Category Archives: Rants

Will big brands be the death of social media?

I was prompted to write about an article in Advertising Age this morning about Unilever’s foray into Social Media in China.   This article highlights various social media campaigns that Unilever is running in Asia and specifically their product launch for Ponds Age Miracle cream.

While I applaud Unilever for making the leap into Social Media Marketing and the excellent guidance they got from Ogilvy’s 360 Digital influence team it is the various comments in the article that concern me.

The comments from the Unilever brand marketers demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of how social media and social media marketing works. Continue reading Will big brands be the death of social media?

Showing the love…

In today’s trying times it is critical to ensure you are showing the love to those clients you already have.  If they feel loved and you are providing undisputed value, convenience or performance it makes it hard for them to change.  The following are a few examples of how I did and did no feel the love in the past few days:

Hotel Loyalty Program Love – As many know I travel a lot and spend on average 125 to 150 nights in hotels.  I am a member of all the major hotel loyalty programs and am very loyal to two of them – Starwood Platinum and Hilton Diamond.  Interestingly I have received emails or direct mail from most of these programs to vote for this year’s Freddie’s Award and if they want to win now is the time to show the love.

On a trip to Europe for SES London I stayed at both Hilton and Starwood properties. When I arrived in London at the Hilton Islington I was checked in at the Hilton Honors desk and it went well.  I was told breakfast was included in the package, which is great.  However, after a few keystrokes I was told that I had opted for 1,000 bonus points so they could not offer breakfast in a tone that I was somehow ripping them off.  He also made a point to tell me that there were no upgrades at that time.  We did not ask for them but as a Diamond they typically try to offer them.  At this point with Hilton I am batting about 3/10 for upgraded.  Nothing else special about the stay.  Continue reading Showing the love…

Will someone please sell me a desktop computer?

I went to three different stores on Sunday trying to purchase a desktop computer I can convert into a server.  I am trying to set up MS IIS Server so I can use their new IIS SEO Tool for few of my sites.  I am a fiercely loyal Mac owner and if this software worked on a Mac I would not waste my time but it does not so I am stuck.

Apparently, $MSFT is holding all PC sales hostage until their new Windows 7 operating system comes out later this week.

I went to Best Buy and they had a desktop that would have worked but since it was loaded with Windows 7 they could not sell it to me.   Right there on the shelf was a dozen machines but nope, they could not sell me one.  The sales person told me the were for online sales – what – I have cash and want to buy one now.  Are you not a retail store?  I asked him if I bought one using my Iphone can I pick it up now.  No he said, something about a sale next Thursday.

I went home and went online and looked at a bunch of online retailers.  My wife suggested I check out Wal-Mart – we had recently seen and Netbook for less than $200.   Bingo, they had one that was more than I needed and half the price.  It told me my local store might have it or the nearest one with stock was about 12 miles away.  I went to my local store and they did not have any desktops in stock.  I called the distant store just to check with them.  They told me they had it in stock and to come and get it.

I slogged out in the torrential rain to the store taking about 45 minutes to get there.  Went to the computer aisle and there it was – on the shelf.   Not the same model number but same features and price.  Took it to the counter to pay and got a nice error “not available for sale” – WTF?– there is a recession you should be willing to sell me the cart of I want it.

Everyone seemed confused until salesperson Dan walked over and noticed it had Windows 7 so was not avialble for sale until Oct 20th.  I could not believe this.  I told them to keep the precious Windows software since I was going to run Windows Server 2008 that I just paid a small fortune for.  He said it was already loaded so no deal.

I asked if I could buy the other version they have in stock with the upgrade certificate – nope – they don’t have any.  Confused again they called Salesperson Janet who realized they linked the SKU’s making them effectively the same product which is they they showed it in stock.

Janet, sensing my frustration, as much with the situation as with my iPhone not having connection so I could not call another store nor could I Tweet my utter disgust with Wal-Mart and $MSFT for holding me hostage – as I was saying, Janet, sensing my frustration, checked other stores – she checked the computer for other stores while three of them showed product in stock – when she actually called they all had Windows 7 so not for sale.  BTW, the last store she called she had to use her mobile since she could not make a long distance call from the store.

Dan and Janet both  suggested that I go online and buy the product and it will be delieverd to my house.  Wonderful I said and planned to go home and buy another product from another store.  I do have to thank salespersons Dan and Janet for their help and trying to help me purchase from their store.  The manager who could not seem to be bothered well, no thanks to her.

