Monday, February 28, 2011

The Mobile Future--QR or NFC?

One of my students recently attended the mobile unconference in Boston and sent back dispatches from the field—thanks, Mike! One talked about QR codes and NFC tags. I wasn’t sure what the difference what the difference was, so I thought I should find out.

I’ve seen QR codes around for awhile. This is a shot from a Google Places page I maintain that invites me to “Share Your Place Page with Customers.” When you print out the QR code poster, this is what you get—a simple poster to place in the window. When a mobile phone with the appropriate reader (free here and, of course, on the iTunes store) is trained on the code, it links to the Place Page and the business information it contains. The QR code is a bar code that is read by the mobile reader--technology we’re all familiar with.

Ok, that’s great—so what is a NFC tag. NFC stands for near field communications; cutting through the techno-speak that means wireless connectivity. It’s hard to find a non-technical definition of NFC tags. I’ll settle from for this phrase from the NFC forum: “short-range wireless interaction in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs.” That phrase on their home page links to a nice non-technical explanation. The graphic shows what the two types of tags look like, but it’s not helpful in understanding the differences. It comes from a video on this site which has nice music but no narration!

This video is useful; it uses a scenario to explain what NFC tags can do. It comes from the University of Munich (in 2005!). Sincere thanks to the professors there for posting it in layman’s English! You really need to take the 5 minutes to watch the video and understand the potential power of this technology!

Everything I read while researching this admits that NFC codes are way cooler and have the potential to do more than QR codes. QR codes are, however, easy to create and for the consumer to use as my Google Places example shows. NFC codes require devices (likely mobile phones) to have built in NFC chips. Not many have it at present, especially in the US. The ones that do appear to be pricey. For now it appears that we’ll need to keep an eye on the NFC trials taking place in Europe, so we need to once again thank our colleagues there for leading the way into the mobile future!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Old Spice Guy Is Back--Quietly

I just linked my post-Super Bowl post to a detailed report on the effectiveness of the ads themselves and their impact on social media by agency ymarketing. The social media aspect wasn't particularly clear during the game, but it appears to have been considerable. I'd encourage you to read the report for yourself.

Likewise, the return of the Old Spice Guy on the day after the Super Bowl did not generate the buzz of the first outing last summer. Still, Ad Age reports a huge number of video views. That makes sense for at least 2 reasons. First,Isaiah Mustafa is just as hunky as ever--see the most recent ad below entitled Scent Vacation. Second, the campaign has a huge following. The ad below has gotten almost 2.5 million views. If you watch it you'll also get access to the I'm Back and Phone Call videos that were part of the effort to develop Super Bowl buzz. That part seemed to have gotten lost in the Super Bowl hoo-haa, but the campaign itself seems to be flourishing.

What does all this show? The report says that ad tie ins with social media do bring visitors. Old Spice seems to say that if you have a campaign that's working with the target market, stick with it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stores are Popping Up on Facebook

I ran across the concept of pop-up stores not long ago while I was looking at the subject of viral events. The idea is to take a vacant retail location for a brief time and to create an immersive brand experience there. This shot is from an October event held by Proctor & Gamble in New York City as the first event in an ongoing campaign. Here’s a link to the full side show from the first one. These events are held in the real world, but they are reaching out to social media influentials like Andrea of the MommyPR blog and Patty of the NYC Girl at Heart blog for that event. Another great example of integrating social media into the marketing communications mix!

If that wasn’t interesting enough, I soon ran across the mention of pop-up stores on Facebook. E-commerce on Facebook is still quite exploratory, although if you do a search you might (or might not) be surprised at how many marketing services companies would like to help you. These articles (1, 2) from Mashable discuss some of the issues and opportunities.

Pop-up stores are only one way to explore, but since the concept implies something temporary, it might be a good one. So I went looking. Here are two shots, one from Rhino records, which makes clear that its store will be there only for awhile and another from Canadian retailer Roots, which has a Valentine theme, whatever that implies. Note that in the Rhino store you can just go in and shop; didn't try to purchase. In order to shop the Roots store, you have to Like them to shop or to access the contest--probably why they have almost 35,000 fans!

By the time you follow the links, these stores may have gone away. You should find other examples if you search ‘facebook pop up store.’ They seem to be set up using one of several apps that are available for the purpose, not Facebook functionality.

I have no insights as to the success of either venture. However, it seems to be a use of Facebook that’s worth watching!

Friday, February 11, 2011

We are all Khaled Said

I Tweeted the link to this page a few days ago, but it seems time to put it up on this blog. We as Americans cannot and should not dictate the leadership of any other country, but we have the right--perhaps the duty--to support people whose desire is to be able to determine their own leaders and way of life.

So I'd encourage anyone who finds this reasoning appealing to friend the Facebook page of the young man who was killed even before the protests started.

This link is from their Notes page and it gives specific ways in which an individual can help. It is also the best short explanation I've read about how Facebook disseminates information.

Note also that, while Wael Ghoneim is obviously associated with this page, he is not the administrator. The administrator appears to be located in the UK, which seems to make very good sense, given the situation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Farewell to Super Bowl 2011

I think most of the voting for Super Bowl ad favorites has closed now. That probably is wise; I’m not sure how many people still care. But I wanted to do a wrap-up to my pre-game post, which had a title that now seems remarkably inaccurate.

If you want a rehash, here are two good sites. has been doing this for a long time and has an incredible archive. Fanhouse has a nice Super Bowl page and you can compare the 2011 and 2010 winners. The Volkswagen Force ad was the winner on most of the sites I looked at. It was cute, and it had quite a bit of pre-game buzz.

Overall, I thought the ads were either bland and uninspired or technically deficient. Seems to me the fan-created ad contest has about run its course and I missed the A-B Clydesdales, but the Dog Party Ad was cute. The Eminem ad for Chrysler (an expensive 2 minutes worth) has gotten a lot of post-game buzz, and its intent was commendable. However, I watched it closely, wondering whether it was a Chrysler ad or a Detroit ad. Of the two, only Chrysler could afford to pay for it, so the answer was pretty obvious. It was, however, one of several ads that didn’t mention the sponsor until the last few seconds. Why do advertisers and agencies think it’s ok to spent $3m and not identify the source of the ad in the beginning so the viewer can connect the brand and the message? I know all the arguments about great creative to make an impact on the Super Bowl, but the basics of good advertising still apply. Finally, I thought the Groupon ad was in astonishingly bad taste. I think it was a last-minute buy, so they probably pulled something off the shelf, but if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t do it at all.

For me the biggest disappointment was that the social media aspect I was looking for was not in evidence. I’m sure there was a lot of Tweeting going on, but in terms of obvious advertising tie-in, it just wasn’t there. What was I expecting? I don’t really know either! Is it possible that social media has a huge role in building pre-game and post-game buzz, but relatively little during the game itself. A firm called ymarketing did a report on the ads and their impact on social media that came out a couple of weeks after the game; here's the link. A similar study by PRLog says that all advertisers benefitted from social media traffic and that Motorola, Doritos, Hyundai, and Dove benefitted most. That’s interesting, because those four don’t tend to show up or at least show up high, in the best ads rankings. What does that mean??

Fast Company has an interesting take on Super Bowl ad metrics and some interesting additional coverage. Ad Age columnist Ian Schafer was also disappointed in the social media connections and has some pithy things to say about the ads themselves. The usual excellent SB coverage can be accessed on the sidebar.

So it’s clear we still have a lot to learn. Back to work!