Monday, April 28, 2008

User-Generated Content vs. Online Advertising

While companies continue to move their advertising dollars online and away from traditional media, there are growing concerns over User-Generated Content (UGC) and how it can affect the image of their brands. Studying the trends in ad spending on such sites, eMarketer projects modest growth over the next few years; but can online advertising find a sustainable presence on social networking sites originally tailored to connect and create open interactivity between end-users?

As the leading online advertising company, Google has reported better than expected earnings, while News Corp’s stock has been downgraded due to the poor performance of its property, MySpace. This dichotomy can be attributed to many marketers’ reluctance to place their brand alongside unpredictable or questionable content. Interactive technologies and online platforms continue to grow, but can advertisers seamlessly adapt and integrate their messaging at the same rate?

Nielsen Online has recently introduced VideoCensus, an online video measurement service used for demographic research. According to preliminary findings, women are more likely to visit network television websites, while men are drawn to consumer generated media. This method of online consumer measurement may prove especially useful in niche marketing, especially in terms of branded video content or communications directed specifically to women.

One model for the future of communications comes from Casaleggio Associati, which outlines the eventual transformation of the web and its effect on old and (relatively) new media. This hypothetical provides a blueprint for corporate and business communications in the developing digital frontier. Through consolidation, online advertisers may better control the manner in which their message is presented.

If and when technology reaches the point in which online advertising is determined by the end-user, it becomes the responsibility of the marketer to understand how and why the consumer interacts online. This can be seen as a challenge, but the application of emerging technologies may prove to be an important asset for companies looking to reach users.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Companies giving back with employee volunteer programs

I began volunteering my time in high school through different organizations: from theatre troupes to food banks. These days, I just don’t have the time to fit everything in! Volunteering is now lower on my list of priorities. Are there other options? I am sure I am not alone in my quest to continue to give back while achieving work-life balance.

Well, fortunately, employers are now providing opportunities to volunteer on company time.

A Toronto Metro News article features companies who have adopted the practice. Accenture is on board as a “corporate citizen.” One of their programs, Accenture Development Partnerships, allows employees to work on non-profit projects in developing countries, using their skills and talents to help others. General Electric has offered tutoring programs for elementary school students - bringing them to the GE offices to do their homework with volunteers. These are ways that employees can make meaningful contact with their community in an employer-sponsored way. It’s also a great way to learn new skills, give back and move careers forward.

What are the benefits for companies implementing volunteer projects? According to New York Cares, an organization that matches volunteers with non-profits, volunteering improves recruitment, morale and retention, while creating a dynamic and positive working environment.

So if you are interested in volunteering and your company has a program – what are you waiting for? If your company still doesn’t have a program, take that initiative and start walking the talk!

See other companies that are improving the workplace for their employees in the 2007 Walk the Talk Report

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Networking best of....

After reading Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi, my favourite 'go-to' book on the art of networking successfully, I was struck by the conscious thoughtful process that was attached to each and every interaction that Keith had described. As one of North America’s pre-eminent relationship builders, Keith was someone I have wanted to meet for some time and was fortunate enough to interview him for our 5 Minutes With feature article in April's Market Yourself Smarter newsletter.

I have always felt that networking is one skill that most business people haven’t mastered (including myself!) and when you read Keith’s book, you will understand why. Keith had many interesting things to share in our interview but the two main take away's for me were:

  • the importance of connecting with transparency and generosity and with the intent of developing 'intimacy' in a relationship
  • looking at building a relationship as a pipeline, where technology is one medium that can be employed to connect

Keith talked about Bill Clinton, someone Keith knows, and his ability to be sincere in ever interaction and make you feel like you are the only person in the room. Hey, if Bill Clinton can do it.... (make the time for it).....

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