I did check and found that the machine I wanted to get in the store I could buy online and have it delivered for $0.97 cents would arrive sometime the week of November 9th.  Wonderful.

I did check online online retailers and found that I could not get what I wanted for a reasonable price.  Interestingly, the machine I saw at Wal-Mart was nearly twice as much at the online retailers.  Those Bentonville buyers must have been trained in Gitmo to get those kind of deals.

I did check back with my friends at Wal-Mart today to see if I can come and get it today as they told me I could.  They told me they were mistaken – I would have to wait for the festivities of Oct 22nd.  Apparently there are a lot of people wanting these machines so they suggested I get there early.  They have heard that people plan to camp out to be one of the first to get Windows 7.

To close this rant, I went to multiple stores, cash in hand but could not buy what I needed because some company wants to have a big splash with their product.  Frustrating…

Update: I was heading back from NYC on Wednesday and stopped into a Wal-Mart along the way.  They had 3 of the desktops I wanted originally in stock on the floor.  I bought one ans as I went down the aisle I found a Dell with twice the HD space, nearly twice the RAM memory and a faster processor and 3″ larger monitor for $100 more.     I wish swapping the two was easy – I never left the computer department but had to have 2 people inspect the machine to make sure I did not steal anything.  Anyways, now going through the painful process of making it a server.

TV advertising and effective targeting

I have always thought that media planners do a reasonably good job of geographical targeting for ads.   Now, I am not a big fan of 99% of the ads on TV and have two DVR’s to ensure my ad viewing is minimal.   The two ads I will mention below were not bad – they got my attention but I could not convert so was that a waste?

I always thought it was pretty easy – you want your ad to show in Hartford you simply buy the Hartford geography and your ad is shown within the fixed parameters of the local TV station signals.  I realize there is a lot of overlap but the following are two examples of where I think the planners have made a mistake.  I don’t even know how they company would know other than looking at a report to see what areas they are covering.  How can problems like this occur?

Joe’s Crab Shack

I ate at one of these restaurants for lunch once when I was in Orlando for a meeting with Disney.  The food was good and it had a nice atmosphere.   A few months ago I was watching some local TV show and saw their commercial.  Since they were advertising in Hartford I assumed that they may be opening a restaurant in the area and it might be a good place for a weekend lunch with the family.  I went to the site and put in my zip code and got the following:

No locations within 100 miles!  What? Then why am I seeing the ad in Hartford?  Maybe they assume people from Hartford travel and if they have seen the ad they will remember?  I can possibly buy that since when Motoko and I were in San Francisco recently went to the wharf for a seafood lunch and I saw their sign and knew who they were.  Unfortunately, when I am in the wharf in San Francisco the last place I want to eat is a chain store full of unknowing tourists.

Stein Mart

They had a good ad – large selection and inexpensive.  My wife told me she wanted to go to their store this past weekend.  She thought it was over on the the street with all of the other box stores.   I did not mind since the big mall is near the local shooting range and gun store so I had my excuse to stop in.  We headed over and turns out that was not them.  It was a different store.  We pulled out our iPhones and checked to see where it was.  They had a locator on the first page and we learned the closest to us was near Boston nearly 100 miles away.  We looked at each other and wondered why they were advertising in Hartford if the nearest store was about 100 miles away.


What I found interesting is that the default for their map tool was 10 miles.  I had to widen it to 100 miles to get any store to show up. I guess they know people will not drive that far to visit a store – unless it is a Cabela’s or Bass Pro shop which people typically will drive 100 miles to visit.

The reality is in both cases the ads worked.  They got our attention and created an interest to attend.  In either case, without seeing the ad there would not have been a stimuli to even take the next step.  In both cases we immediately went to the web to look for a local store.  Had they been near we would have visited and become customers.

Not sure what the cost for these ads were but they were effective in gaining attention but equally frustrating since we could not act on the interest.
The big question I have is it a waste to show TV ads in an area where you don’t have a store or have products not conducive to online shopping?

Comcast Loyal Sucker

Ahh, Comcast, volumes have been written about this wonderfully managed organization and their customer service.  I do have to give them credit for developing a monopoly in my local area where they are the only, though crappy, high speed internet provider available in my neighborhood.   But I digress…

Apparently I am a very loyal customer.  Because I am, they sent me a nice little mailer telling me that since I am a “very loyal customer” that I am worth up to $5.99 to them.  But to get that $5.99 I have to really work hard.


I could just say thank you and watch my movie and be happy.  But no, I would not have an opportunity to rant.    The first problem I see is that I have autopay. Which means I am one of the really loyal customers who make sure Comcast gets their money on time and they don’t even need to mail me a bill.  Bang, they have payment the day it s due.

