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SXSW 2011 – How to Use Web Personalization Without Being Creepy


Web personalization takes many forms today. Using information provided by users can improve the user experience by allowing companies to deliver more relevant content to that individual. But when does it cross the line from being useful and convenient, to being flat out creepy?

How to Personalize Web Content Without Being Creepy

How to Personalize Web Content Without Being Creepy

From targeted Facebook advertising, to Foursquare restaurant suggestions to personalized web content, the key elements to think about is how this information about a user is obtained, how it is used and how this process is explained to the user.

 

Some main points that seemed to surface from the SXSW panel on Web Personalization were:

 

– Relevance in web content is becoming increasingly more important as the web gets more crowded. Users need to, and will appreciate, the ability to filter things out that are relevant to them. Life is too short to see a generic website.

 

– When asking for and using user’s information, trust is important – and extremely fleeting if you violate it. Users are providing information to a site for a reason. Make sure that it is clear to those users what they will be getting in return. It’s all about setting expectations and living up to them; transparency is key. Explain to the user that their information is being used to perhaps, purchase a product, but that it also may be used to improve their future site visits (think YouTube’s “We know you watched this video, so you may like this one.”) Make it obvious why contributing your data makes your experience better.

 

– Consider the subtle difference between customization and personalization, and utilize each appropriately. Customization allows users to choose what they want to see or not see to improve their experience on a site. Personalization implicitly or explicitly takes some information then automatically uses it to drive the user experience in a different way. Both are effective, but maybe suited to different situations.

 

– Give people an out. As Facebook connect and other personalization services are allowing for quick and highly integrated personalization, some people may not be comfortable with it. Why force them into a situation they may not be happy with? A simple “off” button on a feature or application may be enough to preserve that level of trust with an important customer.

 

While it may seem like most of this is somewhat common sense, it’s good to review these mental checks to ensure that the trust and benefit of the user is kept at top of mind. Personalization can then become a strong, mutually beneficial tool for the user and the company when relevant content, products or services are more easily delivered to an individual.

SXSW 2011 – Augmented Reality for Marketers – 10 Cool Examples

March 29, 2011 3 comments

Augmented reality: overlaying a digital experience on top of our real world. The panel on this topic consisted of two people: Lynne D. Johnson of R/GA and John Havens of Porter Novelli.

According to Juniper research, the current global revenue for augmented reality (AR) is currently less than $2 million, but is projected to be around $1.5 billion globally by 2015.

The presenters laid out the current state of AR as such: one side of the spectrum starts with basic applications like QR codes, moves into a bit more complicated applications that require you to hold a piece of paper in front of a webcam to see a 3D hologram on your photo viewer, to similar POS applications and location based smart phone apps to real world applications, like ski goggles that show the elevation of the mountain, etc. as you’re skiing down.

Johnson described many of the current applications to be quite “awkward” – you have to hold up your phone to see these things, or print out a piece of paper and wave it in front of your webcam. The future of AR, the panelists said, is working AR into the everyday, via glasses/goggles or even AR contact lenses.

The presentation was rich with visual aides – which is really the best way to see the current state of AR or imagine the future of AR. Here are some of the augmented reality examples that they highlighted:

1 – QR codes – for Zoo Records were hidden around cities for users to scan and hear hidden sound records from local groups.

2 – Tissot watches – sit in front of your computer and virtually “try on” the different styles.

3 – Location based augmented reality:  Stella Artois bar finder on your smart phone.

4 – POS augmented reality application: LEGO augmented reality kiosk shows what’s inside the box.

5 – Real-world application: GM Augmented reality windshield technology.

6 -Tagwhat – you tag the world. Think “outernet” vs. internet.

7 – iPhone RFID: object-based media – location-based urls with your phone – wave your phone by an object and it tells you something about it, drives you to a URL.

8 – stickybits – Scan a barcode on a product, then leave a comment so that the next person that scans that will read the comment, too.

9 – Kraft / Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) – recognizes demographics about you from scanning your face/body type, then serves up ads/products to you that it thinks you’d be interested in.

10 – Future concerns – privacy, marketer’s virtual air rights. Will we have augmented reality overload?

SXSW 2011: Marketing Budgets Have Gone Social: Is It Working?


