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The Window

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Three dollars/character

A Houston Chronicle salesperson cold called me yesterday to check if I wanted to place an ad in their real estate classifieds and it brought back memories of staying on hold, waiting to place my $500/week three liner with them five years ago. Suppress that chuckle. In 2004, one of those babies would make the phone ring off the hook and put deals on the pipeline. So I went back for more – just like everyone else.

Missing the revolution

Newspapers were effective because they owned the eyeballs through and through. Not just for real estate, either. It didn’t matter if you were looking for a dog, a job, a mansion or a pair of pliers, you had no other choice but to hit the classifieds. Due to this “monopoly”, newspapers had a cashcow of a business model: They made money from the readers (who bought the content) as well as marketers placing classified ads and big ticket “banner” page ads (who bought a shot at the readers). No wonder Rupert Murdoch once called classified revenues “rivers of gold”.  That was until Google and Craigslist simultaneously pulled the rug from underneath and turned those rivers into the Mojave. Google took away the eyeballs and Craigslist made it silly to pay for classifieds. These days, your local newspaper’s classified section (if it still exists) looks like Mary Kate Olsen on a liquid diet.

The Internet revolution is going to be like all the other revolutions we have seen in history.

It’s going to be over before a lot of us even know it started

– Adolpho Suarez

People always gripe about missing the revolution. “If only someone had told me that  people would use Google to find everything, I would have …”

The window

house-hunting-twitterLet this be that moment when someone tells you about a window we have never had before. The large-scale embrace of social media by the masses is giving marketers an unprecented, real time, honest look into people’s daily lives and all the thoughts, events and needs within them.  And to think that this is just the beginning. What used to require top of mind awareness, now requires a mere Twitter or FriendFeed search. Individuals are using social media to organize revolutions, get corporations to listen, or scream for help. The window comes with a killer zoom, too. You can target your vision to see within 5 miles of a zipcode, in an entire metroplex or the whole world. Then, Engage. Help. Offer Value. And get as much business as you want.

But be careful as the window works both ways. The consumer now has a window into what you’re about as well. And if you’re about spamcasting and throwing your crap to the wall to see what sticks, you will be exposed for such and suffer the consequences.

This is not about a single company (Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook or what have you) but about a seismic change in the way our world works. This is the new West. And someone told you so.

Photo Credit: Grant MacDonald

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Ian Greenleigh

    July 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I used to sell ads to government offices, and as late as last year, many of them were bound by law and code to ONLY advertise job openings in their local newspapers. They have little incentive to change this policy. It seems like the same mentality pervades *some* RE professionals/brokerages regarding twitter, text ads, etc. They haven’t used these means and they don’t intend to, because it’s not yet the norm. The major difference is that RE professionals DO have a major incentive to change…it’s profit!

  2. Ken Brand

    July 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    @ErionHouston

    Amen. Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows…but know we know it never stops and if you take the time to hop on, you’ll zoom ahead.

    These times are the most interesting.

    Nice post.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    July 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    @Ian

    Not only do they avoid new strategies because they’re not the norm. They avoid them even after the norm stops working.

    @KenBrand

    Interesting times, indeed. And happy to be a part of them.

  4. Steve Beam

    July 3, 2009 at 7:42 am

    It amazes me how few RE agents even know about the “new age”. My office still collects $45 a month from us to advertise in a local paper here. When I wake up in the morning and watch the people in my neighborhood get their “free paper” with our ad in it they take it from the driveway to the garage trash can without ever opening it. Money well spent. Print ads are dead.

  5. Todd Waller

    July 3, 2009 at 8:10 am

    The continuing use of print by real estate agents reminds me of a story:

    Scientists, in an attempt to understand group behavior in chimps, placed 10 chimps in a cage with a ladder in the middle of the cage. Hanging just above the top of the ladder was a bunch of bananas.

    Anytime one of the ten chimps attempted to ascend the ladder to grasp at the bananas, the scientists turned on a hose of cold water and sprayed down the whole group of chimps.

    After a time, no chimp would even go near the ladder.

    The scientists then decided to remove one original chimp and replace it with one that did not go through the water hose experience.

