As much as the media industry would like to believe the age old saying ‘all publicity is good publicity’, research by Visable technologies comparing Macys Vs Kohl’s and Target Vs Walmart Twitter interactions demonstrated that this is not always the case.

The report compares the amount of tweets sent out and the level of customer sentiment by the four retailers in the wake of ‘Black Friday’, when brands tend to overload consumers with advertising in the vain hope that they will be chosen over a competitor.

The report proves that too much advertising does not always get results. Kohl sent out 99.7% of the two retailers tweets in that week, yet the level of sentiment for Kohl’s was one of annoyance. However the report goes on to prove that if the material is fresh and relevant to customers, self promotion is not always a bad thing with Walmart sending out proportionally more Tweets than Target but these were seen by customers as original and fresh.

This shows that brands need to be aware of the rising consumer power and tailor fresh and personal communication to customers rather than trying to gain as much coverage is possible.

@t_bloore

This morning Edelman’s DERT team announced the results of their fifth annual survey on Value, Engagement and Trust in the Era of Social Entertainment. Gail Becker, President of Edelman’s Western U.S. Region presented the results and hosted the event along with Jon Hargreaves Managing Director of Edelman Technology in Europe and a panel of experts including; Matthew Hawn, Vice president Last.fm, Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor, The Daily Telegraph and Simon Nelson, the Digital Business and Strategy advisor and former controller of multiplatform commissioning at the BBC.

We will be sharing the full slideshow on here later today and posting up video snippets of the event for now here are the highlights and some of our thoughts, let us know what you think.

The key stats from the survey:

· 4% of U.K. consumers feel positive about the move to a paywalled service

· 45% of people in the U.K. and 57% in the U.S. believe social networking sites are a form of entertainment

· Personal enjoyment and visual/sound quality continue to top the list of purchase drivers with “being one of the first to have new entertainment” dropping significantly (to 14%, down from 40% in the U.K. and to 17%, down from 41% in the U.S.).

· More than half (52%) of all respondents would like to use a computer to access further entertainment content, and 30% would like to be able to access that content on their mobile phone

· 49% of people in the U.K. and 52% in the U.S. believe they are spending more than a year ago with their mobile phones to access their entertainment, while 59% (U.K.) and 53% (U.S.) spent more time with their laptop

As the study revealed last year, the internet remained the second most frequently turned to form of entertainment for the second year in a row. While television remained the most frequent form of entertainment both in the U.K. and the U.S. (49% and 47% respectively), dropping 8 and 11 percent respectively since 2010.

The Internet as connective tissue

Most sources of entertainment are less used, this just means that people are spreading their consumption wider. It seems that to succeed in the era of social entertainment, entertainment companies must invest in multiple channels of distribution to enable consumers to access their content wherever and whenever. Five years ago the entertainment industry viewed the internet as a threat, but now it’s an opportunity for those same companies to monetise internet content through simple revenue models indeed the internet can be the connective tissue bringing content together.

Overwhelmingly, consumers (84% in the U.K.) feel negatively about the move from free to paid entertainment services. The survey also reveals that paywalls created by entertainment sources for previously free services are being met with feelings of frustration and distrust by users. Some cite the lack of improvement in quality of service, while others state they would suspect a profit motive driven by greed.

The study also delivers insights on how content providers can try to overcome feelings of distrust about paywalls by delivering value in other ways. 87% of U.K. respondents consider visual and sound quality important in making their entertainment purchasing decisions and nearly half (47% in the U.K.) consider the number of devices with which they can access the entertainment.

The DERTy types at Edelman (that’s those of us who work in the Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology practice) are gearing up for the launch of this year’s study:  Value, Engagement and Trust in the era of Social Entertainment.  We go live tomorrow so watch this space…

But what do you remember most about the entertainment landscape if you think back to 2007? We thought it would be interesting, ahead of releasing the new findings, to take a look back at the headline stats from the last five years.  Wow how far we’ve come…. Early studies were dominated by the debates around illegal file sharing, how much consumers were willing to pay for content and the emerging power of social networks.  In some ways a lot has changed – and in other ways nothing has.

We should add that the methodology for the study has changed a little across the five years as we’ve grown to look at a wider pool of consumers in the UK and US.  So a statistician wouldn’t be happy about comparing year on year.  However – we think this little slideshow gives a nice little summary of the evolution of the sector.  If you’d like to know more about each specific year, what was asked and who was asked, then please just drop us a note in the comment section.  You can see last year’s findings here.

