Joe Jaffe comments that this week's Ad Age poll, which is a follow on to a study they did about blog readership at work, which asks whether employers should allow staff to read blogs at work is self-serving. I agree and commented that the whole distinction between blogs and mainstream media is overblown, "Exactly, Joe. What's the difference between reading a blog on a topic for a specific industry versus a 'regular' website for a specific industry? It makes no sense. If blogs are doing a good job of providing industry specific info, then they should be read. If mainstream media site are doing the same, then they should be read as well. If people like to read Page Six, then it should be OK to read Gawker too. There's far too much distinction being made here. Granted, there are huge differences between MSM and blogs but, in the end, they are both providing content. It should be up to the reader to decide whether MSM or blogs are doing a better job providing relevant info."
Oh and if this doen't wreak of self-promo:
"Thank you for your interest in AdAge.com's poll. The poll about blog reading at work is now closed. Watch for the results in next week's print edition of Advertising Age." WTF? The results of an online poll reported in the print edition? A week later? You must be joking. Scott, what are you guys smoking over there? Oh, we get it. You need more print subscribers. Now it all makes sense.
To promote its UK website, podcast and blog, Playboy has launched a a viral which, while containing no nudity, might raise your blood pressure a bit if you use your imagination.
Ad Age has joined the world of weblogs with the launch of Small Agency Diary, a blog written by McKee Wallwork Cleveland Creative Director Bary Cleveland. The blog, as its name indicates, will focus on the working of small agency business with Cleveland writing in is first post, "This blog is for the future of creativity in our industry. For if that future is to be one of creative excellence it lies in the hands of small agencies." A bold statement indeed.
It seems Ad Age has plans for other topical blogs as well indicated by a Diaries pulldown menu on the front page. Welcome big guy.
Budget's Up Your Budget blog-based, 16-city treasure hunt has 3 out of a possible 4 winners last week. Over a four week period, there will be a total of 16 winners. The treasure hunt provides hunters with written and video clues on the blog. The clues point to where in the city a sticker is located. Apparently, the sticker placed in the fourth city, San Diego, was lost or removed so there will be a "do-over" in that city the last week of the hunt. As the blog says, "the steaks are high." And no, that's not misspelled according to the blog which, in response to a person who caught the apparent misspelling and emailed the blog, wrote, "Thanks to the hunter who emailed to tell me that "steaks" should be spelled "stakes." I have a feeling that particular hunter is not going to be one of our winners this week. Just a certain poetic notion...." Apparently, clues are everywhere, folks.
Jeff Jarvis, as he has done before, is calling for system of measure for citizens media that would properly reflect the nature of this consumer-generated media space. Because many media outlets in this space are simply too small to be counted with the ill-fitting mass media metrics does not mean the outlets are not important to advertisers. Jeff has approached Burst Media's Jarvis Coffin to set up a trade group to represent this new form of media and suggest metrics consist of a combination of values such as authority, influence, ability to start conversations, relationship with readers and reader loyalty and engagement with the media outlet. He suggests, among other sources, data from blog measurement firms such as BlogPulse, Technorati and Icerocket be combined, or "munged" as he says, into a data source that would properly reflect the weblog and make it easy for an advertiser to substantiate spending any ad dollars on the blog.
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.