What We Can Learn from The New York Times Being Behind the Times

May 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

320-Innovation_fullThe Gray Lady has problems – more than just the firing of Jill Abramson or lack of reporting on Jill Abramson’s demise. It seems the Times is behind the times in all things digital.  On May 15, Buzz Feed leaked the 96-page New York Times Innovation Report that candidly describes the digital struggles and weaknesses of the legendary print icon.    The report focuses on digital providers like Vox, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and BuzzFeed.  The report describes the institutional inertia that is keeping many businesses from embracing the new face of marketing.  And in some terrible irony of ironies, it was that upstart BuzzFeed that leaked the story.

Key learnings for all marketers today.

1.  Beware of Disrupters.  The news biz is changing like all business today.  Once small outsiders like BuzzFeed and  Huffington Post are now garnering more traffic than the Times.  Sound familiar?  Like Amazon, AirBnB, Uber and other disrupters?  The report gives some of the hallmarks of disruptive innovators – introduced by an outsider, less expensive than existing products, targeting new or underserved markets, initially inferior to existing products and advanced by an enabling technology.  Sound familiar in your business category?  Your competition may not be who it was yesterday. Today the New York Times is facing disparate competition such as LinkedIn’s Pulse Publishing platform,  Flipboard’s visual presentation of news, Vox as a collector of live blogging in passionate verticals, or Yahoo News that has hired Katie Couric and repurposes the best of news.

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2.  Stories Find Readers Today.  The Times identified a trend showing that users are moving away from browsing and actually expect the news to come to them through social media, mobile notifications, aggregators and more.

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of The Guardian’s website says, “The realization that you have to go find your audience — they’re not going to just come and read it — has been transformative.”

 

Death of the Home Page.   Only a third of readers visit the home page of The New York Times. And those who do visit are spending less time on it. Page views and minutes spent per reader dropped by double-digit percentages in the year 2013.  Where do people see your content?  We cannot expect our website to be the first view of information.

home-page-v-socialNews from Social Media.  Less than 10% of the New York Times traffic comes from social media compared to Buzzfeed who gets 60% of their traffic from social media.  In fact, I read the story about the New York Times report on LinkedIn and Mashable first.

Marketers cannot expect just one media to work for them.  It takes  multiple ways to get your important news out.  Social media, email marketing, guest posts, podcasts, interviews, speaking engagements, search marketing and even advertising, if well timed and placed.

3.  Content Packaging is as Important as the Story.  Journalists have thought that the story is the thing.  Build it and they will come.  But today, a journalist must craft the right story for the audience, understanding the reader relevance.  I was stunned by a story from Forbes writer Kashmir Hill who took an anecdote buried in a 5,000 word article in the times and repackaged it as “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did.”  Her Forbes article has been viewed 2,455,821 times, and was the chief traffic driver for the Times story.  Crafting the right point of view takes a real understanding of your target audience.  And then, you have to position your story appropriately, with engaging content.

4.  Timing is Everything.  The Times is publishing their best content on a schedule meant for print.  They publish the majority of their content in the late evening, in order for it to make the morning paper, while  the majority of their traffic is in the morning hours. The biggest stories are published on Sundays for the venerable Sunday Paper, even though Sunday is the slowest day for traffic online.  A lesson to marketers here is are you publishing at times when you audience will see them?  In today’s world, the news is a 24-hour operation and news consumers expect to have it on a 24-hour schedule.

5.  Every Story Needs A Promotional Strategy.  All content needs a promotion strategy.  The publishing of the story is just the beginning.  What is the social strategy?  Is there a checklist for publishing that includes search headline, tags, images, pre-written Facebook and Twitter posts?

“Even ProPublica, that bastion of old-school journalism values, goes to extraordinary lengths to give stories a boost. An editor meets with search, social and public relations specialists to develop a promotion strategy for every story. And reporters must submit five tweets along with each story they file.”

How can you repurpose the content?  The Times report tells, “On a whim, Andrew Phelps created a Flipboard magazine of our most important obits of the year and it became the best-read collection in the history of the platform.”  The Gawker took a 161 year old story from The Times to help introduce “12 Years as a Slave”.

Consumers Expect Personalization.   The Times is looking at new engines to foster personalization online.  Increasingly, consumers are expecting to have options served up to them based on preferences.  Can readers follow their favorite columnists?

Engagement is everyone’s job.  A key learning is that you need to engage with your audience – respond to comments, answer emails and converse on social media.  Equally important is looking at the list of influencers that can help spread your message and interact with them.  Or events that help create community.

