A tip submitted by Hugh Thompson pointed me towards a press release from the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB), challenging ComScore and Nielsen to provide an independent audit on their tabulation methods for website visits.
In the IAB Press Release, president Randall Rothenberg calls for a move towards more transparent systems for interactive analytics, as companies begin to pour billions of dollars into interactive and web technologies to push their products. As website ratings, visitors, and analytics are becoming more important to valuation and success, improper and incorrect interactive reporting can be damaging for any website.
Hugh talks about this in his post towards the end of his post on the Digital Home blog. My question though, lies possibly with the fact that the IAB seems to be resorting to playground bullying because its market share may be weaning - but Hugh's numbers speak for themselves. What are your impressions on this?
InteractionCamp is an unconference for everyone with an interest in designing interactive customer experiences, from online and retail spaces, to consumer product design, mobile, urban planning, and social media. InteractionCamp Toronto brings together designers, marketers, strategists, technologists, and students, in an open and collaborative environment of sharing and learning.
We only have room for 60 people so please sign up early.
Date: Saturday, June 2, 2007
Location: Critical Mass 425 Adelaide Street West - 10th Floor Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C1
For more information, head over to the InteractionCamp Webpage.
This morning when I came through the turn-style in my subway station I was unexpectedly met by TTC chair Adam Giambrone, who was handing out pins and information sheets on Toronto's new LRT/ROW plans. I never expected to see Adam campaigning for the TTC, but then again, lots of things the TTC has been doing lately have been unconventional, and have touched the Toronto transit community (AKA, the other TTC) in new ways. No longer does the TTC interact with its city - its clients - solely in print, but they have taken their views online.
Rewind to February, when the TTC held TransitCamp, an event inspired by Toronto bloggers, inviting the community to comment on the TTC's declining website, and share general ideas about the services. With transit aficionados, geeks, and TTC riders all in attendance, TransitCamp was a big success. The event was reported on many Toronto major blogs, and was also published in traditional news outlets like City News and The Star.
Adam Giambrone and the TTC have begun bridging the gap between service provider and customer, by communicating through many touch points to their community - making for a more pleasurable experience. The TTC is not only taking part in a conversation with its community, but acting on its constructive input. Just check out the renaming of the new TTC token as the Giambroney to get an idea of how the TTC is taking to the web. By harnessing social media tools both on and offline, the TTC is poised to rebrand its image as a more community-oriented, and customer based service.
Here are some links from the Backchannel our readers found interesting.
Not sure what the backchannel is? Read our Bookmarks from the Community section in the sidebar to get involved.
Headed up by Eli Singer, creator of Casecamp and One Degree contributor, Social POV takes a unique approach by focusing on the social (ie, the community), and not on the media. Social POV's point of differentiation is marrying Cundari’s skills in traditional and interactive communications with an advisory board of internationally acclaimed new media practitioners. Lending their talent to the Social POV advisory board are Todd Defren, principal of Shift Communications and creator of the social media press release, Andrew Baron, founder of Rocketboom - one of the most successful video podcasts with over 200,000 visitors a day, Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner - the duo behind Newmindspace, and Brian Oberkirch - blogging strategist for major US corporations. Cundari's social media client list includes Deloitte Consulting, WWF-Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, and the CIBC Run for the Cure.
For some more information head over to the Social POV blog.
Thinking about online branding, and websites that I frequent, I was drawn towards today's QotD. Personally I spend plenty of time interacting with Toronto-branded blogs, photographers, and news outlets - most of which are local and content-specific. Today's QotD asks:
Which online brand do you interact most with (on a daily basis)?
Robert Kozinets, an associate professor at the Schulich School of Business, opened the event with an academic-centered dissection on community, jam-packed with metaphors for your mind to swim in. Thinking about the concept of community, one of Rob's key comments to anyone looking to create or grow a community was that "unless you [a business] are willing to talk [to and in the community], don't join in the conversation." Robert likened managing communities to the role of a beekeeper, and of cultivation, a metaphor I quite liked.
Jennifer Evans of Sequentia followed Rob, and told the audience that "every company has a community, and that every community has life cycle that needs to be understood." Providing some fantastic case studies, Jennifer did what every other social media presenter I have seen failed to do: link social media and interactive tools to hardline analytics, proving that cultivating communities and creating/maturing them can be done with successful results (and not just *X* number of video views, or comments, which are inherently not a sign of profitability). Jenn closed her presentation with her belief (with supplied proof) that good content has longevity and lead generation long past its initial creation.