    New chimp looks both ways, and begins to ascend the ladder to the bananas…

    The nine original chimps, seeing this behavior, and know what’s coming, beat seven kinds of stuff out of the new chimp before he gets too far up the ladder.

    This process repeats every time a new chimp is introduced to the cage.

    The scientists proceed to replace each original chimp with an “unconditioned” chimp and every time, the new comer gets seven kinds of stuffing beat out of him for attempting to grasp the banana.

    The moral of the story: we do things this way because this is the way it’s ‘always’ been done.

    Now go out there and be a scientist! Make up your own tests, track the results, and weed out the practices that DON’T work or can’t be analytically tracked…

    Go ahead, reach for the bananas!

    😉

    Todd

  6. Erion Shehaj

    July 4, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Todd

    I got my lab coat on 🙂

  7. Marie Kratsios

    August 6, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Yes, but today Rupert Murdoch announced that his online media will no longer be free. He may be starting a new model for online advertising. Will be interesting to see how this develops.

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Business Marketing

TINA.org is helping the FTC crack down on Kardashian-esque influencers

(MARKETING NEWS) The Kardashians are just five of the seemingly endless amounts of influencers companies are using for marketing but TINA.org is over their tactics.

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A brand could find no better influencers than the Kardashians – the family who proved that you can get famous just for, well, being famous. Each Kardashian sister has an astronomical number of followers, making them obvious trendsetters.

That’s why brands pay the Kardashian sisters – Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie — tens of thousands of dollars a pop to post pictures of themselves on social media using their products.

Perhaps you find it hard to believe that the Kardashians stop by Popeye’s Chicken to grab a to-go meal before boarding their private jet. Regardless, the Kardashians, and the brands who pay them to pump their products, would prefer that you believe that these endorsements reflect the Kardashian’s actual preferences, rather than the paychecks they receive for posting them.

The Kardashians have been attempting to make their endorsements seem more “authentic” by totally disregarding Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules that require influencers to disclose when their posts are paid endorsements.

In August of 2016, Truth in Advertising (TINA.org) filed a complaint about the Kardashians to the FTC, saying that the (in)famous sisters had “failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material connections to brands or the fact that the posts were paid ads, as required by federal law.”

After receiving a finger-wagging from the FTC, the Kardashian sisters corrected less than half of the posts, generally by adding #ad to the post. The remaining posts, according to a recent TINA.org follow-up investigation, either have not been edited at all, or contain “insufficient disclosures.”

For example, some posts now read #sp to indicated “sponsored” – as if anyone knows that reference. In another tactic that also got Warner Brothers and YouTube influencer PewDiePie in trouble with the FTC, the Kardashians are posting their disclosure information at the bottom of a long post so that users will only see it if they click “see more.”

The Kardashians have also been posting disclosures, but only days after the original post. Considering that the vast majority of viewers comment on or like posts within the first ten hours after it’s published, most of them will never see the disclosure when it’s tacked on days later.

Some of the “repeat offender” brands, who came up both in last year’s complaint and in the recent review, include Puma, Manuka Doctor, Jet Lux, Fit Tea, and Sugar Bear Hair. This time around, the Kardashians have also failed to disclose sponsorship on posts promoting Adidas, Lyft, Diff Eyewear, and Alexander Wang.

TINA.org found over 200 posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat where products are promoted without the Kardashians letting on that their raking in big bucks in exchange. The organization has notified the Kardashians, the brands they represent, and the FTC.

The FTC has recently been cracking down on deceptive influencer marketing, targeting not only the brands, but the influencers themselves.

In April, the FTC sent letters to 46 social media stars reminding them of their legal obligations to disclose, and followed up with 21 letters in September warning the influencers that they had until the end of the month to disclose sponsorships, or face legal consequences.

“The Kardashian/Jenner sisters are masterful marketers who are making millions of dollars from companies willing to turn a blind eye to the women’s misleading and deceptive social media marketing practices,” says TINA.org’s Executive Director Bonnie Patten. “It’s time the Kardashians were held accountable for their misdeeds.”

