Archive - Nov 2008

November 30th

The Advertising Conversation on Twitter

The other day, I started unfollowing people who use Magpie. I typically send them a message to let them know I’m planning to unfollow them. If they drop me a note back and have a good discussion, I don’t unfollow them.

Today, @annezieger talked a bit about Magpie, and asked some good questions, which I responded to in tweets, but thought I should go into in much more detail in a blog post.

One question she asked was if that I unfollowed people using Twittad or adjix. I responded saying that I haven’t seen or been annoyed by Twittad or adjix ads, but I have been annoyed by Magpie ads. I went on to comment that Twitter and new advertising is about conversation. Magpie isn’t.

Now that I’m back home and have a little more time to explore, I thought I’d offer my thoughts. I went and checked out Twittad. The way Twittad works is that it changes the background of your twitter page to include one of their advertisements. The reason I’ve never seen it is that I almost never look at people’s twitter pages. I’ve searched out a few twitter pages with Twittad and I don’t find it offensive in the least. I might even consider trying it. However, I like the branding that I have for my twitter page. Very simple. Just the Orient Lodge Red that I use on as many social networks sites as will allow changing backgrounds. Twittad pays you to put up an ad in a non-offensive location. Not bad.

Adjix has another interesting approach. They are a URL shortener, like tinyurl, and tons of others. Yet when you shorten a URL with them, you have the option of adjix adding a small header bar with their advertisement in it. Again, very unobtrusive. They offer a valuable service, easy URL shortening, with an advertising scheme built in. Very smart. I may try adjix.

Then, there is Magpie. What Magpie does is insert advertisements into the stream of tweats you create, as if the message were coming from you. Good idea, to get people to read the messages. Very dumb idea for anyone to use. Let me come up with an analogy. My twitter stream is like the stream of things that I say at a party. I try to make what I say interesting, well timed, and on topic. Magpie is like if someone said, we’ll pay you if you allow us to hook up a device that at times we think will be effective from a marketing perspective, will take over your mind and have you say what we want you to say.

I’m sorry. I just don’t think that is a good idea. Especially if you have any people that follow you from a cellphone and pay the phone company to get your tweets.

Anne also asked if when e-mail advertising first began, did I drop anyone who did ad blasts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. With Twitter, you chose who you follow. On email, you generally don’t chose who can send email to you.

Yeah, in a sense, spam filters give you that ability. You can set up spam filters to discard any email messages from a spammer, and I’ve done that. So, in a sense, I suspect many of us have dropped emailers that send spammy ad blasts.

Another interesting and more general difference between Anne and I on twitter is the question of who the ‘leading lights’ are. She wrote, “Can’t a group of the leading lights get together for a position statement on this stuff?” I responded that there are over half a million leading lights. She responded, “I know there are many, but let’s be honest, a few stand out...”

I suspect this is where we have a fundamental difference. I’m all about the long tail and stuff like that. I think each of the half a million non A list tweeters are just as important as any of the A list tweeters. Let’s take @vinu for instance. @vinu is currently followed by just over a thousand people. Twitter Grader ranks him at the 99.5 percentile, with an overall rank of 2,416. Yet for a brief period, I would suggest that he was one of the most important members of the Twitter community. Why? He was on the ground in Mumbai and providing some of the best coverage there was of the terrorism there.

This also gets back to ads as part of a conversation. If someone were to come up with a pay per post type model for twitter advertising where they would post tweets about a product or brand they liked, and then engage in a conversation, that would be much better than Magpie sending stuff the person hasn’t written.

As an example, I follow @ripple6. It is the twitter stream of a company of social media marketers. I follow them because I get useful information from them. They were taken over by Gannet, and I wrote about this in a blog post about the future of the newspaper industry. They linked back to that article. They get the aspect of twitter and other social media as a conversation.

Anne asks if I think there is room for “Hi, here I am!” type ads in a twitter stream if they are done well. I actually think there is, providing it is the person saying, “Hi, here I am, and I represent brand X”, or something like that. We can tweet them back. We can see how they follow up.

Perhaps this gets to some of why Anne and I disagree about Motrin Moms. My wife and I both found the ad offensive. We could get into a long discussion about why we felt the ad was offensive, but that misses the point. Some people will find ads offensive, others won’t. Yet returning to the virtual living room, if you offend a bunch of people, you apologize. You get into a discussion about what was offensive, how you’re trying to understand, and how you’ll try not to be offensive again.

I tried to bring the folks into a conversation. I sent emails to various VPs of marketing at McNeil Consumer Healthcare dealing with Motrin. I explained my background as a blogger that writes about marketing, and my coverage of shows like ad:tech and OMMA. I provided a bunch of questions about their perspective on what had happened. I explained that I wasn’t under deadline and they should feel free to take their time, but I would appreciate some feedback. I received acknowledgement receipts that they had read the emails and nothing more. Sure, I could have followed up with older media like the telephone, but that just illustrates the point. They’re broadcasting, but not interacting in new media.

(For those of you who missed it, here is my parody of the Motrin Ad. I whipped it together in around half an hour on my laptop, so the production quality is poor, but that perhaps underlines the message.)

So, those are my thoughts on this cold damp Sunday evening. Anyone want to join the conversation?

