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June 2007
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August 2007

July 2007

Viva Las Vegas

Just came back from the SHRM show in Las Vegas.  The show was packed with 21000 visitors from the Human Resource industry.  It was tough to get attention for our  booth with and dominating the show.  This year we improved our tracking of booth visitors with scanning devices that let you indicate the quality of the lead.  I was amazed by the show attendees that brought suitcases to carry home the loot they picked up from each exhibitor.

As for Vegas itself, much as changed and much as stayed the same.  Danny Ganz is still headlining at the Mirage, but is now joined by a great Beatles Cirque Du Soleil show called Love .  The show takes place in the round and is non stop.  A nice touch is the speakers built into every seat that enhances the feeling of immersion into the music.  I also caught David Copperfield's show at the MGMGrand.  I figured once in my life I had to see the worlds greatest magician.  He made 10 audience members disappear and then instantly reappear at the back of the auditorium.  Great stuff.

There is no Such Thing As Dial-up

The Per Internet and American Life project announced today that 70% of Americans who go on-line from home do it via a high speed Internet connection.

47% of Americans now have broadband at home vs. two years ago where just 30% had the service.  15% have dial-up.  29% of American live in caves and don't go on the Internet at all (see Grandma, they didn't leave you out).  The numbers get higher is you are over 65 with just 15% having high speed.

The details are reported by Wendy Davis in Media Daily News from MediaPost.

If you ever need technology user data, nothing beats the Pew Institute.

Yahoo Gets Smart with SmartAds

The Yahoo Smartads announcement this morning is a definite step forward in creating a better match between advertising messages and consumer exposure.  Click through rates promise to dramatically increase with messaging that improves the match between consumer desire and advertising message.

SmartAds are dynamically created and placed based on your pattern of recent searches.  For example, if you recently searched for hiking gear and then searched for travel bargains in Vermont, a SmartAd would appear that promotes hiking vacations in Vermont.

SmartAds are a major step forward for advertisers.  Beyond the obvious, SmarAds are made for behavioral targeting.  Consumers tend to have life themes and the best marketers understand how these themes transcend all aspects of a prospects behavior.  With SmartAds you can identify which aspects of an individuals life theme triggers behavior and then target them.  If drinking and gambling are associated with individuals that buy fast cars, then SmartAds can be created to sell cars based on the association with the aforementioned search characteristics. 

The implications of Yahoo Smartads on the direct marketing industry are significant.  With improvement in targeting efficiency, other forms of direct marketing such as mail will appear inefficient in comparison.  Individuals that specialize in data analytics will be needed to understand which advertising permutations create the greatest yield.

For the advertising community, SmartAds are Smart.

Cash vs. Credit

The last thing I want to do on a beautiful Saturday is to go ceramic tile shopping.  After looking at endless tiles that all looked somewhat alike, we finally got to the point where we wanted to take several tile samples with us so that we can continue the fun over at the bathroom cabinet store (why we can't do this at one store is confounding).

The tile store asked for a cash deposit for the sample tiles, with the cash returned when the tiles are returned.  The last time we did this they took credit cards for the deposit.

When I asked why, the clerk indicated that when people paid with credit, they rarely returned the samples.  When they asked for cash, the odds of having the tiles returned greatly increased.  The cost of both was exactly the same to the consumer.

Interesting how payment type effects behavior.

A Vacation with a Northern Leopard Frog

The State of Vermont is running radio advertising featuring a child and his discovery of a Northern Leopard Frog while on vacation.  The State of Maine in television advertising is promising a Moose sighting and Massachusetts has colonial era people and roller coasters.  New Hampshire has what Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts has, only it is in New Hampshire so it is better.

Each State is bombarding us with promises of "Discover blah blah in the State of Blah" or "Find Yourself This summer is the State of Blah."  Maine has a television spot with a guy sleeping next to a lobster ("dreaming of lobster"), all have pictures of hiking trails, beaches and every other cliche vacation idea.

It's advertising designed to appeal to everyone, yet appeals to no one.    My bet is advertising for State tourism needs to appeal to all the travel constituencies.  The hiking trails people get upset if the Ski lifts get more air time and the beaches compete with the historical villages.

The problem is that none of it works.  I think the Northeast travel industry has lost all sense of how to create messaging that differentiates.  There is no such thing as generic experiences.  Vacation time is precious and the place to spend that time has to be unique.  Hiking trails need to be the best.  Prove it to me.  Create a badge of honor that only the best hikers can achieve.  Feature a famous hiker in the advertising.  Showcase a top ski trail.  Move from generic to specific.  From average to exciting.  To experiences I can get everywhere, to those that I can't get anywhere.

Someone will figure it out.  Now I have to go.....and pack.