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Does Internet Advertising Work at All?

A Dangerous Question:

Does Internet Advertising Work at All?

The Internet was supposed to tell us which ads work and which ads don't. But instead, it's flooded consumers' brains with reviews, comments, and other digital data that has diluted the power of advertising altogether.

 

Nineteenth-century retailer John Wanamaker is responsible for perhaps the most repeated line in marketing: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don't know which half."

Today, marketers are grappling with the Wanamaker Paradox: The more we learn which half of advertising is working, the more we realize we're wasting way more than half.

Perhaps you're nodding your head about now. Most people you know don't click online ads. At least, not on purpose. But now research is getting closer to quantifying exactly how few people click on Internet ads and exactly how ineffective they are. It's not a pretty picture. 

The Problem With Search

Take search ads, which have helped Google become the richest advertising company in the history of the world. Search ads are magic, in a way. Throughout history, most ads have been imprecise branding. You're watching TV or reading the newspaper, and you're interrupted by marketing—Samsung's new thing is shiny; Ford F-something-something can drive through dirt; Blah blah blah GEICO—that has the staying power of a snowflake in an oven. But search catches consumers at the moment they're actually looking for something. It shrinks the famous "purchase funnel" to its final stage and gives us tailored answers when we're asking a specific question.

That's the theory, at least. But a new controlled study on search ads from eBay research labs suggests that companies like Google vastly exaggerate the effectiveness of a search.

For example, consider what happens when I look up a brand, like Nike. An ad for Nike appears just above an organic link to Campaigns like this have "no measurable short-term benefits," the researchers concluded. They merely give consumers a perfect substitute for the link they would have clicked anyway. (The only way it would add value is if Nike is paying to keep a rival like Adidas out of the top slot … assuming Google would sell Adidas the top sponsored link on searches for "Nike").

But what about more common searches for things like "buy camera" or "best cell phone," where many different companies are bidding to answer our queries? A well-placed search ad ought to grab curious consumers at the peak of their interest.

But in a study of search ads bought by eBay, the most frequent Internet users—who see the vast majority of ads; and spend the most money online—weren't any more likely to buy stuff from eBay after seeing search ads. The study concluded that paid-search spending was ironically concentrated on the very people who were going to buy stuff on eBay, anyway. "More frequent users whose purchasing behavior is not influenced by ads account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative," the researchers concluded.

'I Was Gonna Buy It, Anyway'

I'm not fully convinced that search ads are as ineffective as this paper suggested. To their credit, the authors admit that other studies about Google have found search to have higher ROI.

But the big idea behind their research is powerful. Academics call it endogeneity. We can call it the I-was-gonna-buy-it-anyway problem. Some ads persuade us to buy. Some ads tell us to buy something we were already going to buy, anyway. It's awfully hard to figure out which is which.

Enter Facebook, the second-biggest digital ad company in the U.S. Just as Google is synonymous with search, Facebook is ubiquitous with social. The News Feed is the most sophisticated content algorithm ever. The company represents the spine of so many apps and sites that it can marshal an astonishing (and growing) amount of data about us.

While Google can convert consumers at the bottom of the purchase funnel, Facebook is more like TV, a diffuse broadcast of stories where some companies hope to interrupt our lazy attention with branding messages. In 2012, Facebook partnered with Datalogix, a firm that measures the shopping habits of 100 million U.S. families, to see if people who went on Facebook and saw ads for, say, Hot Pockets, were more likely to go out and buy Hot Pockets. According to Facebook's internal studies, the ads weren't getting many clicks, but they were working brilliantly. “Of the first 60 campaigns we looked at, 70 percent had a 3X or better return-on-investment—that means that 70 percent of advertisers got back three times as many dollars in purchases as they spent on ads,” Sean Bruich, Facebook’s head of measurement platforms and standards, told Farhad Manjoo.

There are a few reasons to be skeptical when Facebook concludes that its ads are working spectacularly. First is the basic B.S.-detector blaring inside your soul saying you shouldn't automatically believe companies who say "our research has apparently concluded unambiguously that we are awesome." Facebook, ad agencies, and ad consultants all benefit from more ad spending. These are not objective parties.

Second, there's that pesky I-was-gonna-buy-it-anyway bias. Let's say I want to buy a pair of glasses. I live in New York, where people like Warby Parker. I've shopped for glasses at Warby Parker's website. Facebook knows both of these things. So no surprise that today I saw a Warby Parker sponsored post on my News Feed.

Now, let's say I buy glasses from Warby Parker tomorrow. What can we logically conclude? That Facebook successfully converted a sale? Or that the many factors Facebook considered before showing me that ad—e.g.: what my friends like and my past shopping behavior—are the same factors that might persuade anybody to buy a pair of glasses long before they signed into Facebook?

Maybe Facebook has mastered the art of using advertising to convert sales. Or maybe it's mastered the art of finding people who were going to buy certain items anyway and showing them ads after they already made their decision. My bet is that the answer is (a) somewhere in the middle and (b) devilishly hard to accurately measure.

Too Much Information

The eBay study suggested that people who click most ads aren't being influenced.

The Facebook study suggested that people who are being influenced aren't actually clicking ads.

It makes you wonder whether clicks matter, at all.

In fact, there's reason to wonder whether all advertising—online and off—is losing its persuasive punch. Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen, the authors of the new book Absolute Value, have an elegant theory about the weakened state of brands in the information age. Corporations used to have much more control over what kind of information consumers could find about their company. The signal of advertising was stronger when it wasn’t diluted by the sound pollution of the Internet and social media.

Think about how much you can learn about products today before seeing an ad. Comments, user reviews, friends' opinions, price-comparison tools: These things aren’t advertising (although they're just as ubiquitous). In fact, they’re much more powerful than advertising because we consider them information rather than marketing. The difference is enormous: We seek information, so we're more likely to trust it; marketing seeks us, so we're more likely to distrust it.

Simonson and Rosen share an anecdote from 2007: Ten thousand people around the globe were asked if they'd want a portable digital device like the iPhone. A Market research concluded that there wasn't sufficient demand in the U.S., Europe, or Japan for such a device because people liked their cameras, phones, and MP3 players too much to want them mushed into one device. Today the iPhone is the most famous phone in the world, not just because its ad campaign was so great, but because the user reviews of the phone were overwhelmingly positive and so widely disseminated.

Measuring and predicting individual purchases has never been easy. But measuring and predicting how everybody's purchase is affecting everybody else's shopping behavior in the Panopticon of the Internet is practically impossible.

The Internet was supposed to tell us which ads work and which ads don't. Instead, it's flooded consumers' brains with reviews, comments, and other information that has diluted the power of advertising. The more we learn about how consumers make decisions, the more we learn we don't know.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

 

Some Of The Top Social Networking Sites People Are Using

Some  Of The Top  Social Networking Sites People Are Using

The world's most popular social networking sites certainly have changed over the years, and they'll undoubtedly continue to change as time moves forward. Old social networks will die, popular ones will stick around as they're forced to evolve, and brand new ones will appear.

We've moved on from the days of MySpace to a social media era now dominated by Facebook and all sorts of other social mobile apps. A lot of kids even admit to using Snapchat the most, suggesting that it could be the future of where social networking is headed. So, what's everyone using right now? Have a look through the updated roundup of social networks below to see which ones are currently the trendiest.

Facebook

Most of us already know that Facebook is the top social network on the web. It's a thriving beast of a social networking site on the web with over 1.59 billion monthly active users as of December 2015 and over one billion that log on daily (according to Facebook itself). Statista shows that Facebook Messenger is also the second most popular messaging app behind WhatsApp. After failing to acquire Snapchat in 2013, Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 so that it could be the one that was one top of instant messaging

Twitter

Twitter is known as the real-time, public microblogging network where news breaks first. Most users loved it for its iconic 140-character limit and unfiltered feed that showed them absolutely everything. Twitter has changed dramatically over the years, and today it's criticized a lot for going the way of looking and functioning almost exactly like Facebook. Besides Twitter Card integration, which now makes it easy to share all sorts of multimedia content in tweets, you can expect to see algorithmic timelines coming to Twitter soon as well.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. Anyone who needs to make connections to advance their careers should be on LinkedIn. Profiles are designed to look sort of like extremely detailed resumes, with sections for work experience, education, volunteer work, certifications, awards and all sorts of other relevant work-related information. Users can promote themselves and their businesses by making connections with other professionals, interacting in group discussions, posting job ads, applying to jobs, publishing articles to LinkedIn pulse and so much more.

Google+

Making its debut in the early summer of 2011, Google+ became the fastest growing social network the web has ever seen. After failing a couple times already with Google Buzz and Google Wave, the search giant finally succeeded at creating something that stuck… kind of. Nobody really needed another Facebook clone, so Google+ had always been widely criticized for being a social network that nobody really used. In late 2015, a brand new Google+ was rolled out to put more emphasis on its Communities and Collections features to help differentiate the platform a bit more and give existing users more of what they wanted.

