Amazon Shows How To Protect Your Brand While Connecting To Facebook

As you probably know, Facebook and Amazon are allowing consumers to connect the two sites.  What I find most interesting is the care Amazon is taking to inform consumers what this will mean to them and why they should do it.  Given Facebook’s repeated stumbles on issues of consumer privacy, the approach being taken by Amazon is one every marketer should note and consider. What’s important about Amazon’s approach is that it's not simply leaving the communication of important information to Facebook. 

CNN, for example, lets Facebook do the talking. Below is Facebook’s standard "Request for Permission" page, which is the message consumers receive when they click the button to connect CNN with their Facebook profile.  What does it tell users?  CNN can "access my basic information," but what will they do with it?  Will they share or sell it further?  Will it be made available to marketers or other users?  Will my list of friends -- one of the items mentioned in the list of basic information that will be shared -- receive information from CNN as a result of my actions?  And what information will CNN send to Facebook -- every page I visit or only the ones I "like"?   

CNN Facebook Permission page

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A New Analyst "On Display" at Forrester

I’ve spent the last 10 years, on and off, representing the buy side of the display marketing equation.  For many years I held the post of Media Supervisor at digital marketing leader Razorfish, managing the display efforts for a Fortune 500 financial services brand.  I co-founded, and successfully ramped, the “agency trading desk”, ATOM Systems, for my agency.  And I worked within Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center as an educator and advocate for the in-house audience buying solution, Audience on Demand, as AOD’s head of Brand Relations. 

Never did I really get a chance to take a step back and contemplate the big picture – What are publishers struggling with in this rapidly changing ecosystem?  How do the different point solutions (many of them technology based, these days) fit together… or not? What are the challenges that digital marketers are facing in their (often uphill) battle to grow digital’s share of spend, and what are some solutions?  Taking off my buy-side hat and taking a step back, as the newest member of Forrester’s Interactive Marketing group, offers a welcome change in viewpoint! 

 My experience over the last few years, however, does give me a unique point of view - I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about how the modes of acquiring, optimizing, reporting on and deriving insight from display media are going through a dramatic shift.  This shift is a direct result of the rise of ad exchanges like Yahoo!’s RMX and Google's ADX, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) like Invite Media and MediaMath, data marketplaces like BlueKai, and more.  I strongly believe that we’re at an inflection point in how a significant portion of Display media will be managed – and by whom - going forward, and I personally look forward to sharing my perspective on it with this community. 

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Location-Based Social Networks: The Conversation Continues

You know how an analyst can tell when she's hit on a hot topic?  When it generates this much conversation.

We published a report about location-based social networks (LBSNs) earlier this week, and it's spurred quite a lot of dialogue. The opinions are varied -- and so much the better for it because it's lead to rigorous discussion about the users of these services and how marketers can get involved, rather than just focusing on the technologies and their (admittedly very real) cool factors. 

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Should Marketers Check In?

Should Marketers Check In To Location-Based Social Networks?

Location-based social networks (LBSNs) have been all over the media lately. Foursquare hit 2 million users. Twitter launched, revamped, and re-launched Places. CNNMoney partnered with Gowalla around its popular annual “100 Best Places to Live” list.  There’s even a social experiment -- PleaseRobMe -- that was started in response to the hype around this new social sharing technology.   So it’s no surprise that we’ve been getting a lot more questions from marketers lately about these services.  Marketers want to know who’s using these services, how often they’re using them, what they’re using them for, how marketers can get involved, and whether they should.

We dug into our research to try to answer these questions, and at a high level what we found is that just 1% of US online adults are using LBSNs weekly, while 4% of them have tried them at least once.  The sample size of this 1% of adults who use LBSNs regularly is small, so our findings on their behaviors are directional only, but our research shows that these users are typically young, male, well-educated, and influential.  In fact, LBSN users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision. 

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The Future Of Application Stores

Apple reinvented the distribution of products and services on mobile phones, opening up direct-to-consumer opportunities for nontelecom companies. The numbers look impressive — more than 5 billion downloads and $1 billion paid to developers in the two years since the launch of the Apple App Store.

However, it also generated $429 million for Apple itself in two years. These revenues are not meaningful to Apple’s core revenues. Due to the limited number of paid apps and their significant concentration among games and navigation apps, it is likely that a significant number of independent developers have not recouped their investments via the current revenue-sharing model. The recent launch of iAd is a way for Apple to maintain the attractiveness of its platform, allowing third parties that provide free apps to develop sustainable business models.

But, despite all the hype around apps, only a minority of consumers download them monthly. A recent Forrester survey of more than 25,000 European adults shows that only 4% of all mobile users and 15% of smartphone users report downloading apps at least once per month. However, the fact that 21% of all European mobile users consider apps to be an important feature when choosing a new mobile handset highlights the large gap between today’s limited usage of apps and consumer awareness and interest.

