The GAP between consumers and marketing – laid bare

Marketing Gap Tracker 2010There are a few ads and marketing campaigns that capture the attention of huge audiences – did anyone mention meerkats? But the vast majority of campaigns fall into the ‘also ran’ category. New research helps us see why.

A 2010 survey of consumers and marketers reveals what marketers believe is important. There is a wide gap in some important areas when we also look at what consumers are influenced by.

It’s no surprise that the highest ranking for consumers is given to brands they trust. Marketers are a little behind on this, but the next three metrics show consumers and marketers are fairly close.

The final three metrics, however, throw large spanners into the hopes and aspirations of marketers and designers. The consumers don’t really care! So it’s thumbs up for:

  • brand/company that’s known/trusted
  • relevant product or service
  • personal, targeted communication

But, and it’s a big BUT, there are very wide gaps in the final three metrics. When marketers rate something as twice as important and, ye goddess, 3-times or even 5-times as important, someone needs to get back to basics. Sorry, marketers and designers, but consumers are mostly looking for quality and relevance. In short, it’s thumbs down for:

  • interesting packaging
  • fun themes
  • design and appearance

Consumers are now a bit too savvy. They can see a great product or great deal, but they can also be turned off by smoke and mirrors. The final message might be:

If you’ve got a great product or service, be straight about it in your marketing.

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New kids on the (rock) block

The success of Daughtry and Allison Iraheta on American Idol, not to mention Adam Lambert, is raising the profile of solid, contemporary rock music again. We rejoice at the demise of lame, wimp and near-emo indie boys and bands. We can almost see the tail-end of the swaggering but limp metrosexual mall rats that make up 90% of the studio-enhanced hip-hop and rap non-singers.

There are surprises on the crossover stars as well, from Florence + The Machine and, of course, Rihanna. Leaving aside Justin Beiber and Usher because it is way too early to know how that will develop, there is new power from an unexpected source.

Miley Cyrus, a new rock divaFrom Pop Princess to Rock Diva

Miley Cyrus has a cowboy star daddy, a rock star brother and a pop star younger sister. Since Miley toured with Trace and took part in a whole lotta head-bangin’, there has been a significant jump in the maturity of her voice, of her song lyrics, and her stage attire. Raunchy Rock Diva emerging from a Disney Pop Image has been done before – Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera – but Miley is, somehow, a more radical evolution.

Miley has lived the cotton-wool life at home and on stage since about age 4 but her family is strongly independent, holding a somewhat unique combination of Christian values and endless creative expression.

Miley says her new album Can’t Be Tamed is all about freedom and empowerment. When asked for more details, Miley said:

The new songs “are about freeing yourself from anything you think is holding you back. And I think that’s really important, especially for girls, because so many people are told, No, you can’t do something, or, You need to be this because mom and dad say that, teachers say this.” And finally, in encouraging young people to follow her example, Miley has also said, “There’s a short amount of time, when you think about it, and no day needs to go by wasted.”

Podcasts Define Web 2.0 Music – billions of downloads each year

The figures are in and the results are inspiring. Old media, large (Murdoch) and small (regional newspapers), are moaning that the web is ruining their business. Radio stations, meanwhile, blow large trumpets about 1% gains in audience share.

Wizard Media podcast digital downloadsThe reality is that the public have been given real choices by Web 2.0 and are moving on from old media. Two quick examples:

  • Wizard Media announce digital downloads increase in one quarter from 241m to 350m
  • Trance Around The World podcast has 21 million listeners per week

Wizard were very happy with a 45% increase in downloads but also announced a very solid 41% increase in audience (5.3 million). Meanwhile, advertising impressions served by Wizard grew from 3.9 million in the second quarter of 2008 to 13.7 million in the second quarter of 2009, an increase of 251%.

Trance Around The World is the podcast from Above & Beyond, a weekly mix available through iTunes or from their own website. Their podcast sits alongside others by Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Paul Okenfold and hundreds other national and international trance stars.

