Archive for November, 2009

Classmate’s quiz breaks down who I should have voted for…Corzine!

Check out my classmate’s civic engagement project on the New Jersey gubernatorial race. Its a pretty neat quiz that matches up your beliefs with each candidates’ stance on a range of important issues: taxes, health care reform, gay marriage, education and so on.

At times, it seems that the hyperbolic mudslinging that goes on during campaigns overshadows the actual issues (accusations in Corzine’s ads that the albeit corpulent Christie “threw his weight around” to get out of a traffic ticket?). It was definitely refreshing to take a look at the issues that really matter, not whether Christie’s girth makes him unfit to govern.

Who SHOULD You Have Voted For?

Your Result: Jon Corzine

You SHOULD have voted for Jon Corzine, New Jersey’s incumbent governor. Among Corzine’s campaign promises were to support health care reform and the insured mammogram, and, even though he raised taxes twice in his term as governor, he vowed to cut them if he won a second term. Based on your own personal views, you SHOULD have voted for Jon Corzine, but who DID you vote for?

Disclaimer: Answers reflect campaign platforms and rhetoric and the quiz-maker’s interpretation, and not necessarily the current viewpoints of this gentleman.

Chris Daggett
Chris Christie
Who SHOULD You Have Voted For?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Thoughts of a Future Doctor

Rahool Davé, sophomore philosophy major and seven-year medical student, shares his thoughts on health care reform, malpractice insurance, global systems and Chris Christie.

Visit my civic engagement project blog for more information about health care reform!

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Mac vs. PC Interactive Advertising

Example of the interactive ads Randall Rothenberg mentioned as successful campaigns in his talk Wednesday morning. I agree, these ads are some of the few I willingly pay attention to and enjoy. As I currently type this entry on my wonderful mac, I would say the ad was a success!

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Randall Rothenberg and Interactive Advertising

As thousands of aspiring journalists, including myself, begin the job hunt in an industry plagued by hiring freezes, layoffs (AP achieved its goal of cutting 10% from the payroll just the other day) and bankruptcy, it is time we all started exploring the solutions for the failing newspaper business model. It is clear the transition from revenue-rich print advertising (though admittedly long gone thanks to Craigslist and to an online form has not found success, indeed most people are turned off by the tacky, blinking advertisements and pop-ups that frazzle the web experience. Whereas social media platforms and interactive advertising campaigns may provide businesses the solution to their online impotency (and perhaps a cure for the news industry as well), a study I recently came across found most Fortune 100 companies do not even understand how to effectively use Twitter. The question that comes to mind is whether an inability to master Twitter also speaks to failings in other social media platforms?

Throughout the semester, my Professional Writing class has had the opportunity to Skype with successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the social media and advertising realm, including Lena West (xynoMedia: Formulates strategic plans for client companies in utilizing social media platforms to engage customers), Anaezi Modu (ReBrand: Global resource for effective brand transformations) and most recently, Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a trade association for online advertisers dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace.

A former New York Times reporter and editor, Rothenberg was quick to qualify his move to the “dark side” as being in the business of helping content succeed, for as we know all too well the money has to come from somewhere and traditionally advertising has financed media. As he recounted his journey from Classics major at Princeton University to President and CEO of a renown trade association, I once again was struck by the fact that your college degree does not define you. Many of the skills that qualified Rothenberg for his position were gained in the workplace, with due credit given to the critical thinking and pattern recognition skills honed by his liberal arts education. Although I was surprised to learn he has not gotten his MBA, his evident success in the advertising world is further proof that formal degree programs are not the only path to a career.

According to Rothenberg, digital/interactive advertising is relatively new when one considers that the Internet as we know it today did not come about until 1997. Although some may grumble that standardization, facilitated by IAB twelve or thirteen years ago, is the root cause of pricing pressure, Rothenberg said it was a necessity and a simple fact of the marketplace. Rather than forcing companies to create banner ads in all different sizes, IAB brought its members together to reach a consensus (much like the standard 30 second television commercial). Rothenberg admitted that the current direct-marketing school of advertising has resulted in ads that are busy, difficult to read and not very fulfilling for brand marketers and unfortunately the universal ad package has not changed much since 2003. “The biggest innovation has not been in formats but creative use,” explained Rothenberg. “Take a look at the Mac/PC ads, they have characters, narrative and interaction between the banners on the top and side of web pages.”

All in all, he called for a transition back to creativity and brand-image advertising with narrative and emotive power, asserting a successful campaign, “relies less and less on assaulting you with the same ad but on the creativity of content itself.” In the era of magazines and television, a copywriter and graphic designer were all that were needed, but interactive advertising is very different (consider the potential of mass viral distribution, social media engagement and blog conversations at the least). With so many opportunities comes also the need for a new team member with an expertise in media technologies: the creative technologist. Defined by Mark Avnet, professor and head of a training program for creative technologists at Virginia Commonwealth University’s VCU Brandcenter, as, “fluent and confident in using media technologies appropriately in the service of branding, advertising, marketing and persuasion,” creative technologists are in demand and Rothenberg notes that they are being hired along with the classic writers and art directors at the rising ad agencies. “You need a degree of technological expertise that is also aware of the creative potential not just of the medium itself but of all the segments within the interactive channels and that is really what creative technologists do,” explained Rothenberg. “From a job standpoint, it is great.”

