Playing Ketchup

Bing has its problems, but is still going strong

October 22, 2009
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Today, it was reported that Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, was working to overcome its problems with spammers. It seems these “spammers” were using Bing’s own redirection tool to bypass filters and send users to spam webpages, like the one below. You can see that many corporate logos appear, the most prominent being, Google. However, Google does not even endorse this spam site and yet, their logo is displayed at the top of the ad screaming “trust me because I am a brand you know and love!”.

Yet, the disclaimer for this ad states, “Google does not sponsor or endorse this site”. This is where copyright infringement should be applied. Google’s brand logo, its entire image to consumers, is on the line with this spam web page encouraging people to work from home. While I highly believe in the First Amendment and freedom of speed, I do not think it is right to put trustworthy brands in an ad that has a negative connotation to consumers. It is trickery and deceptive.

However, on a more positive note for Bing, Microsoft announced at the recent Web 2.0 conference that it has made a partnership with Twitter. It will be providing real-time Twitter feed with search results. Pretty amazing! Check out the demonstration!


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Microsoft’s Bing Vs. Google

October 19, 2009
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With Microsoft’s 100 million dollar investment in advertising of its new search engine, Bing.com, the full extent of its success has yet to be determined though it appears its market share has been making gains slowly but surely. In July of 2009, according to StatCounter, “Bing has gained half a percentage point of share in Internet search since it appeared in May.” However, as of September 2009, “this brings Bing’s market share gains since launch to 1.3% and Google’s loss since Bing’s launch to 0.4%.”

And companies are starting to take notice. Businesses (those that are up-to-date on their emerging mediums) are realizing that Bing could be a major player in a consumers option to search for products and services online and are starting to focus on SEO to include Bing.com.

I received an email from my company (a very large hotel chain) regarding bing.com and it states, “Here’s why we like bing.com: Our hotels tend to perform better on Microsoft, conversion is higher then on Google and include more “extras” such as videos (if applicable) and photo results.”

For those companies trying to play catch up on this new emerging medium and learn the distinctions between Google and Bing, compare them side-by-side at this website http://www.blackdog.ie/google-bing.


Website Sources:
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2009/07/02/susquehanna-microsoft-bing-success-unclear/.
http://whydontyougoogle.us/off-topic/chandler-crosby-and-microsoft-one-of-these-bings-just-doesnt-belong/
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/090923-141325.


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Emerging Media Still Emerging

October 15, 2009
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As Brad Paisley says in his recent song, “I’d have given anything; To have my own Pac-Man game at home: I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade; Now I’ve got it on my phone.” And tonight, a young lady who works for Samsung Telecommunications told me, “The mobile communication industry has so much more room to grow, by leaps and bounds.” As little as five years ago, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social online networks were not even in existence. Today, we can get these social forums via our mobile phone not to mention play games, watch videos, send emails, and listen to music. Now that is emerging media.

However, as time progresses, the term “emerging media” will wear out its “emerging” feel and no longer be applicable. On October 5th, the Web 2.0 Summit celebrated its fifth year anniversary. The theme and newest description of the conference this year? Web Squared. The official Web 2.0 Summit website states, “Last year we focused on where the Web met the world. This year, the Web is the world.” It is quite obvious that companies will have to progress with technology’s ability to quickly and constantly change the way we communicate in order to remain alive and at the top of consumers’ awareness. Brands like Starbucks, TGI Fridays, Marriott, and Honda, are on the right track by being heavily involved with network platforms including Facebook and Twitter.


Tweeting for a Good Cause

October 12, 2009
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Twestival Local took place this year between September 10th and 13th. What is a Twestival? Basically, Twestival Local are local events that are 100% run by volunteers within a certain city (the closest to me was in Newark, NJ) for any not-for-profit organization of the organizer’s choosing and then coordinated to achieve a certain fundraising target. It is an event that not only connects many cities throughout the country to achieve a goal for charity but also provides opportunities for volunteers to network within their own community. As Twitter describes it, Twestival is a “global series of events organized by volunteers around the world under short timescales, which bring people offline for a great cause.” This year, over 130 cities will be hosting an event for Twestival Local.

In class, we discuss how emerging media is creating more opportunities for businesses to market their services and products to customers, however, I never realized how it is also changing the way not-for-profit organizations raise money, promote their purpose, and get people involved. No more are the days where an organization needs to spend an abundant amount of money on direct mail, phone calls, and excessive hours of labor to promote a charity event for it to be successful. Now not-for-profits can organize charity events all online using social mediums such as Twitter at very little or no cost! As Amanda Rose, the global organizer of Twestival, states, “I’ve also (in conjunction with Twitter) used Skype, IM, email – I think my phone bill is less than $10, so that is pretty amazing.” Amanda Rose helps to coordinate and organize Twestival Global which is like Twestival Local only there is ONE fundraising initiative: to raise money for charity water projects. This past February, Twestival Global encouraged over 10,000 people worldwide to volunteer and raised over a quarter of a million dollars to help clean up water in underdeveloped countries. Now that is tweeting for a good cause!


