Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

How do you justify a $10 Billion Valuation?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Geoff Lovatt

This article was contributed to CongRegation 14 (#cong14) at congregation.ie in which the author participated. Visit the website to view this great social media gathering event!

 

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Astronomical valuations for tech companies are nothing new, in fact it’s commonplace nowadays. The tricky part is justifying these sky high estimations and that problem becomes even harder when the company doesn’t have any real turnover to date. This is Snapchat’s problem. Yes Snapchat, the app made famous for being used by teens and others alike to send each other disappearing sexts, is apparently worth US$10 Billion! Maybe proving once and for all that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

So how do you attempt to validate, and more importantly monetise, an app with such a large estimated worth but no real turnover? Snapchat might just have the answer. Earlier this year Snapchat added a new feature called Our Story to its Recent Updates section. The Our Story feature is a central live feed of user generated videos and pictures usually lasting 2-3 minutes from a particular global event. Users can contribute to the Our Story feature by having their location services enabled to prove they are at the event before submitting their content for review by Snapchat. All of the content from the live feed can be viewed multiple times but only lasts for 24 hours or the duration of the event.

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Initially Our Story was tested at a handful of music festivals like EDC and Lollapalooza and after great engagement with users was rolled out to more events such as American College Football games, The FIFA World Cup and even things a bit more obscure like Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0BclkfvvZ0) in Mexico City and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest hot air balloon festival. The addition of the Our Story feature has proven a roaring success for the company. According to Snapchat the number of daily views for their Stories has now surpassed the number of daily views for individual snaps and stands at over 1 billion.

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What’s more impressive than the numbers though is the thinking behind the move towards live events. In doing so, Snapchat has created a new era of event participation and live broadcast by giving users the chance to experience, and contribute to, global events from multiple points of view in near real time with ease and convenience. The Stories are always expertly edited and deliver exactly what the name implies, a story of the given event from beginning to end, and for the first time ever allows users access to what in the past would have gone unseen. The American College Football Stories usually show fans en route to the game, behind the scenes footage from both teams dressing rooms shot by the players themselves, a fans view of a touchdown from the packed crowd, songs being sung by the fans and finally who won! According to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel more people are watching College Football on Snapchat than on TV (100m vs. 2.6m). This high level of engagement not only helps to build a sense of community for Snapchat it also attracts new users who may have been turned off in the past by their unjust seedy reputation.

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In October the company expanded its Stories feature to include College Campus, a brief insight into daily college life at 4 US colleges, UCLA and Penn State among them, with a live feed of campus generated content. Except this time Snapchat tried a bit of clever marketing by limiting the ability to both post and watch the feed to users actually on the college campus. Creating exclusivity around the College Campus Stories feature is a great way to increase demand for it and who knows maybe even improve class attendance rates for fear of missing out!

By making the move into live broadcast Snapchat has not only diversified its product and strengthened its brand, they’ve also managed to figure out a way to monetise an app for self-destructing photos and videos. One option available might be to offer sponsorship of a live event in the Our Story feature. This would be less intrusive to users than sponsored ads on or before individual snaps and also offer advertisers better targeting and fit for their brand. In October this year Snapchat rolled out its first sponsored ad. A twenty second trailer for the horror film Ouija, paid for and specially edited by Universal Studios to play in a similar fashion to other Stories. And this is what excites marketers and advertisers most about Snapchat, it’s not their 100 million monthly active users, although that sure helps, it’s the similarity to TV advertising that their platform provides. For now the Stories only last for between 2-3 minutes, but this could easily be increased as could the 24 hour lifetime.

Snapchat has also reportedly held negotiations to distribute other media content from both traditional mass media outlets like Time and CNN as well as new media from Vice, Spotify and Vevo in a new section within the app called Discover. And the news earlier this week could give a hint of another possible revenue stream Snapchat has in mind for the future, SnapCash. A joint venture with Square to offer users a Peer-to-Peer payment feature that has initially been advertised as being a handy way to send friends money. But who’s to say it couldn’t one day be used to pay for admission to an event, or extended behind the scenes footage, or a new music video not available elsewhere. The possibilities are limitless, much like Snapchats future seems to be if they can continue to grow and innovate with such ease. $10 Billion could even end up looking like a bargain in a couple of years!

