Monday

A click here, a click there

Click here to watch Shuman Ghosemajumder, Business Product Manager for Trust & Safety at Google, offer some interesting insight into the world of Click Fraud.

Lesson 9—our final lesson in Emerging Media & The Market—focused on the fact that most search engines bank money through paid placement and paid inclusion. As a result of this lesson, I found myself wanting to learn more about click fraud. Does it still persist today?According to WebProNews, even as we approach the end of 2008, click fraud is still something that needs to be dealt with in the search engine advertising industry. Google, however, says that their company takes a number of precautions to keep this sketchy practice under control (Crum).

This isn't really news, but Google's AdWords Help Center details a number of these things that the company does. For one, they employ detection and filtering techniques."Google looks at numerous data points for each click, including the IP address, the time of the click, any duplicate clicks, and various other click patterns. Our system then analyzes these factors to try to isolate and filter out potentially invalid clicks before they ever reach your account reports," says the Help Center (Crum).

Real-time systems filter out activity fitting a profile of invalid behavior (such as excessively repetitive clicks), and Clicks and impressions from known sources of invalid activity are automatically discarded.They have advanced monitoring techniques. "Various unique and innovative methods are applied at each stage of the filtering process, thereby maximizing proactive detection of invalid activity. Our engineers are also constantly improving our monitoring technology, enhancing filters, and examining a growing set of signals," the Help Center notes (Crum).

Google also talks a little bit about how their team uses specialized tools and techniques to ensure it is difficult and unrewarding for people to commit click fraud. They refer to a detailed report from an "independent expert" who examines Google's methods (Crum).

But, despite the fact that Google and other search engines deny that a great amount of click fraud takes place on their sites, advertisers are still leery. For advertisers wanting to take proactive measures to prevent click fraud, Ghosemajumder advises keeping the return on investment (ROI) as the central focus. As he explains in the video, companies should research and gather as much data as possible, test everything, and track all results. If you apply these actions and your ROI drops for no reason, you have a good reason to suspect undetected click fraud and should file a claim.

References:

Crum, Chris. “How Google Detects Click Fraud.” 18 Dec 2008. WebProNews. View the entire article here

Delete it!

Lesson 8 concentrated on the importance of effective Web design. According to Gerry McGovern, founder and CEO of Customer Carewords and New Thinking e-mail newsletter, deleting unnecessary and outdated content from your Web site is very important to customer satisfaction.

Why?

“Most customers come to your Web site to complete top tasks. The more irrelevant and out-of-date pages of content you have, the greater the chances they will arrive on these pages,” he explained. “There is simply nothing worse than presenting a customer with useless content. It infuriates them, wastes their time, and drives them away from your Web site like a plague.”

“Every time I hear the word "redesign" I shiver a little,” McGovern continued. “The Web site has grown more and more useless because of badly managed and out-of-date content. Management should have mandated the boring, politically difficult and thankless work of regularly removing poor quality content.”

McGovern said that, instead, many Web managers—particularly the newly appointed ones—want to do a redesign, but that a redesign is certainly not always the solution to a more effective Web site.

References:

McGovern, Gerry. “Want to improve your Web site? Delete your content.” Ragan Communications. 22 Dec 2008. View the entire article

No discrimination = One great ad

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Lesson 7 discussed the importance of multi-cultural marketing. I wanted to share one of my favorite ads with you. The ad comes from Verizon Communications during Black History Month. Rather than highlighting Black History Month icons, such as several companies do, Verizon stepped outside of the comfort zone and created a hip television ad the acknowledged those who are creating a change and impacting lives. Click on the video above to take a look for yourself.

Get her a diamond...JCPenney said so

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JCPenney has come out with a nervy viral marketing campaign to promote diamond jewelry this Christmas. “Beware of the Doghouse” is the company’s new site; its centerpiece is a four minute video, which can be seen above.

This is the first viral marketing effort of this type JC Penney has done. Quinton Crenshaw, company spokesman said, “A lot of us men have been in the doghouse at some point, and much of it is around this concept of gift-giving. So we saw this as a funny way to engage consumers (Bates).”

JCPenney promoted the video on facebook and other interactive sites and, although Crenshaw would not specify how many of hits it’s gotten, he said it has “exceeded expectations (Bates).”

The “doghouse” site also links to JCPenney’s offerings of diamond jewelry. But, as clever as it may seem, some are saying the ad is too sexist. An advertising blogger on MSNBC is unamused, all but calling the ad sexist. Underneath that post you can see some 200-plus comments debating its pros and cons. There is also a vigorous debate on youtube, where the ad has gotten over 300,000 hits (Bates).

