Facebook product ads are coming

Get ready, Facebook friends. Big Brother is about to be in your face in greater force than ever.

Facebook has announced it will show product ads to users that allow brands to show off multiple offerings and, in some cases, their entire inventory.

Now, before you think these Facebook product ads will overwhelm you and you will start thinking about a different social network, Facebook says the ads will be targeted to specific users.

Yes, that means Facebook will be using your personal data to decide which ads are more meaningful to you than to the rest of the world. Show an appreciation of cross-country skiing? Get ready for some ads from places like REI.

What your Facebook timeline will look like soon.
What your Facebook timeline will look like soon.

While this sounds like too much control from the home office, it’s actually the way of the world. Already, as most of you have probably noticed, you get ads on the Internet based on sites you just visited. Checked out a hotel in Sao Paulo, but didn’t book? It’s not out of the ordinary for ads of those hotels to pop up on other sites you visit.

Already, big data is the driving force for most media placement. We are targeted each day with messages that are based on our own lifestyle, usage and online presence. There will be a point where someone goes too far (think NSA), but we’ve already gone past the point of no return.

For brands, the use of big data is important because it gives the reality to the idea that your brands must be a true reflection of your customer. While most brands still get that wrong (their messages are usually about the product or brand, not the target audience), this science is a tangible way for brands to be more effective in reflecting the customer.

Now, for this to truly work, whether on Facebook or not, brands must reflection the aspiration of the target audience, not just the nuts and bolts of their products. When that happens, the brands will be able to take full advantage with these Facebook product ads.

Fantasy has changed the way we watch sports

I like to pull for teams. Fantasy sports teams just don’t get my blood going.

Mostly, I enjoy college athletics —basketball and football in particular. My favorites teams being the Temple Owls and the Florida State Seminoles (if you’re a long time reader of my blogs, you probably knew that already).

Fantasy sports leaves me a little sad
Its a new world in sports

I grew to love John Chaney, the Hall of Fame Basketball coach for the Temple Owls; and how Bobby Bowden’s would recruit “speed”for the Seminoles football team. Even though both coaches have retired, I’m still a die-hard fan of each school. You could say my team pride runs in my blood.

As a team enthusiast, I grow to love the players on the field and court. I build an attachment to them, get to like their personalities, and moreover, how they grow through the course of the year.

That’s why I have mixed feelings about Fantasy sports (Fantasy Football, Baseball, Basketball, etc.). As a guy who has never played, but who has children and friends that do, I see the slow decline of a team appreciation, to a singular awareness of individual statistics.

Last year, the running back Chris Johnson had something to say about this:

“Public service announcement: I can care less about fantasy football. Key word fantasy. As long as we win I’m happy. I rush for 200 n lose y’all happy,” Johnson wrote. “U r the head coach n the owner of ur fantasy team so u should be mad at urself I didn’t ask any of u to draft me so if I’m so sorry y start me.”

I tend to think Chris Johnson is right. The brand of professional sports is changing due to Fantasy Sports. Owners of teams pull for players, who can at times be on rival teams, hoping they, as Johnson said, “rush for 200 yards,” so they can win in their league that week.

Is Fantasy a bad thing? I don’t think so, but it’s hard to deny that it is changing the complexion of how we view sports. For a traditionalist like me, that makes me a bit sad.

eToys. What went wrong?

eToys failure. The Loss of a Great Brand

By Tom Dougherty

From Fairchilds Brand Marketing

 the eToys failure can't be blamed on the advertising
Izzy RIP

Many years ago I was compelled to run out and purchase a CD from a Hawaiian folk singer names Israel Kamakawiwo’ole after hearing his version of “Somewhere over the rainbow” on NPR’s All Things Considered. As it turned out, was not the only person who fell in love with this recording. Even to this day, whenever I play it on the office, passerby’s stop and exclaim, “Oh, that’s eToys.” The ill-fated Internet retailer fell in love with the song’s intro and used it effectively in all of its broadcast advertising.