Which? delivers “satisfaction”, on the phone too!

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I recently visited Which? to look up a product, and took up their offer of £1 membership. This allowed me to get into the members area where most of the articles and reviews reside. Within the week I got the latest issue of the magazine and a cover letter. After reviewing my product and looking through the website I realized that Which? is UK-centric and whilst the product reviews are still apropos much else simply doesn’t apply. I wanted to cancel my subscription before the standard monthly charges begin!

The Which? cover letter had 5 color blocks on the right with all the contact details I need, plus my details and Membership Number. All very handy & practical. So I called the Which? Helpline and met their automated phone system. I fully expected the usual hellish experience. The first thing that struck me was the calm, level male voice giving me 5 options. They were clear and unhurried. Reassuring. I chose option 2 to cancel my subscription. A brief moment of music and “Richard” came on the line: “Hello, how can I help? Do you want to cancel your subscription?” He confirmed my name and address, gave me a cancel ref code and thanked me for telling him why I didn’t want the subscription. All done.

I came off the phone thinking this is the smoothest automated phone system I’ve encountered in a long while. Everything worked. There was no rush. No barrage of options. No wrong clicks – no dead ends, wrong department, try again. It just worked. I’m sure the folks at Which? know they have a great system. I would encourage any businesses that use automated phone help and directory systems to dial up the Which? Helpline on +44 1922 822 800 and listen to how they do it. Which? has proved their goal is quality. They focus on creating satisfaction for their customers. Even the ones who are signing off. That’s class!

Which? website - which.co.uk

Which? integrates website, print and phone with customer satisfaction as priority.

The end of SPAM?

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

It’s the money, stupid. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Get the credit card clearance co’s and the banks to stop payments and the SPAM money trail will dry up. A great idea?

A new study by 2 University of California research groups carefully mapped out the registration, hosting and monetization of several spam and scam efforts. What they found wasn’t anything new. We all know that there are countries you can register and host in that turn a blind eye. But what was new was realizing that the whole chain rests on the spammers getting paid for whatever they’re pushing. And that was like a lightbulb? Would it be possible to pressure the banks NOT to clear these questionable transactions?

It is an appealing idea. No doubt fraught with legislative and regulatory issues, cross-border diplomacy and a whole lot more. However, it is “common practice” for the clearing banks to vet and approve individuals and businesses. So why not extend this to vet the spammers food chain?

To read the report “Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain” – a free PDF download –  click here.

Here’s the Abstract from the research report:

Spam-based advertising is a business. While it has engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billion dollar anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels a profitable enterprise. We lack, however, a solid understanding of this enterprise’s full structure, and thus most anti-spam interventions focus on only one facet of the overall spam value chain (e.g., spam filtering, URL blacklisting, site takedown). In this paper we present a holistic analysis that quantifies the full set of resources employed to monetize spam email— including naming, hosting, payment and fulfillment—using extensive measurements of three months of diverse spam data, broad crawling of naming and hosting infrastructures, and over 100 purchases from spam-advertised sites. We relate these resources to the organizations who administer them and then use this data to characterize the relative prospects for defensive interventions at each link in the spam value chain. In particular, we provide the first strong evidence of payment bottlenecks in the spam value chain; 95% of spam-advertised pharmaceutical, replica and software products are monetized using merchant services from just a handful of banks.

Social Media for Business

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

"How to Profit from Social Media" Chambers InBusiness magazine Spring 2011

 

I teamed up with Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications for this brief but comprehensive overview article – just published in Chambers Ireland’s InBusiness magazine. Click here to read the full 4-page article online. You’ll find Eoin’s blog here and Chambers website here. Enjoy!

SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOW THE MAINSTREAM. No longer the territory of nerds and techies. Globally it has come of age. However, the idea that social media marketing can be achieved by tinkering for a few hours online is entirely false. While it is easy for individuals to engage, making social media work for business requires knowledge, skill and insight. Social media is the public space and for companies wanting to leverage this new market, real expertise is needed. It requires clear aims and clever thinking to get good results.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and Pix.ie are all social media portals. Facebook is by far the largest with over 500 million daily users worldwide, including 1.5 to 1.9 million in Ireland. Social media is where we find the majority of people hanging out these days, where users share news, photos and gossip with friends and colleagues. It has spread all over the globe and is ever present.

In the social media world it is the public who rule the airwaves. It hasn’t taken long for businesses to realise that’s a lot of people and a vast potential market. In the past couple of years we have seen huge growth in social media campaigns, from some of the largest global brands to some of the very clever smaller companies too.

The term ‘going viral’ belongs to social media and is the Holy Grail when ‘talking up’ your brand, product or project. It can spread instantly around the globe. But how do you ensure that your message stays on track and doesn’t backfire? This has already led to a new service offering called reputation management and is changing how the public and media relationship works.

To read how you can make Social Work for your business – click here to read the full 4-page article online. InBusiness is published quarterly by Chambers Ireland – click here for website. To view the InBusiness magazine archives – click here.

Mi casa es su casa? Not in New York…

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

The SPAM ad for the new boutique hotel in New York, Cassa Hotel on 45th, touted the amenities and proximity to Rockerfeller Center and 5th Ave. And there was a Special Package – Stay 2 Nights and Get 3rd Night FREE! Well, I’ll go and have a look then… But wait…

Six attempts to choose dates came up with “The Special Package isn’t available for those dates. Change dates?” Without any way at all to GET AT or SEE these darn Special Package rates!

Spam ad from Cassa Hotel New York City

Cassa Hotel New York City (SPAM)

So, here’s this VERY UPSCALE New York Hotel, with rates in excess of $400 a night, sending out SPAM and screwing up the booking process so even the method doesn’t work. It is very surprising to me. We all like to think the Americans have the internet down pat, don’t we? Not always the case, or Cassa in this case.

1. I don’t understand why such an expensive, upscale hotel would resort to spamming. Is this the quality of their enterprise? It doesn’t fit at all.
2. NOT getting all of the parts in place to ensure it works, just adds incompetence and annoyance to the “new brand” – the Cassa Hotel New York. I shall remember them, and be sure not to book in!

Creativity’s On Design blog

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Woofers by Sander Mulder

For a quick view of some of the best creative ideas in media, you’ll enjoy Creativity’s On Design, part of a suite of blogs celebrating interactive, cross-media and installation design. Go ahead and enjoy poking around – and be aware that not far into exploring you’ll be hit with a well-crafted lightbox pop-up ‘inviting’ you to subscribe for $99. You can ignore and you’ll still get plenty of eye-food for free and some refreshing ideas too.

I fail to understand why Creativity’s main page, which offers the latest campaigns from ad agencies, requires a $99 subscription to view. Seems to be a self-defeating approach. But do check out their “Integrated Production White Paper“, which dis-integrates some of the most productive agencies to see how their departments and their talent execute all manner of new ideas. A bit of a mouthful, but worth the PDF download. Who said getting at new ideas was easy!

On the other hand… Ken Wilber

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

A friendly critic took me to task for being “harsh” about NeoOgilvy. I trust no-one at Ogilvy took personal offense, if they read the review at all, at all. To balance the picture, I’m reminded that Flash isn’t always a no-no. There are times, places and “interactive audiences” (for want of a better term) for whom it works and fits perfectly. An excellent example is the “very flash” American philosopher Ken Wilber. This is no dry and crusty academic. Ken’s all about now, both spiritually and in contemporary-ness, and his site uses Flash to perfection – a total integration of sound and visual and interactivity. You’ll find Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, and social media channels all integrated neatly. Go see it at http://kenwilber.com. If you haven’t downloaded the latest, now bug-free, Flash browser plugin from Adobe you can get it free here.  (The new Flash plug-in finally fixes security and machine-crash issues – at long last! Bravo to Adobe. Now, maybe, Steve Jobs will let you put Flash on the iPad. But somehow I think he really likes the power of HTML5.)