Other than enlightening me of an entirely new arena of advertising and job opportunities, Rothenberg also had a lot to say about advertising and the news industry. First, he boosted our class morale by negating the cliché, “video killed the radio star.” Indeed, advertising has changed, he said, and compared to print-based ads, the digital equivalent has not generated the same steady stream of revenue. Furthermore, the newspaper industry’s fatal decision to distribute online editions for free many years back has essentially ruled out the possibility of online subscriptions. However, Rothenberg concluded the tactile appreciation of print is not apt go away, bringing up the success of segmented, interest magazines and the possibility of a focus on hyperlocal coverage.

His final words of wisdom? Learn to work well in a team, curiosity counts for an enormous amount and the ability to write is rare and important. “Now is an unbelievably great time to go into media and advertising and I wish I was in your position,” Rothenberg said. “The ability to take your passion and creativity and do something with it is greater now than ever before.”

STUDY: Most Fortune 100 Companies Don’t Get Twitter

STUDY: Most Fortune 100 Companies Don’t Get Twitter

Last week in my Professional Writing class, we discussed usability testing and, most importantly, the design of Twitter postings with reference to Jakob Nielsen’s instructional site. The basic summary was that tweets should be “punchy, credible and viral,” and in looking through the positives and negatives of tweets, it was interesting to consider how advertising might take advantage of the social media tool.

I couldn’t help but think back to our chat with Lena West, CEO of xynoMedia, whose company formulates strategies for client companies to engage with customers through social media platforms. West noted that businesses can be a bit “dorky” about social media, often focusing on pushing their message for profit rather than more effectively crowd sourcing for sustainable brand awareness.

It was this statement that resonated with me as I read the above article on delicious. According to a study released today by Weber Shandwick,  although a large number of Fortune 100 companies have embraced Twitter (73 out of the 100 have a registered Twitter account), the majority have failed to effectively engage followers, suffer from lack of personality in their tweets and overall, do not tweet often enough. Other than the fact that these companies might want to seek the help of West and xynoMedia (shameless plug!), I thought this was a very interesting study in light of our upcoming chat with Randell Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

A fatal flaw in the majority of accounts was that the companies focused too much on brand and less on personality. Furthermore, though 24% of Twitter accounts were mainly used for brand awareness, many companies seem to possess accounts merely for the online presence. Instead of utilizing the service as a way to increase sales (as Dell has done successfully with some millions of dollars worth of products sold), only 16% of the Fortune 100 accounts used Twitter for sales, coupons or other special Twitter offers.

Based on what I have learned throughout the semester about branding and online advertising, it would seem that these Fortune 100 companies need to recognize and take advantage of the penultimate feature of social media platforms like Twitter: two-way communication. By engaging customers in a conversation, with personality and a “face” for the brand (perhaps attaching a name/individual to the Twitter postings as representative of the company?) they will ultimately achieve more success and, of course, more sales!

*NOTE* After looking through some of the comments on the article, it was pointed out that many top Fortune 100 companies are highly regulated industries (financial, pharmaceutical, healthcare) that have limits placed on free and open discussion…in which case, they may need to obtain legal approval to avoid SEC violations, thus restricting their ability to be as free-wielding with their tweets. This is an absolutely valid point, one solution other comments offered to these companies was utilizing Twitter for customer service.

Regardless, it seems a lot of the difficulties stem from misperceptions of how Twitter should be used. We seem to have not gotten over the idea that it is merely people posting what they are doing all day long. Hopefully, these companies will be able to figure out how to make Twitter work on their behalf. Also, check out these brands on Twitter: @zappos and @southwestair (West mentioned this one too!) because one comment named them as great brand success stories of those companies that jump-started their traditional promotional efforts via Twitter.

Americans less willing than people in many other countries to pay for online news

Americans less willing than people in many other countries to pay for online news: New York Times

A new study by the Boston Consulting Group has found that 48% of regular Internet users in the United States are willing to pay for online new content, averaging $3 a month when asked how much. In a survey of 5,000 individuals in nine different countries (Australia, France, England, Germany, Spain, Norway and Finland), the United States tied with Britain for the least amount of people willing to pay, whereas in some Western European countries, nearly 60% said yes.

As the news industry considers online-subscriptions as a possible solution for the failing business model, the study’s findings are promising. However, even if news industries banded together in the transition to paid content, free sources on the Web would spring up and defeat the purpose. Regardless, it is something to be explored because the relatively low cost of reaching consumers via the Internet (eliminating production and delivery) would definitely generate a profit. Now we just have to address online advertising…

View the BCG press release