Tag Archives: Adobe Systems

Gone In A Flash

If you are using Google Chrome as your browser, and over half of you are, your experience as you use the internet is about to change. Google has decided that as of tomorrow, September 1, they will begin pausing many Flash ads by default to improve performance for users. What that means is that if you are desperate to see an ad you will need to click on it to manually enable it. Otherwise, ads will remain plain images by default. Firefox is also doing this  and Amazon also said that it would no longer allow Flash-based ads to serve on its network or across its Amazon Advertising Platform.  In short, the bulk of web browsers is now Flash-unfriendly. This prompts several business thoughts.

First, yay Google and others!  Flash creates all kinds of issues, the biggest of which are that it drains batteries quickly, it doesn’t really perform that well on mobile devices (in a world that’s now mostly mobile) and, most importantly in my mind, it has abysmal security.  Just look at the recent malware attack launched via MSN‘s ad network as an example. This is a good thing for consumers and maybe makes our digital world a little safer.

Second, this is going to have a major effect of the digital ad world.  The supply of ad space is actually going to drop since much of what is out there is Flash-based.  That should kick prices up.  The question in my mind is will the price rise get publishers rethinking their ad load strategy?  I don’t know about you, but in my mind surfing much of the web has become a stroll through the proverbial Arabian bazaar – one hawker after another in an extremely cluttered environment.  Maybe this is how the tidal wave of ad blocking is pushed back?

Third, what will this do to the numerous ad-serving companies?  Who has technology that is so tied to Flash that their business model is disrupted and where are the opportunities in companies that aren’t Flash-based?

Finally, this points out how interdependent every digital business is.  The browser companies make a change and ad companies and publishers are affected.  A hardware company decides to change a business model, as Apple did with iTunes years ago, and nearly every subsequent business deal is held up to that standard.  Never a dull day in digital – how about in your business?

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Social and Shopping

How do you think social media influences what people buy?  If you believe a recent report on the influence of social media on shopping this past holiday season, the answer is not much.  As the article said:

online shoppers mostly ignored social channels as purchase influencers,according to survey results from Baynote. Pinterest and Twitter influenced online and in-store purchases for just 1 in 10 shoppers surveyed, with Facebook garnering only slightly more interest. Instead, online ratings and reviews were most likely to influence both online and in-store purchases (33% and 24%, respectively), with Google search results including a pictured product available by the retailer coming in next for online purchases (26%) and paper catalogs (21%) second for in-store purchases. Not surprisingly, social channels were most influential among younger consumers (aged 25-34), while paper catalogs got the attention of the 45+ crowd.

This was accompanied by another piece which announced that “only 2% of traffic to retailers during the holiday season came from social networks, per figures released by Adobe Systems.”   The article then goes on to say “Adobe isn’t the first to detail social media’s rather small influence over the holiday season.”

I could be wrong about this but given that Adobe is the parent company of one of the large analytics firms, I’m assuming they looked for traffic into shopping carts from social media.  Their question – is social media converting into sales – isn’t the right one.  How about “does social media influence sales?”  I’m willing to bet that a large percentage of what’s on Pinterest is aspirational – something the user wants or acknowledges as desirable.  Maybe it’s a place people use to research gifts for friends?   You will have a hard time convincing me, just based on what crosses my Twitter stream and Facebook news feeds, that people aren’t researching purchases via social media.

The Baynote data is a survey – let’s always remember that what people say and what they do sometimes don’t align.  That said, I think taking “catalogs” as a whole while segmenting digital into pieces (search vs. social vs online stores) is a bit misleading.  It also doesn’t reflect how users may begin with a search, move over to social to check out their connections’ thinking on what they’ve found, and then their use of the online store to buy, perhaps several days (and sessions) later.

Given the continuing and impressive growth of online shopping during the last holiday season I’m a believer in social as a influence.  People spend more of their lives online and that includes shopping.  Maybe these folks are asking the wrong questions.  I’m sure they’d have just as hard  time proving that TV or print resulted in the conversions they’re discussing yet very few people deny those media have an impact.  What do you think?

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Who Has A Reputation Worse Than Politicians? You Do!

