Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Get a Mac" Campaign Ends: What's in Apple's TV Advertising Future?

"I'm a Mac. And I'm a PC." This award-winning line, voiced by Justin Long and John Hodgman, has become a symbol of Apple's surge in the computer market. We can all quickly identify these seven words as the starter for Apple's series of witty ads, each finding a different way to show the PC up. But unfortunately, today, Apple made it official that this campaign would be discontinued, removing the ads from their website.
However, with the success that Apple has found with TV advertising, I would expect a new line of spots to air in the very near future. But how will they retain the same effectiveness?

Keeping it Fresh

Obviously, Apple must be able to come up with strong new content. But that's not the big issue, especially with the team of brilliant minds working on their advertising.
These days, television has essentially lost its ability to persuade people to buy things. It's now more about showing people that a product exists, basically publicizing it. However, Apple has plenty of publicity so really, what they want to do with advertising, is maintain their brand.
In the "Get a Mac" spots, they were able to effectively portray Mac's brand as a cool, youthful product for the quirky, artistic consumer. They achieved this by fascinating, amusing, and amazing the viewers.
Now, how will Apple replicate the success of "Get a Mac" without duplicating the same idea? In other words, how will they project their brand again, in another clever way?

Which products?

Do they want to continue to advertise the Mac heavily, or do they want to focus on other products such as the iPad?
Also, part of keeping it fresh is to avoid over-promotion; if Apple were to heavily advertise each of their products, they would lose their novelty and intrigue, two key components in the campaigns.
Personally, I think that they need the TV to help promote the two products they have entered into the most competitive markets, the iPhone and the Mac, for smart-phones and computers respectively. The iPad is a relatively new product, but it's entered into the much smaller market of tablets, and has already gained huge publicity. I'm not saying that the iPhone and Mac haven't gotten their fair share of publicity, but what I'm saying is that they need even more.

Will they shift their resources?

TV advertising is gradually moving out of the picture, as online presence and public relations become the two big things. Being the innovative, cutting-edge company that they are, Apple can opt to change their focus a bit. I wouldn't doubt that they will continue to air TV ads but how many they will air, is one thing they have to consider.
Is it still a good idea to allocate as much resources as they are currently, to TV advertising, while the internet is just as good, if not a better tool for furthering their brand?

In the end, there really isn't a way to be sure of what the geniuses at Apple will do next. But hey, we can always try.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Even With Google TV: Why Broadcast Television Will Never Die

It's been a long week and finally, Friday evening has arrived. Today, your boss yelled at you, you lost your wallet, and then, had to sit through two hours on the freeway during five o'clock rush hour. Basically, you just want to plop yourself onto the couch and relax, with a beer in one hand, and a burger in the other. Naturally, the first thing you do when you get home is to make a beeline for your beloved remote.
This a routine that pretty much any American can attest to going through on a frequent basis. For many of us, this is one of the main parts of life. If you ask me, it'll be pretty hard to change that.
However, Google has other plans, unveiling today, its newest innovation: Google TV. It is touted as something that will combine the best of both worlds, the internet and television. Its developers have promised that users will be able to utilize Google's elaborate search system to find their favorite online video content, then stream that on their televisions. Other nice bonuses include the ability to add favorites/bookmarks and surf the web.
Now, I'll admit, that does sound a lot better than Apple's faltering mega-creation, Apple TV. And of course, it is quite well-known that Google rarely fails to satisfy its demanding customers.
However, while I strongly believe that the internet will be the basis of everything in the very near future, I cannot see good ol' broadcast television ever fading completely from the picture.
I am well-aware that Google's wonderful search system can easily meet the highest of expectations. Still, when even after ten Venti Lattes, you're still exhausted and utterly brain-dead, the last thing you want to do is the "tedious" work of typing in a search query to find something to watch. Pressing the up arrow to surf channels is just that much easier. Frankly, it's a commonly known fact that us Westerners absolutely despise spending extra effort when there is any slightly easier alternative.
Also, there isn't a doubt that surfing channels is way more amusing. Many people adore the enthralling randomness of just trying to come across something watchable. It would be extremely difficult to replicate this feeling of randomness with Google TV, because even with some sort of "random content" feature, the scope of the web is so humongous that the likelihood of bumping into a good show would be next to zero.
And that is one of the tough-to-avoid downsides of Internet content. Humans are a race that lives for every bit of small satisfaction that they can get. And unearthing a good show out of your hundreds of channels is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.
As an illustration, think about radio. Sure, music has higher sound quality, more customizability, and no ads on your iPod, but it's so much more thrilling hearing your favorite song on the radio, than it is choosing it on your iPod. Moreover, radio has a real sense of personality that isn't just whatever you want it to be; it actually has some life, some flare. Thus, I believe that within the decade, TV will be where radio is now. People will still enjoy it, but there will be many alternatives getting more and more attractive.
Still, even when it reaches the radio phase, TV might just be one thing that is indeed, "too big to fail".
But ponder this: What if marketing takes a turn and further de-emphasizes TV advertising? Then, TV stations simply won't be able to fend off bankruptcy, no matter how many people watch their shows.
I'll leave you with that thought.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Readers Hate Your Blog Widgets

