Read the Fine Print First

Recently Microsoft attempted to answer the age-old question, ‘how old do I look?’ with their fun, new website The site allowed users to upload photos of themselves, and the ‘HowOldRobot’ would guess their age with (apparently) hilarious results. A link was provided to encourage users to share this with their friends on social media with an accompanying hashtag (#HowOld), and it was, without a doubt, a successful viral campaign for Microsoft.

While photos were being uploaded left, right and centre, one user pointed out the fine print on the website allowed Microsoft to use photos uploaded to the site in future advertisements and gave suppliers the same rights too.

However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing, or submitting your Submission, you are granting Microsoft, its affiliated companies, and necessary sublicensees permission to use your Submission in connection with the operation of their Internet businesses (including, without limitation, all Microsoft services), including, without limitation, the license rights to: copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate, and reformat your Submission; to publish your name in connection with your Submission; and to sublicense such rights to any supplier of the Website Services.

Will Microsoft use all the photos uploaded to the site? Probably not, but it’s an important case study in how digital apps have revolutionised the user experience. We’re all guilty, i’m sure, of clicking yes to the terms and conditions without reading them, but this has potential impacts on consumer privacy.

For example, the terms and conditions on Facebook, give the site permission to sell your ‘information’ (demographic stats, things you like and what you post) to companies and brands who can use this for commercial interests. If you’re wondering just how much you are worth to sites like Facebook, a free tool has been developed to calculate the estimated value of your personal user information.

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

Whether or not you are concerned with the way social media sites track users to target them commercially (personally, it’s not a huge issue of mine), it is a significant example of the way the Internet has revolutionised marketing.

What is your opinion on Facebook’s data mining policies from a user perspective?


Internet Marketing Ethics and the Importance of Social Media Conduct

Unfortunately, public opinion on marketing tends to take the wider view that marketers aren’t the most ethical creatures going around. Nevertheless, it is increasing important for marketers to be aware of the ethical implications of their actions, particularly in the relatively new world of digital marketing.

A code of conduct, developed by the Communications Council, outlines advice for brands on social media:

  • Start With a Plan – Crisis Management

It’s not uncommon for a large company to have to deal with some sort of crisis that has arisen from social media, whether it be from the conduct of one their own or from a complaint from a customer. Crisis management plans should always revolve around honest communication with followers, and sincere expressions of apology.



When an employee for KitchenAid in the US mistakenly posted an insensitive tweet about Barak Obama’s grandmother to the company twitter handle and not their own, the brand quickly went into crisis mode. The offending tweet was deleted, apologies were made and the employee was fired.







  • Be Transparent

Consumers want an open and honest dialogue with brands above all else. Companies should ensure they provide transparent representations of themselves to create a genuine identity online. This builds trust in the brand and creates a valued relationship between the consumers and the company.

  • Be Accurate

Posts should be fact-checked and substantiated before being uploaded to the Internet, where a screenshot can make a mistake live forever. On the night of the Oscars, the Academy was caught in a mess when it confused two Hispanic actresses for each other.



  • Be Professional

Always act in a constructive, intelligent and professional manner when representing a brand on social media. In one of the big fails of 2013, RyanAir CEO took to twitter to participate in a Q&A where he made a few lewd and sexist comments. As CEO of a company, he really should have known better.

Source: Econsultancy

Source: Econsultancy

  • Be Fair and Respectful

Posts should be carefully constructed so they don’t damage the reputation or identity of the brand. This should go without saying; Don’t be racist, homophobic, sexist or offensive in general!

Home Depot accused of racism for this tweet

Home Depot accused of racism for this tweet

  • Be Responsible

Always be aware of an abide by the terms of use for social media platforms. Follow the culture and behavioural norms of social media usage.

  • Be Smart

Be aware of laws pertaining to copyright and legal issues surrounding social media usage. Ensure that everything is conducted in an above-board manner.

  • Be Aware of Confidentiality

Privacy is a huge issue on the Internet, so brands must ensure they are protecting not only commercial interests relating to privacy but also the interests of their customers.

All companies should develop a social media conduct charter, to ensure that their social media usage is in line with the ethics of consumers. While mistakes happen, they have the ability to severely damage the brand’s reputation if not dealt with correctly.

Unlocking the Secret to the Success of Virality

Kevin Alloca, trends manager at Youtube, gave this TED talk in 2012, listing his top three criteria for a viral video. As someone whose job is to sit and watch Youtube videos all day, he’d know.

It was an interesting insight into the question that most marketers will be asking themselves when they sit down to plan a campaign: What will make this message go viral?

His three reasons were as follows:

  • Push from Tastemakers:

A boost from “tastemakers”, those with an established following and the ability to influence trends or styles, can push the marketing message to a new audience. It’s why brands often team up with celebrities or fashion icons to get their product in the public eye. A successful, shareable video that is tweeted by a tastemaker can accelerate the process of getting the campaign out to audiences.

