Showing posts with label AdAge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AdAge. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Cost to Not Ignore Nissan

The simple equation of Return on Investment (ROI) is a hot topic in social media circles as the discipline evolves to prove its value in the media and communications mix for business.  It's a topic that has spawned several conference topics, a multitude of articles and several books all vying to show how social media experts can realize ROI in their social strategy.

Within the ROI dialog is another set of value acronyms that try to show other forms of value other than direct monetary value. One popular one is Return on Engagement (ROE) that looks to show value provided by conversations and the establishment of deeper relationships with one's customers or prospective customers.

Thanks to yesterday's AdAge, Nissan has now entered a new acronym to the social value lexicon: Cost of Ignoring (COI). Erich Marx, Nissan's director-interactive and social-media marketing, shared "you have to be there [social media]. It's not about ROI, it's about COI-- cost of ignoring. It's too big to ignore."

Nissan's COI strategy is currently focusing on five vehicle launches in the next 15 months, all of them to include a "heavy emphasis" on social media.

Ever since General Motors pulled out of a $10 million Facebook campaign, the marketing and investment world has been interested in what automotives are doing on the site.  I'm not sure the story about Nissan's latest Facebook activities is that different from what's been happening on Facebook for the past several years from many car companies.

Nissan will be asking Altima fans to share car ideas that might be implemented in a future product and recently they did an essay contest where winners were selected for a drive event at Nissan's proving grounds.

Which brings us back to COI.

Any idea what the equation is for Cost of Ignoring? Perhaps it's something like Cartman's equation for gold.

[Source]: AdAge "Nissan Looks to Facebook to Help Launch Five New Models"


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Folly of Fans and Followers

One very common error I see from those who are not active in social media is the fallacy of followers issue. This happens when someone who doesn’t use Twitter sees a huge number of followers on a person’s profile and assumes that person has more influence than those with significantly less followers.

Take for example, a presentation I was watching online from a recent auto show. They had a panel discussing the future of social media and what it meant to journalism. The host brought up several excellent insights in her presentation, but there was one very critical error. She used an example of an “influencer” - @ronniewilson – who has a large number of Twitter followers, “he [@ronniewilson] is becoming an extremely influential person in his industry with over 83,000 following his health and fitness test.” The speaker than continued about how this person said something about cars and that he was influencing a large audience of followers.

What’s disturbing about the use of Ronnie Wilson is that he is anything but an influencer. I took a look at his profile and ran it against a couple popular social media tools to determine his influence. The two tools I used are Twitalyzer and Klout.

The Proof is in the Stats

Nothing is perfect with either Twitalyzer or Klout. They do scoring that is interesting and does provide some information for comparative purposes, but the really interesting stuff is in the stats sections, especially the data Klout provides.

Ronnie has very little influence, if any at all. He has only 8 unique people who have engaged with him in the past 30 days and only 5 of his messages were interesting enough for 90,000 plus followers to share with others. What we have here is someone who used an auto-follow bot to gain a massive amount of followers to possibly appear influential to marketers or others unfamiliar to Twitter.

Like I said, I’m not so interested in Klout Scores or Twitalyzer influence numbers. They are mildly interesting, but if you dig into some of the statistics and look at how a person’s message is or isn’t being heard, relative to their follower numbers, you can get some idea of true influence. The stats I find most interesting are on Klout: @ mentions, unique @ senders, unique retweeters, and true reach. These stats show you if a person's message is resonating and sparking conversation and sharing in his or her network.

The trouble is finding what is a good number from these stats. I found the best way to determine this is to look at several profiles from people discussing the same things. If a campaign wants to talk to muscle car enthusiasts look at Twitter profiles discussing that. If a campaign wants to talk about home cooking look at several profiles. After looking at 5-10 profiles you'll notice what some better numbers are but don't expect the numbers to be huge. Reach is much smaller than say a follower number.

