Snapchat: Too Good To be True

This weekend it was confirmed that over 200,000 photos were leaked online from intercepted Snapchat photos. This event shortly following the iCloud hacks of many celebrities. With hacker activity at a high level, many users are beginning to think more about their privacy and security of data. Snapchat Snapchat was created as a photo message application that provides an enhanced feeling of security for users. Users can snap a photo, send it to a list of approved recipients and set a time limit for viewing (between 1 to 10 seconds). This eliminates the sharing of photos that could be saved, re-shared and reposted, or so users thought.Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 8.39.42 PM As with most applications, privacy issues have arisen for Snapchat.   One concern involved the ability for users to “screenshot” the image and save. This issue was addressed, but not completely fixed, by Snapchat along with the use of third party apps which could “save” the images. While Snapchat included this information in their Terms of Use, the company failed to eliminate these issues. “The Snappening” On Friday, the company announced, “ Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security.” The company continued to state that this was not the work of a breach into the servers, but misuse of third party applications. Snapsaved, a third party website, has stepped forward and taken the blame for the leaked photos, pointing out user information was not hacked, but images may have been. But, Snapchat, is still taking much of the heat for the misguided trust in use. User Beware While many users are questioning the privacy and trust of Snapchat with this breach, others have always questioned the application. While the company provides information on possible breaches in the Terms of Use, not all users read the fine print. And with a user base most populated by 13 – 17 year olds, the company may need to rethink their terms of use and “fix” the loopholes that may present issues with the application. But until then, users must be more cautious of sharing and be aware of the privacy concerns. Final Thoughts Snapchat is a great application that when used correctly provides a tool for individuals looking to share memories with specific recipients. But users must beware of the dangers. This includes parents who allow their children to use mobile devices and messaging applications. Read the fine print and be cautious in what you share. The thought of photos simply disappearing may sound good, but in this day and age, nothing on the Internet simply disappears, including photo messages.

People-Based Marketing: Will it become the new method of targeting?

Online ads have made vast improvements for targeting consumers over the last few years. Now with Facebook’s announcement of the revamped Atlas, a new, more targeted tool may become available to marketers.

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What does Facebook Atlas mean to marketers?

For those of you who may have not heard, Facebook announced the re-launch of the ad server, Atlas. Facebook has revamped the ad server and is boasting the ability to reach consumers on various devices across content and applications. Atlas will use “people based marketing” referred to as behavioral, multiple-device, cross-device marketing.

Marketers can target individuals across multiple devices and follow through with path to purchase from device to device. Atlas also boasts analytics that will provide marketers with tools that can connect online campaigns to offline sales. Data acquired will be more “whole” with the ability to follow the consumer from device to device and provide a more thorough view of consumer behavior and purchase intention, leading to better optimization.

Should Google be concerned?

Currently Google dominates the digital ad market, with Facebook following in second place. Google uses cookies to reach consumers rather then the ad-server used by Atlas. While Google has found success in placing ads on other publisher’s sites and has created a large ad network used for placing and promoting these ads, the cookie technology used by Google is becoming less relevant. Mobile devices do not use cookies for consumer targeting, and cookies do not allow advertisers to use cross-device targeting or advertising. That being said, Google’s large network and search features dominate the market with money generated from online ads.

Final Thoughts

While Facebook’s “people based marketing” sounds impressive, Google’s proven track record may speak louder, currently. Facebook is making great strides and connecting with impressive partners like Omnicom and Neustar, but until the revamped Atlas proves its worth, Google may maintain its number one spot.

The Apple Watch: A new tool for marketers.

There has been a lot of talk about Apple’s newest addition to their line of mobile devices – the Apple Watch. The watch has been designed to work with the iPhone (5 and above), and will be capable of using Apple Pay, while providing new forms of communication and technology tactics. While many of these technologies will be welcScreen Shot 2014-09-29 at 5.43.19 PMomed and chosen by the user, some may be controlled by companies and used to reach consumers in a very personal manner.

GPS & Geo-fencing

GPS technology and geo-fencing tactics have become part of the mobile life. Companies have taken advantage of the consumer’s mobile lifestyle and use geo-fencing to distribute location-based ads in hopes of reaching the consumer at just the right time – time to purchase. This technology is not new, but with the invention of the Apple Watch, geo-fencing will become more important and marketers will need to find more creative ways to work through the clutter in order to reach the consumer on a very personal item – the watch.

So how will marketers use this watch to reach consumers?

Apps, location-based ads, Apple Pay, and digital conveniences will all be used by marketers to create a relationship with the consumer via the Apple Watch. I think marketers will stick to the basics in the beginning with location based marketing, which includes geo-fencing and GPS technology.  Apps and location-based ads are the two most common means of geo-fencing for location-based marketing.  For example, the Apple Watch may give a quick “tap” on the arm of the user if they are near their favorite restaurant or alert the user when they are close to a store having a sale.

