You Think It’s Just You and Your SmartPhone…But, Your App Is Watching You!

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With the emergence of digital media come privacy concerns that didn’t exist in previous years.  Many smart phone apps are designed to track user information–including GPS location–without the user’s explicit consent or knowledge that this is happening. In my class this week, I read about a study that Groupon, a popular app that offers local deals to consumers, was found to track a user’s location more than 5,000 times over a 14-day span! Groupon’s senior management simply responded that this was necessary to offer the best deals to consumers. Read more about this case here. It is very important for users to read the fine print when signing up for any app. Some apps do have clear privacy policies found within the terms of service that explain exactly what information the app will be accessing. Other apps are not so straightforward with this. Therefore, it is important to only purchase apps from trusted sources and to be aware that in some cases, your information can be sold to third party data companies without your knowledge or permission.

In addition to location, apps can track consumers’ preferences based on purchase history, web browsing, data cache on a smart phone, contact lists, friends’ lists on social media, and even information shared on the smart phone itself through messaging. Where do consumers stand on having their information shared with (or without) their explicit consent? 38% of respondents to a 2013 TRUSTe Privacy Index Study reported that they are OK with having their information shared in exchange for a free or lower cost app, whereas 43% said absolutely not! 19% were torn in the middle and answered “maybe” this is OK.

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It is also important to consider what content is on your mobile device that could be compromised in the case that your device is lost or stolen. In the age of bringing our own mobile devices to work, there are potential privacy concerns that confidential corporate data could be breached as well as your personal information if your phone is lost or hacked.

This video provides some great tips for securing your phone or mobile device.

Steps You Should Take:

  1. Set a passcode on the lock screen or a fingerprint pattern that must be inputted to access the device.
  2. Make it easy to find or lock down a lost or stolen phone.
  3. Increase defenses against hackers by only downloading apps from trusted sellers.
  4. Use public WiFi hotspots cautiously. Do not send personal information on these networks, such as making a credit card purchase.
  5. Use multi-step authentication on apps that offer it.

Question for You: As the survey asked, are you willing to share at least some data in exchange for a free or low-cost app or deal? Why or why not? Please respond in the comments below or on Twitter.

Digital Marketing: Acquire. Aim. Fire.

With the World Wide Web, it’s easier than ever to market your brand online directly to the customer. Never before did a company have the chance to engage in a two way dialogue with the consumer to learn the good, the bad and the ugly–what do they like, what do they dislike, and how can the brand improve.

In the “traditional marketing funnel” a brand would blindly send out a one-size-fits-all marketing message to the “general public” with the idea of converting people to make a purchase.

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Messages were not segmented based on demographics or psychographics. Therefore, your grandmother would receive the same ad as your teenage son. Social media and the Internet have totally changed the ballgame by letting you target your pitches directly to individuals instead of blinding tossing out a ball in hopes of someone catching it. And, those individuals can respond by throwing the ball right back to you. Instead of a one-way funnel, you find yourself looking at a marketing and sales cycle with a fully engaged consumer.

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According to a marketing and communications conference I attended this Spring, 70% of people actually formulate a purchasing decision before ever contacting your organization directly. That’s the power of the Internet. They use tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Word Press and your company’s website to discover and explore what you have to offer. In fact, social media is impacting purchasing decisions in a very big way. Some key stats:

  • 40 percent of Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook users have purchased something after watching and sharing it.
  • 3 out of 10 consumers think that Facebook influence their purchasing decisions.
  • Almost 5 out of 10 people follow brands on Pinterest to learn more about products.
  • Almost 2 out of 10 consumers follow brands on YouTube to make purchases.
  • Nearly 2 out of 10 Twitter users purchased an item after favoring on their feed.

Read more about that here.

Therefore, your first communications with customers via any of these platforms might as well say:

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Next, there is no such thing as a “general public.” You are marketing your product or service to key individuals. That is why it is so important to carefully Acquire, Aim, Fire instead of firing blindly and hoping to miraculously reach your mark.