The application store market is still nascent, but it is evolving quickly. However, in the longer run, few players will be able to address the key factors that will make them a success:

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Apple iPad Sales: Why Tablets Are Even Bigger Than We Thought

Consumer product strategists, even those not in direct competition with Apple, should pay attention to the iPad, because it’s defying common assumptions about consumer technology adoption.

In Tuesday’s earnings call, Apple announced that it has sold 3.27 million iPads in the quarter ending June 26. On June 22, it had announced shipping 3 million iPads—that’s 270,000 units in less than one week.

In our previously published forecast, we projected that US consumers would buy 3.5 million tablets in 2010 and 8.4 million in 2011, and that 59 million US consumers would own a tablet by 2015. Critics comparing our numbers to Apple’s have missed some important differences: Apple’s published numbers are global (in 10 countries so far, and 9 more starting July 23), consumer and enterprise (Apple claims that 50% of Fortune 100 countries are “deploying or piloting” the iPad), and represent shipments, not necessarily sell-through. Our numbers are US-only, consumer-only, and represent final sales to consumers net of any returns — all of which help explain why our numbers will always be lower than Apple’s.

However, based on new data from Forrester’s consumer surveys, as well as Apple’s rate of “millioning,” we think our initial forecast was conservative, especially in the short term, and we plan to publish an update later this year once we have more supply-side and consumer data.

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Facebook Is Social Media Heroin, And That Puts It At Risk -- Or Does It?

We humans can have all sorts of addictions.  Some researchers believe that addictions may be positive -- such as to jogging or meditation -- but of course many addictions are negative. 

What about Facebook?  There is no doubt that Facebook is addicting -- according to Nielsen, users spend as much time on Facebook as they do Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia and eBay combined. But is this a positive addiction or a negative one?  Is Facebook jogging, or is it heroin?

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) may give us a clue;  the annual review of brand customer satisfaction put Facebook in the bottom five percent of private sector companies.  The social network is “in the same range as the IRS tax e-filing system, airlines and cable companies.”  ForeSee Results, which worked on the ACSI survey, reported that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the Web site, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience.  (And Facebook is about to get further PR problems in the form of a new David Fincher/Aaron Sorkin movie, “The Social Network,” which has a plot that is said to “unabashedly attack” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.)

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The ROI Of Social Media Marketing: More Than Dollars And Cents

Brands are making plenty of money in social media:  Dell Outlet’s Twitter account has generated millions for Dell, the Intel Channel Voice community has decreased costs by eliminating the need for expensive in-person events and P&G used media mix modeling to demonstrate that the BeingGirl.com community is several times more effective at driving sales than the brands' television ads. 

Many marketers can draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results, but many more cannot.  This doesn’t mean social media marketing is ineffective; it just means that marketers have to recognize benefits beyond dollars and cents.  Facebook fans, retweets, site visits, video views, positive ratings and vibrant communities are not financial assets -- they aren’t reflected on the balance sheet and can’t be counted on an income statement -- but that doesn’t mean they are valueless.  Instead, these are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future.

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The State Of Mobile Commerce In Europe

I booked my first hotel night via a mobile device a year ago.

I didn’t even think about the fact that it would be considered an “mCommerce” transaction, as I simply booked it directly on the hotel group’s Web site via the browser of my mobile phone. The site wasn’t actually optimized for mobile devices, but it was possible to enter my credit card details via a secure Web transaction. That’s not ideal, so I wonder how many mobile transactions that firm has missed simply because it doesn’t provide a compelling user experience.

 European mobile commerce is still at an early stage. Digital content is still the primary product purchased via mobile devices, but European consumers show growing interest in using their mobile phones for all sorts of shopping activities. I have recently contributed to a new report on the state of mobile commerce in Europe, written by my colleagues serving eBusiness Channel and Strategy Professionals. The report reveals that:

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Three Lessons About Marketing (Not Just Social Media) From Old Spice's Successful Social Media Program

Unless you're living under a rock, you know about  P&G’s success this week in turning its popular Old Spice Guy commercial into a true social media success story. There's a lot to be learned from this program about social media, but I think it says more about marketing than about social media. Leave it to a 71-year-old brand to show us how to do 21st century marketing!

Lesson One: Paid And Earned Integration:  As my friend and Forrester peer Sean Corcoran says, "no media stands alone."  Old Spice’s social media success started with what some think of being an old and tired medium -- television.  But TV isn’t going anywhere and paid media is no less relevant in the social media era than it was in the mass media era. As the Old Spice program shows, the key to making paid media work -- really work -- is to focus on how to make it more social.  

Lesson Two: Adaptive Marketing:  Today’s best marketing is adaptive marketing.  To quote another friend and former Forrester peer, Lisa Bradner, “Today's brand marketing organizations are ill equipped to handle the world of ‘always on’ marketing in the digital age. To remain relevant, marketing leaders will embrace Adaptive Brand Marketing.”  The Old Spice social program wasn’t an idea that was part of a one-year campaign planning process but instead was envisioned and executed in rapid fashion to respond to the success of the Old Spice character and commercials. 

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