If you can’t attend the event tomorrow, you can still take part by using the hastag #SocialEnt.  You can also have a listen to our podcast last week, with Matt Locke, Richard Sambrook and Luke Mackay, which sets up some of the themes of tomorrow’s study.

A wildcat strike by Spanish air traffic controllers that paralyzed Spain’s airports and stranded hundreds of thousands of travellers this past weekend deflated the tourism industry’s hopes for a big start to the holiday season. Cancelled flights led to empty hotel rooms and rippled out to the restaurants and shops that depend on tourist spending.

But while families fumed about lost holidays (it was, after all, a long holiday weekend for the majority of Spaniards), and the airline and tourism industries decried hundreds of millions of Euros in losses, there were a couple of sectors that didn’t fare so poorly. In fact, retailers saw their sales climb a modest but welcome 2% compared with the same period last year. People, it seemed, were determined to enjoy their leisure time and if they couldn’t do so at a resort then the department stores were a good alternative.

The media also saw their numbers of viewers and listeners soar as people tried desperately to understand if and when they’d be flying. The word ‘controller’ became an important Trending Topic in Twitter, with more entries than ‘Obama in Afghanistan’ or ‘Wikileaks’. One out of every 200 messages sent worldwide through this social network between Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4, referred to the strike. Social networks were crucial channels during the crisis; users from all across Spain uploaded their video protests on YouTube or airlines such as Vueling and Spanair contacted their clients through Twitter as their websites collapsed under the avalanche of requests.

Air traffic controllers have been grumbling about their pay and work conditions for at least a year, but didn’t become global news until they left their control towers. Media such as the Financial Times, BBC News, and Reuters have echoed the situation that Spain and its citizens lived through as air traffic came to a screeching halt.

For now people can live with the ‘state of alarm’ decreed immediately after the wildcat action, which moved the nation’s air traffic control system under military supervision. They can probably also live with the on-going political disputes over who’s to blame and what should be done. And just maybe they’ll forgive disobedient air traffic controllers, a privileged group of 2.400 people who earn an average of 300.000 Euros a year, a very handsome sum by any standards but particularly princely during recessionary times. But Spaniards won’t forgive more lost vacations.

It’s interesting to consider how this developed over Christmas, with the weather this time being the prime cause of concern for those looking to get away over the festive period. Hotels and restaurants eagerly await visitors and diners, and retailers hope shoppers will stay in the holiday spirit. Essentially it comes down to this: if the planes take off, everything else is on.

Festival season is about to kick off and while wellies and wet wipes are flying off the shelves, brands are adding the finishing touches to corporate sponsorship, sales promotions and experiential marketing activities.

Festivals have become synonymous with brands over the past five years or so. Set on captivating the more technologically savvy, informed and trendy Generation Y, festivals present a unique opportunity to engage with this audience. But with many brands playing a similar game and sharing a strong desire to be present, many miss the point of engagement and turn their presence into nothing more than a badging exercise which doesn’t bode well for festival-goers. On a commercial level it also begs the question as to whether the investment is really worth it?

Festival commercialism has always been a touchy subject for music lovers. Set on the view that festivals should be all about the music, cynicism has often arisen around disconnected brand alignments and perceived fake sentiment which can leave a sour taste in consumers’ mouths. Finding a balance is important as brand overkill without a clear purpose, value or audience benefit just isn’t going to fit the bill. This is where I think technology brands have a unique advantage due to their potential to connect on a more emotional level with an audience compared to the average drinks brand, for instance, and provide greater value through a more integrated experience.

Orange, for example, has constantly built on its Chill ‘n’ Charge tent idea at Glastonbury ever since its launch in 2002. Each year it has given its constantly connected audience the power to stay in touch with friends by providing free mobile phone charging facilities, downloadable apps to locate your friends and tent and free broadband services to enable users to upload and share photos online. imageThis year it has boosted its green credentials, another issue close to the hearts of Generation Y, through the launch its eco-friendly mobile phone charging prototype – Orange Power Wellies. The brand has also continued to build on its music credentials outside festival season through its Orange Rock Corps initiative.

To avoid homogenisation and potential negative sentiment, brands need to think more creatively about audience engagement and steer away from strategies of brash visibility and quick wins. To make the most of the investment they should consider the potential of creating more long-term relationships with audiences and find new ways of connecting on another level which strikes an emotional cord too.

