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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It's All About Me, You, Us

Happy Ash Wednesday! Wait a minute, it's Lent...somber and reflective Ash Wednesday. (Or is that just a function of post-Mardi Gras hangovers?)
Where are my Requiems? I need to play Requiems during Lent - Faure. Rutter. The German by Bach. Of course, Mozart. Gets me in the mood.
At least in the tradition in our church, we usually end the service with Allelujah, Amen, but during Lent, just the Amen until Easter.
***
Snow removal in Albany-ha! I'm not talking aboout the street snow, for which the city has justifiably been criticized, but the sidewalks, which after nearly a week of warming temperatures are still often impassable. Yeah, the city can fine people, but I'm talking about the social contract. I've been out at least thrice since the snow stopped to continually widen the path in front of our house. Meanwhile, there are people who seem to believe that the spelling of snow removal is s-p-r-i-n-g. We're Northeasterners, people, we should know how to do this.
***
In re: this comment: "Two hours of television a week for me, dude! The Net is where it's at!" - what's the diff? User-Generated Content on TV (see Doritos' Super Bowl ads). TV on the web (see the vast majority of newtork programming. It's the message, not the medium.
***
And speaking of television, I find myself, disturbingly, agreeing in part, with former Reagan special assistant Peggy Noonan. She has a weekly column in the weekend Wall Street Journal called Declarations. This past weekend, she wrote a piece called They Sold Their Soul for a Pot of Message about the early Presidential race; the title reference is a play on words re: Esau in the Book of Genesis selling "his soul for a mess of pottage."

The most dismaying thing I've noticed the past 10 years on television is that ordinary people who are guests on morning news shows -- the man who witnessed the murder, the housewife who ran from the flames -- speak, now, in perfect sound bites. They also cry on cue. They used to ramble, like unsophisticated folk, and try to keep their emotions to themselves. Anchors had to take them in hand. "But what happened then?" Now the witness knows what's needed, and how to do it. "And when she didn't come home, Matt, I knew: this is not like her. And I immediately called the authorities."

Why does this dismay? Because it's another stepping away from the real. Artifice detaches us even from ourselves.

***
Primary Research Group has published a new edition of The Survey of College Marketing Programs. The 170-page study presents more than 650 tables of data relating to college marketing efforts, exploring trends in television, radio,newspaper and magazine advertising, direct mail, college viewbook and magazine publishing, and use of web ads, blogs, search engine placement enhancement, and other internet related marketing. The report also looks closely at spending by colleges on marketing consultancies, market research firms, and advertising and public relations agencies.

The data in the report is broken out by enrollment size, type of college, public/private status, and even by the extent to which colleges draw their applicants from the local area. Fifty-five colleges completed an exhaustive questionnaire. A list of participants is available at our website.

Just a few of the study’s many findings appear below:

• 17.65% of the colleges in the sample make payments to search engines for higher search engine placement in searches. More than a quarter of private colleges make such payments, but only a bit more than 10% of public colleges do so.

• 15.69% of the colleges in the sample have used podcasts as a way to market the college. Podcasts were used most by the research universities in the sample.

• Close to 86% of the colleges in the sample publish a viewbook; all of the private colleges in the sample and three quarters of the public colleges in the sample publish viewbooks.
The mean number of (traditional print) viewbooks distributed by the colleges in the sample in 2006 was 12,954.

• 29.41% of the colleges in the sample offered a PDF version of the viewbook.

• A shade more than 23% say that they are printing fewer and fewer viewbooks each year

• More than twice as many colleges in the sample said that their volume of direct mail for marketing the college had increased over the past two years than said that it had decreased in this same period.

• About 61% of the colleges in the sample include a virtual tour of the college campus on the college website. Larger colleges were somewhat more likely than smaller colleges to have a virtual tour of the campus on the college website. Only 20% of the community colleges in the sample had a virtual tour of the campus on the college website.

• The colleges in the sample received a mean of 53.5% of their applications through the college website, and this figure ranged from 0 to 100%.

• 20.45% of the colleges in the sample have an employee on the college enrollment, marketing, public relations or admissions staffs who is assigned the role of responding to comments about the college or otherwise providing information about the college to bloggers.

• 13.7% of the colleges in the sample use any form of paid advertising service from Google

• Mean annual spending on advertising agencies was $28,800 with median spending of $5,000.

• More than 75% of the colleges in the sample published their own magazines about the college.

• Close to 80% of the colleges in the sample have advertised on the radio; both public and private colleges use radio advertising and college size is not a major determinant of radio advertising use.

• 26.42% of the colleges in the sample have advertised on cable television within the past two years.
***
In the same vein as TIME Magazine naming me, I mean YOU, as the person of the year last year, Ad Age named The Consumer as Ad Agency of the Year. So this book review I came across interested me:

Let the Seller Beware by Frank Rose. Wall Street Journal. December 20, 2006, p. D.10

"Citizen Marketers" [By Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba; Kaplan Publishing, 223 pages, $25] offers a solid, sometimes insightful explanation of how the Internet has armed the consumer -- which is to say, everyone -- against the mindless blather of corporate messaging attempts. The stories it tells are not all negative by any means: For every vengeful YouTube posting there are countless blogs that celebrate products as diverse (and unlikely) as Chicken McNuggets, Barq's root beer and HBO's "Deadwood." The author of a blog called Slave to Target confesses that the thought of shopping at Target stores makes her "simply feel orgasmic." The point is that in the current era of blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, mashups, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and whatever is coming next week, corporate decision-makers are losing even the illusion of control. It's a buyer's world. Caveat venditor, as [the authors] note: Let the seller beware.

Last March, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 48 million Americans -- roughly one-sixth of the population -- were posting something or other to the Web. Given that this is a nation of consumers, much of what they're posting involves some form of comment on consumer products, none of it authorized by the product maker. As the authors note, business people will find this "either astoundingly cool or somewhat alarming."

The real story of "Citizen Marketers" is the rise of the activist amateur -- "amateur" meaning not only a nonprofessional but also, in the original sense, one who loves. We're seeing a fusion -- a mashup, if you will -- of two formerly distinct spheres, the private and the public. Privately held brands are being defined not by their owners but by unpaid, and often unwanted, public guardians. In an age when most discussion of the public weal can be filed under "commons, tragedy of," this is a remarkable development.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Revisiting your blog and saw the various comments on Feb 21 (Ash Wed). Minor comment on Lent. I found out at Lenten servies last night that Lent means Spring. And how we start off Lent in Winter, but finish with Spring weather. (Although having grown up in Wisconsin, I do remember some "white" Easters) ;-)

Anyway, the report you had on college/advertising use of Internet, Podcasts, etc. Struck a cord in me, because of the article listed below. It is a story of a grad student living pre-1950 lifestyle for her project. At least for one month. It also tied into a news bit I saw last night where they were asking citizens on the street what is the one thing (technology wise) they could not live without…

You've heard of going retro, right? KC Star 2/22/2007
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/entertainment/16749322.htm

Anyway, enjoy!

Carol Doms
Corporate Librarian

Roger Green said...

The URL Carol sent ends with

entertainment/16749322.htm