Monday, April 30, 2012

Turning the Corner on Housing, Video, Social, Mobile

Real numbers for real B2B marketers

Despite languid GDP growth, more solid quarterly earnings reports pushed stocks to their biggest weekly advance since mid-March. Separately, a report showed U.S. consumers in late April felt better about the economy than earlier in the month and an index that measures the number of contracts signed to purchase previously owned homes rose in March to its highest level in nearly two years, up 12.8 percent from a year ago and 4.1 percent from February, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.

Housing rebound for real?

"We very much believe we've hit bottom," Ivy Zelman, chief executive of a Zelman Associates told the WSJ last week. Earlier this week, she raised her home-price forecast for the year, calling for a 1 percent annual gain, up from a 1 percent decline. According to the Journal,
real-estate agents consider a market balanced when there is a six-month supply of homes for sale. At the height of the housing crisis, in 2008, there was an 11.1-months' supply. In March, there was a 6.3-months' supply.

Out Take: We’re far from out of the woods but the worst is clearly over. When buyers and sellers have reached a statistical stalemate—buyers aren’t caving in, but sellers aren’t raising their bids—we take that as a positive sign that we’re slowly rebounding from the bottom. Consumer confidence ultimately finds its way to the B2B sector and we’re advising a modest green light on your hiring and infrastructure upgrade plans.

Facebook “Like” not the same as engagement

Appalachian State University’s Department of Communication found that even among 18- to 29-year-olds (aka the Facebook generation), while 75 percent said they had “liked” a profit or non-profit organization on Facebook, seven out of ten (69%) said that once they “liked” the organization, they rarely or never returned to the fan page. What’s more, only 15 percent of the respondents said they visited organizations’ fan pages weekly. Most respondents (44%) spent less than 30 minutes a day on Facebook.

Researchers found 18- to 29-year-olds are not as invested in an organization as the organization may think... when they click the ‘like’ button or click ‘follow’... It’s fairly consistent in the research that Millennials like organizations that give something back to them.”

Fickle "Digital Natives" switch platforms every other minute

If you think the younger generation has perpetual ADD, you’re not alone.
According to a new Time Inc. study, digital Natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones or channels within platforms) 27 times per hour, about every other minute!

Because Digital Natives spend more time using multiple media platforms simultaneously, researchers say their emotional engagement with content is constrained. Apparently they experience fewer highs and lows of emotional response and as a result. Digital Natives more frequently use media to regulate their mood; as soon as they grow tired or bored, they turn their attention to something new.

Our Take:
One key to these findings is that Digital Immigrants appear to be intuitively linear, whereas Natives, don’t necessarily need a beginning, middle and end to stories--they will accept it in any order. Digital Natives are subconsciously switching between platforms and can pick up different pieces of a story from different mediums in any order.

Mobile ad spend to double in 2012

A new forecast from technology research firm Strategy Analytics
projects mobile ad spending worldwide will grow 85 percent in 2012 from $6.3 billion to $11.6 billion. In the U.S., researchers predict mobile advertising will grow even faster, more than doubling (up 128%) to just under $4.2 billion.

Advertising is expected to grow much faster than consumer spending in mobile. Strategy Analytics projects that consumer outlays on mobile media will grow 13.4 percent from $121.8 billion to $138.2 billion globally in 2012. In the U.S., the corresponding figure will increase 15.5 percent to $33.7 billion. The majority of consumer dollars (60.2%) worldwide will go toward carrier data plans and mobile Internet services.

But the study anticipates that strong, continued demand for apps will also play a key role in driving growth. The number of apps downloaded in 2011 surged 38 percent from 23 billion to 32 billion, making apps the second-largest revenue category for both consumer and advertiser spending. Apps are expected to account for 18.9% of mobile consumer spend in 2012, rising 30.7% to $26.1 billion.
David MacQueen, Strategy Analytics’ director of wireless media strategies, explained that mobile video is either often free and ad-supported (YouTube) or bundled without extra charge into services, such as Sky Go in Europe and AT&T U-verse in the U.S. So despite a global audience of 271 million users, mobile video only generated $223 million in ad sales last year.

Strategy Analytics predicts that 125 million Americans will use their handsets to social network. But again, advertising and other types of revenue have yet to catch up with consumers. So related U.S. revenue will reach $412.7 million, or $3.48 per mobile user.

Mobile video to surpass web video

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the mobile video ad market will surpass the online video ad market later this year. “It’s happening fast and people are not quite comprehending the speed,” said Tod Sacerdoti, CEO of ad network BrightRoll in a recent statement. “By the end of this year we are pretty confident that more than half of all digital video ads will be mobile.” In March alone, more than 40 percent of the global video exchange requests at BrightRoll were for mobile. A year ago that figure was less than 5 percent, underscoring the rapid trajectory for mobile video, especially in the last few months.

One of the benefits of mobile video ads is they are often brand safe from the get-go, and are served to us in popular apps like Angry Birds, Draw Something, and Pandora, Sacerdoti said. Thus, the growth in mobile video advertising will spread well beyond the premium big name publishers. “You have an enormous influx of supply and this is almost universally good for marketers. For publishers this may be a different group though, and publishers who have a strong business online might not be as meaningful on mobile.”