N.B. Although Orange is a client of Edelman, we do not work on the Chill ‘n’ Charge project mentioned above.

@LucyDesaDavies

221B Game

Alternate Reality my dear Watson

Transmedia is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. True it’s not exactly new, but then there’s no such thing as an original idea…

Henry Jenkins is the father of the movement. The Dumbledore to the wizardry of multiple narratives, if you will.

You may have seen the LA Times piece. It gives a good overview of where Jenkins thinking comes from.

There are countless examples new and old of Transmedia campaigns. Alternate Reality Games are more traditionally associated with this approach. Often used to market films or video games, but also as stand alone experiences, they really did pave the way for multi-channel narratives. They harnessed the hive mind – using the crowd to solve fiendish clues and
rewarded the community with content.

Many ARGs were too niche, you had to be too commited to the whole experience to get anything out of it – and to few people were actually playing to get a good return on the marketing spend. You couldn’t snack on them. However, alongside these various experiments in ARGs also came the rise of casual gaming, which inturn has grown the appetite for consumers to experience and explore new ways of enjoying entertainment content. So now we get some simpler – yet equally compelling – games that can be enjoyed by individuals but also as part of a hive. This new game for the Sherlock Holmes game is brilliant. (I mean simple by not taking up your whole life.  The puzzles are still fiendish, but I’m told you’ll complete the game in 8 hours, rather than 2 years).

This AdAge article talks about a Transmedia narrative that is both horizontal and deep. i.e. there is enough in the content to make it enjoyable on a basic top level, but deep enough that  the hardcore fans have plenty to explore. I’m not sure everyone can be entertained all the time – but this approach rests on giving the hardcore fans content that allows them to become amplifiers.

Transmedia in this traditional movie marketing guise is expensive. But PR is essentially story telling, so I think a lot of the values outlined here apply to us in our day to day lives.

1. Make stories drillable.
2. Each piece of a story must be enriching, but not essential, to its overall experience.
3. Recognize the power of your fans.
4. Build a world, not just a story.

A lot of this is stuff we’re already doing, but in the future it’s going to be essential that every story we create has multiple touch-points. Some media will want the topline info, some consumers will want to be able to drill down and explore the details, it will be necessary for each individual announcement to be a part of a constantly evolving bigger ‘world’ and – as we know – if we give the audience compelling content then they will also spread the word.

Madisson Avenue types have a heritage in creating this sort of content. But just as they have experience in telling a story in 30 seconds, so we have a professional vocabularly that allows us to reach out to multiple stakeholders and audiences through the channels we know are most appropriate for each conversation. What’s more trans-media than that?

@LukeMackay


So you’re in a bar, and you see an attractive member of the opposite sex. Do you:

A: Drink enough to have the courage to walk over there and say hello?
B: Hope they drink enough so that they walk over to you?
C: Spend the night trying to catch their eye but look away too quickly when they do?
D: Send an SMS message to your entire contact book for suitable chat up lines and they walk over and screw it up?

I’m willing to bet my special pair of underpants that D is the least popular option, yet it’s the premise for a TV advert for a major Internet services initiative from a leading mobile operator.

Then there’s an advert for televisions that prompted Charlie Brooker to Tweet thus:

“The ** ad about life being a meaningless trap until you realise you’re free to enjoy the ‘seamless entertainment’ of their TVs is terrifying”

Terrifying indeed. Terrifying in terms of just how poor some advertising agencies are at interpreting the trend of giving products an emotional narrative.

And PRs isn’t immune to it either. Last year I advised on a pitch for a product-based technology company. While the prospect had a specific challenge around its brand perception, its primary remit was to sell more stuff, so you’d think drawing out the link between PR and sales would have been paramount?

Ignoring my advice (and that of my boss) 80-odd slides later we saw plenty of unicorns and rainbows but not one slide that explicitly said “we will help you sell more kit.” Needless to say, we didn’t win the account.

In all of these examples the line has been crossed between creating a compelling narrative and getting carried away with the “soft stuff”. It’s easily done, especially when the tangent you shoot off at is infinitely more interesting than the initial problem you’re trying to crack, but it’s also guaranteed to backfire, either with public ridicule (Windows 7 party adverts?), poor sales and/or lost clients or failed pitches.

That’s not to say that advertising and PR agencies shouldn’t be bold in trying to elevate product messages into something more inspiring and engaging, rather that need to keep in mind that the overall goal is generally to sell stuff.

