A Business Technology Place

Media subscriptions – Where do you spend your media dollars?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about Bloomberg charging for access to their content reminded me digital content providers are competing for my wallet-share. In 2015 I cut the cord with cable/satellite and haven’t regretted it. Now, the digital content I consume for video is based on month-to-month subscriptions. I choose the content valuable to me or that I consider worth paying for. No obligations. Easy. My current list:

Increasingly, news and media providers are also moving to subscription models for their digital content. As the number of subscribers for paper content decreases the media outlets need sources of revenue to sustain themselves. Currently, I don’t pay for online news, data analysis, and opinion articles. I still retrieve news on the internet from ad-only sites, teaser rates, or free allowances. To be fair, I listen to some news on the radio or through a XM satellite subscription. I do enjoy in-depth and good analysis on topics. I just haven’t settled on a favorite to lock-in.

What does that mean for all of us now and in the future? As more providers move toward subscription models, we’ll have to make choices on our media subscriptions to keep our overall spending in-check. How much will brand loyalty influence our decisions?  For me initially, I chose Sling TV as an online streaming provider. After a couple of years I switched to PS Vue based on different in programming packages for live sports. But with Netflix, I haven’t really actively shopped them for alternative providers like Hulu and Amazon.  Have I developed brand loyalty to Netflix? If I pay for a subscription to the New York Times (which I don’t) would I not pay for a subscription to additional online new providers like Bloomberg and the Washington Post?

Where do you spend your media dollar?

Right Sizing Advertisements

Advertisement cat-and-mouse.

For the record, I use an advertisement blocker extension in Google Chrome already. I don’t mind advertisements, because I realize they are necessary to promote products and services that drive the economy (the 4 Ps!). But let’s be honest. The placements of advertisements can be annoying when they disrupt the content of a broadcast, web page, place, or event. This is why I started using an Ad Blocker extension on my web browser several years ago. I wanted a smoother flow of content on the pages I was reading.

Creating guidelines.

In March 2017, the Coalition for Better Ads released some guidelines entitled Initial Better Ads Standards. The document is based on consumer research to identify the types of ads that promote poor experience ratings and create a greater propensity for consumers to adopt third party tools to block advertisements. This is the first step towards creating guidelines for internet ads similar to governing provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 for email.

Now, Google will start enforcing the “Better Ads Standards” by automatically blocking ads formats that fall outside the boundaries for acceptable-use. This is a big deal for several reasons:

  • Influence – Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in recent years according to multiple reports and studies from web traffic use.
  • Business Impact – The revenue model for some businesses will fall outside the boundaries of what is acceptable. Businesses will have to adjust to maintain revenue.
  • Industry Position- About $3 of every $10 on digital ads goes to Google according to this report in the Wall Street Journal. Is there a conflict of interest and will Google’s stance ultimately drive more revenue for Google?

A step forward, let’s take another one.

The Better Ads guidelines are not focused on what advertisers says, but how they say it. That’s a great start to bring some decency guidelines for how advertisers insert themselves onto my screen.

A few of the ads Google will block: Pop-up with Countdown, Sticky, and Auto-play Video with Sound (Source: Coalition for Better Ads)

The next thing I would like to see is a way for consumers to filter ad content based on their preferences. Perhaps the Better Ads group could designate ad content areas that could be objectionable such as alcohol, gambling, pornography, etc. Many publishers and ad servers are already making great strides in this space as they serve ads based on the content of the page or based on past searches. This is ad relevance and is a primary factor in driving clicks from consumers.  I have experimented with Google AdSense on my personal blog and Google allows me to exclude certain topic categories from displaying (Kudos Google).  My point is most of the decision power today is in the hands of the site owners and advertisers. I’d like to see the consumers have a bit more say in what type of content is displayed in the advertisements they see. Let’s keep right sizing this topic…..

Onward and Upward!

Give it a go

Disclaimer: I am a Google Adsense user on my blog, but I do not pay for Google ad placements on search results.

Several years ago I received an offer from Google for $100 worth of free ad placements. It was the start of a grand adventure at work. We ended up using the $100 credit to purchases ads for the eCommerce site at work and then multiplied the value of the credit. As you would imagine that led to more ad purchases (paid this time) and quite a bit of fun exploring different ad placement,.  bidding, and keyword techniques.

This last week, I received a very similar offer from Google. They are offering $100 if I spend $25. It’s for new customers only. I am classified as a new user because I’ve not used paid ad placements with my personal account or blog. It’s tempting to play with the credit for fun, but the purpose of my blog isn’t eCommerce sales.

I like the concept. I remember telling my manager that configuring the bidding and pricing of Google adwords felt like gambling. The great thing was it was easier to turn the odds in our favor and no one became suspicious if we left the day with more money than when we started.

So with all that said, I do experiment with adsense ad placements on my blog. Maybe I should give it a go.

Onward and upward!

