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New FTC Guides on Endorsements and Testimonials Affect Online Marketers

February 11, 2009 Leave a comment

A recent article by attorney John Feldman, Partner at Reed Smith, reports on the FTC’s stricter and more transparent rules that will soon govern the use of testimonials and endorsements in advertising. Of course, these new guidelines will affect online marketers, too.

Highlights of the changes from Feldma’s article “Watch What You Say” include:

  • Disclaimers such as “Results not typical” or “Your results may vary” may no longer be enough to protect advertisers against regulatory scrutiny.
  • Advertisers are subject to liability if they do not disclose a material connection that exists between themselves and their endorsers.
  • A celebrity’s financial connection to the advertiser must be disclosed in the context of a routine interview if he or she makes an endorsement.
  • For consumer testimonials, an advertiser cannot pay or otherwise compensate a person to give an endorsement without disclosing the material connection.

According to Feldman, this will specifically impact how marketers leverage blogging as a marketing tactic: “Bloggers who receive compensation—or even free products from advertisers—may now have to disclose that connection with the advertiser if they provide a positive review of those products.”

Which all reminds me of the greatest advertising song every written. Your results may vary.

Full Disclosure: John Feldman is legal counsel to TAAN, the international ad agency network of which DigitalDay is a member.

Whopper Sacrifice Lives for 1 Week, Here’s what You Missed

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

In case you missed its one week appearance, here’s an overview of Burger King’s recent  “Whopper Sacrifice” Facebook promotion launched by Crispin Porter & Bugusky earlier this month.

The promotion asked Facebook users to “sacrifice” ten friends in exchange for a coupon for a free Whopper. Facebook objected to the promotion and Burger King pulled it in one week, but only after 234,000 friendships had ended.

I snapped these screen shots while the promotion was still live. Here’s the overview . . .

On January 9, Crispin launched Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice” micro-site, a doorway into Facebook where users install the Whopper Sacrifice Application. No paid advertising or coordination with Facebook supported the launch but the National PR and online buzz was immediate.

whopper-sacrifice-home-page

The micro-site was a doorway into a Facebook App that asked Facebook members to delete (sacrifice) 10 friends in exchange for a coupon for a free Whopper. Per the screenshot below, 89,135 Facebook members added the application.

Whopper Sacrifice facebook-application-page

Once installed, the application loaded all of the Facebook friends so that the user could easily scroll through them to pick 10 to sacrifice. The application kept track of how many were sacrificed.

selecting-friends-to-whopper-sacrifice

Selecting a friend opened the following window with their latest Facebook post and instructions on how to “set your friend ablaze.”

begine-the-whopper-sacrifice

To add a little drama and, no doubt, reinforce the flame-broiled brand, the friend’s profile photo is ceremonially set ablaze in  a quick animation.

whopper_sacrifice_watch_them_burn

Finding 10 friends to sacrifice was difficult. Once complete you were supposed to be awarded with a coupon for a free Whopper. I got to this screen, clicked the button to claim my Whopper and was unexpectedly returned to the promotion’s micro-site home page. I got nothing.

whopper_sacrifice_proving_love

After only a week the promotion ended when Facebook objected to the message sent to sacrificed friends. Burger King and Crispin kept the URL alive and replaced it with the following message and, in an attempt to extend the promotion, added the Angry-Gram, a silly email generator to send to friends and foes.

whopper_sacrifice_sacrificed

To see the result, Google “Whopper Sacrifice” to see the buzz created.

Online Marketing Least Likely to be Cut, Interactive Video to Increase

January 13, 2009 1 comment

A recent study by Permission TV, Industry Survey Forecasts Adoption of Interactive Video in 2009, identified online video as a top priority for brand marketers in 2009.

permission-tv-ways-where-focus-online-marketing-budget-this-year-january-2009

Also interesting is the survey’s finding that Online Marketing Budgets are least likely to be cut in 2009.

permission-tv-ways-budget-cuts-least-likely-to-cut-back-january-2009

Adobe Creative Suite 4 – Updated design tools

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Word has spread that Adobe released the latest version of its flagship design software, the Creative Suite today. CS4 brings a slew of new features and enhancements to ubiquitous applications like Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. For many agencies, DigitalDay included, these are the applications we use for building creative work.

