Search and Media

Monday, April 10, 2006

Not a fan of Golf but Golf Marketing Stories? Do tell!

Not a fan of Golf, but golf marketing stories? Do tell.

S returned from a weekend trip to Vegas on work [huh?]. Golf usually interests me as much as underwater worms do, though I wouldn’t mind the TV turned to a game of golf on lazy Sunday afternoons. Excited golf stories don’t enthrall me, I admit. But interesting golf stories do. A slightly senior person went about the golf course that S played at, inviting donations to this-and-that charity [S admits it was a worthy cause, but will remember not what it was]. A quick donation dollar amount later, he received a couple of gift vouchers for ‘1 FREE* Golf club..really!!” which he tossed into bag at end game. Curiosity or free golf club offer, I know not which, prompted us to check out the site listed on the coupon. Only to be pleasantly surprised by a link exclusively to those who got the gift voucher [“Curious about the Free Club offer. We are serious” link takes us to a simple webpage explaining it all]. While it didn’t prompt S to immediately dial the 1-800 number, its still a good offline-online integration story to tell.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Superbowl blows

The Superbowl blows by

The Superbowl happened over the weekend. I watch it only for the ads, and because I don’t have a 44 inch TV or am remotely interested in the sport, I preferred to watch the previews and post-game links to the ads on Yahoo on Monday. This is the ad-festival, in a way, for marketers. Agencies strut their stuff, while they have a captured audience of millions. While I shopped at a near-empty Trader Joe’s, the funny, silly, pointless and witty ads were to play on the television.

Search engine marketing ranked fairly low for most of these marketers. A scorecard to evaluate online integration to the super bowl ads can be found here. And [heh] a cynical report on the whole Superbowl ad scene is here. My own favorites among the Superbowl ads were Burger King, Disney and Ameriquest.

Speaking of search marketing, an interesting webclip came up on my gmail inbox today. The ad copy reads thus:

Coffee Exposed - - A shocking secret coffee co's don't want you to know.

Clicking on the link takes the visitor to a webpage that describes how coffee gets stale and other info about the importance of freshly ground coffee. The simple website contains a sidebar with links to their range of coffees. One of the relevant, yet attractive ad copies I’ve seen!

An interesting new service, Riya, promises face recognition to sort the thousands of photos sitting on the desktop. It seems to be a huge hit at the DEMO show this week. The beta version would be out soon, and I’ve signed up for it. Cant wait to see what its all about!

Camera poised,

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zoom Zoom Zoom the Solstice?

Zoom Zoom Zoom the Solstice?

A colleague pointed me to the Pontiac-Google story [or vice versa] yesterday. Businessweek reported that Pontiac was infusing Google into its TV ads [circa 1999 AOL keyword ideas anyone?]. The ad asks customers to ‘Google Pontiac’, thus automatically connecting the Pontiac brand with Google, a perceivably trustworthy and global brand.  The problem? A search on “Pontiac” over at produces, as part of sponsored links a Mazda link that reads:

Pontiac vs      Get ready to Zoom Zoom. Sign up to drive a New Mazda MX-5 Miata today!

So the controversy now is that Mazda bid on the Pontiac keyword; successfully gleaning off an entire TV campaign that Pontiac had planned around Google.  The Mazda response to the controversy is here. Mazda says it targeted young folks who might consider Pontiac, while GM is apparently flattered Mazda is bidding on their keywords [wonder how GM’s agency is taking it though?]. However, Pontiac probably has a slight reason to still be worried. Well, not because it is perfectly legal for Mazda to be bidding on Pontiac keywords and that they cannot do anything about it [ala the Geico case] but because they have to be extra careful about careless campaigns like ‘Google Pontiac’ [the AOL keywords on TV ads worked as the products were assigned those keywords, if I am correct].  Curiously enough, the comments on the latest article probably reveals what it really means to Pontiac [albeit a miniscule sample of it]. About 30% of the comments are from people who claim not to see Mazda ads at all [“non-issue. Don’t see any Mazda ads”]. I guess the 80-20 split between organic and paid search will hold some water, simply because people zone out on sponsored links?

