Posts Tagged ‘online 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.


Average amount of time spent on Social Media by Australians : Facebook stats

The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that Bebo is going to close it’s Australian offices – no surprise there really, since Bebo’s Australian user base has been rapidly shrinking… it was only a matter of time until operations in Australia became unfeasible.

The really interesting part of the article, however, was the stats included from Nielsen that a whopping 29% – almost one third – of time spent online by Australians is on Facebook. I can hear the jingle of marketing dollars being moved around as I type, diverting funding from their PPC campaigns to developing more useless Facebook apps that will create videos of your Facebook friends as dancing Easter bunnies.

Also interesting was this tidbit – “Australia now leads the world for time spent each month on social media sites (7.12 hours), ahead of Britain, Italy, North America and Japan.”

But the real lesson here: Stats are awesome!!


Using Facebook Connect for demographic targeting: marketing case study

Checking through my feeds this afternoon, I came across this press release about and their use of Facebook Connect. HerHotSpot is a social networking site specifically for women – in the words of the site’s founder:

Whilst is an interesting enough concept in itself, there are 2 other equally interesting issues covered in the press release:

1 – Since implementing Facebook Connect, the site has seen signups increase by more than 300 percent and average page views have nearly doubled. I’ve always said that Facebook Connect was a good traffic magnifier, this is proof.

2 – More interesting though is the Facebook Connect-only policy (i.e. using Connect as the sole vehicle to prevent access to males). I see alot of people using Facebook Connect as a way to attract more unique visitors to their site and to encourage repeat visits from existing users, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it used to preclude people of a certain gender from visiting a site. Furthermore, this is also the first time I’ve ever seen a site use Connect as it’s only means of verification – not only does prohibit men from entering, but it prohibits non-Facebookers aswell.

At first glance, this is a curious strategy (erecting barriers and limiting how many people can use their service) but the payoff is that the site will get users of the service that are of a very specific demographic – women (obviously) who are at least internet savvy, are already on Facebook and probably aged in their teens to late twenties / early thirties (although the age demographic is debatable). This makes the site very attractive to advertisers – if my target audience was sociable, connected 16-29 year old women, I’d love to be able to sponsor articles / advertise / participate in the site. As such, HerHotSpot should have no problem making the site a profitable venture.

Mind you, there’s no provision stopping us fellas from simply setting up a facebook account that lists us as a female to gain access, but why would you…. it’s just be a bunch of chatter about boys and lipstick (that’s sarcasm right there, FYI).


Microblogging is still unprofitable: Why Can’t Twitter turn a profit?

Yammer has managed to start monetizing and is turning somewhere around the area of $200 a month in profit…. not exactly setting the world on fire, but they’re doing a damn site better than Twitter, who are still burning through venture capitalist’s money & are yet to turn a profit. With what are probably now the world’s 2 biggest microblogging platforms both unable to turn a reasonable profit, one has to ask – What is the best way for a microblogging service to turn a profit…

// first thought that pops into one’s head is “Ads”. Seems every man-and-dog wants to give people something for free / have it ad-funded these days. Which is great, but free (or more specifically, ad-funded) services have a snag – despite common perception, there is simply not a bottomless supply of Internet ads for us to roll out anywhere we like. The boom days of adding some adserver script to your blog / page and watching the dollars roll in are coming to a close. With tough economic times ahead, advertisers will move to either (1) online places where click-through rates on ads are proven to be the highest, or (2) where they can deploy a pay-per-click arrangement so they are not paying for ads that don’t work.

Twitter is neither of these places… firstly, Twitter’s user base tends to be cool-as-ice Gen-Y (see the graph I ‘borrowed’ from the Compete blog) who we know are skeptical of non-targeted advertisements. They have also been shown to modify their surfing behaviour in order to avoid / ignore ads. There goes the pay per click idea – click through rates will typically be pretty low, so Twitter’s income is limited if they choose pay-per-click.