Designers will be clamoring to get their hands on a copy, and we’ll see a ton of new work highlighting the latest gadgets and features. There’s nothing wrong with staying current with software, but it’s easy to get caught up in the hype with any software release.

For those on the client side of agency work, examine what your marketing goals and brand standards are, and see if any of the new features or functionality really benefit you. Sure you can now have your logo in 3d, or with a cool animation…but does it really help your brand? Some of the best work has been done with outdated tools or simple shapes and techniques.

For designers, keep in mind the basics of good design, and don’t jump on bandwagons. There might be fancy new filters and fun brushes, but just dropping these in to every design will give you an almost instantly outdated and clichéd look. Keep in mind the goals of your brands and your projects, and be mindful that good design is not based on effects or trendy features. Be confident in your skills and your designs, and let thoughtful beautiful design do its job for you and the client.

Marketing Study explains growth in Interactive Business


ith all the economic doom and gloom in the news today, people often ask me, “how’s business?” They then act surprised when I say things are great for our interactive agency. When they probe as to “why?”, my response is: When the economy turns south, the first thing businesses cut is the marketing budget. The second thing they cut . . . Is marketing. However, the interactive portion of most marketing budgets is tiny, usually less than 5%. My theory is that if marketing budgets are indeed being cut, businesses are shifting dollars to interactive because of its effectiveness.

According to a recent study by Outsell, “Annual Advertising and Marketing Study 2008,” I’m half right. Dollars are being diverted to online and interactive but US advertising and marketing budgets will actually grow 3.9% in 2008 to reach $412.4 billion.

From the study, here are some of the actual numbers that support my view that interactive is growing:

  • Companies are spending 61.8% of their online ad/marketing budgets – $65.1 billion – on their own sites, siphoning dollars away from other options.
  • The fastest-growing of all ad types is online, which is expected to grow 12.3% in 2008 to $105.3 billion (or $40.2 billion excluding advertisers’ spending on their own sites). As a result, online spending now exceeds TV/radio/movies for the first time ($98.5 billion).
  • Out of 26 methods measured for effectiveness, advertisers rate their websites as the best for lead generation (75% effective), followed by exhibitions (66%), custom print publications (65%), direct mail marketing (64%), and trade magazines (64%).

So, it’s not the doom and gloom everyone’s predicting.  The only problem I foresee in the the interactive space is a shortage of resources, similar to what happened during the Dot Com rush. However, this time we’re not likely to see a Dot Com bust.

To Blog or Not to Blog — the Five Ws of B-to-B Blogging

July 15, 2008 2 comments

A fellow Transworld Advertising Agency Network (TAAN) advertising agency owner met me for lunch yesterday at Fishers Pub in Peninsula, Ohio to question me about blogging. He’s considering starting an agency blog but is not sure where to begin,  what kind of content to develop or, more fundamentally, why to blog at all.

It was an interesting discussion and helped me to think about how I blog on behalf of our Cleveland-based web design agency, DigitalDay. Thinking about that made me think about writing this blog post which I’ve organized as the Five Ws of Agency Blogging.

Why Blog?
I blog for one purpose — to promote our agency. I’m not doing it for vanity, personal edification, or because I think my opinions and thoughts are so important I must share them with the world. My posts are all designed to help attract new business.

I blog because the content I create gets spidered and catalogued by search engines which helps to bring new visitors to our agency’s website. Hopefully, once they’re there, these new visitors see the quality of our work, find a service they could use and then contact us.

It seems to work as we get a couple serious inquiries every month.

What to Blog?
Anything that relates to our business is relevant subject matter for our blog. This falls into two categories — micro and macro. The Micro-Content is news and information specifically about DigitalDay. Macro-content is news and observations relating to our industry, website design and online marketing.

At a Micro-level, the blog acts as our online PR tool and with blog posts that include:

  • New Project Launches: Anytime we create a new website, online promotion or any significant work that shows off our capabilities and skills, I create a post. This helps create an online archive of our work which I can use to present or email to new or existing clients and it also helps to promote our client’s sites.
  • New Client Announcements: When we acquire a new client or significant piece of new business from an existing client, I use the blog and pepper the post with the client’s unique, search-engine rich brand names. Often, people searching for our clients, find our blog and then our website.
  • New Employees and Promotions: A personnel release not only acknowledges our people, it includes personal names which are great, unique keywords. I try and use them whenever possible and reasonable so that when their friends, family and colleagues search for them, they have the opportunity to find us.
  • Milestones and Awards: For all of the reasons above, I blog whenever there’s significant (and sometimes insignificant) news about our agency.