Shelve the idea of Shelf Ads

Shelve the idea of Shelf Ads?

AdAge reports that some CPG marketers [coco-cola, Colgate - Palmolive] have signed up to test a new product in-store, the ‘POP Broadcasting’s ShelfAds device’. The device is placed on product shelves and plays 10 second ads when it detects movement. According to the article, current in-store video promotions are issue-ridden. The article indicates " -- that shoppers must look up to view ads on giant, expensive plasma screens and that the ads never stop." I agree—though it doesn’t probably help that I am a lousy shopper whose usual aim is to get out of any store ASAP. But the article brought back an interesting chapter in the Paco Underhill book “Why we buy?”. The chapter “Why we read a sign” elaborates on the placement of signs and boards, and the most logical places for them. While I find myself noticing most ads online, I seem to conveniently ignore the ones that are in-store. Above the babble of noise, the constant announcements on the speaker and the humming of a super-huge departmental store, I find it easier to walk to the products and just zip out. POP ShelfAds probably has a ton of Paco Underhill type of research done to evaluate the appropriate placement of the ads and the best ads to run on them as well.  But I, for one, would not be particularly thrilled or influenced by an ad for Cheetos while I pick Lays [well, the novelty of motion induced video will wear off soon as well]. Supermarkets have largely been a place to pick up stuff at, not a place to dawdle much. Look at the checkout lines at most of these places—most are in a hurry to beat that in anycase!

Call me old-fashioned, but my best in-store experiences have always involved people, not ads. Some great places that I’ve enjoyed shopping at, have, unfortunately, been smaller ones as well [Trader Joe’s, Bath and Body works, for example]. The friendly lady who picks out the cheese that she thinks will go very well with my wine, the attendant who tells me how she takes the honey-lotion everywhere. Somehow I would find it easier to trust them than blatant ads, plus I am getting some real-time feedback as well. The stores can afford them due to their size; supermarkets would need a person for every aisle if this idea has to work. However, my senses have been regularly been assaulted by the sheer number of brands and logos that are around me in the bigger places as well. Where I do think the ShelfAds would make sense would be for the apparel market—show me the clothes you got on a model on TV, I would definitely be interested. But CPG? I don’t think so. But, like I said, I aint the ideal supermarket shopper anyway.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Job Opportunity with Your Daily Weather?

Marketing Vox reports that S.F. Chronicle launched a 30 minute TV program called Chronicle Jobs TV at 5:30 AM monday-wednesday.

The mediadailynews source points to this step by the newspaper as a move to compete with online classifieds sites like craigslist. Since I am up at that hour anyway, will watch out for the UPN channel it airs on.

Interestingly, the last time i watched TV news channels display jobs classifieds [read out by a newsreader or otherwise] was in India sometime during the 80s [it involved a very serious host reading out the job availabilities, i believe region-wise first, then category-wise]. I dont watch much TV these days anyway, so am not sure how popular this initiative is amongst existing newspapers.

However, an interesting transition I've seen on TV in India [while on my recent trip there] was that NDTV [New Delhi Television Network] displays job descriptions, opportunities and availability in companies as a continous running banner at the bottom of the screen during certain news telecasts. I dont believe they actually tied up with any newspaper exclusively for this, preferring to directly contact companies for these listings.

Here is a wild thought--how about an S.F.Chronicle tie-up with the local news channel, lets run their classifieds for as long as the news is telecast? [I do note however, the intrusiveness of this way of broadcasting news. The Indian audience is probably a wee bit more tolerant towards oversized banners at bottom of the screen]

Setting my alarm for 5:30 AM,

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Growth of Indian Radio?

