An ad for Microsoft’s Bing search engine came on TV last night. The message, obviously, is that Bing is better than Google: That’s a cute commercial, but it will never allow Microsoft to topple Google’s search dominance. Neither will the “Bing It On” challenge commercials that demonstrate Bing’s supposed superiority. Compare Bing’s factual analysis of which search engine is better with this: Google’s commercial tugs at your heart strings. Forget about searching for Chinese delivery places or a good deal on hardwood floor installation; Google is there with you while you live your life and save your treasured memories. It’s an effective emotional appeal, which keeps Google’s TV presence more appealing than Microsoft’s. Microsoft got this back in 1995, when they used the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” to roll out the then-new Windows 95 and its Start Button. Commercials of the time were low on the facts of the new operating system but heavy on the new frontiers offered by the new generation of computers.
Facebook now allows users to include clickable hashtags in their posts. The decision seems Twitter-inspired, right?
Sort of, but not completely. Though they are using the tags made popular by Twitter, Facebook’s new feature has just as much to do with an old media dinosaur - namely, live television:
During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook – roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night. The recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year’s Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.
Speaking of the Big Game, recall that Super Bowl Sunday was a big night for Twitter this year - half of the commercials mentioned Twitter in one way or another. Watch almost any live programming and you’ll catch hashtags superimposed on the screen almost as ubiquitously as the logo of the channel you’re watching. All this takes advantage of multi-screen media consumption - the fact that audiences usually mess around on their phones and tablets while zoning out in front of the warming glow of TV.
And if you’re a show, product, or even a politician in a debate you want to own both of those screens. Facebook wants to be a gateway to the buzz – and the sweet, sweet marketing dollars that follow it.
People are passing the hat online to reward Eric Snowden for revealing the NSA’s data collection schemes. Michael Moore and Glenn Beck both called him a hero, and if those two were both on the Titanic they probably wouldn’t agree to jump into a lifeboat. He talks about transparency, and he sure seems noble and well-spoken. The story, which is still unfolding, reads like it was lifted from a movie script: Snowden gave up an apparently fulfilling life, an affluent lifestyle, and a lucrative career to reveal government overreach.
Before booking Eric Snowden Day and throwing a parade, though, it’s worth waiting to see what else is out there about him, or at least what he says next. When a story seems to come straight out of Hollywood, sometimes it proves too good to be true.
This story is making the rounds: ad executives are pimping online video as more effective than TV advertising.
Anecdotally, there are many reasons that theorem makes sense. With DVR culture firmly entrenched, TV commercials have become almost universally fast-forward-throughable with the exception of news, and sports, and Wheel of Fortune. Online video viewership is skyrocketing.
On the other hand, there are reasons why an ad executive would want to trend more toward online video ads. Online videos have a higher likelihood of going viral and creating positive buzz so that the ad execs can use empty phrases like “go viral” and “create buzz.” Viewership is easily measured, giving agencies something to report to the client. And if they flop no one notices. A bad Superbowl commercial gets a hundred million hands hitting a hundred million foreheads, but a bad online video can drift to oblivion (unless it’s REALLY bad).
It also sounds really good to say that online video is the wave of the future. There’s nothing to back up whether online video advertising actually drives sales more or less; but an agency exec who suggests skepticism will sound like a dinosaur.
This isn’t to say online video isn’t a great medium for message delivery. I think it’s probably the best, and that’s my opinion. This study asks marketing executives, and it was done by an outfit called EMarketer.com. It’s not exactly unbiased.
Check out this sentence from Politico’s story on Virginia dealing with gay stuff:
In the 2013 off-year elections, a state that once leaned solidly to the center-right has become the newest focal point in the national debate over same-sex relationships.
When people talk about needing more writing education in our schools, this is why. Somehow, a national publication let this sentence go through.
If a state “leans” one way or another, by definition it is not “solid.” Further, a state cannot “lean” to the center, making the phrase “center-right” incorrect. Leaning implies a direction, being solid implies a lack of mobility.
The reporter should have written something like this: Virginia was solidly conservative, but is now a swing state that leans Republican.
(The premise of the article is pretty flimsy, too, but it’s a slow news day so they get some slack for that.)
Jay Carney faced the press today, and… Yikes! That was rough!
On some level, you have to respect Carney. He could have woken up, faxed in a resignation Pat Riley style, rented an office near Farragut Square and started counting money. Instead, he chose to answer questions in the face of Scandalpalooza. And even if he had a rough day, none of the scandals are impeachable.
They are damaging, though. In fact, the last week and a half has heaped layer after layer of bad news on the White House doorstep. The mid-term elections are now 18 months away, and the window for putting up any meaningful legislative wins is maybe 10-12 months. President will have a tougher time advancing his agenda while responding to all the bad news. Ranked below are the President’s top speed bumps (that we know about so far today), with 1 being the most disruptive to the President’s agenda and 5 the least:
- DOJ vs. AP - People appreciate unfairness, so the IRS scandal will have legs. But no reporter will have any trouble understanding the First Amendment threats posed by the Justice Department skimming reporters’ phone records.
- IRS vs. Tea Party Groups – Political players wielding government power against their enemies is easy to understand, and makes for a simple story to write.
- Benghazi – Really, what’s the worst part? The administration’s keystone response to the embassy attack? The lies about what caused the attack? The fact that it looks like the President and his underlings were less than forthcoming due to the impending election? This is pretty complex – for scandals looking to catch on, complex is bad.
- Gosnell - During the election cycle, progressive groups tried (largely successfully) to reframe the abortion debate by talking about narrow hypotheticals. From the White House’s perspective, the silver lining of the week’s tri-scandals is that it takes mainstream attention away from the Gosnell verdict. It will help motivate pro-life advocates, but its broader messaging implications will be muted.
- Obamacare - Small business owners are already feeling the pinch. Kathleen Sebelius has been doing her “Secretary BoJangles” routine trying to fund advertising and encourage signups (like it’s some kind of high school club).
(If I missed anything, or if you disagree, leave a comment or yell at me on Twitter.)
Last Sunday, President Obama addressed Ohio State’s Class of 2013 thusly:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.
Cool speech, wasn’t it? Here’s a quick rundown of some of the big headlines over the last week:
- The Administration messed up in Benghazi – and ABC news showed they directly lied to the American people about the root cause of the attack.
- The IRS specifically and deliberately targeted the President’s political foes during the 2012 election cycle.
- The Obama Justice Department snagged phone records – both professional and personal – for AP reporters. They didn’t say why.