YouTube

Where does everyone go to watch or share video content online? It's obviously YouTube. After Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine. Despite being owned by Google, YouTube can still be recognized as a separate social network all on its own as the premier place online to go to watch videos on every topic under the sun and upload your own as well. From music videos and movies to personal blogs and independent films, YouTube has it all. YouTube recently launched a premium subscription option, called YouTube Red, which removes all advertisements from videos.

Instagram

Instagram has grown to be one of the most popular social networks for photo sharing that the mobile web has ever seen. It's the ultimate social network for sharing real-time photos and short videos while on the go. Now it's even a leading advertising platform for brands too. The app had initially just been available for the iOS platform for quite some time as it grew in popularity but has since expanded to Android and, Windows Phone also the web. Instagram was bought for a hefty $1 billion by Facebook in 2012.

Pinterest

Pinterest has become a major player both in social networking and in the search world, proving just how important visual content has become on the web. As the fastest standalone site ever to reach 10 million monthly unique visits, Pinterest's beautiful and intuitive pinboard-style platform is one of the most enticing and useful resources for collecting the best images that can be categorized into separate boards. Pinterest is also growing to become a huge influence in social shopping, now featuring "Buy" buttons right on pins of products sold by some retailers.

Tumblr

Tumblr is an extremely popular social blogging platform that's heavily used by teens and young adults. Like Pinterest, it's best known for sharing Reblogging and liking posts is a popular way to interact. If you post great content, you could end up with thousands of reblogs and likes depending on how far it gets pushed out into the Tumblr community.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a social networking app that thrives on instant messaging and is totally mobile-based. It's one of the fastest growing apps out there, building its popularity on the idea of self-destructing "snaps." You can send a photo or short video as a message (a snap) to a friend, which automatically disappears a few seconds after they've viewed it. Kids love this app because it takes the pressure off of having to share something with everyone like they would on traditional social networks. If you're unfamiliar, check out this step-by-step tutorial on how to use Snapchat. Snapchat also has a unique feature called Stories, which allows users to share snaps publicly when they want.

Reddit

Reddit has never really had the nicest design, but don't let that fool you–it's a happening place on the web. It has a very strong and smart community of people who come together to talk about the topics they love while sharing links, photos, and videos relevant to the subreddit topic thread where they're participating. Reddit AMAs are another cool feature, which allow users to ask questions to celebs and other public figures who agree to host one. Reddit works by displaying submitted links that get voted up or down by users. The ones that receive the most upvotes will get pushed to the first page of their subreddits.

Flickr

Flickr is Yahoo's popular photo-sharing network, which existed long before other popular competing networks like Pinterest and Instagram entered the social photo sharing game. It's still one of the best places to upload photos, create albums and show off your photography skills to your friends. Yahoo has also worked hard at regularly updating its mobile apps with lots of great features and functions so that it's easy and enjoyable to use from a mobile device. Users can upload 1,000 GB worth of photos for free to Flickr and use the powerful app to organize and edit them however they like.

Swarm by Foursquare

Foursquare has broken up its location-based app into two parts. While its main Foursquare app is now meant to be used as a location discovery tool, its Swarm app is all about being social. You can use it to see where your friends are, let them know where you are by checking in, and chat or plan to meet up at a specific location some time later. Since launching Swarm, Foursquare has introduced some new features that turn interaction into games so that users have the opportunity to earn prizes.  

Kik

Kik is a free instant messaging app that's very popular with teens and young adults. Users can chat with each other one-on-one or in groups by using Kik usernames (instead of phone numbers). In addition to text-based messages, users can also send photos, animated GIFs, and videos to their friends. Although it's most useful for chatting with people you already know, Kik also gives users the opportunity to meet and chat with new people based on similar interests. And similar to Snapchat snapcosnap co snapusers can easily scan other users' Kik codes to add them easily.

Yik Yak

Yik Yak is another social network that's big with the younger crowd. It's a location-based anonymous social sharing app that allows users to read short updates posted from people around their area. As you might imagine, it's very popular around high schools and on school campuses–so much so that it's gotten some kids into serious trouble in some cases. Because it's all anonymous, there's no friend adding with Yik Yak. All users make anonymous posts and then other users can upvote or downvote your post and reply anonymously.

Shots

Shots is another photo and video sharing social network that young kids love to use. The social network is largely centered around taking selfies, but users can also take VHS-style videos and one-on-one chatting. Many users have praised the app for being one of the only apps that doesn't include likes and comments on posts, which helps take the pressure off of users who get anxious about how their posts are received by friends and followers. It's sort of like a simplified version of Instagram.

Medium

Medium is perhaps the best social network for readers and writers. It's sort of like a blogging platform similar to Tumblr, but features a very minimal look to keep the emphasis on content that's shared there. Users can publish their own stories and format them just the way they want with photos, videos and GIFs to support their storytelling. All content is driven by the community of users who recommend stories they like, which show up in the feeds of users who follow them. Users can also follow individual tags as a way to subscribe to content focused on topics of interest. 

Tinder

Tinder is a popular location-based dating app that matches you up with people in your area. Users can set up a brief profile that mainly highlights their photo, and then anyone who's matched up to them can anonymously swipe right to like their profile or left to pass on it as a match. If some who liked a profile likes theirs back, then it's a match, and the two users can start chatting privately with each other through the app. Tinder is completely free, but there are premium features that allow users to connect with people in other locations, undo certain swipes and get more "Super Likes" to let another user know they're extra special. 

Periscope

Periscope is all about live web video broadcasting from your mobile device. It's a Twitter-owned app that's had its fair share of rivalry against another competing broadcasting app called Meerkat. Anyone who starts a new broadcast can send instant notifications to people so they can tune in to start interacting by leaving comments and hearts. Broadcasters have the option to allow replays for users who missed out, and they can also host private broadcasts for specific users. Anyone who just wants to watch something can open up the app and browse through all sorts of broadcasts that are currently being hosted live

WhatsApp

Currently the most popular instant messaging provider worldwide, WhatsApp is a cross-platform app that uses your internet connection or data plan to send and receive messages. Users can send messages to individuals or groups using text, photos, videos and even voice messages. Unlike Kik and other popular messaging apps, WhatsApp uses your phone number rather than usernames or pins (despite being an alternative to SMS). Users can allow WhatsApp to connect to their phone's address book so that their contacts can be seamlessly transferred to the app. The app also offers a few customizable features like profiles, wallpapers and notification sounds.

Slack

Slack is a popular communication platform for teams that need to collaborate closely with one another. It's basically a social network for the workplace. Team members can take advantage of real-time messaging, integration with other popular services like Dropbox and Trello, deep search for files and other information, configurable notifications and so much more. It's meant to keep everyone in the loop about what's going on at work or with a particular collaborative project and is super helpful for teams that include members working from different locations.

Musical.ly

Musical.ly is a social networking app for sharing short music videos. The app shares a lot of similarities with Instagram and Vine, allowing users to record short videos, edit them, post them to their profiles, follow other users and see what's trending. The idea is to select a music track either from the built-in music tab or from your own iTunes library to record yourself dancing and lip syncing to it. The more creative you can get with your own personal lip syncing stile and editing skills, the more likely you'll see it trend on the platform. There's also a duet feature that allows two users to both of their own videos that used the same music track into one video.

Peach

Peach only debuted in early 2016, so it's unclear whether this app is really going to catch on or not. It certainly made a ripple in the news when it launched, but with so many other social networks out there already, it wouldn't be surprising to see this one struggle to make its mark. Peach gives users a very simple way to share posts with friends using photos, looping videos, text-based messages, links, GIFs, the weather, your location and more. There are also other little fun features for users to enjoy, like playing a game of "Peachball" or drawing doodles. Time will only tell whether this will be one to gain any traction among the bigger social networks.

Blab

Similar to Periscope, Blab is another live streaming social network where users can enjoy watching interviews, talk shows, debates, workshops and more. The platform is currently in beta, but it's already growing to become a major player in the world of web broadcasting and streaming. One interesting feature Blab has that Periscope doesn't is the ability to launch a live broadcast with up to four people talking all at once in a split screen. Viewers can also interact by leaving comments or stream something to watch later by tuning in to the replay.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

The history of social networking

The history of social networking

Long before it became the commercialized mass information and entertainment juggernaut it is today, long before it was accessible to the general public, and certainly many years before Al Gore claimed he “took the initiative in creating” it, the Internet – and its predecessors – were a focal point for social interactivity. Granted, computer networking was initially envisioned in the heyday of The Beatles as a military-centric command and control scheme. But as it expanded beyond just a privileged few hubs and nodes, so too did the idea that connected computers might also make a great forum for discussing mutual topics of interest, and perhaps even meeting or renewing acquaintances with other humans. In the 1970s, that process began in earnest.