What are your thoughts?

References:

Bates, Rob. JCPenney Tries To Make Diamond Advertising “Viral.” 10 Dec 2008. View the entire article here

Where are your employees getting their information?

videoCheck out this video clip about the importance of internal communications (Ragan Communicatons)

“Without effective internal communications, the crisis of confidence in businesses and corporate leadership could hurt sincere efforts to build a positive corporate culture and to enhance employee morale and productivity, and devastate the overall image of an organization.” ~David Brown, CEO of Sawchuk Brown Associates, an Albany public relations/public affairs firm~

The importance of an internal communications program can not be understated, especially amid periods of corporate upheavals, such as what the nation has witnessed within the past year.

There is never a good time to uniform of misinform employees, but internal communications are especially important now. As Brown explained, a good internal communications program not only affects organizational and operational success, but it has a considerable impact on external functions such as marketing, community and government relations, and investor relations.

References:

Brown, David. “Internal communications should be of vital importance to any business.” The Business Review. 16 Aug 2002. here

A subtle technique

This week’s Lesson 6 introduced us to online marketing short films. I was intrigued by the creativity and effectiveness, as well as lack thereof, found in some of these short films. The vast selection and in-depth analysis of the short films selected by my classmates was also very impressive.

As classmate Amanda Bryd said, “The short film can take on many forms for a brand, and in some cases become very popular with audiences.”

Do you remember when Amazon used short films to subtly market products sold on their website?

Four years ago, in November 2004, Amazon debuted on short film per week for four weeks on its homepage. The films ere loosely based on a theme Amazon described as “karmic balance”—the idea that what goes around comes around and that, in the long term, those who do the right thing are rewarded (Sharma).

Items for sale on Amazon's site appeared subtly in the films and in the credits. The company offered users of Amazon Platinum Visa cards received a discount of 5 percent if they purchased products such as home furnishings, cosmetics and jewelry featured in any of the films (Sharma).
The short film series came right in time for the holiday shopping season that year. In my opinion, the campaign was a bold and innovative move for the company. Not only was the campaign unique, but it also directed consumers to Amazon’s Web site even if they had not intended to do any holiday shopping from the there. In addition, the campaign was memorable and fun.

References:

Sharma, Dinesh. “Short films star on Amazon.” CNET News. View the entire article
here

Be creative ... but, follow these rules?

Creativity is a crucial element of any IMC function, but is creative success most expected when some organized approach is followed? While most advertising society reject and/or resist attempts to standardize creativity or develop rules or guidelines to follow, most creative people do follow some type of process when approaching the assignment of developing an advertisement.There are several models or approaches to the creative process, including that of English sociologist Graham Wallas whose famous model of thought contains four stages of creative thinking:
  1. Preparation - an individual assesses his desire, creatively using appropriate tools from the appropriate field of study
  2. Incubation - an individual disengages from the creative process; Wallas believed that detachment from the creative objective, "taking a break," stimulates thought
  3. Illumination - the discovery of the idea; according to Wallas, illumination is characterized by the sudden realization of the idea—"Eureka!"
  4. Verification - the successful application of the idea

Do you agree with the notion that creativity can or should follow a fefinitive process?
In one part of Lewis Carroll’s book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” he says of Alice, “It sounded like an excellent plan, no doubt, and very neatly and simply arranged; the only difficulty was that she had not the smallest idea how to set about it.”

While I do think that Wallace’s plan could certainly be leveraged in a creative campaign, I cannot help but wonder if following a carefully aligned plan would ultimately create barriers to creative thinking. For example, if an individual (especially someone who is not particularly familiar with Wallas’ plan) is assigned to generate creative ideas do you think that they may be so concerned about adhering exactly to the plan that their ability to think of new and creative ideas is inhibited? They may be so concerned about following a step-by-step process that they do not freely allow their minds to roam.

And, like Lewis said, the plan sounds great, but if an individual obsesses about how to execute it, they will not get too far in the creative process.

Sure, I think that creative and analytical thinking successfully does and can work hand-in-hand at times, but I don’t agree that it is always the case. Sometimes analytical thinkers are so concerned with what happened in the past or what the statistics state that they have a hard time allowing themselves to take a risk. And, they may not expect surprises in step four like a creative thinker would. This all ties back to what I mentioned above … Would an analytical thinker be so adamant about sticking to the plan that he or she loses sight of their goal to create new, exciting, and creative ideas?

Creative ideas can come to us at anytime, anywhere. So while I do think that there are some plans out there, including Wallace’s, that can compliment the creative thinking process for some individuals or groups, I do not think that they are always necessary.