Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Are Facebook and Nielsen missing the point?

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Having finally decided to put Beacon into the deadpool, Facebook have announced that they will partner with Neilsen for analytics measurement of advertising on the site. The first product, Brandlift, “measures aided awareness, ad recall, message association, brand favorability, and purchase consideration via a set of short one- or two-question online surveys.”

I am slightly confused by this approach. Nielsen is a big, big research player and they have some very cool tools to monitor social media (BuzzMetrics) in real time, so why would they focus on conducting polls to see what users think of the display ads. Let me save you some time – “I don’t notice them…” , “I only click on them by a mistake…”, “I have disabled the ads on Firefox…”, “ They are irrelevant…” “they piss me off…” etc..

If Facebook have made $500m this year from display, surely they are doing a good job already in convincing advertisers that FB is a viable platform? Or is this a play for the bigger, more precious brands to convince them that they should move or increase their spend with Facebook?

I am not keen on display advertising. I agree it still has a role to play in the awareness part of the ‘sales funnel’ but that is about it and it certainly is largely ineffective in social communities. I can’t help thinking Nielsen and FB have missed an opportunity here. Rather than flogging the dead horse that is display advertising, why not focus on gleaning actionable insight into the conversations on FB and peddling that to the big brands?

Because the monitoring software can only access public pages and Facebook would never get away with giving Nielsen access to private pages or conversations, where the real value is?

Is this why Twitter and comments and forums will always be better for real time commercial engagement than Facebook?

Is being a walled garden going to ultimately harm Facebook’s revenue potential as users will never allow brands into their private world and will not engage with display ads?

Interesting times?


What’s in it for Barbara?

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment

There is far too much crap on TV. I am talking about the UK specifically but having recently got back from travelling around the world, I think it’s a global issue. However, Channel 4 has been running a series called “I’m running Sainsbury’s” on Tuesday nights which I have enjoyed.

Basic premise is – The economic climate has meant Sainsbury’s is involved in a customer turf war with the other major UK supermarkets as consumers tighten their belts. Sainsbury’s Chief Exec, Justin King, thinks the next big idea will come from the staff on the shop floor (good move, I like it), so asked all the staff for ideas and gave the best four a trial with a view to rolling it out across their stores.

I want to talk about episodes 2 and 3 as I think it demonstrates the difference between advertising and engagement – old marketing and branding techniques vs a new social approach.

Episode 2 – Barbara

Barbara is from Leeds. Her idea was to “take the store to the customer”. This translated to Barbara walking round the store with hot crossed buns (her target product) and harassing customers into buying them. People would be accosted in the snack isles by Barbara armed with her buns, and then ‘hard sold’ the merits of them. When that didn’t quite work, she would physically put them into the customers’ trolleys!

She easily nailed her target of selling £450 worth of hot crossed buns in a day and as a result took the plan to head office, who liked it and it will be implemented in 20 stores in the autumn.

The best moment for me was when she, having finished her presentation of the trial to the Sainsbury’s board, asked “…if this gets rolled out nationwide…the thing I want to know is…what’s in it for Barbara?” while rubbing her hands together! Gold. Apologies if the impression of Barbara is negative, it shouldn’t be, she was awesome and a very good salesman.

Episode 3 – Niall

Niall is from Enfield. His idea was to improve customer service by setting up a ‘surgery’ in the store where customers could give feedback (mostly negative) on the store as the customer service desk was always busy with refunds and exchanges. He was charged with solving 50% of the problems himself without bothering head office, over a week. Cue a stream of irate customers and a harassed Niall,  who hadn’t workout a process of dealing with the complaints (if only this process was done online). However, he was successful in his trial.

Sainsbury’s head office however,  were not as impressed as they were with Barbara. They saw the surgery as a cost (two employees were needed to help run the surgery) and something which would only be used when a store had a refurb or changed the layout. I am guessing that without sales figures or any tangible metric to measure success, Niall’s idea seemed less attractive and certainly less cost effective.

I disagree with Sainsbury’s on this and think it highlights a common problem with brands and how they operate, especially online.

On the one hand we have Barbara and the old media technique of shouting (literally – she used the store PA system) the message and interrupting the customer to get them aware of the product. Of course sales increased, people were terrified and the hard sell does work in certain environments on a short term basis. Sainsbury’s saw the numbers going up in a short space of time and assumed success. What I want to know is; how many customers will never shop in that Sainsbury’s again for fear of running into Barbara and being forced to buy baked goods against their will?

On the other, we have Niall with the new, social media approach of listening, talking and engaging the customers. These were people who were willing to take the time to actually come and vent their anger and frustration – these are the people that matter, these are the people brands should really give a shit about. When he solved an old lady’s “you can’t buy donuts individually” issue and then called her to give her the news, she was “over the moon” and “couldn’t believe the service”. I am betting she will always shop at Sainsbury’s for the rest of her life. What is the ROI of that?

Brands (and loads are already doing this so its not an original concept!) need to use the social media sites now available to them to be better at customer service. They need to create advocates of their brand, and in today’s online world that is done by interacting and putting the human touch back into service. The best example I can find is Zappos – – have a read; it’s genius.

People like dealing with people.  I don’t think that will ever change and the social media sites have made this type of relationship possible on a regular basis in real time. If brands do it right, it will take care of marketing, research, PR, and branding all in one.

The caveat to this is it requires a fundamental shift in how companies operate internally, how they budget for this new activity and how they measure it. It is also a long term game, not a short term, campaign driven one. The metrics have yet to be established to measure it effectively and the potential banana skins are everywhere…but they are crazy if they don’t jump on board as soon as possible.