While ads will be important, apps may be even more so. Successful marketers must find a way to create apps for the Apple Watch that will not only promote a product/service, but most importantly appeal to the consumer.  I would love to have an app that would remind me of something on my grocery list. For example, if I were shopping in the grocery store and passed the bread aisle, a light tap from my watch would be a helpful reminder to pick up bread.  A win, win for the consumer and the bread company.

Many companies and developers are already working on apps, ads, and technology that will make this device much more than a “cool” watch.  And most companies are finding tools that will make reaching the consumer and acquiring data about consumer habits an easy task for the Apple Watch.

What are your thoughts?

How do you think marketers will use this device to reach consumers? What data will marketers use from this device to assist in future marketing efforts?

Advergaming: Fair Advertising or Unfair Persuasion

Should Advergaming be a concern for parents?

Advergaming has been around for years and has been used by companies to create relationships with consumers of all ages, but in most cases these games often resonate with children and adolescents.

According to a study by Bath University’s Institute for Policy Research, children up to 15 may not recognize an advergame as an advertisement. For many food and beverage companies these advergames have become a popular means to reach this young market. This study investigated the effect these games have on children’s eating habits. The research concluded that advergames can easily persuade a child’s choice and change their eating habits.

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The study also suggests that children who play games that feature candy are more likely to eat more while playing the game, 156 calories versus 87 calories for non-candy themed games. With the increased use of technology by children, this may be a concern many parents are facing with children as young as three.

So who is to blame: the parent, the FTC, or the marketer?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a division of the U.S. Government, has often regulated the amount of ads broadcast on television during a specific time frame that solely targets children, especially in the junk food market. The FTC is also responsible for removing ads that may deceive or mislead children. While this was an easy task when the word “ad” could be defined in a few sentences, with the increase of online, mobile, and social media use, the FTC is having a harder time deciphering what actually qualifies as an ad and from that which may be deceiving or misleading to children. This is the case for many online games and apps sponsored by companies that target children. While the advergames must maintain a level of legitimacy, proper representation without any deception, parents believe marketers are aware of the affect and feel this should be considered a deceptive behavior.

For parents, advertising may present hurdles in teaching your child how to make healthy choices. In the new world of emerging media, the amount of time children spend in front of screens may pose a problem for parents and in turn play a role in ethical dilemmas that face companies who may target children. Mobility of devices has created a world of screens everywhere. This mobility may be welcomed technology by many, advertisers included, but also a hindrance to families. Parents are now faced with the challenge of screen time regulation and marketing influence.

For marketers, the challenge is maintaining a level of social responsibility while finding ways to market and sell a product. These marketers often look to the FTC for guidance and regulation. And in the case of advergames, simply following the stated rules may be the only responsibility companies feel they must maintain.

Final Thoughts

While marketers must maintain a level of social responsibility for advertisements, advergames included, parents are often the ones that must set limits and monitor their children’s activities on the Internet. Parents may not only need to monitor the time and sites their children are visiting, but the games they choose to play from approved sites.

“Share A Coke Campaign”: An example of seamless integration.

Seamless integration goes beyond the digital platform and must encompass all aspects of the consumer experience. But companies that understand the importance of digital integration appear to be the same companies who successfully integrate all aspects of marketing campaigns.

The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola is company that has created numerous successful campaigns, both before and after the emergence of online and social platforms. Coca-Cola has a very large target market; therefore this company must use various media forms and various messages to reach this market.

“Share a Coke”

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 6.41.00 PM“Share a Coke” was a wonderful summer campaign that integrated various platforms to spread a message and encourage sales of Coke products. Personalization was key to the success of this company and Coca-Cola’s insight into human behavior and the appreciation of personalization expanded beyond their marketing efforts and into their packaging.

Campaign Integration

According to Jay Moye, contributor to Coca-Cola Journey, the company chose to use television, print, and digital to promote this campaign. The integration of all media platforms could be seen through shared messages, videos, and customer engagement. The company used their website to inform the consumers of the campaign and allow users to find stores with specific personalized programs. The website was also the home for personalized video creation which could easily be shared via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. YouTube featured videos created by the company, including television ads, and consumer videos, while Facebook allowed users to share both photos and videos of their personalized messages. Coca-Cola used Twitter to promote the campaign and encourage followers to submit photos for a chance to be featured on a billboard ad – an example of Coca-Cola going beyond digital integration, and connecting Twitter with traditional out of home advertising.

According to Karlene Lukovitz of Marketing Daily, The campaign was very successful with more than 125,000 posts, 96% being positive or neutral sentiment, within the first two months of roll out.   The company also boasted a brand lift of 11.8% from this campaign. Coca-Cola created a campaign that could be seen on television and through digital platforms, and shared by consumers through word of mouth, posts, tweets, and videos, all in a seamless manner.

Consumer Engagement (no pun intended) Example

One gentleman chose to use the personalized packaging to share an very important message with his significant other, which was shared on numerous social media platforms.

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Coke responded with a congratulatory response.  The least the company could do for the amount of publicity generated from this consumer’s creativity.

