Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Volkswagen to Rely Solely on IPhone App for GTI Launch

CM Comment: A great example of how traditional media is no longer delivering and companies are looking to new media options for more impact. To foster awareness, the app even includes a competition where you can win one of the six limited-edition 2010 GTI's.

October 22, 2009 – summarized from AdAge.com -- Volkswagen of America is launching the newest-generation GTI exclusively on an iPhone app, a cost-efficient approach the automaker said is a first for the industry.

How cost efficient? When the marketer introduced the GTI in 2006, it spent $60 million on a big-budget blitz with lots of network TV. By comparison, an executive familiar with the matter estimates the annual budget for mobile AOR services is $500,000. And while an iPhone-only strategy may seem limiting, consider this: In September, Apple reported there are more than 50 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide. By comparison, CBS' "NCIS," the most-watched show for week ending Oct. 18, reached 21 million viewers and commands an average price of $130,000 for a single 30-second spot.

Of course, there is a real danger the automaker will miss many prospects using only one narrowly targeted marketing tool. But Tim Ellis, Volkwagen of America's VP-marketing, maintains it is a highly targeted strategy to directly reach the GTI customer, a tech-savvy, social-media activist who spends time on mobile devices, most often iPhones. "It's a homerun in terms of the demo overlap," said Nihal Mehta, CEO of local-search and networking app Buzzd.

Coming at a time when advertisers and agencies are trying to figure out how to get their apps to get noticed -- and downloaded -- amid the more than 65,000 in the App Store, the question arises: Will viral be enough for the GTI app? The game includes built-in functionality for players to send messages via Twitter and upload game play-videos to YouTube. Digital experts such as Mr. Nihal, who founded text-messaging company Ipsh and sold it to Omnicom Group in 2005, thinks these vehicles will prove more effective than paid media.

"Viral tactics work because media buys aren't that compelling anymore," he said. "You can get clicks, but even if an app is free, people don't want to download it. They really have to be invested or told by a friend." He especially thinks the competition and incentive to play and beat other players will work to make the app popular.

Small Society's Mr. Zachary agreed, especially since the game has incentive beyond entertainment: a chance to win a new car. For consumers, more game play means more chances to win one of the six limited-edition 2010 GTI's that the Herndon, Virginia-based automaker is giving away as part of the launch. Beyond the competition, the fact that the mobile-only car launch is a first is a big draw for press, too.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/2jynE6

Saving Face Online

CM Comment: Summary of how casinos are using social networking sites to connect with customers.

October 26, 2009: summarized from Las Vegas Sun -- Social media Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter are changing the face of customer relations at major Las Vegas hotels.

Resorts are setting up their own fan pages where executives can monitor customer suggestions on how to improve business, bask in guests’ kudos, offer immediate assistance to customers in distress — and cringe when unhappy patrons post critical remarks that ding their companies.

And for their part, customers are discovering that such Web sites are offering them an unprecedented voice, with their comments and reviews not only reaching casino managers but an untold number of other customers and potential customers over whom they can now wield influence.

Big brands — including casinos — that don’t develop social media programs do so at their peril, said Jennifer Van Grove, an associate editor at Mashable.com, an online publication that reports on the social media industry.

“The reality is, customers are going to talk about our brands with or without us,” said Harrah’s Entertainment Vice President of Marketing Monica Sullivan, a social-media expert who joined the company this year. “We want to be part of that dialogue. More customers are talking about the brands they love in social places on the Web rather than in e-mail.”

New technology isn’t necessarily an easy sell for the casino industry, an admittedly conservative business where managers have relied on decades-old marketing techniques, more recently borrowing ideas from other industries. Weighing against the opportunity to communicate with customers on a deeper, more personal level were many unknowns, such as the potential PR nightmare of exposing a company to unfiltered public comments that could deride the company as easily as praise it.

About two years ago, big casino companies including Harrah’s and MGM Mirage waded in with their first Facebook and Twitter sites — which have become increasingly sophisticated and which are now attracting thousands of followers.

The hotels use their Facebook and Twitter pages not just to promote themselves or drive business but to learn what people are saying about them, interact with customers and positively influence a broader audience of consumers. Given the explosive growth of social media sites, which don’t yet charge businesses or consumers, these might become more cost-effective than using traditional advertising and marketing methods.