6.  Silos are out, teams are in.  Here is the telling statement:  “Our Twitter account is run by the newsroom. Our Facebook account is run by the business side.”  Departments need to break down walls and work together.  The refiguring of team is important to create more harmonious efforts.  The Times has recognized the power of collaboration focused on reader experience.  What a wonderful concept!

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.  So, as The Times goes, it seems they are embarking upon an important journey.

Marketing to Women: The Pressure to Be Popular Online

May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

mean-girls-8137Peer pressure beyond acne, the cool crowd and first dates?

I recently heard Bridget Brennan of The Female Factor speak at the M2W Conference about the immense impact of popularity on society today.  It’s not the popularity that we dealt with in middle school or high school.

Today, it is the pressure to be interesting online.  How interesting are your posts?  How many people follow you?  How many times have your posts been shared?  We check our stats incessantly.  Heck, some job interviewers even want to know your Klout score.

Why is Online Popularity Important?

Today some 98% of  persons online in the US use social media, so does social media relate to social capital?  Social capital has always been important.  It is considered to be the sum of the networks, connections, influence and interactions people have with other individuals.  There have always been different types of social capital based on your sphere of influence, your wealth, your status in aristocracy, your celebrity and your accomplishments.

In today’s world, online influence can be measured as those with the most Twitter followers – Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama or top Facebook Pages for Shakira, Rihanna and Coke. Bloggers like The Pioneer Woman have created complete media platforms from their original blog, and LinkedIn has introduced us to the Influencers.   Digital influence raters like Klout, PeerIndex, and Kred are investing millions of dollars to understand how our social media activity translates into influence.

It seems that you can increase your social capital online if you follow some important rules.   If you use social media to communicate directly with other individuals—by posting valuable information, commenting on friends’ posts, regular posting, being helpful—it can increase your social capital. Personalized messages seem to have more value  than “one-click communication”.  Just reading and occasionally posting does not add to your popularity.

Brands are beginning to learn that scores do not matter as much as engagement and real relationships. Businesses need to develop meaningful social influence strategies and define their desired outcomes. Not all followers are created alike.  Just like in high school, not all popular people were really fun to be around.

Marketing to Working Moms: New Scarborough Study!

January 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

Working Moms may have had a “pink collar” image in former generations, but today’s working mom is quite a different person.  They are more educated,  more affluent and more wired than ever before.  Working Moms represent 40% of moms.

Scarborough has surveyed this group and come up with some interesting statistics that marketers need to market to women, particularly working moms.  Here are just a few to whet your appetite.   For more, see the infographic below.

95% of working moms agree that spending time with their family is their top priority

27% of working moms are much more involved in their finances.  

72% of their households contributed to a charity in the past 12 months.

Working moms are spending less for name brands.  They use coupons and shop at Nordstrom Rack, Kohl’s Macy’s and TJ Maxx Home Goods.  

Working moms shop online and own smartphones, laptops, iPads and more.

Working moms are 22% more likely to attend professional sporting events and 24% more likely to have watched ESPN in the past 7 days.

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Holiday Marketing to Women: Instant Greetings vs. Greeting Cards

November 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s the time of the year when we begin thinking about sending holiday greetings to friends and family far and wide.  Will it be an online greeting this year or a sentimental real paper card with pictures of the family and a special note?  Will it be written in cursive or typed away on a convenient laptop?  Will it be mailed with a 46-cent stamp or whisked through the web at no cost?

img_easy-christmas_ss16Have we lost our social graces?  Or are we entering a new phase of how we relate our love?  It seems we are in a cultural shift brought about by technology, budget concerns, digital natives and time deprivation.

Decline of Traditional Greetings

The United States Postal Service, which has its own problems, reported that the number of greeting cards mailed within the US declined by 24 percent from 2002 to 2010 and is still dropping.  A perfect storm of migration to online services, a financial recession, busy lifestyles and younger digital consumers are creating new traditions for holidays and special days like birthdays.

A  greeting cards industry report this year from IbisWorld says the sale of traditional cards has fallen by 60 percent over the last decade, to $5 billion a year.  Last year Hallmark reported that their 2012 card sales dropped to 5 billion, from 6 billion in 2011. And American Greetings has had to go private after a 60% decline in revenue.

Growth of Digital Greetings

Remember your birthday this year?  Chances are you got more Facebook Birthday greetings than you ever received cards?  Why?  Well, it’s so easy.  Facebook reminds you.  And you can even send a gift card if you want to really express some love.  With Facebook, those annual holiday letters are not as important anymore.  We see regular updates of our friends and know what is going on in their lives.

All the while, e-greetings are growing.  Online card sales  (both e-cards and custom printed ones) have grown to $3.5 billion in 2012 from just $65 million a decade ago.  Both Hallmark, the number one provider, and American Greetings, the number two, have digital greetings divisions.  And there are a plethora of other greetings companies like Egreetings, Blue Mountain, someecards and Dayspring.  The trends are to more personalized or more irreverent cards than the traditional drugstore cards.