Panel #1 at SXSW 2011: Marketing Budgets Have Gone Social: Is It Working? Important stuff, right? …So much so that it meant I got to enjoy my first ever SXSW panel seated on the floor behind the stage, huddled in with about 15 other interested SXSWers who found out that being 30 minutes early doesn’t always guarantee you a chair. Easy to make new friends when you’ve got the icebreaker, “Yeah, I can’t feel my legs either…”

A unique angle at the SXSW Social Media Panel

But regardless of the fact that we were hearing the message from the backs of heads, the theme was still clear. The answer to Marketing Budgets Have Gone Social: Is It Working, is not a very clear one.

The panelists represented huge companies like PepsiCo, General Mills, Hershey and Samsung. They admitted that gleaning clear ROI stats from social media is still something we’re all trying to figure out. But, it’s also clear that the piece of the pie in marketing budgets for social marketing has grown, and that this is a necessary growth if companies want to communicate and engage consumers in the way they want to be communicated with and engaged.

Though it’s hard for three knowledgeable panelists to make wholly cohesive arguments in only an hour, there were some interesting stats and anecdotes thrown out:

Rough Stats

According to the panelists (Julie Hamp of PepisCo, Kris Narayanan of Samsung, David Witt of Hershey (formally General Mills))…

– eMarketer says that in 2011, social budgets are expected to grow 60%

– General Mills social budget is about 5% of the marketing budget for all their brands

– Across PepsiCo’s 500 worldwide brands, social budgets run from 10% of the marketing budget to 100% (on big campaigns like Pepsi Refresh). On average, the social budget piece of the pie has increased 30% recently

Mini Case Studies

– Sales soar using a POS social promotion

– A promotion linking Foursquare, Hess convenient stores and Brisk, in which users were encouraged to check in with Foursquare at Hess locations and be rewarded with a BOGO deal on Brisk, resulted in a 200% increase in this social interaction at POS and sales went up 141% during that time.

– Using social media promotions that drive users to purchase

– Promo with Brisk and Instagram, users are asked to submit photos using Instagram and 50 photos will be chosen to be featured on a Brisk can. Did your photo get chosen? Better buy some cans and find out. It did get chosen? Better tell your friends and family so they buy the cans. This word of mouth action and the brand awareness surrounding it will drive people to purchase.

– Use key influencers early on for positive word of mouth in the social realm

– When General Mills Fiber One bar was released, it was advocated for on the Hungry Girl email with the line, Fiber One is better than Snickers. Because the product itself was so good and exceeded expectations of the user, this positive word of mouth from key influencers was huge. General Mills saw online conversation to be the 2nd most important driver of sales here, (only second to the product actually being on the shelves). Though it may not be able to be calculated as direct ROI, there was a strong correlation between online conversation, brand experience and sales for a given product.

SXSW Interactive 2011 – Very Cool.


As winter in Cleveland/Akron dragged along and SXSW 2011 got closer and closer, I began to consume everything I could to prepare myself for my first time at SXSW. I checked out the official SXSW website, read the FAQs, sifted through the panel topics. I read tweets, I read blogs, I Googled. And, admittedly, I started to get nervous. Oh no, I thought, I’m not cool enough for SXSW.

This thing is going to have top digital and interactive thought leaders, panels and parties galore, thousands of interactive, music and film fans mulling about meeting and greeting in what looks like an awesome town, Austin, TX. What would I wear, where should I go…could I fit in and keep up?

About 15 minutes into Day 1, my answer came in the form of a sigh of relief, a huge smile and the thought, “Ok, this thing is awesome.”

Austin Sunshine SXSW 2011

The weather was gorgeous (narrowly escaping a March dump of 10 inches of snow in Cleveland and ending up in a place with high 70s and sun…yes, please!), the town was beautiful (a mix of cool restaurants, shops, trees, rivers, bikes, college students, and friendly people) and the crowd and content at SXSW was inspiring. Conversation starts naturally with the people around you, and new ideas and excitement are constantly floating around you (not augmented reality-style (more about that later…), but the feeling is quite palpable.)

So for anyone interested in SXSW, it’s definitely something to experience that will provide you with new ideas for your approach to web and interactive, and get you excited for what is to come in this digital world.

SXSW 2011, Austin, Texas

We’ll be posting a series of blogs on some of the topics presented at SXSW 2011. There were some panels and talks that were better than others, but overall it was an interesting mix of topics, definitely worth some additional thought and conversation.

So, ok, maybe my worries about my lack of SXSW “coolness” were unfounded. I had a great time and felt totally comfortable. But, at the same time, there is an advantage to not being (or at least thinking that you are) the coolest person in the room – you get out of your comfort zone, get inspired by others and definitely learn some pretty “cool” stuff.

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