Tagged: advertising

Never Any Repeats

I’m no fan of display advertising, either in web banners or “out of home” and I certainly try not to participate in it. Logos and brands are already everywhere, why should you and"This shape invites much speculation" by Logo Removal Service I become unpaid ad space when manufacturers splash their logos on our stuff? Well, now there’s another solution to this problem: Logo Removal Service, a company (or perhaps an art project) that “renew[s] any and all goods through special transformation methods.”

That means they cut the logo right out of your t-shirt and replace it with a new piece of fabric that may or may not match the original item. Fancy stitching completes the look. You never know precisely what you get when you send logo gear in to LRS, but I think it’s safe to say it’ll be a unlike anybody else’s.

Simple concealmentI find it pretty easy to get blank t-shirts in the first place, but there are some items that are unavoidably logo’d and require obliteration, covering up, or in extreme cases, not buying in the first place. In any case, you’ve got to work with what’s available or make your own – possible with clothing but pretty hard with consumer electronics. I applaud LRS for encouraging creative re-use (do they call that upcycling these days?) over of disposable consumerism.

Goat shit marketing

I try not to look at the ads in the T, especially the ones over the tracks.  If you look there too long, your animal brain starts to notice things moving down there and you become aware of a whole rodent jamboree.  But that’s not my point, this is:

I saw it a few times before I realized what was weird to me.  Not that there was major display advertising – about a savings account no less – using a Yiddish word, somehow that didn’t rate as odd.

But before I go any further, I don’t want to leave anybody behind, so I’ll remind everybody with a little help from wiktionary that “bupkus” (or bobkes or bupkis or באָבקעס) is a Yiddish word literally meaning “beans’ but used to mean something small or insignificant, not unlike “squat” or “diddly squat” with all the scatological connotation therein as it also has roots in a word for “goat droppings” which I’m sure you all know look like beans.  (I won’t make *that* mistake a second time!) Now you know.  Moving on.

It’s dangerous business to say that a word is spelled incorrectly when transliterated into the roman alphabet, but sign me up for saying that “bupkus” is just not right.  I prefer “bupkis” but am not averse to “bobkes” either.  A little searching and I think you’ll find those to be more common, and a little searching is all I would have expected from Capital One’s creative team.

But let’s dive a little deeper down this goathole.  Is Capital One, a national if not global company acknowledging the entry of this Yiddish word into the English language or using it in a conscious targeting of some market that’s more likely to recognize the word and its meaning?

Heather Froehlich poses a similar question on the Examiner but seems unconcerned with the spelling.

If this is Capital One’s new advertisement campaign as it appears to be … this could be a new Yiddish word entering the collective lexicon, joining the ranks of “shlep”, “shtick” and “schmuck”.

Or, perhaps I am underestimating the non-Jewish population; this could be an already a widely-recognized word by the goyim.

I don’t know the answer, but I think I have a clue.  Capital One’s website has bupkis for bupkus.  I don’t see the word anywhere on it, even in the section about this savings account product, and come up empty with searches.  So I infer that this campaign is localized.  Bupkus for Boston but probably not for Boise, Battle Creek or Butte.  I wonder where else this campaign has been deployed.

The question is still open whether Capital One is seeking specifically semitic savers or just urban hipsters who watched a lot of Seinfeld.

A prime number of things I've learned about Facebook Ads

Everybody loves advertising, so I figured I’d share some tips about advertising on Facebook that have accumulated on my plate after a few different jobs and consulting projects using them.

o. You can get started with Facebook ads on the cheap. Anybody can run ads on Facebook on a CPC or CPM basis (and I’ll wager that they’ll roll out CPA after a while) with a few dollars and half a clue.  Results improve with additional dollars and clue.

1. Facebook ads are not behavioral, and they’re not search ads either. In the main, you can target Facebook ads at facebookers based on what’s in their profiles – location, age, relationship status, gender, employment, stuff they like, etc. This info is self-reported and subject to the categories that Facebook has created. This is not the same as search ads that target people based on what they just an instant ago typed into a search engine.  Adjust your expectations accordingly.

2. There’s some serious freshness bias. I’m willing to bet that the first (full) day you run an ad, you’ll get more impressions and more clicks than any other day after that.   I don’t know for sure why that is (or even if it’s universally so) but I suspect that the ad serving system is biased towards newer ads.  It’s also possible that the Facebook community gets immune to your ad very quickly.  In any case, I find that making small modifications to you ads on a weekly or even daily basis can help mitigate this effect.

3. It’s got nothing to do with advertising, but you can use the Facebook ads interface – for free – to do some quick and dirty market sizing. Just go in as if you were creating an ad, and play with the targeting options to get exciting factoids like the number of people on Facebook who are single, in your geographic area, and like dogs.  You can get all that info without even writing any creative or paying for any ads.  But be careful about generalizing this info as Facebook adoption isn’t uniform around the world or across demographics.