This is important because I am mourning the loss of a great brand. I am mourning the demise of eToys because its brand touched me in powerful ways. Did I use it? It’s a great question and needs to be asked. I did, once, a year ago this past Christmas. And I swore I would never shop it again. I kept my word. As a brand man, I feel the need to weigh in on all the turmoil in the Internet commerce today and set the record straight.

The Internet is an incredibly viable business frontier, one that craves great branding to a greater degree than any other vehicle I know. I also want to go on record as applauding the eToys brand as a job done brilliantly well. I didn’t shed a tear when the myriad of online pet stores closed their doors or when CD Now warned of impending doom. But I am sad about eToys. It is as if a valued friend has passed away.

eToys failure. It was the loss of a great brand
eToys was a great brand

You see, great brands do a bunch of things: they reach into me and tell me they are important; they find a way into my sense of self; and align themselves with my values and aspirations. Great brands help me see myself, as I want to be perceived and promise that their services are both different, and hopefully better. I maintain that eToys succeeded in most, if not all, of these crucial brand tests. It’s advertising was brilliantly effective.

It was evocative, emotional and memorable. Its imagery and musical bed was distinctive and spoke to me of parental caring, childhood and innocence. It invited me to remember it as important and even on my side. It was so compelling that I bought a whole truckload of toys and gifts for my five kids. Most of the presents arrived the second week of January.

You see, eToys had a flawed business model, not a flawed brand. Because it didn’t deliver, (literally), it lost my life-long involvement and investment in the brand. Let us learn our lessons well at its expense.

Read a detailed study of the Retail Market here

In a sea of uniformity, farmersonly.com is different

I was in my family room recently watching a basketball game when I got a text from my wife saying, “Forgive me, but I have to check out farmersonly.com.” In a matter of a minute, I got another text saying, “Damn, I have to enter an email address, but go to YouTube and watch their commercial.”

So I did. I crinkled my brow, laughed a bit and marveled in the sheer simplistic singularity of it.

Farmers only.com is a dating site for “Farmers, ranchers and country folks.”

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.07.41 AMIf you have never heard of farmersonly.com, there are probably two good reasons for it – they have no budget and it’s not for you. It is the latter that makes all the difference.

We say all the time how important it is for brands to be single-minded and to take a stand in saying who they are for and who they are not. I have to tell you, seeing its ad and site, farmersonly.com seems to be doing the right thing from a positioning perspective. I doubt it has hit an emotionally intensive message, but its position is at least single-minded that is leaps and bounds ahead of the vast majority of businesses today.

Kudos to you farmersonly.com, work on your message and you could really have something.

Pandora vs. iTunes Radio, who will win?

Who do you listen to: iTunes Radio, Pandora or Spotify?

Here’s my guess: You listen to a mix of all of them.

The launch of iTunes Radio more than a month ago produced calls for the demise of Pandora, simply because everything Apple touches is magic and it would have an captive audience that runs its iOS7 software.

My feeling all along as been that Pandora (and, to a lesser extent, Spotify) would weather the storm. That’s because those online radio applications are much like the streaming services on your TV. Netflix may be the leader, but I’ll bet many of you also have Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. (Not to mention the TV networks’ own apps, such as HBO GO.)

So far, that theory has been proven to be true. Pandora reported an increase in revenue of 51% with market share increasing from 6.6% to 8.06% in radio.

video.yahoofinance.dailyticker.com@df7163a9-9b9e-3094-9e76-c3f70ccad528_FULLNow, it’s only been a month and iTunes Radio said last month that it has reached 20 million in September and the numbers could continue to grow.

But, when it comes to consumer-oriented service technology like this, users are usually not wedded to just one. We live in a world in which choice rules the day.

The real competition for Pandora and iTunes Radio is not each other. It’s all the other ways in which we listen to music. Whether it’s downloading a song, listening to a local radio station or even playing a CD (does anyone do that anymore?), the online services have greater inroads to make than simply taking away each other’s customers.

There will be continued shifting, however, that may produce a new market leader. My point is that the predictions of Pandora’s demise are shortsighted. The world is wide open – as long as the brands themselves remain meaningful and relevant. Pandora and Apple are, which means the grab for market share is a long-term affair.