Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Influencers of Marketing

This week one of my assignments is to read a 60 Minutes story on social media marketers and how they are a driving force in today's world. Television marketers are becoming more and more nervous as streaming services with zero commercials or full on DVR functions that allow subscribers to skip through commercials become prevalent in the cord cutting movement. This means that there is more competition for the advertising dollar in places where the message of a company can be seen.

The evolution of this has been a rise in online advertisers and people with large online followings that are called influencers. Instagram is a huge platform for influencers to drive traffic to products that they enjoy themselves or for companies that pay them for a shout out. This can drive a large amount of traffic to a site in a very economical way.

I myself purchased a marketing course for physical products and one part of the course was how to use Instagram to drive traffic to your product. For example you can have an influencer shout out your product for a hundred dollars to his followers which might number in the tens of thousands.

If your product is shown to ten thousand prospective buyers and you get only 3% in sales, that's 300 buyers for a successful ad buy. To take this a bit further in how lucrative it can be consider your product costs 1 buck and you sell it for 3. That's 900 gross sales and you subtract 300 for your cost, and 100 for the shout out for a total profit of 500 dollars. Now if you can do that every week, well that's more pay than a minimum wage (7.25 per) job working 40 hours which would be a mere 290 dollars.

Now you can play around with that simple model as much as you wish but that's how influencers work on a basic level. Now larger influencers with millions of followers are more expensive and smaller influencers in more of a niche market are cheaper. It really depends on what you want to sell and in what market your niche is in.

I firmly believe it's too early in this evolution to predict where this type of marketing will wind up and how larger companies will find a way to move away from an uncertain future in TV to an increasingly online form of entertainment. It'll be an interesting evolution to watch and pay attention to being a marketing student and all!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Interactive TV

Where once a giant stood and spoke to you while you listened, now you can have a dialogue. Back in the day radio was king. Radio was how everyone was connected and kept informed of what was happening around the world.

You could hear today's news as it happened in some cases like the Hindenburg disaster which you can still listen to today. Even during the great depression the radio industry was strong and FDR started his Fireside Chats to talk directly to the American people without the media filter.

Then TV came along and a new form of entertainment was born. You could watch the people that were once just voices to you. Networks expanded their reach to cover the entire continental U.S. and eventually there was a TV in every home. Then the next big revolutions, color TV, cable TV, satellite TV, HDTV, and then smart TVs with streaming services built in.

What's left? Interactive TV. There have been some good experiments in refining the interactive TV experience since the widespread roll out of broadband internet. Back over a decade ago I remember watching the first season of Big Brother online and chatting with other viewers about what was happening. That was a great experience and then they started charging a subscription price and I lost interest quickly. It was great though as you could switch between cameras and see unfiltered what was happening in the house.

Since then (and thanks to an extended writer's strike) reality TV has found a place in American pop culture, much to my dismay and is here to stay. Networks started to build shows from the ground up with interactivity in mind coupled with the internet experience. Then then the next big evolution happened, social media became a thing. From the early days of MySpace to Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, producers started to utilize social media to have an effect in how the show would happen.

The Voice, a show I have never nor will never watch, was one such show. The producers coordinate with the talent, who then are interactive with the audience and on social media. All I really know about The Voice is that the chick that sings for No Doubt is dating a country singer and they are both judges. I've seen commercials and I'm more than familiar with the pop culture effect of the show and I can see that it's one of the more popular reality TV shows on today, where once American Idol reigned as king.

So if someone like me, that has no interest at all in such a show knows about it a little bit, they are doing a pretty good job. I do however have an interest in watching the evolution of entertainment and how interactive it is. After actually reading about what The Voice does that has pioneered a lot of interactivity, I'm not sure a media form exists yet that would be better. It seems to be the prime example of what to do right.

The Voice does so much with it's audience such as the instant save in which consumers are encouraged to tweet for their favorite. This engages audiences and creates the interactivity audiences will expect going forward.

I was once a firm believer in the idea that you didn't want to see your celebs in real life, you'd eventually learn that they were just people like you except everyone knew their name and everyone had a different expectation of what they'd be like in real life. All of which no one could live up to which lead to disappointment.

Today, if a celeb isn't interactive with their audience, you are disappointed. Tomorrow if a show isn't interactive with it's audience, you'll turn it off and find one where you are part of the experience. Where this leads in scripted shows is unclear but it's an evolution away from trying and a couple of failures away from succeeding and becoming groundbreaking.

Eventually you might see actual shows built for social media exclusively where audiences are the participants. Twitter for example, might give a task and then people tweet back their results of such a task for prizes. That platform has yet to be invented but you can imagine there are some producers out there that have been inventing and trying to make their shows as interactive as possible.

