Category Archives: social media

Groupon vs. Advertising? Response to Bernhard

Of course, I disagree with Eric Bernhard’s simplistic view of advertising posted on TechCunch.

It echoes the obsession with media decisions that are simply easier to measure (vis-a-vis conversion rates) alluded to in my prior post about defining viewthrough. Rule #1 of analytics: Just because it is easy to measure doesn’t mean you should – although there are some cynical arguments about job security.

Effective advertising is dangerous as Jeff Molander put it, but potentially very powerful – it always has been as it continues to evolve. Unfortunately, executing and measuring advertising is *much* more complex than pushing a button and signing up for a Groupon promotion: there are media choices to plan and buy as well as serious creative and messaging decisions.

Compare that to Groupon’s appeal: “No one makes it happen faster”,”savvy young audience”,etc…

Sales pitch aside, Eric is onto something deeper in his primal mistrust of brand advertising. The perception that a Groupon is inherently less risky than advertising alternatives is actually a clever meme that is apparently being well-tapped by Groupon’s sales force and marketing. 
That a business can actually tangibly see people (customers as they are buying) coming in the door (profitable transactions or not) is new, powerful and real. Less easy to measure is the long-term impact of this Pavlovian bell. Naturally, business owners assume some will be sticky to make up for the price-sensitive deal shoppers. Basic accounting should clue the business owner in as to the actual cost of the promotion.
Meanwhile, it is just not that easy to measure the impact of branding on an ephemeral mass of people that didn’t come in – to the point about conversion rates. 
What is going on here? Game Theory proves over and over again that most people are VERY risk-averse. Ultimately, if we reframed the opportunity instead by offering each of the $20K advertising deals for FREE to business owners – what do you think their response would be? 
Many will prefer take the certainty of free advertising over a specific and likely loss.

RapLeaf and Privacy

Have you seen your RapLeaf profile? Apparently they scrape social media sites to use for targeting content and ads to you.

WARNING: they are not members of the Network Advertising Initiative and require you to enter an email address to authenticate an account.

TwitClicks drops Twitter user feature?

TwitClicks is a good URL shortening and analytics service. At free it is hard to complain too much.

However, there has been a noticeable absence of a key and unique qualitative reporting feature of TwitClicks – “Who Visited – See Best Guess”. While the domain of the traffic source shows up (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN even Ning show up fine) since March or April 2009 there is no more data on specific Twitter users. Previously, this worked great and revealed which users were responding to which messages – essential for understanding response and viral propagation.

A simple test was performed on a recent post on this very blog to determine the source of the problem. A TwitClicks shortened URL was posted on Twitter and functioned fine.

TwitClicks results.

However, when it came to reporting the previously available user name feature TwitClicks consistently provides no data over several more tests. More specificlly, there are absolutely no user names of Twitter clickers anymore. Possibly, related to this it was determined after a referral monitoring test that Google Analytics was being used on a redirected TwitClicks page – basically in the middle between Twitter and the target landing page. While the redirect process is essential, it unclear what value the JavScript-based Google Analytics system brings in the context of TwitClicks.

With all the compeition for URL-shortners and Twitter analytics tools, it is odd that this feature was dropped at this time. Inquiries to TwitClicks have not been successful – would love to hear from other measurement-oriented folks if they are having the same experience.

Well, How did they Get Here?

For those who know me, the notion of online media measurement and Internet ad performance has been an interest since the Web 1.0 days. With the 1995 launch of Lilypad by my old firm, Streams Online Media Development, we set out to offer the industry and our clients tracking software that could tell just how people were finding their Web site. Heck, I wrote what we found in the Lilypad White Paper.
Good News
I recently saw a demo of a very promising service that tracks latent branding (viewthrough) from online publicity sources. The methodology makes sense and that means it is now possible to see, how they got there. It is also patent-pending.
Using this novel approach, accountability and quantifiable results is no longer then domain of paid online media. Earned and social media can be monitored and probably in your existing site metrics tool, too. Yes, you read correctly: view-through from unpaid mentions – regardless of source and sans le click. Whether from news stories, Facebook, Twitter, long-tail blogs or YouTube video AND without the user clicking on a parameter-embedded hyperlink (old 80% reliable). The same methodology could also validate paid media placement in some situations.
End-to-End Attribution?
With this novel and unprecedented solution, the most measurable and accountable medium will better allow apples-apples comparison’s of media effectiveness spanning paid marketing channels: affiliates, search, display email and of course offline measure engagement, conversion events, etc…It then becomes potentially possible to view the various touchpoints and even optimal sequence that bring consumers to make purchase or other tangible decisions.
The Winners will be savvy public relations/media relations firms with an online bent and corporate PR departments and even the cottage industry of social media experts…assuming they are delivering results. The Losers will be ineffective providers and probably search gurus.
Why? The real rainmakers will finally have definitive quantitative proof of the value of their efforts…those living off the last click…not so much.
Analytics teams should brace themselves for having more on their plate.

Charlene Li: The Future of Social Networks

Charlene Li formerly of Forrester and author of Groundswell (with colleague Josh Bernoff) gave an interesting talk at the SF AMA meeting held at Adaptive Networks in SOMA: The Future of Social Networks.

While it started off a bit slow, with an new agey: “Social Networks will be like Air” it got better. Overall, Charlene’s comments were very thoughtful though anecdotal at times but ultimately practical…she also did a good job of “crowdsourcing” and engaging the group of attendees.

“Nice-to-have” would have liked more formal research to back-up some of her propositions; granted, social media is likely to evolve for a while as a medium and marketing channel. Though the venue was a bit small and stuffy there were plenty of snacks to be had. All told, for $50 it was just this side of worth it.

The presentation deck is also available here:
The Future of Social Networks

The Twilight Zone

Is it advertising or PR? How do you measure it? I spent this Wednesday contemplating that while attending the event held in SF’s Presidio. Disappointed by the lack of on-stage decorum but oh well.

Still many questions linger about measurement…fewer answers. Of note:

  • ComScore’s Gian Fulgoni – Despite PA-system glitches, Gian brought up their research on cookiesnot being infallible; he also reframed the “hater” questions about ComScore’s panel-based approach as about Basic Sampling Methodologies, i.e. Market Research/Statistics 101; Chicago-based Gian also dispelled a few myths about the growth of the ComScore panel and suggested that next year Mac users will be included.
  • Meet-up’s Scott HeifermanThe Heif managed to insult agencies and advertising clients but let everyone know that Meetup is now accepting sponsorships! huh? Scott wants you to know he favors Obama, all while throwing f-bombs for some reason; glad to hear that Meetup is now at breakeven AND doesn’t need any VC money. BTW, did IScott hails from suburban Chicago.
  • Quantcast’s Adam Gerber– Fascinating product with lots of potential; they don’t exactly spell out what their business model is for some reason.
  • Dave Smith of Medismith – Dave brought a rapidly escalating rhetorical 50,000-foot conversation down to Earth with one line: “…but I have campaigns to run.”
  • FM’s, John Battelle – for a few fleeting minutes, the Conversational Measurement Toolbox was being dangled, it was live…so close yet so far away. When can the clients beta test it?
  • Starcom’s Susan Desmond – fielded an unusual question from host John Battelle (bordering on obsequious) about Mad Men -“Was it really like that in advertising?” Susan was bullish on analytics in the emerging digital media agency; Susan is also based in Chicago.