Buzz marketing is about starting conversations

October 6, 2009
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“Buzz marketing is: capturing the attention of consumers and the media to the point where talking about your brand becomes entertaining, fascinating, and newsworthy.” When Red Bull was first brought to market, the company did not use traditional forms of media to promote it. Instead, they relied heavily on buzz marketing…simply put, working hard just to get people to talk about it! The company began by supplying cases of Red Bull to intercollegiate hires and expecting them to throw parties. Today, the company continues to demand attention. Check out this video shot in Birmingham, Alabama:

If you notice, everyone on the street takes notice of the eleven Red Bull cars cruising past. Red Bull calls these individuals “consumer educators”. Their mission? To find people who need more energy and give them a can of Red Bull.

I think it is important to understand that this type of marketing coincided with the newly developed perceptions of its determined target market for the brand. It has become more apparent that Generation Y consumers do not respond well to commercial messages, rather, they cherish genuineness. “And being authentic means being a bit irreverent, a bit antiestablishment, and every bit different from your parents.”

It is also interesting how little Red Bull has expanded, extension-wise that is. They have stuck to one drink, one size, and one can for many years and have been extremely successful. “We are one of few companies around the world that can stay focused on one product,” Emmy Cortes, director of communications, says in defense of Red Bull’s narrow strategy. “We do what we do best.”

Natalie

References:

Rodgers, A. (2007 Dec 17) “It’s a (Red) Bull Market After All”. Retrieved October 5, 2009 from Fast Company Website: http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/10/redbull.html?page=0%2C1.


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Targeting Children via Online Games? Is it ethical?

October 3, 2009
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When one goes onto dole5aday.com or nabiscoworld.com, users can see that many of the games involving the company’s products are targeted at children. Dole 5 a day shows kids how eating “5 a day” can make them “Superkids” as well as discusses the benefits of exercising. Nabiscoworld has over twenty games involving many of their snack foods including Oreos, Teddy Graham, Nilla Wafers, etc. It is no wonder that why parents have become increasingly leery in allowing their children to play online games sponsored by a large companies.

As one parent blogger states, “Many online games and virtual worlds violate at least two of PEM’s standards of ethical marketing:
1. They interfere with the parent-child relationship by enticing young children to hand over an email address (and other personal information) without parental permission.
2. They take advantage of a child’s inability to understand that advertisers want their money by making the ads indistinguishable from the game itself.”

However, I believe that games involving educational lessons that are good for children to know, such as Dole’s 5-a-day and PBSkids.org, are great entertainment for children and actually help children absorb pertinent information better. Think about it…what do you think kids will remember more? 1. I am suppose to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day to stay healthy (boring) or 2. Saturated fat is bad for me because I helped Bam-Nana (fictional Banana character) defeat the saturated fat enemy in an online game on Dole Superkid’s website!

References:
http://www.parentsforethicalmarketing.org/blog/category/virtual/


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Podcasts = Convenience

October 3, 2009
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Ok, so I was aware that companies were using podcasts to market their products and services.  However, I never realized that many companies are also using podcasts to send out messages to its employees.  Rather than companies sending out mass emails, scheduling teleconferences, or sending out memos, executives can disseminate company-related information to all of its employees via podcasts so that it can be viewed at a convenient time for the employee.

Remember the movie Office Space? For those of you with a Hulu account, feel free to view the “Memo” scene:
Office Space “Memo”>

Obviously, we have advanced way past the use of internal memos and are now continually changing the way we communicate as more emerging mediums become available. I like how one marketing executive refers to podcasts, “You can listen to a seminar on your way to Chicago or even working out at the gym. You shouldn’t be forced to sit in class or at your computer.”

Not only are podcasts more convenient for employees and consumers, they are also very inexpensive. In fact, “podcasting is one of the few forms of communication that is less expensive than traditional print, television and radio advertising.”

So if your company has not rolled out its own form of podcasting yet to communicate with you as an employee, just wait, because this number is expected to rise as time progresses. It is a very exciting and constantly changing time in communication channels!

References:
http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2007/05/21/focus2.html


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Are They Faking It?

September 22, 2009
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In the past few days, I have been really taking some time to get to know Twitter a little better.   It is amazing how well some companies use their Twitter account like Chevron.  They interact with commentators, defend the company’s position in controversial situations, as well as proactively approach difficult issues in order to communicate more openly with its consumers.  But is it really Chevron?  Actually, it is.  However, it is amazing how many fake Twitter accounts are in existence.  For example, someone pretending to be an official ExxonMobil Corporation employee, named Janet, falsely opened a Twitter account and made posts and interacted with users and was able to pull it off for months!  According to The Industry Standard, “Janet” responded to a post regarding a very serious blunder of Exxon’s, the 1989 Valdez spill, by stating, “Although the Valdez spill was tragic, it was only 10 million gallons. Compare that to the 73 million in the Nowruz Oil Field in 1983.”  Not a very diplomatic or remorseful statement!  That is all ExxonMobil needs, more negativity!