Lee Dale, founder of Smack Inc. was the final presentation of the morning, hearkening to Malcom Gladwell's book The Tipping Point about the different members of a community; The Connector, The Mover, and the Sales People. Lee's presentation was laden with specific case studies and examples of how companies are building communities to complement their real-world brands.
With Jennifer Evans from Sequentia, Robert Kozinets from Schulich, and Lee Dale from Smack Inc., the event's informative agenda will help time-starved people with crash-course in community, while still being able to make it back to the office before noon. Event organizer Kathryn Lagden described the speaker list as "a good balance between an academic understanding of communities, and a more practical one." She continued by describing how "having a bigger picture understanding on 'why these things are happening' is key to the event."
If you haven't signed up, head over the the Event Registration Page and sign-up. If you are there, don't hesitate to say hello!
I got an Ask A Marketer request last week that really struck a chord with me. Rick Couture of Go-Mango Fitness sent in this question:
OK, I'm still fairly new to the world of online marketing, and I rely on the many wonderful marketing e-newsletters I get to help with my education. What I have not seen is info on how to get started with online advertising. I keep getting calls from my newspaper sales reps to try advertising on their websites. Problem is I have nothing to compare their rates to elsewhere online. Can you provide any resources to see CPM ad rates for banner ads? I can't help but wonder if $30 per thousand for an "in story" ad that is only mildly targeted (Health section editorial, our business is fitness equipment) is asking too much. Has anyone done a real comparison of newspaper online ads vs other websites rates and effectiveness? Are there places I can compare prices for similar levels of targeting? Is that what DoubleClick does?
I see this kind of confusion and concern in small business owners ALL the time. They can find lots of pundits punditing (guilty) but where do they turn for the basics? How do they know they're not being ripped off? How do they determine value? I'd love to see some feedback from you folks on what you tell small businesses and those new to the business in terms of this kind of stuff.
A few weeks ago Digital Home ran a post called New ExpressVu HD Receivers Expected By July that was a bit of a scoop for them. It included detailed information from internal Bell communications.
In a March bulletin, Bell informed its dealers that it would be introducing brand new ‘MPEG4’ receivers in July 2007. Dish Network currently has several HD receivers that can decode MPEG4 for sale in the U.S. including the VIP 211 and the VIP611. It is our belief the new ExpressVu receivers will be re-branded DISH VIP211 and VIP611 receivers. Digital Home will post further details and pricing information when ExpressVu formally announces the new receivers. In the interim here is a brief overview of the Echostar receivers.
Bell threatened to pull all advertising from the site if owner Hugh Thompson did not remove the article. Thompson refused saying it was accurate reportage and the next day Bell pulled their ads.
Yesterday, I was contacted by a press relations representative from Bell Canada and was informed that Bell Canada “might” pull its advertising from Digital Home Canada if the article was not removed from the Digital Home site. The PR representative explained the request came from Pat Button, the Vice President of Marketing at ExpressVu. The representative said Mr. Button had seen the article and demanded it be taken down from the site because it was having a negative impact on dealer sales. The representative also said that it was impossible for Bell to be releasing new HD receivers this year because a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the receivers had not even been issued by ExpressVu. These comments were in direct contrast with information that I had received from multiple ExpressVu dealers which I shared with Bell and asked them comment on.
What makes this more than another marketing exec getting his hair mussed up by a leaked announcement is the fact that the site in question is an online forum that is primarily driven by reader generated content. Repeat after me folks - online communities are NOT a good bunch to pick a fight with.
We haven't asked your opinions on an email campaign in a while so I thought I'd put forward this message that hit my inbox earlier this week. Take a look and add your thoughts on what they did right and where they missed the mark.
Way back in March of 2006 I raved about Campaign Monitor's A Guide To CSS Support in Email so I was thrilled to see that they've done a follow up for 2007 called, appropriately, A Guide to CSS Support in Email: 2007 Edition
It's been just over 12 months since I posted our original Guide to CSS Support in Email and quite a bit has changed since. Sadly, the most significant of these changes was in the wrong direction, with Microsoft's recent decision to use the Word rendering engine instead of Internet Explorer in Outlook 2007. We've written plenty about it already including an explanation of the reasoning behind it. More on its impact on CSS support later.
It hasn't all been doom and gloom though, a number of vendors have maintained or improved their support for CSS, especially in the web-based email environment. The new Yahoo! Mail looks very promising and the old Hotmail will be making way for the new Windows Live Mail in the coming months. Desktop based apps tend to move a little slower and not a great deal has changed on that front, but traditionally they've been the best performers anyway. This year we added Outlook 2007, the new Yahoo! Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird for the Mac to our test suite, and also noticed some subtle changes in others.
If you are interested in what you can and cannot do in email formatting you really need to read this and bookmark it for future reference.
