Posts Tagged 'advertising'

Why Facebook will be a HUGE business…

Late last year one of my predictions for 2009 was that Facebook would go public, sparking a mini-rally in the markets. Yet a lot of what I read about in the press lately is all about the company’s struggles – having trouble raising money at the valuation they want, having trouble hiring the workers they want, having trouble generating significant ad revenue.

To which I say, bullshit.

Seriously, you’d think the company was on the brink of failure, as opposed to being within 12-18 months, tops, of scoring the biggest Internet IPO since Google (And hell, I like my job just fine, but if you want to toss me a bunch of those pre-IPO options, Mr. Zuckerberg, I’m ready to chat)

I could go into all sorts of detailed analysis why I remain a committed bull on Facebook’s prospects, but all I need to do is show off a very simple demonstration.

Here are the sidebar ads I recently received on Facebook:



Damn, Facebook. Are you reading my diary, or what? The next thing you know they’ll be sending me an ad for McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish!

Now my assumption is the wedding ads are due to my recently updated ‘engaged’ status, and as for the hair restoration one, maybe it’s just the thirtysomething-year-old male demo.

But however they’re doing it, there’s no question Facebook has a friggin’ treasure trove of data on what their users like, what they need, what they do, who they hang out with etc. etc., and marketers should be able to use that information to their advantage.

People in the online marketing space have for years been talking about using the power of the Internet to effectively target specific users with relevant ads, but while there’s been some progress made on that front (search advertising is, after all, the holy grail of targeted advertising), no one company has been able to assemble the kind of information on its users like Facebook has.

The only real question is how much Facebook can get away with using. Personally, I think it’s great being served up relevant ads and as long as they don’t pass on personally identifiable information, I’m fine with it, but I know a lot of others find it all creepy and scream about invasion of piracy whenever Facebook tries to do something innovative with their data to make some money

But the privacy worrywarts should at least be comforted by the fact they certainly don’t always get it right. I pressed refresh and this was one of the ads that came up:

Not very relevant, unless, of course, Facebook has somehow figured out how to see into the future!! Perhaps they’ve scanned all my data and decided through some sort of complex scientific/actuarial data mining analysis that I’m a ripe target for breast cancer (men can get it you know!) Is it time for a mammogram????

MOFT: Episode 11 (McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish commercial)

Every Tuesday night after my weekly basketball game, I pick up some Mickey D’s for me and Filet O Fish cartonMs. Deadman (or Deadwoman, if you prefer) to eat at home. It’s a classy tradition in the Deadman household, one that we both totally look forward to, with the main source of our enjoyment being the Filet-O-Fish sandwich that always makes up the entree portion of our meals.

Snicker if you must, but we are just huge fans of the Filet-O-Fish, so you can imagine my intense glee when I found out that McDonald’s recently launched a promotion for the sandwich – the pricing apparently varies depending on the location, but two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches for $3 is the going rate at the establishment I frequent (compared to the regular price of $3+ for 1 sandwich).

That steal of a deal would have been normally enough to make the Filet-O-Fish My One Favorite Thing of the week, but whoa, wait just one second … because you see, in order to advertise this particular promotion, McDonald’s created this friggin’ awesome commercial that has this fish on a wall singing a catchy little theme song. It’s a good thing it’s catchy, too, because my best estimate is that the ad airs on average about two million times every day.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, for your viewing enjoyment, here’s the original commercial:

Oh, how Ms. Deadman and I love this commercial. Every time it comes on, we can’t help but join in the singing, and we even started doing our own little dance (well, basically, just a bunch of funky head moves). So we thought we’d demonstrate our appreciation of this marketing masterpiece by crafting our own little homage video and – because we have no shame – sharing it with all of you. (As you can tell from the outtake version below, this was a much more difficult task than I had first imagined).

So congratulations to Mickey D’s, to that little square of processed fish goodness, and of course to whatever creative, daring agency is responsible for this particular commercial – You are the winners of this week’s prestigious My One Favorite Thing award.

And here’s the final, (mostly) error-free version:

Skipping ads could get a whole lot easier …

Over the weekend, I wrote a post about how product placement and alternative forms of marketing will become more important, partly because technology will make it easier to skip over ads. A New York Appeals Court ruling this morning increases that threat significantly.

The case centers around Cablevision’s wish to offer its consumers DVR functionality (including ad-skipping features) at the network, or ‘cloud’ level, as opposed to solely on individual set-top boxes. An initial court ruling agreed with content owners who charged that the feature amounted to copyright infringement, but the appeals court overturned the decision, saying basically that a network DVR is nothing more than ‘a DVR with a long cord.’

