Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Facebook Is for Old Fogies

February 12, 2009: from Time Magazine -- Facebook is five. Maybe you didn't get it in your news feed, but it was in February 2004 that Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, along with some classmates, launched the social network that ate the world. Did he realize back then in his dorm that he was witnessing merely the larval stage of his creation? For what began with college students has found its fullest, richest expression with us, the middle-aged. Here are 10 reasons Facebook is for old fogies:

1. Facebook is about finding people you've lost track of. And, son, we've lost track of more people than you've ever met. Remember who you went to prom with junior year? See, we don't. We've gone through multiple schools, jobs and marriages. Each one of those came with a complete cast of characters, most of whom we have forgotten existed. But Facebook never forgets. (See the best social-networking applications.)

2. We're no longer bitter about high school. You're probably still hung up on any number of petty slights, but when that person who used to call us that thing we're not going to mention here, because it really stuck, asks us to be friends on Facebook, we happily friend that person. Because we're all grown up now. We're bigger than that. Or some of us are, anyway. We're in therapy, and it's going really well. These are just broad generalizations. Next reason.

3. We never get drunk at parties and get photographed holding beer bottles in suggestive positions. We wish we still did that. But we don't. (See pictures of Beer Country in Denver.)

4. Facebook isn't just a social network; it's a business network. And unlike, say, college students, we actually have jobs. What's the point of networking with people who can't hire you? Not that we'd want to work with anyone your age anyway. Given the recession — and the amount of time we spend on Facebook — a bunch of hungry, motivated young guns is the last thing we need around here.

5. We're lazy. We have jobs and children and houses and substance-abuse problems to deal with. At our age, we don't want to do anything. What we want is to hear about other people doing things and then judge them for it. Which is what news feeds are for.

6. We're old enough that pictures from grade school or summer camp look nothing like us. These days, the only way to identify us is with Facebook tags. (See pictures of a diverse group of American teens.)

7. We have children. There is very little that old people enjoy more than forcing others to pay attention to pictures of their children. Facebook is the most efficient engine ever devised for this.

8. We're too old to remember e-mail addresses. You have to understand: we have spent decades drinking diet soda out of aluminum cans. That stuff catches up with you. We can't remember friends' e-mail addresses. We can barely remember their names.

9. We don't understand Twitter. Literally. It makes no sense to us.

10. We're not cool, and we don't care. There was a time when it was cool to be on Facebook. That time has passed. Facebook now has 150 million members, and its fastest-growing demographic is 30 and up. At this point, it's way cooler not to be on Facebook. We've ruined it for good, just like we ruined Twilight and skateboarding. So git! And while you're at it, you damn kids better get off our lawn too.

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/cdugjz

What's Next For The Net

February 9, 2009: from Boston.com -- Investors and entrepreneurs gathered in Manhattan last week to read the tech tea leaves at the annual OnMedia NYC conference. Among them was Jeffrey Bussgang, a partner at Boston-based Flybridge Capital Partners, who served up a few memorable comments and data points.

*Mobile advertising: panelists laid out the case for why the iPhone was transformational for mobile advertising and that early trials suggest mobile advertising actually works. That said, they were realistic about the slow growth ahead as mobile works its way into the marketing mix, particularly as a component in cross-platform campaigns.

*Online advertising: Jeff Lanctot, chief strategy officer at Razorfish, predicted flat spending, lower CPMs, and argued that the "print dollars turning into digital pennies" simply was not working for publishers. Perhaps massive publisher consolidation will rebalance supply and demand, but unlikely.

*Smartphone: this panel was simply an hour-long raving love fest for the iPhone. Favorite iPhone apps mentioned ranged from the sublime (Amazon, Pandora) to the ridiculous ( iThrow). Eric Litman, CEO of Medialets, amusingly pointed out that there are 20 million Windows Mobile devices, but application discovery is such an awful experience that the download rates are a fraction of the iPhones.

*VC outlook: Jonathan Miller (Velocity, ex-CEO AOL), Woody Benson (Prism) and I did a panel on the VC outlook. We tried to provide a balanced view - I think we were all relatively balanced as short-term bears, but long-term bulls. As Woody pointed out, "You can't do what I do unless you're an optimist. Otherwise, you'd jump out the window!" seeingbothsides.com

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/bgbyqj

MGM Grand at Foxwoods Debuts Casino Social Network to Enhance Customer Experience

CM Comment: It'll be interesting to see what content they'll include in order to make this a compelling experience.

Mashantucket, CT (PRWEB) January 7, 2009 -- MGM Grand at Foxwoods launches its new social network today at http://connect.mgmatfoxwoods.com to bolster its customers' casino experience. Designed by some of the best in the industry, its purpose is to bring patrons of the resort together, to connect players to their favorite games, locations, interests, clubs and restaurants, and to educate and entertain with gambling tips and exclusive information about the casino.