For a case study example, I will use my friend’s small business Text and Tote. She is very creative and sells small wristlets and smart phone bags of all designs, both formal and casual. Here is an example:

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My friend has limited time and resources at her disposal. After all, she is a one-man band running a business from her home. Therefore, her ads and business messages need to make a stellar first impression that will hook the customer and encourage them to make a purchase.

The big question is WHO is she marketing to? Let’s narrow it down by demographics.

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First, she is marketing to women who own mobile devices. These women are mostly ages 16-60. She is located in the Southeastern United States, and although she does some business across the country, this is her primary market. Annual income for these women is $30,000 plus so that they will have the resources available to make this kind of “luxury purchase.”

Now, certain products will of course appeal more to a certain type of woman. For example, this product would obviously appeal mostly to educators.

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This is where psychographics come into play. What would interest the typical woman who would want this bag? Education, Children, Childcare, etc. Sure, but let’s think outside the box! It would also appeal to students who may be looking to purchase a gift for their favorite teacher, to teachers’ relatives and friends, and for teens who wish to pursue a career in education.

This next bag would appeal mostly to breast cancer survivors, family members or friends of those who have experienced or are currently experiencing breast cancer. It would also appeal to philanthropists who are willing to donate money to a good cause, even if they have not personally experienced cancer. It may also appeal to those who wish to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and united with society as a whole during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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The ad copy would obviously vary on each bag to be compelling and memorable to that audience. For example:

“We didn’t invent the Apple, just the Apple Text and Tote. Give your teacher her favorite gift this year! #TeacherAppreciationDay.”

Versus:

“This isn’t just another pink bag. It’s a bag that can make a difference.” #MoreThanPink #SewingForACause

The best messages are carefully formulated with a full awareness of the target audience’s basic demographics, interests, values and desires. Here is an article with 4 succinct steps that can help you to best define your target audience. Remember: Acquire. Aim. Fire.

Question for You: What is a recent marketing message that made a big impact on you, and what elements made it compelling/memorable? Share in the comments below or on Twitter.

Sally’s feeling…Social! Developing Brand Relationships via Social Media

Content marketing is largely possible due to the digital, mobile and fluid marketplace. If you consider how society has evolved over the past decade with the increasing popularity of the Internet and smartphones, it is no wonder that marketing would change as well. In the past, individuals received news and information through a daily newspaper, the nightly news, conversations with friends, radio shows, and possibly paid advertisements. They chose businesses based on word of mouth and perhaps a coupon or flyer for a particular brand that would come to their mailbox or based on a telephone call that came to their home. These days, it is more of a friend’s status update or a Google review..”Feeling excited after my awesome manicure at Nails R Us. It was so relaxing and amazing.” Someone reading this may then consider trying this nail salon out.

Not only are consumers constantly plugged in, they are experiencing information overload. In one of my IMC classes, I learned that consumers like choices, but they do not like too many of them. At times, in order to avoid sensory overload, they simply detach from a situation rather than try to determine which of the options presented is truly the best. I vividly remember experiencing this myself over the summer when I went shopping at a DSW outlet. The aisles were filled with shoe after shoe stretching out across a warehouse-sized space. My cousin and I meandered down each aisle systematically, but it was all just too much. By the time you finished aisle three, you forgot which shoes you liked on aisle one. At one point, I ended up with a teetering shoe tower, and my cousin ended up forcing me to try each pair on as I went.

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I think about the teetering shoe tower and compare it to consumers as they comb their Facebook News Feeds or the Internet in the morning before work or on a short news break trying in vain to tease out what is important. What are the stories of the day? Consumers have gotten too smart for spam, and direct sales pitches are often Unliked or scrolled past. People want convenience as well as quality. They want information that interests them delivered to them right where they are –on social media, on blogs, on news websites. They want to see what is important to them based on their previously expressed preferences and receive a personalized online shopping experience. Whenever possible, it is important to personalize the marketing message. Everyone likes to see his/her name. One of the most cost effective yet brilliant marketing strategies is to reach out to customers on their birthdays with an email message if postage is too costly. People will remember you for this and appreciate your brand all the more for celebrating their special day.

