November, 2013

What Are Black Friday Sales Doing In A Country With No Thanksgiving?

we are not amused


The first observers of Thanksgiving, history tells us, were British subjects. But in the Plymouth Colony, not the mother country.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland does not celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. But for some reason, that’s not stopping them from having post-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales. “[R]etailers,” says  a November 27 Advertising Age report, “are doing their best to whip consumers into a U.S.-style frenzy of Christmas shopping before December is even upon us.”

Blame it on those bloody Yanks

Three American companies get the credit, or blame, for this – Apple, Amazon and Walmart, owner of the UK-based Asda retail chain. “Apple and Amazon offer deals in the U.S. and they don’t want their U.K. customers to feel cheated,” Donald Shields, multichannel strategy director at British advertising agency SapientNitro, told Ad Age. “This has obviously come from online – there’s no Thanksgiving and no Friday off to go out shopping – but it’s picking up momentum in stores as well, and translating into a physical retail event.”

Kevin Gill, managing creative director of branding and digital agency Start JG, was less charitable. Read more →

Why Websites Fail



No, we’re not talking about the world’s most famous (or infamous, as the case may be) failed website.

We’re talking about an emailed November 26 Center for Media Research report [link unavailable] on why consumers leave websites without buying. Any connection between LivePerson’s “Connecting With Consumers” findings and that notoriously failed site is, as they say, purely coincidental.

76 seconds or else

The main reason for failure is consumers’ impatience with slow, unresponsive, uninformative or otherwise shoddy websites. “Online consumers want access to real-time help in an average of 76 seconds,” the report declares, “or else they will seek alternatives away from the site.” Read more →

Guess Who’s Really Creating That Hot Twitter Trend



Those hot trends on Twitter may not be so hot after all – at least with living, breathing humans. But they may be popular with robots. There’s a “shadowy world of false accounts and computerized robots on Twitter, one of the world’s largest social networks,” says a November 24 Wall Street Journal report, where businesses hype clients by managing

millions of fake accounts on Twitter…to simulate Twitter users: they tweet; retweet, or forward, other tweets; send and reply to messages; and follow and unfollow other Twitter accounts, among other actions.

Fake accounts are thriving on Twitter and are used to make celebrities and trending topics appear more popular than they are. There is also a robust black market for buying such accounts…

More effective than paid advertising

Unlike paid twitter trend listings, which are marked as such, “users don’t understand how active and realistic the fakes can appear,” notes Barracuda Labs researcher Jason Ding, who’s been studying fake Twitter followers for more than a year. Read more →

Television Is Dying. So What Else Is New?



“TV Is Dying,” blares a November 24 Business Insider headline, “And Here Are The Stats That Prove It.” Those “stats” include:

  • Cable, satellite and internet subscription services down 113,000 subscribers in the quarter just ended.
  • About 5 million cable and broadband subscriptions canceled since January, 2010.
  • Except for Olympic and Super Bowl peaks, live and same-day DVR ratings have plateaued since September, 2012.
  • Fewer people are watching World Series and NBA games.
  • Fewer than half of broadband internet customers now bundle cable television with their service.
  • Cable’s quarterly share of the video market has declined from 51.7 percent first quarter of 2011 to 47.2 percent third quarter of 2013.
  • Media consumption on mobile devices quintupled, from 4 percent in 2009 to 20 percent this year.

There’s only one problem with those statistics, and that’s that they’re not about television – at least television as a whole. Read more →

Now Camouflaged Ads Sneak Into Youtube Mobile

wolf in sheepskin


Advertisers are throwing so much money into what’s variously called “native advertising” and “sponsored content” – both euphemisms for ad messages disguised as real content, to sucker consumers into reading or watching – that it’s spilling over into more and more media.

According to November 21 Advertising Age projections, sponsored-content is growing like kudzu, even faster than expected.

And according to a November 19 BTIG research report, YouTube mobile is one of the latest places it’s infesting [registration required].

More spending

“In June,” says Ad Age, “eMarketer said advertisers would spend $1.88 billion on sponsored content this year, a 22.1% boost from 2012.” But instead, it’s grown by 24 percent, to $1.9 billion. That’s $20 million more than expected.

That’s not the worst of it. Sponsored-content ad spending is projected to keep increasing for the next four years: Read more →

Pharma Brands Start Following Ambulance-chasers’ Marketing Model


Ethical drug manufacturers are reshaping their marketing in the image of a group not exactly known for  ethical standards – ambulance-chasing personal-injury and class-action lawyers.

It’s an approach designed not to sell a product, but to achieve “a measurable call to action, most often a phone call or click to a website” that “provid[es] disease awareness, education and resources with the goal of starting a dialogue with patients that can grow over time,” according to MediaPost’s November 19 Marketing:health e-newsletter [link not available].

Selling the problem, not the solution

In this, it strongly resembles a model we reported on here, that inverts the customary brand advertising structure by selling the problem instead of the solution. Read more →

How 317,078,285 Americans View Al Jazeera America Television

I don't want to see

They don’t.

At least that’s what the New York Post reported November 17.

When Al Jazeera America made its debut August 20, it displaced MSNBC from the cable news ratings cellar. While 348,000 adults per day watched MSNBC’s prime-time lineup, we reported, AJA’s most watched show, “Real Money with Ali Velshi,” drew a grand total of just 54,000.

Of course, AJA had some excuses. For one thing, it was straight out of the box, and viewers hadn’t yet had time to get used to it.

And with Time-Warner’s cable system not carrying it (They’d previously dropped its predecessor, Al Gore’s Current TV.), it was reaching only about half of America’s cable homes.

But now, says the Post, Read more →

Why Christmas Advertising Will Be Less Effective This Year

Christmas Stocking with coal

With the first holiday shopping ads launching September 9, it was starting to look a lot like Christmas earlier than ever this year. But while it’s going to look and feel like much more advertising’s out there, a November 14 Gallup report suggests that advertisers will have less to show for it.

Trimming holiday spending plans

Based on a November 7-10 telephone survey of 1,039 adults nationally, Gallup says Americans will be trimming their holiday spending. Read more →

Most Consumers Listen To New Music The Old-fashioned Way

car radio

From digital satellite stations to online streaming services to MP3 players, twenty-first century technology has produced near-miraculous ways to listen to music and other programming. Unfortunately, according to a November 12 Nielsen report, most listeners don’t listen to them. Read more →

Colorado Obamacare Ads Get The Target Audience Right, But Nothing Else

roller derby

As Obamacare continues to flounder in the marketplace, achieving less than 3 percent of its enrollment objectives and attracting mainly high-cost insureds with pre-existing conditions, three Colorado nonprofits have united to save the day with a campaign of print and online ads targeted to healthy twentysomethings, National Review reported November 12.

One thing the campaign gets right is audience targeting. In order to avoid a financial death spiral, the government insurance program must persuade lots of healthy young adults (who aren’t still on their parents’ plan, thanks to the law) to overpay for medical insurance they’re statistically unlikely to need in order to subsidize claims from their richer, sicker elders. And that’s who the campaign does target.

But how they do it – that’s a whole different story.

When the three nonprofits –, and – sat down to put together the ad campaign, apparently nobody told them about plagiarism or copyright infringement. Their campaign – Got Insurance? – rips off the famous Got Milk? campaign, not only in wording, but even font and logotype. Read more →