Today's QotD stems from a previous post on touching your customers, and incentive programs. There are many different credit cards and services which you can subscribe to, catering to your shopping habits and needs. Today's QotD is
How many incentive programs do you subscribe to - and how many do you actually use on a regular basis?
Please leave your comments and impressions as well.
Riding the rails this morning, I picked up the Metro, and saw a feature on Loyalty & Rewards. With Bill's post on interacting with a brand without it being online, I found this feature interesting from a marketing vantage point.
While I use some loyalty programs like Air Miles, the program I see the most value (for me) is Aeroplan. From a person who enjoys international travel, this is a great incentive for using their products. Their CIBC credit card is among the most popular loyalty cards in Canada, and for good reason: people like to travel, especially when it is free.
In an age where consumers are smarter with online tools like Travelocity for travel, or Red Flag Deals for local bargains, companies need to find new ways and incentives to get customers using their products, and find new and interesting touch-points for interaction.
When I went to see The Grindhouse last week, I saw an ad for Cineplex's Scene Card before the trailers. This card is relevant to frequent movie-goers (of which I am not), but by touching customers in a variety of mediums (trailer, billboards, and kiosks) Cineplex is able to target a niche demographic. Both advertisers and marketers are realizing that driving traffic to a URL is simply not enough. Product conversions are going to occur at a much higher rate if you companies are offering visitors and users some sort of incentive for their eyeballs and dollars.
I own threadless shirts, and love seeing their new, and often campy, designs on a weekly basis. With some previous coverage of threadless on previous One Degree posts about saving abandoned shopping carts, this article provides a bit of a case-study on the offset communities threadless has generated.
The first question to answer is; What is threadless? In short, threadless is a community-oriented, and centred, t-shirt store which users submit designs and concepts. Designs are voted on by the community, and winners are not only printed, but compensated monetarily as well. While specifically dealing with adult t-shirts, threadless has since branched off to make kids t-shirts over at threadless kids, as well as the new Naked and Angry - a separate community which has made user-submitted ties and wallpaper.
Where threadless has excelled is is by maturing a creative community which has generating subsequent communities based off of its original concept. These communities however, are not run by Skinnycorp (threadless' parent company), but rather by its customers. Loves Threadless is a blog about threadless, and is run by a web developer and blogger. The community site discusses the new weekly designs (updated every Monday), and takes the conversation about the shirts to a new level. Looking at the site's statistics, the average daily visits are over 200 from all over the world, and while small, presents a nice audience heavily interested in the product.
This afternoon I caught a post through my RSS reader from the Leo Burnett blog, in a post from Jason Oke about billboard advertisements in Sao Paolo, Brazil. You can read the original post here (or over at the Spacing Wire).
To sum up, it covers a move by the city of Sao Paolo to ban all outdoor billboard ads. While I think this is an interesting concept, I was unable to visualize what it would look like until I clicked through and saw the results from the change. Jason's original post links to photos by Tony de Marco, a Sao Paolo resident, who has profiled the negative space once occupied by billboard ads in a Flickr photo set. For me, this photo set is interesting both as a marketer, but also as a photographer.
Returning to Toronto, local activist Rami Tabello has put together a campaign to combat illegally placed signs across the city. His website - illegalsigns.ca - has received local coverage in both mainstream media and Toronto-based blogs, and is running a campaign in the hopes that Toronto doesn't suffer from the same problem that plagued Sao Paolo. While tourists treat advertising hot-spots as tourist destinations (like New York's Times Square), to the average commuter or resident mass advertisements which disrupt your daily routine are often just plain annoying and aggravating.
With Toronto's Yonge and Dundas square transformed into a Canadian version of Times Square, Torontonians can take relief that the Dundas Square has had its naming rights sold, and will now be called the Toronto Life Square.
While this post doesn't deal directly with online marketing, I see the move by Sao Paolo as a reaction to invasive advertisements. As online marketers, we need to make sure we are not ostracizing those we are marketing to, and to not overload our customers. Do you think Rami's illegalsign's project would have been able to gain such following if blogging wasn't an available - and pretty-much free - medium?
Is it possible to have an immersive, interactive, and on-brand marketing experience without even visiting a Website?
I believe you can, based on my recent experience interacting with the proprietor of the Pinewood Motel.
Here's the scoop: I'm watching TV and see a commercial for Sony Pictures' new horror film, Vacancy. Other than the fact it has some A-level stars in it, the film (and the commercial for it) looks like a typical slasher flick. Until the end of the commercial, that is.
Popular social networking/hooking-up/friend-keeper-upper site Facebook has invaded Toronto and taken it by storm. How do I know this? – Let me elaborate.
