In August 2005, political commentator Arianna Huffington launched her political blog and news site, "The Huffington Post," to provide a forum for progressive issues and to compete with the conservative slanted Drudge Report. Nearly a year (and a myriad of bombshell political stories) later, The Huffington Post has demonstrated its gravitas in the arena by featuring guest columns from a wide array of high profile politicians, strategists and celebrities. While Drudge Report has established itself as the torchbearer in this internet space, The Huffington Post is gaining ground quickly and proving a formidable opponent to Drudge.
- The Huffington Post debuted last August with 512,000 unique visitors, peaked in February 2006 with 834,000 unique visitors, and most recently logged 748,000 unique visitors in April 2006.
- Since The Huffington Post's inception, Drudge Report has experienced traffic declines. Since August 2005, Drudge Report has seen its monthly unique visitors fall from 1.8 million to 1.6 million. Its nadir during that time period (1.3 million visitors in February 2006) coincided with Huffington Post's peak.
- Visitors to both The Huffington Post and Drudge Report skew towards older demographics. However, visitors to The Huffington Post show significantly stronger skews. While Persons 65+ are 34 percent more likely than average to visit Drudge Report, they are 167 percent more likely than average to visit The Huffington Post.
- Visitors to The Huffington Post and Drudge Report exhibit some notable regional skews. Huffington Post readers show strong skews to the Pacific Region (48 percent more likely than the average internet user) and Mid-Atlantic Region (45 percent more likely), while Drudge Report readers skew most strongly to the East North Central Region (13 percent more likely) and South Atlantic Region (10 percent more likely).
|Drudge Report vs. The Huffington Post|
Percent Composition of Unique Visitors & Composition Index
Total U.S. - Home, Work, and University Locations
|Source: comScore Media Metrix|
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Building a mobile database is not going to be unlike converting other types of contact data -- either online or offline -- to other formats. It is important to understand that users will be extremely reluctant to give away their mobile phone numbers. In my experience, the advertising opportunity needs to present a unique value to users or have clearly defined boundaries. Marketers also need to lay out their access up front and give users the ability to control it.
The incorporation of "American Idol" into a mobile platform serves as a leading example of how marketers can encourage users to volunteer their private information. By engaging in text messaging outreach, "American Idol" was one of the first to get consumers to get out their cellphones and interact with advertising efforts.
The best way to get consumers to accept text messages from an advertiser is to give them all the facts up front when they are opting in. When they sign up, ask them their preferred frequency rate of communication. Ask them which mobile device they have; this is essential as the industry is still running on such a wide array of platforms. This information can also work to an advertiser's advantage. Knowing if a phone has the ability to access the web, marketers can make sure their advertisements include links or alternatively include other contact information when users have phones without internet capabilities. Cellphone users also need to be aware of involved costs, how long they will be receiving advertisements and how they can go about opting out of the text messaging service.
Personnel: If advertisers decide to use mobile messaging, they should contemplate having staff members dedicated to answer users' text message inquires. Some users might try to reply to marketers using this platform. For a successful campaign, advertisers need to coordinate with other sales teams to make sure there is adequate support to handle inbound calls. Since mobile advertisements are very personal, consumers might want to follow-up with a one-on-one conversation. It would also be advantageous to train this staff to be able to convert callers. Additionally, as with other advertising media, it is important to monitor the origin of a sale; capitalizing on a follow-up phone call is a great outlet to do this and further gauge the success of a mobile campaign.
Tracking: When mobile marketing is widely adopted, advertisers are going to have access to consumer segments like never before. As with all marketing initiatives, uniform metrics are necessary to analyze campaigns and allow for continual optimization. Dabbling with mobile marketing will be entertaining for interactive marketers regardless, but clients want ROI, and without proper tracking techniques, this advertising platform might not ever get off the ground.
SPAM comparisons: Mobile marketers need to be careful not to enter the SPAM arena. I think it is a safe assumption that users will equate mobile advertising with the likes of SPAM emails because they are distributed to the masses, they can clog inboxes and run the risk of being irrelevant. Calming consumers' privacy issues is going to be a large hurdle that marketers are going to have to overcome before mobile messaging will be widespread. That said, mobile advertising does have inherent targeting capabilities that can be far superior to other advertising media. Marketers need to be proactive and prove to users that the messages are pertinent and serve a purpose.
Unsubscribing procedures: It is extremely important for marketers to earn a consumer's trust and provide a clearly defined approach around distribution and unsubscribing procedures. As we have seen with other new marketing platforms, users do not take kindly to being automatically enrolled to receive advertisements especially when there is no easy way to opt out. With the inherent privacy issues with mobile marketing, it will be even more important for advertisers to give users a straightforward process to unsubscribe.
