Showing posts with label demographics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demographics. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 8

Emerging Markets And Wealth Are Changing Consumer Behavior

While some luxury brands continue to express interest in courting Generation Y, a demographic loosely defined as those born between 1977 and 1994 in the United States, other brands are setting their sights on another segment all together. They see the next surge in luxury consumers not confined to American Millennials but driven by emerging markets such as India and South Africa.

One new study, Wealth X, sees India producing as many as 437,000 millionaires by 2018 (and doubling again by 2023).The nation also has a young, well-educated population with high levels of entrepreneurship and business ownership, underpinned by a well-developed legal system.

Wealth growth in Africa — especially markets such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya — continues to be driven by a naturally entrepreneurial population at an annual rate of over 10 percent. Not only are those markets rich in natural resources, but they also have a new foundation for technological innovation.

In addition, the study predicts Iran, Turkey, and Mexico will become economic bright spots among global markets. These markets will continue to be influenced by western European and North American definitions of luxury (including a shift from physical luxury to experiential luxury.)

Five behavioral shifts expected from emerging markets. 

Hyper-Localization. Although the world is shrinking, wealthy consumers are identifying with the cities where they work and live (and not necessarily their countries). As a result, brands need to prepare for an increasingly nonlinear development of economies and wealth creation as well as the important role proximity advertising and marketing will play in reaching those new millionaires.

New Frontiers. An increase in new wealth will continue to drive a growing early adopter segment hungry for new experiences. In addition to new frontier experiences such as space tourism and global investment opportunities cited in the study, pay attention to augmented and virtual reality space.

Luxury Experiences. Millennials are not the only population segment that is more interested in experience over products. The rich in emerging markets are increasingly shifting luxury consumption away from product purchases to lavish experiences like extreme locations and underwater holidays.

Hyper-Personalization. As well as fundamental rarity, personalization is expected to become the second major driver of exclusivity in the next decade. This will continue to manifest in tailored and unique products as well as one-off experiences.

Privacy and Intimacy. There will be an increasing desire for privacy among the wealthy in the future, yet at the same time a desire for greater intimacy among the select providers they trust. As a brand is truly defined by the relationship between itself and its customers, the newly rich will look for near flawless experiences from a shrinking pool of brands they trust.

These behavioral shifts will have a profound effect on brands. 

These are not the only shifts expected in the attitudes and psychology of the emerging wealthy. The study predicts those joining the ranks of the wealthy will become increasingly concerned about the economy, geopolitics, wealth preservation, privacy, and health care options.

With the recent financial crisis still fresh in their minds, they will be keenly sensitive to issues such as wealth preservation and the return on investment in every area of their lives from financial holdings to how they spend family holidays. At the same time, as wealth continues to become globalized, there will be an increased demand for personalization with design eclipsing technology and exclusivity defined by something other than price point alone.

The Wealth-X Part II study, which covers the next 10 years of wealth and luxury, is currently available without a registration barrier. In review, many of the concepts presented in the study are not confined to having an impact on luxury brands alone. As an emerging class of globalized rich continues to emerge, their behaviors will have a significant influence over consumer expectation on all organizations — especially in hyper-localized minded cities with increasingly unique identities.

Marketers hoping to find opportunities in behavioral shifts ahead need to begin focusing on proximity, flexibility, exclusivity, and improving the customer experience. Entrepreneurs need to look toward new frontiers that create entirely new markets — space travel, oceanic exploration, virtual reality, near-invisible energy production, and biotechnology among them.

Wednesday, November 12

Did Millennials Change Advertising Or Just Roll It Back?

By some estimates, millennials now include about 74.3 million people in the U.S., which accounts for almost 25 percent of the population. They have between $125 and $200 million in purchasing power.

Advertisers are just now beginning to understand that millennials prefer friendly and funny brands over serious and stodgy. Two in three like smart and witty humor and about 72 percent consider being smart as one of their greatest assets. They still self-identify with some brands, but in slightly different ways. 

And if there is any irony to be found in that lineup of four advertising tips for millennials, it's that nothing has changed. Targeting the same age demos in the 1960s and 1970s called for the same four tips.

The shift everyone is talking about in advertising is circular. 

Advertisers of that era made them laugh, made it personal, made it social, and engaged them. And it wasn't until the 1980s that things began to change and brands suddenly became bigger than buyers with product glamour shots outweighing golden era advertisements at about 4 to 1.

The trend continued well into the 1990s and 2000s as advertisements became bigger, freakier, and more increasingly Photoshopped or loaded with special effects that were meant to wow every audience. Most of them got plenty of attention, which is what advertisers want to do, but it came at a cost. 

Some might even say they broke from the old Ogilvy tenet that advertisements ought not attract more attention than a product. He also commissioned research that found images can turn off interest.

The truth is that while most clients want great campaigns that ignite sales and the have the staying power to build a brand, most consumers want honest advertisements that tell them exactly why they might care to even consider the purchase. And if you can make them laugh a little too, even better.

The lesson advertisers must continue to learn here is pretty simple. Much like public relations professionals need to transform "us" and "them" into "we," advertisers need to push beyond attention-grabbing entertainment and create opportunities for millennials and others to participate and be part of whatever the marketer is hoping to achieve. Ergo, it's not about you or your product as much as them. But then again, maybe it never really was about you or your product. Don't be the star. Make some.

Wednesday, April 16

Will The Next America Express A Culture Shift?

There are two interesting demographic anomalies being played out in the United States right now. And the reason they are interesting is that they aren't anomalies. They could be called corrections.

The first demographic transformation is that the Baby Boomer bubble will be largely played out by 2060. In its place will be a rectangle, with each age demographic being almost equally represented.

The second transformation is racial. Of the two transformations, this is the one that some people make a big deal about. "White" will become a minority by 2060, making the country a plurality.

Marketers are testing the waters of the Next America. 

There were three commercials that expressed the demographic changes taking place in America during the Super Bowl. They includes Coke, Chevy, and Cheerios. Of the three, Cheerios won with its portrayal of a blended family because the expression didn't draw attention to itself.

Conversely, Chevy flashed a brief image of a family with same-sex partners, which demonstrated acceptance more than the demographic changes ahead. Coke did something else. In attempting to celebrate the cultural diversity of the nation, it conveyed it by singing the nation anthem in seven languages.

Because of the political rhetoric that followed the advertisement, most marketers missed the lesson that tempers what Pew Research calls The Next America. The Cheerios advertisement makes the demographic nod to blended families, which is estimated to reach as much as 20 percent by 2060.

Coke was much more blatant because it expressed multiculturalism over assimilation, an ideal that doesn't always sit well with all Americans (regardless of ethnicity and political viewpoints) because it breaks down the melting pot concept of America. While most families retain some identity from their ancestral heritage, they also assimilate to some degree. It has pretty much always been this way.

History suggests demographic changes eventually even out. 

When most people consider American demographics, they tend to think of the United States as English dominant. They mostly do so because the founding fathers were English subjects.

Those demographics changed a long time ago. English hasn't been a dominant ancestry in the United States for almost a century. Dominant ancestral lines today are German (15 percent), followed by Irish (11 percent) and African (9 percent). Assimilation creates the illusion of an English country.