For MGM Grand at Foxwoods, it provides an additional, critical function: the opportunity to gain insights into both what products and services resonate positively with its clientele and what can be improved to deliver a superior guest experience.

Stated Gillian Murphy, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, "By having a social networking presence, we have the chance to interact with our users in a novel format and gain invaluable insights into consumer satisfaction which ultimately can improve customer interactions. Just as important, we can extend the casino experience beyond each customer's visit and maintain engagement with our clientele when their stay at MGM Grand at Foxwoods is over, and encourage return visits and new visits by their friends and family."

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/86oej9

TEXT SELLS: Rio Rolls Out Mobile Marketing Campaign

February 14: from Las Vegas Review Journal -- The Rio is testing an opt-in mobile marketing campaign that sends customers text message alerts for real-time promotions to their cell phone during their stay at the hotel-casino.

Here is how it works: Visitors to the Rio text message the word "Rio" to a phone number posted throughout the property. The customer will then receive no more than 12 text messages during the next four days, the average length of a visitor's stay. The customer also can send "stop" to the same number to halt the flow of messages. The messages alert the customer to special deals, usually drink, food or show tickets at a discount. The offers sent out this week included a free dessert with an entrée purchase at a restaurant, two-for-one premium drinks at a bar and $5 off the price of the buffet.

The company follows the regulatory guidelines set by the Mobile Marketing Association. Those rules regulate how many messages can be sent in a day, the ability of customers to opt into and out of the program, and even the length of the message sent.

Others are using similar technology. The Las Vegas Review-Journal offers a service available on its Web site that offers casino discounts, specials at local bars and pubs, and sports promotions. Studio 54 at MGM Grand and the N9NE Group, which runs the Palms nightclubs, have been using mobile marketing in the competitive Las Vegas club scene.

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/bwavxo

Out of Office: Job Loss in the Age of Blogs and Twitter

CM comment: Familiar with Twitter? It's being touted as the latest way to connect online. Some early adopting casinos include twitter.com/mgmgrand, twitter.com/TrumpCasinos, twitter.com/LuxorLV and twitter.com/BorgataAC.

February 3, 2009: from The Wall Street Journal -- It's been decades since Americans had this much time on their hands and -- thanks to the Web -- never have there been so many opportunities to burn it. Internet games, gambling and other forms of online entertainment have seen significant surges in use in the several months since the economic downturn deepened. Social-networking services like Facebook, blogs and discussion forums -- all well-known time sinks even during good times -- are also seeing strong growth. Some purveyors of online entertainment say business has never been so good for them. The number of visitors to online game sites jumped 29.9% during the fourth quarter of last year, compared with a 0.3% decline during the same period the prior year, according to comScore Inc. Traffic on Internet gambling sites soared 28.6% over the holiday quarter, compared with a 26.9% decline over the holiday season the previous year, comScore says.

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/dy96v8

Casinos Look For ROI In Downturn

February 16, 2009: from DMNews -- Facing record decline, many in the casi­no and gambling industry are turning to direct marketing in hopes of winning big. Big Las Vegas hotels, including Harrah's and MGM Grand, have dropped their room rates and are offering all-inclusive packages to drive traffic in their casinos and get cus­tomers to gamble.

In a February report, market analyst Fitch Ratings said gaming had historic declines in the last four months of 2008 - down 3.5%. The firm predicted no significant recovery until 2010.

"It is not that people aren't coming, it's that they are not playing as much," said Jack Breslin, SVP of marketing for GA Wright Casino Marketing, an agency that works in the casino industry. "Casinos are keeping a close eye on ROI, and as such they are focusing on direct mar­keting programs because [they are] measur­able," he added. "They are really scrutinizing their programs closely and offering things like midweek room deals, food offers and packages to keep people coming in to play in the casino, especially the top players who drive most of their revenue."

Mohegan Sun, a Connecticut-based Native American gaming and entertainment center, headlined its latest push, "Stimulus, Recovery and Rebound." Its direct marketing, which includes rich media banners, direct mail and e-mail, focuses around the casino's hotel package deals. Special messaging about earning or spending points for hotel stays are being pushed out to the loyalty members.

The Silver Legacy in Reno, NV, is run­ning a new promotion for 2009 in hopes of driving traffic. The effort is centered around the "All-New Million Dollar Weekends of Winners (WOW)" promotion, in which players are entered to win a grand prize of $20,000 per weekend by gaming. The contest kicks off on February 16 and, to promote its opening weekend, there will be a $40,000 giveaway.

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/bbxw9d