BBS, AOL and CompuServe: The Infant Years

Put all this together and you have a medium where only the most ardent enthusiasts and techno-babbling hobbyists dared tread.”

It started with the BBS. Short for Bulletin Board System, these online meeting places were effectively independently-produced hunks of code that allowed users to communicate with a central system where they could download files or games (many times including pirated software) and post messages to other users. Accessed over telephone lines via a modem, BBSes were often run by hobbyists who carefully nurtured the social aspects and interest-specific nature of their projects – which, more often than not in those early days of computers, was technology-related. Moreover, long distance calling rates usually applied for out-of-towners, so many Bulletin Boards were locals-only affairs that in turn spurred local in-person gatherings. And voila, just like that, suddenly the antisocial had become social.

The BBS was no joke. Though the technology of the time restricted the flexibility of these systems, and the end-user’s experience, to text-only exchanges of data that crawled along at glacial speed, BBSes continued to gain popularity throughout the ‘80s and well into the ‘90s, when the Internet truly kicked into gear. Indeed, some services.

But there were also other avenues for social interaction long before the Internet exploded onto the mainstream consciousness. One such option was CompuServe, a service that began life in the 1970s as a business-oriented mainframe computer communication solution, but expanded into the public domain in the late 1980s.

But if there is a true precursor to today’s social networking sites, it was likely spawned under the AOL (America Online) umbrella. In many ways, and for many people, AOL was the Internet before the Internet, and its member-created communities (complete with searchable “Member Profiles,” in which users would list pertinent details about themselves), were arguably the service’s most fascinating, forward-thinking feature.

Yet there was no stopping the real Internet, and by the mid-1990s it was moving full bore. Yahoo had just set up shop, Amazon had just begun selling books, and the race to get a PC in every household was on. And, by 1995, the site that may have been the first to fulfill the modern definition of social networking was born.

The Internet Boom: Social Networking’s Adolescence

Though differing from many current social networking sites in that it asks not “Who can I connect with?” but rather, “Who can I connect with that was once a schoolmate of mine?” Classmates.com proved almost immediately that the idea of a virtual reunion was a good one. Early users could not create profiles, but they could locate long-lost grade school chums, menacing school bullies and maybe even that prom date they just couldn’t forget. It was a hit almost immediately, and even today the service boasts some 57 million registered accounts.

That same level of success can’t be said for SixDegrees.com. Sporting a name based on the theory somehow associated with actor Kevin Bacon that no person is separated by more than six degrees from another, the site sprung up in 1997 and was one of the very first to allow its users to create profiles, invite friends, organize groups, and surf other user profiles. Its founders worked the six degrees angle hard by encouraging members to bring more people into the fold. Unfortunately, this “encouragement” ultimately became a bit too pushy for many, and the site slowly devolved into a loose association of computer users and numerous complaints of spam-filled membership drives. SixDegrees.com folded completely just after the turn of the millennium.

Other sites of the era opted solely for niche, demographic-driven markets. One was AsianAvenue.com, founded in 1997. A product of Community Connect Inc., which itself was founded just one year prior in the New York apartment of former investment banker and the future Community Connect CEO, AsianAvenue.com was followed by BlackPlanet.com in 1999 and by the Hispanic-oriented MiGente.com in 2000. All three still exist today, with BlackPlanet.com in particular still enjoying tremendous success with more than eight million visitors per month.

Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook: The Biz Grows Up

In 2002, social networking hit really its stride with the launch of Friendster. Friendster used a degree of separation concept similar to that of the now-defunct SixDegrees.com, refined it into a routine dubbed the “Circle of Friends,” and promoted the idea that a rich online community can exist only between people who truly have common bonds. And it ensured there were plenty of ways to discover those bonds.

An interface that shared many of the same traits one would find at an online dating site certainly didn’t seem to hurt. Friendster CEO Jonathan Abrams even once referred to his creation as a dating site that isn’t about dating. Within a year after its launch, Friendster boasted more than three million registered users and a ton of investment interest. Unfortunately, the service has since seen more than its fair share of technical difficulties, questionable management decisions, and a resulting drop in its North American fortunes. Although briefly enjoying success in Indonesia and in the Philippines, Friendster has since abandoned social networking and now exists solely as an online gaming site.

Introduced just a year later in 2003, LinkedIn took a decidedly more serious, sober approach to the social networking phenomenon. Rather than being a mere playground for former classmates, teenagers, and cyberspace Don Juans, LinkedIn was, and still is, a networking resource for business people who want to connect with other professionals. In fact, LinkedIn contacts are referred to as “connections.” Today, LinkedIn boasts more than 297 million members.

MySpace also launched in 2003. Though it no longer resides upon the social networking throne in many English-speaking countries – that honor now belongs to Facebook just about everywhere – MySpace was once the perennial favorite. It did so by tempting the key young adult demographic with music, music videos, and a funky, feature-filled environment. It looked and felt hipper than major competitor Friendster right from the start, and it conducted a campaign of sorts in the early days to show alienated Friendster users just what they were missing. Over the years however, the number of casual Myspace users declined, and today the site exists now as a social networking site targeted to bands and musicians.

As expected, the ubiquitous Facebook now leads the global social networking pack. Founded, like many social networking sites, by university students who initially peddled their product to other university students, Facebook launched in 2004 as a Harvard-only exercise and remained a campus-oriented site for two full years before finally opening to the general public in 2006. Yet, even by that time, Facebook was considered big business. So much so that, by 2009, Silicon Valley bigwigs such as Paypal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel invested tens of millions of dollars just to see it flourish.

The secret of Facebook’s success — the site currently boasts more than 1.3 billion active users — is a subject of much debate. Some point to its ease of use, others to its multitude of easily-accessed features, and still others, to its memorable name. A highly targeted advertising model certainly doesn’t hurt, either, nor did financial injections such as the $60 million from noted Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing in 2007. Regardless, there’s universal agreement on one thing: Facebook promotes both honesty and openness. It seems people really enjoy being themselves, and throwing that openness out there for all to see.

Pulling Ahead: How Facebook and Twitter won the Web

Facebook is king for a reason. It wasn’t just through luck that founder Mark Zuckerberg’s darling came to reign supreme over the social media kingdom. It was, in fact, a series of smart moves and innovative features that set the platform apart from the rest of the social media pack. First and foremost, the 2007 launch of the Facebook Platform was key to site’s success. The open API made it possible for third-party developers to create applications that work within Facebook itself. Almost immediately after being released, the platform gained a massive amount of attention. At one point in time, Facebook had hundreds of thousands of apps built on the platform, so many that Facebook launched the Facebook App Store to organize and display them all. Twitter, meanwhile, created its own API and enjoyed similar success as a result.

DT’s early hands-on with Google+.

The other key to success was Facebook’s ubiquitous ‘Like’ button, which broke free from the bounds of the site and began appearing all over the Internet. Now you can ‘like’ or “tweet’ just about everything even when you’re not on Facebook or Twitter. Realizing the power of social networking, Google decided to launch their own social network (Google+) in 2007. It differed from Facebook and Twitter in that it wasn’t necessarily a full-featured networking site, but rather a social “layer” of the overall Google experience. Initially, Google generated a lot of buzz with the service’s Hangouts feature, which allowed users to enter live video chats with other online friends. At the time of launch, Facebook was scrambling to keep up by integrating a video chat feature of their own.

Within just four weeks, Google+ had garnered 25 million unique visitors, with as much as 540 million active monthly users as of June 2014. Regardless, the service definitely didn’t dethrone Zuckerberg’s behemoth, especially considering more than half of Google+ users have never even visited the service’s official site. It still arguably showed the world that there was still room for innovation and competition in the realm of social networking, though.

The Multi-platformed Self: The Rise of Mobile

Over the course of the past two years, “Fourth screen” technology — smartphones, tablets, etc. — has changed social networking and the way we communicate with one another entirely. What used to sit on our desks now conveniently fits in the palm of our hands, allowing us to effortlessly utilize functionality once reserved for multiple devices wherever we go.

Given the abrupt rise in mobile computing, it’s not surprising the most popular social media platforms of the past several years hinge on the capabilities of smartphones. Photo and video-sharing applications such as Snapchat and Instagram, the latter of which has now garnered a staggering 20 billion images since the app’s initial inception in October 2010, exist almost entirely on mobile. The same goes with platforms such as Foursquare, an application in which users use their smartphones to check in to various locations around the globe, and various matchmaking services. Tinder, for instance, currently boasts more than 10 million daily users, each of which swipes for potential partners based on their approximately in relation to their smartphone.

Mobile-based platforms also approach social networking in an entirely different fashion than their Web-based counterparts. Rather than offering a comprehensive social networking experience like the now-defunct Myspace and the struggling Google+, they instead specialize in a specific kind of interaction service  that involves the sharing of public images (Instagram), the private sharing of images sharing (Snapchat), augmented reality (Foursquare), and location-based matchmaking (Tinder). People essentially use the various services in conjunction with other platforms to build a comprehensive, digital identity.