Sure, there is no doubt that mass German immigration (and mass Irish immigration before that) led to some cultural shifts in the country. But, by in large, mass emigrations were absorbed and people eventually self- identified with being American first. Ergo, German didn't supplant English as the official language. Other than adopting Octoberfest as a national celebration, not that much changed.

While some people will be quick to claim that mass German immigration (or any other mass immigration) doesn't resemble the same tensions we face a century later, history suggests otherwise. If anything, the alarmist anti-German sentiment was much more pronounced than any anti-anything sentiment we see today. Even President Woodrow Wilson condemned "hyphenated Americans."

The point is that the so-called demographic makeover that America is seeing today neglects that America has seen several demographic makeovers before, with most immigrant families becoming something much different within the short span of three generations or less. Everyone changes.

The ethnic and racial flames of today are too easily fanned. 

Americans tend to politicize everything these days, ethnic and racial tensions included. While some researchers, including Pew, seem to expect a showdown of sorts, it seems more likely any sweeping changes will be a whimper. The truth is that most ethnic and racial tensions are sadly superficial.

Please don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that racism doesn't exist in America. It does. All I mean is by in large, ethnic and racial lines in this country are based on self-identification and skin color.

Case in point, the last presidential election featured two candidates who come from blended families, yet many people insist as seeing Barack Obama as black and Mitt Romney as white. Why? The only explanation is skin color and self-identification.

They aren't alone either. One of the best panels provided by Pew Research's The Next America features eight celebrities who come from blended families. They include Derek Jeter, Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry, Bruno Mars,  Apolo Ohno, Norah Jones, Selena Gomez and Tiger Woods. Self- identification and skin color tend to be the rule there too. So we might considered getting over it.

The big challenges ahead will be as big as we think. 

If anything has changed in the last forty years or so, it is that some people have become very adept at convincing Americans to create artificial divisions, especially among ethnic and racial lines. Marketers have to resist the urge to fall for it and see how it plays out. It won't be what is imagined.

Most of the changes taking place in the United States will be largely regional and not comprehensive. And even in those areas where "white" becomes a minority it won't necessarily mean much. California, New Mexico, and Texas all have pluralities today (with non-Hispanic whites at less than 50 percent) and it's still difficult to find three states with so little in common from a socio-political perspective.

And to that point, marketers are supposed to be sensitive to cultural values and beliefs by engaging in fair and balanced communication activities that foster and encourage mutual understanding. In other words, smart marketers create messages for existing markets as opposed to predictive ones.

While some people believe that companies, political parties, churches, and police forces need to prepare for what they call sweeping demographic changes, the truth is that nobody knows what exactly those changes will be unless they build assumptions based on pre-existing stereotypes. I cannot think of a worse idea.

There is no question that the nation is changing (as it has for decades), but these changes aren't going to adhere to whatever limited schism we can think up today. On the contrary, there are an increasing number of regions in the United States that have abandoned ethnic and racial identification all together, making one of the fastest-growing segments of the population unwilling to subscribe to hyphens.

When you ask them, they say they are Americans. Nothing more. Nothing less. And it's probably refreshing to the rest of the world because most places don't see hyphens either. They see nations.

Monday, November 12

Marketing To Races: The Biggest Lie In Politics

In post-election discussions, we can expect to see plenty of racial graphics. It's the kind of analysis that makes my skin crawl because it reinforces blatant ignorance — that people somehow pick candidates and political parties based on the color of their skin or presumed minority status.

Maybe some do — those that do are falling for a political parlor trick — but not really. It has much more to do with cultural identity as demonstrated by a study from Columbia Business School. The more someone identifies with cultural ideology, the more likely they are to be predisposed or sympathetic to specific issues — especially if they believe one candidate wants to reinforce that minority grouping and if that minority grouping believes (and is enabled to believe) they need help to "level" the playing field.

The reality is that minority groups don't need any special advantages, perks, or handouts to make it, at least not along racial or ancestral lines. To say that they do, it seems, is more racially loaded than saying they don't. Hispanics don't need "help" to make it. African-Americans don't need "help" to make it. German Americans don't need "help" either. While some people might need help to address some socio-economic disadvantages (e.g., growing up in a poor neighborhood), race doesn't play a factor unless people pretend it does. And if they pretend it does, then they likely have something to gain.

A personal and anecdotal analysis of minority status.

While some people argue that statistical data shows minorities have unfair disadvantages, they might consider that the continued reinforcement of such statistics is the problem and not the symptom. When you raise someone to believe that their racial minority is disadvantaged, they will eventually believe it.

The concept is easy enough to test. All you need to do is look to people who have the genetics of a minority but not the cultural upbringing of being in a minority, saddled by this concept that they are disadvantaged. Incidentally, I recently learned that I qualify to this unique subset.

My father's paternal lineage (my grandfather) was always a bit of a mystery. Most accounts speculated he was a Spanish-Irish solider serving in the British army. But in recent years, my German grandmother changed her story, saying that he was a Mexican-American serving in the American army (his name escapes her) in the post World War II theater around Berlin.

Not that I distrust her, but the news was somewhat of a surprise because it contradicted the little bit of ancestral thought that I had managed to scrape together for my kids. I was tired of guessing so I finally decided to splurge and purchase an ancestral DNA test. It turns out everyone was close, but wrong.

My missing 25 percent is Bolivian (with some distant Greek European). The United States lumps Bolivians as part of the greater Hispanic/Latino grouping used in politics. In fact, Bolivians represent the third-smallest Hispanic group in the United States. Genetically, for me, it's a dominant match.

Except, I never knew it. I was more inclined to think any early "disadvantages" were limited to poverty as well as a physical handicap (mentioned in comments) I was fortunate enough to leave behind. There was no predisposition in my life to think I would have a harder time succeeding because I was related to the Hispanic/Latino minority. I didn't need special grants. I didn't need to seek MOB status.

While I find it interesting that after almost 45 years that I qualify for these things — a minority group member is an individual who is a U.S. citizen with at least 25 percent Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, or Native American heritage — it seems I had a different advantage. I wasn't saddled with the label. Interestingly enough, many Asians aren't either. As a grouping, they have no problem excelling as a minority group in the United States, even if their ancestors began in poverty.

In fact, they tend to be among the least likely to pursue MOB status. So are Portuguese-Americans (my wife is half Portuguese), which has an exceptionally unusual relationship to the Hispanic/Latino minority grouping as Gregg Sangillo noted about Benjamin Nathan Cardoza's service on the Supreme Court.

Being a minority, identifying as a minority, marketing, and politics.

In much the same way Supreme Court Justice Cardoza has been used to discuss the uniqueness of  Portuguese-Americans, I think there is a deeper issue. There is a difference between "being" a minority and "identifying" as a minority because the thought of minorities continues to permeate our culture, both in marketing and especially in politics. To that end, it seems there are two takeaways.

• Reinforcing that minorities are disadvantaged is a lie. The people who continually attempt to label minorities as disadvantaged so they can "help" them does them a disservice. Individuals who have no knowledge of being in a minority group tend to excel at the same pace, suggesting race or ancestral heritage has very little to do with success. What is more damaging is the chronic promotion that these individuals are disadvantaged. They have a better opportunity to succeed without such dubious distinctions. They have a better chance at excelling in education without specialized tests or educational programs. And you can expect this to be heard more and more often by the Supreme Court.