  • Audience Participation

A video on its own is not that special. The success comes from the community that is formed on the basis of sharing that video forward. What sets a viral campaign apart from a less successful campaign is that the former has the ability to inspire the audiences to share the message with their family and friends.

  • Unexpectedness

In the video, Alloca noted that over two days of video gets uploaded to Youtube every minute. Only the videos with a genuine uniqueness get set apart from the overload of content that goes up every day. Viral campaigns need to do something that will make them stand out from the rest of the pack.

In order to put this into practice, I took a look at once of my favourite viral marketing campaigns: The Old Spice commercial from 2010, linked below.

Not only was the original video viewed more than 50 million times, but Old Spice used the platform to post over 100 ‘personalised’ Youtube videos for fans who tweeted the official twitter account. This wasn’t just aimed at the general audience, they interacted with their ‘tastemakers’ too.

The ‘Old Spice Guy’ made a personal video for actress Alyssa Milano after she tweeted the company about their video.

Alyssa Milano tweets Old Spice

Alyssa Milano tweets Old Spice

Old Spice appeals onto social media platforms like Reddit

Old Spice appeals on social media platforms like Reddit

In the end, the success of the commercial hinged on its uniqueness. It was hilarious, unexpected and charismatic, which helped it stand out from the pack (especially given it was released around the time of the SuperBowl). This, coupled with the way audience participation and tastemakers were leveraged, contributed to one of the better viral marketing campaigns in recent times.

What is your favourite viral marketing ad?

The Internet of Things: Making our Lives “Smart”

There’s a lot of buzz around this new concept, “The Internet of Things”. It’s supposed to be the ‘next big thing’, the technology that’s going to make our lives smarter and more efficient.

What is it?

It’s described by techopedia as:

A computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices

It’s built on a system of data-gathering, where technology is able to ‘talk’ to each other and create a virtual, instantaneous connection to reach a common goal. It means you can use your smartphone to track your exercise and sleep levels, the heat and cooling in your home, the lighting, the traffic and the baby. Convenient, right?

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things

Because of the implications this has for marketing, we are seeing a number of brands utilise this concept for their own benefit.

Johnnie Walker Blue Gets ‘Smarter’:

Earlier this year, British beverage company Diago equipped their iconic Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whiskeys with sensor technology to transmit sales information to customers.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Joins the Internet of Things

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Joins the Internet of Things

The ‘smart bottle’ used Near Field Communication technology equipped on smartphones to allow users to read the tags on the bottle and get information about the taste and alcohol content on the whiskey. This was born from research, which suggested that more than 50% of product information search happens on mobile a few feet from the shelves.


“Although these are very traditional product categories, there is a huge amount of digital interaction that is happening with our products,” Balakrishnan says. “These are people standing in stores or bars and wondering whether they buy the single malt or the blend, highland or lowland.”

Venky Balakrishnan Iyer, global vice president, Digital Innovation, Diageo

The sensory label also had the ability to detect when a bottle had been open, providing customer information on how best to enjoy the alcohol. Diago went even further than this, using the technology to track the supply chain and sending this information back to marketers in their head office.

Ralph Lauren Biometric Smart Shirt

Google Glass first tried to make wearable technology ‘cool’, but didn’t quite succeed. As one of the leading fashion brands and experts on ‘cool’, Ralph Lauren recently debuted their new biometric smart shirt, which allowed users to their track health and fitness. Each top was fitted with sensors that recorded and analysed heartbeat, respiration, stress levels and energy output.


Ralph Lauren Biotech Polo Top


Calling it the ‘next evolution of wearable technology’, Ralph Lauren have embraced the Internet of Things to develop innovative and marketable products.

There are plenty of other examples of brands embracing the Internet of Things, from the popular Google owned ‘Nest’ technology to the recently debuted Apple Watch products.

Have a Break… Have a Youtube?

The slogan that every chocolate lover knows off by heart, “Have a Break, have a KitKat” recently went through a (short) rebranding to incorporate Google’s video-streaming service Youtube this month.

Youtube Break. One of 600 000 distributed

Youtube Break.
One of 600 000 distributed

The Nestlé company decided to pair with digital media giant (not for the first time) to release 600,000 KitKat bars in the UK with the new name “Youtube Break” as part of an integrated marketing campaign. It was a celebration of Nestlé’s 80th birthday and Youtube’s 10th.

The chocolate bars also featured other types of “breaks”, but the key to the campaign was the partnership between both companies.

The brand sponsored Youtube’s trending topics page on mobile, with KitKat’s being featured constantly throughout the user experience, including on the pre-roll ads and on the top site banner.

KitKat take over Youtube

KitKat take over Youtube

Software was also included, which allowed viewer’s to use their phone voice recognition software to access the day’s trending videos by saying, “YouTube my break”, as seen in the video posted onto Nestlé’s UK Youtube channel.

This was topped off with the hashtag #mybreak to raise awareness of the campaign.

