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Zappos’ targeted ads: privacy violation?

About five days ago I decided it was a time to retire my old brown dress shoes so I went online, as I usually do, to shuffle over the hundreds of models that my search yielded.

So I went to my usual first option: Zappos.com, but couldn’t find something I liked so, I went to a few other sites until I did and finished my transaction. All good now, time to forget about brown shoes.

Today while reading a few blog posts at Alltop.com, one of my preferred blogs, I was creeped out by some ads displaying the shoe models I was looking at at Zappos! But on my favorite blog?

As an interactive marketer I had always supported targeted and personalized advertising but now that I experienced it, I think this went too far, it is just creepy.

It’s like I went to the shoe store and five days later the shoe salesman approaches me at lunch, out of nowhere, to tell me to buy the shoes I “touched” during my last visit, I personally find it outrageous!

So I tweeted the following:

@ferdelat 11:40am:
Zappos ads that show the shoe models I didn’t shop are annoying and creeping me out a lot. Stop stalking me!!

And this is the response from Zappos

@Zappos_Service 12:37pm:
@ferdelat I’m sorry. Those ads are running on your computer’s cookies and cache. If you clear them, the ads should go away.

Although Criteo, the company serving those ads, states that the information is anonymous you would have to go to configuration to prevent these ads from showing. What I’m concerned about is that I never signed-in and now I have to opt-out.

What happened to the question: Would you like to receive more information about ____________?

And the fact that a different company, not  Zappos, is controlling that information creeps me out even more! Why does Criteo know what I’m watching online? What else do they know?

When I’m done buying shoes I just want to close the window and forget about that. I don’t want to buy 25 pairs of shoes! Same as when I leave a store.

So, the ad wasn’t relevant, but it did creep me out. I’m blocking these ads and if you want to do so here is the opt-out link: http://ow.ly/2e9fU

And remember, you are being watched and followed – stalked would be a more precise word according to my experience.

What do you think?

Innovation vs. Best practices in Marketing

I recently got into a conversation with a fellow marketer about why an online campaign didn’t move forward. He then explained that his client’s offline campaigns where doing good enough to try something new.

Despite the new online campaign represented (probably) less than 5% of their offline spending, the client decided to focus those resources doing what best practices of marketing spending suggest (which by the way consisted on sending trash over the mail).

“Best practices are the antithesis of innovation*”, you can’t expect to get different (or better) results if you do the same over and over again, that is Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Innovation today is what will dictate the best practices of tomorrow; innovation is what will give a head start against your competition.

Why should they try something new if what we are doing right now is proven to be successful? Well, if you don’t search for new ways to do things, your competitors will, beware if they find something before you do.

And now the question is: How is your competition innovating? Is it with new technology, new processes, new markets? How do you know when your best practices have become old practices?

So, are you following best practices or creating new ones?

To finish this post I leave you with a quote from Machiavelli’s The Prince:

“…And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new. This lukewarm temper arises partly from the fear of adversaries who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proved by the event. The result, however, is that whenever the enemies of change make an attack, they do so with all the zeal of partisans, while the others defend themselves so feebly as to endanger both themselves and their cause.”

What do you think?

* This blog post was inspired by a presentation by Christian Haas, a group creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, at OMMA Global San Francisco, the premiere online media, marketing, and advertising expo.

Pepsi’s New Ways

January 12th, 2010 No comments

For the last two years people in the advertising industry have been forecasting a switch in marketing dollars from TV, radio and newspaper towards Internet campaigns, but the following is probably the most visible case so far.

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not run any kind of advertisement during the Super Bowl. This represents a huge switch of around $15 million dollars in marketing spending from TV to an online campaign based on social media.

Ok, a marketing spending switch from TV to online and social media is not news, but what about costumer centric marketing communications as opposed to company/product centric? Pepsi is aiming to help people help their communities. Those individuals that register a project and receive the most votes will receive funding.

To be more specific, Pepsi’s online campaign will be powered by social media and social participation. It’s going to be about communities – online and offline – interacting to create something new.

Find more about it at: refresheverything.com

Mexican digital talent on the rise

December 7th, 2009 No comments

Recently Advertising Age, one of the most respected publications in the industry, posted on it’s global news section an article about a Mexican interactive agency creating award winning productions with global agencies like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Wieden Kennedy.

