Thursday, June 17, 2010

Presentation on Presentations

Here's a good example of what is capable with modern presentation technology and tactics:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Best Ad Campaign in a Social Game

Advertising in social media is catching on like wildfire (pun intended). One area of social media where we are seeing a lot of advancement is social games. The main advertising types found in and near social games are:

  1. Contextual - mobile
  2. Contextual - web
  3. Social network display ads
  4. Traditional display ads
  5. Partner offers
Until very recently, I considered the 5th type of advertising to be a bit scummy. I can't help but recall my frustration from several years back when I "won a free X-Box" only to find that to claim my coveted prize, I would need to complete "partner offers" which far outweighed the cost of an Xbox. I'm still bitter. What I've seen with a recent Playdom advertisement on their popular facebook game Social City has managed to reverse my perception of partner offers. It is nothing short of a monumental advancement within this category of advertising.

To fully appreciate the impact this advertisement had, I'll give a brief rundown of my experience with Social City leading up to my exposure to their ad campaign last week. The game is a simplified version of Will Wright's SimCity with added social gaming mechanics. There are two types of currency used to advance and expand your city. The first is typical in game currency that is accumulated through in game activity. The second currency is much scarcer, but can be purchased with real money. This second currency type, known as virtual currency, can be used to purchase exclusive in game content. The value of the virtual currency is established by virtue of its scarcity, in game purchasing power, and the fact it normally costs real world dollars to acquire.

I play this game several times a week, so I'm exposed to in game content I could purchase with the game's virtual currency "city bucks", on a regular basis. I want the game content, just not quite enough to justify paying real world money for fake money. Keeping that in mind, imagine my reaction when I logged into the app last week, and saw this:

This page displayed prior to allowing me access to the game, which is to say that the advertisement is an interstitial. The irony is that this advertisement was so relevant that is was not interruptive in any way shape or form. The relevance was established by the timeliness of the offer, and the in game reward of virtual currency. The advertisement was literally a part of my gaming experience.  Couple that with the fact that the call to action uses the same look and feel as the buttons used in-game, and that directly above the advertisement is three in game elements that I could purchase with the virtual currency obtained from completing an offer that I would have done anyways (come on, who doesn't buy flowers for their mom for mother's day?).

Upon clicking the "get flowers" button, I was taken to the following screen:

Again, everything about the design keeps the target customer (me) in the same state as they would be were they playing the game. Lines get a little blurred, but reminding gamers of real world responsibilities via in game incentives is nothing short of brilliant advertising.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Web Data Visualized

Interesting visualization tool combined with pivot style "this by that" data analysis:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marketing is Like Playing a Video Game

For whatever reason, marketing strategy is rarely compared to strategy employed in strategic or tactical video games. I would argue, that at a high level, both strategy and tactics employed in a virtual setting can be remarkably similar to those employed in a corporate marketing setting.

When playing a strategy game, such as Sid Meir's Civilation series, my strategy is typically ranked in this order:

1. Convert resources from opposing forces to my cause
2. Convert resources from neutral forces
3. Obtain resources through alliance
4. Re-purpose unused resources or develop resources internally
5. Eliminate resources of opposing forces

The corporate equivalent to this strategy is remarkably similar:

1. Acquire customers from a competitor
2. Acquire any other customer
3. Expand business through M&A
4. Extract more value out of existing customers, or trim margins
5. Damage a competitors reputation

I believe anyone who enjoys strategic video games for the sake of being strategic will invariably develop schema used to guide tactical decision making in pursuit of strategy that has become second nature. Furthermore, I believe that schema built in this manner, through this medium, is absolutely applicable to business.

For some reason, it is almost conventional wisdom that time spent playing video games is "wasted"...but consider that surgeons who play certain types of video games for only three hours a week perform 37% less errors while practicing surgery, according to Wired. If games that require precise moment can improve the work of a surgeon, is it not reasonable that a game that requires precise strategic thinking can improve the work of a marketer, or any strategic role?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Big Ups Craig Rosenberg

As a newbie to the blogging world, I looked to other thought leaders in the B2B and analytical marketing community for inspiration. Though their are many great blogs out there covering B2B marketing, I would like to give a special shout out to Craig Rosenberg and his blog, The Funnel Hollic as my main inspiration for starting this site. Here is a great exerpt from a recent post of his:

"1. The most unique thing you have to sell is yourself. This is a common sales tip that I have applied to how I sell and how I market. Here’s what a sales rep needs to know: Before people talk to each other in this day and age, they look them up on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social-networking sites. This means you have to consider your presence on the Internet."

And with that advice in mind, I am starting my blog...

The Only 4 Twitter Add-Ons You Need

Ever wonder how some B2B companies manage to generate thousands of twitter followers? So did I. I finally decided to look into it and found that there were dozens of "twitter automation" services available. As it was 2 in the morning, I made an impulsive decision, and spent $40 to check one out. The tool is a fairly basic marketing automation program for twitter called AutoPilot Tweet. It has a few main functions:

1) Identifies and follows people who will likely follow you back
2) Un-follows people who are not following you
3) Protect people from being auto un-followed
4) Follows your followers
5) Queues up tweets for later
6) Follow people based on their use of keywords or phrases
7) Send bulk replies or direct messages

The tool is unpolished when compared to the "must have" twitter tools such as tweetdeck or twitterfeed, but it gets the job done. If you decide to use a tool like this, I would highly recommend signing up for a free account with TrueTwit. TrueTwit identifies you as a real person when interacting with twitter users that have spam and robot filters. Building a twitter following by automatically following people who tweet about topics relevant to you or your business seems like a logical and straightforward marketing tactic. After testing on my personal account, I'll give it a go at my company, and share the results.