It was a smart (but not exactly subtle) move by the chocolate brand, given the traffic that Youtube amasses per day. Statistics from Google indicate that half of Youtube’s views are from mobile devices, and that billions of views are generated per day.

In a brief look at the seven steps of an integrated marketing campaign, Nestlé’s attempt looks fairly successful. Their press release indicated that the “campaign is based on the consumer insight that KITKAT® consumers are also YouTube fans, and that the video platform is uniquely placed to provide real time insights into the world’s most watched videos”. Thus, the target audience was identified and the correct channels were chosen. While the name of the bar changed, the identifiable colours and brand logo stayed the same, giving the campaign a consistent visual identity. The message was integrated for mobile and linked back to KitKat’s social media pages to track the campaign.

I’d certainly cite this as a successful IMC campaign. What do you think? What other examples of IMC campaigns come to mind?

The Era of Mobile Has Arrived

It’s no secret that we have become a technology driven society, and this especially rings true (pun!) for our engagement with mobile devices.

All the recent marketing trends indicate that mobile e-commerce is growing rapidly compared to its desktop counterpart, and mobile usage has succeeded desktop usage across the board.

Sourced from:

Sourced from:

So it’s no longer correct to assume that because you’ve gone mobile, you’re ahead of the game. Those that haven’t jumped on board yet are being left behind in a cloud of dust.

When looking at optimising mobile marketing for a business, it’s important to understand what mobile can offer and analyse the pitfalls of the new technology.

Pros of Mobile Marketing:

  • The Message is Personal

Direct messaging to consumers is opened up with a mobile platform to play with. This provides an invaluable way to open a direct dialogue with a customer, and receive instant feedback on results. People engage with their mobile multiple times throughout any given day, and a tweet or text message can feel personalised and tailored to the individual.

  • Convenience is Everything

Setting up an app or mobile friendly site where users can pay for products easily is an untapped gold mine for sales driven companies. Mobile payment apps and platforms, like PayPal provide the convenience of on-the-go payments, and can be incorporated into the e-commerce of any online store.

  •  Interactive Marketing

There is huge viral potential for mobile advertising that is specifically created to be shareable and likeable. It also has the added benefit of providing channels for instant feedback, so it’s clear what is working and what isn’t.


The Perils of Mobile Marketing:

  • Overstepping Boundaries

The flip side to the having a direct channel to interact with users is that it can feel intrusive if it is not done well. Mobile phones are highly personal devices, and having ads pop up while trying to use different apps can be an instant turn-off for any user.

  • Security Issues

As everyone is carrying a mini-computer in their pockets which stores a database of personal information, security becomes critical. Cisco’s Senior Director of Security Marketing Strategy, Jennifer Leggio, said:

Application developers will assume even more responsibility as companies will no longer be able to sacrifice security over user experience. Especially in the face of so many high profile breaches, a lack of diligence in security even for the most entertaining of applications can lead to loss of business or consumer data, an impact to the bottom line and even loss of brand integrity

With mobile usage up across the board, marketing through this platform has become more and more important to any promising digital marketing platform. However, as with any new channel, there are new challenges to navigate.

If You’re Not Paying for It, You’re the Product

It’s a common theme for the older generations to complain about Gen Y’s sense of entitlement, and for the general response to be an exaggerated eye-roll or a shake of the head, but it is true that our generation is used to getting things for ‘free’ on the internet. It’s also true, that there’s no such thing as free in the world of marketing.

A lot of the websites we use on a daily basis are free to sign up to and use, but are making a very healthy profit behind the scenes. Facebook and Google are two prime examples of billion dollar companies with a huge user base. Most of their money comes from advertising, which should be no surprise at all.

This is where the common saying, ‘if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product’ comes from. Google, for instance, will auction off ad space to willing companies who want to be featured at the top of the results page. They become the customer, and when you search for the answer to that burning question that’s been plaguing you, you become the product.


It’s estimated that around 96% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. It is the key to their business model.

In 2006, Google also bought out the up and coming video-sharing site, Youtube, and almost immediately monetised it.

Featured on the site (funnily enough), are plenty of videos of companies talking through their online advertising strategies, specifically the utilisation of Youtube analytics to target a certain demographic of viewers.

In the above video, marketing executives at GoPro discuss their partnership with YouTube and how this exposure has led to a direct increase in sales. The ability to upload and share content, and then analyse how and why a viewer’s interest was peaked, demonstrates how valuable the site can be for companies who utilise it properly.

The best thing is, for a viewer browsing the site, the content doesn’t immediately scream ‘ad’. Being a somewhat tech-savvy 20-year-old, i’m well aware of the online options available to me that block as much advertising as possible. This includes the 5-second pre-roll ads that run before videos and the banner ads that appear on the side of the screen. However, GoPro’s original content is enticing enough to attract a large number of viewers, while still marketing the product well.

It can be a little off-putting when you realise the intended purpose of the site you log onto every day is to advertise to you, but this is the digital marketing world we live in. Some companies do it better than others!