Silly Marketers – Tricks are for Kids

trixrabbit1Sometimes marketing pieces catch my attention and create thought. I look at the message, call to action, and design elements of the marketing. I consider the effectiveness of the piece in my life and think about how it might be received by others as well.  In an effective marketer’s toolbox of tricks is the ability to create a perceived need for their products and services. But can we take back the prize from the rabbit or will we fall to seduction of the message?

Is data driven marketing like the creeper?

People like messages that are relevant to them. Someone once said to me, “If it can help my life then good, otherwise don’t waste my time.”  But is it a little creepy to think about how much the marketer knows about us? My wife and daughter comment all the time about online ads that show products they searched for a couple of days ago. They call it big brother. I call it big cookie.

A couple of examples of marketing in my life this week:

#1 – Acura Vehicle Buy Back

I received a letter via postal mail from the “Acura Vehicle Acquisition Department” this week. They’ve been after me for several years because they want me to trade-in my 2004 Acura for a newer model at a local dealership. What they know about me is that I purchased a 2004 model Acura from them as a pre-owned vehicle in 2007. I suspect, but I’m not sure, that they know I still own the car. (probably by-way of some public data record source on the vehicle VIN)  The letter uses variable elements of my name, the year/model of the car, thee closest Acura dealer to my home, and the sales manager’s name at the dealer.

This form of marketing at least takes an educated guess that I may be in the market for another car since the one I have is ten years old. But it ends there. The call-to-action and marketing offer say they’ll keep my payments the same on a newer vehicle on their lot. That of course would be a neat trick since I’ve owned the car for years.  Can they match $0 monthly payment?

I should also mention that I love the car. It’s been such a good fit for me that even at 10 years old and 145K miles I still love it! There’s a teenager in my life that will need a car soon. What should I do?? 🙂

#2 – Dollar Shave Club

A few weeks ago I wrote about subscribing to the Dollar Shave Club. It’s time for my first monthly supply order and I received an email from the company this week with notification. I was thoroughly impressed with the email. They informed me the date of my shipment, the contents of the shipment, and offered to put additional related products in the package if I notified them before it shipped.

Dollar Shave Club Reminder

That email is a great case study in both marketing and customer service. I like the cross sell for additional products with both product photo and price. The call-to-action is very clear with the big button for purchase. How easy could it be?

Certainly I’m aware that the company’s “shaving butter” is higher priced than my existing shaving creme. But the product does work differently from the creme and maybe I would pay a little extra not to have to pick it up at the store.

Thinking about the marketer behind this email I see several advantages they have. They use my  customer profile to establish the base of the message. (What I’ve ordered in the past and when the next supply ships.) But now, they are also starting to collect more data on my usage and interests. They know I opened the email. They know when I opened the email. They’ll track to see if I order any of the complementary shaving products and could use that for future offers.

Should we help the marketers?

The upside to helping the marketers is that gives them opportunity to craft more personal and relevant messages for us. The downside is that it requires sharing what many consider private information. So who wins the trick?

What I did for a close shave

I fell for a Facebook advertisement.

If you are a man, you’ve probably seen the ad on Facebook for the Dollar Shave Club. I finally gave in to the temptation tonight and I’ve ordered a supply of the 4X option. I never thought I would let Facebook influence a purchase, but it happened. The allure of the product was too strong and the investment risk is minimal. I’m hoping for the best.DollarShaveClub

Let’s do the numbers.

For starters I typically get over one month from the same blade with my current marketing hyped multi-blade cartridge. I do this by keeping the blade dry between uses. After a shave, I make sure to dry the blade by shaking-out excess water and using a towel. Then I store the blade pressed against a silica moisture packet. If you haven’t tried this then I encourage you do so. It’s the secret the blade marketers don’t want you to know.

With my existing blades, I can buy 8 cartridges for $26. If I get 4 weeks (conservative with my drying method) from each cartridge then that is 32 weeks for $26.

For the 4X option in the Dollar Shave Club I will receive 4 cartridges per month for $6. So for 32 weeks (8 months) my investment is $48. That’s almost 2x the cost as just buying a cartridge locally. However, I’ll have 32 cartridges in that span of time. If I cancel the monthly subscription after 8 months. I should have 24 remaining cartridges in supply which is enough to last me another 2 years!

Thinking of it another way my cost per cartridge (also my cost per month) with my existing method is $3.25. With the Dollar Shave Club my cost per cartridge after 8 months is $1.50.

Of course this assumes the product works.

I bet the blades will be fine. I still can’t believe I fell for a Facebook ad. But I’ll do anything for a close shave. Or maybe I just like squeezing another buck in my favor. Kudos on the product marketing by Dollar Shave Club team.

If you want to check out their options and start your own trial then follow this link.

 

Update July 13 – 

I looked more closely at the Dollar Shave Club site today and noticed they have options to lessen the frequency of delivery as well as an option to pause delivery. This is a great feature for customers like me who may want to extend the life of a cartridge beyond a week.