In this particular aspect, marketers are living in the golden age! As Steve Raddick mentioned in his INTEGRATE 2015 Conference presentation, people are hungry for good quality content. And, it is our job to feed it to them. In my opinion, social media and email marketing campaigns are two of the most powerful tactics in the business right now because they are so relevant. Most milennials check social media at least once a day, and many of you check multiple times per day, and they often use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms as a “Go To” source for finding recommendations for products and services. Often, people become aware of a business online, either through an ad or from a friend’s post. Then, they achieve social interest or the idea that people whom I trust think this product may be valuable, so maybe it is worth consideration. After consideration comes social influence. How many others value this same product or service? In this way, social media helps to drive a potential customer  to make a decision to buy the product or service.

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A few helpful notes about Facebook:

  • Keeping your posts below 250 characters can get you 60% more engagement than you might otherwise see. You can even get up to 66% more engagement if you cut it down to less than 80 characters.
  • Emoticons help people feel connected and help to generate engagement
  • Compelling, creative content convinces consumers to call, come by, or change companies. Use tactics such as alliteration (case in point), metaphors and word illustrations to make even the most mundane of sentences more interesting.
  • Vivid imagery can be used in partnership with strong text to increase engagement
  • Stay relevant and don’t be afraid to address the hot button issues

For example, the topic of childhood vaccinations is extremely controversial right now. There is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there. I work as the PR Manager of a pediatric practice, and  it is my company’s obligation to ensure that our parents are appropriately informed according to the best practices and latest research available. Therefore, in the Spring we tackled a vaccine each week via social media and posted infographics on our Facebook page explaining the reason for each vaccine, the benefits and the potential side effects. This Fall, we plan to post detailed information about the Flu Shot and why it is important for each person to be vaccinated.

Question For You: Why do you follow a business on social media? What kinds of content do you like, and which type of content would make you unfollow the page? Let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter.

What Makes a Good Corporate Website?

Last week in my Emerging Media class, we studied the elements that go into making a corporate website that will make a lasting impression on visitors. A corporate website is a company’s No. 1 tool for creating a stellar first impression. If people want to learn about you, they will go to the digital source-your website.

To sum up some takeaways, your website should be:

  • User friendly
  • Targeted to more than just 1 target demographic (Consider a special site or sub-site for Hispanic customers complete with accurate translation, a youth version of your site, etc.)
  • Attractive
  • Full of compelling images that are more than just stock photos
  • Easy to read; all font should be bigger than a size 12, as size 12 and below can be hard to read on mobile. Remember sans serif is easier on the eyes than serif, but serif can build credibility when used selectively.
  • Mobile friendly/responsive
  • Able to fulfill the consumers’ real needs versus the needs that the company THINK they must have
  • Informative rather than annoying
  • Easy to search
  • Well organized

On the other hand, Buzzfeed compiled a list of “20 Hilariously Terrible Corporate Websites” in 2014. Since I love Buzzfeed lists, and I had corporate websites on my mind, I could not resist sharing some of these with you. Where did these well-meaning companies go wrong in forming a digital consumer’s very first impression of their brand? (Imagine the horror of meeting your future employer, a CEO, an important client and/or the Queen in your sweatpants!? Anyone can be looking at your site at any time, so it is always important to put your best foot forward digitally.)