4. Help is available – for a price. Facebook has some ad service people who will talk to you if you’re buying at least $15k/month in ads. Furthermore, they will under some circumstances provide you with a “business account” – a separate login to the ad system that’s not linked to anybody’s individual profile, a definite plus for businesses.  On top of that, sometimes they can be convinced to provide a bulk ad upload capability.  This would seem to be in their interest as it lets customers run lots and lots of ads.  Note that in order to run ads promoting your fan page, you’ll have to make the business account a page admin, which you can do only by email address, since the business account doesn’t really have a profile.

So do I recommend Facebook ads? I’m not going near that question, I’m just sharing some things I’ve discovered.  Do your homework, test a little, double down if it’s working for you.  Advertising is key to Facebook’s world-domination revenue goals, and in the short time that I’ve been working with Facebook ads, I’ve seen them invest a lot in the capability.  While they still have some distance to go, they provide some opportunities that you can’t get with seemingly similar search ads on the more mature Google and Yahoo ad networks.  And, I might add, Facebook’s ad system is parsecs ahead of LinkedIn’s.

Your mileage will vary, but I hope you’ll share what you find too.

Spammy babka even worse than the cinnamon kind

Nobody likes spam, but when it suddenly comes from a business that you like(d), it feels like a personal betrayal.  Check out this steaming pile of comment spam by Green’s Bakery, maker of my most favorite chocolate babka.

Babka spam makes me sad.

I don’t know what’s the worst part of this.  Is the the invasive nature of comment spam?  Is it the irritation that I have already blogged positively about this product and now get subjected to this?  Is it the dreadfully amateurish quality of the spamming?

Shame on you Green’s and your obnoxious, ignorant and ineffective attempt at social media marketing.  I hope your Hungarian grandmother haunts your operation.

The state of the twitter economy

I’m not sure what’s more narcissistic: binging oneself, checking your follower status, or reading your own blog’s back catalog.  That’s a topic for another post, but while committing a minor sin of onnetism I discovered a post from last November that bears revisiting some six seven months later.

After attending a meeting of Boston Media Makers, I set out to estimate the market value of my twitter stream.  You can read the gory details here, but the upshot is that the Magpie service seemed to value my twitterish at about $15 CPM. I wonder if that figure has gone up or down, and why.

Here’s the formula: I used magpie to get an estimate of what they’d pay me, then using followcost and some guesstimation, I figured out what my audience was, and derived the CPM.  Back in November, Magpie offered me 69 Euros a month, and I was tweeting about 5 times per day to 252 followers.  Interestingly, today Magpie quoted me only EU 23.49, but I now have 632 followers and tweet about 3 times a day.  These figures suggest a CPM of about $3.75, quite a drop.  What’s changed?

Magpie's estimate Tweet frequency via Followcost

Well, I am tweeting less – to the relief of many – and that might make me less attractive to advertisers.  But I have more than double the followers (so my total theoretical impressions are up), and my twitter grade is up and my percentile rank is up, too.  (In November I was #10,546 out of 255,406 for the 4th percentile, and now I’m #44,613 of 2,276,191 which is the 2nd percentile)  So why is my Magipe CPM a quarter of what it was half a year ago?

Twitter grader stats

Well, gentle readers, as  you may have noticed, I didn’t really buy the ad valuation last time out (my estimate was a lot closer to diddly) so the fact that it’s gone down should please me.  But here’s the thing – it’s still too high by a huge factor.  Back when I had 250 twitter followers, I could tweet a link and around 20 people would click on it.  Pretty sweet.  Today, with over 600 followers, I can tweet a link and about 20 people click on it.  Based on grader’s estimates, the twitterverse is about 10x larger in terms of number of users now, but the results that I get – and by extension, what I figure an advertiser would get – in terms of clicks is pretty much the same.

I suspect that this bottoming out of the Twitter ad economy (which, by the way comes from a whopping sample size of one) is partly a coming around to reality and deflation of hype, and partly a change in the way people use Twitter. Follower and following numbers are up, and use of applications such at Tweetdeck to manage these larger streams is also way up.  These applications let users group and manage their Twitter friends, and thereby reduce the number of tweets that are actualy read.  This, and the fact that the applications remove from view the actual Twitter UI, suggests to me that the prospects of anybody making money with Twitter advertising – including Twitter – are dwindling.

This microdrivel for microrent

At Boston Media Makers, there was sporadic discussion of Twitter advertising, mainly meaning people monetizing their Twitter use by selling ads either in their streams or on their profile pages.  It was generally agreed that profile page ads were less invasive and obnoxious than in-stream ads.  The mavens in the group predicted large-scale unfollowing and extensive antisocial media shunning for anybody foolish enough to try in-stream twitvertising.

