Thursday, February 22, 2007

JetBlue: Failure in Competence:Benevolence

JetBlue, a brand that I do, in fact, like, screwed up pretty bad last week. Essentially, it seems, the whole system just completely and totally unraveled, leaving passengers in planes, in line, and on hold. What a mess.

The work of apologizing has begun, using the Internet as a primary vehicle. You may have received an email as well, if you've ever flied them. Here are a few excerpts:
We are sorry and embarrassed. But most of all, we are deeply sorry.

The storm disrupted the movement of aircraft, and, more importantly, disrupted the movement of JetBlue's pilot and inflight crewmembers who were depending on those planes to get them to the airports where they were scheduled to serve you.

Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that we caused. This is especially saddening because JetBlue was founded on the promise of bringing humanity back to air travel and making the experience of flying happier and easier for everyone who chooses to fly with us. We know we failed to deliver on this promise last week.
The red text is my addition. This is a good lesson, here, and it illustrates a key point about what happens when a company blows it. They need to apologize, yes. But they also need to manage the perception of their competence and their benevolence. Consumers (humans) forgive lapses in competence. They do not forgive lapses in benevolence.

That's what JetBlue is doing. They are admitting (in a sense) that they were incapable of handling the disruption to their system. But, more importantly, they re-iterated the benevolence that is built into their brand and their product. That's why it is so critical in this memo to remind people about JetBlue's whole purpose: "bringing humanity back to air travel". That's key. They are built around giving people great experiences. They can't possibly lose that, and in this apology, you can see that they are re-affirming that, far more than they are making promises about upgrading their systems.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fear Not the Ad Avoiders

Ripped from today's headlines: a shock to the system....Some People Hate Ads!

Big deal. Starcomm and Microsoft have released a report (detailed on Mediaweek) profiling the 15% of the world that does not like and avoids advertising.

"This is the kind of stuff that keeps us up at night" someone from Microsoft was quoted as saying. That is not only an over-reaction, but also missing the key point of advertising.

The point of advertising is not to get people to look at advertising. The point of advertising is to sell stuff, either right away, or at some future date. Advertising an instrument, and generally a blunt one at that. It's not that these people don't buy things (clearly, many are buying technologies that allow them to avoid ads, such as Tivos and Satellite Radios).

Advertisers need to always understand what their role is: move people toward purchase. It is entirely possible that is going to happen at a site that a person chooses to visit...not during a commercial they have been coerced into watching.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Google AdWords Changes

Andy Beal is reporting that Google is making a few significant changes to its AdWords program. The first is that they will expose the Quality Score behind each ad. The second is that they are making some changes to how that score is determined.

Google has always been very clever about the way it decides the order in which it is going to show ads for a particular keyword. Competitors (up until recently) simply placed the highest-bidding advertiser on top, the 2nd highest next, and so on. Since search engine marketing is a pay-per-click system, this didn't really do the publisher much good. A highly-bid, unattractive ad won't get a click and placing it in the prime spot is a waste. Instead, Google did some complicated math problem to determine how "good" an ad was, multiplied that by the bid and used that to figure rank.

Of course, Google likes to keep all things secret, much to frustration of its customers (many of whom have built their entire business upon this black box). There has been a slow, but steady, effort at the company to open up more of the details of its business, and this is bound to be a welcome addition.

But: they are also sending people into yet-another-tailspin, by also changing the way that score is determined, which--naturally--will shuffle the order of the ads. Andy's right: people will complain, but others will also brag. Whenever Google makes a change, you can be sure that a number of agencies will announce that there was no effect on their business. That is, they have something more solid in place, and I tend to believe it.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Month that just flew by....

Well, Happy Valentines' Day to everyone (although, I do recommend you spend a few days with Freestyle creation My Black Valentine).

This last month pretty much flew by me. I don't know about the rest of you, but the pace of business feels pretty brisk. Certainly a good thing, as we get flooded with RFPs and new projects. Things are definitely cruising along here.

But this hasn't been a very good blog month. So, now that a few things have cleared my desk, it seems like a good opportunity to catch up and clean out the notebooks of a few things that have been defining the worlds of technology and advertising.

The Kiss that Killed the Super Bowl Ad Frenzy
Well, that may be a bit of hyperbole, but...c'mon. The Snickers Kiss ad was terrible. The version on YouTube, placed by a consumer has the following tags: "Snickers Mars Homophobic". But more than that, this is an so clearly crafted just to generate a reaction. Not to generate awareness or sales, but just startle people into noticing it. That's no strategy. They pretty much undid the good vibes they created with their outdoor "Hungerectomy" campaign, which was brilliant.

The fact that they assumed people would flock to a site devoted to the ad is even more evidence that this was a strategy gone awry. Send people to the store to buy things. Not to your own playground to prattle on.

Speaking of YouTube: The Hammer Falls
Viacom comes down hard on Google and I have to say I have some mixed feelings. I recognize that this is a big company attempting to throttle what feels like a natural impulse, but...c'mon: Viacom owns content. They paid good money to create The Colbert Report and should have the right to govern the way it is used. Clearly, technology has made it simple to take video from the television and put re-distribute it. It's also dead-simple to slap your own logo on top of it and get a little action from your work. But it seems pretty clearly illegal, from my view point. Ease-of-use does not connote a change of rules. If your bank decided to place all your money in a big pile in the parking lot, rather than in the vault, it would still be wrong from someone to take it.

HOWEVER: it is also clear that big media is breaking a butterfly on a wheel. They send out blanket notices to everyone who they think may potentially be breaking the rules. This, they appear to be doing without a lot of consideration or thought. So, a whole lot of dolphins are getting caught in the tuna net: people who really haven't done anything wrong, as well as people who actually may be creating some new, clever, innovative value for the brands.

The head-to-head conflict is a mess. Nothing's going to get done here. The big media companies are the ones who can act monolithically, and should take the initiative. They need to establish a new set of practices....maybe a new department...that is designed around enforcement (yes), but also innovation and partnership.

If I ran a big media company, that's what I'd do: Stop the blanket threats. Create a group comprised of a lawyer, a new-media specialist, a community organizer and a technologist. Have them scan the world for uses of their content and do one of three things: leave it alone; request its removal; find a way to work with and support the artist.
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Thursday, February 01, 2007

PEW: 28% of Net Users use Tags

Wow. There's a report out from PEW about tagging. They claim that 28% of Net users have tagged some bit of content.

That's a significant number. Tags are a key bit of lubricant in the online word-of-mouth machine. A tag is essentially an open-recommendation. If you tag a bit of content with tag X, you're telling the world "if you're interested in X, you should read this thing.

If I were you ;-), I'd start putting an "add to" link on just about everything I put out.
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