A story on Barron’s Online notes that Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett believes if the decision sticks (another appeal is likely), DVR penetration could rise from 25% levels to more than 60% in a very short time, and with more DVR-enabled outlets per home.

The article goes on: “Moffett contends the media companies should have settled the case by agreeing to network DVRs in return for a commitment to block ad skipping. ‘By failing to settle,” he writes, “the media companies now face the bleak prospect of a massive increase in ad-skipping.’”

‘Yes, everything you see on this show is for sale’

Truman Burbank is agitated. The main character from the movie The Truman Show is increasingly suspicious that something’s terribly amiss in his made-for-TV world, and his ‘wife’ tries to calm him down with a cup of ‘mococa.’

“All natural,” she tells him, holding the package of cocoa up to one of the millions of hidden cameras filming Truman’s life without his knowledge. “Cocoa beans from the upper slopes of Mount Nicaragua … I’ve tasted other cocoas. This is the best.”

“What the hell has that got to do with anything?!?” Truman responds, incredulous. “Tell me what’s happening!!”**

Well, Truman, it’s called product placement, and you might as well get used to it.

Product placement may be a truly insidious form of advertising – a sneaky, virtually subliminal, almost always uncredited form of marketing that’s often directed at children – but it’s also wildly effective. And it’s going to continue to explode in popularity because new technologies are making the practice an absolute necessity.

Intentional, paid product placements are not a new phenomenon. A New York Times article suggests it can be traced all the way back to the 19th century, when a film created by August and Louis Lumiere featured the Lever Brothers’ Sunlight soap.

Product placements gained steam in the movies through the ’50s (The makers of Gideon’s Gin paid to have Katherine Hepburn’s character throw their product overboard in The African Queen), and not surprisingly, the television industry adopted the practice almost immediately (soap operas are named as such because they were sponsored by soap companies, whose products were often also integrated into the shows).

Perhaps the most successful use of product placement in history occurred in the 1982 movie E.T., when producers agreed to change E.T.’s favorite candy from M&Ms to Reese’s Pieces, and sales of the new candy exploded.

Not surprisingly, the product placement market has ballooned in recent years, growing from $280 million in 1979 to about $3 billion in 2007, according to PQ media, and the compound annual growth rate from 2002-2007 was almost 41 percent, vastly outpacing the overall advertising market. And the numbers are probably understated given that much of the market consists of hard-to-value barter and other services often provided in lieu of cash by manufacturers seeking to have their products used or highlighted.

We’re not just talking about movies and television anymore, either, because product placement has crept its way into books, songs, videogames and the Internet (the paid search market is in some ways nothing more than a form of product placement, although at least sponsored links are noted as such).

And things are going to get a lot worse. The reason: Technology. The digitalization of content has made it possible, even easy, for people to skip over or delete any content they find intrusive or irrelevant. The DVR will make the 30-second commercial virtually obsolete. Ad blocking software on Web browsers will cripple the effectiveness of display and banner advertising.

It’s quite simple – marketers will have to integrate their messages and brands with the actual entertainment content or they won’t get heard.

Now I’m not a naif or an idealist. Marketing is an inevitable, inescapable fact of capitalism, of perhaps life itself. It greases the gears of business, subsidizes the content that entertains and numbs us, makes the world go round. We are bombarded with ads from nearly the moment we leave the womb until we shuffle off our mortal coils. A Tivo box is not about to stop them from reaching us.

And product placement may be creepy, but it could be worse. One of the latest new new things in alternative marketing is word-of-mouth, or buzz, advertising, where regular folks and with-it trendsetters alike are paid by corporations to spread the gospel about certain products. In ‘Raj, Bohemian,’ a short story in a recent New Yorker, the protagonist is dismayed and disillusioned when he realizes that almost all of his hipster friends (including his lover) are actually paid shills.

Now that’s something I truly find disgusting and unsavory. Even talking about the idea makes me want to take a shower and cleanse my palate by indulging in a delicious Lean Cuisine BBQ Chicken frozen pizza. Unlike most microwaveable pizzas, the crust in a Lean Cuisine pizza gets crispy when you cook it. And it’s low in fat too. Mmmmmm-mmmmm.

**The scene from The Truman Show was taken from a shooting draft of the script i found on the Internet; I didn’t have the actual movie with me to see whether that was actually how the scene went down.


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