• Cultural identity is a temporary status. Over time, cultural identity tends to change. Even if a certain minority group doesn't fully assimilate in a geographically-based culture or tends to maintain some semblance of their heritage, the minority group does change over time until it takes on characteristics that uniquely align to the origin. Ergo, in another 100 years, most Mexican-Americans will have almost no commonality to their Mexican ancestors (even if they preserve their heritage), much like Mexico bears no distinctions to Spanish or Native Americans. It has been this way throughout history and political pundits who ignore this simple truth will eventually be dismissed as being irrelevant to the bigger issues of ideology regardless of skin color.

Sure, I suppose both categories of exploitation among marketers and politicians (marketers to boost sales and politicians to curry votes) have some short-term gain. But over the long term, there is no truth to it, except one. The more we classify individuals based on race and ancestral heritage, assigning preset stereotypes into how they behave or what is important to them, we fall prey to circumventing the collective American experience in favor of one that panders to narrower and narrower special interests. I'd rather pursue Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision. It just doesn't matter.

Well, it does matter from a personal perspective. I am curious and fascinated by my newly discovered ancestors as much as I was curious and fascinated by the ones I have always known. Otherwise, I'm still just the same person before I knew anything (because racial and cultural identity is not innate).

Monday, August 20

Emerging Markets: Will Shift Social Scores

A recent study by eMarketer pinpoints something marketers may need to consider in the near future. Emerging markets lead the world in social networking growth. And these markets are very likely to eclipse North America (China already did).

This simple but important truth could change the way people look at online measurement. With the fastest growth rates in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, places like North America will represent a smaller and smaller portion of the global audience.

Specifically, some estimates suggest 78 percent of the U.S. population is connected to the Internet, but it only represents between 10 and 11 percent of the global online population. Conversely, 38 percent of China's population already represents 22 percent of the global online population. India already represents 5 percent of the global online population, with only 10 percent of its population.

It also means marketers have to erase some of their previous preconceptions in terms of influence or importance. Looking at Alexa rankings or influence measurements might not mean what social media experts told them they meant. Some search engines will likely be impacted too.

There are several ways to think about the global population shift.

One old rule of thumb (although it was as erroneous then as is it today) was to ignore anyone who didn't meet a specific global threshold. Nowadays, it's even less true. Unless a site or social network account is attempting to cater to a global audience, it's not likely to have a global rank as high as its country, regional, or local rank.

Ranking or popularity doesn't have anything to do with content quality. It has everything to do with potential reach. If the potential readership has a smaller audience, then it likely won't perform at higher levels. It's a lesson I wish some communicators would have considered before dropping their communication blogs.

Some thought they were losing their audience, but the reality was that they were catering to an ever shrinking reach against the total population. Ergo, as online demographics diversified, a smaller percentage of people were interested in communication-related topics. Likewise, as time goes on, fewer people may be interested sites with English content or Western-style visuals or even hot topics.

Mashable scratched the surface of how global participation can shape a network. It compared participants in the U.S. and participants in the U.K. on Pinterest and discovered some very different statistics. In fact, the interests of U.K. participants looked vaguely familiar to me. They were similar to the online interests of U.S. participants five years ago (but on different networks).

What seems to be happening on the small scale is similar to what happens on a global scale. In this case, U.K. small businesses and consultancies are moving into Pinterest ahead of consumers. In the U.S., the migration patterns were flipped. Small businesses mostly stayed away until public relations and social media specialists began taking an interest, based on independent blogger traffic spikes.

It's a small example, but one worth considering. If your content or connection isn't geared for a global audience, you'll either have to accept your company's smaller global reach or begin altering the content in consideration of other cultural expectations and influences. The latter isn't necessarily the best idea. It all depends on what your companies does, who it serves, and where those people might live.

Monday, June 25

Shopping Smarter: Smartphone Shoppers

There is an interesting ongoing shopper behavior study being conducted by The Integer Group® and M/A/R/C Research. The latest findings suggest that African-Americans and Hispanics are adopting new shopping technologies at a faster rate than Caucasians.

Currently, 18 percent of African-American shoppers and 16 percent of Hispanic shoppers use their mobile devices to make purchases. Only 10 percent of Caucasians do.

This may be especially significant because, combined, African-Americans and Hispanics make up more than 30 percent of the total population (Hispanic, 20 percent; African-American, 12 percent).

Along with making purchases, one in five African-American shoppers (21 percent) use their phones to read product reviews and maintain shopping lists and one in five Hispanic shoppers (20 percent) use their mobile devices to compare prices on products. Only 13 percent of Caucasians do.

Even more interesting, despite adoption, smartphone penetration skews lower among African-Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians. Currently, it is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the total mobile phone population is using smartphones.

Other Highlights From The Integer Group Study. 

• Almost as many shoppers use email coupons (49 percent) as Sunday paper coupons (57 percent).

• Men might be viewed as tech toy lovers, but women are more apt to use technology to shop.

• Having children in the household drives adoption of digital shopping technologies.

"Digital shoppers are just shoppers," said Ben Kennedy, group director of Mobile Marketing at Integer. "Digital shopping tools are illustrative of the continued blurring of the on- and offline spaces. Today's reality is that shoppers use whatever tools they have on hand to make them smarter, savvier shoppers."

According to the conclusions of the study by The Integer Group, companies and businesses would be smart to consider basic mobile communication through SMS, making mobile websites the points of entry. Mobile marketing to multicultural shoppers is a huge opportunity, said Martin Ferro, senior account planner for Velocidad, a Hispanic promotional, retail and shopper marketing capability of The Integer Group.

It could be, but marketers ought to demonstrate some constraint over segmenting their advertising too thin. With each generation, even cultures resistant to assimilation tend to shift toward multicultural messages that are inclusive as opposed to targeted and/or exclusive. For example, many second generation Hispanics are bilingual, but not necessarily literate in their parents' or grandparents' language.

The best part of the study, however, is that it demonstrates that the old perception of tech adoption is outdated. Like many social media and online marketing pros know, the stereotype that the Internet predominantly consists of white tech guys is largely gone.

The study is by The Integer Group (, one of the world's largest promotional, retail, and shopper marketing agencies, and a key member of Omnicom Group Inc. You can download the study from its site, The Checkout, where it was first published. It requires basic contact information (name, title, business, and email are mandatory).

Friday, May 18

Marketing To Hispanics: Think People First

Ten percent. That is the number of people in the United States who can trace their ancestry to Mexico. It doesn't include any other Hispanic or Latino cultural connections, which is why I'm sometimes baffled by the way companies try to segment Hispanics and the way some Hispanic organizations suggest those companies market to Hispanics.

If you ask most of these companies and consultants, they seem to think Hispanic marketing means adding Spanish messages to their marketing mix or making a Hispanic media buy. The Forbes article (referenced above) even highlights a Volkswagen spot as an example.

It features two white guys who listen to a Spanish tape during a car trip. At the end of the spot, they speak Spanish. That's it?

Don't misunderstand me, it's a brilliant little spot. But the reason that it works has nothing to do with dropping in Spanish. The spot is about gas mileage, which is a cross-cultural message. It could have been French and had the same impact. It just feels more relevant given the increasing number of people who speak Spanish (as a first and as a second language).

I might be more convinced if they added subtitles for English or dropped the subtitles for Spanish. But more than that, I don't believe Hispanic marketing simply means adding foreign flags, select fashions, subtitles, and actors who look the part. It's about doing your homework and understanding cultural values while avoiding cultural sensitivities. 