“People now exist on multiple platforms, and instead of fighting against this trend, larger companies are tapping into this new environment.”

Indeed social media companies no longer see the market as strictly zero-sum, or at least that’s what Zuckerberg continues to say in public. The registration process for hundreds of applications such Snapchat, Instagram, Foursquare, and Tinder can be completed using already-existing Facebook, Gmail, or Twitter accounts. Furthermore, a number of platforms allow users to simultaneously post content using several platforms at once. Again, people now exist on multiple platforms, and instead of fighting against this trend, larger companies are tapping into this new environment.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: The Future of Social Networking

In March 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR, a company on the cusp of mass producing virtual-reality headsets. Upon sealing the deal, Zuckerberg commented regarding the communication potential for the platform, highlighting the slew of potential uses for the virtual technology when it comes to academics, viewing live events, and consulting with doctors face-to-face. However, Facebook has taken a hands-off approach in its management of Oculus VR, allowing the company to continue focusing predominately on gaming applications while other parties — i.e. the Pentagon — quietly look into using virtual reality headsets for military purposes. A number of medical experts have even begun using virtual reality to treat anxiety, combat-induced P.T.S.D., and other pronounced mental illnesses. Adult entertainment, meanwhile, has invested in virtual reality for years.

Oculus Rift

To simplify my point, it appears a good deal of people have high hopes that virtual reality will become the next blockbuster computing platform. The technology already exists, and with the consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset slated to go on sale in late 2014 for under $300, the potential for widespread adoption of virtual reality has never been greater. At the very least, the Rift’s success or failure in the market will shape Facebook’s approach toward incorporating virtual reality. Note that augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that it applies digital interaction to the real world instead of creating an audio-visual experience from scratch. In terms of social networking, augmented reality offers a number of possibilities. For instance, people could share their name, interests, relationship status, and mutual friends all within a digital sphere.

Google Glass

Believe it or not, augmented reality already exists in apps like Yelp and Google Ingress. Smartphones are more than capable of delivering augmented reality, and as one might expect, the technology is the entire concept driving Google Glass’ digital integration with the real world. Google’s deliberate decision to sell Glass at an inflated price of $1,500, however,  is likely meant to exclude the general public while the tech giant and a selective group of consumers — aka “explorers” work to hammer out the device’s flaws. The day Google lowers the price of Glass to its estimated production cost of $150 marks the day when widespread adoption of augmented reality, including augmented reality in social networking, becomes a greater possibility. Until then, there’s always Snapchat and the overuse of hashtags in just about everything we do.

The bid for originality: Facebook and Twitter bet big on video and livestreaming

Fueled by the rise of third-party apps, social media giants were forced to take note of the video format by 2012. But not before that same format, in a different guise, had laid waste to any form of originality on their respective services.

A spending spree followed. Within the span of just a couple of years, several major buyouts —and failed acquisition attempts — took place within the sector. In 2012, Twitter purchased video-looping platform, Vine. Later that same year, Facebook bought Instagram, which would eventually introduce video-sharing into its own app app to great success. Then in 2013, Facebook made its infamous bid for Snapchat, which was turned down by the makers of the ephemeral messaging app.

Vine

Meanwhile, the video-shaped void on Facebook and Twitter had been filled by new media companies that were experts in the art of viral content (i.e. BuzzFeed, 9GAG, Mashable). An earlier source had been YouTube, which had heralded the dawn of the internet celebrity with its homegrown roster of creators. Despite their popularity, however, viral videos posed more complications for social media giants than they did opportunities.

Left to operate independently, both Instagram and Vine proved to be solid investments. Their respective owners, however, were still facing the same issue. By 2015, Twitter was being labelled as “inaccessible” due to its flat growth in user numbers. Facebook, on the other hand, saw its users sharing less personal information. Instead of original posts, Facebook news feeds and Twitter timelines became bloated with viral videos, memes, GIFs, and clickbait articles — making them harder to navigate in the process. As in the past, the perceived solution came from an existing product, which ended up paying the ultimate price for its abrupt rise.

Having dominated the conversation at the 2015 SXSW Interactive festival, livestreaming app Meerkat caught the attention of Twitter. Capitalizing on what it viewed as an emerging trend, Twitter bought rival livestreaming app Periscope just a few months later. It has since integrated Periscope streams into its main platform, in an attempt to further popularize the app. Fast forward a few months to the end of 2015, and Facebook inevitably followed suit with the launch of Live Video. Overshadowed by its rivals, Meerkat quickly quickly abandoned livestreaming altogether.

Periscope

It is easy to see the attraction live broadcasts hold for social networks. Like viral videos, livestreams have the unique benefit of making viewers feel like they are ‘in the moment.’ A popular livestream has a snowball effect and, in turn, can quickly become a trending topic. Like the immediacy offered by Snapchat, the format can transform the mundane into the unmissable. Best of all, it allows social networks to lay claim to something original, which now autoplays on its flagship platform.

The integration of the livestream on Twitter and Facebook has also made the two companies more open to striking broadcast deals with third-parties. In turn, having seen the success that BuzzFeed and its counterparts have had with video, both traditional and new media companies have been quick to embrace Periscope and Facebook Live.

Nowhere is this theory better evidenced than Twitter’s recent deal to livestream NFL games. This compromise on the part of the social media giants comes in the wake of the realization that they can no longer be relegated to the second, third, or fourth screen. They have to be the main attraction by showcasing viral, trending, or popular visual media — whether original or not — in real-time, fueling interaction and reaction in the process.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Understanding the Marketing Mix Concept – 4Ps

Understanding the Marketing Mix Concept – 4Ps

Marketing is simplistically defined as ‘putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.’ Though this sounds like an easy enough proposition, a lot of hard work and research needs to go into setting this simple definition up. And if even one element is off the mark, a promising product or service can fail completely and end up costing the company substantially.

The use of a marketing mix is an excellent way to help ensure that ‘putting the right product in the right place,…’ will happen. The marketing mix is a crucial tool to help understand what the product or service can offer and how to plan for a successful product offering. The marketing mix is most commonly executed through the 4 P’s of marketing: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place.

These have been extensively added to and expanded through additional P’s and even a 4C concept. But the 4Ps serve as a great place to start planning for the product or even to evaluate an existing product offering.

4Ps marketing mix

 

 

 

 

In this article, we will look at

1) the four P’s,
2) history of the marketing mix concept and terminology,
3) purpose of the marketing mix,
4) key features of the marketing mix,
5) developing a marketing mix,
6) key challenges, and
7) marketing mix example.

 

 

 

THE FOUR P’S

Product

The product is either a tangible good or an intangible service that is seemed to meet a specific customer need or demand. All products follow a logical product life cycle and it is vital for marketers to understand and plan for the various stages and their unique challenges. It is key to understand those problems that the product is attempting to solve. The benefits offered by the product and all its features need to be understood and the unique selling proposition of the product need to be studied. In addition, the potential buyers of the product need to be identified and understood.

Price

Price covers the actual amount the end user is expected to pay for a product. How a product is priced will directly affect how it sells. This is linked to what the perceived value of the product is to the customer rather than an objective costing of the product on offer. If a product is priced higher or lower than its perceived value, then it will not sell. This is why it is imperative to understand how a customer sees what you are selling. If there is a positive customer value, then a product may be successfully priced higher than its objective monetary value. Conversely, if a product has little value in the eyes of the consumer, then it may need to be underpriced to sell. Price may also be affected by distribution plans, value chain costs and markups and how competitors price a rival product.

Promotion

The marketing communication strategies and techniques all fall under the promotion heading. These may include advertising, sales promotions, special offers and public relations. Whatever the channel used, it is necessary for it to be suitable for the product, the price and the end user it is being marketed to. It is important to differentiate between marketing and promotion. Promotion is just the communication aspect of the entire marketing function.

Place

Place or placement has to do with how the product will be provided to the customer. Distribution is a key element of placement. The placement strategy will help assess what channel is the most suited to a product. How a product is accessed by the end user also needs to compliment the rest of the product strategy.

HISTORY OF MARKETING MIX CONCEPT AND TERMINOLOGY

The marketing mix concept gained popularity following an article titled “The Concept of the Marketing Mix” by Neil Borden published in 1964. Borden explained how he started using the term inspired by James Culliton who in the 1940s described the marketing manager as a ‘mixer of ingredients.’ Borden’s article detailed these ingredients as product, planning, price, branding, distribution, display, packaging, advertising, promotions, personal selling among many others. Eventually, E. Jerome McCarthy clustered these multiple items into four high-level categories that we now know as the 4 Ps of marketing. “Its elements are the basic, tactical components of a marketing plan”. Together, elements in these four categories help develop marketing strategies and tactics.

 

 

PURPOSE OF MARKETING MIX

The 4P’s were formalized and developed over the years by experts to ensure the creation and execution of a successful marketing strategy. Through the use of this tool, the attempt is to satisfy both the customer and the seller. When properly understood and utilized, this mix has proven to a key factor in a product’s success.

