Will Yahoo and Intel finally deliver on the promise of Internet-enabled TV in our Living Room?

December 29, 2008
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Yahoo's Widget Channel software for TVs shows a link to Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing site, stock prices, and an advertisement. (Credit: Yahoo)

At CES 2009, Intel and Yahoo will reveal the latest in their Connected TV initiative, a program they hope will “mark the beginning of their Internet-fueled expansion to the world of TV.”  According to CNET, the companies have different goals with the Connected TV initiative.

For Yahoo, it’s establishment of the Widget Channel, a software foundation that can house programs for browsing photos, using the Internet’s abundant socially connected services, watching YouTube videos, or digging deeper into TV shows–and through which Yahoo will be able to show advertisements. For Intel, it’s a foothold in an industry whose microprocessors have typically been cheaper, less powerful, and less power-hungry.

Internet-enabled TV (also called IPTV) has been a buzzword for years now, but it has also been filled with lots of empty promises for consumers.  With that in mind, the Connected TV initiative has taken a consumer view, instead of a technology view, to figure out the future looks like.  Thanks to the help of several of Intel-employed anthropologists, they concluded that:

Unlike the PC, TVs are social. People watch it together, and what they watch turns into what they talk about. Another difference from PCs: it must be simple and reliable.  When bringing the Internet to the TV, You couldn’t just turn it into a PC.

Probing further, the anthropologists asked people what they thought the future of TV would look like.  CNET reports that the answers fit into several key buckets:

  • Something that would provide relevant information in real time, such as the weather right before heading to a sporting event.
  • Something that would connect them to other people they care about, a variation of social networking.
  • Something that would let them participate more with what they’re watching, for example by figuring out where a show’s cast members already had acted, or finding, rating, and sorting content.
  • Not a full-on Web browser, nor a keyboard to clutter up the room.

Additionally,when Connected TV initiative showed consumers initial concepts, they learned that:

  • People didn’t like the Widget Channel controls appearing on the left edge of the screen. Instead, people prefer the bottom, where they’re accustomed to seeing text already.
  • People expressed a powerful desire for a big button to make the software go away in one fell swoop–no menus or arrow keys or complication–so they could get back to watching TV when they wanted. That big button is also used to activate the Widget Channel.
  • Nobody wanted yet another remote control.

All of this research has led to the latest iteration of Internet-enabled TV that Yahoo and Intel will unveil at CES 2009.  While I may be an optimist, I really think they have potential of pulling this off and bringing the promise of IPTV to life.  Here’s why:

  1. An industry alliance can drive simplicity:  The struggle for IPTV has always been the number of players involved.  You need a solution that works for the TV manufacturers, cable companies, Internet media players, etc.  The Connected TV initiative shows promise because it brings together Yahoo, Intel and multiple TV manufacturers.  If IPTV is ever going to live up to the promise, it will take an alliance like this to pull off.
  2. Connected Consumers want information at their fingertips:  When I mentioned this article on Twitter, Jon Burg asked if web-enabled TV is something consumers will care about in 2009. I think they will but only if it is information they care about and want in real-time.  For instance, every Fall I sit with my laptop open on Sundays, tracking my Fantasy Football teams.  I’d much rather have that info streaming through widgets on the TV while I watch the games.  Same goes for customized CNN news feed or stock tracker running across the bottom of the screen.
  3. Advertisers want a replacement to interruption marketing:  Lots of people have been forecasting the death of TV advertising.  But let’s face it…that industry isn’t going away anytime soon as long as TV is central to people’s lives.  However, marketers do want a replacement to the ever-increasingly DVR skipped :30 second TV ad.  If marketers can join in the Connected TV initiative, they might just be able to help shape the future of TV advertising to one that is consumer-friendly…and dare I say, even beneficial to the consumer.

Whether or not the Connected TV initiative finally delivers on the high hopes of IPTV is anyone’s guess.  But I’m hopeful they pull it off and equally intrigued by the opportunities it will open up for Brand Managers and marketers worldwide.

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Lessons in Charitable Giving and Cause Marketing for Digital Millennials

December 19, 2008

Great presentation from the folks at Resource Interactive on how Millenials approach the concept of helping others.  As Brand Managers think about cause marketing programs, they should consider these facts:

  • 87% of Millennials (defined as 16-29) agree that  my priority is to look after my family, charity begins at home.
  • 50% of Millennials agree that regularly donating your time to help others in need is a sign of success and accomplishment.*
  • There are four types of Millenials when it comes to their views on “giving”: 1.) Consistent Givers, 2.) Uber Givers, 3.) Not There Yet, & 4.) Spirit Givers
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eMarketer: Facts and Numbers for Teens / Tweens

November 19, 2008

Over the weekend I had a chance to catch up on some of the recent eMarketer reports.  They have been releasing quite a bit around Teens / Tweens and technology.  In particular, their Kids & Teens Communication Revolutionaries provides some stellar information for any Brand Manager marketing to the youth market.  For instance, by 2012 US youth will be almost 1 out of 5 Internet users.