Beware of Robots

How can I tell this person is using a robot to gain followers? Well I can’t be 100% certain that is the case; though, the low engagement numbers show Ronnie's community doesn’t really care about his Tweets since they lack any reason to share or engage with him. He could be gaining followers through some major media coverage or popularity in a very active social space; however, having watched organic Twitter follower growth versus non-organic (using an auto-follower bot) growth it is very obvious looking at a chart like this from Klout that shows a very high trajectory of consistent growth. To gain 30,000 follower in one month is an obvious giveaway (from 3/15/09 to 4/17/09 he went from 33,375 to 62,248 followers.)

Perhaps using Ronnie Wilson was a mistake by the expert talking about social media’s influence journalism. Unfortunately, it is a mistake that isn’t uncommon nor will it be the last time such an oversight will happen.

Facebook Fans a Poor Indicator

It is very easy to get lazy when it comes to social media data and that’s what happened with a recent AdAge article covering “The Cult of Toyota.” I briefly discussed it in my monthly report on Automotive Facebook Fans: February 2010, but want to raise two points here.

The article mentions how Toyota’s Facebook fans grew 10% since the recall which supposedly shows a respectful amount of support. I looked at four months of growth data for Toyota and found that in those four months Toyota’s fan base grew on average 11%. None of the months included any marketing support either on Facebook (meaning no ads for Fanning Toyota were ran on the Facebook site.)

Another issue also happened in the AdAge article that bothered me. The author brings up Honda as a direct comparison to Toyota, which they are but using fan counts is a highly false indicator of brand strength on the social community website.

Honda has over 300,000 and Toyota only 80,000 fans. So Honda is roughly four times more popular with its fans than Toyota is with its fans, right? Nope. Not even close. Fortunately, the AdAge article doesn’t draw that point but the author does use Honda’s fan count as a reference number, but it’s a massively flawed comparison because Honda grew its fan base with a significant marketing buy late last year when they ran their Everybody Loves a Honda campaign.

The Honda Love campaign had over a full month of paid Become a Fan ads on Facebook, TV commercials with Honda’s Facebook URL, print ads with the URL, and all their email marketing communications included Fan promotion. They grew over 1,300% due to that large marketing dollar commitment (sorry no exact numbers have been disclosed and Honda has been so gall to pretend they did “minimal” marketing.) Without the big marketing spend Honda’s fan base would be very similar to Toyota’s organic (zero marketing) fan numbers.

Just like with Twitter followers we all have to be very careful when pulling Facebook fan numbers to determine trends, comparisons, or understanding a brand’s health.

Unfortunately, unlike Twitter, it is very difficult to determine how much true reach and influence a brand has with its fan base. The page administrators have access to some decent data, but that is not public.

Without behind the scenes Facebook analytics, it is nearly impossible to figure out how effective a brand is with its fans. There are no public tools to analyze a Facebook fan page like there are with Twitter analytical tools thus making it difficult to truly measure the impact a site is having with its fans.

In Conclusion

Using and Facebook and Twitter numbers can definitely be misleading and this is only a surprise to those unfamiliar with the sites and what engagement and influence truly means. The big lesson is that as marketers or journalists we can't be lazy when assessing how popular a person or brand is in the social space by simply looking at fan or follower data. The truth is far more complex than that.

UPDATE May 10, 2010: There is a great article from Harvard Business Review on the topic of "Followers Don't Equal Influence." If you are interested in some more data on this topic I highly recommend the article.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: February 2010

It’s been a very interesting month on Facebook for the automotive industry. A lot of companies are getting more aggressive with their marketing efforts and showed up with some decent spend promoting their brand fan pages in February, the Super Bowl happened, and Toyota is in a tailspin.

Marketing For Fans

Several brands did “Facebook Fan” campaigns. Fan campaigns are ad unit buys that typically show up on the Home News Feed page of Facebook in the Sponsored section between Suggestions and Events content. The ad units feature a “Become a Fan” button that allows people to easily fan a page without even having to visit it.