KEY FEATURES OF MARKETING MIX

Interdependent variables

The marketing mix is made up of four unique variables. These four variables are interdependent and need to be planned in conjunction with one another to ensure that the action plans within all four are complementary and aligned.

Help Achieve Marketing Targets

Through the use of this set of variables, the company can achieve its marketing targets such as sales, profits, and customer retention and satisfaction.

Flexible Concept

The marketing mix is a fluid and flexible concept and the focus on any one variable may be increased or decreased given unique marketing conditions and customer requirements.

Constant Monitoring

It is vital to keep an eye on changing trends and requirements, within the company as well as in the market to ensure that the elements in marketing mix stays relevant and updated.

Role of Marketing Manager

A mature, intelligent and innovative marketing manager needs to be at the helm of the marketing mix. This pivotal role means that this manager is responsible for achieving desired results through the skill manipulation of these variables.

Customer as a focal point

A vital feature of the marketing mix is that the customer is the focal point of the activity. The value of the product is determined by customer perceptions and the goal is to achieve a satisfied and loyal customer.

This video shows how you can create value by using the marketing mix.

 

DEVELOPING A MARKETING MIX

 

Intuition and creative thinking are essential job requirements for a marketing manager. But relying on just these can lead to inaccurate assumptions that may not end up delivering results. To ensure a marketing mix that is based in research and combines facts with innovation, a manager should go through the following systematic process:

 

 

 

Step 1: Defining Unique Selling Proposition

The first item on the marketing manager’s agenda should be to define what the product has to offer or its unique selling proposition (USP). Through customer surveys or focus groups, there needs to be an identification of how important this USP is to the consumer and whether they are intrigued by the offering. It needs to be clearly understood what the key features and benefits of the product are and whether they will help ensure sales.

Step 2: Understanding the Consumer

The second step is to understand the consumer. The product can be focused by identifying who will purchase it. All other elements of the marketing mix follow from this understanding. Who is the customer? What do they need? What is the value of the product to them? This understanding will ensure that the product offering is relevant and targeted.

Step 3: Understanding the Competition

The next step is to understand the competition. The prices and related benefits such as discounts, warranties, and special offers need to be assessed. An understanding of the subjective value of the product and a comparison with its actual manufacturing distribution cost will help set a realistic price point.

Step 4: Evaluating Placement Options

At this point, the marketing manager needs to evaluate placement options to understand where the customer is most likely to make a purchase and what are the costs associated with using this channel. Multiple channels may help target a wider customer base and ensure east of access. On the other hand, if the product serves a niche market then it may make good business sense to concentrate distribution to a specific area or channel. The perceived value of the product is closely tied in with how it is made available.

Step 5: Developing Communication / Promotion strategy

Based on the audience identified and the price points established, the marketing communication strategy can now be developed. Whatever promotional methods are finalized need to appeal to the intended customers and ensure that the key features and benefits of the product are clearly understood and highlighted.

Step 6: Cross-check of the Marketing Mix

A step back needs to be taken at this point to see how all the elements identified and planned for relate to each other. All marketing mix variables are interdependent and rely on each other for a strong strategy. Do the proposed selling channels reinforce the perceived value of the product? Is the promotional material in keeping with the distribution channels proposed? The marketing plan can be finalized once it is ensured that all four elements are in harmony and there are no conflicting messages, either implicit or explicit.

KEY CHALLENGES

Over the years, marketing managers have felt that the traditional marketing mix has its limitations in how it is structured. Several important elements have been grouped with four larger categories thereby belittling their true importance amid several factors. Two main criticisms and their solutions:

Lack of Focus on Services

The conventional marketing mix tends to be applicable to tangible goods i.e. the traditional definition of products. Services or intangible goods are also a vital customer offering and can be planned for in much the same way as physical products. To cater to the unique challenges of services, the 4P model has been supplemented with 3 additional categories which are:

  • Physical Evidence is proof and a reassurance that a service was performed
  • People are the employees who deliver the service
  • Processes are the methods through which a service is executed and delivered to the customer

Lack of True Customer Focus

Though a total focus on the customer and what they desire is a vital element of the 4P model, this truth is often in danger of being overlooked by enthusiastic marketing teams. To counter this, Robert F. Lauterborn put forward his customer centric four Cs classification in 1990. This model converts the four P’s into more customer oriented four C’s:

  • Product to Customer Solution
  • Price to Customer Cost
  • Promotion to Customer Communication
  • Place to Customer Convenience

MARKETING MIX EXAMPLE

Marketing Mix for new product line

Market research revealed an opportunity in the market for a younger customer base. This led to the launch of Nivea Visage Young in 2005. This product was developed for girls in the 13 to 19 year age range.

For the eventual launch of the product, the company needed to develop a balanced and relevant marketing mix to appeal to its young audience. Through its initial launch in 2005 to a subsequent relaunch in 2007, the company focused closely on the marketing mix balance to help ensure that all elements of the product appeal to the target audience to achieve success.

Product

The company put significant importance in ongoing research to understand the constantly evolving market and consumer dynamics. This knowledge has helped the company develop more innovative new products that fulfill consumer needs. Through this research, it became clear that younger consumers wished for a more specific product that addressed the skin needs of their age category. The need was for a product that offered a beautifying regime for daily use rather than a medicated product that targeted specific skin problems. The latter are abundantly being offered by the competition. The product was subsequently redesigned to meet these specialized requirements.

From the company’s perspective, some of the changes helped meet its commitment to the environment which included more efficient packaging to reduce waste, the use of more natural products and the use of recyclable plastic.

Price

An effective pricing strategy takes into account the product’s perceived and actual values. The final price should be based on both these in order to make the product attractive to both buyer and seller. After its relaunch, Nivea Visage Young was priced a little higher than before to account for the new formula, better packaging and extended range of products. Since the product as being bought by mothers for their daughters, it remained low enough to remain good value for money. Effective pricing means that sales from this product account for nearly 7 percent of all Nivea Visage sales.

Place

As mentioned, Nivea aims to have a wide reach for its products to ensure that it is easily available wherever needed by the extensive target market. The primary channels used are retail stores. High Street stores such as Boots and Superdrug account for nearly 65 percent of all sales. Another portion comes from grocery chain stores such as ASDA or Tesco. This covers young people making their own purchases (mostly high street), as well as their mothers buying for them (mostly grocery stores). These stores ensure a cost effective distribution channel that has a wide reach. The company manages its own cost by selling to wholesalers rather than directly to smaller stores. It also does not sell online directly, but the product is sold through stockists.

Promotion

Nivea’s has always tried to base its promotions on the actual lifestyle of its target market. The company does not find the line promotions to be very effective as these are one-way communications through TV for example. Instead, the promotion is more consumer-led through different below the line solutions. Sample sales are a key activity that allows consumers to try out the actual product. There is also an interactive online magazine FYI (fun, young, independent) to increase product visibility and association. The company has also maintained a strong social media presence on popular social media networks. This used of new media has ensured a better brand awareness and association among target audience.

Conclusion

Through its successful use of a balanced marketing mix, Nivea Visage Young has managed to create a clear position in the market. It addresses a need felt by a specific niche segment. Traditional distribution methods are balanced by a unique product and updated promotional strategies. This ensures that the brand message reaches the right people at the right time in the right way.

As we see from the Nivea example, it is vital for any company to focus equally on all elements of the marketing mix while planning for a product. Eventually, there may be a need to divert more resources towards one variable such as strong distribution channels over promotional activities. But this needs to come after a clear plan and strategy have been decided upon. An effective marketing mix can mean the difference between a flash in the pan product or one that is bound to become a well-loved classic.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

The Marketing Mix 4P’s and 7P’s Explained

The Marketing Mix 4P’s and 7P’s Explained

Before we go into all the elements of the marketing mix, and to avoid confusion between the 4p’s, 7p’s and even the 4c’s – you should pay attention to the image below to understand what makes up the entire marketing mix.

Marketing Mix

The image above is a simplistic diagram of the elements that are included in a marketing mix.

It is a basic concept, but here’s the cold hard truth… If you don’t understand it in detail or at all, then there is a fairly certain chance that you are missing out on the key ingredients that will ensure scalable success from the ground up.

It has been said many, MANY times in business that if you don’t know your target market well enough and figured out what they exactly want, you’ll commit entrepreneurial suicide and the business will inevitably fail.

On the other hand, you can be sure to attract mountains of profits when you have a deep understanding of these concepts. Understand this fully and you will know exactly how to maximize profits on your own sustainable business or help become a valuable asset within your company and gain endless promotions.

Sadly, for many existing marketers and aspiring marketers, this concept is glossed over as “everyone seems to know what it is” and is disregarded as basic knowledge. But do you really know what it is? Let’s find out.

Now, what is a marketing mix, exactly?