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Business Marketing

Dove dropped the olive branch with new ad campaign

(MARKETING NEWS) With any ad campaign there will be misses but take a note from Dove’s playbook and learn how to not repeat mistakes.

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Dove’s latest Facebook ad really hit the mark for whitewashing in advertising. The ad, since removed, essentially implied their soap could turn a black woman into a clean white woman.

In a three-second video on the company’s Facebook page, three women transformed into the next when they removed their shirts. The first transition caused an uproar: a woman of color lifting a brown top over her head to reveal a different woman, who is very, very white.

Although the white woman then lifts her shirt to reveal another woman with darker hair and a darker skin tone, the initial transformation is problematic in its implications of whiteness as cleanliness.

Dove has since removed the ad and issued an apology, stating in a tweet “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”

Wait, haven’t we been here before? At this point you’d think skin care companies would have realized a little more delicacy is required when rolling out ad campaigns. Remember Nivea’s disastrous, short-lived “White is Purity” mishap? How about Dove’s other blunder in their 2011 VisibleCare ad?

These featured another series of three women standing in front of close-ups of skin, with the darker skinned woman in front of the “before” label, and the woman with the lightest skin by the “after” picture. Although Dove didn’t intend to imply white skin is cleaner, oops, that’s what happened anyways.

While Dove has gotten many things right in terms of inclusivity and featuring models of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, there have also been several instances of intentional racist missteps. Let’s use this as a teachable moment for handling marketing mishaps.

Whenever an ad campaign offends people, the company’s response can make or break the business. If you find yourself in the midst of a marketing crisis, you can take some mindful steps to manage the situation and begin repairing your public image.

First, acknowledge the problem and issue a genuine apology that gets to the core of what your audience is saying. Dove recognized they upset people, and instead of taking a defensive “sorry you felt offended” stance, took responsibility for their actions. Once an apology is issued, explain the original intent to provide context for the situation.

Dove meant to create an inclusive campaign featuring a diverse cast of women. Lola Ogunyemi, the first model featured in the now controversial shirt ad, has even defended the ad. She stated, “I can see how the snapshots that are circulating the web have been misinterpreted, considering the fact that Dove has faced a backlash in the past for the exact same issue. There is a lack of trust here, and I feel the public was justified in their initial outrage.”

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Business Marketing

Aori helps you pack a punch with AdWords

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Aori is the newest tool designed to help anyone using AdWords to kick more butt.

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Search ad campaign managers constantly wrestle with the best way to organize their keywords into campaigns. Most of these decisions strive to balance the time needed to manage the campaign with efficiency of campaign expenditures.

Take the SKAGs strategy, for example. The SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Group) system is setup to trigger a unique ad for every single keyword by placing each keyword in its own group.

There’s lots of literature touting the benefits of the SKAG system. Generally, the hyper-specific match between ads and keywords improves click-through rates.

This leads to higher quality scores, which leads to lower costs for click, which leads to lower costs per conversion. The tradeoff with this system is the setup. You could be looking at hundreds of keyword groups to set up and maintain, and that’s a lot of work for a small business or startup.

This is where Aori comes in.

Their system helps to automate the process of setting up a SKAG system for your AdWords campaigns.

According to the website, the tool’s primary function is to automate keyword generation. Users enter a set of “root keywords” and common keyword extensions, and Aori will automatically generate all possible combinations of those keywords for your campaigns.

Additionally, through Aori, users can create ad templates using a “dynamic keyword insertion tool,” to enable you to utilize the strongest ad copy across multiple phrases.

In what is the least clear value point of the whole pitch, Aori also uses what they call a “unique bid-optimization algorithm.”

There is almost no detail to be found on how the algorithm works. If the tool handles all bid management for you, this could be a handy tool for PPC novices who are less familiar with the process and lack the time to learn it.

Aori appears to run cheaper than the others we know of, but that may be due to the level of automation available. For example, Aori requires the user to feed it keyword inputs, both root and extension words.

It’s also important to understand where a SKAG system can and can’t work. It is likely a better system for smaller campaigns where ad testing wouldn’t yield statistically meaningful results.

Because every keyword group targets one phrase, you can’t readily say that improvements in ad copy will translate to other campaigns.

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