But doesn't this apply to everyone? Depending on your product and your market, it always makes sense to consider cultural values and sensitivities. It could be any group, even those that aren't based on heritage. It might include socio-economics, job description, faith, or political views too.

Likewise, it seemed disingenuous that the thrust of the article suggests that companies sustain a dialogue with Hispanic consumers rather than trying to push a message with monologue.

The secret to market segmentation is listening to individuals over groups. 

The dialogue tip isn't exclusive to Hispanics — it's a marketing lesson that includes everyone. And therein lies the problem with choosing market segmentation based on demographics alone. Marketers really need to do their homework and have a dialogue with consumers because Hispanic has become too big of a segment to work.

In the United States, for example, Hispanic is usually defined by the government as "persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race." Each of these sub-segments are as unique as the various sub-segments by the overly generic term Asian. And in some cases, those subgroups can be segmented too (Mexico is a big country, with many regional and urban-rural differences if you take the time to listen).

So where does that leave us? Hispanic marketing seems like a good idea today because research points to a rapidly growing Hispanic population that retains a significant amount of their cultural heritage (more so than many European immigrants). But over the long term, the Hispanic culture in the United States will not be synonymous with Hispanic culture as it is identified today.

It will eventually be something else, which it already has if you consider just how different Hispanics in California are when compared to Hispanics in Texas (or how different Californians and Texans are for that matter). In other words, marketing segmentation works but it works its best when marketers assess their entire customer base instead of trying to appeal to national demographics. Think global, act local.

In fact, it might surprise some to learn that the difference between Apple and Droid consumers is greater than the difference between Hispanic and non-Hispanic smart phone subscribers.

Wednesday, May 16

Segmenting Publics: Can Online Moms Be Segmented?

MWW published an interesting, albeit curious, survey on the behavior of moms online. According to the mid-sized agency, moms can be broken into five types as illustrated by the nifty graphic (which links to the the agency's infographic). The study alludes to the idea that not all moms are created equal.

It's very, very dangerous territory to tread; I even thought twice before sharing it. But then I thought I might offer up why over-segmentation sometimes backfires. Before I do, here are the five types of digital moms they identified:

• Mobilizers. The youngest segment (average age 33) is hyper-connected, driven by the desire to connect with friends, and interested in pop culture. They are easily influenced by celebrities and prefer mobile devices as their primary tool for staying connected.

• Urban Originals. The smallest, most influential segment of digital moms (average age 35) lives in mostly urban areas, view themselves as influencers, and frequently interact on social networks. They also create 90 percent of the content generated by moms and are the biggest influencers.

• Practical Adopters. The working moms segment (average age 45) uses digital technology to harmonize their professional and personal lives and manage their families. They are too busy to be on the cutting edge. They look to urban originals and mobilizers to keep up on trends.

• Casual Connectors. The lowest average income segment (average age 47) uses digital technology to connect with their close circle of family and friends (particularly their children) and are influenced by the preceding groups. They prefer simple technology and few have adopted smart phones.

• Wallflowers. This segment of digital moms (average age 34) prefers to browse and consume content rather than create it. More than half are full-time homemakers, and are visual and entertainment focused. These moms are highly interested in tablets, read what others share, and enjoy sites like Pinterest.

My advice? It's an interesting attempt, but never confuse online behavior with demographics. 

I've worked with lots of moms online for the better part of a decade. I tend to agree with another study that suggests moms know best. Not some of them or certain segments, but all of them all the time.

Beyond the case studies I mentioned in the moms know best brief, I've also seen them at work on very large-scale projects that range from the cancellation of the television series Jericho and shaping of Days Of Our Lives to social good campaigns like Human Rights and March of Dimes (and scores of others).

And in observing or working with all them (including the demographics captured by MWW), I've noticed only one thing is certain. When faced with an issue they care passionately about (or their friends feel passionately about), moms will jump these so-called spheres faster than you can blink.

Further, the concept of micro-targeting along these lines is also fraught with peril and misses opportunities. You never really know when a wallflower might become the rally point or pass it to her long-time friend who happens to be a quasi-celebrity. In fact, it was one of these under-the-radar moms that connected the Bloggers United: Human Rights campaign to Amnesty International because she was only one degree of separation away.

If you want to create a micro-targeting effort, don't consider supposed behavior styles as the model to follow. What you really want to do is look at their areas of interest, which is how most people are motivated online. Don't waste time chasing influencers because they don't exist. Nurture relationships with like-minded people. Otherwise, you might as well start assigning them klout scores.

Monday, April 16

Social Networking: Moms Know Best

If you have ever wondered why some companies cater to moms more than any other group online, a new study by Performics, a marketing firm owned by Publicis Groupe, recently shared its answer. After studying nearly 3,000 active U.S. social networkers, the firm concluded that mothers were "more versatile, present, active and engaged users of social networking sites, compared to other women."

Not only were mothers 61 percent more likely than other women to own a smart phone, they are also more likely to be active on social networking sites. Specifically, they were 16 percent more likely to visit Facebook and 46 percent more likely to visit Google+ on a daily basis.

But even outside of the study, there is ample evidence of how important moms can be to a social network. In fact, despite noted policy problems, moms are the catalysts behind the success of Pinterest, which reported 16.23 million unique users last February.

It is now one of the most active social networks online despite that 80 percent of its participants were female (March 2012). And, according to another study, almost all "mom bloggers" are actively engaged in Pinterest (as much as 98 percent) with  90 percent describing it as fun, 67 percent using it for organization, and 60 percent browsing beautiful things.

Do you know what other social network moms embraced? Right. A little app called Instagram that Facebook recently purchased for $1 billion. The irony? Facebook isn't among many moms' favorite social networks, despite them visiting it on a daily basis to connect and keep up.

Moms have a long history of engaging and organizing on social networks. 

When most people look back at some of the most spirited successes and failures online, most of them are linked to moms. They were the catalyst behind the Motrin headache, were part of the GAP logo retraction, continue to be part of McDonald's outreach efforts, prompted one of the largest recalls in Maytag history, and were among the first to express their distaste over the Tropicana logo change too.

In terms of the biggest disasters mentioned above, the reasons seem clear enough. Moms are reported to be 75 percent more likely than other women to trust information they receive from companies through social networking sites. And, as a result, they tend to react more aggressively when that trust is broken.

Marketing to moms might make marketers think twice about quick fixes. 

There have always been benefits to including moms in the online marketing mix. But there are some downsides for companies that are reckless with their messaging. Moms, unlike many other groups, have a greater awareness and more experience influencing, participating with, and promoting brands.

View more presentations from Performics

They are 45 percent more likely to make a purchase as a result of a recommendation on a social networking site than other women, including apparel (54 percent more likely), cars (64 percent more likely), and travel (46 percent more likely). They are also more likely to recommend companies/brands via social sites (34 percent), discuss companies/brands on social sites after seeing an ad elsewhere (48 percent), talk about companies/brands they follow on Facebook (24 percent), link to a company/brand ad (23 percent), post a company/brand ad (53 percent), and share interesting or relevant content about a company/brand (50 percent).

In other words, if your company isn't thinking about moms, then it isn't thinking. And if your company isn't thinking, these moms will be among the first to remind you who really knows best.