Dodge ran the most significant Fan campaign in February. They most have bought a full month of ad units, only the third time I’ve ever seen a brand do such a thing (VW and Honda being the other two.) Dodge ran ads featuring two messages. One featured their Super Bowl video “Man’s Last Stand” and the other linked to the Dodge Fan Page tab talking about their Super Beard Contest.

Mazda also bought several weeks of Fan ad units in conjunction with their Mazda 2 vehicle launch. The ads asked users to “Join the Movement.” The ads did not feature a vehicle image; instead, the unit was a blue-on-blue checkered flag with a small Mazda logo. Very little branding in the units but Mazda had a significant percentage jump in Facebook fans, a whopping 568% growth in February. Could it have been more with a stronger logo or did they gain more with less branding? Tough to say, but Mazda definitely attracted a strong number of fans with their buy.

It’s hard to say whether Dodge or Mazda did better with their marketing buy on Facebook without knowing impressions bought and how targeted the buy was. Percentage wise Mazda did far better than Dodge’s 126% growth, but Dodge had a much higher starting number of fans. Dodge grew by 36,000 fans versus Mazda’s 18,000 fans or two times the growth in numbers over Mazda.

Volkswagen did a little bit of marketing in February too to further promote their PunchDub Super Bowl ad. They only ran Fan ad units for either a day or few days after the Sunday following the game. The ad units also included the Super Bowl commercial they did.

Ram Trucks and Acura both did marketing buys too, but nothing that significant. Acura saw growth of 10,000 fans but that probably didn’t involve much of an ad buy with targeted marketing spend and some fan growth due to organic increases; though, the 185% growth number shows they did accurately reach their fans.

Let’s Talk Toyota

This morning as I was finishing this article an article showed up on AdAge about “The Cult of Toyota” and how since the recall Toyota fans are rallying to the brand with a 10% growth in fans since the recall announcements that started at the end of January.

From the article:

“According to Doug Frisbie, Toyota Motor Sales USA's national social media and marketing integration manager, the automaker has actually grown its Facebook fan base more than 10% since late January, around the time of the marketer's Jan. 21 recall announcement and its Jan. 26 stop-sale date.

“In fact, Mr. Frisbie said the automaker has been somewhat surprised by the large number of customers who have leapt to Toyota's defense in ‘an authentic way.’

“That's a testament to the resilience of the brand, but also to Toyota's ability to quickly pick up one of the most important tools in a crisis-communications handbook: social media.”
First of all, the number is 15% in February, but that’s not my issue with the assessment.

If we look back at Toyota’s growth in fans month-by-month we notice two things. One, they have doubled their percentage growth of fans gained from 7% to 15% from the January to February. So, AdAge is right the brand is attracting more fans since the recall so the recall must be the reason. Maybe not if we look at what else stands out in the data – they grew even more in November 2009 yet there was no recall then nor did they market for fans that month.

I would argue one couldn’t really account any surge in fans due to the recall. This is only four months of data and it is not clear what a typical growth in fans is for the brand. It looks to be somewhere around 11% on average so a 15% gain in one month really isn’t that significant especially when you consider how many other brands not marketing and not going through any major PR issues are also gaining fans in the double-digits.

One of the interesting things about doing this monthly "Facebook Fans by Brands" report is seeing how the spin is done to showcase things that seem unusual to the casual observer, but are really not. What would be interesting with the Toyota situation is to evaluate the brand’s conversations on its Facebook fan page since the recall. Now that might show something unusual or interesting.

A Couple House Cleaning Items

Suzuki decided to move their Facebook automotive content to a new Fan Page for Suzuki Autos that did cause some dip in their numbers since my prior calculations were using a more broad Suzuki Fan page that encompassed all of the brand's vehicles including motorcycles and recreational products.