To maintain credibility with customers, companies don’t tend to remove negative comments or constructive criticism on their sites unless the person posting the comment uses foul language or says something offensive to others. Though that may sound surprising for an industry known for being ultra-protective of its image, companies acknowledge that consumers want to be heard and may offer valuable feedback if given the chance.

Companies have quickly caught on to the fact that the good will earned from fixing a problem or improving a situation can have a ripple effect online.

MGM Mirage, for example, recently got kudos from fans for how it responded to a couple of complaints. After a customer posted on Facebook that he was unhappy with his meal at one of the company’s Strip resorts, the property’s concierge contacted the customer, who was still at the hotel, and offered to fix the problem. In another instance, a customer who had won show tickets complained online that he couldn’t use the tickets because he had a conflict. MGM Mirage gave the man free tickets for another date.

Station Casinos, which launched Facebook and Twitter pages this year, is recruiting people from across the company, from entertainment directors to race and sports experts, to post factoids and recommendations. When the sites are further along, customer feedback will begin to shape business decisions at the company, which traditionally caters to older gamblers but is reaching a younger audience through Facebook and Twitter, said Samar Hatem, corporate interactive marketing manager for Station Casinos.

“We’re just scratching the surface with this,” Station spokeswoman Lori Nelson said. “It’s like how Web sites started in the 1990s. The conversation we have today about social media is going to be completely different a year from now.”

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1SUqqI

Digital Coupons Could Transform Cell Phones Into Ad Space

CM Comment: Some mobile marketing examples.

October 23, 2009: summarized from TwinCities.com -- You talk on them. You text on them. You snap pictures, listen to music, play games, surf the Web and maybe even tweet on them.

America's marketing industry now thinks you're ready to use your cell phone to clip coupons in a big way.

Brooklyn Center-based Caribou Coffee used a mobile couponing company called Cellfire to send coupons this year for its new Acacia Organic Blend and Northern Lite Latte.

"We looked at mobile marketing as a way for us to drive store traffic and gain trial for a new product launch," marketing manager Jake Miller said. "If we can get trial, we know there is a good chance that guest will come back again." He declined to give details on the results but said Caribou would use mobile coupons again.

MixMobi, a Plymouth mobile marketing startup, is launching a technology platform that lets retailers build coupons that can be "tweeted" on the social media site Twitter, which appears on cell phones as well as computers.

To be sure, technologists have heralded mobile coupons for several years with little effect. But a sudden surge of interest by big- name retailers and packaged-goods companies, coupled with better technology, is creating buzz for the mobile coupon this year. Only 3 percent of consumers used a mobile coupon in 2008, but more than half of them knew about them, Forrester Research, a technology consultancy, reported this year.

The recession has advanced coupon usage in all its forms, including online. Digital coupons were the fastest growing Web site category last November, with visitors to coupon sites up 32 percent over October 2008, said comScore Inc., another technology research company.

Put it all together, and advertisers see cell phones as 277 million tiny electronic billboards in every pocket or purse.

The popularity of smart phones, with their larger, made-for-the-Web screens, is driving the trend, too. Coupons look better on bigger screens, marketers say.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/2KCAxH

Facebook and Casino Marketing

CM Comment: A casino marketing exec’s viewpoint on new media marketing via Facebook.

April 29, 2009: from PAGCOR -- Gone are the days when casinos were hush-hush places reserved for the most-die-hard gambler. As casinos become all-in-one entertainment complexes, so the marketing thrust has shifted from selling merely to highrollers. The focus now is on a much wider market segment,with offerings that appeal even to families out on a break.

I am reminded of the Blue Ocean Strategy mentioned to me by a fellow manager, where the idea is to create and innovate, not compete. From what I understand, if you become a thought leader in your field, you don’t have to worry about following others, just maybe of others ‘copying’ you.

Blue ocean also implies ‘vastness.’ In the world of blue oceans, there is no limit to the number of contacts, or the level of networking we might be able to make. As every one of us is a marketer, every person we meet is a marketing prospect. They may not directly try our product, but they surely can tell others about it.

This is where the power of social networking comes in, and the phenomenon that is Facebook. These days, everyone we know is on this site, from senators to celebrities and even Bill Gates. Not to be underestimated, Facebook can be an effective tool for casinos to advertise themselves, establish their legitimacy, or simply network. An online game application can even be developed, like the Texas Hold ‘em Poker that is so popular among Facebook users.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1o6J71