I for one, look forward to such a day!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

My Digital Life

Long time no blog!
For those of you who know me know that since early 2015 I've been going to college to get my degree, which I changed from game design to marketing. This is going to wind up being a long post so strap in dear readers. My plan was to learn a skill for my second career so I can supplement my pension in 2022 and quit my job of (at this time) 25 years.

I'll be getting into my assignment after I let all of my readers know how I got to where I got to;)

I started at Full Sail, which turned out being a fraud of a "school." Full Sail started out fairly promising for the first four classes which they call the core four. There was a lot of instructor interaction, live lectures, and questions were answered promptly.

After that it started to slide downhill. 99% of the material the instructors used was found on YouTube and you were given a discounted subscription to No text books, digital or otherwise. Very little reading in fact was assigned. If you couldn't see it for free like the rest of the world on YouTube then I guess they figured you didn't need it. I got fed up with lazy instructors, bad assignments, finals that had nothing to do with whatever material I had watched on YouTube and a general attitude of self importance due to their hype machine.

So after looking around I found a better school, a not for profit school, that accepted all of my credits I had earned the past year and moved onto greener pastures. Full Sail was four times more expensive per month than my current university is (Southern New Hampshire U) per term! Yeah, it's crazy expensive.

I transferred and started classes early last year! After a few terms and getting into the game design part even more I found that it really wasn't the skill I was looking to learn. It's a super competitive market, pay is fairly low to medium, and you generally had to work at a company with resources to accomplish what you wanted to accomplish. Not exactly what I was wanting to do.

So I did some more research and found a lucrative field that was flexible enough to be used in a variety of ways! Marketing with a focus on social/digital media. This will be a degree I can use on my own and create digital products, I can contract with someone and work anywhere I choose as long as I have my laptop and internet connection. I can do any of a number of things where this degree will apply for me and supplement my future pension handsomely!

My first assignment is to create a blog, how little my fellow classmates know I've written this one over the span of more than a decade and even though it was dormant, I felt it might be time to awaken it once again, perhaps briefly, perhaps as I used to blog. A daily basis before work.

Let's see here:
1. What sites/applications do I visit most often? Describe them.
I use my email application the most on a daily basis. I check it constantly for new emails on a project I've been working on since February and is still in work.

Facebook was a site I used constantly until my divorce. I would look at it all day on my phone to see who was doing what. I caught onto the fact that it was nothing more than a voyeuristic practice to compare your life with your friend's lives to see who was winning, who was happy, who was sad, and who was getting by. It turned into a source of anxiousness over time and I quit cold turkey. It's still active but I rarely log onto it. So you can say I have a very negative reaction to Facebook and believe it'll eventually be replaced by something else in this digital trending world. Will it go the way of MySpace? I doubt it but I suppose it could.

I use the Twitter app a lot during the day to catch up on news from work. In the evenings I'm usually on the SNHU blackboard for a few hours per night. I try to do two to three hours of homework each night and make sure my assignments are good before I turn them in.

MMORPGs were a huge part of my life for maybe 12 years, from Everquest to WOW and dozens of games in between. That was a social way of adventuring together and forming "friendships" through a common cause and platform. Yeah at the end of the day none of it was real but for someone that could use social interaction without being social, it was perfect.

The shiny parts of the MMO have kind of faded since their heyday in the late 90's and 2000's as gamers have latched onto more niche games on the mobile platform and for a cheaper to free cost. They aren't required to wrap up a large amount of time to complete something and can quit anytime they need to and put it back into their pocket.

Digital media in marketing today is very much a growth industry and is practically dawn before a golden afternoon. Companies, particularly gaming companies, worked out a free model to play their games. However they do offer you ways to enhance your game playing time by offering powerups, time savers, extra lives, bonus levels, card packs, or any of a thousand different ways to support the game makers and the overhead of running the game itself. I've found that I've spent more money of "free" games than games I purchased outright! That's not uncommon either as one of my close friends and gaming buddies, Abostang has done the same!

This was a brilliant stroke of marketing! It is similar to the drug dealer's pitch, the first one is free! This also translates to subscription services. Remember when Netflix was just DVDs by mail and you got six with a coupon when you bought a new DVD player? Remember when Hulu was a way to catch up on the network shows from the previous evening? Now look at them! For a reasonable price per month, you have access to more entertainment than you could watch in a lifetime! Updated each and every month as well!

Overall once you learn that if you just enjoy a medium for what it is, the brief time passer, the movie in the minivan to keep the kids quiet, or the salvation from the realities of the daily grind, you find that you can live with it and your decisions and move on when you get bored with whatever is your distraction at the time. 

