25 September 2012

Twitter & Advertising

imageDick Costolo is the CEO of Twitter.  He’s a very smart, funny, down-to-earth fellow – the last two characteristics not typically associated with tech-biz heavyweights.  That’s because he really wanted to be a comic actor.  I can relate to that

Watch the complete interview with Dick Costolo on Charlie Rose.  It’s worth your time.  You’ll learn a lot.

But Mr. Costolo twitches when he talks about advertising on Twitter, bleating the same tired, convoluted, nonsensical social media silliness we’ve been hearing for years. A short clip:

Dick Costolo

It’s in its infancy.”  Meaning, nobody has a clue what the hell they’re doing.

I don’t think the model is necessarily there yet.”  Meaning, a hundred-odd years after the birth of modern advertising, twenty-odd years after the birth of the Web – nobody can figure out how to advertise effectively with social media.  So now let’s concentrate on mobile devices. Mobile advertising will work once social media marketing gurus figure out what the hell they’re doing.

Advertisers will need to adopt the way they communicate with customers.”  Meaning … I’m not sure.  Sounds like gobbledygook to me.

You have to participate in a way that is meaningful to the user.”  Meaning … it needs to be meaningful. Or participative.  Or something.  Whatever it has to be, it has to not be advertising, but still sell things.  Or it can simply give people a touchy-feely feeling about your product. That’s good enough.

The canvas is the conversation.”  Meaning….?????  Maybe they’ve got it backasswards.  It should be “The conversation is the canvas.”  Think about it.

You might not go into a campaign even knowing what you want to say in advance.”  Meaning………….……… help us, dear god.

Mr. Costolo also mentions the lack of real estate on mobile.  A few years ago I yacked about this in an online presentation.  Skip the needle to about 20 minutes in.  Or skip it altogether.  Maybe read this instead:

01 May 2010
… That silly retronym “traditional advertising” will remain the premiere force for introducing people to a product or service, along with sustaining its shelf life. Television, print, radio, and billboard ads will continue to have the visceral power they’ve always had – if only for their sheer size, simplicity, and cutting-edge audio/visual qualities.  Advertising on smartphones will be considered an annoyance, invasive, and rather dinky…

Back to the Charlie Rose clip: Dick Costolo talks about the Daytona 500 jet fuel spill.  The TV coverage included the clean-up with huge boxes of Tide® detergent.  Mr. Costolo says that the Tide social media department (or the ad agency) tweeted the incident and that it was a big Twitter advertising success. 

I’m not an internet search expert, but what I found tells a different story.  Here’s the tweet:


The stats for the tweet:


The live TV broadcast covered the spill, and Tide turned it into a commercial for television:

Tide Spot

Great PR, smart move fashioning it as a spot. Millions saw the clean-up on TV, days later millions saw the TV commercial.

Twitter and social/mobile media played a very, very minor role.  Forty-nine people retweeted the tweet.  The commercial would have been made without any twittering or any contests. 

is a fascinating phenomenon, has worldwide cultural and political influence (watch the complete Costolo interview), and will be around for quite some time.

But it is not an advertising platform. How Twitter will eventually support itself, who knows.  Maybe some sort of underwriting.

The mobile/social media soothsayers will have you believe that there is this unknown, magical mode of persuasion that has never been thought of before – and will reveal itself any day now. 

If you believe that, I have a Blackberry in Brooklyn I want to sell you. 

Two more moldy posts:

06 March 2012
Digital Distractions
Advertisers are getting wise to the drawbacks of marketing in the digital nest.

12 March 2012
Digital Distractions II
I hope this will be the last time for awhile where I won’t be distracted by digital distractions.

And a shiny, brand-new one from The Ad Contrarian:

September 24, 2012
imageSpeaking So As Not To Be Understood
Throughout history the purpose of speaking and writing has been to be make oneself understood. Not any more.

18 September 2012

Those Baffling Boomer Brains

This post could be tucked in The Déjà Vu News or No News News gatherings.  But I’ll give it it’s own page so we can poke around:

Inside the Brain of a Boomer: Cash-Rich Demo Does Poorly With Visual Complexity
by Jack Neff, Advertising Age
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/img/nw09.gifThe neuroscientists at Nielsen Neurofocus, having strapped EEG-tracking caps on thousands of people over the years, have good and bad news for marketers about the brains of baby boomers.

Not really news:

03 March 2010
Aging Brain Less Quick, More Shrewd
… For baby-boomers, there is both good news and bad news about the cognitive health of the aging brain.

NPR interview with Dr. Gary Small:

More from the Ad Age/Nielsen piece:

As boomers age, some neural decline will be inevitable, and they’ll find it harder to handle visual or verbal complexity.

