Coupons Make a Comeback

Hard times call for Sundays spent clipping coupons from your local paper.

A Prospectiv study published by Brandweek indicates that 72% of consumers are using more coupons today than they were six months ago. 81% of those polled admit to using coupons at the grocery store.

Most consumers are getting their coupons for newspapers and magazines, but there was some interest in receiving them via direct mail (39%) or email (26%). In fact, though newspapers are a popular way to obtaining coupons now, only 14% of those polled indicated it was their preferred method for future coupon clipping.

Good news for online advertisers (and for trees):

80% of participants said they would be very likely or likely to increase their use of coupons if they could be tailored to their interests and delivered online.

Popeyes Launches National Rebranding Campaign

This week fried chicken food chain Popeyes is launching its first national television buy. The campaign will feature the tagline "Louisiana Fast," as the chain attempts to sell the image of home-cooked classics in a fast food environment.

Commercials will feature interviews with "real customers," and stress the value and quality of new menu items. Apparently Popeyes claims to marinate many of their chicken dishes for up to 12 hours, making "fast food" and oxymoron.

The campaign will feature a new logo and a "Big Value" menu to go along with the "unscripted" commercials.

Notice my skepticism, especially regarding the commercials. Somehow, I don't think people will buy in to the idea that Popeyes is that much different than KFC, Mrs. Winners or any of the other chicken chains serving low-priced comfort food.

Image via Atlanta Business Chronicle


Digital Advertising Recognizes Your Demographics and Product Choices

New technology called ad targeting is on it's way to your favorite local stores.

Soon, in-store promotions will be based on products the you picked off a shelf, and it's not too long before you'll see ads based on what you look like.

Dunkin Donuts is currently testing the ads in two Buffalo, NY locations. In the morning ads will feature breakfast items at the cash register and lunch items at the pick up station, hoping to prompt a return visit.

But the real 'Big Brother' technology is being tested in Germany, where Proctor and Gamble have inserted radio-based ID tags in key products. If a consumer chooses a product from the shelf, a targeted advertising message is served up on an eye-level, digital screen in front of them. For example, if you choose a shampoo, the screen will suggest complimentary P&G styling products. Convenient, yet creepy.

YCD Multimedia, who provides the digital screens for Dunkin' Donuts, is working to quickly roll-out facial-recognition technologies that can classify people into certain demographic groups by identifying their approximate age and their sex. This technology would use face shape to serve up ads relevant to your identified demographic.

Another interesting application is inventory management. Israeli coffee chain Aroma Espresso Bar is using the screens to encourage consumers to purchase items that they may have overstocked and perishable goods. If there is a large amount of pastries that will go stale that night, for instance, a manager will switch ads on the screen to promote them, says Gali Goldwaser, marketing manager for Aroma.


Seinfeld and Gates to Take on Mac Ads in New Microsoft Campaign

Yesterday Microsoft rocked the blog-o-sphere with the announcement of a $300 million advertising campaign starring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.

Microsoft is hoping to revamp their rep, or at least get a little love, in the wake of the popular Mac campaign depicting Window's users as, well, square. Not that Gates and Seinfeld are the coolest cats, but hey, they are mighty successful.

Seinfeld will reportedly get $10 million for the endorsement.

According to FBLA, other major stars, including Stephen Colbert and Sarah Silverman, may also be involved in the project. Right now, this can't be confirmed.


Competitive Advantage: American Airlines Brings Wireless to the Skies

Today American Airlines will activate it's in-flight wireless services, available through Aircell. The charge will be $12.95 and is available to passengars on Boeing 767-200 flights between New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

"Today the days of being cut off from the rest of the world while in the air become history," said Jack Blumenstein, chief executive of Aircell LLC, the company providing Internet services for American and other airlines.

Though several other airlines are testing wireless services (in 2005, United vowed to be the first to offer in-flight wireless), American Airlines is the first domestic carrier to bring the service live.

Is the availability of wireless enough to convince you to make American your airline of choice?


TV Still the Main Source of News in America

Despite the rise in popularity of blogs and online news feeds, Americans are still getting most of their news through the good, ol' fashioned TV set.

The unsurprising results of a Pew Research Center's biannual survey, released Sunday, show that younger Americans trend toward online news, while older citizens op for the traditional television broadcasts.