Congratulations to Grupo W, one of our parent company’s (IA Interactive) industry colleagues, for their achievements, and for putting Mexico in the global market for interactive campaigns.

Do you know what to track on your website?

November 17th, 2009 1 comment

All websites have a goal, but that goal is achieved differently depending on the user. To lead to this goal, several steps may be necessary which is why it is crucial to set your goals from the beginning to properly structure your website and measure its effectiveness.

Your website, as a part of your digital strategy, should help users move to the next step, to take action, or “to convert” – a commonly used web word. Many tools in the market, such as Google Analytics, help you measure your campaign by providing visual snapshots of your campaign’s sales funnel, but in order to properly use these tools, you need to already have the structure to lead to your goal.

So the question is, what structure should your website have? Here is a basic sales funnel and different types of websites showing a suggestion of what to consider on each step of the funnel.

Sales funnel and site goals

*SaaS (Software as a Service), where consumption of the service or execution of a license happens on the website. Examples of this sites could be dating sites, social networks and many many others.

Hope you find this useful.

F.

Social CRM and your customers’ conversations

November 16th, 2009 No comments

Since the beginning of commerce (i.e. barter) consumers have been talking to each other about their likes and dislikes of their purchases, but most importantly, making recommendations about them. In other words an important part of business was, is and will be social communication.

Various communication technologies have helped marketers to join this conversation (or at least try), with the most effective being web technologies such as forums, blogs, social networks and micro blogging (like Facebook and Twitter). They all have given access to online customer communities and their conversations helping companies to build stronger relationships with their customers.

But what is Social CRM?

Filiberto Selvas, on his blog post “Social CRM: Let’s not dilute the term to death” defines Social CRM as “the systems and business processes / strategies that allow enterprises, customers (and partners that may be part of the value ecosystem) to establish, guide, operate, track, identify, act on, react to the inter relationships that enable all of the multiple dimensions of value”

You can read more about this on his blog: http://www.socialcrm.net/

Why is it important for your digital strategy?

It’s simple actually, because it is an effective way to build deeper customer relationships, engage customers and partners online and create new revenue opportunities, and better manage brand perception.

Filiberto is Product Director at Crowdfactory, a SaaS Platform that allows you to create scalable and sophisticated social network experiences while at the same time leveraging the scale of the major Social Networks such as Facebook.

Flash CS5 will generate iPhone Apps

October 9th, 2009 No comments

At the beginning of this week it was announced that finally Adobe® Flash®, on its CS5 version, will be able to produce iPhone apps and deploy them through iTunes Store. This news resonates at different levels of iPhone and Flash ecosystems, from the business perspective to the impact in content for the users.

On the business side, this is probably one of the best deals that Adobe and Apple would have crafted. Even before iPhone – and before Adobe acquired Macromedia – developers were asking for a mobile version of the Flash Player, and Nokia and FlashLite flirted a little but nothing ever happened until now. I’m totally positive that iPhone’s processor can deal with a Flash Player, but this option would put Apple’s App Store out of business because the Flash’s developers outnumber by far iPhone’s and Apple’s distribution channel would be unnecessary.

The way it will work is that developers will create the content in Flash, then it will be exported to iPhone native language and will have to comply with Apple’s iPhone Developer Program. Then the content can be deployed through the App Store, and everybody wins: Adobe provides a new platform, developers can easily sell their apps and Apple get the revenues related to the Developer program and the app store.

A tip of my hat to those who crafted the deal and made this deal possible (on Adobe’s and Apple’s side), although I would have preferred a full Flash Player.

Current iPhone developers are arguing that Flash will not provide the same reach on applications, i.e. Flash would be limited, in spite of Adobe saying the opposite. I guess we will have to wait until the end of the year or early 2010 when the Beta version of Flash CS5 is released to see what it can really do, but so far the we have great expectations.

Here is a demonstration video from Adobe Labs:
http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcs5/appsfor_iphone/

Enjoy.

Extra thought: I can see Apple opening the App store for different mobile devices in the near future and become a big hub for content distribution, what do you think? (let’s see how good I am at predicting the future.)

Marketing yourself, karma, networking and other topics

February 10th, 2009 No comments

I recently attended to the SDForum regarding the Ten Rules for Marketing yourself (twelve actually on the presentation) and it was quite interesting.