After all, how many of us have really had an emotional connection with a piece of technology? How many lives have been enriched to the point of enlightenment by the arrival of a new TV or PC?

If we’re honest, modern technology in general makes small, but marked improvements to our daily lives such as being able to check work email on the train not the frankly nonsensical idea that some bloke in his mid-thirties is sad enough to have to SMS or IM his mates for a chat up line.

While the concept of “incremental mildly significant enhancements” may not be the brief that most agencies want to receive, it what consumers in the main will respond to and it’s the job of the creative sector to weave some magic around that…

@PaulWooding

Another year passed.  How the devil did that happen?  Mobile World Congress only seems like yesterday, yet here we are gearing up for the next one and simultaneously working out where to hang the stockings this Christmas. As far as I can tell – apart from the obvious  – (e.g time with family, presents to open, cold turkey to eat) there are two great things about the weeks leading up to most wonderful time of the year:

-          Pret Christmas Sandwiches

-          Trend reports

I’ve just eaten my second sandwich-of-joy this week, which leads me on to talk about Trend forecasting…

Some see it as a sinister dark art, others a load of marketing nonsense.  Either way they’re a handy barometer of where ‘we’ all are and where ‘we’ are all going.  I can only imagine the excitement in the Trend Laboratory when the fiendishly clever, future scientists were struck with the realisation that we’re entering a new decade, which is like timing the usual forecast by, erm, 10.

The latest list from Trendwatching.com makes for some interesting reading.  Real-Time Reviews and Mass Mingling seem the most pertinent trends to impact our day-to-day lives – but I’d recommend having a read of the whole shebang.  Handy links are pasted below.

Not to be outdone though, we gazed into our Crystal Pheasant (it’s like a ball, but more complicated) and came up with the following predictions for 2010:

  • Bird Feeding: If we survive the recession then it’s likely that we’ll see more men taking women on expensive datesin 2010
  • Urban Hunting: We spend a lot of time in cities (see below).  Problem is that doesn’t leave much time for wild grouse hunting.  We’re predicting Pigeon Shooting Tournaments in Trafalgar Square. Rumour also has it that Urban Fox Hunting is already catching on in the East End.  It basically involves riding around on a fixed wheel bike, trying to catch the cunning little vermin.
  • Danny The Champion of the World: The Fantastic Fox had his day this year, we reckon the Dahlian Hero will have something of a renaissance in 2010, just as long as Jeremy Irons isn’t involved.  It would be nice for a few pheasants to survive this time as well.
  • Knowledge Poaching: We reckon we’re going to see an increase in people using social media to pass off insight as their own. Take heed of RT etiquette or be swept along in a tide of plagiarism.

Have any premonitions yourself?  Do tell.

@LukeMackay @MarkPinsent

Trendwatching.com:

1: Business as Unusual

Forget the recession: the societal changes that will dominate 2010 were set in motion way before we temporarily stared into the abyss. More »

2: Urbany

Urban culture is the culture. Extreme urbanization, in 2010, 2011, 2012 and far beyond will lead to more sophisticated and demanding consumers around the world. More »

3. Real-Time Reviews

Whatever it is you’re selling or launching in 2010, it will be reviewed ‘en masse’, live, 24/7. More »

4: (F)luxury

Closely tied to what constitutes status (which is becoming more fragmented), luxury will be whatever consumers want it to be over the next 12 months. More »

5. Mass-Mingling

Online lifestyles are fueling and encouraging ‘real world’ meet-ups like there’s no tomorrow, shattering all cliches and predictions about a desk-bound, virtual, isolated future. More »

6. Eco-Easy

To really reach some meaningful sustainability goals in 2010, corporations and governments will have to forcefully make it ‘easy’ for consumers to be more green, by restricting the alternatives. More »

7. Tracking & Alerting

Tracking and alerting are the new search, and 2010 will see countless new INFOLUST services that will help consumers expand their web of control. More »

8. Embedded Generosity

Next year, generosity as a trend will adapt to the zeitgeist, leading to more pragmatic and collaborative donation services for consumers. More »

9. Profile Myning

With hundreds of millions of consumers now nurturing some sort of online profile, 2010 will be a good year to introduce some services to help them make the most of it (financially), from intention-based models to digital afterlife services. More »

10. Maturalism

2010 will be even more opinionated, risqué, outspoken, if not ‘raw’ than 2009; you can thank the anything-goes online world for that. Will your brand be as daring? More »

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