According to Pew, there is now a sizable group of a more engaged, sophisticated and well-off people, called "integrators," that use both traditional and online sources to get their news - accounting for 23% of the surveyed group.

"Like Web-oriented news consumers, integrators are affluent and highly educated. However they are older, on average, than those who consider the Internet their main source of news," the survey said.

The survey also showed that the heaviest news viewers tend to be older and of a less affluent, accounting for the trend to seek out news on TV rather than online. Cable news is gaining popularity with TV viewers, with local broadcasts losing steam.

As expected, there has been an overall decline in the percentage of people who said they read a newspaper the day before [the survey], to 34 percent from 40 percent two years ago.

Those who rely on the internet for their news have a median age of 35 and make up the smallest percentage of the polled audience. However, when combined with the "integrators" who are trending toward online sources as well, this makes up a significant group for advertisers to pursue.

Are We (Marketers) to Blame for Our Own Unhappiness?

Just a thought from Seth Godin's blog... and here I thought it was the emo-pop music making us unhappy.

Destroying happiness

A journalist asked me, Most people have a better standard of living today than Louis XIV did in his day. So why are so many people unhappy?

What you have doesn't make you unhappy. What you want does.

And want is created by us, the marketers.

Marketers trying to grow market share will always work to make their non-customers unhappy.

It's interesting to note that marketers trying to maintain market share have a lot of work to do in reminding us that we're happy.


NBC Now Selling Reserve Supply of Olympic Advertising

According to AdvertisingAge, NBC has sold off $10 million dollars of Olympic advertising time in the first part of this week, indicating that they'd been holding back supplies in order to lure in potential advertisers with impressive viewer-ship numbers.

This added revenue is coming from both new and existing parties and tops off the $1 billion of ads NBC has already sold going in to the Games.

This year's Game have garnered 168 million viewers in the first five days, surpassing the numbers from Athens in 2004. The vast majority of these eyes have come from TV views, and NBC is battling criticism that they are slacking on streaming online coverage in order to force people to watch TV broadcasts, which bring in higher advertising revenues.

NBC says that commercial pods during the Olympics have been more frequent than a typical prime-time broadcast, but also shorter.


Olive Garden Concerned With Playboy Bunny Kendra's Rogue Endorsement

Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hugh Hefner's young girlfriends featured on the E! reality hit "The Girls Next Door," just happens to be a really big Olive Garden fan. She has been seen proudly waving doggy bags and heard raving about the endless breadsticks.

Most companies would welcome a bit of promotion on national television, right? It's like free product placement.

Well, apparently, Olive Garden, who has spent many years (and many dollars) building their family-oriented image, is not happy about being associated with a Playboy Bunny.

In 2008, Kendra, in cooperation with Playboy, held a national casting call for Olive Garden waitresses to be featured in a nude pictorial.

"Our position is that our team members as private citizens have freedom to participate," says Olive Garden spokesman Mara Frazier. "While we're not endorsing the initiative, we're not making choices for our employees."

Though Olive Garden has made no official moves to silence Wilkinson, they have expressed some discomfort with the association. According to The Wall Street Journal, Olive Garden has declined to comment on the issues, however, one official says the company has tried to walk a fine line with its response, maintaining the chain's wholesome image without alienating potential customers.


Airlines Look to Advertisers to Subsidize Rising Costs

CNN Money reports that major airlines are now so desperate for cash-flow that they are willing to sell advertising space on almost every part of the in-flight experience, from tray tables to airsick bags.

The appeal to advertisers is, of course, the idea that there's no escaping their ads as you sit on your 3-hour flight across the country.

"It's a captive audience, literally - and sometimes involuntarily - for an extended period of time, so there are certainly opportunities to make contact [with potential consumers] in-flight," said Michael Derchin, an airline analyst for FTN Midwest Securities.

Future flyers can expect to see more ads popping up on tray tables, boarding passes, airsick bags and of course, during your in-flight entertainment in the form of commercials or sponsored "networks." Those who've flown on Delta since July 15 may have already notcied advertising for destination-specific venues on their boarding passes.