Therefore TATW is successful in a very competitive market, while 21 million listeners would be an extraordinary achievement for most radio stations. TATW is enabled by the most significant brand of the decade – Apple. Lest you object, look at a few examples of the activity around Steve Jobs:

  • Apple iPod podcast digital downloadsApple is 45 times more profitable than Dell
  • iTunes sells more music than Walmart
  • iPhone and iPod features and quality have revolutionised mobile technology
  • Pixar is the most succesful and profitable studio of the past decade
  • Apple is 6 times more popular as a social brand than Microsoft

While Web 2.0 provided a wonderful potential, it is companies like Apple and YouTube who have defined and raised the standards so much higher than anyone else. And the biggest winners are the public – the music listeners and video viewers – who can choose exactly what they wish to download or stream. Further, the public can now enjoy what they want without the interference of the taste bias or old-media commercial ‘necessities’ of a production or advertising team.

Top Social Brands exposed – what the statistics really mean

The ongoing attempts of social media marketeers to hype themselves may be failing. The much-discussed Top 50 Social Brands is no such thing. Yes, Social Radar may have done all the right things in terms of gathering information, but the results are disastrous.

First of all, the numbers. As the chart below clearly shows, only the Top 10 have any real significance. Thereafter everything is squabbling over half percentage points. Being below No.15 and being below 16% “score” of the leader is irrelevant.

Excerpt from Top 50 Social Brands

Excerpt from Top 50 Social Brands

The next issue concerns the Top 3 – they are enablers. The product or service of Twitter is not social media – only 4% of tweets are retweets, therefore tweets are an online soapbox. Tweets are a public version of a text message – 96% are ephemeral and inconsequential.

Google is also not social media. Google gathers information about web content, whatever and wherever. There is no social structure or filtering and therefore no social media benefit. Providing a list of 33,900,000 results of a search for “social media” is meaningless.

Facebook is an extensive federation of private clubs, each discussing their own introspective interests. Millions of people have joined Facebook, but millions of people have also joined large denomination churches. To say one is social media and the other not is to reveal the fallacy behind the way statistics are being filtered.

Excerpt from Virtue 100 Top Social Brands

Excerpt from Virtue 100 Top Social Brands

There are some very interesting and relevant results in the surveys, however. And they’re all from the same supplier:

  • iPhone
  • Mac
  • Apple
  • iTunes
  • iPod

For any one brand to receive multiple entries in the Top 10 lists of social media from a variety of sources is of enormous importance. Apple have dominated every sector of business they enter in terms of quality. They have consistently been the Rolls Royce of computer companies, but iTunes revolutionised digital music and went on to become the leading retailer.

The iPhone revolutionised mobile phones, bringing the Macintosh quality, ease of use and market-leading features to set levels well above those previously achieved. Similarly the iPod set new standards of quality and profitability for portable digital music players.

BUT and this really is a big BUT, which other brands appear on both lists in the Top 15?

None? So we’ve said a score below 16% of the leader is irrelevant. We’ve said the Top 3 of the Social Radar list are not “true” social brands, which seems to be supported by Virtue who say: “The Vitrue 100 is measuring companies that are using social technology, not those who are the technology.”

We would argue that YouTube should be included in the Virtue results as it provides actual product and its service is public and definitely one of the best examples of social media.

In short, then, there are only two TOP social brands – Apple and YouTube. Let’s see what 2010 and the rest of the twenty-tens reveal.

Why Twitter desperately needs YouTube and blogs – Social Media 2009 part 3

Although there have been some excellent and powerful examples of the communication benefits of the Twitter platform, most usage is casual (“just got home”, “just saw … in a shop window”). Therefore most usage on Twitter is little different to a status update on MySpace of Facebook.

There are also significant tweets that relate to information other than updates for family, friends or acquired followers. Sometimes that content becomes a trending topic, especially if tweets include hashtags. Even in those cases, however, Twitter is not the important part of the communication:

  • tweets are signposts
  • YouTube or blogs are the main destination
  • TwitPic or TweetPhoto (etc) are service stops
  • tweets are enhanced SMS messages

Twitter has many good points, however, and can be seen as a platform that provides options for:

  • replacing multiple one-to-one phone communication
  • replacing multiple SMS texts
  • an alternative to email (DM etc)
  • allowing status updates to be fully public

The last point is why Facebook has changed its privacy options. Once Google started to include Twitter content into search results, techies and CEOs on every other platform rushed to get on the “public trending” bandwagon.