Monday, August 30

Changing Landscapes: Marketers Miss With Social

PEW Research
Last Friday, the Direct Marketing Association and Colloquy released a study that suggests most marketers are spending nearly twice as much to deepen customer loyalty as they do on other core social media marketing programs.

Specifically, the study says that marketers typically invest $88,000 on customer loyalty, $53,000 on brand awareness, and $30,000 on customer acquisition (comparatively). Interestingly enough, these customer loyalty programs do not include listening tools to track online conversations. (And, of those who do use those tools, most don't listen beyond searching for brand names.)

Marketers Who Don't Listen Waste Consumer Loyalty Investments.

If companies did listen, they might learn that something relatively amazing is happening within social networks. Also on Friday, Pew Internet Research summed it up nicely.

Social networking use among Internet users ages 50+ has nearly doubled, from 22 percent to 42 percent in the past year. Anyone following social media trends may expect it to double again. Social networking is well suited for any age.

What is especially interesting about this uptick is that half of all online adults, ages 50-64, and one quarter of all seniors, ages 65+, are members of Facebook and LinkedIn. On Twitter, their presence is changing the space too. Last year, 50+ accounted for one percent of all active Twitter members at any given time. This year, they represent six percent of the total active population.

Even more important than the shifts in demographics, marketers might be missing out on something else too. While some attempt to host a space without any interaction, there is a bigger picture to consider. Why are these people joining Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks?

The Top Three Reasons People Join Social Networks.

• Join to reconnect with people from their past.
• Join to seek out support from others with an ailment.
• Bridge the generational divide between family and friends.

Sure, a certain segment of this population will eventually find more ways to use their social networks. However, I can't help but wonder. How many organizations never consider doing something that fits with one of the three reasons people join?

Monday, March 8

Looking Forward: Social Migrates To Mobile

Need another reason to keep your eyes on the mobile market? A new study from comScore, Inc. found that 30.8 percent of smart phone users accessed social networking sites via their mobile browsers in January.

The number is not static. It's up 8.3 points from 22.5 percent one year ago. And some networks are experiencing even more growth with mobile. Mobile access to Facebook grew 112 percent; Twitter access jumped 347 percent.

"Social media is a natural sweet spot for mobile since mobile devices are at the center of how people communicate with their circle of friends, whether by phone, text, email, or, increasingly, accessing social networking sites via a mobile browser," said Mark Donovan, senior vice president of mobile for comScore.

More than 25.1 million agree. That is the number of people who accessed Facebook from their phone, which means Facebook mobile users surpass MySpace users. Twitter attracted 4.7 million mobile users in January. These numbers do not include mobile consumers who access social network sites through a mobile application.

When combined with another study released by Euro RSCG Worldwide PR today, it underpins the next migration of social nomads. The study might be specific to a small group of teenage girls (ages 13-18), but the numbers are compelling.

• Seventy-eight percent of teenage girls use social media to keep in touch with friends, while three-quarters report being in "constant contact" with friends through texting, Facebook, iChat, AIM or other social media services.

• They show a clear preference for approaching a brand to find out about sales and promotions rather than having the brand approach them. But when they do approach a brand, 40 percent sign up for e-mails.

• Sixty-five percent say when their favorite brand or store has a sale, they want to share the information with friends and family with a preference toward one-on-one communication (texting) over social networks (Facebook and Twitter).

The original release can be found here. Only 100 girls were included.

The trending toward mobile suggests that most social media programs will have to be revamped within two years to include for a greater emphasis in reaching increasingly mobile consumers. Jokes about the product aside, the release of the iPad will likely stimulate an increased emphasis on mobility over sociability as technology gives consumers more flexibility in communicating publicly (one to many) or privately (one one one). Stay tuned.

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Monday, October 26

Dominating Display Ads: U.K. Online Spending

Telecommunications companies in the United Kingdom take social networks seriously, according to a new study by comScore, Inc. which revealed social networking sites accounted for 13.8 billion display ad impressions in August 2009. The study also showed that while display ads skew toward younger audiences, advertisers are marketing to every age group.

Display Ad, Demographic Targeting

• Ages 15-24 29.0%
• Ages 25-34 22.3%
• Ages 35-44 21.1%
• Ages 45-54 15.9%
• Ages 55+ 11.7%

"[This] data suggests that every demographic segment is reached via social networking sites and that no particular age segment accounts for an overwhelming percentage of ads delivered," said Mike Read, comScore managing director, Europe. "Given the overall reach and volume of ads delivered on social networking sites, brand advertisers who ignore this channel may be missing a significant opportunity and enabling their competitors to gain a dominant share of voice in the channel."

While the study was confined to the United Kingdom, it does reveal which industries are placing their faith in social networks. Beyond the study, our research shows entertainment and travel are particularly well suited to content delivery, which allows these segments to rely on display ads less while still benefiting from significant reach via groups and fan pages.

The dominance by telecommunications mirrors major media spending reports, according to Brandweek. The The Nielsen Co. recently released a study that shows marketers in telecommunications were among the handful of industries to spend more on advertising in the first eight months of 2009 then they did in the same period in 2008. Fast food, insurance, lending, and cable/satellite companies also spent more on advertising.

Building A Better Display Ad

For all the increased investment in display ads, some companies still struggle with the medium. One of the most common mistakes marketers make is relying on logo dominant display ads as opposed to ads that make rational, emotional, or visceral appeal. Instead, too many are still stuck on attention-grabbing intrusive visuals with "click here" demands.

The second most common mistake is choosing an appropriate landing page once consumers do click on the advertisement. Most marketers attempt to drive social network participants to a sales page or static Web site as opposed to a social media site or social network page that is better suited to the medium. Online, the more effective solution is to drive consumers to a point of engagement.

For example, Flip Video, which is currently running a display ad on Facebook, drives consumers to a Facebook fan page, which includes uncensored consumer testimonials and product displays. For Flip Video, the tactic makes more sense than driving consumers directly to the store or pitch page.

So what does all this mean? The best marketers are investing more in a recession, investing more online, and investing in social media programs that integrate well with traditional and new media. Is it any wonder more companies have made social media part of the mix? Not really.

Thursday, February 5

Trending Generations: Pew Research Center

The Pew Internet and American Life Project, an independent public opinion survey research project that studies attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues, posted the results of its Generations Online in 2009 last week. The comparative study evaluates data between 2005 and 2008.

In keeping pace with Harris Interactive's poll in 2007 and the Universal McCann study in 2008, Internet users range from the very young to the young at heart. Right on. The Internet is for everybody.

The Internet Has Become Multigenerational

• 24 percent of adult Internet users are ages 55+ (Boomers, S.G. and G.I. Gen)
• 22 percent of adult Internet users are ages 45-54 (Younger Boomers)
• 23 percent of adult Internet users are ages 33-44 (Gen X)
• 30 percent of adult Internet users are ages 18-32 (Gen Y)

The largest increase among a singular age demographic were Internet users ages 70-75. While only 26 percent of this group participated online in 2005, 45 percent participated in 2008. Participation among ages 75+ also increased from 17 to 27 percent. Ages 60-64 increased from 55 percent to 62 percent.