I can't imagine anyone would pay much for advertising on an airsick bag - the bags are rarely used, and when they are it isn't exactly a pleasant association for the company's products. Perhaps if they did this, it would be required that the bags be placed on your seat so you'd see them upon boarding, instead of buried in the seat pocket.

image via flickr.

YouTube and Bloggers Reveal Apple iPhone 3G Speed is Nothing Like Commercials Claim

With some sarcasm, Gizmodo serves up a post featuring a YouTube video with a side-by-side comparison on the iPhone commercials and the actual iPhone operating speeds.

Not that Apple is having any trouble making sales on the phone, but it's interesting that with the power of the internet, it's almost impossible to engage in false advertising these days without getting called out on it.

As of the time of this posting, the video has already had 91,273 views. That's a lot of eyeballs.


Google Launches Insights for Search

This week Google announced the launch of Insights for Search, a free tool to help marketers plan keyword campaigns.

Users can now get in depth information on keyword combonations, frequency of searches, geographic origin of searches and patterns of popularity. One of the most valuable features the new tool offers is the ability to distingush intentions for common search terms, for example, was this person searching for "Apple: the company" from "apple: the fruit?"

Google emphasized the increased ability for geographic targeting as well. This example from the New York Times illustrates why this can be a powerful function:

The tool is aimed primarily at marketers, who may use it to devise and track advertising campaigns. A car company, for instance, could experiment with different versions of a television ad in Cleveland and Columbus, and check the number of resulting searches in each city to see which one is more effective. Or it could use the data to find out where users are searching most actively for “fuel efficiency” and aim ads for a gas-sipping vehicle there.

Google also expects that Insights for Search will be used by sectors other than marketing.

“We are also very interested in uses like the economic forecasting, finance, sociological studies, even in etymological studies to track how new words spread in the population,” said Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist.


Meet Me In Atlanta - You Might Even Learn Something

I will be attending the Online Marketing Summit in Atlanta next week. It should be an interesting event and a good chance to mingle with fellow marketers from around the southeast, as it's the only stop in this area on the OMS Summer Tour.

More information here.

Discover Card Shows Their Softer Side

Apparently, Discover Card has been telling us they care since 2006, but it's only in their recent commercials that I've really gotten the message.

Though I think what they are trying to do is pretty cool, I'm not sure I buy it. I just have a hard time believing that a CREDIT company legitimately wants me to pay down my debt, thereby not having to pay them any more interest. Though they do counter this a bit by reassuring me that it's that we are "a nation of consumers."

So, even though Discover Card does have a lot of innovative features like great cash back programs, a hearty online interface with many options for personalization and a Pay-On-Time bonus that actually -gasp- refunds you interest if you make six consecutive on-time payments, all I see is a commercial that seems to convey a fake sentiment.

It is the same feeling I get when I know anti-smoking ads are sponsored by tobacco manufacturers. It just doesn't sit right.

Image via discovercard.com


The Skinny on Marketing to Women

Despite the worldwide trend of using (relatively) healthier looking models in runway shows and advertising campaigns, a new study published in Advertising Age suggests females still prefer stick-thin women to hawk fashion and beauty products.

The study, conducted at Villanova University, presented the puzzling conclusion that ads featuring thin models made women feel worse about themselves but better about the brands featured.

The 194 female college students aged 18-24 interviewed for the study felt more negative about their own sexual attractiveness, weight and physical condition after seeing thin models and were also four times more likely to say no to Oreos offered to study participants than those who had yet to view the images.

Despite the fact that these ads made the study participants feel worse about themselves, the women expressed that they would rather buy the products featured in the ads with thin models than in the campaigns featuring more "normal" women (sorry Dove!).

The subject requires further research, since recent studies from University of Sussex and University of West England showed conflicting results, concluding that ads featuring ultra-thin models do negatively impact self esteem, but in fact don't sell products better than ads featuring more realistic models.

Though I can't say I approve, I can definitely see the logic that using thinner women would lead to higher sales. It's simple and it's essentially the same technique used in the heyday of tobacco advertising. For the slow learners:

Women want to be beautiful. Society (not JUST advertising) tells us that thin is beautiful. Women see thin woman using Product X. Women buy Product X to be more like the glamorous model depicted. Women buy more and more of Product X (and Y and Z) in order to continue the neverending quest for perfection.