Secondly, Twitter does not keep anywhere near enough data on it’s users to build user profiles robust enough to serve targeted ads well… if you have a look at your Twitter profile, the information they have actually collected is incredibly sparse. However, this second point is perhaps where Twitter’s opportunity for monetisation lies. Should it partner with someone like Microsoft or Google to do a meta-analysis of what individual users tweet about and then try to build profiles of Twitterers based on that, the targeted ad idea may yet work – at the very least, it will give Twitter and advertisers a good idea of products individual Twitterers might be interested in, and allow them to serve ads accordingly. The only problem is, it will take a partner the size of Microsoft or Google to supply the computing power required to make any sense of the tens of millions of tweets per day. I’m sure both companies would jump at the chance though (if anyone from MS or Google reads this and runs with that idea, you can check my about page for contacts details so you can send me my check:)).

Then, there are a whole host of other ideas… sponsored backgrounds like Photobucket have done, fees for additional/premium additions to your free service a la Flickr, subscription fees a la some of the premier tech support forums… or does Twitter even really need to turn a profit? Interested to hear other ideas…

UPDATE: there’s more on this topic in one of my more recent posts at


iPhone making companies pay attention to mobile web.

Flying to Sydney this morning, I noticed in Qantas’ in-flight magazine that Qantas have launched a mobile web site. Fair enough… I’d say it was long overdue. The site offers the ability for flyers to check their agenda, check arrival/departure times and give feedback to Qantas. The functionality that would have been really interesting and valuable to users, such as mobile check in and mobile booking / payment are conspicuously missing, but at least they’ve made a start.

Anyway, what makes Qantas’ new mobile site more interesting is not the functionality, or the user interface (it’s incredibly sparse), but the fact that they are openly admitting they are releasing the website on the back of the (now 3 month old) iPhone 3G. In fact, the site is apparently optimised for viewing in Safari on the iPhone. Hmmm…

At first glance, this seems to make sense… iPhone, to many Australians, is the mobile web. Most of the comms we have seen for iPhone 3G in Australia so far have basically pitched it as some fantastic new way to access the Internet on the go. With Australian mobile web use being traditionally quite low, the introduction of the iPhone will be the first time many Australians step into the world of Internet access on their mobile. This means that the potential market for the Qantas mobile site is bigger, and the development spend from the site is much easier to justify as it will conceivably get more traffic.

However, the fact that Qantas have released a website on the back of the iPhone rollercoaster is a mistake… the site should have come earlier, and it is geared towards the wrong device.  When you consider that Qantas’ most regular and loyal customers are it’s corporate accounts, who probably have Blackberries or Windows mobile devices, why would you go and optimise your site for iPhone? This same segment of the market are more likely to be using data/web on their mobiles (since they don’t have to pay their data bill – the company does), so optimising for iPhone makes little sense. Steve Ballmer announced at a conference earlier this year that Windows Mobile will outsell iPhone this year. Add to this the fact that Blackberry still leads marketshare in the enterprise mobile phone market. The reason these devices are so popular in the enterprise space is that they are dedicated business devices. Despite recent added functionality to sync up with Exchange (meaning the iPhone can now theoretically do corporate email) the iPhone is still not a business phone…

So Qantas have released a website on the back of the release of a phone it’s most loyal and valuable customers are unlikely to be using… seems funny. On the upside, this somewhat knee-jerk reaction by someone at Qantas to the iPhone release is a very good example of the power and excitement around the iPhone. It has made the mobile Internet an attractive space both for marketers who were reluctant to pay for a mobile website, but who are now convinced of the excitement the mobile web can muster. It has also increased dramatically the number of end users who will consider using the mobile web to access a company’s services. This, really, is the most important part of any mobile service – people actually using it and finding value in it. iPhone has, as stated above, become the mobile Internet for a whole new generation of previously unconnected mobile users, though maybe not the enterprise (well, not yet anyway).


Crowd Sourced Ad Agencies – true marketing ROI ?

In a post about marketing ROI in the face of economic downturn yesterday, I spoke about the importance of e-marketing for delivering that ROI. It’s fairly topical then that Laurel Papworth recently started the world’s first crowd sourced Twitter advertising agency, Twitter Agency (all in the space of an afternoon too, I might add). (Edit 3/10 – included correct link for Twitter Agency above)

Originally suggested as a joke in response to the $30m media account Vodafone has on offer, Twitter Agency is an innovative idea… imagine being able to harness the collective power and experience of Influential Twitterers (still not alot of twitterers, let alone influential twitterers, in Australia compared to the states) to get your message across for a fraction of the cost of just about any other types of media out there. I don’t realistically expect Twitter Agency to be considered for the vodafone deal – the idea’s a bit too ‘out there’ for a telco – but I can definitely see them potentially getting some consulting work from companies that work with highly connected audiences.

