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.
On Wednesday at OMMA East, GMD Studios CEO Brian Clark, whose agency does work for Audi, said, on a a panel, that 29 percent of traffic to a site created as part of a recent Audi A3 campaign was generated by advertising on the BlogAds network. The kicker is that 29 percent was achieved with just one half of one percent of the overall media budget. Let's say it again, advertising on weblogs deliver Audi 29 percent of all responding yet took just on half of one percent of the budget to do so. To drive the point home even further, McKinney + Silver, on its A3 timeline site states, "The media cost for the entire blog ad buy was less than the cost for one banner ad on a mainstream site such as Yahoo!" Of course "one banner ad on a mainstream site such as Yahoo" is a nebulous statement at best, however, again, 29 percent of traffic to an A3 promotional website came from on half of one percent of the budget. Shall we say it again?
We don't really understand all the details and legalities but this really big Canadian company, CBC, is having this thing called a lock out which, for some weird reason, has put everyone out of a job. Someone said it has to do with some kind of contract negotiation but that's not what's important. What is important is Pedro the Locked Out Gnome. Rather than appear in people garden's as most gnomes do, poor Pedro, who used to work for CBC has been forced to hit the street and appear in pictures with other equally unfortunate souls including, for some odd reason, Hooters waitresses. Oh well, this is advertising after all.
Most of you have heard of this thing called blogging but that's because you work in areas where blogging is commonplace. However, regular folk, the folks we, in advertising, sell to day in and day out don't have a clue as to what blogging is. At least in England. A recent study among taxi drovers, pub landlords and hairdressers found that 70 percent had never heard of blogging. Most thought the survey was asking about dogging, the practice of watching couples have sex in semi-secluded spaces. Hmm, blogging as a perverted sex fetish. Not exactly what the blog elite and the blogebrity had in mind.
This research confirms the notion we've supported for a long time. Weblogging is just a really easy way to publish a website that, because of the platform, gets easily distributed and picked up by search engines.