We often hear that the professions that have the worst reputations among the public are bankers and politicians.  A study commissioned by Adobe and fielded by research firm Edelman Berland and reported in Ad Age finds that there is a group of professionals held in lower esteem:  marketers.  The study found that while people understand that marketing is an important role in business, they also think very little of those of us who do it and the value we bring to society.  According to the study, the majority of consumers –53%– stated that most marketing is “a bunch of B.S.”

When asked if marketing benefits society, only 13% of consumers agreed. And compared to other professions, the results were grim. Teachers — despite how little they are often compensated — were valued at the top of the list, followed by scientists and engineers. That’s somewhat to be expected. But what was more surprising was that advertising and marketing ranked below nearly every other profession, including bankers (32%), lawyers (34%) and even politicians (18%). Marketing and advertising were tied with the job of an actor or actress in terms of its value.

Ouch.  Then again, we bring these things on ourselves.  Think about what the public experiences with respect to marketing these days.  Spam in their in boxes.  Data being gathered surreptitiously and used without their knowledge or permission.  Those go along with issues that have been there for years – ads that seem (or are) sleazy (way too much fine print to be real), using media as a bullhorn via the “spray and pray” method, and an industry with not enough accountability for results.

Fortunately, we have a chance to change this as the nature of marketing itself has changed.  While consumers don’t like ads in digital (there’s a lot of evidence on that) they DO welcome the opportunity to engage marketers in conversation via these channels.  The study shows that just 2% of respondents believe information about a brand from a company’s social-media site is credible, however, so there is some work that needs to be done there.  As we’ve discussed before, there needs to be a paradigm shift on the part of we who communicate with consumers before the consumers will respond with a similar shift.  It takes time to build trust.

This is not a study that should make anyone engaged in marketing feel good.  It should be a wake-up call for transparency and more respectful  grown-up dialog with our customers.  That’s my take.  What’s yours?

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Out Firefoxed

A few days ago, videos stopped playing nicely on one of the computers we use here at The World Headquarters.

Image representing Firefox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

It happened right after a Firefox update. Now, while it’s not a computer (or browser) I use very often, other team members use it regularly and they need to watch videos from time to time. I spent the better part of an hour diagnosing the problem (since I’m the I.T. guy around here) and after reading a lot of web postings in which Mozilla blamed Adobe (it’s a Flash problem), and vice-versa (it’s fine on other browsers) and where they both blamed Real Player, I’d had enough. I had spent several more hours updating video drivers, uninstalling and reinstalling components, tweaking settings, rolling back to old versions, and wading through the general snark that’s around the various support sites that mention this issue. No, it’s not resolved, but it’s not an issue any more. I installed Chrome on the damn thing and that is that.

So here’s the broader business point.  According to Adobe’s site, the issue is fixed.  Mozilla says the same since they give you a few workarounds.  How can I sum that up politely?  Hogwash?  A load of crap?  Who are you going to believe – me or your lying eyes?  The very last thing we as businesspeople want is for our installed base (customers to you non-tech types) to migrate to an alternate solution (blow us off for a competitor, in English).  I’ve been using Firefox since the early days.  I’m now gone forever, and I understand I’m not alone.

How would I have handed it?  Transparently:  we have a problem, we don’t have a fix that works for sure so we’re suggesting you roll back to an earlier version – here’s the link as to how to do it.  I’d say it loudly and in as public a way as I could.  I certainly would NOT suggest users turn off high-end video acceleration (those cards are expensive), uninstall other software, disable virus protection (seriously?) or muck about in configuration files that are best left to people with Computer Science degrees.

Stuff happens.  It doesn’t go away when we deny it, minimize the issue, or suggest things we don’t know for sure will solve the problem.  The only thing that does go away are customers.  We’re happily watching video on another browser.  People have choices about most products.  Keep that in mind and work hard to earn their trust and business.  You’ll need it when the fan is turned on and something hits it.

Thoughts?

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Monday Wondering

I’m not sure how you’re starting your week, but I’m beginning by checking out the latest from Adobe’s survey of  Digital Marketing Trends.  I know – what a fabulous way to start the week!  What’s interesting to me is not just what companies are planning to do in their digital marketing efforts but also what they have yet to do since those might be things with which they need a smart consultant’s help…

Thinking back a few years, studies such as these would often look at who was going to be making initial investments in digital.  There were always a lot of companies who were interested in it; a smaller number who were actively thinking about it; a subset of them were planning to do it, and finally, there was a small base of active users.  Not any more! Continue reading

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