Growth of Handmade Cards

At the same time, there is a resurgence in small companies that provide special handmade cards.  With a higher price than normal cards, the handmade card is actually the gift itself.  There is also a big business in crafting for card making.  Just ask the ladies at my church who make very special cards with special design stamps, craft supplies, pictures and glue.

So what’s your choice this year?  Let me know how you will share your holiday greetings?

Marketing to Women: Third of Purchase Conversions Occur on Mobile

September 10, 2013 § 1 Comment

ipad_1791235bWhether we have the latest smartphone or a second generation tablet, we are all using them to shop!   A recent study by AOL showed that the conversion rate for mobile purchases grew 28%.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that people actually made a purchase while on their mobile device.  A whopping 31% of conversions across four verticals occurred while using a mobile device.  And the industries with the highest conversion rates were telecom, retail, auto and travel.

Mobile Device Share of Online Conversions (% on Smartphone and Tablet; August 2013)  The findings are based on analytics from more than 500 billion online ad impressions and 100M conversion events across all devices, such as mobile phones, desktop computer and tablets.

Telecom – Purchase of a new plan or device – 37%

Retail – Make a purchase – 35%

Auto – Find dealer, request info, configure, travel – 22%

Travel – Book hotel, flight or car reservation – 20%

There has been a misconception that mobile really means only mobile – that we are using devices only on the go.  But actually 25% of our digital is spent at home and that is where we are viewing and purchasing many things.  And 75% of all mobile ad impressions were viewed within the home.  A lot of that has to do with the amazing adoption of tablets, iPads in particular.  

“What we’re learning is that consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices in much the same way they do with their computers when they’re at home,” said  Chad Gallagher, director of mobile for AOL networks.  “Looking at holistic impression volume, 25 percent of all digital impressions are consumed on a mobile device at home – which speaks to why users are performing complex functionality on their mobile devices. The data means that companies must understand mobile tracking and enable technology that can run across all platforms to account for the massive business opportunity on mobile devices. Net-net, we need to re-think how we market through the tablet. Marketers are realizing that they can’t afford to run desktop-only campaigns anymore.”

Historically, advertisers focus on branding or driving the purchase of mobile-centric offerings.   The AOL points to an opportunity to drive conversions for a much wider array of products and services through mobile.

 

Google This: How Google Makes Its Money

July 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

How is this for a fact!  The $32.2 billion Google made from Google Ads last year is more valuable than the country of Panama and the 31 poorest countries in the world combined!

Some more fun facts are included in this infographic about Google –  like the most expensive keywords.

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Marketing to Women: Dual Screen Viewing is Here!

July 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

UnknownAre you part of the two-screen world yet?  I bet you are.  If you ever use a mobile device (your smartphone or tablet) while watching television, you already are.  We use our devices to communicate with friends and family, look up information related to what we are watching, or multi-task.

The Facts about Dual Screen Viewing

The facts vary, but the trend is clear.  According to Nielsen, more than 39% of Americans use their smartphone while watching TV at least once each day, and 62% do so multiple times each week.  Google recently reported that we use on average three different screen combinations everyday, including tablets and smartphones while watching TV. And, research from Yahoo! and Razorfish shows that nearly 80 percent of consumers are on mobile devices while watching TV.

More than half of all mobile device users say they visit social networking sites while watching TV. And the social aspect of watching TV is important too: 21% of  tablet users and 18% of smartphone users say they read conversations about the program on a social networking site, and 20% of tablet users shop for products or services being advertised. Some even watched a particular TV program because comments on a social media site.

The Top Categories for Dual Screen Viewing

We use dual screen viewing for a variety of types of events.  The top five show categories that attract multitaskers are reality, news, comedy, sports and food.  I think we can understand why.  You are not as intellectually engaged to a plot in these type of shows – leaving room for net surfing.

But how do marketers take advantage of this new behavior?

1.  Apps are being built that enhance your viewing.  Major media companies, like Discovery Networks International, are already taking advantage of new App Cloud solutions to build rich dual-screen experiences for their broadcast properties.

2.  Synchronized Advertising may be around the corner.  A national ad runs on the television while a mobile device delivers up a geo-targeted companion ad that gives you local dealer information.

3.  Interactive applications allows an interactive quiz or game to be broadcast on television and viewers respond on their tablets, with results giving in real time.

4.  Special offers are delivered on television driving consumers to their mobile devices to redeem the special offers.

The future of marketing to women will be exciting as we determine how to combine media for the richest engagement.

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