Posts Tagged ‘e-marketing


Crowd Sourcing, Marketing and Music Ticket Sales – might just work

I’m not a big fan of crowdsourcing in marketing. You might have guessed that from my coverage of the CGU Rap crowd sourcing campaign. The reason is that it’s often so poorly executed… it so often comes off as companies either (A) being lazy or (B) trying to do something that they’ve heard is hip / ‘the new thing’ without understanding the concept properly (crowd sourcing was probably one of THE marketing buzz words for 2009). There are exceptions, but they are few and far between (I liked the Smiths Chips ‘Do Us a Flavour” campaign. Although the flavours are no longer available in shops, that campaign was a provided customers a new reason for people to go out and buy not just one bags of Smiths Crisps, but 2 or 3 or 4 to sample the new flavours that Smiths had crowdsourced). 

Blaise Agüera y Arcas shows off Bing Maps and several crowdsourced features.

I need to clarify that I’m not anti-crowdsourcing in general – it is awesome for things like what Bing Maps are doing (see video above) where, for example, people are able to layer PhotoSynths of their favourite places over Bing Maps. Further, Bing is also able to pull geo-tagged images down from Flickr and stitch them together, meaning that a lot of the time, a human user doesn’t need to even create the PhotoSynth – it is automatically made by pulling down the millions of images on Twitter. See, crowd sourcing can be awesome. 

 But I digress… is an awesome new(ish) business aiming to crowdsource sales of music tickets to fans. It mimics the role of bands’ street teams, whilst acting as a ticket selling intermediary. And I really like the idea. 

In a nutshell, the site allows users to earn a small commission upon directing a friend to buy a ticket to see a band… the people who refer buyers (called “Posse Agents”) are given a unique referral code which tracks how many people have been referred by that Agent, and the Agents are then paid the corresponding amount based on how many ticket sales they accrued. Agents may also receive certain other perks such as free CDs, VIP access to shows they sell tickets for etc. Whilst for the average user, the small amount received for referring their friends might not be worth it, you can imagine that this provides a very interesting, exciting new way for music blogs and industry influencers to earn some solid cash. This is potentially very attractive for those Influencers who are active in some of the more ‘niche’, underground genres, where they reach a large percentage of the fan base but a small percent of the overall population. This allows them to generate the sort of revenue that display advertising would never be able to replicate. 

Whilst I hesitate to call an idea as awesome as Posse ‘affiliate marketing’ (which is a dirty word if ever I heard one), that is essentially what the site is – it’s an affiliates program for the live music industry, where promotions and effectively ticket sales are crowdsourced. To the best of my knowledge, that is an original concept for live music. 

Premo's Coming to Australia... and using Posse

Premo's Coming to Australia... and using Posse

I do have one concern with Posse – it’s a business model that is easily replicated. Whilst I’m no copyright expert, I’d say there’s not sufficient IP involved in the site to prevent established ticket sellers cheaply imitating the same functionality with some quick code or the affiliate marketing software of their choice. Posse will really need to hit the ground running over the next 6 months to build a solid user base and cement itself as the originator in this area before the bigger players start to take notice, because I think it’s a concept that has the potential to become an industry standard. All the same, despite this challenge, Posse’s an inspired concept and I wish them well.


Online Advertising’s biggest barrier – cost

One of the biggest reservations I have about online marketing is cost – the entry point for the vast majority of online advertising is too low. Let me explain…

There is a reluctance to use online advertising among many advertisers/marketers, mainly because people look at click through rates as a measure of success, and thus think it is too fruitless an activity to return good ROI. The jury’s still out on how effective online ads are (the last-ad attribution model that most people cite as being proof online ads are dead is fundamentally flawed) but I think there’s a much more distinct reason why we should question what we are doing with online advertising…

When we visit a webpage, we (usually) see all sorts of ads for all sorts of companies, usually served from an ad server platform (in this case, uses Directory M and Emediate for their advertising). Some of the ads we see on sites are from companies we know are reputable businesses. Other ads want to sell us solutions to building a sixpack stomach in 3 weeks. Today, I saw the ad to the right served to me on a fairly reputable website (, advertising a service that preys on people’s fear and will potentially help me kill someone. I won’t include the link to the site it points to, but you can probably find the site if you’ve got your websmarts around you and are curious.