Finally, I have been tracking Scion's brand page for quite sometime but just learned this month, when the fan page was updated with information about it being an Unofficial Fan Page, that it is not managed by the brand. Also, the page received a new friendly URL So, I have removed Scion from the report since they currently do not have a Fan Page for the brand; though, they do have one now for their Release Series vehicle line.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dodge Challenger Pokes Fun at Jerry Seinfeld's European Carry-All

In an attempt to add some macho to the brand that brings us the Caliber and Avenger comes a new ad called “Man Bag” promoting the Dodge Challenger, created by Wieden & Kennedy, the agency that recently won the Dodge business from BBDO. The ad features one of my favorite TV show characters the actor Michael C. Hall who plays the lead on Showtime’s Dexter series (he also played the gay son on HBO’s “Six Feet Under”.)

So what about the ad’s name: “Man Bag”. Well at least someone has a sense of humor. I know it’s supposed to mock the femininity of the metro sexual male, but that seems like something that was more topical in 2008 than 2010. Plus the double entendre of the ad’s title is a bit ridiculous; though, not as ridiculous as W+K’s LaDainian Tomlinson Electric Glide for Nike.

So why this approach?

It is definitely on target for the Dodge Challenger consumer, assuming product research showed tough, rugged guys mocking girly-men is where it’s at for
an American muscle car crowd. A safe assumption I’m sure. It will probably resonate, but the lack of any cool imagery or a more confrontational, humorous storyline instead of just a voice-over might have helped the concept.

Also the voice-over choice fits what Ad Age reported today, that the “new tone and feel seems to be about trying to cast the automaker as a brand associated with celebrities and social causes (two things said to be a passion of Olivier Francois, Chrysler brand's president-CEO).”

If this is a precursor to the coming Super Bowl ad from Dodge, don’t bother. It’s just too forgettable to have any change in brand perception or product consideration.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

GM's Manufactured Buzz, All 230 Volts

What Is 230? General Motors wants you to get all excited about an unveiling coming up on August 11, 2009. They have launched a website, Flickr photostream, YouTube channel, Facebook group, blog, and are actively Tweeting “I spotted 230. #whatis230”

The campaign launched in early March as there are a set of photos from March 19, 2009 in New York City where t-shirts were handed out to passers by (3/19/09 is the date on all of the photos in the Flickr stream, though they were uploaded on August 9.) Since then, there’s been the website and some ads running on Hulu promoting the event.

But what is the event? I follow several automotive enthusiasts on Twitter and several of them are being flown in to Detroit for an event on Monday. It’s pretty safe to assume this effort is related to the 230 announcement GM is holding Tuesday. The campaign is all about buzz and engagement with social media auto enthusiasts is part of the effort to generate discussion.

An AdAge article on August 6 dug further into the matter but GM wouldn’t say a thing. We do know from the article that Meghan Winger, a staffer of Chicago agency All Terrain, is the creator of the What Is 230 group. Other guesses from readers include the following:
  • Number of days until GM files bankruptcy again
  • 230 is the MPG of the Chevy Volt
  • Price of the new Volt - $230,000
  • 230 days until delivery of the Volt
Most people definitely think this is Chevy Volt related and with All Terrain having Chevy as their top client it is a pretty reasonable guess. But what else can GM reveal about the Chevy Volt that people don’t already know? I think it is not about the Volt; though, it is about Chevrolet. Maybe GM is getting ready to announce another electric vehicle product? Guess we’ll find out Tuesday.

UPDATE 8/11/2009: Seems I was wrong. There was some news about the Volt that hadn't been shared - fuel economy numbers. Though, I find it odd that the EPA rating is out a year before vehicle introduction. Strange? Anyway, the 230 refers to 230 MPG city driving and the Volt is expected to have a combined MPG rating with three digits. More at the Wall Street Journal. Also, a great article from John Voelcker of on the math behind the Volt's 230 MPG rating.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Buick’s “Photo Shoot” the Symptom, Not the Cause

Since Bob Lutz was put in charge of all things marketing at General Motors, one campaign has taken the brunt of the criticism. The first TV Spot from the campaign is “Photo Shoot” which launched Buick’s new flagship sedan the LaCrosse.