  1. Cloud 9 Walkers.com
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This site is bad on many levels, but the first problem is that the design requires one to “Click Here to Read About Us.” As a person with limited time, my first thought is, I just did that by clicking on your site! Why do I need to click again, exactly? A good corporate website respects that people have short attention spans and need information quickly and easily. They also have good organization and simple navigation structure. See No. 2 on the list in this article about good corporate website design.
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This site should re-read my “Do not annoy” rule, or rather do not cause your epileptic customers to have a seizure! This is all just too much, too bright and not very easy to read. Most people will quickly exit this site just for the sake of saving their eyesight. This article explains the importance of appearance with good use of colorful, meaningful graphics and text that is easy to read. This website has none of the above!
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This photo is retrieved from the article, circa 2014, and the website has changed since then. Before you breathe a sigh of relief, it is actually even worse, if you can believe that! The background now is far too busy, making it hard for visitors to concentrate on the content. And, the entire design still looks juvenile and very pre-millennium.
These are just three examples of corporate websites gone wrong in an extreme way, but there are many more out there that just hover along the lines of bad. Consider the elements that make a website great. One common pitfall that companies fall into is updating the photos/graphics periodically but leaving a mountain of outdated, irrelevant information just below the surface. This backlog of information only serves to confuse and bother. Ensure that when you are updating your website, you are updating below the surface as well. For example, links should work properly, embedded videos should play, company policies should be relevant, and staff photos should be recent.

Question for You: What makes a website great (or terrible) in your opinion? Please give an example of your favorite (or least favorite) website, and explain why you feel this way.

Feel free to comment in the comment section below or reach out via Twitter.

Taking a Bite of the APPLE

Apple: These days most people are likely to picture a piece of their favorite technology as opposed to a Red Delicious or Granny Smith fruit. What is it about Apple (the brand) that makes it so universally recognizable and beloved? And, most Apple lovers are fiercely loyal, will easily forgive the brand for its occasional shortcomings, and make special efforts to spread the word to their friends that this is one great brand. Just from my own personal experience, I have some Apple loyal friends who will fiercely debate with my PC-loving husband any day of the week regarding which brand has the better operating system.

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By creating an emotional connection with its customers, Apple has done the near impossible – it has acquired a loyal following. Read more about Apple’s brand loyalty as a key to its success here.

First, we must define brand loyalty. According to Retention Science, “brand loyalty… has very little to do with prices or money, but has everything to do with how your brand is perceived by the consumer, whether through promotional activities, reputation or their previous experiences with your company.” Brand loyalists are those consumers who believe that a particular brand offers a superior product or service to all other brands, and regardless of pricing or financial factors, will remain loyal to your brand.

Apple displaced Coca-Cola for the very first time in 2014 as the No. 1 global brand on Interbrand’s annual global brand rankings Top 100 List. Additionally, a 2014 consumer study that polled around 2,000 iPhone owners, and as much as 60 percent of those surveyed described their relationship with Apple as one of “blind loyalty,” while 78 percent stated that they “couldn’t imagine having a different type of phone” than an iPhone. Interestingly, in that same study, only half of the respondents reported being “impressed” by the iPhone, but larger percentages stated they would never switch to another brand of smart phone. So if it’s not necessarily the product itself, it must be the packaging, the image or perception associated with owning an Apple product, the versatility of the products and essentially the marketing initiatives that help to drive this brand’s success.

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Brand loyalty stems from a consumer’s interactions or experiences with a brand, both on and offline. In Apple’s case, Steve Jobs worked tirelessly to make Apple’s reputation well known as both trustworthy and transparent. Interestingly, under Jobs’ leadership, Apple was extremely “social media shy,” and did not maintain social media channels except for YouTube, which had the comments turned off. Some of that is now changing.

According to Fortune, the arrival of the post-Jobs era at Apple has at least something to do with a shift where Apple executives now tweet, and the company recently hired a social media expert:

…Apple sees itself as being in transition from its old communications model, where a ‘single narrator’— aka the late Steve Jobs — articulated a ‘singular narrative’ at a time and place of his choosing, to a new model where the company speaks in multiple voices and participates in two-way discussions with its consumers and fan…” Read more about this transition here.

