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December 2007

I'm Making a Difference

The viral marketing campaign of the year has to be the "I'm Making a Difference " campaign from Windows Live Messenger.  The marketing idea behind the program is to encourage people to make greater use of the Microsoft platform for instant messages.  To do this, they are asking all users to select a charity of interest and append that logo to your IM name.

Once you select your charity, Microsoft will make a donation for every IM click which in turn is a percentage of the revenue generated by advertising displayed on the interface.   This is a brilliant program as it works functionally and emotionally.  Functionally it generates increased click through rates and provides a distinct reason to choose Messenger over AOL and Yahoo.  Emotionally it makes the user feel like they are doing something beneficial while projecting an image of someone that makes good choices that benefit others.

While we have seen many viral marketing programs that involve gimmicks such as dancing elves, morphing Simpsons and Men dressed as women, this program rises above the rest.  The Microsoft program is definitely the best viral marketing program of 2007 and one of the best branding programs as well.

Mac vs. PC Christmas Commercial

You have to love the Mac Vs. PC Christmas commercial that is prominently placed on the Apple home page. 

This campaign is emblematic of everything a number 2 brand should do.

- It directly addresses the competitive shelf.  Make it clear who you compete with.
- It sets Apple up as a distinct and superior alternative.  They are the spoiler brand that is making sense of a complex marketing.
- They have stuck with a campaign that consumer's love and continue to find ways to keep it fresh and distinct.

Kudos to Apple for another great marketing effort.  Now if they could just sell unlocked iPhones they would be all set.

Opt in and Opt Out Email Policy

Fred Wilson had a good post on the policies he encourages on email opt in and opt out.  As Fred points out the issue is should people who register at website be automatically opted in unless they make an effort by going to another page to opt out.

The issues are obvious.  If you opt everyone in and make opting out a chore, you quickly build a list but risk some angry feedback by about 5% of your customers.  If you ask people to opt in  then you build a list that only reflects a small portion of your users, negating the ability of email to help grow your business.

Fred suggests what I think is a good compromise.  Opt everyone into your email stream, but do not over use the list.  Ask your visitors if they would like to opt into more frequent email communications.   This way if you are a retailer, and someone really wants to hear bout daily specials, they have the opportunity to hear from your more often.  If not, a respectful use of email to the entire list will hold down levels of complaints.  Of course every email should give an individual the ability to be sent to a place that opts them out completely.

I'm now opting out of writing more in this entry.

Video Adoption Rates are Soaring

Steve Smith published some interesting statistics in MediaPost on video adoption rates. The data demonstrates the ubiquitous use of the computer among 18 to 34 year olds for video.   Highlights include:

- 51% of connected consumers accessed TV episodes online, compared to 33% six months prior

- The audience for movie trailers rocketed from 19% to 32%, and user-generated video from 28% to 42%.

As Steve points out, "one of the last times we saw people respond to an emerging platform this quickly was with TV itself, which achieved a 50%+ reach in the U.S. in less than five years in the early 1950s."

In the Avenue A/ Razorfish Digital recently published a "Digital Consumer Behavior Study":

-  RSS use has accelerated substantially by Yahoo and Google personalized home pages

- I56% subscribe to RSS. Only a year or two ago, most industry sources pegged RSS usage at well below 20%.

The survey shows that 52% of user find RSS useful "most" (38%) or "all" (14%) of the time.

Based on the data is appears that the line between the computer and television is blurring with television possibly moving to the computer platform.  In terms of RSS, it had to happen given that the feed itself is a great way to quickly edit the vast amount of information that hits your personalized desktop everyday.