Accessibility and the digital arts

Accessibility is the science of developing technologies and interfaces in such a way that users with limited abilities (visual, auditory or control impairments) can use tools and channels to achieve parity with those whose abilities are not. Web pages separate text from the interface and the design, so that screen readers can read out text to those who cannot read.  Assistive input devices like sip & puff devices and wands allow input without keyboards.

You would ask me, why go to such extremes of building assistive technology and capabilities into what is ultimately a short lived campaign? Our budgets and timelines would never allow for it.

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The ABC’s of content marketing in India

Content marketing is amongst the most popular marketing strategies in the world today. Defined as any format of marketing which involves the creation, publishing and sharing of content with a view to acquire customers. Content marketing as a principle is not new. In as early as 1895 John Deere launched a magazine titled The Furrow providing information to farmers on becoming profitable.

One key aspect of content marketing is obviously the content. While it is obvious that the content being developed has to be inline with the product or service being marketed, there are some subjects which can act as an ideal support. Read on to know about the ABC’s of those subjects for India.

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What I was reading today

The news of the mega merger of Advertising holding companies Omnicom and Publicis have raised a lot of eyebrows and even some hackles in the advertising world. While the repercussions of the formation of this Godzilla may take some time to appear, the ad world has made quite a few comments about it. Like everyone else this is all I was reading about the last couple of days.


δ Image from AP. Maurice Levy, CEO Publicis and Omnicom group CEO John Wren.

The stats behind Pinterest [infographic]

Another Infographic; this time from Wishpond, a team which provides a platform for social contests.

As Pinterest continues to grow, more businesses are looking for an opportunity to share their users scrap-booking space. It seems to be a great platform for targeting women with children as 80% of the users of Pinterest are women and 50% have children.

Apparently people also prefer associations with brands more on Pinterest, with 43% versus 24% of Facebook.

Wishpond Infographic on Pinterest users


God made a farmer

Brilliant Super bowl insert by Ram Trucks.

This is what ads are about.

Full voice over text below

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk, . Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”

Digital agencies – why are we scared of performing?

Why do digital agencies offer complete resistance to ROI or performance based models of marketing? Instead why are agencies and Internet companies adopting ‘soft bullying’ methods to increase digital spends and increase revenue?

There has been a recent glut of press releases and statements made about how marketers would be substantially increasing the spends in their marketing budgets for the digital medium.

Forester recently released a report which said said that marketer spend on Interactive is expected to grow to $55 billion by 2014. Impressive analysis and seemed quite logical, What no published story about the report mentioned, was that possibly TV would possibly grow to.

Along with this report there was a commentary started in the digital marketing space in India – with experts suggesting that the digital spends would increase from 1-2 % to 10% and beyond. The major problem with this type of posturing is that the agencies and Industry bodies are speaking independently, and not with the client views in mind. Within this same report (Source: FMCG marketers have raised their concerns with the digital medium primarily being one of reach and internet access, and that is one reason with which even I am apt to agree with – despite no amount of soapbox speeches from the IAMAI – when the country classifies 256kbps as broadband, I am concerned.

The aforementioned Forester report was actually considering the US Market, and it is that market which a lot of digital agencies draw a comparison to when making these requests for increasing budgets. Digital ad spends are higher in the US and UK, but so are campaign delivery channels and vectors. Digital is not limited to the Web and the mobile, and in-fact is drawing more budgets because it has integrated with traditional methods of advertising. Another critical aspect is that the cast majority of consumers overseas do live their lives digitally, this is still not true of us in India.

But coming back to Performance based models of marketing – these same US and UK markets with the 10 – 15% spends on digital have adopted performance based models for digital and from their are rolling it to their other channels.

Digital agencies and publishers though fight a ROI principle and want to avoid talking about it (In two years in this industry I have worked on only 1 ROI based campaign, 2 others I could not do do to a lack of publisher clarity) A publisher, will not even provide you with clear traffic numbers and delivery rate on properties, so that even if as an agency you are taking the entire delivery risk, you are not able to perform. Surprisingly enough CPC based publishers are amongst the worst here, the numbers they provide you are on such a wide scale, that the pure maths that is a CPC campaign becomes a quadratic equation that you probably need Wolfram alpha to solve.

So why is there this great aversion to numbers, why don’t we as marketers put out the correct facts – with the necessary caveats – rather than running campaigns on best effort basis.

The Internet’s best feature is that it is quantifiable – Is that what we marketers are scared of?

Full disclosure: I work in the digital advertising industry, with a digital agency. At the same time I would like some practices within this industry to change – for the better.

@Twitter – an effective marketing channel – as told by the Mars Lander.

The NASA Mars Lander was a highly watched experiment, by the world’s scientific, space faring and geological community. The possibility of life on the Red Planet, and any fears of attacks from Martians, due to constant jibes by Bugs Bunny have to be inspected! (And kids if you don’t know what I’m talking about here, you need to watch some Looney Tunes – the Original ones )

It is another fact of this whole operation that the digital marketing community should also look at this project, as a correct way of how to propel a subscription based model of providing information.

Ok let me give some details, Phoenix – the Mars Lander – created a Twitter profile and was twittering away through all of the 5 months of its mission, till its demise on the 10th of November. Ok so it wasn’t twittering itself, the Mission crew created the profile, but the point is that it was a simple way to bring the mission to the people and to add some relevance & mass appeal to what may be a defunct agency.

So what were the statistics – Over 5 Months, 39,032 Unique Subscribers (Twitter calls them followers) who received 605 updates. That a willing receipt of 4 messages a day on avg. WOW!!

What marketer, traditional or digital should ignore a channel where you can get a willing subscriber base that is willing to receive this much communication.

Not that this is an isolated example, in the recent US presidential elections, The Obama faction (sorry my quirk, I like to call all political parties everywhere – factions) also made relevant use off Twitter, giving campaign updates and sending campaign messaging.

CNN also uses twitter to publish live news with a link to the story

So, how should you use twitter.

Well the very first thing is to establish, can your brand and product utilize the short message system that is twitter and its clones. The next step Рand this is the toughie Рis to generate the content. You cannot pollute the  content stream with generic branding messages, the messaging has to be crisp, concise and relevant. After all by subscribing to you, people are giving you their mind-space.

As an aside to this story… The Mars Lander also wrote a final guest blog on Gizmodo. There was a constant series of guest posts on Gizmodo, while the mission was on.

Oh and by the way if you thought the twitter feed  was dreamt up by a top dollar Media agency, think again, this was all the brain child of one Veronica McGregor at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. I guess we can all learn from her.