The requirement of this offer is to cut this “original coupon” then enter the details of the movie purchase – what is interesting is they have my address and name so they know I am a Comcast subscriber.   Why can’t they just do match in the database –  if on demand movie purchase and loyal customer = credit to my account.  My guess if the loyalty was reciprocal they would do it this way.

Now, this whole situation could have been prevented had the direct marketing folks had the foresight to bang the loyal customer offer list against the autopay list and not sent me the mailer – oh yea right… different departments.  I always forget about silos.

Now, why can’t they be more like other merchants or like Japan and use a barcode on these rebate forms so they can just scan it and sync to my account?

Why, because they want me to watch an on demand movie and not get a rebate.  25,000 subscribers take the bait and do it and forget to put the coupon on their mail in bill, put the wrong movie, illegible account number or make the mistake on the day – all human error opportunities to deny the rebate – cha ching – instant MBA case study on revenue generation.

Worst yet, the September bill won’t come till early-October and I am sure that the offer will expire at the end of the month and not be eligible for credit against the October bill.

I guess with all the unemployed and people cutting back the greedy bastards need more revenue than they make off leasing remotes for 25 cents a month.


Now, in today’s current digital and advanced systems environment when I see a rebate, refund or some other cash back incentive where I have to fill out paperwork, solve a Rubics’ cube (little known fact I did it in high school in 17 seconds) or some other feat of intelligence I know that the company is running a modern bait and switch scam.   Mail in rebates are rife with fraud – there are many instances where the finance models are ran to show that 80+ percent won’t send it in, will make a disqualifying error and/or companies managing it are actually incentivized to make sure you don’t.  I have fought too many of these battles to have any faith in rebate programs other than those that give me a direct result.

Legit companies are doing what Staples and Apple do – they process it off the receipt or right in store.  For example, at Apple, when you guy a Macbook they often give you a $100 rebate when you buy a printer.  You can get a low-end printer for free or buy a better printer for the price of the low end.    The cool thing is you have to do little to get it.  Simply go to and put in your receipt number.  They know a few things – what you bought by SKU and serial number so they can immediately do the matching that you meet the qualifications.  Since you enter your email they send you a note a few days later telling you the check is on its way and about 10 days later the check is there.   No hassle and you actually get your $100 and not an extra 100 for the retailer or merchant who’s product had the rebate.

At Staples, if you buy a rebate product they either give you the rebate when you are checking out on your receipt or the same thing, go to the rebate page and enter the receipt and bam about 4 weeks later you get the rebate.

Why can’t others do this?  Show me the love Comcast.

[end Mini Rant]

Are Search Marketers Drunks or do DUI lawyers have poorly matched ads?

I received a Google Alert this morning about a site that was referenced my Search Engine Marketing Inc. book.

As you would expect, I went there and it was a standard scrapped site with the reviews all neatly listed on the page clearly hoping to make some cash off the four sets of AdSense ads on the page.

I encounter this type of site half-dozen times a week and if it sells books then I guess am fine with it. However, what intrigued me in this case was the actual AdSense ads that were on the page all for DUI and Drunk Driving legal support.


Following all of the reviews of the book and the table of contents were the footer ads


Why is this happening? Possible scenarios:

  • Option 1 Search Marketers are drunks? Anyone who has been to the after-hours parties of a search conference knows that the search community can put down some alcohol however, they typically stay at the hotel and dont drive cant vouch for that they do at home though.
  • Option 2 My book drives you to drink? The 695 pages of top notch content of Search Engine Marketing Inc can make your head spin and alert you to how poorly your campaign is being managed resulting in a desire to drink away your sorrows?
  • Option 3 Broad Match Targeting - It appears that ALL of these campaigns have the phrase drunk driving set on broad match and come up for the keyword driving as in driving search traffic to your companys website which is the tag line for the book.

Answer: Option 3 – it could be all but most likely it is because of the broad matching on the phrase.

This is one of the reasons many marketers become disillusioned with the content network because the ads are poorly written and even more poorly targeted especially when they use broad match. I ranted about delivering on the promise and wasted opportunity this over on the book site a few weeks ago.

If these ads are working for the DUI lawyers then great continue running them as broad match. Maybe because I am still jaded from the dot com boom and people believing that just because person x is interested in y then they will jump at the chance to buy from us.

I strongly recommend that advertisers look at some of the sites on the content network and see if their ads show up in the right context or remote relevance.