It is true that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbl’r, blogs and other social media outlets are important ways for brands to connect with fans and vice versa. With digital, communication is no longer disseminated one way from brand to consumer, and the brand is not always in the driver’s seat when it comes to brand communication. Instead, brands have a unique opportunity to develop deeper, lasting relationships with fans through two-way communication online. Apple first launched its social media presence via Tumblr simultaneously with the launch of the iPhone 5. The brand now has a new #ithinkApple campaign that launched with the Apple Smart Watch. You can find the Tumblr page here.

We should keep in mind that while social media is a powerful tool for marketers, Apple was one of the world’s strongest brands before it launched a single social media profile. Thus, we learn from Apple that brand loyalty goes deeper than a single medium of communication or marketing activity. It is about far more than online vs. offline or TV ads vs. print. Apple is a brand that delivers an exceptional product that consistently meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Let’s look at the lessons that an IMC professional should take away from APPLE in order to build brand loyalty with their own customers:

A- Apologize. Admitting when you’re wrong and should have done better is the first step in making any brand (or person) beloved and respected. A person who is not afraid to admit that he/she made a mistake and takes complete responsibility for that mistake, will at the very least be respected, whereas a brand who tries to hide from or pretend there was no mistake a’la Netflix price hike 2011, may face permanent consequences. A delayed apology is often worse than no apology. As an example, as soon as Apple discovered that a Baby Shaker app had made its way into the App store in 2009, the company immediately had the app removed and issued this public apology statement. “This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store. When we learned of this mistake, the app was removed immediately. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention,” the statement read. The complete statement can be found here. On the other hand, the company who originally created the app said only this: “Okay, so maybe the Baby Shaker iPhone app was a bad idea.” Which company seems more genuine and sincere?

P- Produce Products People Want.

For any product that Apple creates, the people who create it have to want it themselves. This article provides additional insight: “So many times with projects I do with other tech companies, the goal is almost always based around the technology first, followed by whether or not people really want to use it. Geeky engineers are dazzled by the technology at their disposal and often create something because they can. But Apple’s approach is quite different. The engineers who are creating Apple products actually make them for themselves. And Jobs was the chief ‘user’ of Apple products when he was alive.” Moral of the story? Take some time to do research into peoples’ needs and values not the company’s perception of their needs and values. Quantitative and qualitative research methods such as surveys, focus groups and in depth interviews allow marketers to gain insight into what works–and what doesn’t! So many large corporations that are generally very successful, have failed in various areas. Think of McDonald’s attempt to sell chicken wings  in 2014: (10 million pounds were left over, unsold)! This kind of business catastrophe occurs when a company THINKS it knows what the people want or need, but in actuality they are far off base.

P- Provide exceptional customer experience. Apple has specialized stores with highly trained staff to provide technical support and customer service support from the time a potential customer first walks in the door until the Mac Book or iPhone is finally on its last leg years later. This article explains it best: “They go right to the heart of any technology user’s question, a question that’s always related to what they want to do with the technology the user is interested in. And once you explain your needs, they take care of it on the spot in most cases. Or if you need more hand holding, they turn you over to the Apple Geniuses.” There is no lazy customer service (i.e. Wal Mart on a bad day.)

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L-Leverage opportunities for publicity. This article explains how Apple does it best: “Media outlets, especially bloggers, love to write about Apple. Why? Because Apple makes it so easy. With leaked rumors about new developments, its very own expo and mysterious shutdowns of its online store, Apple gift wraps news stories that are just begging for speculation and hype. By perpetuating this cycle of media frenzy, Apple keeps its customers excited about buying new Apple products now and in the future.” Brands build credibility by having others write about why they’re great. A customer testimonial goes much farther than a web page declaring “why we’re so great!” Press releases can get the word out about your brand and the products/services you offer, and media outlets can provide the third party credibility to get your brand recognized and noticed.

E- Emotional Appeal. You don’t commit to a brand until death do us part if they’re “just another computer shop.” The most successful businesses capitalize on your emotions and draw out your experiences with the company to create loyalty beyond reason. The most successful brands may often be found on Lovemarks.com, where people go just to share their amazing experiences with your brand. Here is Apple’s site.

