Saturday, December 15, 2007
The Guardian seems to be finally picking up on a trend that has been expanding this Christmas.
Vouchers are really coming into their own as a form of luring customers to a store. It remains to be seen whether they are effective at really making the stores money, but I think there's definitely been a higher profile accorded to the stores which have put time and effort into pushing these discounts.
The problem with vouchers and discounts is that they product some problems further down the line. A shop's "hero" products are generally ones that are heavily in demand. These will sell out and make the retailer a tidy profit whether they discount them or not. With discount vouchers these products will disappear quickly and at a discount, whereas the products which are usually discounted towards the end of a season will still be there.
However some of the discount codes are structured in better ways - enforcing a minimum spend is one effective way of doing this. Although the retailer probably loses out in terms of margin, the minimum spend makes sure the revenue stays at a decent level.
Another argument for the voucher codes is that it attracts new customers, some of whom will hopefully become regular shoppers. This will always be true but some would question if a discounted sale is really the best way to begin a relationship with a consumer.
One problem we are experiencing on the internet is that some affiliates are exploiting these codes mercilessly. Retailers already pay their affiliates a commission from sales. If the customer also uses a voucher code the sales that are driven may actually become unprofitable. Even more problems arise if the merchant's tracking system doesn't allow you to know if the affiliate's sales used voucher codes.
Overall voucher codes are a good thing for the internet as it makes people spend more time online before shopping and puts an incentive into them doing a bit of research before going out into the streets. The question is whether the discounts do anything actually useful or valuable for the retailer. I don't think it does.
Picture stolen from ewar_woowar's photostream
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Was having a quick think about what the next thing is likely to be. I think we're going to see lots of effort being put into making our lives easier. I think what we will see may get called 'RSS 2.0'.
The main thing is that we will see more things stripped of their context. One of the ideas behind 'Web 2.0' was that text can be separated into content and formatting. I think this year we will see this extended into websites. The basic idea behind a website is that you go there and get a service. Many content based sites are becoming familiar with the idea that they can still make money if they allow people to know what content is on their site before they go there.
This will be extended across all the other web services. Email, Social Networking and other things I can't think of right now will fit into the RSS model. I think someone (probably someone new) will come along this year with an RSS reader that is easy to use.
The problem with RSS as it exists at the moment is that it's complicated. Hopefully someone will find a way of making it simple. This will definitely help things along. One stat I would like to see is how many people are actually using RSS. It's not something that will come through the advertising we do, it's something the publishers need to start telling us.
Many of the new businesses getting funding at the moment are focused around the idea of altering webpages that already exist. This is particularly focused on facebook apps at the moment, but the open application platform will allow them to be extended across other sites. All of the major companies have now setup platforms from which portable applications can be delivered (facebook, Yahoo!, Google and Apple). Mozilla is also working on Prism, a browser which will make some webapps indistinguishable from normal applications. The web will creep further into people’s lives.
Basically by the end of this year there will be a program or web service which will exploit this. It will be able to tell you what appointments you have that day, what the headlines are across all the media you regularly read, who’s poked you on facebook, what your favourite band have done on Myspace and which of your TV shows is on tonight. This is all possible with existing technology right now, we just need someone to make this popular.
If the privacy debate doesn’t really happen we will be technically able to deliver adverts for beer to someone who is going to the pub tonight or shampoo to a girl who is staying in to wash her hair.
More sites will use the portability of aggregator sites to make new revenue streams, we should get used to things like the Sun’s deal with Brand Alley and all the major portals’ deals with Uswitch and Moneysupermaket. There isn’t going to be a place to hide from being sold to.
If you are genuinely interested in getting told about deals to do with what you want, advertisers aren’t going to wait for you to check your email – they will tap into your widgets on your desktop. The amount of integration possible between sites and programmes will mean that the line between spyware and legitimate advertising will blur. There will be some fun levels of targeting possible and we need to be ready to exploit it as soon as it comes out.
Should be fun playing around with all the new toys that come along. As always it'll be a good couple of months before anyone does anything with them!
Title Image shamelessly stolen from wonder wombat's photostream
Went to a fantastic event last night. It was called the Anchormanfest. It was exactly what we wanted. People were dressed as appropriate characters from the film. There was also bowling. Scotch was also available which probably explains why my head hurts a little right now. It's impressive how much of an impact Anchorman has had on popular culture. It's kind of the 'life of brian' for our age. Although Blades of Glory came close to Anchorman I don't think it had the same level of effect. I know very few people who are still quoting those films. Anchorman lead me onto many other films from Ferrell and co. I think it could easily be used as the basis for a viral, if we could get clearance. Sent from my iPhone
The polar bear does seem to be generating lots of sympathy at the moment, and this sympathy is being ruthlessly exploited.
It's a nice marketing ploy to get people to sponsor animals. Nice and fluffy and able to look amazingly cute. This works as a device to get people to donate money.
The ad above plays on all of this to get people to sponsor an animal. Great interactive way to get people to pick up on the message that climate change is making things worse for many animals across the globe. I do think Attenborough should get some credit for the original idea for this advert, but I doubt he'll get it!
The thing that gets me though is that the website doesn't explain how you adopt a polar bear. You pay at least £2.50 a month in order to "adopt" it. What does this mean?
In my own thoughts you can't own a wild animal. Once it is owned it is a domestic animal, though admittedly it doesn't automatically become tame. If you adopt it, does it stop being wild (and therefore an illegitimate target for the world wildlife fund)?
If it isn't adopted, how do you know which animal is being looked after for you? What do they do for it?
I think the gift pack is a good idea and I'm sure the donation will be useful to the WWF, but the advertising is slightly misleading because your money is not going to the specific cause that you would expect from the naming of the product.
Of course I am getting my information from a cursory inspection of their website, but this website should be their opportunity to show how much work goes into caring for each of the 'adoptees' and it doesn't.
Overall it's a great advert but I think they could have been more open about what the money is actually going towards.