Sunday, April 10, 2011

15.The Long Tail of Marketing

In 2006, an advertising agency developed a user contest to “make your own Chevy Tahoe commercial”. This corporate Do-It-Yourself approach - letting consumers create the dialogue and do the advertising for you, proved immensely popular. The ad campaign generated more than 30,000 user-submitted videos, though not all were positive. Many users created videos that turned the ad agency’s main objective on its head - by criticizing it as a symbol of oil consumerism, environmentally unsustainable, and part of a global oil industry that ignites conflicts throughout the world (Iraq, for example). Nonetheless, the agency did not remove these negative ads for fear of appearing to stringently dictate the terms of the message. Despite the negative user-generated content, Tahoe sales spiked.

There is no longer room for a company to release a product that they know is a bad one. Word of mouth is now, once again, the most powerful marketing tool that exists; the best tool for measuring word of mouth is quantifying the incoming links for a certain piece of media. The use of incoming links to measure media impact is superior to simply measuring audience size; the size of the audience gives no indication of what the audience thought of what they viewed, while a hyperlink indicates that not only was the media viewed but the viewer also liked it, as they are now recommending it to others.

Microsoft’s successes in connecting with their consumers can serve as a message to all online influence peddlers: Influence is found from people in the know (bloggers, programmers, etc.) not from people paid to be a source of influence (PR professionals). This direct-to-consumer transparency works offline as well, and can well serve the small-market craftspeople who sell products to people who care about the process their products go through before arriving to them.

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