Ken Wilber's integrated Flash website. All singing & all dancing. And philosophy too!

Neo Ogilvy – Alas, Nothing New!

Monday, May 31st, 2010
Neo Ogilvy Falling Man

Neo Ogilvy - The Falling Man as concept?

This morning’s New Thinking, Gerry McGovern’s e-newsletter, was titled “The reason why ad agency websites are truly awful” pointing out their lack of grasp of web fundamentals – that people like to “do” things and “interact” with websites. Most of us in the web industry are aware of the pitfalls of using Flash as the frontpage or whole site too. Doesn’t seem like Neo Ogilvy got that message.

So I wasn’t greatly surprised to find NeoOgilvy.ie is a Flash site. Visually well done. Big typeface messaging. Who We Are, What We Do. Just what you’d expect from anyone selling their talents. But there is absolutely nothing NEW or NEO about it. Instead Ogilvy rolls out the usual pitch – we do it all. This is 2010. What were they doing for the last decade?

Under “What’s Different?” it says: “Our fluid understanding of digital territories underpins our approach to the development and delivery of successful consumer engagement strategies…” That sounds fine. But there isn’t any sign that Ogilvy actually grasp what “interactivity” is about. The website is an advertisement, a one-way broadcast. This doesn’t add up to a “fluid understanding of digital…”

Ogilvy needed to “show & tell” with NeoOgilvy – big time. Alas, there’s nothing new here. Except perhaps the frontpage image of a falling man. Is this image meant to impress their clients? Who exactly is falling? Client or agency? In our current climate it is an unnerving image & reminds of those who jumped off skyscrapers in New York as the Stock Market crashed.

How to promote business online

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

I’m editing a new section for Chambers Ireland’s InBusiness Magazine. In the May issue we interview 3 leaders from the SEO, Online PR and Social Media networking world, and asked them to tell it like it is in plain English.

I interviewed Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications (online PR and social media networking), Maurice McGee of FreshConsulting (SEO), and Peter Cullen of Interleado (SEO and web metrics) and asked them to explain their expertise in a way that the average non-technical or non-expert person could understand. The result is a very useful guide.

InBusiness May 2010 magazine cover image

See GET CONNECTED pages 52-56

Creating a website and optimising it so that your company, products and services can be quickly and easily found is becoming a standard business procedure. You don’t have to be a big brand to benefit from these same methodologies.

The arrival of Social Media has added to the places where you can promote business and brand online. When done properly, your presence in the Social Media world – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc – can lead to increased visibility with your clients and higher rankings in the search engines. Social Media is also where you get to interact with your clients. It is a perfect venue for clever and smart promotion campaigns.

Your business can benefit from understanding each, and best of all – all three together. Online marketing is no longer a maybe, it is a given. In the coming decade businesses who fail to take it up will find their markets overrun by those who have picked up the challenge and the opportunity.

READ the online edition here or on Chambers Ireland’s website here.

Feedback and ideas are welcome in email here.

Internet Ageism

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Have you noticed how ageist the internet has become over the last few years? Like other pop culture, it seems filled with bright young things – making music, sharing files, bragging on MySpace and Twittering away. We see the same ageism in advertising, film and TV. It’s as if anyone over 30 and older got left behind in the techno dust. On the web it appears to be a young people’s world.

The only problem with this view is that it is entirely false. Oh, it’s true that the advertising agencies are pushing youth – but that’s been going on since the 60’s, across all media. And under 30’s definitely have more disposable income. But the real Dollar Power, Euro Power too, is with those OLDER than 30. Last year an episode of the American TV series “Boston Legal” had great craic, supporting a septagenarian to sue “the networks” for “fair representation” at least equal to their Dollar Power. They claimed over 40% was in the hands of the “oldies”.

We’re likely to see a shift on the web in the next few years. Certainly, it is now important to understand your target age group. So why are so few companies selling the over 30s? What about the Dollar Power in Ireland of the over 50s? It would be interesting to see some research.