Marketers, Meet 'Generation V'

Below is a recent piece from Marketing Charts, introducing us to a new generation of consumers - one that is not bound by age or social class - but it strictly behaviorally based.

‘Generation V’ Defies Traditional Demographics

The online behavior, attitudes and interests of people from all walks of life are blending together online, cutting across generations and traditional demographics and giving rise to a new online group called “Generation Virtual” (Generation V), according to research by Gartner, which coined the term.

Unlike previous generations, Generation V is not defined by age, gender, social class or geography. Instead, it is based on achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights.

Marketers will ultimately need a separate marketing strategy to reach this generation, according to Gartner.

Within the Generation V community, Gartner defines four levels of engagement - creators, contributors, opportunists, and lurkers - related to the extent to which customers engage with other customers and the level of engagement that businesses and other organizations must have to enable them:

Findings about these Generation V segments:

  • Up to 3% will be creators, providing original content. They can be advocates that promote products and services.
  • Between 3% and 10% will be contributors who add to the conversation, but don’t initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.
  • Between 10% and 20% will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can add value to a conversation that’s taking place while walking through a considered purchase.
  • Approximately 80% will be lurkers, essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input but absorb only what is being communicated. They can still implicitly contribute and indirectly validate value from the rest of the community. All users start out as lurkers.

To address the different needs of these groups, Gartner recommends that marketing organizations segment and support all four engagement levels in the community with appropriate technology and establish goals with plans for determining return on investment (ROI).

“Companies should plan to segment all four levels in the community - each has significant business value,” said Adam Sarner, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Differentiation exists between sectors and industries. Marketers with strong brands attract more creators. Certain industries, such as insurance, draw more lurkers.”

via Marketing Charts


Godin Reminds Marketers to be Innovative and Ever-Present

Seth Godin wrote a thought-provoking piece on the dilemma of a dentist -

My tooth doesn't hurt, says Godin. That's not something you think about very often, is it? (Not my tooth, your tooth).When you have a toothache, on the other hand, it's all you think about.

Point being, for many businesses that may be need-based, it can be challenging to remain top-of-mind, and even more difficult to draw people to your business in the meantime.

The solution? Don't worry, Godin provides it:

  • Build your brand by finding a cost-effective way to gently be in [the consumers] face so that when a toothache shows up (in whatever form that takes) you're the obvious choice.
  • Create new products and services that build engagement and possibly revenue among members of the population that aren't in pain. That, of course, is why teeth whitening services are so smart. You can sell to people who didn't know they had a problem until they met you.
Ironically, this challenge to marketers also reminds me of a challenge many of us with a PR focus face every day - when your company is in crisis, you are the first place they turn (there's that toothache again!). However, when things are going well, the PR department is often the on the top of the list for budget cuts, due to the struggle to tie your powers of influence back to the bottom line.

Read the full post here.

TiVo Says Viewers Still Tune In for 'Relevant Ads'

TiVo's first report from data collected by it's second-by-second analysis tool, PowerWatch, reveal that viewers aren't skipping through all the ads with the handy fast-forward feature - apparently consumers are still giving a moment of their precious time to ads they see relevant to their own lives.

I don't know about you, but on my DVR, I stop for nothing.

Results show that everyone is time shifting, regardless of demographic segment - with 66% of ads being skipped during prime time viewing. Aggregate data for all networks and all time slots concludes that about half of ads are skipped, overall.

The PowerWatch report also shows that all TiVo users skip about the same number of ads - regardless of how long they've been using the service. Though everyone is moving at about the same pace, the type of content skipped varies greatly by demographic - and it trends much in the way that you'd expect. For example, homes with children under 12 viewed 22% more toy and game ads than other groups and adults over 50 viewed 15% more political ads.

"If you have an ad that is relevant, you are more likely to pay attention," said Todd Juenger, vp, gm, audience research and measurement, TiVo. "Commercial skipping is not as random as some people think and there are clear differences by demographic group."

All of this amounts to some good news for advertisers - even though the likelihood of someone viewing you ad has been cut in half, chances are the people who ARE pausing to take in your creative genius are precisely the audience you'd handpick if given the opportunity.

Unfortunately for you, you're still paying the cost for all those indifferent eyes. Perhaps TiVo should begin reimbursing you for decreased reach.

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