issued a stark warning that profits could be down this christmas – this last quarter saw revenue rise by 12% ($2.12bn) which was lower than analyst predictions. A quick recalculation later and the number-monkeys expect total 2008 revenue to be between $8.53 – $8.68bn (still more money than most people will ever see). 

To be more competitive, Amazon has slashed it’s free delivery qualification costs from £15 to £5. This means that over 90% of their products will be delivered for free. I personally think this is just common sense – leading industry experts have long-advised companies to play around more with free delivery.

Google’s market-share has dipped a teeny-tiny bit. My cynical side says that this explains why they’ve suddenly backtracked on their long-standing policy not to allow gambling advertisements. Now, potentially generating £millions more with this hypocritical move, as we have already seen a quarterly increase on profit this year. I’m sure we’ll see Google beginning to strangle the competition again.

Social networks are struggling to generate viable income. Which is no big secret. Sadly though, this is directly affecting people working in the industry, as they become statistics in the economic downturn. The most recent victim is Hi5, the third largest global network, where it was announced this week that around 10-15% of the workforce would be laid off. Other companies being affected include start-ups and software; again, the most recent casualty being Jive.

When the whole world is suffering economic crisis, it’s obviously going to affect the world-wide-web. But to reiterate my original point; some parts of the digital industry will do well from the misfortune of others. Yes, it will get increasingly competitive, but with decent strategy and user-confidence, those who succeed will be very apparent. Whilst we’re seeing companies collapse every day, I hardly think this is the end of the internet.

Ask And Ye Shall Find

Once again, I return to an issue I’ve already mentioned before… The importance of websites realising that in order to be competitive, they have to move forward with user’s needs.

So, it’s with no great surprise that Ask, an old-school search engine, has opted for a total facelift and new approach to dealing with user searches. If you happen to be as old as me, you’ll remember that they did this before, back in 2006, when they gave their butler-image the sack. Now, after alread intoducing new applications, they’re going to be focusing upon being the search engine of choice for users who are asking direct questons. (eg. Is there no end to the talents of DigitalGeekUK? Will he ever be the next Bill Gates? Why have I read this far?!) Recent data from ComScore support this, as they found that Ask is more often used by people searching for specific answers to questions… (The clue is in the name)… Search Queries that use questions make up around 5% of searches on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live, but accounts for 15% of Ask’s searches. Sounds like a lot, but remember that Ask only has a 2% market share in online search!

So, it seems that Ask will be restructuring themselves around this as we well know that rivals are increasingly looking at ways to set themselves apart from Google in the competitive world of search. The new Ask site will be launched in the UK on October 20th, but is already live in the US. Sneak preview here, guys.

It looks a lot like Google, and doesn’t try to hide this fact, openly claiming to have “borrowed” design ideas from the mighty search leader. Ask also claim that the re-designed site will be faster, improve search results and produce more relevant results for the user.

Whilst they undoubtably have a challenging task ahead, it’s not all bad news. Even with such a small UK marketshare, the lastest figures from Neilson show that during August, 46m searches were conducted on Ask, which is roughly one in five of all people using a search engine. Maybe the figures will be even better this time next year?

Economic Highs, Not Lows

The wonderful thing about the digital world is that everything can be recorded. Inevitably, the usual privacy/infringement issues arise, but for marketing-men (and women) , this is brilliant. By recording user information, patterns, online data etc. almost instantly, advertisers can see if a campaign is working or not. Following the entire process from start to finish in such detail, they can indentify where users become disinterested or excited, they can tell how users react to specific offers, products, services and websites, they can collect and assess and conclude data like you wouldn’t believe.

Actually, that’s the theory. I’ve seen quite a lot of poorly-run campaigns over time (I’m not the only one); doesn’t matter what they are: PPC, Affiliate, SEO, Display… You could have the best campaign idea ever, but if the strategy isn’t right, I can assure you that it won’t achieve it’s full potential. Digital is about quick response – in this sense, it’s direct marketing at it’s finest: Ads targeted at relevent users, responses that can be traced and assessed, strategies that can be tweaked and fine-tuned for maximum effect. Because of this, it’s a total no-brainer that whilst the economy is down, digital is on the up.

From a marketing perspective, digital is inexpensive, trackable, changeable and direct. Far cheaper than TV, Radio, Press or Outdoor, in the current economic climate, it will practically guarantee money well-spent and yeild a return on investment. (Providing any campaign is well-run). It even enables SME’s to successfully compete with bigger players (all the more important right now). From a user’s perspective, the internet can provide more services, information and products than they would find offline – usually at cheap, comparable prices.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone and, with the slump we’re seeing offline, where people are opting to try and save money, it’s no suprise that the digital world has grown enormously these past few months. I’m seeing it everyday and I imagine that it’ll soon be pretty apparent to even the most digital-shy technophobes.

As an addendum, I found this. It pretty much proves my point.