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Recent ma.noglia bookmarks

Here are pages I've recently bookmarked with ma.gnolia:

Libby » Blog Archive » Qdos services

Libby » Blog Archive » Qdos services

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November 29th

XRI, OpenID, FOAF, XFN and Open Social Networks

Today, I stumbled upon QDOS’ FOAF Search Tool and spent a bit of time exploring FOAF and related technologies. I’ve been interested in these technologies for quite a while and always enjoy checking back to see what has been going on.

November 28th

Apples to Apples via Twitter

This evening, I played Apples to Apples with my family. For those who aren’t acquainted with the game, people draw a hand of seven red cards. Whoever’s turn it is draws a green card and everyone else places one of their red cards on the table; the card they think the person who drew the green card is most likely to associate with the green card.

Whoever’s card gets picked wins the turn. So, let’s say that I drew the green card “Weird”. One person might have the words “Spam”, “Steve Martin”, “Falling Down”, “Bagpipes”, “Fast Food”, “Toasters” and “Summer Camp”. They might know that I used to play bagpipes and find nothing weird about falling down, spam or Steve Martin. They might choose “Summer Camp”, knowing that I had some weird experiences at summer camp.

Another person might have “Toasted Marshmallows”, “The FBI”, “Construction Workers”, “The End of the World”, “Global Warming”, “Crazy Horse”, and “The Titanic”. They might think that I would be unlikely to find any of these weird, but would choose “The Titanic”.

Finding “Summer Camp” weirder than “The Titanic”, I would choose “Summer Camp” and the first person would win the round.

So, could we play this online? It might be fun on Twitter or a similar microblog. The simplest way would be if everyone just used their Apples to Apples cards and had a middle person act as an Apples to Apples moderator. The play, with the example above might look something like this:

ahynes1: @a2amod Weird
khynes2000: dm a2amod Summer Camp
fehynes: dm a2amod The Titanic
a2amod: @ahynes1 The Titanic or Summer Camp
ahynes1: @a2amod Summer Camp

Then, whomever’s turn is next would draw a green card and send a message to the Apples to Apples moderator.

Anyone want to play?

Beyond that, it could probably be set up as a good Web 2.0 application where you are dealt the cards by the server automatically, and the server would gather responses, keep score, etc. That would take some programming to set up, but seems doable. The problem would be to get the rights to do this from Mattel, or to create a game that is substantially different enough to not run into infringement issues. Considering that Mattel already has a website up to promote Apples to Apples, which has a simple hand of the game played against a computer, instead of against other people and microblogged, that might be a challenge. However, a smart marketing person at Mattel might job on this.

Instead of using words from existing Apples to Apples decks, using popular hashtags in Twitter might be an interesting variation.

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Black Friday, Green Friday

I’ve never been a big fan of shopping, so Black Friday is a day that I especially like to avoid stores. This year, with the economy in shambles, everyone is wondering how black this Friday will be for retailers. Other people celebrate today as “Buy Nothing Day”, saying “There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.”

Yet it seems like there must be some happy medium between Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day. For me, it is the idea of a Green Friday, a Friday where people who shop, attempt to do so in a way that will help us make better use of our resources. On a simple level, this might mean buying come compact fluorescent light bulbs, or a new solar powered clothes drier.

A week ago, the Wall Street Journal had an article, Surprise Drop in Power Use Delivers Jolt to Utilities. It starts off wondering whether “An unexpected drop in U.S. electricity consumption ... isn't a byproduct of the economic downturn, and could reflect a permanent shift in consumption”. I am hoping it is a permanent shift in consumption.

The same day, NPR ran a story, New EPA Rules Imperil Parks, Critics Say. In the story, the proponents of the rule change argued that “the change is needed … to meet the growing need for electricity”. Somehow this seems to disconnect with the Wall Street Journal article.

So, beyond moving towards more energy efficient devices in our lives, what else can we do to help make Black Friday a little greener?

I’ve become more and more interested in buying local. We get much of produce from Gazy Brother’s Farm in Oxford, CT. We get a large box of fresh, in season produce that has been grown locally each week. We got our Thanksgiving Day turkey at Gozzi’s Turkey Farm in Guilford, CT. We washed this all down with some home made hard cider.

We got the sweet cider from Beardsley Cider Mill in Shelton, CT. We used some brewing equipment that Kim had to ferment the cider, and got some additional supplies from Maltose Express in Monroe, CT.

This leads to the next part of Green Friday. We are trying to have a good frugal Christmas this year, and part of what will make it successful is giving lots of homemade gifts, including some of the hard cider. For those who like to shop online, I would encourage you to buy crafts from Many Etsy merchants use EntreCard to get more traffic to their blogs and stores, and I’ve found many great sites that way. A few shops to check out include Lova Revolutionary, Steam Powered Rings, and Gold Toned Designs.

Yet for us, one of the best places to go for Christmas shopping is Alpaca Hill Farm in Seymour, CT. They sell alpaca rovings for those who want to spin their own yard, alpaca yarn, for those who want to buy the yarn and do their own knitting or crocheting, as well as ready made garments. It is a fun family outing, and that is saying a lot, coming from someone that doesn’t like shopping. They will be having their open house from ten until five on November 28th and 29th as well as December 6th, 13th and 20th.

So, perhaps instead of Black Friday, where either people buy a bunch of stuff they don’t need, or retail sales plummet, we can move towards a greener Friday, where people buy things that help all of us live a kinder, gentler, happier life, that reduces all the junk we consume.