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Sophisticated features

Story by dinameidianti , Indonesia

My first apple product was the IPod classic in 2007 and it still works very well. I love Apple because its design always looks simple and amazing. Their software ​​is known for its sophistication and Apple always provides a variety of interesting features that do not exist on other phones.

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Madly in love with Apple

Story by Winaria Seng , Indonesia

When the Iphone first came out, I just had to have it. It is a music player, laptop, tablet and a phone all on one and is so much lighter to carry than all of the other tech devices. I fell in love with my IPhone back then and I am still deeply and madly in love with…

First choice

Story by joseph sudjono , Indonesia

You can fall in love with this product easily. I personally feel elegant and exclusive when I am using it. What do you feel?

No doubt about it; Apple makes you feel.
Questions for You: What are your thoughts on the Apple brand? Do you share the love, or do you prefer PC? What other ideas do you have for creating brand loyalty beyond reason? Let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter.

Cable TV on Life Support; How Will Marketers Respond?

Your first thought may be to laugh, brush this suggestion off and say it will never happen. But, didn’t people who grew up listening to radio as a primary form of entertainment also think life as they had always known it would never change? Although radio is still around, most people are more likely to listen to it on a daily commute or as a secondary source of news and music. The days of Mom, Dad and kids gathering around the table after dinner to listen to a presidential Fireside Chat are long gone.

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Now, let’s examine TV. What is its purpose? TV has long been a source of news, information about products (through commercials and infomercials), and entertainment in the form of programs, movies and music. But, in each of these categories, the Web, has an alternate–often preferred– solution, especially in the opinions of millennials, or individuals born after 1984.

With the advent of mobile devices, people are now using mobile for the following functions, according to our graduate school lesson this week. I have put asterisks beside the functions on this list that Cable TV used to fulfill:

  • Using search engines to find information.
  • Sending and receiving text messages or e-mail.
  • Using GPS apps, Google Maps or the like for driving directions.
  • Many are looking for health/medical information.
  • Consumers look for information online about a service or product they are thinking of buying, with many actually doing a price comparison while inside a store before they buy. *
  • Following the news *
  • Buying products *
  • Shooting and sharing video and pictures *
  • Watching videos or streaming video *
  • Connecting to social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, etc. *
  • Downloading music and/or playing music, including listening to streaming services such as Pandora *
  • Rating products and services.

If people are now looking online for products, news and entertainment, including those same programs and movies that TV has except without the commercials, why subscribe to Cable? Many don’t.

For the first time, the country’s largest cable provider, which also owns NBCUniversal, has more Internet subscribers than cable subscribers, Comcast said in May. The advent of streaming TV is reshaping the cable industry. Meanwhile, costs are rising for the TV, movies and sports that cable companies transmit.

Additionally, Nielsen’s most recent study indicates that Americans aged 18-24 watched a weekly average of about 18 hours of traditional TV during Q1 2015.

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We see a substantial year-over-year decline of 3 hours and 45 minutes per week. In other words, 18-24-year-olds as a group have gone from watching about 3-and-a-quarter-hours per day during the first quarter (of 2014) to a little more than 2-and-half hours per day (this year). That show they watched last year on TV? They probably streamed it this year.

In the space of 4 years, almost one-third of this age group’s traditional TV viewing time has migrated to other activities. Read more here.

Many Milennials today have never subscribed to Cable and may never subscribe to the service for their own households. Here are the numbers comparing Gen Xers and Boomers with Millennials in regards to TV watching habits in a typical month. While broadcast TV is still the most popular method for Gen Xers, broadcast decreased significantly for Millenials.

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CBSN recently did a report on the growing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Crackle, etc. and the effect these services are having on Cable TV.

