Thursday, November 4, 2010

Facebook Deals: Mobile promo may catch on slowly given geo-social's privacy issues

Facebook now makes local marketing even more socially dynamic with Facebook Deals, a new geo-location app that connects users of Facebook Places to hot deals offered by local businesses. Deals can take many forms: coupon savings, group deals, loyalty rewards or even charitable deals where a portion of sales go to a charity.

Some 23 major merchants and up to 20,000 small and midsize businesses in the U.S. are part of the initial program. Big players include American Eagle Outfitters, Chipotle, H&M, Macy's, McDonald's and Starbucks. The Gap says it plans to give away 10,000 pairs of jeans via Facebook Deals.  

Initially, Deals is only available through Facebook's iPhone app or via

As this video post by Cnet demonstrates, users simply click to claim their discount and then redeem it by showing the deal on their phone at checkout.  The Deals service is an extension of Facebook Places, which lets smartphone owners with Facebook accounts share their exact location and find the whereabouts of friends. This latest feature notifies users of discounts and deals at selected merchants nearby.

"Coupons have become one of the most desirable forms of mobile advertising from a consumer perspective," says Greg Sterling, an independent analyst who closely follows Facebook.Facebook Deals not only 'accelerates' the company's big presence on mobile devices, it is 'very significant' for marketers, retailers and local businesses.  

Forrester Research's social media analyst Augie Ray calls this move “a game changer,” predicting that Facebook Places could single-handedly change the way people shop by “encouraging the adoption of check-in activities among people who previously saw no reason to do so.”     

Facebook doesn’t charge businesses to promote an offer on Facebook Deals. Instead, local businesses with deals have incentive to buy display ads on Facebook. 

Researcher eMarketerer projects Facebook will earn $1.28 billion in worldwide advertising revenue this year, up from $665 million in 2009. Market researcher BIA/Kelsey sees revenue from mobile advertising in the U.S. exploding to $3.1 billion in 2013, up from $320 million in 2009.   

To make things even more interesting, Facebook Deals combines geo-location with other geo-social features like Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, which many now use to shop, communicate, socialize and play games. Foursquare is said to be planning personal brand discovery features that leverage user recommendations and buying history.

Privacy concerns are hindering mainstream adoption of geosocial tech, however, and Facebook members may be turned off by the fact that when they activate a deal news of it gets posted to their wall. 

Pew Research found that only 4 percent of adults now use location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, or Facebook Places, and only 1 percent of these actually use these services on any given day.  Pew also found that only 8 percent of adults 18-29 use them – significant because this segment is the largest in terms of geosocial tools acceptance.

For more on Facebook's privacy issues mega PR firm MS&L offers a white paper,  FacebookPrivacy: Implications for Marketers

This story from InformationWeekcom provides good insight, too. 


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lost in translation? Why global brands need a local story.

Everyone aspires to luxury, right? Not according to Tyler Brûlé, the Canadian-born journalist, entrepreneur, and magazine publisher, who argues that consumers around the world think and behave differently, shaped by their local culture, history and values. Luxury brand Gucci for example, which is hot in Japan and the US, holds little appeal in Sweden where people prize social equality.(It’s little wonder that the massively democratic retailers H&M and IKEA are Swedish.)   

Several years ago Britain’s BBC4 ran a series presented by Brule called Counter Culture, which examined the consumer mindset in JapanLibyaSwedenItaly and the US.  He found that marketing, like politics, always has a  local dynamic. The Telegraph newspaper ran an article about Brule's show that’s still worth reading. Only the episode on Libya can be viewed on the web and it is fascinating. The other episodes are sold online. 

Recently the Financial Times ran a story about Russia's growing preference for home-grown fashion designers. According to Igor Chapurin, a noted Russian designer, after the end of the drab Soviet years Russian consumers gravitated to flashy western designers such as Versace and Valentino. Now they favor monochrome, low-key looks created by domestic talent who have a better grasp of Russian tastes and attitudes.

Mashable has an excellent post on international marketing with insights (and tips) on tailoring digital programs to vastly different audiences. 

Victoria's Secret? Short (commercials) work great. But shift to 15-second spots pushes larger brand story to the web

 USA Today reports that TV advertisers are shifting to shorter commercials.  The number of 15-second television commercials has jumped more than 70% in five years to nearly 5.5 million last year, according to Nielsen.  

The trend isn’t all that surprising. Today, people are pretty adept at tuning out tiresome commercials and research now shows that longer spots aren't necessarily better. With the right creative marketers can get a bigger bang running a heavier schedule of concise blips. 

Case in point: Victoria Secret’s new “Bombshell Bra” commercial  packs a heck of lot of sell into 15-seconds, though I wonder why this spot doesn't work harder by driving traffic to the VS website. Short format commercials airing on Hulu do this seamlessly because they are clickable. The fusion of broadcasting and web browsing should evolve quickly as new interactive television platforms such as Google TV become mainstream.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Transmedia takes root in children's book publishing

Speaking last week at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association’s annual trade show, Kristen McLean, executive director of Association of Booksellers for Children, cited transmedia as one of the leading trends in children’s book publishing. She said transmedia makes it possible to develop narrative properties that can be widely marketed using multiple media platforms such as smartphone apps, web sites, video/film, and social networks. “From now on this is the way young readers will be in the world,” McLean said.

One of the most compelling transmedia models in children’s publishing is The Amanda Project, a teen mystery series by Harper Collins that includes an interactive website experience developed by Fourth Story Media. By going online Amanda fans actively participate in the evolving story - becoming a character and contributing plot ideas, artwork, theories, clues, and more. The immersive nature of The Amanda Project has proven so popular with young readers (and aspiring writers) that some middle school teachers now incorporate it into their creative writing curriculum. 

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