Marketing Mix Definition:Marketing Mix Definition

The marketing mix definition is simple. It is about putting the right product or a combination thereof in the place, at the right time, and at the right price. The difficult part is doing this well, as you need to know every aspect of your business plan.

 

As we noted before, the marketing mix is predominately associated with the 4P’s of marketing, the 7P’s of service marketing, and the 4 Cs theories developed in the 1990s.

 

Here are the principles used in the application of the right marketing mix:

Marketing Mix 4P’s

Marketing Mix 4ps

A marketing expert named E. Jerome McCarthy created the Marketing 4Ps in the 1960s. This classification has been used throughout the world. Business schools teach this concept in basic marketing classes.

The marketing 4Ps are also the foundation of the idea of marketing mix.

 

 

 

#1 Marketing Mix – ProductMarketing Mix Product

A product is an item that is built or produced to satisfy the needs of a certain group of people. The product can be intangible or tangible as it can be in the form of services or goods.

You must ensure to have the right type of product that is in demand for your market. So during the product development phase, the marketer must do an extensive research on the life cycle of the product that they are creating.

A product has a certain life cycle that includes the growth phase, the maturity phase, and the sales decline phase. It is important for marketers to reinvent their products to stimulate more demand once it reaches the sales decline phase.

Marketers must also create the right product mix. It may be wise to expand your current product mix by diversifying and increasing the depth of your product line. All in all, marketers must ask themselves the question “what can I do to offer a better product to this group of people than my competitors”.

In developing the right product, you have to answer the following questions:

  • What does the client want from the service or product?
  • How will the customer use it?
  • Where will the client use it?
  • What features must the product have to meet the client’s needs?
  • Are there any necessary features that you missed out?
  • Are you creating features that are not needed by the client?
  • What’s the name of the product?
  • Does it have a catchy name?
  • What are the sizes or colors available?
  • How is the product different from the products of your competitors?
  • What does the product look like?

#2 Marketing Mix – PriceMarketing Mix Price

The price of the product is basically the amount that a customer pays for to enjoy it. Price is a very important component of the marketing mix definition.

It is also a very important component of a marketing plan as it determines your firm’s profit and survival. Adjusting the price of the product has a big impact on the entire marketing strategy as well as greatly affecting the sales and demand of the product.

This is inherently a touchy area, though. If a company is new to the market and has not made a name for themselves yet, it is unlikely that your target market will be willing to pay a high price.

Although they may be willing in the future to hand over large sums of money, it is inevitably harder to get them to do so during the birth of a business.

Pricing always helps shape the perception of your product in consumers eyes. Always remember that a low price usually means an inferior good in the consumers eyes as they compare your good to a competitor.

Consequently, prices too high will make the costs outweigh the benefits in customers eyes, and they will therefore value their money over your product. Be sure to examine competitors pricing and price accordingly.

When setting the product price, marketers should consider the perceived value that the product offers. There are three major pricing strategies, and these are:

  • Market-penetration pricing
  • Market-skimming pricing
  • Neutral pricing

Here are some of the important questions that you should ask yourself when you are setting the product price:

  • How much did it cost you to produce the product?
  • What is the customers’ perceived product value?
  • Do you think that the slight price decrease could significantly increase your market share?
  • Can the current price of the product keep up with the price of the product’s competitors?

#3 Marketing Mix – PlaceMarketing Mix Place

Placement or distribution is a very important part of the product mix definition. You have to position and distribute the product in a place that is accessible to potential buyers.

This comes with a deep understanding of your target market. Understand them inside out and you will discover the most efficient positioning and distribution channels that directly speak with your market.

There are many distribution strategies, including:

  • Intensive distribution
  • Exclusive distribution
  • Selective distribution
  • Franchising

Here are some of the questions that you should answer in developing your distribution strategy:

  • Where do your clients look for your service or product?
  • What kind of stores do potential clients go to? Do they shop in a mall, in a regular brick and mortar store, in the supermarket, or online?
  • How do you access the different distribution channels?
  • How is your distribution strategy different from your competitors?
  • Do you need a strong sales force?
  • Do you need to attend trade fairs?
  • Do you need to sell in an online store?

#4 Marketing Mix – Promotion

Promotion is a very important component of marketing as it can boost brand recognition and sales. Promotion is comprised of various elements like:

  • Sales Organization
  • Public Relations
  • Advertising
  • Sales Promotion

Advertising typically covers communication methods that are paid for like television advertisements, radio commercials, print media, and internet advertisements. In contemporary times, there seems to be a shift in focus offline to the online world.

Public relations, on the other hand, are communications that are typically not paid for. This includes press releases, exhibitions, sponsorship deals, seminars, conferences, and events.

Word of mouth is also a type of product promotion. Word of mouth is an informal communication about the benefits of the product by satisfied customers and ordinary individuals. The sales staff plays a very important role in public relations and word of mouth.

It is important to not take this literally. Word of mouth can also circulate on the internet. Harnessed effectively and it has the potential to be one of the most valuable assets you have in boosting your profits online. An extremely good example of this is online social media and managing a firm’s online social media presence.

In creating an effective product promotion strategy, you need to answer the following questions:

  • How can you send marketing messages to your potential buyers?
  • When is the best time to promote your product?
  • Will you reach your potential audience and buyers through television ads?
  • Is it best to use the social media in promoting the product?
  • What is the promotion strategy of your competitors?

Your combination of promotional strategies and how you go about promotion will depend on your budget, the message you want to communicate, and the target market you have defined already in previous steps.

Marketing Mix 7P’s

The 7Ps model is a marketing model that modifies the 4Ps model. The 7Ps is generally used in the service industries.
Here is the expansions from the 4Ps to the 7Ps marketing model:

Marketing Mix 7ps

 

#5 Marketing Mix – PeopleMarketing Mix People

Of both target market and people directly related to the business.

Thorough research is important to discover whether there are enough people in your target market that is in demand for certain types of products and services.

The company’s employees are important in marketing because they are the ones who deliver the service. It is important to hire and train the right people to deliver superior service to the clients, whether they run a support desk, customer service, copywriters, programmers…etc.

When a business finds people who genuinely believe in the products or services that the particular business creates, it’s is highly likely that the employees will perform the best they can. Additionally, they’ll be more open to honest feedback about the business and input their own thoughts and passions which can scale and grow the business. This is a secret, “internal” competitive advantage a business can have over other competitors which can inherently affect a business’s position in the marketplace.

#6 Marketing Mix – ProcessMarketing Mix Process

The systems and processes of the organization affect the execution of the service.

So, you have to make sure that you have a well-tailored process in place to minimize costs.

It could be your entire sales funnel, a pay system, distribution system and other systematic procedures and steps to ensure a working business that is running effectively.

Tweaking and enhancements can come later to “tighten up” a business to minimize costs and maximise profits.

#7 Marketing Mix – Physical Evidence

Marketing Mix Physical EvidenceIn the service industries, there should be physical evidence that the service was delivered. Additionally, physical evidence pertains also to how a business and it’s products are perceived in the marketplace.

It is the physical evidence of a business’ presence and establishment. A concept of this is branding. For example, when you think of “fast food”, you think of McDonalds.

When you think of sports, the names Nike and Adidas come to mind.

You immediately know exactly what their presence is in the marketplace, as they are generally market leaders and have established a physical evidence as well as psychological evidence in their marketing.

They have manipulated their consumer perception so well to the point where their brands appear first in line when an individual is asked to broadly “name a brand” in their niche or industry.

Marketing Mix 4C’s

Marketing Mix 4csThe 4Cs marketing model was developed by Robert F. Lauterborn in 1990. It is a modification of the 4Ps model. It is not a basic part of the marketing mix definition, but rather an extension. Here are the components of this marketing model:

  • Cost – According to Lauterborn, price is not the only cost incurred when purchasing a product. Cost of conscience or opportunity cost is also part of the cost of product ownership.
  • Consumer Wants and Needs – A company should only sell a product that addresses consumer demand. So, marketers and business researchers should carefully study the consumer wants and needs.
  • Communication – According to Lauterborn, “promotion” is manipulative while communication is “cooperative”. Marketers should aim to create an open dialogue with potential clients based on their needs and wants.
  • Convenience – The product should be readily available to the consumers. Marketers should strategically place the products in several visible distribution points.

Whether you are using the 4Ps, the 7Ps, or the 4Cs, your marketing mix plan plays a vital role. It is important to devise a plan that balances profit, client satisfaction, brand recognition, and product availability. It is also extremely important to consider the overall “how” aspect that will ultimately determine your success or failure.

By understanding the basic concept of the marketing mix and its extensions, you will be sure to achieve financial success whether it is your own business or whether you are assisting in your workplace’s business success.

The ultimate goal of business is to make profits and this is a surefire, proven way to achieve this goal.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive: Multi-Million Dollar Social Marketing Platform- In Pre-Launch

Multi-Million Dollar Inbound Social Marketing Platform In Pre-Launch

Markethive has created a Multi-Million Dollar inbound social marketing platform that will rival the existing social media platforms in many ways.

