Thoughts from Hamburg

I spent a couple of days this week in Hamburg at a European Edelman Digital meetup, getting to hear about interesting campaigns my colleagues are running in different parts of the world and sharing insights. It got me thinking a bit and here’s what’s popped out of my head in no particular order:

Differences between Ireland and Mainland Europe – Europeans tend to use services in their natural language, so there are specific social networks that are popular in different countries. It’s quite interesting given that if you were to pick up a paper, you would be lead to believe that MySpace, Bebo and Facebook are the be all and end all. It’s not just social networking sites either, other sites like Flickr pale in comparison to native photo sharing websites in some countries.

Viral Marketing – Viral marketing is a bit of a buzz term in Irish marketing circles. With the exception of online virals, trends are slow to take off in Ireland because of the small size of our population. Looking at it from a medical perspective, a virus spreads by infecting a host cell and gradually spreading into surrounding cells until an infection takes hold. Trends are much faster to spread in countries with a large population spread across densely populated urban areas. Any wonder why cities like Tokyo are leading trendsetters?

Comments on Blogs – Comments on blogs are decreasing, so don’t worry it’s not that you are less popular. One of my colleagues disclosed that that one high profile blog has 200,000 subscribers, but only gets 50 comments per post on average.

Watching Video Content Online vs TV – A lot of the commentary about the shift from watching TV content on televisions to the Internet annoys me. It’s not comparing like with like for a number of reasons and isn’t a compelling reason to shift your advertising dollars from TV to video sharing websites. Here’s an analogy to explain the difference between watching video content online and on TV from an advertiser’s perspective. Trying to advertise your product/service on video sharing websites is a bit like dropping a box full of matches and asking how many matches are on the floor. With thousands of videos online, the audience is highly fragmented and difficult to reach from a mass marketing perspective. Shows like Desperate Housewives and sports matches are more like a lit match, the audience is still drawn to the flame like a moth. Venturebeat also has an interesting analysis of user behaviour when watching video content online.

Expect To Have Less “Friends” in the Future – On of the interesting things to watch over the next few years will be the integration of social networks into the workplace and into unfamiliar places like the mobile phone. The effect that mobile phones will have on social networks will be extremely eye-opening. People are less likely to expect spam on the mobile phone, the consumer’s most trusted device. So getting updates about people who you are randomly connected with online will annoy the average consumer. Less friends won’t necessarily be a bad thing though. I’m pushing the theory that the value of your network is no longer based on the number of nodes in it, but rather on how active those nodes are.

The Emperor’s New Clothes Effect of Online AdvertisingAmarach Research point out that “there are some indications that ‘wasted advertising’ is not confined to old media. Indeed, it may be worse: one AOL study showed that 99% of site users suffer from banner blindness – they literally don’t see the ads. It seems we shouldn’t write off the old media just yet.” I’ve witnessed specific examples of media relations and traditional advertising being more effective than online advertising in driving web traffic. I was pretty positive in my outlook on advertising on Facebook late last year, but that’s quickly changing due to the structure of their site and listening to enlightened opinions such as Jim Meskauskas‘s insight – “Like Facebook, toilet paper is rather popular. Everyone I know uses it. But I have yet to see ads on it.

EDIT/ A bit more on social networking advertising.

Online Customer Service – A colleague raised an interesting point about the evolution of the role of a customer service agent. Why wait at the end of a phone, when you could be hunting down unhappy customers online and setting the ball rolling to solving their problems.

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3 Responses to “Thoughts from Hamburg”  

  1. 1 Chris Kelly

    Re online customer service, I would sure like to find an airline who would like to take on the opportunity of showing how good they are by solving a customers problem. I picked BA as airline of choice to get to China. When I got delayed due to bad weather in Heathrow, on Tuesday they tried to pass it off on Willie Walsh’s old airline Aer Lingus,with whom they co-share from Dublin! Needless to say I had to throw the head before they decided to cooperate and get me out on an Air China flight!! Why does the customer have to throw the jugular! If they had smiled been half way sympathetic I would be praising them to the skies! ( Even though my bag did go missing for 3 days). At least Air France are great in Paris, they really look after you if you are long hauling and meet you at the door of the plane and drive you across the runway if you have a tight connection!

  2. 2 Eoin Kennedy

    Re: Expect To Have Less “Friends” in the Future: I have witnessed a lot of people abandon their Facebook profiles after rushing to build as many friends as possible. One serial spammer in the group is enough to reduce the value of the overall numbers, never mind the annoyance. I am only imagine the fury if texts inboxes hit the same levels. Ok for the Bebo generation many of whom view their network as transitory and disposable.

  1. 1 Are offline thoughts not as interesting as online thoughts? at Piaras Kelly PR - Public Relations in Ireland

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