Macro-content is any industry-wide news or information that clients or prospective clients might find interesting. For our business, this could relate to standards-compliant website design, ecommerce website development, search engine optimization, online promotions, email marketing, social networking or any of those broader, but strong keywords that bring qualified searchers to our website.

Who should Blog?
While 90 percent of our blog posts are by me, this is not by design. Everyone in our agency is encouraged to contribute. It seems reasonable that employees would blog about their specific expertise, which in our case would be web design, web programming, SEO, etc.

The reality is writing a blog post takes time and effort and, “if it’s not my job I’m probably not going to do it” which is an unfortunate attitude because if the agency is successful, the employees will be successful.

I’ve hesitated to assign blogging as a responsibility or requirement because I’d prefer people to be pro-active (perhaps this post will motivate a few to contribute on occasion — hint, hint). As a business-to-business marketing strategy, it’s probably a good idea to make blogging part of the job or to assign specific people to contribute. Perhaps we’ll revisit this policy within DigitalDay.

When to Blog?
Four words: As Often As Possible. From experience, the more blog posts we have the more traffic we get to our website. When we don’t blog our traffic begins to fall. The following chart illustrates this dramatically. From June 2007 till April 2008, the goal was at least one new blog post per week and traffic rose at a strong rate, except for the dip in November when there were very few posts. Since April, posts to the DigitalDay blog have been few and far between and our traffic is plummeting.


If we did one new blog post every work day, our traffic would skyrocket. At a minimum, there should be at least one new post per week to keep traffic moving on an upward curve. And, I’ve found, it’s best to post Monday through Thursday when people are more active on their computers. Weekend posts, while helpful, are often overlooked or buried come the working week.

Where to Blog?
Ideally, you want your blog integrated into your business’s site. Developing a blog for your business can be relatively easy. How complicated you make it depends on your needs and available resources.

An easy path is to leverage one of the community blogging sites like Blogger or Word Press (the one we use here). These offer free accounts or, for a nominal fee more robust functionality allowing custom branding, more file size and the ability to integrate it into your business site. Using any of these sites helps promote your posts within that built in blog community.

Or, you could integrate a custom blog into your business site as we did with the TAAN blog, for example. It’s a little more effort and you might need to hire an online agency like DigitalDay to help you, but you’ll have complete control over the functionality and branding.

If you have access, you can also blog on third party sites. Many groups and organizations allow members to post to their blogs. If you do this, be sure to include links to your site so people will find your agency online.

How to Blog?
Everyone has a different writing style. To be most effective online, it’s important to adapt your style for ease of reading on a computer screen. To write for the web:

  • Craft your post in a word-processing program first and copy and paste it into the blog.
  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Use bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Break up long blocks of copy with subheads.
  • Insert graphics, photos or videos to illustrate your points.
  • Link keywords whenever possible.
  • And most importantly, be self-serving: work in the specific keywords and phrases to help your audience find you through a search engine.

Get your voice out there
At the beginning of 2008, Technorati reported it is tracking over 112.8 million blogs worldwide (not counting 70+ million in China) with more than 120 thousand new blogs coming online every day. Even with that overwhelming number, you can be heard and seen by posting often and following some good blog practices.

So start blogging, you owe it to your business.

Are You Getting Your Fair Share of Online Coupon Traffic?


In a recent study by Hitwise, US Visits to Coupon Websites Increased 56 percent from 2007. Of that increase, 20% of the traffic to those sites came through search — with specific Brand Names accounting for more than 60% of those searches.

Coupon Search Term Share

Coupon Search Term Share

CPG marketers take note: Consumers are looking for coupons for your brand. If you don’t offer them, you risk them switching to a competitive brand that does. In addition to the traditional benefit of generating trial, adding online coupons to your marketing mix will:

  • Increase traffic to your brand web site
  • Provide traceable, measurable results
  • Increase your ability to build your opt-in consumer database
  • Build consumer loyalty and repeat visits

Blatant Call to Action

DigitalDay has in-depth experience in all types of online coupon programs. We can help develop an online coupon strategy and execute every element for a turn-key program. For more information, contact us through our website.