Many times change comes along and we don’t recognize it until its too late. Internet Marketing has changed with the advent of Millennials all searching for information specific as to what they want, no longer does SEO [Search Engine Optimization] play a major role in getting noticed on the internet. Millennials want to find information, not have it jammed down their throat.

They are seekers not persuaders!

The new trend of getting noticed on the internet is through referral basis. No longer do you have to pack your articles or website full of key words and hope the search engines notice them and give them top ranking, today you just have to make sure your message gets out to the public in a social way where people notice it, and then come to you for more information. Social Infusion Marketing is the new way to market your goods and services with people seeing what you are offering, and when the time comes that the person needs your offer they will take action.

Markethive has perfected Social Infusion Marketing with a unique social platform that allows anyone who is interested in marketing their products or company to be able to do it without paying huge sums of money to get noticed. No longer does anyone have to put up with the confusing language of the SEO guru’s who charge outrageous sums of money with little results, you can do it yourself!

The Markethive platform is Free to join and use, and is funded partially by an advertising platform that enables the entrepreneur to get a huge reach with low cost. Markethive is built for the Global entrepreneur, and gives them a level playing field in a world that is cluttered with everyone trying to get into each others pocket financially.

So if you have read this far, Markethive is rolling out a Pre-Launch offer, before it goes to Crowdfunding, to anyone who want to join up and learn how to use this platform to grow their business. The Social part is being built by adding as many people as possible and assisting them in growing their business through Social Infusion Marketing.

To join just click here and you will be directed to a sign up page where you can enter the platform and poke around. Here is the secret, when the platform goes to CrowdFunding the people responsible will share in the rewards, so don’t waste time this launch will be HUGE!

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Raymond Jewell

PS: Dr. Raymond Jewell is a leading Economist specializing in the Small and Home Based Business Marketplace. He is a Alpha Founder with Markethive and manages several blogs on the hive. Dr. Jewell is a professional Network Marketer and represents several companies successfully. He can be reached through Markethive.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Businesses can now tell if a Facebook ad led you to shop at their stores

Businesses can now tell if a Facebook ad led you to shop at     their stores

 

A new type of Facebook ad shows you nearby stores,
then tracks whether or not you visit them.

Facebook's advertisers now have a better understanding of how much of your mall shopping might have been inspired by their ads.The social network just rolled out a new feature that lets advertisers include an interactive map of nearby brick-and-mortar stores within their carousel ads — those slideshow-like promoted posts that must be swiped from side to side to view.

Facebook can then track whether people who look at these ads on mobile actually visit the stores featured and hand that information (in anonymized form) over to advertisers. That is, as long as it has a user's permission to collect data on his or her location, which must be enabled in a smartphone's settings and the Facebook app.

In some cases, it will even follow your shopping all the way to the check-out counter. The final piece of the update is a new API that lets businesses match their in-store purchase data with Facebook's advertising measurement tools. 

That will not only tell companies how many of the people who saw their Facebook ads bought something in their stores but also give them a better sense of the demographic breakdowns of customers.

Physical shopping has long been a blind spot in determining the effectiveness of online ads.

Online sales account for less than a tenth of all purchases in the United States.

Even as e-commerce grows more popular, online sales still accounted for less than a tenth of all purchases in the United States in the first quarter of 2016, according to a May report from the Census Bureau. The vast majority of people still do most of their shopping at brick-and-mortar shops, and of those who do shop online, most prefer to do it on a desktop rather than mobile.

Online advertising giants like Facebook and Google know this. That's why they've been looking for new ways to take advantage of the ability to track your location on mobile to better understand how people spend their money off the web and to drive people into physical stores.

Google rolled out a similar ad product last month that lets users search store inventories and companies promote their store locations on its Maps feature. Like Facebook, the company also tracks visits to stores after ad viewing.

 A Facebook spokesperson wanted Mashable to add that all information Facebook provides to advertisers is anonymous and that location can only be tracked if permission is given for "location services" in phone settings and either "location history" in the Facebook app is enabled or a user happens to use the app in the store.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Facebook Launches Online Creative Hub in Bid to Simplify Creation of Ads

Facebook Launches Online Creative Hub in Bid to       Simplify Creation of Ads

Will Provide Tips on Best Practices, Allow Remote Collaboration and More

Facebook's new online Creative Hub. Credit: Facebook

Facebook ads, like those on many platforms, started out relatively simple. But as Facebook has rolled out ad products at a growing clip, some of the products have changed the way brands and agencies need to approach creative, especially in mobile.

To help marketers keep ads coming, not to mention make the shift to mobile advertising, the company is now introducing Creative Hub, an online platform for agencies, brands and anyone involved in the creation of ads on Facebook, really, to share, review, test and create ads on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram. Facebook is billing it as an online space meant to foster collaboration.

The move is an effort to help creatives build ads more easily, said Mark D'Arcy, chief creative officer at Facebook's Creative Shop. "Before this, we didn't have a great interactive workspace," he said. "But building, experimenting and playing with form in mobile is really important. It's important for us as an industry to figure it out."

The Creative Hub will show the range of formats that creatives can choose from, along with ad specs, including ones on both Facebook and Instagram. It will also serve as a platform where creatives can scan case studies and best practices, look for tips on various targeting techniques, work simultaneously in real time on campaigns with colleagues and clients in other parts of the world, and get tips on design and how to grab attention in a news feed-based environment. Another feature will let people to create and test mock mobile ads.

Facebook will describe the platform, which is scheduled to go live on Tuesday, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Creative Hub, in a sense, augments Facebook's Creative Shop, which under Mr. D'Arcy's leadership helps brands and agencies understand how to use Instagram in their campaigns. Its employees collaborate with brands and agencies around the world to craft campaigns that combine Facebook and Instagram's social environments, data and technology with advertisers' creative ambitions and business objectives. Like all of Facebook, Creative Shop has increasingly focused on mobile and exploring new ways that brands and agencies can push the bounds of the smaller screen.

The move comes as more and more people are using Facebook on mobile devices, and as Facebook expands its network internationally with a particularly mobile focus. More than 1 billion

people access Facebook via mobile every day, according to the company. Globally, people spend more than 50 minutes a day using Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, it said.

Creative Hub "is really a manifestation around the enormous growth of mobile," said Mr. D'Arcy. "There's this accelerating growth of engagement in mobile, with the ability to reach people at different times for different reasons. But creativity helps you reach those people."

Recent mobile-minded ad formats include Canvas, an immersive ad format that goes beyond the standard video format, introduced at last year's Cannes festival. And in an effort to reach its "next billion" users, Facebook last year began focusing on ad formats for developing markets, locales where people often don't have the latest smartphone and where they are often jumping on the internet through those phones with a 2G connection. Its Slideshow ad format is a series of images of the marketers' choosing — they can be photographs or stills from a video ad — designed to render well when video can't.

As clients and agencies seek to reach people in more international markets, and as the agencies and clients themselves may be in all parts of the world, different possibilities for creative requires a centralized site where anyone working on the campaigns could easily access the work, according to Facebook.

At Cannes, Facebook will also be introducing enhancements to Canvas and Slideshow and a beta API of Audience Insights,  and targeting tool.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Psychological Concepts That’ll Strengthen YournSha

Social Media Strategy

Most of us joke about being addicted to things like Snapchat or Instagram, and we’re all probably guilty of compulsively checking our phones for updates. However, social media is changing more than just our immediate behavior.

Think about it: We’ve all seen the infamous commercials illustrating the effects of various illegal substances on your brain, but most of us haven’t considered how seemingly innocuous things like social media can have a strikingly similar effect on both our minds and behaviors. And as marketers, this is something we should be thinking more about. 

Any interaction your brand has with a potential customer on social media influences both their conscious and unconscious perception of your brand or company — you probably know that already. But perhaps you’re not aware of how those interactions fully play out, and to what extent.

For example, there's plenty of research that suggests social media usage actually triggers the release of dopamine, causing you to experience a rush of positive feelings every time you post, share, Like, comment, and so on. Not to mention, social media interactions can actually increase bonding between individuals, as we tend to view engagement as an act of human acknowledgement.

But there's even more to it than that. In fact, there's a lot more going on inside the minds of our followers when they explore and engage on social media than we think. To shed some light on the situation, let's explore a few psychological concepts as they relate to social media. 

5 Psychological Concepts That'll Strengthen Your Social Media Strategy

1) Neuroplasticity

The human brain is constantly altering its behavior and responses to stimuli based on new experiences — this is nothing new. However, the growth of the internet (social media, in particular) has forced our brains to become even more adaptable.  

This type of evolution is called neuroplasticity, and the quick, constant evolution of the social media sphere has increased its speed and effects on our collective brains over the past decade or two.

