With New Mobile Devices, Is True Privacy a Reality?

It is likely very challenging to enforce, but information should be given and received via mobile devices with a large amount of care and proper legal backing/documentation.

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Consumers need to be vigilant at seeking out and understanding a mobile device company’s or app developer’s privacy statement/policy. In turn, mobile device companies and developers – all who are involved in providing consumer services in that space – should make a concerted effort to create policies that are understood by consumers. In 2012 global marketing firm Siegel+Gale conducted a survey among 403 people to study “consumer perceptions and comprehension” of Google and Facebook’s privacy policies. The survey unearthed that the privacy policies are often tougher for consumers to understand compared with other legal documents known for being complex, like credit card agreements and government notices.

This should be the last thing happening as mobile continues to expand in popularity and evolves into a phenomenon we may have never seen before. Consumers need to understand what they are signing up for, and have the option to opt out if they so choose. The Managing Mobile Privacy infographic, shown here, was created by security firm Trend Micro. It basically visually sums up everything there is to know about privacy threats and the risks associated with mobile devices. There’s a lot more to think about than I realized! Items with a red “exclamation point” icon show privacy risks and threats. Items with a blue “thumbs up” icon indicate tips and best practices.

Not only how we use our current mobile devices can change, but also the types of mobile devices we will soon use is ever-changing as well. We all know Google Glass is on the verge of launching and Samsung’s Inspector Gadget-like wearable device, Galaxy Gear smart watch, has just hit the market this month.

Galaxy-Gear-006-Set1-Front_SixWhat is of huge concern to privacy advocates as mobile evolves is that consumers may not be aware of the scale of data being collected, or how it may be used. User data, for example, could end up with companies that customize credit card offers based on consumers’ shopping habits, or insurance rates can be based on eating habits – all coming from data collected through wearable devices.

Talk about Big Brother is watching! Definitely cause for concern, but also fills me with a bit of excitement. I’m curious to see how the evolution of these devices will work to hopefully help and enhance – and not cause harm to – our lives.

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Short Film Content Can Engage as Marketing Tool

Over the past few years short films have been used as marketing tools for commercial purposed to drive home key messages and provide entertainment.

One instance that displayed excellent execution of this is Unilever’s Dove brand, which launched this “Real Beauty” short video to serve as commentary on self-criticism as it relates to body image and our looks. I remember hearing about this campaign earlier this year and still remember how evocative it was for me; it definitely held my attention.

pic1-back -- ShellyLaunched in April 2013 online, the campaign sought to answer this question: Do women see themselves less accurately than strangers do? According to the film, that answer is a resounding “yes” — shown through forensic sketches. The film shows seven women of different backgrounds and ages that have an FBI-trained forensic artist create composite sketches of them based on how they describe their own facial and physical features. Some of the self-deprecating phrases the women use to describe themselves include: “I kind of have a fat, rounder face,” “My mom told me I had a big jaw,” or “I’d say I have a pretty big forehead.” The forensic artist never sees them. After this initial sketch, the artist then sits with a stranger who had just met and chatted with one of the seven women. They were then asked several questions about the woman’s facial/physical features so the artist could draw them through the stranger’s eyes.

The sketches were then hung side by side. And the results were quite telling. In all cases the seven women described themselves in a somewhat negative light — and the first set of sketches reflected this; the sketches that were drawn based on the strangers’ descriptions were far more pleasant looking.

pic2-back -- florenceThe short film provides a refreshing look at body image, and feels extremely genuine. It’s like seeing a social experiment unfold, which is what probably makes it feel so authentic and not so much like an ad. In the end, the brand does want you to go out and buy their product, of course.  But this does not feel like your typical beauty ad, where a woman might feel shamed into purchasing a product to feel good about herself. A different approach is taken here … there isn’t even any product shown!

Outside of trying to drive product sales, I believe Dove is trying to show that the overall brand stands for something more … that beauty is deeper and we tend to be our own worst critic. It truly supports the idea that “you are more beautiful than you think.”