Why all the attention?

Autoblog claims “the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is the most important vehicle launched by the brand in decades.” Whether that is entirely true or not, we at least know the car market is very important and Buick really needs a wining product to fill GM’s need to remake the Buick brand with premium luxury-like products and the LaCrosse fits that need perfectly.

Buick - Cadillac’s Pestering Luxury Brand:

Four brands remain in the New GM: Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac. Chevrolet is definitely the mass appeal brand, while Cadillac remains GM's luxury brand. GMC is a dedicated truck and SUV brand even though it is just a bunch of me-too Chevy and Cadillac products. Buick, meanwhile, is slotted between Chevy and Cadillac and is supposed to be a premium brand that will butt heads with Cadillac for years to come. Many think Buick only survived because of its success in China, but that’s nonsense. GM didn’t have to keep the brand in the States to keep it in China.

What’s most interesting is that Buick is going after similar competitors its sister brand Cadillac is after too. The Lexus ES350 is in Buick LaCrosse’s sight and the Cadillac SRX is running a campaign chasing the Lexus RX350. So which one is really the luxury brand?

Enter “Photo Shoot”

The TV spot treats the car and SUV like fashion models that are being shot by a hip photographer. The setup is to convince the viewer that the Buick is an unexpected subject for the ultra-cool design crowd. It is meant to disrupt consumer impression of the brand and get viewers to think of the Buick LaCrosse and Enclave as upscale, cool products.

Whether it is successful at doing all of that I’m sure someone in the marketing department will prove out with consumer research and BEAT metrics showing how well the TV spot is changing consumer perception.

Bob Lutz looked at the ad and slammed the testing saying, “that Buick commercial tested very well, which is not the same as saying that it's an effective ad." What does Bob mean? I think he means does it really get buyers to consider the Buick LaCrosse. We’ll see but we at least know the new guy in charge of marketing won’t give marketing the credit if sales are meeting or exceeding expectations.

Blame the Creative

The saddest part of the “Photo Shoot” public criticism is that the creative independent Gary Topolewski who developed the spot is getting most of the blame. Topolewski tried to downplay the attention by telling Automotive News, “the idea was to gain attention for Buick, which I think it surely did." He’s right, but the attention isn’t the kind you want from your client or client’s client.

Campaigns are not developed in a vacuum. In fact, we learn from a recent Ad Age article that Buick’s own VP of Sales and Marketing for North America, Mark LaNeve, was the one who “urged” the agency Leo Burnett Chicago to hire Topolewski. But even that is not the issue. The creative concept had to come from a Creative Brief developed out of brand planning and approvals of the TV spot from Topolewski had to undergo multiple layers of approvals I’m certain, before it ever showed up on anyone’s television set.

All of this doesn’t mean Bob Lutz is wrong. The Creative Brief that became the inspiration for “Photo Shoot” probably struggled to find what a brand does when it isn’t luxury but wants to be luxury but can’t be too luxury because Cadillac is the luxury brand.

Fortunately, the Buick LaCrosse is getting some solid reviews and the product may save the marketing provided the tweaks to the LaCrosse advertising campaign can calm some of the public ugliness going on and nothing can be more effective than some great sales results to forget about “Photo Shoot.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now You Can Give Your Motorcycle Back Too

I think it is pretty clear that programs like Hyundai's Assurance offer are becoming ubiquitous (see my post on Ford and GM.) Now there is news out of Illinois about a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership offing a program using the same insurance company, Walkaway USA, that Hyundai has partnered with.

You can learn more about this at I don't really have much to add as I've covered this type of program enough. Just sharing for those who are interested in seeing how it is propagating across the industry.

I should also note that Hyundai was recognized yesterday as a brand that is "Doing It Right" according to Advertising Age magazine. More assurance programs are sure to be copied.