I’m thinking it would be hard for most twitter streams to get less relevant or more annoying, my own included.  My initial objection to the whole idea of in-stream twitvertising is that it just doesn’t seem that it would be very effective.  But first, let’s run the numbers, using me as the guineaduck as it were.

Magpie is one twitter ad service.  They tweet ads through your account (tagged #magpie) at a set frequency (such as one ad per five tweets) based on a keyword bidding system.  They pay per tweet, not per click or per action.  Magpie says that I could earn up to 69.07 Euros per month.

Using Followcost, I discovered that I’ve been tweeting at an average pace of 5.19 per day, so I’ll just guesstimate that I would serve up one Magpie ad per day.  At this writing I have 252 followers, so 252 x 1 x 30 = 7,560 potential ad impressions per month. That assumes two probably untrue things: (1) that all of my followers read all of my tweets, and (2) that there are no secondary impressions from syndication of my tweets, such as in the sidebar of this very blog, or from anybody who’s not a follower just reading.  Let’s just say that those two effects cancel out.

Those figures together imply about 9.14 Euros, or $11.63 CPM.  Since that’s the payout to me, let’s mark that up 20 or 25% so Magpie can earn some money, and assume they’re selling limetweets at $15 CPM.  Is that a good price for promoting your product or service in the limedrivelstream?  Honestly, I haven’t looked at CPM priced advertising in a long time, preferring CPC or CPA if I can get it.  It sounds cheap, but there are a lot of reasons why it should be cheap.

In the process of poking around for this piece, I checked my twitter power at Twitter Grader, and found some interesting factoids.   I scored in the 94th percentile, but what’s interesting is that my overall rank is 10,546 out of 255,406.  There are only a quarter million twitterers?  I’ve been so deep in this bubble I would have guessed a lot more.  And if I’m in the top 6% of them, there must be a lot of inactive or totally dead accounts.  I’m sure it’s growing fast, but I have to wonder if there’s enough total market for Magpie and their advertisers to make a real go of things.

The foregoing generally assumes that the twitterati will be willing to sell their real estate, that doing so will not in itself massively devalue that real estate (if people unfollow you for putting up ads, your ads become less lucrative…), and that – and this one is where I worry the most – those ads will in fact make any actionable or measurable impression on the marketplace.

For now, I remain skeptical and the limeduck media empire remains commercial-free.

Atheists put their faith in outdoor advertising

The folks who think the bible is a fairy tale have come up with their own stranger than fiction scenario.  The British Humanist Association has raised over 100,000 pounds (far in excess of their original goal of 5,500) to fund something called the Atheist Bus Campaign which will buy ad space on London buses proclaiming,

Ok, disclaimer and attempt at flame prevention time.  This is an incredible feat of online fundraising.  The comments and discussion generated are pretty entertaining.  Props to the humanists and atheists for asserting themselves in the marketplace of ideas.  It’s their money, they can do what they want with it.

So…  what in the holy name of Richard Dawkins are they thinking?  If you had a $200,000 media budget (or even $20,000) to get your ideas out there, would you spend it on bus ads?   For people claiming the high ground of logic, reason and science, these atheists are putting a lot of faith in some of the least effective and most unquantifiable of marketing methods and a self-congratulatory message that’s hardly going to win anybody over.

I know lots of smart marketeers read limeduck. What would you do with a wad of cash to promote atheism?  Viral social media campaigns?  Street teams?  Direct mail?  I’m off to London next week and maybe I’ll catch one of these buses and get some good ideas.

Rockport shoe ad bait and ditch

You may have noticed that I’ve been critical of print advertising, especially in general interest publications.  But oddly enough, not that long ago, I encountered a print ad so compelling that I took action.  Repeatedly.  And yet the merchant did not win the sale.  Here’s what I saw in an expensive early page of Fast Company :

I don’t think it’s an invite to move up to Cape Ann.  It’s about the shoes, and I like the look of those shoes, so I clicked over to Rockport’s web site but couldn’t find them.  There were other nice shoes, but I really wanted to learn more about the pair pictured.  I tore out the page and kept it for future reference.  That’s the second action the ad compelled me to take.

The third action was to visit the website a couple more times, and then the fourth was to visit the retail store on Newbury street.  A friendly Rockporter asked, “can I help you find something?” and to both of our surprise, I said, “yes!” and handed over the ad.

He consulted with another, apparently more senior, employee who came over and explained, “That shoe wasn’t made.  We have it but not in brown and not with suede, and not in the store but we can order it.  You’re the third person to come in with this ad.”

The shoe wasn’t made?  Never?  Not even one pair for the photo shoot?  I guess it’s all done with computer graphics these days.  What do you mean you have it but in a different color and different material and not in the store?  Then it’s not really the same shoe, is it?  And if it’s not in the store, then you don’t really have it, do you?  I’m the third person to bring in this ad?  Maybe somebody should tell HQ that there’s interest in this imaginary shoe?