While I don’t use the site excessively like many of my peers do (I like keeping my private life private), I was put on to a note by a friend, and fellow Toronto photoblogger Rannie Turingan. Rannie is a hub in Toronto. Not only does he connect Toronto-based photobloggers, but his reach spans to bloggers, others in the social space, and his other social networks in Toronto which I am not aware of. When I look at his profile he is listed as having 451 friends in Toronto, and over a hundred in his other networks – not only is he popular, but he is also a great photographer!
A post by another friend and fellow Toronto-based blogger, Eva Amsen profiled her Facebook friend network last month (with accompanying diagram above). In her article Eva analyzes her network, describing the importance of hubs and bridges within networks:
In any network, both the hubs and the bridges are important. Hubs obviously connect many different nodes, and are efficient spreaders of information. ... But without bridges, information wouldn’t spread to the further outreaches of a network.
In social networks, bridges are the people who are able to provide you with new connections outside of your regular networks, and they don’t have to be that extensively connected to be able to do so.
Eva’s post is helpful when trying recognizing the best way to disseminate messages, or targeted advertising.
The Canadian New Media Awards announced their 2007 finalist for the awards, which will be held in Toronto on May 28th at The Carlu. For a full list of the categories and finalists, head over to the 2007 finalist award page. Make sure not to forget to sign up for the gala through the online ordering page.
Not sure what the backchannel is? Read our Bookmarks from the Community section in the sidebar and get involved.
What a power move -- Google announced on April 13 that it has acquired DoubleClick. I believe that this is another significant and very brilliant move by Google – far more so than their purchase of YouTube earlier this year. Here are six reasons why:
As with many big moves by Google, I'm sure there are at least 7 other reasons why this purchase is strategic and plays into Google's big picture strategy for world domination, er, I mean, organization of the world's information. But as with many of the moves executed by the rocket scientists and Ph.D's at Google, we'll just have to wait with the other mere mortals to see how Google capitalizes on this purchase.
Last week Apple announced that it had sold over 100 million iPod’s. Following this announcement speculation on the web suggested that the largest online music retailer (Apple’s iTunes) might change its tune and offer subscription based sales. Additionally, if one takes note of Apple’s recent move to offer DRM-free music, one can only wonder what is next. Today’s QotD follows this series of events to ask you;
Where do you see music DRM heading in the near future?
Unsure what DRM is? Head over to the Wikipedia entry on DRM for a crash course.
The article profiled 12 blogs you should be reading. OneDegree was featured on the list, touted as the the blog "where all the cool internet geeks plug in." Thats you...way to go cool internet geeks!
Other blogs mentioned were OneDegree contributor blogs by Kate Trgovac, Mitch Joel, Michael Seaton, as well as the CMA Blog, Joseph Thornley’s blog, as well as 6 others. The blogs profiled represent a fantastic array of marketers utilizing blogs and social media to share their keen insight on online marketing. Keep up the great work everyone! And thanks for reading OneDegree.ca.
Something VERY odd is going on at Twitter right now. A user called JehovahOne created an account about two hours ago. Nothing strange there, BUT in those two hours JehovahOne has added over 2,550 friends! That number appears to be increasing by about 20 per minute. If a two hour old account with one tweet and no picture adding 20 friends a minute isn’t a hack, I don’t know what is! (Apparently I don’t know what is – see updates below)_ Worse still, many people seem to be on auto-pilot and are following JehovahOne simply because they’re returning the favour – friending a new friend back. 200+ followers as I post this! I’ll do updates if/as I learn more. Add a comment letting me know if you received the friend message.
Update 1: An hour later we have 3,242 friends and 242 followers.
Update 2: A few people have commented here and at Digg that this is a ‘bot rather than a hack. I guess that’s correct but I meant it in a broader sense as in someone’s found a way to use Twitter that will be perceived as a hack by many. By this I mean 3200 people now have a friend message in their inbox. Not bad on it’s own but if this becomes rampant a big mess for Twitter.
Update 3: Looks like this is being driven by a script that’s taking names from the Public Timeline at Twitter. I checked about a hundred of JehovahOne’s “Friends” and all of them have posted in the last five hours (i.e. one hour before the user account was created). The Timeline updates every four minutes with the 20 most recent posts. Looks like anyone whose posts get there will get an invite.
Update 4: Now that it’s been four hours since the account was set up the number of friends went DOWN from where it was after 3 hours. Not sure how friends would go down other than the user starting to remove people. I don’t think you can shake someone who’s following you on Twitter – or can you? I’m about to call it quits. Interesting watching this happen in real time.