Other Key Findings Online From 2005 to 2008

• Ages 18-32 are more likely to use social networks, seek entertainment, read blogs, and create content
• Ages 33-64 are more likely shop online, perform tasks (banking), visit government sites, and research products
• Ages 65+ are most likely to research products, obtain health information, visit government sites, and use e-mail

A quick evaluation of the general differences reveals that younger Internet users are increasingly active and much more likely to engage content creators and become content creators. In fact, it is interesting to note that despite calls by Wired that blogs were dead, Internet users ages 12-38 are more likely to create and read blogs than ever before.

But why does any of that matter? So what?

After scanning several dozen blogs, it seems few people drew conclusions beyond the Pew data. But then I remembered a post penned in December called Generation "Why". As Valeria Maltoni pointed out then, the context is changing. And with it, so are the conversations.

Marketers may even be making a mistake. While most are attempting to become increasingly targeted, Internet demographics are becoming increasing diverse. And that might mean marketers will have to learn how to balance targeted content with inclusive conversations that touch multiple publics. How do you do that? It begins with listening.

Thursday, March 20

Skewing Young: Is Advertising Forgetting Audience?

A recent BurstMedia survey reveals that advertisers, especially those trying to reach audiences online, might be missing the boat. The survey alludes to the idea that the majority of Internet users ages 45+ believe online content is focused on younger age segments.

• Only about half of respondents, ages 35-44, believe Web sites are designed for them.
• Only 36.9 percent of respondents, ages 45-54, believe Web sites are designed for them.
• Only 19.9 percent of respondents, ages 55+, believe Web sites are designed for them.

Ya think? Advertising has been trending younger for some time now, online and off. Online it’s evident, mostly because of the mistaken notion that Internet users are all young. Sometimes its because designers are designing in a bubble, with little thought to their audience. Sometimes its because advertisers are skewing too much toward the medium with little or no thought of people.

The reality is that everybody is online; More than 80 percent in the U.S.

One of the most recent polls conducted by Harris Interactive last Nov. estimated that 97 percent of Americans with a computer is online (hat tip: Gary Gerdemann Peritus Public Relations).

In fact, when you compare the online population with the total population in the United States, the columns are proportionate, with the exception to those ages 65+. In addition, Internet usage has increased from seven hours per week in 2002 to more than 11 hours today.

While prevailing social media theory tends to ask companies to bend their message for technology, the BurstMedia survey is a reminder that tools do not dictate messages. Brand relationships exist between the company and the consumer. Technology is only a means of delivery or engagement.

Currently, 12 percent of the population is the 65+ group. By 2050, this age group will comprise 21 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In addition, this demographic will be well versed in online technologies and usage, requiring designers to consider content organization and ease of use much more readily than they do today. It makes sense.

Given the amount of demographic and psychographic information advertisers and marketers are pulling from the net, one would think they would apply it online ads. Or maybe not. We hear the same complaints about broadcast advertising and programming too.


Tuesday, September 11

Thinning The Workforce: Those People

With increasing fervor, some bloggers are thinning America’s workforce into desirables and undesirables. Who’s undesirable?

Those people, of course.

“Those people” are people with kids, according to Penelope Trunk. When she shared ten tips on how to start a business, she wrote “In general, when I have started companies, I tried not to hire people with kids because they are less able to jump for investors, more torn between where their head and heart are at any given time, and anyway, today’s parents generally do not work insanely long hours.”

She defends her statement here, a contrast that doesn’t appear on her own blog. But “those people” are not only people with kids. Fat women have to go too.

“One thing I learned is that fat women don't have a lot of empathy and defendants usually try to strike those jurors,” Trunk said as quoted by David Maister, who defended her statement by surmising she was not advocating anything (Maister, she advocates all the time) before pointing out the obvious.

Some companies are hiring people based on looks, which means “those people” may as well include anyone who is less attractive. Playing the appearance game isn’t always as easy as that. Stephanie Bivona wrote about a talk show conversation she heard on the radio, where one caller “even said she ‘uglied’ herself, just so she could be taken seriously.”

So, as crazy as it sounds, let’s toss the “overly attractive people” into the mix of “those people” too. And, based on the comments alone in another Trunk post, men, because they cannot handle assertive women as several Trunk readers pointed out. Especially those who choose to stay at home. And women. And Hispanic people. And Black people. And White people. And conservatives. And liberals. And reglious people. And atheists. And those of differing sexual orientation. And Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.

Those people.

Sometimes I wonder — as each group based on race, gender, lifestyle preference, and appearance all try to outdo one another as the bigger victim — if we’ve learned anything.

In the 1930s and 40s, Nazis, originally under the banner of being discriminated against, also armed themselves with statistical information. It’s not hard to do. “Those people” also veiled their words as simple observations and personal experiences like Trunk and now Maureen Sharib, who wrote: “Speaking as one small voice, I can tell you this, I have run a company and I have experienced the mind sets of those with kids and those without.”

To all of it, I say gumballs. Give someone a statistical study and they can vilify or victimize any group you want to pool together, even if it is based on something as ridiculous as blood type.

Discrimination in our country not only exists, but it is much more pervasive than we like to admit. Anymore, the truth is that “those people,” the victims, have become each and every one of us.

If we are ever going to break away from this apparent need to label each other, it will take a general willingness for individuals to make the decision not to discriminate based upon whatever divisive characteristics people dream up. As Geoff Livingston said in an unrelated but pointed post, maybe we all need to lighten up.

Not just in this country. Americans aren’t alone in labeling people. It is a Korean problem, an Australian problem, and a Nigerian problem. It is a human problem.

(Note: Orignally, every label and descriptor was linked to article published by major media outlets, but those articles are all gone now. Maybe it lessons the points not to have those illustrative links. Maybe not. I hope not because the point is we're all people.)

Saturday, June 2

Understanding Viewers: TV’s New Consumers

Who are these people?

It seems to be the number one question being asked by people all over the world, including CBS. Who are these people that have sent more than 35,000 pounds of nuts to CBS and flooded executive e-mails and phone lines? Who are these people who can rally more 1,000 to 5,000 signatures a day, every day? Who are these people who have captured headlines in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times? Who are these people who dominate the Internet on blogs, forums, and BlogTalkRadio?

Who are these people?

They are students like my first fan contact Brian Kalinka in New Fairfield, Conn.; administrative assistants like Diane Roy in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada; business owners like Lisa Ludvicek in Overland, Kansas, and Debra Newman in Bonner Springs, Kansas; online talk radio hosts like Shaun OMac in Las Vegas; and radio operations managers like Clarke Ingram in Pittsburgh, Penn. People with diverse jobs, educations, incomes, and interests that all have found common ground in a television show called Jericho and CBS Jericho message boards.

“All of us were concerned about cancellation because word was that the show was ‘on the bubble,” says Ingram, talking about message board discussions just prior to the May 15 leak that the show would be cancelled. “The next day, May 16, Shaun OMac hosted what was going to be a ‘wake for Johnston Green’ show, but it turned into a discussion about the cancellation.”

According to Ingram, the radio show put voices and real names to the screen names that make up most message boards. They were real people, and it served to unify them to save the show. It also served to bring some ideas. Ingram is credited with being among the first to say “Nuts!” to CBS (he refutes this, offering up that dozens of other fans said it first); OMac suggested they put the words into action; and a Canadian fan, Jeff Knoll, quickly made arrangements with Jeffrey Braverman at NUTSOnline.

Who are these people?