For most businesses, a major barrier to entry to TV (or other mainstream media) advertising is that the costs are too high – smaller businesses – aswell as dodgy, spamming con-men – do not have the sort of money to front up to pay for a TV campaign. However, this lends a certain credibility to TV (and other mainstream) advertising. If a company can cough up the money to advertise on TV, chances are they’re a legitimate business and have at least a half decent product to have gotten so far. For those companies who can’t afford TV, online advertising was meant to be a magic saviour… this creates a completely different kind of price barrier (almost the reverse of the problem which TV faces). Which legitimate business wants to be featured on a website next to the above ad that is advertising maiming and killing? Furthermore, which consumer is going to take your company’s ad seriously if the ad is featured alongside considerably more dodgy one above? In taking ads online, having an ‘ad’ has become much more accessible to a larger number of people, which creates a barrier to entry.

Before I sign off, I’ll include the ‘Enlightened Stupid Marketer’ video I referred to before. … keep in mind ‘Nalts’ is a marketer himself according to his Youtube bio, so take this video with a grain of salt ;D )



Engagement vs Advertising: the key decision in your viral marketing campaign

When planning a viral campaign, you’ve got to decide on a balance between your messaging being focused on what I see as ‘Advertising’ vs ‘Engaging’. Advertising vs Engagement are not necessarily mutually exclusive measures – they fit more on a sliding scale:

1 – the pure Advertising approach jams a marketing message down consumer throats. Marketers usually feel inclined to use this sort of messaging to ensure whatever attention their (hopefully) viral campaigns get leads directly to consumption of the marketing message they are communicating. The Advertising approach means that your brand message is clear, but it may limit the reach of your viral campaign, because let’s face it, ads have never been among any of the big time viral videos. People don’t usually spread content that is obviously advertising.

2 – the Engagement approach is different in that it focuses first and foremost on the content, making sure that whatever content is featured in your (hopefully) viral campaign is clever / inspiring / controversial enough to ensure a large number of people will pass it on to others. It is about engaging some sort of emotional response from a significant enough proportion of the public to reach that viral tipping point so that you start to get hundreds of thousands of views rather than thousands. However, the greater the viral ‘infectiousness’ (i just made that word up!) of your campaign, the lower the opportunity for brand messaging and the greater the potential for confusion.

To illustrate, let’s take 2 similar viral campaigns, both based on a similar idea of creating short films to attract people to consume campaign assets. The first campaign is the recent efforts by Google, and the second being one of my alltime favourite online campaigns, Zune Arts (about 2 years old now, still going strong). The difference between the Advertising vs Engagement approach is well illustrated by these two campaigns – Google seem to have gone the ‘Advertising’ route, whilst Zune have gone the ‘Engagement’ route. Looking at some of the Google videos, the ‘short films’ are not really short film, rather they are just a nifty little ad (see example below). This is fine, but I can’t see myself passing this around to friends (except of course to discuss here why the content is not necessarily suited to a viral campaign). The content’s just not interesting enough.

The Zune Arts campaign, however, had me browsing the site for 45 minutes the first time I visited –  the content is so rich and immediately engages the audience (see the second video below for example). I’ve also been back for multiple visits, and have shown a number of other people. However, I left the site none the wiser about Zune’s product features / value proposition (I wasn’t even shown a product shot in any of the short movies). The content was cute and I liked the Zune brand all the more for providing it, but I still own an iPod…

One of the Google Chrome ‘Chrome Shorts’ vids

One of the vids

I’m interested to hear if anyone has examples of viral campaigns that they feel have struck a really strong combination of Advertising vs. Engagement. I invite you to leave your comments below…


The IAB released their ‘Social Media Ad Metrics’ report today. Being the IAB, you can bet this report and the metrics systems contained within will carry some clout for online marketers. Read the full ‘Social Media Ad Metrics’ report here.