A friend suggested that I should sue for false advertising.  I’m not sure if I really have a case on that, but I must say this is a pretty lame bait and switch since there’s not even much switch.  More like bait and ditch.  Further, it’s not that the shoe played a supporting role in a lifestyle ad or an ad with a celebrity endorsement – the shoe is very nearly all there is to the ad.  The copy at the bottom reads in part (my emphasis), “There’s nothing timid about you – or these shoes.  Torsion(R) system technology by Adidas.  Rockport.com”

I guess they didn’t really mean those shoes in particular.  There are at least six pairs of Rockport shoes in my closet (and scattered about the hallway) – there would have been one more. I give this ad and the almost-geniuses at Rockport a grade of fail.

More Map Meme

Mere minutes after I posted the roundup of globe stuff, I began to receive synchronicitous map-related items. Here are two that are interesting in juxtaposition.

First up: Microsoft makes their point with maps.

I was reading the deadly boring tech journals at work, as much for the ads as for the articles, and I found this two-page spread (inside front cover no less!) in Redmond Channel Partner from Microsoft hawking their partner program. (Note that at the time of writing, the RCP website is covered with banner ads echoing this print ad) Being who I am, I ignored the copy and squinted at the map backdrop and tried to figure out where it was. Can you tell?

Microsoft Partner Map

I guessed Paris just from a gut feeling and the general layout of the streets and the shape of the river. Not that I know Paris so well, but it turns out I was right. Probably some leftover memory of that class I audited in Course XI. You can see the Eiffel Tower to the right of the fold just above the river. But wait, the map is upside down – South is up, North is down – just like those snarky maps from Australia.

Here’s the ad in a more conventional orientation:

And here’s the equivalent from Google Earth (of course, MSFT wouldn’t use the same satellite data as arch-rival GOOG)

Going to the Microsoft Channel Partner Program site – partner.microsoft.com/us/success if you must – there are more map-themed graphics, mostly on a subway system theme, but there is a little re-use of the Paris map.

I was going to speculate at length about why they chose Paris and why they inverted the map (and possibly why they didn’t invert it in the little orange bit above) but I think it’s more profitable to discuss why the map meme is so common and so powerful in advertising. I think there are three good reasons:

1. Maps are common and well-understood
Advertising has to find an easy and well-traveled path into the brains of its audience. For most people, maps are a part of everyday life, and are generally considered helpful and useful things. Even if you can’t read a particular map, you know that it’s a map.

2. Maps are visually interesting
Maybe this one applies more to me than to the average person, but hey, it’s my blog. Maps are interesting. Many maps have color schemes or symbolic or numeric systems embedded in them, with or without a key. They contain lots of information, and the closer you look at them, the more information they deliver.

3. Maps are authoritative
Maps carry a built-in authority. Like a bar chart on the cover of USA Today, a map suggest that there’s actual data and information behind it. Its very presence suggests that objective truth exists and can be had by studying the map.

And that, if anybody out there is still awake and paying attention, provides a good transition to the second bit of map stuff that fell into my lap this week:

Part II: Radical Cartography

I got a message, on my high school alumni mailing list of all things, about an exhibition and book called An Atlas of Radical Cartography, featuring among others, fellow alum Lize Mogel. This is clearly the next step in my journey from collecting Strange Maps to mashing up with LOLMaps to a deeper level of critical analysis of the making and meaning of maps. My three reasons why maps are good for advertising (commonality, visual interest, authority) are exactly what makes Radical Cartography interesting.

Let me be clear that the following excerpts, unlike those above, are shameless plugs to encourage all readers to view, support and/or buy this work

Map: Trevor Paglen & John Emerson “CIA Rendition Flights, 2001-2006”
Essay: Conversation between Trevor Paglen and Naeem Mohaiemen/Visible Collective

Map: Lize Mogel “From North to South”
Essay: Sarah Lewison “Our World is Changing, Soon Yours Will Be Too”

Map: Ashley Hunt, “A World Map in Which ”
Essay: Avery Gordon, “A World Map ”

Paglen & Emerson’s map takes the most literal geography and overlays political information on it. The map remains more or less literally accurate, although the choices of framing, orientation, projection and color cannot be purely aesthetic. In Mogel’s work, the literal outlines of places are still present but they have been mixed and rearranged to bring her political point into focus, while causing considerable figure-ground confusion, at least in me. And finally, in the Hunt map, things are completely schematic, with arrows and grid and labels only faintly suggesting conventional map-making. This one turns its point on poetry, a mod color scheme, and references to boardgames and powerpoint.

I ‘m looking forward to getting my hands on this book.