So there I was in 2015. I had watched some streaming series on another Netflix binge and had finished it in record time. I asked myself if this is what I wanted to do every evening, come home, binge some show, go to bed, go to work, and do it again with weekends being reserved for the serious binging time. I had been a constant volunteer at my local community theatre for over seven years at that point and found myself burned out. No, I needed a challenge, to build my mind back up again instead of letting it atrophy in sitcoms.

What would I do....what indeed.....

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Hate Being An Ex Anything

So there I am, I'm watching YouTube videos and happen to run across videos I've shot myself. Yeah that happens when you log into your account.
I was watching Colder Weather and It's Been A While videos in their various forms, live, on screen lyrics, official, well you get the point when it dawned on me. Being an ex sucks.

An ex employee, an ex high school student, an ex youth. Yeah some people always think the future is brighter while some think of the past as the good ole' days.

I'm both.

I think the future is bright and I also long for the good ole' days but being an ex doesn't lend itself easily to either. It more easily lends itself to the present, the time being but without planning or without thought to the past.

My hopes lie in the future, my memories relish the past. One of the best times I've ever had was the big "Framily Christmas" I shared with my loved ones at Amy's house. That picture of us all on the staircase was truly a magnificent moment.

And yet, here I am, looking to the future but longing for the past. I cherish my daughters and tell them nearly every day I love them and that they make me one proud daddy. I look forward to holding my grandchildren and I look forward to many things that I can't even fathom at the moment.

I've got a tenacity in me, I'm a natural non-conformist. When someone tells me something, something inside my head asks an opposite question of "What if?" Most of the time I never voice it out loud but when it's overwhelming I do.

So yeah, sometimes I hate being an ex but there are things I'll never be an ex at.
I'm glad you know those things.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Learning To Live Again

First of all I might as well cut to the chase. I'm now a divorced man. Any of you that know the both of us know this or have strongly suspected as much.

Second, I'd like to ask any of you that know the both of us to please not treat us any differently than you did while we were together. It wasn't our faults and it was both of our faults, we've both cried and accepted blame so please love us both as you did before this news. You won't hear me say a bad word towards her and if you do then please call me on it. I mean it.

Third, I've still got the two most incredible daughters in the world! Thing 1 has enrolled in college and when she walked across the graduation stage, well there wasn't a prouder daddy in the whole place, I promise!

Thing 2 is enjoying her time in Japan and without a doubt learning so much more through her experiences than most people her age. (I almost said the "T" word, teen, which she takes great offense to being referred to)

I love them deeply and without reservation. They've taught me so much about being a dad and are both truly the best things that have ever happened to me and I'm always grateful to her for sharing her daughters with me and that's the God's honest truth.

What's in my future? Well as I borrowed liberally from Garth Brooks in the title it's pretty accurate. I've got very little natural talent when it comes to writing or making things up so I've had to borrow the sentiment from a real artist with the creativity I lack but I've made some plans and just this week took the first step in that new journey.  These plans are pretty broad and will take a few months to get accomplished but they will. I've come to some sort of peace, albeit uneasy at times, with myself.

I can't promise to update this blog as often as I did before but I'm going to try to get back into the morning writing groove again. It's a healthy habit that I've long been out of and I need that sort of outlet again for a while. It also plays a part of my future plans so I really need to get it going again.

It's a good habit, a healthy habit and I felt sharper when I did it daily.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Good Game

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and while it looked like a blow out to start with the game turned around after a power failure and the Niners made it close. I turned it during the half time show as Beyonce was taking the stage, the puppy bowl seemed much more interesting and was.

Commercial wise it was decent. My favorite was a Paul Harvey essay on farmers during a truck commercial. I miss Paul Harvey, he seemed to be the everyman of his day. If Normal Rockwell was the painter of common everyday life then Paul Harvey was the philosopher of the common man.

I'm sure you can find the commercial on You Tube if not many of his essays. The one Rest of the Story that always sticks out to me was his story about Helen Keller who was a dedicated communist. We happened to have been studying Helen Keller in school during that time and I recorded it and brought it in to listen to. It had a shocking effect of disbelief as I recall. The teacher really didn't want to discuss it, I suspect she might have been a communist sympathizer. It was the only class I ever flunked in my school career.

I had forgotten all about that until I heard his voice during the commercial. Wow, what a memory. Funny how they come and go like that. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

On The Way

Alright, the beta readers have been secured.
I hired a graphic artist after Thing 2 simply didn't have the time to do the work.
He happens to be the son of one of my cousins. So I'll still be paying family to handle the work. He's pretty darn good too!

When my beta readers give me their critiques I'll evaluate them and rewrite the first draft to a draft that's much better and ready for publishing! I should be able to have it ready by March if things go well.

This will be a fun chapter to write, so to speak and I'm excited about a few other stories I've got rolling around in my head!