For marketers, the intersection of neoplasticity and social media results in two key takeaways:

Shortened attention spans = the need for bolder, digestible messaging.

Due to the onslaught of information coming at us from various platforms and devices, our attention spans are increasingly divided. In fact, a study from Microsoft reported that people tend to lose concentration after just eight seconds.

For marketers, this means finding a way to devise easily digestible messaging that stands out enough to capture the interest of our audience. To give you a better sense of how to craft this type of messaging, check out this post on successful brands on Twitter. From General Electric to Charmin, these brands are finding unique ways to nail their social presence and messaging, while keeping their followers super engaged. 

Increased multitasking: The need for multi-channel marketing experiences.

Secondly, we've quickly become a society of multitaskers. And our ability to multitask and interact in several different ways at the same time has trained our brains to continuously switch gears.

The same study from Microsoft identified three natural attention modes that reflect consumer use of digital technology. One of which they referred to as attention ambidextrous mode, in which we "blend tasks together across devices." We do this because we feel it enhances productivity — whether or not that is true is an entirely different argument.

For marketers, this desire to multitask presents another interesting challenge. And as a result, we're ultimately tasked with creating multi-touch or multi-channel experiences in an effort to stay top-of-mind with consumers. To help you devise a social media strategy that spans across multiple platforms, start by reading this handy guide on how the news feed algorithms work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

2) Neuroeconomics

The study of neuroeconomics, a combination of economics, psychology, and neuroscience, has become an interesting field for marketers to explore.

Why? In short: Neuroeconomics focuses on how the aforementioned fields intersect, and how various factors affect human thought processes and decision making. For marketers, understanding the inner workings behind this type of human behavior is really valuable.  

Paul J. Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, is responsible for popularizing the term "neuroeconomics," and he has a fascinating perspective on what fuels our decisions, desires, and actions when engaging on social media. 

For instance, a lot of Zak's research is rooted in the idea that social media has the ability to increase our oxytocin levels — a hormone that's best known for fueling the bond between mothers and babies. And according to an article from Fast Company, Zak sees oxytocin as "the 'social glue' that adheres families, communities, and societies, and as such, acts as an 'economic lubricant' that enables us to engage in all sorts of transactions." 

In other words, the release of this hormone can have a serious impact on the way we interact with friends, family, and brands on social media. And eventually, it can influence our buying decisions.

Check out this video from the Fast Company article for a peek into how Zak sees this concept, and the presence of oxytocin in social media usage, unfolding in favor of brands:

3) Transactive Memory

Humans have a “transactive memory." In other words, we rely on social support — or "external memory aids" — to piece together our own memories.

However, social media has taken this concept to the next level, since we can maintain larger digital networks (both in regard to numbers and reach) than we can in real life.

Of course, this has taken its toll on our collective memory and attention spans — and whether that is a long-term net positive or negative is a subject for another day. However, marketers should consider this when creating and placing content meant for social media.

People generally won’t invest a lot of time into anything a brand creates in the first place, but that might not be due to lack of interest. We’re just becoming quicker decision makers in regard to what is worthy of our attention. Therefore, not only does a given piece of branded content need to have an eye-catching initial hook, it needs to come from a source that the target deems trustworthy and authentic — someone who triggers that transactive memory.

4) FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out

Chances are that you are familiar with the term “FOMO” — or fear of missing out on a fun or exciting activity.

This concept is hardly new, however, it has significantly evolved as we've begun to document much of our day-to-day activities on social media. These days, we don't have to wait for a friend to tell us they are doing XYZ to trigger feelings of exclusion. In fact, all it takes is a quick scroll through your social media feed to spark this type of anxiety. And this is something that brand marketers can use to their advantage in the social sphere.

Nearly everyone follows at least a few brand accounts on social media — whether it be Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. For brands, this means:

That there is an opportunity to tap into this psychological fear to suggest that your audience could be missing out if they don't buy your product, or attend your webinar, or check out your new website, or … well, you get the point.

Generating a little anxiety and jealousy goes a long way towards establishing a connection with your target audience, but be sure to use the tactic wisely. Some research suggests that there are several real consequences of FOMO — such as "increased dissatisfaction with one's life" and a "decrease in privacy" — so for the sake of others, keep things friendly.

To help, here's a great example from the folks at SXSW of how to tap into FOMO the right way:

5) Status Anxiety

At this point, we've established that social media can make us anxious or trigger negative emotions … but that doesn't mean we have to use it for evil. Just like we found a positive way to spin the concept of FOMO, we can do the same for status anxiety.

Here's the thing: Humans have had some level of status anxiety for as long as we’ve formed tribes and gathered into groups. We want to be perceived highly. We want to be desired. We want to be thought of as intelligent, attractive, and humorous. And we want to be seen as a valued member of the group.

Essentially, we want to be liked — and we want to be "Liked" on social media, too. But growing your Likes, followers, and engagement is a two way street: you have to Like people back, and make them feel good about their interactions with your brand in a way that goes beyond mere reciprocation. You need to do something that is going to elevate their status amongst their peer group.

For marketers, this might mean rewarding the MVPs of your audience with social media shoutouts, or giving them exclusive invites or content that they can share with their followers.

The ones who get the direct rewards will get the happy chemical reaction, and everyone else will be just feel a little anxious for being left out — which can do wonders in terms of sparking new participation and engagement.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

The Many Ways to Align Your Mission With Your Content Marketing Strategy

  The Many Ways to Align Your Mission With Your

                    Content Marketing Strategy

You may have a strong, well-developed company mission, and a vision that summarizes your organization’s long-term plans and values. You may also have a brilliant content marketing strategy, capable of attracting thousands of new people to your brand and keeping your current customers engaged. But, how well do these two areas of your brand strategy mesh?

My experience in working with small- to mid-sized businesses is that content marketing strategies often get treated as separate entities, distinct from a brand’s core mission and objectives. Why? Because content marketing is seen as an external platform, when it should be seen as both an external display and a showcase of your company’s internal values. In fact, you should be using your content-marketing strategy as a platform to support your brand’s mission and vision. Here’s how.

1. Recognize the importance of brand consistency.

Your first step should be to recognize the importance of brand consistency across all your platforms. This is the only way to build continuity with your customers.

Even if you have a personal brand, or display a logo in order to visibly demonstrate that this content was written by your brand, the content isn’t “you” if it deviates from your main identity.

This is true no matter what medium you pursue, including social media marketing and paid advertising. Whenever a reader encounters your brand, he or she should have the same “feel,” the same overall experience, which ties directly into the identity you created through your mission and objectives.

2. Draw topics from your mission and objectives.

Mimicking the aesthetics and style customers associate with your overall brand is a good way to tie your identity closer to your content campaign. But don’t be afraid to draw new topics as well directly from your mission and objectives, to further your association with those causes.

For example, if you’ve explicitly stated your desire to reduce carbon emissions through the use of green technology, why not write the occasional post on how to be more environmentally friendly in the business world? If you’re out to improve educational resources, why not highlight an interesting case study or news development in the educational realm?

3. Keep tone and demographics in mind.

It’s also important to keep your demographics and your tone in mind throughout your content campaign: Let your mission and objectives dictate your operations along those lines.

For example, say your mission is to help teams improve communication and bond with one another. Why not practice what you preach by writing in a more conversational, collaborative style, with ample opportunities for your readers to engage directly with you? This is a way of demonstrating your mission through your writing style, targeting exactly the types of people you sought to impress in the first place.

4. Announce your efforts.

If your company’s mission or objectives relate to corporate social responsibility, you’ll probably be involved in efforts related to those objectives. For example, if you’re all about building the economy in your local community, you might be a speaker at an entrepreneurial summit, or your team might volunteer for reconstruction efforts in your area to encourage more business development.

When you engage in these opportunities, show them off. Write a press release, or at the very least develop an on-site post covering your efforts. It makes a big impact when you put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

5. Use images and video.

Throughout your content campaign, you should use images and videos to demonstrate your capacity to follow through on your mission and objectives. This can be applied to almost any of the strategies listed above; for example, you can include photos of your team participating in your cleanup efforts, or live-stream your speech at the entrepreneurial event.

Visuals make content more engaging, which leads to higher rates of social visibility and sharing, ultimately producing a more substantial boost for your brand.

6. Evaluate your touchpoints and customer reaction.

Throughout your efforts to incorporate more of your mission and vision into your content campaign, carefully evaluate your impact, just as you would any adjustment. Post new mission-related materials only periodically, never neglecting your core content campaign. And be sure to watch how prospective and current customers react. You’ll almost certainly need to make adjustments along the way.

If your organization has a strong mission and vision at the center of its operations, there’s no reason why your content marketing strategy shouldn’t be there to promote it and back it up. Let your customers know exactly what kind of company is behind the content they’re reading, and make your values known to your readership.

 

As you’ve seen, all it takes is a handful of adjustments, including a few new types of content and modifications to your current lineup: The benefits can be highly significant to your brand visibility and reputation.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

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