Mobile marketing is still in its infancy, and marketers should not expect this new platform to change their business dramatically or anytime soon. This is, however, a viable advertising opportunity that has the potential to connect advertisers with a valuable consumer segment and give them the ability to serve users advertisements innovatively and directly.
As we all wait for mobile messaging to actually take off, advertisers should start preparing for the impending mobile mayhem. Once the technology and reporting has been worked out and marketers are armed with their ads, it is going to be a mad dash for users' mobile inboxes. By building a database in the meantime, advertisers can earn a competitive edge over the rest of the field and get the kinks worked out before the medium is adopted by the mainstream.
National Geographic and Honda: "#WanderlustContest"
In this partnership with Honda, National Geographic called on its fans to submit photos of amazing sights and experiences from their travels. Using the Instagram hashtag #WanderlustContest, users entered for a chance to win a seven-day Yosemite National Park Photo Expedition for two with a National Geographic photographer. Check out all the entries here, and see the winning photo above. Dan Westergen, National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography, said of the image, "The danger present in this shot of travelers standing on the edge of one of the most accessible and beautiful volcano experiences in the world -- Mt. Yasur, island of Tanna in Vanuatu made me want to keep looking at it again and again."
Clarks: "Fashion Blogger Style"
Fashion brands know UGC, and this year Clarks stood out when it called on eight different fashion bloggers from around Central Europe to show off their Clarks for the brand's Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Each blogger was able to demonstrate how Clarks shoes fit into their unique style and wardrobe. The campaign was largely about drawing on the power of these influencers, but Clarks also invited its customers to join the effort using hashtags #shoesie and #clarks on various social platforms to showcase their style.
Habitat for Humanity: "Habitat World Photo Contest"
Habitat for Humanity started its photography contest in 2014, and this year it's back again. You can see the winner showcased above in the top right of the image, surrounded by other entries. Instagram users were asked to post photos depicting Habitat’s mission and impact with the hashtag #HabitatPhotos. The “Editor’s Choice” winner was awarded a volunteer spot at the 32nd annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Pokhara, Nepal. A new category was added as well: The "Viewer’s Choice" winner received a $100 gift card to shop at the Habitat online store. Check out all the entries to see what a variety of inspiring content can come from such an open-ended prompt.
West Elm: "#MyWestElm"
Starting last year, West Elm began promoting user-generated photos right on its website's product pages. Now, the retailer is one of the first to use social marketing platform Olapic, which helps add these photos to its sponsored Facebook posts based on what images are expected to perform best. Vanessa Holden, West Elm's creative director, says it's good marketing to display how customers actually use the products in the real world. "One customer's take on West Elm can be very different to another's," Holden told Adweek. "They create this co-inspiration space once you start sharing images of the way that they're living."
Capital One "What's in your wallet?"
Capital One is just one of many brands to capitalize on the power of Instagram this year, but this wasn't your typical hashtag campaign. For five weeks, three popular Instagrammers were asked to take over the brand's Instagram account to share photos of interesting items they kept in their wallets such as love letters, photographs, and memorabilia. You guessed it: It's part of the "What's in your wallet?" campaign, and it doesn't stop there. The brand also launched a social campaign asking customers to share how they use their credit-card perks, and the images could show up in a print or out-of-home ad.
ONE.org: "Poverty is Sexist"
To spread the word about its "Poverty is Sexist" campaign, ONE.org called on women everywhere to post a "#strengthie," an empowering photo inspired by the iconic "Rosie the Riveter" image. The campaign came out of the non-profit's analysis revealing that girls and women are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty across every area of life. What makes these social media snapshots so interesting is that they aren't just about raising awareness, ONE says they are meant to have a direct political impact. "We are more than a hashtag," ONE's website explains, "We’ll make sure world leaders see your photo before they meet to make crucial decisions that could lead to real change for girls and women in the poorest countries."
Microsoft Lumia: "#MakeItHappen"
Microsoft's #MakeItHappen campaign for Lumia launched right at the end of 2014, but its reverberations were felt well into the New Year. In fact, it was all about sharing New Year's resolutions -- as well as making them actually come to fruition. All through last December, Lumia helped people from all over the world successfully complete their submitted resolutions. Thousands of entries were received, and each of the 31 winners was given a Lumia device with countless apps to help them make their goals into a reality. The video above tells just one of the stories -- featuring a woman with the humble wish of spending the holidays with her family.
Chloe Della Costa is a contributing writer for iMedia Connection.
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"Being easy going is simple" image via iStock.