They are a cross sampling of North America, 9+ million Jericho fans who enjoyed the show and feel unrepresented by Nielsen Media Research. Many watched the show as a family (as evidenced by many comments left on our blog alone). Some were CBS message board regulars. None of them seem to typify the definition of the cult following that they’ve been compared to since capturing the title of the biggest cancellation protest in history.

In fact, when you look at the events over the past few weeks, believe it or not, this entire movement happened very much by accident. Ingram’s original farewell post is a testament to this; it was meant as nothing more than a thank you to the actors, writers, and producers before CBS deleted 3,000+ of his posts and temporarily banned him from the message boards.

Since, they have transformed from an accidental gathering of viewers into a “can do” consumer movement with a very clear message to networks: television viewers do not have to tune into programs just because there is nothing better to watch (there are plenty of options). With hundreds of channels and dozens of recording and download options, we have become actively engaged consumers who expect more from the entertainment industry than copycat programming, sudden serial ends, and executives who lay blame on the viewers they need to entice advertisers to pony up multi-million dollar profit margins.

Who are these people?

You don’t even have to like Jericho to understand these fans or appreciate how they feel. If you’ve ever enjoyed any television program only to see it unjustly cancelled because someone didn’t look behind the Nielsen numbers, then you can empathize with this spontaneous uprising of support for Jericho. The only difference is that these viewers and others decided to do something about it.

And in the process, whether they win or lose (though I think they’ll win), they are changing the way networks think about their ever-increasing niche products. Maybe not CBS, but certainly NBC and Fox, both of which are placing less emphasis on the Nielsen numbers alone and more emphasis on listening to viewers. But isn’t that the lesson for every executive lately? Numbers are great, but without the demographics and psychographics behind them, numbers mean nothing. So who are these people? They are everybody.

“I've heard CBS is asking ‘where were these viewers during the regular season?’” noted Ingram. “We were right here, using online platforms that you provided … we were here, but not measured by Nielsen.”


Sunday, May 27

Freeing TV: Dr. Seuss On Jericho

One day, making tracks in the prairie of Prax, came a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax. — from The Zax by Dr. Seuss.

And, well, we all know what happened. Neither Zax would budge in the prairie of Prax, not an inch to the east, not an inch to the west. But the world did not stand still. It grew up around them.

Has the Jericho story turned into a deadlock, with CBS and Jericho fans embraced in an unblinking standoff? Some people might suggest this is the case, but I really don't think so. Not in the least.

If there is any deadlock to be found, it's between the measure of new media and old media, which has put a wrinkle in the compensation model for content creators. Jericho fans just happen to be a large and growing group of people who say the world is more than ready to grow up around this deadlock and remove the TV ratings system.

I won't go so far to say that Nielsen Media Research isn't needed. It is. But what I will point out is that we already know most networks have wanted to expand beyond Nielsen ratings for some time.

Just yesterday in an Associated Press story, Fox executives cautioned against counting American Idol out simply because Nielsen reported that the 30.7 million people who watched Jordin Sparks win last week was a "sharp drop" from the 36.4 million people who watched Taylor Hicks win last year.

Fox said that for the season as a whole, American Idol ratings are about the same when DVR viewing is taken into account. Bravo! That's the same assessment made by Jeff Jensen with Entertainment Weekly, who asked viewers "Are You Killing TV?" His story points out that the way people are watching TV is changing, which is skewing the somewhat flawed and thinly sliced rating system even more.

"Consumers value the ability to manage their time more than ever," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of NetFlix to Entertainment Weekly. DVDs and DVRs allow fans to "enjoy a show at their own pace."

Kudos to Jensen for pointing out the obvious. No kudos for Chuck Barney of the Contra Costa Times. He knows the numbers are flawed but went right on ahead with a piece that screams "IT WAS NOT a good year to be a television programmer. New hits were hard to come by and several old favorites lost some of their power to enthrall."

Using Nielsen ratings exclusively, he said "serials have no snap, crackle, and pop ... sitcoms are poison." I'll give him a couple of points on asking producers to practice some gun control before killing off major characters weekly. But, overall, his story only reinforces a myth that TV is in trouble. Not trouble; transition.

Sure, the networks are not doing everything right by flooding the next line-up with six new "nerd" shows, countless reality TV spins, and repackaged crime dramas. But they are hardly doing everything wrong when you look beyond Nielsen numbers.

Mark Harris, also writing for Entertainment Weekly this week, comes close to making a similiar case when he suggests that numbers alone don't make quality movies. Paraphrased: If you care about your customers — the 2 or 5 or 10 million who are passionate about Friday Night Lights or Rescue Me or The Office (he lists more) — they will stay with your show as long as it's good. Their enthusiasms and high standards and judgments may even help, indirectly, to make what you have better.

But what about the money? Please! If you think for a minute that a show like Jericho cannot make money with 8-10 million fans, DVD sales, and future syndication (alone), then you're out of sync with the industry. Jericho has already paid off with a pretty good profit margin. The only real hold up is that networks haven't settled on a "measure" for making decisions in the world of new media.

Yet, finding this magical "measure" isn't even the real challenge (that's easy). The real challenge is making it through the transition.

Sure, I know there's a lot of talk about advertisers, but that's just nonsense. I've written more than once on how advertisers are aleady diverting dollars away from mainstream advertising budgets and toward digital media, social media, and the Internet with increasing fervor. They want some changes made too.

That said, it seems to me that CBS Entertainment, Jericho fans, cast, crew, and every other stakeholder all seem to be on the same side. There doesn't need to be a compromise because all sides want the same thing: a hit show in Jericho and more freedom for TV. And, in the process of saving Jericho, these fans might even find a way to save a few other shows as well.

With Jericho, there exists an opportunity to move beyond old media measures. For me, it's an easy choice but not mine to make. It's all up to CBS. And if they pass on it, while waiting for old media Zax and new media Zax to budge, then the world may grow up around them too.


Saturday, May 26

Feeling Fallout: Nielsen Over Jericho

As more than 21,000 pounds of nuts are bound for CBS offices on two coasts, it only makes sense that Nielsen Media Research, the leading provider of television audience measurement and advertising information services worldwide, is beginning to feel the fallout.

As Jericho cast member Brad Beyer (Stanley Richmond) and Kristin from E! Online spoke Thursday afternoon, he pointed out the obvious:

"We consistently held 8 or 9 million viewers, even going up against Idol, so everyone was really surprised and shocked that we were canceled. You have to move on and let go, but you see all this fan support and you keep that tiny bit of hope in your heart."

But those numbers are Nielsen numbers. And Nielsen numbers are being put under ever-increasing scruntity by, well, everybody. Enough so that Michelle Malkin picked up Find The Boots by Boon Doggie's May 22 story that "went out on a limb" to say that the Save Jericho campaign will change the way old media interacts with the Internet. He's not the only one.

"We were all stunned when we didn't get the second-season pickup, but our fans have completely surprised us. This outpouring of support means the world to the Jericho cast and crew. Knowing that Jericho touches so many people has completely humbled us," Karim Zreik, producer of Jericho, told E! Online. "I don't know what's going to happen next. CBS and Paramount are still weighing their options. We hope to know more by next week."

The fan standpoint is obvious: CBS let us down, but we'll forgive them if they bring the show back. Nielsen let us down, because it does not count everyone. There is nothing to forgive. Ouch.