If you’re twittering and think you know what makes a good, effective Twitterer, go to to sign up as ‘staff’ for Twitter Agency… I’ve signed up and will post some stuff soon enough.


Online Marketing ROI plus Economic Instability equals Good Times.

In an article a couple of days back in the Sydney Morning Herald, we read about Credite Suisse’s analyst Finola Burke forecasting a 2.4% drop in advertising spend in the coming year. In the same article, we saw Fairfax media have just cut 550 jobs in the wake of anticipated revenue losses on the back of economic slowdown. Whilst the past 4-5 years have seen massive shifts away from traditional media’s and to online advertising, this is the first analyst I’ve seen who has forecast all-round reduction in spending as a result of looming recession and economic turmoil. Does this in turn mean we (i.e. Aussie online marketers) might be cowering waiting for the axe to drop on our jobs?

Not yet. Australia is yet to be stung by the credit crunch in the same way the United States (and now Europe) are currently being, and generally our financial markets have been better regulated (yay ASIC and APRA!) and are therefore (for the time being) less likely to suffer the large scale disaster seen in the US (ripple effects are inevitable though). Same situation for alot of Asian countries, who all remember how darn hard they hit the skids in 1997 and have been appropriately prudent in their financial activities since. This doesn’t mean the massive clusterf–k mistake our American friends are suffering is not going to hit us. It probably will. And it will hit some of us harder than others:

1 Consumer spending on High Involvement goods will slow down. Retail forecasts for the coming holiday season in Christmas look grim for the US at least, which is to be expected. Typically, in hard economic times, sales of big tickets items such as houses, new computers, new cars, airline tickets etc are hit the hardest. So potentially, companies in the struggling Aussie automotive, airline and manufacturing industries will be putting the squeeze on their marketing department to tighten the belt and knuckle down.

2 Financing for growth will be harder to come by. Credit will cost more if it is in high demand and low supply – basic rules of any market. With some of the biggest banks in the world being US banks, we will inevitably feels some pain here. Even if their revenue doesn’t take a hit through all this, a company will still have fewer opportunities to expand due to difficulties in securing credit (again, we’re yet to see this in Australia, and if the Reserve Bank keep cutting interest rates, I could have egg on my face here). This means companies will look to other sources of funding growth initiatives (and perhaps to meet their debts) – internal sources. We all know marketing and media spend are often one of the first things cut during serious financial strife.

3 Companies will revert to their core competencies. Peripheral parts of a business will begin to be stripped back, as CEO’s begin to take action to free themselves of blame if the credit crunch begins hitting Australian companies harder. They cannot be begrudged for this, as they have a job to do aswell. Despite marketers assuring companies otherwise, marketing is probably considered by most companies a peripheral part of their business – the value it adds is not necessarily viewed as the same value delivering their product and/or service adds. So again, marketers may see the chop.

So why, then, has it never been a better time to be in e-marketing? Because e-marketing, done well, provides the best ROI a company could hope for. E-marketing (or digital marketing or online marketing or whatever the heck else you want to call it) is the most track-able form of direct marketing, which financial decision makers love because they can see a direct relationship between spending X and making X^y profit (where y is hopefully greater than 1). What this will mean is that as companies in Australia inevitably tighten their belts worrying about what ripple effects the US economic crisis will have, E-marketers will (read should) be the final ones to be effected as our activities are the ones most able to show the CEO, CFO, board etc. value added. Furthermore, this might mean that companies shift even more of their marketing spend away from traditional, harder to track marketing activities and into e-marketing which shows stronger provable ROI. Whilst not wanting to dance on the potential graves of other types of marketing, this economic downturn could see a new vigour and focus on E-marketing from business leaders, and we may be in a new era where e-marketing is finally given the resources and importance that traditional marketing activities have always received.

So go have lunch with your boss and give him the schpiel. And get him to give the schpiel to his boss. And flick your zippos and hold them in the air, e-marketers, because we could be about to see a marked change of the guard from the marketing old school to the new school. There’s always a light at the end of a dark night.

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