You can download the presentation at SDForum webpage so I won’t spoil it.

However I would like to comment on some points the presenters Sue Connelly and Gretchen Sand mentioned that I think are interesting. One of them is karma, and certainly I could pass the opportunity of writing about it in my blog. I totally agree with their point of view that helping people to get what they are looking for, or at least pointing in the right direction, will have repercussions in one’s life (good ones I hope) if you are honest about giving a hand to someone in need. But, sometimes it seems to me a little too “romantic” approach and I believe that sometimes you have to put your own interest first (without stepping in others people heads of course). I guess a good balance between both is ideal.

Now I will jump to a different topic: Networking. Sue and Gretchen corroborated what I have practiced since I arrived to the Silicon Valley thanks to an advice from a close friend: networking should be done looking for a relationship rather than a immediate benefit, moreover it should focus on quality as opposed to quantity. And it makes a lot of sense to me, just think about it, if you go to a networking session and you try to build a relationship with 10+ different people you will probably won’t make it and will end up burned, but if you focus your attention in two or three people and get to understand their interest and motivations this could end up in a more fructiferous relationship.

So stop going to networking events to collect 50+ business cards!

Well at least that is my recommendation

Thanks for reading!

Poor design begets cheap customers

October 13th, 2008 No comments

We all have heard sayings such as “Love at first sight,” “The first impression will never be forgotten” or “You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

It shouldn’t come to a surprise that these sayings apply to your marketing communications as well, specially where the customer is going to buy the final product, like a store, a catalog and of course your website.
With an overwhelming number of offerings in the market, customers tend to make snap or gut decisions, usually determined by what they see and their reaction to it. This doesn’t mean, of course, that there are no educated buyers that do an exhaustive research before buying, because there are; however it will depend on what are you selling and how the benefits of your product (or service) are evaluated by your customers.

If you portray a poor image of your product or service, especially during the first impression, that doesn’t match your desired positioning you are in big trouble because you will be losing an important time to connect with your customers. I have seen countless websites that sell computer security and the look sketchy. How the hell are you going to trust someone that doesn’t look trustable?

Well, some people may not like the following statement but the vast majorities of humans are superficial and tend to judge based on appearance (maybe not all, but be honest, you have done so at least once in your life). Therefore if you are selling based on the image or brand your product begets then make sure you are sending a compatible message between not only your brand strategy and your product, but also your customer. You have to make that connection in order to excel on perceptions and expectations.

This is why design is an important part of marketing communications and should be carefully guarded. It should be a tool to reinforce your product or service benefits and if you get it right, it will contribute to consumer’s good will and loyalty. But here is a tipping point on this especially for designers and marketers: Your opinion is irrelevant; it is your customers’ what matters… but I’ll leave that for another post in which I’ll talk about it and about customer-centric organizations.

If this is the first time you read my blog, I hope I’ve made a positive first impression.

I’m a PC, and I forget to update my blog periodically

September 24th, 2008 No comments

I know it has been a while since my last post, a month or so. I will dedicate this one to Microsoft and their 300 million dollar advertising campaign called I’m a PC. http://imapc.lifewithoutwalls.com/watch/

As most of you already know, this campaign is a counterattack to Apple’s campaign comparing the Macs and PCs portraying the latter as a nerdy office guy. I’m not going to discuss which computer is better or “cooler”, I will leave that decision to you. What I like to talk about is how Microsoft is fighting Apple’s campaign which basic intentions are to make us feel “less cool” if we don’t use a Mac.

In the advertising you can see all sorts of people not just the typical American white boy, who uses a Mac. I think this ad demonstrate Apple’s lack of global vision (don’t get me started with iTunes Latino which actually stereotypes all people speaking Spanish).

The interesting part of the campaign is that you go to Microsoft’s website and shoot you six seconds video saying “I’m a PC and I {whatever}” When have you seen Apple let users interact with their front page?
Well there is another Microsoft campaign running staring Jerry Seinfeld which I don’t quite understand yet, my best guess is that Gates always wanted to be part of the Seinfeld cast. Serenity now!

Anyways, the fact is that 90% of the operating systems running in the world belong to Microsoft (some of them are piracy, though) whether you like it or not.

By the way, I’m a PC and I’m an entrepreneur.