Snowden vs. Data


Edward Snowden was the keynote speaker at SXSW in 2014, delivering his speech via video conference. An audience member asked what the difference between the government tracking people and corporations was, why is okay for one and not the other?  Snowden basically said when the government monitors citizens it is without consent, however when a consumer is being monitored by a corporation it is because they chose to use that corporation’s services. Choosing to be monitored and being monitored without consent are two very different things. However, if these corporations aren’t keeping your information safe, isn’t that just as bad?

Despite this answer consumers do not want to be monitored in any sense, even if it will make their shopping experience better. Industry research showed that 77% of consumers felt in-store tracking unacceptable. Security is currently the biggest issue, with 81% of consumers said that they didn’t trust retailers to keep their data private and secure. However is this only issue facing consumers and their feelings towards mobile monitoring? Industry research also showed that 67% of consumers said that tracking feels like spying, and 60% said that retailers will use the data exclusively for their own benefit.

With such high numbers of consumers against monitoring why do so many marketers do it?

Trust Issues

Suzanne Fanning, President of Word of Mouth Marketing Association, was quoted in Forbes stating, “millennials are the most connected generation of buyers the world has ever seen, but they don’t trust companies or CEOs – they trust their friends and connections, and they want to hear about real experiences from real people. Make sure they are happy, satisfied customers, and provide easy ways for them to share.”

Bud Light took over a small town in Colorado with a population of 1,500 and created one of the most desirable locations in the US for millennials. The entire campaign aligned with Bud Light’s marketing strategy that is designed to generate stronger brand passion among the millennial demographic.

Social media activity sky rocked and #upforwhatever became the catalyst for consumers to tell their Bud Light story. Thousands of consumers sent in videos to the Up for Whatever Youtube page, applying for an invitation to the next Whatever USA.

Do you think brands need to be #UpforWhatever to reach millennials?

A Spoonful of Ethics


From 2008 to 2011 the total media spending to promote child-targeted cereals increased by 34% from $197 million to $264 million. Despite these increases in advertising spending, the extent to which children understand that they are being advertised to is unknown.

Children see cereal commercials more than any other category of packaged food or beverage. While children are able to differentiate between advertisers and other forms of communication from a young age, they are vulnerable advertising messages that are outside of traditional media.

The 2014 study Tween’s Knowledge of Marketing Tactics, Skeptical Beyond Their Years set out to determine how children between the ages of 8 and 12 respond to marketing tactics. The study focused on how well this age group, categorized as tweens, understood and evaluated new and increasingly utilized marking tactics. The study found that covert marketing tactics are difficult for this age group to recognize as attempts by marketers to influence young audiences, particularly among those age 12 and younger. The findings of the study clearly show that using implicit marketing beyond the audience’s grasp is unethical. The authors’ concluding statement read, “there is a general lack of fairness associated with using such tactics when targeting tweens.”

Are new and emerging marketing tactics targeting children unethical? Does the impact that these tactics are having on children need to be explored and regulated?


Advergaming and Awareness

With more than half of total online revenue coming from mobile devices, utilizing mobile advertising has become a must. However, mobile should also be utilized for sharing complex information otherwise difficult to communicate.

Chipotle is an example of a company utilizing mobile marketing as a means for reinforcing and building awareness about their Food with Integrity commitment. Chipotle was able to communicate their message of sustainable farming with its “The Scarecrow” campaign featuring a short film in combination with a mobile game. The concept for both video and advergaming components of the campaign center on large processed food companies whose focus is revenue instead of sustainability and fresh food. Within four days of its release, the game reached over 250,000 downloads.

A spokeswoman for Chipotle, Danielle Winslow, explained that Chipotle wants “people to understand as much as possible about how food is raised, and we believe that a mobile game makes these issues more accessible.”

Advergaming was effective in addressing Chipotle’s Food with Integrity commitment due to its complicated subject matter. The mobile game allowed for a way to engage and entertain consumers, while also making them curious about where their food comes from and why it’s important. The game’s high production value, emotional and engaging plot, and large amount of varied content has been credited for the highly successful campaign. By December 2013 more than 530,000 consumers had downloaded the game through iTunes.