Your best clients and customers are increasingly less tethered to their desks and desktop computers while working. You’ll not only have to work harder to reach them on the go, but you’ll have to reach them when they’re in the right mindset to be reached. In this digital society, the work/leisure line becomes fuzzier and fuzzier. They’re working when they’re playing and they’re playing when their working. Now more than ever, you have to be smart, fast and creative to get your message through.


TAGS: mobile, apps, video, Appalachian State, Time Inc., National Association of Realtors, Strategy Analytics, Brightroll, digital natives, digital immigrants 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Internet Advertising Passes Cable, Now No. 2 Advertising Medium

Financial services second largest online ad category. Are higher gas prices here to stay?

As the NY Times opined late last week, even President Obama can’t reverse the law of supply and demand. But, federal officials can try to ensure that market manipulation and speculation does not drive gas prices higher than is warranted by economic fundamentals.

So, how do you make that pre-election rhetoric into policy? Experts say research presented in Congressional testimony, academic papers, government and private studies shows excessive speculation, mainly by Wall Street index-fund traders, is needlessly driving up prices, with estimates ranging up to $1 a gallon in jacked-up gasoline costs. And Mr. Obama called on Congress to increase regulators’ budgets and powers to police the oil markets and to increase penalties for manipulation. But conservatives, including The Wall Street Journal said no clear evidence of speculation or who the speculators are….and if so, was is natural gas so low. See video interview of Journal assistant editorial page editor James Freeman Pic=Phantom Oil speculation

Our take: While a reasonable amount of hedging and speculation is needed to ensure free-flowing efficient markets, excessive speculation is what causes meltdowns like we saw in the banking and housing markets. In the short run, don’t expect the Administration to take drastic steps before the elections to curb speculation or to interfere with financial markets that have regained most of the ground lost since the 2008. If your business depends on raw materials, transportation, travel or energy, plan for a short period of higher costs which will impact business and consumer demand for your products and services. Also expect higher business travel costs and possible impact of attendance at your live events.

Internet advertising passes cable, now second-largest advertising medium

Internet ad spending grew 22 percent in 2011 to $31.7 billion, according to the latest data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Researchers said growth is accelerating, not decelerating, from last year’s 14.5 percent growth rate after a recession-induced slide in 2009. The IAB also said mobile advertising was the fastest-growing category in 2011, jumping nearly 150 percent to $1.6 billion in 2010. Mobile also garnered 5 percent of total online ad dollars this year versus 2.5 percent a year ago. Digital video advertising -- which the IAB includes as part of display advertising -- saw strong growth as well, rising 29 percent from $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion. Overall, display spending rose 15 percent in 2011 to $11.1 billion from $9.6 billion.

Financial services second largest online ad category

Financial services accounted for 13 percent ($4.1 billion), behind only retail (22%, $7 billion); telecom, ranked third as 12 percent ($3.9 billion), automotive, 11 percent ($2.9 billion), leisure travel, 8 percent ($2.4 billion), and computing 8 percent ($2.7 billion). IAB said the $31.7 billion in Internet advertising in 2011 exceeded the $31 billion in cable TV advertising last year, making the category second only to broadcast TV ($38.5 billion).

“Pushing past the $30 billion barrier, the interactive advertising industry confirms its central place in media," said IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg, in presenting the 2011 figures Wednesday.

Email more popular than social media
Social media may be getting all the buzz, but email is still a more popular mode of Internet communication, according to a new survey from private research firm Ipsos. Of nearly 20,000 adults polled worldwide, 85 percent of them used the Internet for email while 62 percent used it for social networking. Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos, says she expected email use to trump that of social media. “If you think about it, the Internet was first used for sending letters online. It shouldn’t be surprising that we’re using a digital version of sending a letter,” she says. “But the fact that a majority of people are using [the Internet] for social networking is a paradigm shift; there’s no equivalent in the offline world.” Aside from email and social networking, researcher said another key use of the Internet is for Voice-Over-IP. Overall, VOIP is used by 14 percent of people across the globe and trends high in Russia (36%), Turkey (32%) and India (25%). VOIP use is lowest in Brazil (4%), France (5%) and the U.S. (6%).

E-mail most preferred by online consumers
Email is by far the most popular channel among US online consumers for receiving permission-based promotional messages, according to ExactTarget new survey results released last week. 77 percent of respondents chose email, with direct mail (letter, catalogs, postcards, etc. - 9%), text messaging (SMS) on a cell phone (5%), Facebook (4%), and phone (2%) trailing distantly. Email’s is most popular among 35-44-year-olds and 55-64-year-olds (both at 81%), and least popular among 15-17-year-olds (66%).

You owe it to yourself, your clients and your organization to look into every new marketing channel that emerges on the horizon. But please test and evaluate first before rolling out. You need to put your energies into what’s most effective—not necessarily what’s most buzzworthy—but remember what’s working well today may not be your go-to solution a year or even six months from now.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Does Technology Make Us Better Connected or More Isolated?

