shiny new object syndrome in marketing

November 24, 2008 · 0 comments

there's a phrase that has come to rise in the last while that goes like this: shiny new object syndrome. i don't know who coined it, but the saying started in tech circles, most notably the journalism side of things where writers rapidly move from covering one new thing to the next. they shower adoration upon a new gadget, or application and as quickly as they vociferously touted it, they would put it aside to bolster whatever was new, never really exploring in depth what any one thing in particular was capable of (features) or why people should use it (benefits).

shiny new object syndrome.

for the most part, SNOS has exhibited itself on the application front, specifically on the social media front. there's too many to count or keep track of that have fallen victim to this plague. the cycle goes that they launch, get a lot of media attention, there's some consumer uptake, and as quickly as they came to rise they seem to escape the popular consciousness. both media and consumers.

as of late, i'm seeing this model of adopting and disposing of things enter into the marketing world. of course it's due to the barrage of new media opportunities, web based or hardware based, that have entered the market in the last few years. and the malaise parallels that of the media coverage; we find them, we activate them, then we drop them.

all of us are to blame for this, myself included. we try to lead our consumers, or at least keep pace with them, so we jump to whatever they jump to. we as agencies make the recommendations and marketers themselves demand it. we keep aiming to be innovative and so we move on.

but there's one thing we forget - users don't stop what they started doing. they invest a lot of time and effort into their presence there. people haven't stopped using facebook, or myspace for that matter despite slowed growth and and plateaued usage. and think of how many people still have and use a hotmail account because that's the place they started. none of these are new anymore, but used just the same. in that regard, these are just as valuable places as all the shiny new ones. in fact, they may warrant more of our attention because they are proven (by still being alive) and our investment here would likely stand up. there's at least less risk our investment will be for not.

sure, there's the flash in the pan. we come charging out of the gate with that gets us noticed and some groundswell in our favor. but we have to also think of the longer life of the brand in these spaces. think about all the investment and all the equity you build into a property only to abandon it. consumers flock to us because of the value we provide. when we leave it fallow, we risk some consumer dissonance and in this powerful social age, it is too great a risk.

yes, there are temporary efforts that aren't sustainable. some efforts are in and out, but those need be efforts that are becoming of such an approach. but as it relates to the social media world and communities, there's no good reason why discontinuing efforts in this area is a good idea.

i'm not saying don't experiment. absolutely we should. it's about not abandoning what we start. seeing it through to it's real end. what that end is and when, i don't know. it just requires some thought about it rather than just dumping it. there's lots of great new things out there and there's room to give them a try, but where there is uptake and significance, keeping it up. we need to persevere to fully realize the potential of our presence in these spaces and get from our consumers what we desire.

p&g not sure about marketers in social media

November 18, 2008 · 0 comments

in today's AdAge, the general manager-interactive marketing at p&g, scott mcconnell, pontificated that brands don't belong in social media, pointing to the difficulty these sites have had in monetizing their spaces. a couple of his points i took objection to and thought that mcconnell was off on his basis.

the easiest way for me to assess this is to go through the article top to bottom.

what in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?...
... they were trying to talk to somebody. so it just seems a bit arrogant. ... we hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.

the basic premise that this space is for consumers to have conversations (namely breaking up with their girlfriend - which is dubious to start with) and that brands don't have a place in that kind of environment is erroneous. consumers are having conversations about brands, branded content (ie. commercials), and how brands fit in their lives. granted, this probably doesn't happen as much as we'd like, but gentle pushes and good reasons to want to talk about our brands i don't see as problematic. yes, the main thing about facebook is for consumers to interact with each other (talking, sharing, etc), but it's certainly not exclusionary to brands.

to say that we hijack their conversations is completely unfounded. in no way do brands become associated with the personal dialogue of people on facebook. the only conversations our presence and our media become associated with are those of the community doing something with the brand itself and that is completely legitimate to want to capitalize on and promote. and the news-feed stories those propagate do not take over user conversations, just add new ones.