According to Nielsen, it has been working hard to abandon family diaries (like my family once had), and leverage technology that exceeds current TV audience measurements — stuff that will track everything about consumers, from what movies they like to which ones would rather go to a live ball game than tune in to a show.

The interim step has been trying to install meters on all sorts of devices, ranging from VCRs, DVDs, cable boxes, and modems. But what we may be seeing with a show like Jericho is that the Nielsen family sampling size has grown too thin as the company has made a greater effort to track specific demographics on the front end. As a result, shows like Jericho are not accurately measured and fan passion is not even a factor.

There are currently two selection methods: geographic selection (area probability sampling) in the national sample and larger markets, and randomly-generated telephone numbers (Total Telephone Frame) in smaller markets. And the reality is, especially in smaller markets, only about 2 million people are filling in dairies during "sweeps." (Oh, only about 25,000 meters exist.) So, in essence, what one family watches can influence about 22,000 viewing homes.

Nielsen Media Research says that its ability to answer more and more detailed questions about consumers will shape how the media industry functions in the 21st century.

But today, the company is only employing quantitative "democratic" measures in an increasingly interactive world that demands more qualitative considerations. As someone who understands media placement on the advertising side, it seems clear to me that Nielsen is an important tool in capturing some sort of measure. But it cannot be the only measure.

Sure, I think Nielsen would have been better off, years ago, partnering with cable companies and giving consumers the opportunity to opt in with the Nielsen ratings system, which would have increased the sampling size. But they didn't. And now it seems it is becoming more difficult for one of America's best known research companies to leapfrog to the next system while installing old media meters.

I would be remiss to suggest that CBS Entertainment use Nielsen as the scapegoat for the network's analysis of the data. But it is very clear that measurement mix is no longer just 8-9 million viewers represented by Nielsen families. The data is also about 450,000 viewers online, thousands of iTunes downloads, tons and tons of nuts, and an ad campaign that strikes at the very heart of the network's intelligence.

What does this mean?

Well, if I were Nina Tassaler, president of CBS Entertainment, I would call a press conference on Tuesday morning. Then, standing in front of a mountain of nuts and holding up the Jericho fan ads, I would put on my famous Tassler smile and say ...

"Remember how I once told The Hollywood Reporter that we're all about continuing to build our younger audience while making sure that we hold on to our core audience? Well, we still are. Jericho fans … congratulations! You just made television history and we here at CBS have listened! We look forward to bringing you a second season of Jericho."


Tuesday, May 15

Marketing Media: The Recruiting Animal Shooowww!

Johnny Depp, talking to Entertainment Weekly about the final installment of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End called it right. Critics are always tougher on sequels than first runs. Which is cool. Why not? There are worse things in life.

"After the first one was a success, I was sure the critics were going to snap around and start taking pot shots. It's in the rule book: You must take a dump on the second film."

It's something I have to keep in mind because tomorrow I'll be making my second appearance on "The Recruiting Animal Shooowww!" And like all good sequels, there will be much more to fear than a recruiter who can transform himself with the mere mention of a full moon. Tomorrow's show includes Marketing Headhunter, someone who is reputed to have taken more than one head in his blogging career. With two fearsome words tied together, "marketing" and "headhunter," I'm not surprised.

Sure, there are never any clear villains mentioned on this program (except Mr. X, maybe) nor will there be tomorrow, since I'm the guy sporting the "moustache" as the Recruiting Animal likes to call it. But then again, silver bullets might keep half animals at bay, but even I know they don't do a thing for headhunters. I have no idea what magic talisman I might need to keep me safe and the topic this time drifts into unchartered waters. It might even take us to the world's end.

The topic, time, and date are set:

The Recruiting Animal Show.
Topic: Can you make a blog into a media business?
Noon EST (9 a.m. PST) on Wed., May 16
Call to talk: (646) 652-2754
Listen On: Windows Media
MSN Messenger:

The show will skew toward recruiting, but the concepts cross industry boundaries. Just yesterday, NewTeeVee announced the launch of another VC-funded online video ad network and this one, they say, has some reasonably good claims to legitimacy.

Its credentials include a signed customer, Metacafe; the experience of its leadership at (now owned by eBay); venture backing (amount undisclosed) from Gemini Partners; and “millions” of ads in its initial inventory — but also the same fuzzy claims about how its multi-faceted approach to understanding the context of a video is better than the competition. You can see for yourself at

With countless distribution platforms released since the rise of YouTube and more on the way (as many as it takes to make a bubble, I imagine), sooner or later you have to wonder where the programming content will come from. I'm a proponent of the idea that some content might come from companies, which could translate into income marketing (marketing that generates income).

And why not? The simple truth is that some recruiters (and businesses) are already in the media business with their blogs, podcasts, and social networks. What's so scary about video? It lends itself well to the Internet and it seems to be what Generation Y is asking for.

So what will the outcome be tomorrow? I couldn't even hazard a guess. But one thing is certain: The Recruiting Animal is always as entertaining as he is educational. Who knows? Maybe you can "hear" me lose my head. Ha!


Wednesday, April 25

Advertising Everywhere: Harris Interactive

Last October, Harris Interactive released survey results that claimed about one-quarter (26 percent) of current mobile phone subscribers say they would be willing to watch advertising on their cell phones if in return they were to receive free applications for their phones. Smaller numbers (7 percent) of wireless subscribers say they would be interested in receiving promotional text messages if they were relevant.

Today, Harris, which is the 12th largest market research firm in the world, is revising its bid for mobile cellular advertising, saying that cell phone users are more willing than ever to receive advertising that is relevant and has a clear purpose. They believe it enough that they are reprising their presentation from this year's Mobile Advertising USA event, delving deeper into consumer acceptance of mobile advertising and its impact on the cell phone industry.

In other words, much like you might expect from polling experts, they don't want to take no for an answer. Even in October when they first released the idea, Joe Porus, vice president and chief architect for Harris Interactive called the 7 percent of the 1,125 U.S. adults who took the online survey "a huge market."

Sure, I know he meant 7 percent of the 200 million cell phones in the U.S., and not the approximately 78 respondents who took the survey online (not on their cell phones). But one has to wonder whether or not advertising is becoming too pervasive to be effective.

Just yesterday, Sterling Hagar at AgencyNext cited an Alain Thys' slide show that says: In 1965, 80 percent of 18 to 49-year-olds in the U.S. could be reached with three 60-second TV spots. In 2002, it required 117 prime time commercials to do the same. That number is considerably worse today.

Look, I appreciate that Harris Interactive is very excited to get something going, but I am starting to believe they are going about it all wrong, er, maybe. To know for sure, you have to register for their free webinar from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST tomorrow (April 26). I'm not sure if I will make it or not, but the new pitch promises to include: overall consumer acceptance of mobile advertising, effects of incentives on acceptance levels, advertising format preferences, and consumer feelings about profiling.

So why do I think they have it wrong? Oh, I don't know. I'm thinking that they might have missed the entertainment-broadcast-technology industry's bid to reinvent the cell phone. While some people might be okay accepting advertising while they watch live TV on their cell phones (or click an ad after a small Internet segment), I don't think they'll appreciate program and mid-song interruptions from text message advertisers or third-party application ads.

Simply put, the phones they will be talking about tomorrow will likely not exist the day after tomorrow. Yep. Dead horse.


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