As part 1 of this series showed, Google is in decline. However, search and trend are still big business and so big money. But as imeem and MySpace have found out in 2009, finances can go into decline once the Google dollars dry up.

If Twitter and/or MySpace and/or Google are to stop their decline or even recover, they need something solid. As web users have shown, they want content. In the past they were happy with the haphazard results of a search engine. But today’s web users will abandon one platform and try another, all within the space of 12 months.

Conclusion: crafted content is essential for success.

YouTube, BlogSpot, Twitter statistics for 2009

YouTube, BlogSpot, Twitter statistics for 2009

In other words, the way YouTube and blogs wrap content within context is the most likely model to succeed into the new decade. Magazines and newspapers were great at content delivery a few decades ago. The only ones making good money today tend to be in particular niche markets (finance, technology, entertainment, fashion, music, lifestyle, etc).

So called “general interest” newspapers and magazines with their social or political bias are in decline. We would rather gather our news from a selection of RSS feeds. Those feeds may come from established newspapers or magazines but will be balanced with feeds from special-interest blogs or a variety of world sources.

Social Media 2009 Executive Summary
The main sources of quality content in the next decade will come from WordPress, BlogSpot and YouTube, plus the new services that develop from those platforms and their ilk.

Why YouTube is more important than Facebook – Social Media 2009 part 2

The inter-relationship between MySpace and YouTube may be almost equal. The much better delivery of music videos on YouTube has probably helped reduce the number of views on MySpace, so contributed to the large increase in views on YouTube. The user experience on YouTube for someone who wants to hear and view music is also much cleaner and faster than on MySpace.

While MySpace remains a useful fanspace and gig resource, the decline in popularity has resulted in significant lost revenue, followed by the purchase and collapse of imeem. MySpace will remain relevant for music and niche marketing but:

  • many bands now use blogs for key information delivery
  • many bands now use Facebook for status updates

MySpace and Facebook continue to provide marketing and fanspace updates, yet YouTube captures astonishing numbers of viewers, again reflecting positive choices. Compared to Facebook, however, YouTube offers the high quality of a subscription service, without cost to the users:

  • YouTube Channels
  • YouTube Playlists
  • YouTube integration with other social media

The YouTube numbers are staggering. Yes, Facebook may have achieved monthly traffic of 90 million in 2009 but YouTube can achieve 90 million views on just one clip. For example Miley Cyrus has achieved 146 million views in 2009 with just two songs – The Climb (64m) and Party In The U.S.A. (54m) and those numbers will continue to rise.

Conclusion: YouTube is currently the most important social media platform.

MySpace, YouTube, Facebook statistics for 2009

MySpace, YouTube, Facebook statistics for 2009

Girls On Top … in Social Media Music

The end-of-year and end-of-decade lists are pouring in, like glittering snowflakes of joy. Set aside any prejudices you may have about musical styles and enjoy the moment – girls are on top of the charts again.

Regular readers will know we love Last.FM (and also Pandora) for the excellent way they stream music to suit all tastes. You can fine-tune the song selections at will, so the Top 10 lists from large Social Media sites give a positive result. In contrast, the old radio Top 10 playlists tended to be influenced by music bias and marketing demands rather than popularity.

The Best of 2009 for Last.FM users is based on the number of tracks ‘scrobbled’ and the published results include the number of listeners. The list shows, again, the popularity of modern girls over the wimp metrosexual guys. The Top 15 reveal:

  • 5 girls
  • 4 rock bands
  • 4 indie bands
  • 1 mixed band
  • 1 guy

with Lady GaGa at No.1 and a large margin to No.2.

Our exclusive chart shows the Top 6 as they have the most significant numbers:

Lady GaGa tops LastFM chart

The only other stand-out number is the 1 million listeners for Muse (at No.14) but they only received 5.3m scrobbles.