Friday, June 25, 2010

Let's Get Intrusive, Shall We?

The general understanding of the word 'Intrusive' isn't very positive, linked as it is to interrupting and interfering. But in marketing circles, you tend to sometimes hear it as a more positive thing.

Clutter-breaking, you know. Make sure these consumers of today -who are spoilt for choice with all the different media at their disposal, and the 'fragmentation' of media, proliferation of channels, yada yada - make sure that they somehow don't miss your brand's message.

Which is fine, but the point is, does it work for you? Or does it actually just piss off people.

A few examples of some 'intrusive' marketing:

* The Jaypee group been bombarding you with SMS's? The number of people who I know who receive unwanted messages about Jaypee properties is not funny. I myself have called them on various numbers at least three times to get them to take me off their lists. It doesn't work. They keep coming. Where did they get our numbers from? Did Airtel sell them? Or what?

* Speaking of Airtel - they've been making these automated calls to their customers about some new bill plan. The problem is that the call came to people many times - I think I got it about 10 times - and due to some technical glitch, there was no voice on the other end whenever I picked up. I think a lot of people got annoyed by this.

* Email marketing - there are plenty of sites who email you with irrelevant offers and you're left wondering where the heck they got your number from. However, it's not so inconceivable that they just bought it off one of the various websites you've signed up with.

I won't pretend that I'm completely innocent of having tried some of these methods to reach out to various audiences. As a matter of fact, since having started to work on internet brands, it's pretty clear to me that digital media which is personalized to individuals has been proven to be the far more efficient use of marketing resources. But the point is when it crosses the line from contextual to just bombarding everybody who's email ID or phone number you happen to have, your chances of success are limited, whereas your chances of developing a poor reputation are high.

While we struggle with email marketing and try to maintain a good reputation as marketers, the same principles or pressure do not currently appear to apply to SMS marketing or telecalling - or at least they haven't advanced to a stage wherein an average irate consumer actually knows what to do about it. At what point will we be able to mark Jaypee SMS's as spam? Hopefully, that's not far away.

The other bit about 'contextuality' is this - one type of contextuality is Google Ads. The paid ads which are listed on the right side of the Google search results page is also one marketing spend we've found worth making, and as consumers hopefully it's not a piss-off because they are clearly demarcated ads and consumers choose to click on them. Of course, my suspicion is that most people who click on these ads aren't really aware that they are paid or sponsored ads versus the natural search result listings, but those are possibly less evolved internet users. Either way, it seemed a lot less intrusive until the time that Google started to list one or more ads on top of the search results, which really increases the chances of people clicking on those ads - while you can say there is some color differentiation and it's mentioned as a sponsored result, it's very missable and clearly could compromise an average user's experience. So much for 'Don't Be Evil'. Google is pretty darn evil.

Taking the same principle of contextuality forward, when we call JustDial services, we know we're giving certain information away about ourselves each time that we call them for any info on say, travel agents, or whatever. But recently, they've started selling that information to parties and you're bombarded by travel agents since they know that you're a hot lead for their particular services. I had an argument with my husband about whether this is acceptable 'contextual marketing', and I think it's not because when you're receiving a call from a strange number on your mobile and you choose to pick it up, it's a lot more intrusive than an ad being shown to you on your internet screen, however subtly marked it may be as an ad. Basically, in this case, you're not really being given a choice and it's clogging up a personal communication channel for you. In this sense, anyone would be far more sensitive about phone calls, SMS's and emails than about other forms of advertising.

When Aircel launched in Delhi, I remember them going beserk with their spends - I saw hoardings all over the place on my way to office; I think they did some sort of a 'Roadblock' on Red FM or some other radio channel which I was listening to and I heard the same ads over and over again as well as some details from their launch press conference; I saw them all over the TV later that evening. They made their presence felt, alright. All I could think was 'Wow. They have a lot of money'. Haven't heard that much about them of late, though. But while it got annoying to see them all over the place after a while, I don't feel the way about them that I do about the Jaypee Group. I want to murder the Jaypee group, while I wish I had as much money as Aircel!

So Good ol' traditional media like print, outdoor, television, radio...costs a lot more than new media, but possibly has less scope to annoy, depending on how annoying the creative itself is, of course. Largely because monies are limited and you can't reach the same 'captive' audience each time, but also because people have a choice to turn you off and tune you out.

Which begs the question: is there such a thing as truly efficient advertising - the type that actually works, reaches out to enough people within your budgets, minimizes the chances of reaching wrong audiences, and doesn't annoy?

Oh, one last example. Nike, a brand I've always respected because of the way they present themselves and the kind of advertising they do - and obviously, my perception of their being a superior product - just lost my respect because of their 'Nike Football' campaign on Facebook.

Basically, I saw that a couple of my Facebook friends had 'liked' Nike Football, some video. This form of recommendation, as anyone remotely connected to online and social media marketing knows, is a high one, and so I thought I'd check it out.

My first big dissonance with the concept came when I found I had to 'like' the video before I watched it (huh? I thought...that kind of sucks). The second one came when I actually pressed the 'like' button and the damn thing didn't even play! That's it. They lost me, forever. That really, really sucked.

So basically, it looks a lot like the more you exploit more of the newer and more personalized forms of media, the more careful you need to be or consumers will possibly hate you forever with a vengeance hitherto unknown in the time of only annoying TV/Radio/Outdoor wherein you could just choose to change the channel and turn the other cheek or eye or ear.

To quote, perhaps Shakespeare oh all right, it was someone in Spiderman, 'With great power and limited media spends and a desire to experiment with new media, comes great responsibility'. Of course, I've changed the quote around slightly to fit the context. Did you notice?

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


After many months of intending to start a blog around the field of work that I have found myself in, here it actually is.

This is coming at a time when I am about to start on my maternity leave, and I am hoping to have some time to write ( Hysterical laughter).

I think this will be fairly unstructured, but it will just be a place to record and share some thoughts on the field of Marketing.

Yes, as it says, there are times when I feel that 'it's a dirty job', but I've come to realize that it really depends on what particular product you're actually doing the marketing for. As in, does it have anything in it which actually makes it worthy of the marketing effort that goes into it? This is one thing that I've found makes a real difference to the level of job satisfaction that I personally get out of this field.

There are times when I think, like a lot of people who view the field from outside, that marketing is rather fluffy, and overrated, and sometimes even worse - cheating consumers. But that's not the whole of marketing, and is perhaps a bit of an extreme view.

Either way, I know that Marketing is not what I dreamt about spending my career on - which ten year old thinks like that anyway? Well, maybe they do nowadays, but not in the 80's and 90's when I grew up. No sir, that time it was all about becoming a Doctor/Lawyer/Goverment Job/Yada/Yada.

Anyway, now I'm at a stage wherein I've spent around 8 years in Marketing. That seems like a pretty long time to me, considering I always thought 'This isn't for me, and I'm definitely quitting next year'.

More recently, however, I started enjoying my job a lot more, having moved into the world of marketing for Internet brands from the world of marketing for FMCG brands. And while I'm still not convinced this is my life's calling, I think it's quite interesting and having spent a number of years doing this, I seem to be able to do a decent job of it ( well, after 8 years, you better be doing a decent job of it!) so for now, this is it.

Therefore, this place is just going to be about sharing thoughts and resources and hopefully getting in touch with other people from the field for general discussion. I may lapse into the office culture space at times. Who knows?

Who knows anything in marketing anyway! Fluffy bloody field...However, like I said -

'It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it...' ( apparently!)