so the targeting is fantastic. you can do really amazing things. but i'm not so sure i want to be targeted like that. ... i don't think everything every consumer says to someone else and writes down is somehow monetizable by the media industry.

it is folly to say that he doesn't want to see highly targeted ads and thusly imply that other consumers don't want to as well. increasing ad relevance is a much better scenario for consumers and one that i think they'd actually appreciate. why do i want to see feminine hygiene products as it's completely irrelevant to me? i will ignore it and be left with a negative feeling about a brand or media channel.

however, if an ad appeared that met a certain specific needs, or was of high interest to me, consumers would pay attention, be more likely to respond and have a better feeling about the brand as it fulfilled something missing in my life. at the end of the day, there is consumer acceptance to seeing the ads there because they get that in order for the space to be a free service, it has to be ad supported. so if they have to see something, it might as well be appropriate.

as for our right as marketers to tap into consumer conversations and interests to target ads, i would bet that p&g puts money in search. that more or less taps into people's interests to target ads to them or in gmail tapping into keywords within to serve relevant ads. what's the difference there than in facebook or other social media spaces.

mcconell went on to say that marketers should not abandon the space entirely, and that there are potentially valuable vehicles for advertisers such as applications. this is a somewhat outdated viewpoint as facebook has severely curtailed their visibility. you have to have something really powerful to break through the wall Facebook has put them behind (literally and figuratively). it's a huge challenge that only very few brands could hope to accomplish.

they held promise when they were launched and facebook took the wrong approach and that ruined applications. facebook let anyone and everyone make their own applications and didn't vet any of them or put a pay model in place to launch them. this completely ruined the space as it was flooded with useless and invasive applications and they had to correct it. that correction was the redesign and it devalued them significantly. so to believe that applications are the promised land is a hard pill to swallow.

all in all, i find the article and his viewpoints showed a lack of understanding about the value of the social media space and how brands in fact DO belong there. it's a fine line and marketers have to approach cautiously. but it's rich and valuable territory if they can get it right.


November 8, 2008 · 0 comments

remember in the early days of the web (crica 1995) opportunistic schemers would buy up url's in the hopes to cash in on other people's trademarks only to have a short boon before it got litigious and not worthwhile? looks like there are still some who think this model is viable to this day, just in different shapes.

when i was recently setting up my slingbox, i ran into some tech issues. having looked at their website and not finding a solution, i sought other channels, one being twitter. i followed a thought that since dell and comcast had a few customer service reps on twitter, maybe more companies were following suit.

so i searched twitter for 'slingbox' and came across this:

now people are squatting on twitter names, much like they did domain names. did no one learn? one nuance though to the whole thing that will prove this to be not as easy a task to ameliorate: twitter is a free service. the trail is a lot easier to follow when someone pays like they did with domains. it could also be argued that twitter assumes people's 'handles' or 'nicknames' which may not be seen as a trademark for the companies like a domain would be.

there's also the matter of whether companies care. twitter is still very small, and only has a cult following right now. no one knows how mainstream it will get. do companies feel that twitter is a valuable signpost that they need to defend their brands in? if so, where does it end? How many variations of their namesakes can they snatch up so others don't? i believe companies should protect their trademarks, but only up to a point. twitter is never going to be the destination point that a url would be. i believe twitter could be a valuable asset to a company, but there's many who likely don't feel that way.

i wish there was a simple reporting feature to twitter as this afront to intellectual property and branding sickened me. i hope twitter can suss these hacks out, and all like them. i did a few other searches to see what other companies are going to have to trot out their lawyers and slap these hacks with some kind of cease and desist order or shutdown their accounts.

here's a few examples of companies who are likely being squatted on (a random sampling of brand names i find as i peer around my immediate surroundings):
probable squatting
canon, linksys, chrysler, microsoft, adobe, apple, mcdonalds, warnermusic, ebay, coca cola, nike, budweiser, ikea, google, xm radio, vonage

definite squatting
playstation, xbox, samsung



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