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Brenner Thomas of Not Only But Also, noticed The New York Times has placed advertising on Site Meter, a website traffic measurement service that most every blogger uses to see how many people visit their blogs, where they come from and what stories they read. Thomas surmises its a strategy to get bloggers to simply write about the fact that The New York Times is advertising on Site Meter, as we're doing right now, to gain publicity among bloggers. As intriguing a strategy as that may be, it's more likely due to Site Meter's use of the Tribal Fusion ad network which serves ads to thousands of sites allowing the New York Times to reach a very broad audience. Site Meter just happens to be one of those thousands of sites.
On Monday, Budget launched a blog-based competition, called Up Your Budget in which stickers will be placed in 16 cities over the course of four weeks and those who find them win $10,000. Today, in Orlando, at the Citrus Bowl's Sign H, Gate C, George Culbertson found the first sticker near the Orange Bowl and was proclaimed the game's first winner. Culbertsom tells his story on the Treasure Hunter's Blog. Currently, the Up Your Budget site is receiving over 10,000 visits per day and growing dramatically.
In a first, Car rental company Budget has launched a blog-based, four-week, 16-city treasure hunt, called Up Your Budget, which offers a total of $160,000 in prizes. To win, participants must find a sticker which has been placed in a public location in each of the 16 cities, call the number on the sticker and provide photographic or video proof they've located the sticker. To find the sticker, contestants will read the Up Your Budget blog for clues and watch daily video clips (in easy to navigate Quicktime, thankfully) shot in each of the 16 cities which help identify the city and where the sticker has been placed within the city. The clues will come in the form of blog posts by the two-person crew that shot the videos as they drop identifiers such as weather, local culinary choices and geographic references. There will also be a Treasure Hunter's blog on which contestants can submit hints, clues and sightings. Each week, four of the 16 cities will be in play.
Following the blog-based approach, the contest itself will be promoted almost entirely within the blogosphere with sites like Adrants, MarketingVOX and Boing Boing breaking the story and with advertising promotion on 74 weblogs, including Buzzmachine, Metafilter, Gothamist, Jossip and Busblog, through the BlogAds blog advertising network. There will also be some minimal search engine keyword and IM buys. It will be a true test of the weblog medium's ability to propagate information and main stream media's capacity to rely on (and credit) bloggers as sources.
The campaign was created by blogger, author and marketing strategist B.L. Ochman and Impax Marketing Group's Jay Arnold. The Up Your Budget blog was designed by Design4Results' Komra Moriko and advertising was created by the famed "cartoons on the back of business cards'" Hugh Macleod. Center City Film & Video shot the clue clips. Gret stuff. Who needs mainstream media when you have the consumer-generated, conversational power of weblogs and social media? Already the thing is spreading like crazy. This is truly very cool.
Reacting to a column UnderScore Marketing's Tom Hespos wrote about marketer's fear and laziness to engage in meaningful conversations with consumers, I wrote a piece calling for the creation of a "Conversation Department," a department whose sole responsibility would be to listen to what is being said about a given brand in blog posts, discussion boards, forums and other methods of group conversation, join the ongoing conversations about the brand and make sure the company properly reacts to conversational opinion by addressing concerns immediately. Today, Tom goes a bit further with this and proposes a structure for a conversation department and how it might be staffed.
The more we talk about listening, joining and learning from conversations, while everyone in a company should be doing this, it makes more and more sense for companies and agencies to created a dedicated conversation department.
On Tuesday, October 18 at 9AM, I'll be moderating a panel at BlogOn in New York. The panel is called "Can Advertising Be Social." On this panel, the panelists, who include Organic CEO Mark Kingdon, Unilever Brand Development Director David Rubin, Jaffe LLC Founder Joe Jaffe and I hope to discuss the relationship between social media and advertising - the ways in which people have entered what has now become a two-way conversation rather than the former one-way, marketer to consumer bullhorn approach.
It should be an interesting and, hopefully, informative discussion. There's blogs, chat rooms, forums, IM, Wikis, podcasting, social networks and innumerable other methods with which consumers can achieve a voice as powerful and widespread as marketers.
As examples of this newfound consumer voice, there's Jeff Jarvis who, following a bad experience with a Dell computer, took on Dell publicly forcing Dell to respond. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a response. There's George Masters, a teacher who created a professional looking iPod commercial which raced around the globe. Smartly, Apple took a hands off approach. There's Converse who asked people to submit films about Chuck Taylors. There's Mercedes who encouraged people to send in photos of themselves with their Mercedes which were ultimately featured in the company's ad campaign. The examples go on. People have become socially active with their brand experiences, good and bad, and the level of activity is forcing marketers to join the conversation and, forever, putting aside old methods of controlling it.
Indeed, marketing is in for the ride of its life.
Joining the growing cadre of media and advertising weblogs, Business Week has launched Fine on Media written by Business Week's Jon Fine who pens the magazine's Media Centric column. With four posts so far, the blog feels, well, bloggy. Not that that's a bad thing, after all, it is a blog. There's an intro post, a post about New York Times Editor Bill Keller taking pot shots at bloggers at a recent conference, a post about how bad the Saturday Wall Street Journal is and a post about the Allstate campaign. We're sure the blog will be just Fine as it finds its legs.
Online publisher Lulu has announced the Lulu Blooker prize, awarded in three categories, to the person who submits the best "blook," a book based on the contents of a weblog. The contest, which offers a $2,000 brand prize, will be judged by big-time blogger Cory Doctrow, Slashdot's Robin Miller and ibiblio's Paul Jones. Unfortunately, while latching on to the term "blook" as if they owned it, Lulu neglected to mention either Jeff Jarvis, who coined the term, or Tony Pierce, who wrote the first blook which is just typical of entities cashing in on culturati, trends and memes.
For the launch of Itravel Footwear's new travel site, J3tLag, flight attendant-clad models roamed the streets of New York handing out promotional material for the site. The site is authored by contributors such as CoolHunting's Josh Rubin, Flavorpill, "travel and play companion" Jet Set Lara, Fodder's John Rambow, Johnny Jet, and others. The site promises to be all things hip-travel. More images of the promotion here.
Ogilvy PR has a page on their site called BlogFeeds where they list, by category, blogs they feel are important reading for the agency and for their clients. Apparently, there's something wrong with Adrants because we didn't make the list. Perhaps Ogilvy doesn't want to expose their clients to our continual kvetching, cutting through the crap and shedding some common sense on the advertising industry. Oops, that sounded bitter. Sorry. We love Ogilvy.
Paid Content is reporting AOL will acquire Jason Calacanis' Weblogs Inc., a two and a half year-old network of 75-plus weblogs including Engadget, Autoblog and AdJab. The deal is said to be finalized with plans in place to announce the deal this week. Calacanis isn't confirming or denying the deal according to Paid Content.
The deal could be worth as much as $35 million but it's likely to be far less. Even so, that's a lot of money for anything weblog-related and perhaps is an encouraging stamp of approval of sorts for the medium. It is said AOL plans to keep the Weblogs, Inc. network of blogs separate from the rest of AOL properties at least for the time being. No doubt, more details will follow.