More on Calcanis’ offer to buy Twitter followers: straight from the horse’s mouth

Most of you would have seen the big brouhaha around Jason Calacanis’s offer few weeks back to Twitter . He offered to pay them $250,000 to be one of the ‘suggested users’ that noobs are presented with when they first sign up for Twitter and are looking to get started. Getting on that suggested user list is a great way to significantly boost your number of online followers (if thats what you’re looking to do) but exactly how people get on there is quite mysterious.

Image Courtesy of TechCrunch

Anyway, on Calacanis’ mailing list today, he wrote about why he made the offer, the potential payoff, and then ups the anti by doubling the amount- rather than cutting and pasting the entire email, I’ve uploaded it in a HTML document for you to read – Jason Calcanis talks about his offer to buy followers from twitter.

My thoughts:

Calcanis is cunning as hell! I have to hand it to him on this, he’s probably generated alot of new Mahalo users out of the press he’s generated here, and all it really cost him in the end was the 30 seconds or so it took to thumb in a few tweets on his mobile. Now upping the anti with a higher offer will just generate more press – the dude is an animal!

But I also have to give major props to the team at Twitter for standing their ground. One thing about defining your product offering is it is very good for business to be able to add to it, but can be very detrimental to take away from that offering, particulalry if the part of the service you take away is one people find very useful. The folks at Twitter know this only too well – removing the SMS push functionality from twitter about 12 months back saw bitching and moaning from Twitterers ripple across the entire social network. If they sell a spot on the ‘suggested follows’ list to Calcanis, they potentially open the floodgates. Selling spots on this list to corporate accounts, who are only looking to build followers and not necessarily deliver good content, is a surefire way to turn new users off Twitter. Twitter are taking their time and making sure they control exactly what happens with their revenue and growth plans – and I respect them even more for not taking easy money in a knee jerk reaction.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next… I’m guessing it’ll keep people talking for a bit and then fizz out. But I’m interested to know, what do you think? If you had $250,000 for a twitter campaign, would you blow it on a spot in the suggested users slot, or are there better ways to leverage that sort of spending clout?


Recommended Marketing Podcasts – AI Digital & Gen Y Marketing podcasts

Of late, I’m reading blogs less and less and turning to podcasts for my marketing news. Walking to work while listening to podcasts  gets the blood and creative  juices pumping by the time you get into the office so you can hit that inbox running at 9am. Anyway, there’s 2 podcasts in particular whose back catalogs I’ve been hitting pretty hard, because both are really good in their own way: AI Digital Marketing Podcast and the Gen Y marketing podcast.

AI Digital – their opening music sounds like it was taken from the long lost second verse of the Baywatch theme song, but the AI Digital podcast is more badass than Hasselhoff (but be warned, the content is technical, and I do verge on the geeky side of things, so ‘badass’ does not necessarily mean ‘badass’). I read marketing blogs and listen to podcasts largely to learn new stuff, and AI Digital have new stuff in trumps. Past segments have ranged from boosting open rates & click through rates on emails to Google Analytics advice – I sometimes have to listen to episodes twice because the content is so rich. Or maybe that’s just because I’m a dullard. Anyway, this podcast’s ranked in the top 10 business podcasts on iTunes.

Gen Y Marketing Podcast – Dudes are hilarious. Completely different to AI Digital, the Gen Y marketing podcast team focuses on the Australian marketing landscape, looking at marketing related news, and analysing current local domestic campaigns. And quite often flaming said campaigns too. Mercilessly. And flaming each other – they’ve got that whole witty banter thing down pat. It all adds up to a pretty good listen. For the single peeps among you, this podcast might also get you lucky – I was once laughing at this podcast while I walking down St Kilda road and a (pretty cute) lady thought I was smiling at her and smiled coyly back (I’ve got a beautiful girlfriend though – better make that clear or I’ll be sleeping in the spare room tonight… although come to think of it this woman was probably smiling more cos I was walking along laughing to myself like a goon than anything else). I’d recommend the Gen Y Marketing podcast even over the Gruen Transfer for an entertaining look at Aussie marketing.