Jerry Seinfeld says, “Cable TV is dead.” However, I would argue it is not dead YET, but it is on life support. As mentioned in the video, most of us are not cutting the cord entirely because we still want our live sports and/or nightly news, but how long until Netflix or another streaming service has a solution to that need as well? For example, I personally get almost all of my news online these days, and through social media, such as Facebook. My husband is the only one in our house who watches Cable on a consistent basis to watch live games, but he also has apps which keep him updated on scores and play-by-play updates wherever we are. I see it as a very real possibility that someone will make sports mobile, and soon. The other issue, which is yet to be addressed, is lack of universal broadband access. A recent study by Nielsen shows that 24.5% of American households have no broadband connection. When I discussed this very concept with a friend, she pointed out that in rural Alabama, connection to high speed Internet can be a huge issue; in some homes, people still cannot connect to the Internet at all. This challenge may keep Cable TV on life support for a while longer.

Now, let’s look at pricing. For example, I live in Alabama, and the price of a monthly cable subscription here is $65.99 for Basic Cable. If you want Preferred Cable to include HBO, Showtime, etc. you are looking at $89.10 per month. Our basic package cost us $792/year. Meanwhile, an annual subscription to Netflix, is $108 per year, Hulu Plus is $96 per year, and Amazon Prime is $100 per year. I could buy all three for less than half of what I am paying for Cable!

But, Cable knows this. And now, they’re getting smart when it comes to ensuring they don’t lose out completely. Cable providers are savvy enough to not let cord-cutting slice into their bottom line and are pricing high-speed Internet accordingly. On average, broadband speeds capable of supporting a streaming package — Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, etc. — will cost the consumer $60 a month plus equipment fees. Read more here. Sony Vue and Apple TV are potential savings options for consumers to look into. Dish also offers a streaming television service called Sling TV that requires no cable or satellite subscription and costs $20 a month. You watch live TV via an app, not a cable box. There’s no contract and no equipment to install.

Each streaming service has pros and cons. A comprehensive list can be found here, but I personally love that Netflix has no commercials and good video quality. On the other hand, it does not carry the latest season, but Hulu Plus does. Hulu Plus runs the same annoying commercial over and over during an episode, but it is tolerable to stay up to date on my favorite shows at my convenience.

Now, from a marketer’s perspective, a huge medium of traditional advertising is essentially vanishing. Sure, people could skip commercials before by getting up to make a snack or going to the bathroom, but most people at least watched them in the background. Now,consumers can bypass your hard work as quickly as they can click “Skip Ad.” Instead of having 30 or 60 seconds to reach viewers, you may have 5 or 10 seconds instead. How can a brand capture attention that quickly?

This is a challenge that we will have to be prepared to meet. Messages will need to be attention-grabbing, concise, and shorter than ever.

Geico does a good job of meeting these criteria with its series of “Unskippable” ads:

Video is personal, it is emotionally evocative and can be processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than text! But, if our viewers are skipping our ads, or worse yet “Netflixing” and avoiding them altogether, how can marketers compete?

What ideas do you have, as a marketing professional, for not losing momentum in one of the best forms of advertising? 

STOP! Is your smart phone or other mobile device beside you right now?

If your phone is not within eyesight, you may not yet be a smart phone “dependent.” But, more and more people are succumbing to the pull of this convenient, highly versatile technology! Fully 46% of smartphone owners say their smartphone is something “they couldn’t live without.”

Smartphones are not only used for text messaging, calling, and emailing, they are now essential partners in connecting with friends via social media, entertainment while waiting in line, and healthcare research advocates. As the video explains, many people do not even go to the bathroom without a phone in tow! What do you use your smart phone for? I am currently working on my master’s degree fully online. I can write my assignments on my laptop, tablet or smartphone and submit them virtually through BlackBoard Learn.

FT_15.04.01_smartphoneUses

The smart phone is just one channel for accessing emerging media, or the nearly unlimited information that we can access daily, right at our fingertips by connecting to the World Wide Web. Emerging media has become a revolution in the way we live our lives.  And, more and more of our lives are turning digital! (Think: blogging, social networking, streaming TV, etc. 80% of 18-44 year-olds report checking their smartphones first when they wake up in the morning, even before going to the bathroom!)