Based on Chipotle’s success, is advergaming underutilized? Should advergaming be utilized as a catalyst for awareness?

Is Social Media Making Us Honest?


Two weeks ago Brian Williams was the  23rd most trusted person in the country and NBC Nightly News was drawing in 9.3 million viewers a night. That has all drastically changed since it was unveiled that Williams lied about his role in a 2003 helicopter incident in Iraq.

A clip from the broadcast that included Williams’ story was posted to the NBC Nightly News Facebook page a few days after the show aired and things quickly went south. Lance Reynolds, who was on board the helicopter that was actually shot down, commented on the video and disputed Williams’ account of the event. Williams quickly became a trending topic as users started the hashtag #BrianWilliamsRemembers to mock the anchor for ‘misremembering.’

Williams’ has since been suspended for six months without pay. Would this have gone unnoticed if the video hadn’t been posed to Facebook? After the scandal broke it quickly came to light that this was not the first time Williams’ had exaggerated and/or altered his account of the event. However, this time it was posted to social media and was provided a platform for the truth to come out. This begs the question, is social media making us more accountable?

Stuff for the Sake of Stuff?

content_marketing_matters_581849Emerging media made way for advancements in how marketers were able to reach consumers, resulting in a much more challenging landscape. Consumers were presented with more and more messages as reaching these consumers became cheaper. It wasn’t just the large corporations reaching consumers; now every mom and pop shop in America has the resources to market to their target market. This resulted in marketers coming up with better ways connect with consumers, and content marketing was born.

93% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing, a $44 billion industry that generates three times as many leads per dollar spent as traditional marketing tactics.

LinkedIn is getting on board with their recently launch sponsored content advertising, allowing advertisers to reach their audience with their content marketing pieces.

This content is presented as useful thought leadership in the form of whitepapers, market reports and client updates however it is much more than that. Content marketing is not stuff for the sake of stuff. It is a carefully executed marketing strategy.

So next time you pick up one of these content marketing pieces, will you think twice? Are they less useful now that you know they are part of a bigger marketing strategy? Or are they still valuable though leadership?

View info graphic here:

Dirty Money


Emerging media has resulted in a shift in marketers’ use of promotional tactics, this raises important questions about the use of persuasion and whether or not children can comprehend it.  The skillet needed to recognize a Pepsi commercial and its purpose and Pepsi in a video game are quite different thought processes. Can children understand the difference between the two? If not, does this qualify as unethical?

The 2014 study Tween’s Knowledge of Marketing Tactics, Skeptical Beyond Their Years set out to determine how children between the ages of 8 and 12 respond to marketing tactics.

The purpose of the study was to update and extend the current understandings of children’s persuasion knowledge. Little is known about their awareness of new promotional marketing tactics, the most recent study related to youth’s knowledge of marketing tactics was published in the mid to late 1990s and it focused exclusively on television advertisements.

So how well do children comprehend emerging media? Can they understand that an app for breakfast cereal is a marketing tactic? Do they view this app in the same nature that they do a television ad? Do they understand that Facebook is another way for brands to advertise, just like a commercial?

The study found that covert marketing tactics are difficult for this age group to recognize, particularly among those age 12 and younger. (Freeman & Shapiro, 2014).

Doesn’t this make the $17 billion that is spent on targeting tweens annually dirty money?

Freeman, Dan., Shapiro, Stewart. (2014, March). Tween’s Knowledge of Marketing Tactics Skeptical Beyond Their Years. Journal of Advertising Research. DOI: 10.2501/JAR-54-1-044-055.

New Media Just Got Personal


As consumers, we have gotten accustomed to constantly advancing technologies and the changes they present in our lives. We have changed how we interact, how we shop, how we share, and how we communicate. In the 60 seconds it takes you to skim this blog entry 2 million searches will be performed on Google, 684,478 pieces of content will be posted to Facebook, and $272,070 will be spent online.

Marketing messages are presenting themselves in taxis, on airplanes, ATM machines, video games and anywhere else with a digital screen. The number of businesses that say Facebook is critical to their business has increased by 75%.

59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue.

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human.

So the question becomes, should marketers abandon traditional media? Are TV and print advertisements going to be a thing of the past?