I interpret this a bit differently.  From my book, © 2005:


imageI also talk about busy websites in a very long online presentation produced in 2007.  If you have nothing better to do…

Advertising to Baby Boomers: Ads and Web Sites

A few years later a fascinating book was released dealing with many of these themes:

3 January 2010
2010: The Year of The Baby Boomer Brain
The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

16 April 2010
The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain

Ad Age/Nielsen:

Among cognitive pluses that come with age…are more “emotional resilience” and a tendency to “not sweat the small stuff”…So they’re less likely to fall for alarming messages…

Sounds familiar.  From my book:

… A similar campaign today, using vague, anxiety-ridden scare tactics, might not work for Baby Boomers. We’re too smart (or perhaps too jaded) to be fooled by hackneyed situations and simplistic answers…

imageRemember this: An easy-to-grip handle is not dumbing down.  A ‘big picture’ is not dumbing down.  If anything, a big picture has more inherent complexity and meaning than an array of blinking doodads.

The Human Resources/Brain Power Posts

13 September 2012

The Déjà Vu News

Sometimes I think my browser is playing tricks on me.  Twilight Zone tricks.  Or Google is on the fritz, spitting out news stories from the past.  Some recent headlines:
Boomers Are The Most Valuable Generation For Marketers

Baby Boomers Are A Lucrative Marketing Demographic

Retailers Target Grey Spending Power

Baby Boomers Consider Next Housing Move

Boomers Are Not Like Your Grandparents

Baby Boomers Discover Grandparenting

More Boomers Aspire To Careers With Social Purpose

Baby boomers Are Starting Up Businesses

Hindenburg Explodes In Mid-Air

OK, I’m lying about the last one.  It’s not a recent headline.  But  to me it doesn’t seem any older than the others.

No links to these because everything has been said before in this blog, my book – and in other places by other marketing and advertising folks who talk about Baby Boomers. Why have you choke on regurgitated reportage?  Always go to the sources.  Scroll and click around over on the left.   

More déjà vu-ish offerings through the years:

No News News

No News News Redux

No News News Redux II
I’m one of the few bloggers to take pride in bringing you no news news.  I’ve been offering my readers no news news for years …

More No News News

27 August 2012

The Best Reviews Money Can Buy

Good story in the New York Times about word-of-mouth marketing through the lens of bookselling:

The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy
By David Streitfeld
image… Reviews by ordinary people have become an essential mechanism for selling almost anything online; they are used for resorts, dermatologists, neighborhood restaurants, high-fashion boutiques, churches, parks, astrologers and healers — not to mention products like garbage pails, tweezers, spa slippers and cases for tablet computers…

… Almost no one wants to write five-star reviews, so many of them have to be created…

Plucked nuggets:

» Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth.

From 2006:

The Brouhaha Over WOMM
My prediction: When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, print ad, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.

» Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake.

Betcha it’s even more since 2008.

» The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere…

More about that:

The Latest WOM On WOMM
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.

Even more depraved than good WOMM is bad WOMM.

And as I’ve said more than once:

Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.

But don't believe me. This is just some blog, and I'm just some blogger. Who knows if someone's paying me to trash word-of-mouth marketing.

One thing's for sure: You'll never know.

The Social Media - WOMM - Web Advertising Posts

22 August 2012

Coughlin on Advertising

Dr. Joseph Coughlin of MIT AgeLab has been peeking through the ether here for years: 

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_n77PqIjyySk/ShNYYrXYf_I/AAAAAAAACrY/d5wgAUOd2eQ/joecar%5B3%5D.jpg?imgmax=80029 November 2010
Tech & Baby Boomers: Universal Design vs. Universally Dull


Joe Coughlin

Disruptive Demographics is on my must-read list and always worth it.  A recent post:

Casting a New Dream of Old Age
Joseph F Coughlin
…Images of ‘aging’ have been on television for years. The famous, some might say infamous, ‘help I’ve fallen and can’t get up’ commercial for Life Call’s personal emergency response system has shaped much of the public’s perception of products for older consumers…

advbb (2)Sounds right to me.  From Advertising to Baby Boomers © 2005, 2007:

The Geritol Syndrome (pages 14-18)
The Geritol campaigns were successful because of their simple, direct messages. A similar campaign today, using vague, anxiety-ridden scare tactics might not work for Baby Boomers. We’re too smart (or perhaps too jaded) to be fooled by hackneyed situations and simplistic answers.

More from Dr. Coughlin:

… These images have done more than sell a product, they have reinforced an image of aging. Message – older people are frail, sick and need this product to manage old age.

No kidding.

16 September 2009
Boomer Backlash II
… If every time someone over fifty sees a commercial targeting them and it’s always for an age-related product or service, pretty soon their eyes will glaze over, they’ll get itchy and grumpy.

Joe sent me an email the other day about his post: 

…. I thought I would share with you my rookie attempt at observing some messaging in advertising

Hardly a rookie.  MIT AgeLab is the gold-standard for aging research, and that includes universal design and marketing:

The NavStudio provides a research platform to understand how consumers successfully navigate, become distracted, lost, give-up, or put-off decisions in the information seeking process in their interaction with print materials, packaging, the web and other forms of goal oriented communication.

While my sole contribution to it all is a fool-proof method for opening candy wrappers:

2 June 2006
Boomers in Candyland
I can rip open any dumb, stupid candy wrapper with my bare hands .... as long as one of my bare hands is holding a pair of pliers.

Collected posts about Universal Design (with Dr. Coughlin and AgeLab references sprinkled throughout):

The Aging In Place & Universal Design Posts