Parenting is another stellar example of how the Internet and mobile technology is revolutionizing society, and I will write the remainder of this first post examining this idea: what was parenting like 20 years ago versus today with the advent of emerging media?

When I was growing up, my mom would take photos of me using a Kodak camera with film that had to be developed. (Fun fact: To develop film in 2015, it takes an average of 2 weeks to come back, and it’s pretty expensive, too. See more here.) I still remember the excitement of those trips to Wal Mart when we would finally get to see the pictures from our day in the park or from our family vacation to the beach. Then, we would put them in a picture album to share with grandparents and a few close friends. Occasionally, on special holidays, my dad would pull out our home camcorder, and he would shoot my brother and I opening our gifts from Santa, or putting out food to feed the reindeer. But, the rest of the moments–all of the in between–were simply lived. They were not documented for all time and they were not shared with 1,000 of my parents’ closest friends; I can see both the positives and negatives of that.

For me, there were no potentially embarrassing Facebook statuses about my latest bowel movement, no videos of me throwing a temper tantrum in the toy store, and best of all, no naked pictures! (There are some retroactive childhood photos though after my parental figure acquired a Facebook and now enjoys #TBT posts on Thursdays; Thanks, Mom! I must say, I was rocking that Barbie convertible though.)

1993-June_Amanda_Barbie car

On the other hand, looking back, it would be nice to have even more of these every day moments documented. It would be neat to read over my Mom’s thoughts on my third birthday, or to see all of the well wishes of our friends and family when I graduated from Kindergarten. Wouldn’t it be heartwarming to see my grandmother teaching me to make her world famous fudge on a video, or to see my actual reaction when I caught my first fish?

One of my sorority sisters from college, who is now a stay-at-home-Mom, military spouse and talented blogger, has a little girl, and I just love reading her “Day in the Life” posts at WhimsicalSeptember.com. She has been posting about Hadley since the time they found out she was pregnant while her husband was deployed, and even recorded his reaction on video! Even though we live in completely different places, it is fun to catch up on her life via her blog posts. And, I know many of those will mean so much to her daughter when she gets older, too.

Here is an example of one of her posts about Hadley’s life at 8 months of age. It contains cute pictures, fun facts, and even a video of Hadley interacting with her dad. This will be so special to look back on in a few years!

(Other post teasers taken from Whimsical September.com).

Parenting is just one aspect of life that social media, the Internet, and emerging technology is absolutely changing. Even if you are against the idea of social media and sharing photos of your child on the Internet, it is a new aspect of life that you as a parent must consider. What photos of your child (if any) are you OK sharing? How do you handle other people sharing photos of your child, such as from a birthday party or swim meet? Will you want these photos shared with just a select group, with your entire News Feed, or in a more public forum like a blog? One of my cousins’ wives created a Closed Group for just our family to see pictures of her growing family. I thought that was a neat idea for moms who are more concerned with maximizing privacy online.

At what age will your kids be exposed to technology and social media? The local middle school just got rid of text books for all sixth graders in favor of tablets. If your child is using a tablet at school, will you strictly stick to books at home, or will you also incorporate similar technology to give your child a more consistent experience?

When I visited Disney World two years ago for a journalism conference, all of the kids were eagerly watching the fireworks show and nightly parade–through the lens of a smart phone! I was shocked that kids of all ages were filming the parade rather than experiencing the events in the moment. To deal with issues like this, another mom I know strictly limits smart phone time during mealtimes and special family events to ensure everyone is fully present and engaged with the activity at hand. Other moms encourage the idea of constant connectivity and expect their children to respond to their phone calls and text messages instantly, even if the child is fully engrossed in another activity.

I am not a mom yet, so I don’t have to answer any of these questions, but it is interesting to ponder how our family will respond to the challenges and opportunities that come with constant connectivity.

Parents: How are smart phones/emerging technology affecting your interactions with your family? What do you see as the pros and cons of this technology in your daily lives? **Please comment below to help me in my master’s degree course!