This “stolen identity”, if you will, on Twitter, has brought to light a new term, Twitter-jacking. What is twitter-jacking?  Basically, it is when someone opens a Twitter account as someone they do not actually represent.  For instance, there are many Twitter accounts that play on the quirks and stereotypes of many politicians like our previous President, George W. Bush, and Condoleezza Rice.

As of right now, Twitter has come up with a way to help with Twitter-jacking called “Verified Accounts.”  Any account with a check-mark surrounded in blue beside of it is guaranteed to be the true identify of the user.  However, this feature is only being used on accounts that have had previous issues with Twitter-jacking such as extremely famous celebrities or large companies. Unfortunately, Twitter explains, there are too many Twitter accounts to have this feature available for 100% of the users.

Nonetheless, as The Industry Standard says, this one example of Exxon’s brand being “Twitter-jacked” “should be a wake-up call for companies not paying attention to social media space.”  Sounds like brands and companies need to be on top of the social networking world whether they like it or not so they can protect their brand image that they work so hard to maintain.

References:

Havenstein, H. 4 Aug 2008.  Exxon Mobil’s brand ‘hijacked’ by impersonator on Twitter.  Retrieved September 21, 2009 from The Industry Standard Web site: http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/08/04/exxon-mobils-brand-hijacked-impersonator-twitter.


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Is the field of search engine optimization dying?

September 18, 2009
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In our Integrated Marketing Communications class this week, we discussed how search engines make their money selling paid placements and paid inclusions.  This form of advertising ensures that users are able to see a company’s product and/or service when searching for a related item.  However, with this type of advertising as well as the billions of Internet websites available today, does it mean the end for the search engine optimization industry?

I would have to say NO WAY!  If anything, it is more important than ever considering the majority of users do not look past the first and second pages of a search engine’s results.  However, it does mean a change in the way SEO can bring results.  As one SEO advocate says, “As we move forward in this industry, webmasters, site owners, and SEOs need to shift their focus from asking how they can get this keyword to this position in this engine to how they can get more targeted traffic and convert it into customers” (High Rankings).  This means no longer can webmasters put keywords into their site that consumers are likely to search for and expect it to rise to the top of Google.  First, web designers should focus on using creativity to design a site that is best suited for its site visitors.  It is all about “good content”!  Use text, be creative and stick to the brand’s personality!  Second, talk about the product by writing articles, blogging, providing links to the website on social networking sites, etc.  It is all about focusing on the targeted customer, tailoring the website to fit those needs and expectations, and, ultimately bringing them to the site to become a loyal customer.

References:

http://www.highrankings.com/expectations


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Websites you want to SHUSH!

September 15, 2009
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In speaking about and analyzing company websites this past week, I came across an article that truly understands the nuisance of an annoying website called “Annoying Website Design”.  In fact, the author lists his top 5 items on what makes some websites annoying, the first one being BACKGROUND MUSIC!  To drive the point further to home, I asked five colleagues what can make a website annoying, all five said loud, incessant MUSIC!

I like how web designer, Tim Priebe, states it, “If any elements do enhance your viewer’s browsing experience, then they’re a good thing.  If they don’t then you shouldn’t uses them, and get ride of them!”

As a form of emerging media, a company can really put its website to use by communicating the brand’s personality as well as building a more positive relationship with customers.  It is important to ensure that there is a sense of  “flow” to the website, as introduced by psychology professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which allows for the user to easily browse and search the website and actually encourages them to visit again (Ramsey).  However, adding unstoppable, annoying music to play throughout every page of the website, I believe does not encourage flow and forces the user to leave and switch sites.

For example:  As I was looking for a place to eat nearby last week, I came across this website, http://www.casamayamexican.com.  While I did choose the restaurant based on reviews from local community members, the website did not do it justice!  The food was great, but the music on its’ website is what I would consider A-N-N-O-Y-ING!  Take a look and let me know what you think.

References:

Baker, W. Annoying Website Design.  Retrieved September 14, 2009 from WebDesigners123 Web Site: http://articles.webdesigners123.com/annoying-website-design.php.

Priebe, T. Flashing Text, Music and Annoying Website Elements – The Carnies of the Web. Retrieved September 14, 2009 from Ezine articles Web site: http://ezinearticles.com/?Flashing-Text,-Music-and-Annoying-Website-Elements—The-Carnies-of-the-Web&id=169968.

Ramsey, J. (2007). Designing For Flow. A list apart blog. Retrieved September 8, 2009, from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/designingforflow/


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