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Interactive TV is about to get a boost. Showtime Networks will unveil a new (ITV) application next week that uses remote control ordering to give consumers access to long form video, and free full-length episodes of Showtime programming. The technology will bring television commerce (tcommerce) and advertising that allows watchers to become customers a little closer.
Showtime and its two other channels, The Movie Channel and Flix, do not currently accept advertising. According to the company, which is pitching the technology as a Showtime Marketing Application, "the most valuable component is the ease with which a viewer can now order Showtime, and the upgrade can be processed and authorized within seconds." If that ease of ordering can be applied to other networks, and ad units within those networks, ITV is tied to the remote control.
There's a nasty little blog debate in progress today between Wharton School of Business professor Eric Clemons and some industry analysts about whether internet advertising actually works. Before you draw a big breath, knit your brow and get ready to enter the debate, relax a bit. Of course it works. Clemons' missive provides an opportunity to restate the case for internet marketing.
Clemons, professor of operations and information management at The Wharton School ranted on TechCrunch today that the "internet is not replacing advertising but shattering it, and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and all the creative talent of Madison Avenue cannot put it together again."
It would make perfect sense for some big box retailers to curl up, lick, their wounds from the devastation of the 2008 holiday season, and plan for the next move. After all, reports Retail Forward today, anything that resembles improvement at retail will wait until the fourth quarter of this year.
It would also make perfect sense to take this opportunity to step it up online. The good questions to ask would regard web site experience, email marketing, customer engagement via social networks, and online marketing plans for the fall. But what we see lately is a focus on public relations, a lot of spending on in-store technology, and mobile commerce.
Let's not let Time Warner off the hook too easily on its semi-paid content experiment. Some of what EVP John Squires announced to the press last week made a lot of sense, some of it was purposefully vague, and some of it needs translation.
Let's get to the translation first. Squires said TW will start to experiment with paid content because there "was too much ad inventory online." Translation: "Yes, we have an ad network in-house (Platform A) but it is not able to provide the CPMs we're looking for. We're having a hard time finding advertisers who will pay a reasonable amount of money beyond the home pages and story starts for most of our brands."
It may be antithetical or even sacrilegious to say so, but companies may have too much customer data for their own good. With internet marketing focused on generating even more of that data through behavioral targeting and social media, it may be time to consider a new theory out of Penn's Wharton School of Business. It's called "data minimization."
According to Wharton marketing professors Eric Bradlow and Peter Fader "data minimization" is a simple but radical concept: keep the customer data a company needs for competitive advantage, and purge the rest. "I think there is a fear and paranoia among companies that ... if they don't keep every little piece of information on a customer, they [can't function]," Bradlow told the Marketing @ Wharton newsletter. "Companies continue to squirrel away data for a rainy day. We're not saying throw data away meaninglessly, but use what you need for forecasting and get rid of the rest."
It's getting hard to find adjectives to describe Twitter's growth. Nielsen reports today that unique visitors to Twitter increased 1,382 percent year-over-year, from 475,000 unique visitors in February 2008 to seven million in February 2009.
It is the fastest growing site in its member communities category, to say the least. Zimbio and Facebook followed at a paltry 240 percent and 228 percent, respectively. What to call that kind of growth? "Googletastic," anyone?
The official version of the SEMPO report was released today and it shows search engines have advertisers right where they want them. It shows "overwhelming interest" in newly developed behavioral targeting opportunities, with three-quarters of advertisers claiming they would pay bid more for clicks targeted to in-market consumers.
The Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization "The State of Search Engine Marketing 2008" shows behavioral targeting has moved demographic targeting down on the priority list. In previous years SEMPO respondents showed a stronger interest in demographic targeting, but this year, advertisers on average would pay 10 percent more for both demographic targeting and daypart targeting; they would pay 13 percent more for behavioral targeting. Behavioral-based search retargeting was unchanged in terms of spending. Two in five advertisers said they are not currently targeting or retargeting searchers but plan to in the next 12 months, while another third (34 percent) said they are not currently targeting or retargeting searchers and have no plans to do so in the next year. Another 44 percent said they were targeting searchers either through an ad network, a portal or consumers who had previously visited their site.
Another day, two more upgrades for Google's ad capabilities. Google TV now has hourly breakdowns to correlate TV spots and search performance; AdWords now has a template for quickie promotional ads.
The Google TV tracking builds on its analytics platforms that enabled advertisers to track search keyword activity immediately after an ad spot. Now an hourly breakdown of TV impressions and site visits data shows how specific ad airings are performing. Data on how many people viewed the ad is also available. The tool will index audience characteristics and interests at the specific time that the TV ad aired. For index values, 100 is the average. For example, an index of 129 for an interest like photography, means that the program that ran the spot draws 29 percent more photographers than average.
Social media is becoming a tough game to call for research companies. Several recent reports present divergent looks at ad spending projections and the potential size of key players, all pointing to the possibility that spending in this area is more spontaneous than search, display, or even traditional media.
Take, for example, two reports issued today on ad spending projections. The first, from eMarketer, predicts $2.3 billion in worldwide on social network advertising in 2009. In 2013, spending will reach an estimated $3.5 billion. Those numbers are positive on the surface, but they represent a 50 percent reduction from eMarketer's last projection, delivered in December 2008. The company, which culled research from Deloitte and comScore for its projections, says the limiting factor is the worldwide economic crisis.
While the industry continues to wrestle with the logistics of opting-in to consumer behavioral targeting, a Harvard University researcher has developed a way to opt-out.
Christopher Soghoian, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, told The Harvard Crimson that he has developed a browser extension that prevents advertising networks from tracking internet usage habits. The Google plug-in, entitled Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out (TACO), allows users to opt out of 27 advertising networks.
It's either one more swipe at the 800-pound gorilla, or it's a serious problem brewing for Google. Today a Washington-based advocacy group filed a complaint asking the FTC to review Google's security standards for its cloud computing services. Among those services: Gmail, Docs, and Picasa.
The source of the complaint, and its target, are definitely serious matters. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) wants the trade commission to investigate "the adequacy of the privacy and security safeguards" of Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Picasa. Earlier this month Google had to report a breach of its Docs application, which is one of the reasons EPIC filed with the FTC, it's petition states. Docs has 4.4 million users; Gmail has 26 million.
Tina Whitfield believes there is one secret to unlocking mobile marketing success. That secret is accessing the treasure trove of customer data stored by wireless carriers and handset manufacturers.
As CEO of Equis Global, and veteran of several digital marketing companies, Whitfield says she is trying help brands bridge the gap between what they think mobile customers will interact with and what data shows they will interact with.