The power of the independent workforce

If you can squeeze in the time, take a few minutes to read Ross Douthat’s Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times “The Man With the Google Glasses.” If you’re in sales, marketing or business development, you’ve got to find a way to connect with customers who are “more electronically networked, but more personally isolated, than ever before.” Can the remarkable capabilities of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms “make up for the weakening flesh-and-blood ties and the decline of traditional communal institutions?” Douthat ponders.

Our take: Don’t pass judgment on the narcissistic, always-wired generation. They might be more comfortable e-mailing and tweeting you than meeting for lunch or golf, but that’s how the next generation of decision-makers and policy-makers gets things done. The sooner you embrace their style of communication, the sooner you can start closing deals and getting the leg up on your competition. Just keep it real. By that we mean, learn the basics of social media and networking, but don’t try to pass yourself off as an expert and if there’s something that’s still baffling you, just ask. The younger generation’s a little more altruistic than their Boomer/Gen X elders. Chances are they’ll appreciate your honesty and will be willing to help you get up to speed. Nobody likes a poser, whether it’s in the real world or virtual world.

The independent contractor is here to stay

On top of the social networking generation, you also need to pay heed to the freelance, independent free-agent contractor generation. If you’re in any kind of creative, technology or other business that’s based on fresh ideas vs. policy manuals, the rise of the independent workforce won’t be receding even when the economy improves. As Alexandra Levit related in yesterday’s NY Times, “independent work is a choice,” not a sign of desperation. “Given the direction the corporate world is going, I think many workers need to prepare for the possibility of going out on their own some day.”

Here at HB, we’ve found the independent contractors aren’t interesting in kissing anyone’s ass or working their way up an imaginary ladder. They’re interested in having a high income/high quality of life with the flexibility to choose when and how they work and what work they take on. Are they selfish? Perhaps, but we’ve found most independent contractors to be highly disciplined, highly skilled and honestly interested in helping you grow your business and solve tough challenges in innovative and cost-efficient ways.

At the end of the day, that’s what we do for our clients, investors and boards. You owe it to yourself to get the best available athlete on whatever challenge you have—it doesn’t matter if you pay them 1099 or W-2.


Monday, April 09, 2012

Do Busy Professionals Have Time for Social Media?

Most will tell you it’s a ‘must do’, but tweeting and posting is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re not carefully planning, adjusting and measuring the right things, then you’re just adding to the noise and making yourselves look worse

Chief Marketer’s recent survey of CMOs found that friends, followers, likes, shares forwards and retweets are still the most popular social media metrics. Why? Because they’re easy to measure. But, as Internet Marketing Report (IMR) revealed in today’s print edition, these easy metrics (we call ‘em McMetrics here at HB) just tell you how wide your reach is. IMR said leads and sales are far more accurate indicators of ROI. For instance, 60 percent of CMOs surveyed said they looked toward “friends, followers and likes” as indicators to measure social media success, but only 35 percent said they monitored qualified leads from social media and only 25 percent measured sales attributed to their social media platforms.

Communicating in a microwave society

And that’s a challenge, because technology is changing so fast. We’re so busy trying to keep up with technology that we’re not really becoming more effective communicators—let alone brand builders or reputation enhancers. “Our culture moves at warp speed, no question, the weekly or even daily news cycle long since replaced by an up-to-the-second Twitter feed of Facebook update,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Richard Hoffer last week. “We said goodbye to thoughtful consideration the day we moved over to microwave popcorn.”

Fortunately Google Analytics and others will soon enable users to track how well their social media efforts are paying off in real e-commerce dollar terms. Disclosure: Our firm has no commercial ties or partnerships with Google.

Companies that enable the e-commerce tracking feature on their free version of Google Analytics will soon be able to produce a “social value report” that shows conversions or sales that came directly from visitors to your social media site and “assisted conversions” that come within a set interval (say 30 days) of when a visitor interacted with one of your social media pages.

As Hugh Duffy, head of a practice development firm for CPAs noted on his blog last week, time is one of the biggest resource investments you have to consider when embarking on a social media strategy. Citing research from my good friend, Rick Telberg, of Bay Street Group Research Duffy noted there’s a strong correlation between high performance and technology adoption at firms.

To do it well, it will take up a great deal of your organization’s time and energy to launch it, maintain it and perfect it. But will it bring you more business? And how long do you keep trying until you know whether or not you’ll be successful at developing a meaningful and profitable online presence?

Only you and your colleagues can be the judge? But before you start throwing stuff on the wall to see what will stick, you must have a clear timeline, clear assignment of responsibilities and clearly defined success metrics that everyone can buy into. That way you’ll know when it’s time to ramp up or clean up the mess, if it’s just not working out.

Your clients and stakeholders are depending on you. They’ll respect you for trying new ways to reach them. And they’ll respect you even more for not throwing good money (and time) after bad when it becomes apparent that some of your social experiments may not be their cup of tea.