There’s a whole bunch of other marketing podcasts out there – these are just the couple I’ve been catching up on of late that stand out. Do you have another recommendation? Share it below in the comments.

(This is the second in a series of blog posts where I’ll try to highlight good marketing resources I find among this whole tangled mess called the interwebs. Check the ‘recommended’ tag for more)


There’s a right way and a wrong way to go ‘viral’… here’s the wrong way

LANGUAGE WARNING: If you’re offended by a word that has four letters and is often used as a shortened version of ‘Richard’, don’t read on 🙂

Anyway, I have a new viral video mantra for y’all that I think should be an industry standard –”Don’t be a dick”. It isn’t hard (pun sort of intended). Treating your audience with respect is probably the most important thing you can do as a marketer. So many campaigns end up with companies / agencies being dicks to their customers. Conversation and substance are the name of the game in this new marketing world that we live in, yet  cheap tricks pulled in order to ‘go viral’ continue to pop up and (A) sully the name of marketers everywhere and (B) make Internet users more cynical by the day.

I’m sure everyone has seen by now the numerous articles about the fake tattoo video submitted for the Island Reef Dream Job campaign  (one of the original stories here, one of the revelations it was a fake is here). Sure, it’s given the Island Reef campaign a massive boost in publicity all over the world. But it’s also left a sour taste in the  mouth of many who were paying attention. When you’re trying to lure people back to Australia for tourism, but your campaign is revealed to be at least in part smoke and mirrors, it reduces how effectively your message comes across. There is no question about this.

Now, again today we have the ‘real life Cinderella’ story that SMH ran yesterday which has also been proven to be a fake. It’s actually a ‘viral’ campaign for a fashion retailer that I haven’t been able to find the name of yet (and major publications seem to be putting a blanket ban on even mentioning the name – here’s another tip, making a monkey out of report/s with fake press releases will piss off the media). Anyway, back to the Conderella story…the video is below if you’re interested.

Viral tripe

Faking video can be good creative. The Marc Ecko ‘Still Free‘ campaign involving footage of Air Force One getting tagged up was a pretty good example of this, where they did something so ridiculously crazy that you could only be left asking “Damn, did they really do that?” (I never actually saw confirmation either way if the video was real or not). The video engaged with social issues that Marc, his target audience and his brand hold near and dear, and sparked controversy and speculation, which it was designed to do so. It was not designed to deceive people, but to spark a dialogue and point people to a microsite. It was transparent in trying to do this.

Mark Ecko – Still Free

The line is to be drawn when you deliberately try to deceive your audience, with no real intention to cause dialogue, but simply to deceive in order to create traffic. This is no different to spamming. In fact, it is probably getting closer to phishing than spamming, as it is deliberately misleading and getting viewers to engage with video / messages they wouldn’t otherwise if they knew it was not genuine. Sneakiness in this regard always come back to bite you on the butt and can actually be quite annoying to the people who see your campaign… monitoring twitter, I found quite a few negative comments about the campaign. So if you’re going to ‘make a viral video’ as part of your next campaign (hmmm), do marketers the world over a favour, and don’t be a dick… respect your audience.

EDIT – 21/01/09: Today, the second video was released, featuring smug actress acting like no wrongdoing has occurred. There’s a much better account of this whole shebang in some of the posts over at Mumbrella… all I can say is it sucks that this campaign is proceeding and that I will never buy anything from Witchery man, or hire Naked as a strategy firm (if you want to know more about Naked, they have a blog here). Crap job all around.

UPDATE 5th Feb 2009 – Mumbrella, always on top of these things, discusses how the overall effect of the campaign makes it a failure at

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