The Marketing of Winter

Back when I was a kid (are you groaning yet?), we didn’t have polar vortexes or named storms. No, it just got cold with arctic blasts and the occasional blizzard.

The Weather Channel had a nice justification for naming its winter storms, specifically safety through awareness. But let’s be honest about this, the channel is making its content more attractive to the marketplace through personification and mystery.

It’s the marketing of winter.

Can you blame The Weather Channel? In an era of niche media, there are few things that commands attention across wide swathes of the population. Major weather events happen to be one of those things, the Super Bowl being another.

Believe me when I say this: The Weather Channel has to do everything it can to drive ratings. A victim of its own successful Internet applications, the Weather Channel lost 20% of its viewing audience when DirecTV dropped it earlier this month. This follows a 19 percent drop in its ratings since 2011 as a result of its hyper successful Internet apps.

It makes sense. Some people may prefer spending 30 seconds on the Weather Channel app as opposed to watching ten minutes of programming to get the same information.

Competitive weather networks won’t help. In addition to WeatherNation, Accuweather is launching a 24-7 network this fall as is Network Weather. It seems like there will be more fish fighting for this smaller pond.

But if The Weather Channel sees people checking the weather via their apps instead of tuning in via cable, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in interactive content instead of fighting for less cable viewers?

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That’s why the marketing of winter makes sense to me. There is one thing we can be certain of; sooner or later the weather will turn foul. The added panache provides a compelling story that translates across medium.

Vortexes and named storms offer The Weather Channel a differentiator, and allows them to sell advertisements and sponsoships of major weather events on their networks. The mobile ad check-ins alone are probably worth it. “Sponsor coverage of five named storms this winter. You can make sure your mobile ads for snow shovels show when someone is within five miles of a store.”

What do you think of the The Weather Channel’s marketing of winter?

Marketing Automation Will Improve

The most common complaint about algorithms is their lack of intelligence, specifically their inability to generate results that match human interactions.

Image by anthillsocial
Image by anthillsocial

Producing off communication and awkward misses can actually hurt brands more than help them. Perhaps the most publicly algorithm gaffes have been via Facebook social ads, which over the years have served up many publicly noted gaffes. Then of course there is the confusion that automation creates about big date, which for many is just sloppy data.

So, yeah, automation has its issues, but it will improve.

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Facebook, a Company without a Vision

Mark zuckerberg f8 a l
Image via TrueRep

Facebook quietly retreated from its passive sharing model two weeks ago representing a departure from its current vision.

For those unfamiliar with passive sharing, it was originally and controversially dubbed frictionless sharing when Timeline was introduced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg one year ago. Frictionless sharing applications share every read or view of a site, whether or not the person is on Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s vision of every aspect of peoples’ lives shared with their friends included frictionless sharing as a core component.

This very same vision was dealt another blow two weeks ago when European regulators struck an agreement with Facebook that forces the company to delete facial recognition data garnered from public surveillance cameras.
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xPotomac: 7 Tech Trends Changing Media


BlogPotomac, my old social media conference, returns on February 25, 2013 under the new name xPotomac.

The opening salvo in the xPotomac series features seven new media technologies impacting businesses and marketers now and in the immediate future, hand-picked by myself and conference partner Patrick Ashamalla. We’ve already got our keynotes and emcee lined up, too!

To distinguish xPotomac, the event will feature a “gladiator” presentation format with conversations only and no powerpoints.

Speakers will present in a tight setting with the stage centered in the round or in a horseshoe formation. Each session speaker has 15 minutes dedicated to their topic, followed by 30 minutes of question and answer from the audience.

More on the revised conference after the raison d’être for the post, the seven must watch media trends for the first xPotomac:
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Will Facial Recognition Ads End Privacy?

Check-In with Your Face from redpepper.

There’s a new attack on privacy: Facial recognition-driven advertising.

Facial recognition marketing uses cameras in stores and kiosks to take an impression of your face. It then estimates your gender and age, and serves you ads that are most likely to appeal to your demographic.

For example, a camera at a train station diorama senses you are a young man in his twenties, and serves you an ad for Axe soap. A young woman of the same age might be shown an ad for Crest Whitestrips.

It’s one thing to let others own your online social data. It’s another to surrender the physical whereabouts of your own face.

Yet, that’s where we are heading with the widespread movement towards facial recognition ads throughout the world.

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Suffering Through @BP_America’s Facebook Ad Campaign

Facebook Semantic Ad Failure Featuring @bp_america and @johnbell

Much has been made about BP’s questionable advertising campaign, from President Obama’s call out of the $50 million expenditure to ethical questions and search engine placements. Experiencing this inappropriate overspend on Facebook has been quite troublesome.

The above ad was served to me over Memorial Day weekend on Facebook. It clearly demonstrated that while Facebook is using my posts and links as a means to serve me ads, it doesn’t work. The ad features BP, a company I have been blogging negatively about for several weeks, and one of my local friendly competitors John Bell, head of Ogilvy 360 DC. John’s a good guy, but that isn’t going to sway me to support BP. Thus, Facebook privacy violations or not, the ad tech wasn’t smart enough to really work.

PastedGraphic-1.pngMy reaction, I clicked the ad to go away. When prompted for my reasons, I clicked on the offensive choice. Fast forward 10 days and I have been served the BP ad or a variant of it almost a dozen times. No matter how many times I click “offensive” or “misleading” the ad keeps coming back.

Facebook’s continuing disregard for its members is clear. And it makes me feel zero loyalty to the organization. AOL once thought it was undefeatable, but technologies and the Internet change. We know there’s no respect for privacy here, but if Facebook’s ad tech can’t even respect a user’s request, when a better, free solution comes movements will happen.

As to BP: No one believes this company any more. The spin has become too much. From what we were led to believe — the world’s most progressive energy company — to the factual reality, the world’s most irresponsible oil manufacturer; everyone sees a company shooting out hot air.

You can’t buy trust, especially once trust has been violated. The only way out of this for BP, again, is to fix the well, clean up the environment, take care of the damaged Gulf economy, and simply report progress using PR and social media sites. Aggressive claims of being moral and right will fall on deaf ears. Yet another communications gaffe for BP.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.