As an avid blogger, you probably dream about that day when you'll be able to make a living off your Google AdSense income. Every minute, you'll have a new visitor and you'll be able to declare your Google PageRank without squirming in embarassment.
Of course, in order to reach this level, you need a quality blog. That's a given. And to have a quality blog, naturally, it has to be awesomely useful and entertaining.
Then, you see the light, your savior. Blog widgets! Blog widgets can let readers check Facebook, check their horoscopes, send texts, see the forecast, and just about anything else that you could imagine being awesomely useful and entertaining.
Unfortunately, widgets don't lead to success, and it could even be argued that they actually detract from your blog's overall appeal.
So before you add a widget to your blog, think about these 3 things:

1. Is it relevant?

Now, it is true that your blog should be awesomely useful and entertaining. However, it is not true that your blog has to do everything anybody could ever ask for. Do you think that people need your blog to check the weather? There's the Weather Network, the iPhone weather app, and Yahoo! Weather. Your blog is the last place anyone would check for the five-day forecast.
One of the key principles in marketing is focus. Focus is essential to the success of any brand, and actually, the same goes for your blog. If you have a horoscope widget, a Pac-Man game widget, a slideshow of landscape photos, and a Time Magazine widget, people will be confused. What's your blog's purpose? But more importantly, what am I going to go to your blog for? For my blog, people will visit to find out about the latest in tech from the perspective of an average Joe. Therefore, I do not display the price of gas, dictionary or love calculator on my page.

2. Will people care?

Even if a widget is entirely relevant to your blog's material, you have to consider a question that people often like to hide from: Will people actually interact with this widget? I could have a widget for technology news on the sidebar of my blog, but I am well aware that nobody would care to use this. When people want news, they go to Time or Google News, not Useful Crap.

3. Load time

And finally, you have to bear in mind that any widget will add to your page's loading time. People hate waiting for a blog to load. If it begins to take too long or the process slows down their computer, it's possible that they'll just close the page before they read anything. Overcrowding a blog with widgets, however relevant and useful, will piss your readers off.

Now, if a widget passes all of these tests, then you can safely add it to your page. But before getting too excited about every one of the thousands of widgets in Widgetbox's gallery, think about how your readers feel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear "Quit Facebook Day": The Privacy Policy Won't Lead to World Domination

Similar to how Y2K didn't happen, 2012 isn't going to happen, and the Pittsburgh Pirates aren't going to win the World Series, Facebook will never take over the world. If it's alright with any fearful Facebookers out there, I'm going to put my money on Mark Zuckerberg not wanting to be the world's next supreme dictator.
With the recent uproar about Facebook's controversial privacy policy changes, people have started a "Quit Facebook Day" on May 31.
The group that started this movement has expressed concern over the "Open Graph" concept that Mark Zuckerberg has pioneered. Basically, this will allow Facebook, CNN, and 6 other sites to share the personal information of users, in order to adapt content, advertising, etc. to everyone's personal needs. Unless people think that Facebook wants to overthrow the government-- or for that matter, create a new super-awesome mind-control regime-- I don't see why this is problem. They're improving our user experience and showing the ads we would most likely click on and/or find useful.
Also, another concern is that more user information is being shared with the public, and not just your friends. My view on this is that if you're not OK with your profile picture and personal interests being shared with everyone, you shouldn't be posting them in the first place. If you feel that these pieces of information would embarass you if some people saw them, why would you post them?
All in all, unless you seriously think Facebook wants world domination, don't quit Facebook.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why Facebook is the Next MySpace (aka Why Facebook is Going Down)

Facebook rocks. Everyone talks about its convenience and social applications, while of course, everybody else has it. But it's going down. Wait. Does this remind you of something? Specifically, the last blue-and-white social network empire?
Back when Harry Potter was still the big thing, George Dubya's approval ratings were still high, and the New York Mets weren't a joke, MySpace rocked too. Everyone talked about its convenience and social uses, and more importantly, everybody else had it.
But boy, did it go down. At this point, Facebook trumps MySpace in users by more than two times.
Now, taking a step back here, does anyone remember why so many people began to shy away from MySpace? Personally, I recall things like bugs, slow wait times, unnecessary features, poor interface, and an overall drop in coolness. Facebook downed MySpace with a simple user interface, geared toward a new generation, that solely performed the age-old task of social networking (age-old because talking used to count as social networking).
However, now the site is error-infested, with new features/layouts that confuse us innocent Facebookers more and more, every day. And to boot, the fact that everyone is joining may be Facebook's downfall. When this happened to MySpace, it stopped being the outlet where rebellious youngsters could come and say, "I'm different. I have this social network and not that one." In other words, when mom and dad join Facebook, it stops being chic and it sure stops being fun.
Still, I'm not saying that Facebook will crash tomorrow. 400 million people can't decide that Facebook sucks, all at once. The fall of an entire empire is a long process. However, every trend stops being trendy after awhile (with the exception of the almighty Google).
But for all intents and purposes, Facebook rocks. For now.