Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cognitive Overhead

The term refers to the number of decisions a consumer has to make before getting what they want.  If you're job is to sell something, finding a way to cut down on cognitive overhead should be a priority. 

It was for Jeff Bezos.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Facebook Decision Doesn't Solve the Social-Commercial Dichotomy

On Friday, Facebook announced that they would begin filtering out messages from users newsfeeds that are deemed to be overly promotional.  This will be determined by Facebook's algorithm that generally will follow basic criteria such as posts that want to users to buy a product or install an app, enter promotions and sweepstakes without real context and posts that reuse content from ads.   Facebook's goal is an admirable one - to provide more relevant content to users.

On the surface, this sounds like a great thing.  However, this decision is reflective of the problem that Facebook will never be able to solve.  People want content that isn't trying to sell them stuff but that's ultimately what it needs to do to stay in business.  It will constantly find itself juggling this tradeoff between serving clients and serving customers.          

Interestingly, AdAge speculates that cutting the reach of unpaid posts will have a positive affect on the rates as well as the number of paid advertisers due to decreasing the supply of advertising.  In the short-term this could happen.  However, in the long-term, they will eventually find themselves fighting the same problem with users pushing back on paid ads too.  After all, it's a real tell that Facebook finds itself needing to filter out unpaid posts because this is the content its users actually opt in to by liking that Page.  Yet, users are telling Facebook they are sick of seeing it now and regret giving these pages permission.

I think the important lesson to be learned is determining what's relevant to someone isn't as simple or logical as associating with it.  But it's perfectly understandable that despite the fact that all consumers have preferences and loyalties, that doesn't mean they want to find themselves in front of an ad or similarly disguised content about those brands every time they have something to say.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Required Reading

I invite readers to check out this great commentary by Jonathan Salem Baskin on the culture jamming of brands.  

To summarize, Baskin suggests that marketers should be challenged to "to think of brands as elements within narratives, not owners of them. Brands don’t have conversations with consumers, but rather are talked about among them."

Naturally, taking this approach would drastically change the strategy and tactics of a brand. The entire piece can be read here and I encourage you to do so.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I didn't like about Nike's "Together" commercial


Nike's "Together" received great hype last week when it debuted before the Cleveland Cavaliers season tipped off.  The video captivated the attention of  of the internet for a few hours while the world (and especially Ohio) waited to see Lebron James back in a Cavaliers uniform.

Interestingly, Nike makes the city Lebron is returning home to, Cleveland, the real star of their ad.  They combine powerful imagery of Clevelanders joining the Cavaliers in a pregame huddle with emphatic words from Lebron who declares "the whole city of Cleveland, that's what it's all about."

I would have loved the strategy behind that if only the story was being told in a vacuum.  However, there is some context that seems to have been left out.  It wasn't that long ago that Lebron was trying to win a third NBA Championship for another city.  A city that he left Cleveland to go to in a very public and embarrassing way.  Fast forward to this commercial with Lebron imploring his teammates to do it for "Cleveland" and it would seem that Nike missed and opportunity to fill its audience in on the last chapter.     

That commercial would echo sentiments of the letter that Lebron James penned in the offseason when he announced his return to the Cavaliers.  The star would be the reasons why he's found himself back home today; a significantly more humble piece centered on family, community and the growth of a man.  There would be contrition and forgiveness on both sides. 

In my opinion, Nike needed to bridge this gap in the story.  Without such context, "Together" comes across as King James' loyal subjects worshiping their hero despite the fact he hasn't always reciprocated this same loyalty.    

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.