India's FM Radio should be getting a new lease of life with ADAE [Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises] bagging 26 licenses in all, including existing players. ADAE's investments in media and entertainment, touted to make Anil Ambani an entertainment czar, includes licensing fees for seven big cities including mumbai, bangalore, delhi and calcutta. The focus is rightly on the smaller towns [19 of them all to be precise]--especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh, a decidedly underserved market for FM radio atleast.IPTV and DTH [Direct-to-home, nicknamed Bluemagic] is on the works in the next few years for the ambitious project. [Sun Tv of chennai was another bidder for the FM radio licenses]

Radio in india had almost died a complete death in the 90's, expectedly so with the advent of cable and international channels on TV. FM's feeble attempts in the late 90s in metros met with some success, but not enough to push it into the big league. FM suffered from feeble penetration, especially rurally. Lack of diversified models of entertainment via radio, which was seen to quickly develop in other media, produced further challenges. However, advertisements, atleast in urban and metros, have seen a steady increase--a positive sign for new FM initiatives.

Tight-fisted government control, with overpriced licensing fees and authority over types of content, especially news and informational programs, is another disqualifyer for the medium. Regional control over the language and types of music being played [100% english music stations are not allowed by government regulations] imposes further restrictions on radio groups, consequently affecting the potential advertising opportunities as well.

My wishlist for FM in India?

1) Diversified Content: Sports, news, multiscope music should be part of the offerings by FM channels. Given the slowly rising popularity of satellite radio, such as Worldspace, FM should see in it a lesson of catering to defragmented audience as well.

2) deeper penetration into rural areas: Media houses that are expanding into FM space should see in it an opportunity for larger audience base. Government regulations over content will hopefully not pervade information analysis and education.

3) on the listener side, an increase in the technology to deliver uninterrupted listening experience. Handheld devices, mobile devices and highly-capable at cheaper prices. Especially for the at-home audience or the demographic of 18-26 year olds.

Tuned in,

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Privacy Paranoia Pervades

Its a preview of the 10 PM news on TV-- The newsreader announces Google's refusal to comply with the Bush Administration to turn in Search Data. "Watch how your privacy will be affected", she announces. Searchenginewatch blog has been covering the news all day long today here .
As Danny Sullivan notes, it has nothing to do with privacy. The administration requires one million web addresses and searches conducted for a week, possibly to capture searches that children can accidentally conduct and discover porn sites. While Danny points out its just as easy to conduct the searches rather than demand the data from search engines, Google remains the lone search engine that has refused to turn in the data.

Google has already battled privacy issues before [though this doesnt fall in that category]--with gmail. While the refusal to turn in data is part of a rigid Google policy, the same privacy paranoid brigade as described above had insisted user mails in gmail were being read [albeit by computers] to serve up ads. While the alarm died its natural death, gmail ads have become more and more relevant, as I've been noting in my inbox. Mails on dinner plans pop-up surprisingly ethnic cooking sites, while a chain of mails discussing insane real-estate prices in the bay area with my mom displayed extremely 'helpful' ads for developments in Bangalore, India [oh well! mom promises they are excellent properties]

Google will probably battle a number of privacy issues, especially overseas. But its probably equally important for the media to clarify the difference to the viewers, specifically between user-privacy and search engine data as well, without putting them all under one blanket of 'privacy issues'. I will be watching the news channels to see how and what they report.

T.V Remote on Fast-switch mode,

Update: The news did mention "YOUR privacy" as if the viewer should really worry about the Google-Feds news. While an analyst did point out "it didnt involve direct user data, but thats something they can possibly ask for later", the newsreaders didnt bother to correct themselves while they announced "how your searches will be evaluated by the feds" on the 10 pm news. oh well.

Update 2: Hilarious search

Update 3: John Battelle zones in on Google's fight

"Well, standing up to the DOJ and getting major praise for doing so is a very smart strategy, in my book. As much as I'd love to believe Google is fighting this for heroic reasons, I'd wager that the data has more to do with it."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Test blog

Testing new blog.