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Furthermore, this generation wants to communicate in different ways than older generations, with a much higher preference text messaging than e-mail.

digital-tactics-for-reaching-young-adults-emarketer

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Congratulations Motrin. You just proved why every brand needs to understand Social Media

November 16, 2008

Are you still trying to convince your management why your brand should be monitoring Social Media?  Well if you are a Consumer Packaged Good brand (or any brand really), just look at what happened to Motrin over the past couple of days and the reaction of Motrin Moms.

A simple search on Twitter of #motrinmoms will show you that they pissed off a lot of people with their latest ad around “babywearing.”  Mommy Bloggers are not people you want to mess with and you sure better understand the sandbox you are playing in if you do them wrong.  For instance, just look at this Consumer Generated Media that has already popped up in response.  Not exactly brand content you want at the top of search results.

The Lesson for Brand Managers:

Motrin screwed up.  It happens.  But in today’s world of Social Media, the place they really screwed up was in not monitoring what people were saying about the brand.  This PR disaster is happening underneath their nose and no one on the brand is responding.  Not their advertising agency, not their Public Relations group and not the brand itself.   The unfortunate fact is that company’s haven’t trained Brand Managers to respond quickly to situations like this.  That needs to change….and it needs to change fast.

People are going to be talking about your brand, with or without the Brand Manager‘s permission.  This simple fact is reason enough that you should be monitoring the conversations around your brand.  Motrin is just the latest brand to learn this lesson the hard way.

UPDATE – Well it looks like Motrin is trying to respond.  If you commented on their website, it looks like their VP of Marketing has a response that is being sent out (Thanks to Amy Gates for the lead).  And the Motrin.com site has been taken down for now, but thanks to the power of YouTube, you can still see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmykFKjNpdY (Thanks Bill Seaver)

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Buyology: Truth & Lies About Why We Buy

November 5, 2008
Book cover of

The other week, the folks at Doubleday sent me a review copy of Martin LIndstrom‘s latest book Buyology (side note: as I huge reader, I must say that free books might just be the greatest perk/reward I can think of for blogging).  Now I hadn’t read anything by Lindstrom before, but I was fascinated by his claim to be a “Brand Futurist” and the sub-title of his latest book – “Truth & Lies About Why We Buy.”  I was further intrigued after reading how Amazon described the book:

How much do we know about why we buy? What truly influences our decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? An eye-grabbing advertisement, a catchy slogan, an infectious jingle? Or do our buying decisions take place below the surface, so deep within our subconscious minds, we’re barely aware of them?

In BUYOLOGY, Lindstrom presents the astonishing findings from his groundbreaking, three-year, seven-million-dollar neuromarketing study, a cutting-edge experiment that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products. His startling results shatter much of what we have long believed about what seduces our interest and drives us to buy.

I had a chance to read the book last week while traveling to the Forrester Consumer Forum and overall I have to give it good marks.  Here are just a few of the random tidbits I found most interesting:

  • When studying the sponsorship of American Idol, Lindstrom found huge differences in the impact for Coke and Ford.  Overall, Coke’s product placement had a measurable impact given its blatant appearance throughout the show.  Ford on the other hand actually had a negative impact, causing people to be less likely to buy a Ford.  Not a good impact for a $26 million investment.
  • Mirror neurons can become activated not only when observing other people’s behavior, but also when reading about it.  So when I type yawn, there is a good chance you are going to yawn or at least have the beginning stirrings of a yawn!
  • Kit-Kat has had huge success in the Far East because it is close to “Kitto-Katsu”. which roughly translates to “Win without fail.”  As a result, students in Japan believe that eating a Kit-Kat before they take an exam will help them score higher.
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Welcome to the Social World

October 30, 2008

Solid presentation on Social Media from the folks at Razorfish

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Two weeks, two great conferences

October 27, 2008

Over the next two weeks, I’ll have a chance to attend two great conferences.

First, I will be in Dallas Monday, October 27 through Wednesday, October 29 for the Forrester Consumer Forum.  Not only will I get to watch my friends David Armano and Deb Schultz give a great presentation on “Return on Insight”, but I will also meet Jeremiah Oywang and Adam Cohen for the first time in person.  If you want to follow along, check out the cool Social Media Dashboard that Critical Mass put together.

Second, I’ll be out in San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Summit November 4 through November 7.  The folks at Federated Media invited me to take part in a workshop called “Consumer Brands Tackle Marketing 2.0” on Wednesday morning.  This was a conference I have had marked in my calendar for a long time so I was really excited at the chance to join their panel.

If you happen to be at either of these conferences, drop me a note.  Would be great to join-up over drinks.

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