Final Thoughts

Coca-Cola is a classic – product, company, and marketer. This company has years of experience and as seen in the “Share a Coke” campaign uses this experience to continue to build on their marketing successes. This was a great example of a seamless integrated campaign centered on sharing: videos, photos, messages, and most importantly, a Coke.

Will Social Media Replace the Website

Social media has proven to be an excellent tool in creating an online presence, branding, interactivity, developing loyalty, and generating leads for most businesses. But can these Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 6.47.24 PMplatforms take over the role of the traditional website?

The Website

Let’s take a look at the purpose of a website. A company website is a great place to share content with consumers, educate consumers, and create brand equity. And most importantly, a company website is controlled by the company with content layered in a manner to control the user experience.

The website experience has changed drastically in the last 10 years with some of these changes being attributed to the popularity of social media. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the website was a place of purpose. Sites provided static content to educate the consumer, provide locationScreen Shot 2014-09-08 at 5.59.37 PM and contact information, and host very basic engagement features. While basic, static websites do continue to exist, but more advanced, integrated, interactive sites are the new norm.

Current sites are adapting to the new online consumer, listening to the user, and encouraging interaction. Website developer, Noah Veltman, explains how dynamic sites are popular with Internet users and social media users who are accustomed to a certain level of interaction and mobility. Basic static sites are known for their robust content and simplicity, but may not fit the needs of the modern Internet user and may need to look at new options. A basic website can be changed to a dynamic website with a few design changes, but maintaining this dynamic site can be timely and expensive.

Social Media

Social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, were created to give the consumer a voice and promote interactivity and engagement. While most of these
platforms were originally designed for personal interaction, businesses that have learned how to properly leverage and use these platforms have been big winners in the world of the Internet.

Integrating Social Media on the Website

According to Tom Pick, a digital consultant, 97% of Internet users use the Internet to find local businesses and the younger generation of users (20 to 30 year olds) looks to social media for information and advice about businesses. Companies using both social media platforms and websites have the most reach and generate the most brand awareness.Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 6.01.41 PM

Decisions on content, integration and platform choices must be made in order to create seamless, integrated communication.  After these decisions have been made, the best ways to link the website and platforms must be considered. According to Mallory Woodrow, contributor to Social Media Examiner, there are many easy ways to integrate social media on your website:

  1. Include social media buttons and feeds in easy to find locations on the website.
  2. Include share buttons to increase SEO and reach more consumers.
  3. Keep it simple. Choose the most relevant social media buttons to display on the website.
  4. Stay knowledgeable and up to date on the latest social media news as well as new terms and changes to currently used platforms.

Last Thoughts

So to answer the question, in my opinion, no, social media will not replace the website. Social media has actually made the website more relevant and changed the web experience from a one-way conversation to a two-way conversation.   While the “old” web experience may become extinct, a new more advanced experience, involving both components will become the new normal for all users of all ages.

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Power of Social Media and Non Profits

I am sure by now everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and most have probably participated. This was an ingenious idea that was made possible by the connections and overall size of social media. So what made this campaign so successful?

Let’s Take a Look Back

Let’s look at two of the most noted nonprofit social media campaigns of 2013. Water is Life chose to use a common hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, to grab the attention of social media users. The organization used individuals who are in need of clean water and aligned these images with first world problems in a series of videos which were shared over social media platforms. The reality of what is really important in life was enough to supply over a million days of clean water to those in need.

UNICEF used a campaign based on a common social media term “like it”. This campaign was honest and bold, but delivered a message that could be heard from miles away.Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 6.12.09 PM

According to Tom Khazan, a writer for The Atlantic, these ads called out the “slacktivists”, activists in symbolic action rather than action and made people realize action is more than a simple “like it”.

While both of these campaigns were bold and moving, neither produced the results of the ALS challenge, which as of August 2014, has increased from $2.5 million to over $70 million in donations from this time last year.

What did ALS do right?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge called out the social media users in a similar manner as the UNICEF campaign, but the challenge required action, and better yet, videos of action, which turned viral, very quickly. The challenge also encouraged competition. Challenging one’s friends, on video, to compete in a challenge that is for a good cause provides the classic call to action so many marketers have learned about over the years.

The Water for Life campaign was successful at creating a call to action, without the same directive language as the ALS Challenge.   But the ALS’s message was simple and direct with a clear call to action: donate or get the ice bucket, or for most participants, match your predecessor and do both.

According to Eric Carson, the magic formula is hard to finalize, but a few key ingredients have helped with this incredible challenge:

  1. A compelling message
  2. Peer pressure and competition
  3. 24 hour call to action
  4. Clear and simple instructions

I am sure many copycat campaigns are to follow, but the ALS campaign has created a new relationship between social media and nonprofit organizations. ALS has worked hard for many years to promote their organization through traditional media and emerging media. This hard work is what made their organization known to the beginners of this challenge. Credit for this challenge should be given to both the hard workers of this nonprofit and the devoted friendship of the challenge originator.

Thank you ALS for working hard to save lives and assist those living with this disease.