Syncing and Switching: Device Hopping and Shopping

On any given day I will start viewing a web site on my laptop at work, then may go to my iPhone to continue looking at it when I’m at lunch, and then might even go back to it on my iPad to finish up viewing it later at night – having very different information-access experiences on each device. Or, I might be doing research for a topic at work while I’m on my iPad at home, but then when I get to work on my laptop, I can’t remember what it was I may have looked up to find that particular research. Have you ever experienced this? I’ve found it to be quite frustrating at times.

It would be great if there were a way to make this “device switching” that many of us do more seamless across platforms. According to a New York Times article  apparently some retailers have noticed this phenomenon and are trying to figure out how to appeal to a shopper who may use a smart phone to research products, a tablet to browse the options available and a computer to buy the final product.

There are challenges of course. It is technically difficult to track consumers as we hop from device to device. For example, if I fill my shopping cart on my iPad at a site, I often have to do it all over again if I use my laptop or iPhone to make the final purchase. The cookies that are typically stored on Web browsers don’t transfer over across devices, thus the double inputting of information if I want to make a purchase using another device.

Sarah Rose, a vice president at online clothing retailer, ModCloth

Sarah Rose, a vice president at online clothing retailer, ModCloth

But retailers are figuring out how to sync together multiple-device utilization in other ways, like prompting shoppers to log in on each device for example. Being able to track consumers across multiple devices will shed more light for retailers on how consumers make purchases.

E-commerce sites exploring this include eBags, eBay, ModCloth, an e-commerce site for women’s clothes, and Etsy, a marketplace for handmade and vintage arts and crafts. All are taking steps to enhance making a consumer’s experience across all major device platforms seamless.

And even though this may not be on the radar of most retailers, there is research that helps provide rationale for the effort other retailers are starting to put into this. While one-quarter of the visits to e-commerce sites occur on mobile devices, only around 15% of purchases do, according to data from IBM. And according to Google, 85% of online shoppers start searching on one device — most often a mobile phone — and make a purchase on another.

So as we approach another “Black Friday” frenzy ushering in the holidays in upcoming weeks, it will be interesting to see if these and other retailers can crack the code on syncing and switching, uncovering hopefully a hugely successful — and less frustrating — holiday shopping season for all parties involved.

Stepping Up to the SEO Plate

A recent lesson on understanding measures of effectiveness in emerging media brought up a situation I hadn’t noticed before: that doing a search on a laptop/desktop computer and then conducting that same search on a mobile device, like an iPad, can yield different results.  As much as I toggle between using my laptop, iPad and iPhone, I never noticed this before — until I had to analyze a search conducted for a recent assignment done on search engine optimization, or SEO.

I selected Delta airlines as my brand, chose three search terms I thought were logical ones a consumer might use where Delta would come up, and then conducted the searches on my laptop and iPad.  The terms I used were “airlines”, “vacation package” and “check in”.  For the latter 2 terms, the difference between a laptop search and the iPad search was very slight, not significant. But a search done for “airlines” on both devices yielded very different results. On the laptop search, I figured Delta would show up on Google, but didn’t realize it would come up as the first item in the search results. Great for Delta … the SEO is working for a laptop! Other airline competitors showed up as well, of course: United appeared second, Southwest, third and American was fourth. US Airways, Spirit and Airtran were down a bit lower on the page.

Next I did the same search on the iPad. In this set of search results, United appeared first, followed by Southwest, American, US Airways, Spirit then Frontier. The only area Delta showed up in was the “map results” – it didn’t appear in any of the “regular”, organic listings. So strange that it would appear as #1 in one search, and not really show up in a search on the mobile device.

To further understand this difference, I came across an article that discussed how mobile and desktop SEO differed from one another. Apparently, one significant reason for the difference is that keywords that a brand site might rank well for in desktop search results might not be the same ones that the brand’s mobile audience might use … there are ranking differences between desktop and mobile results.

Makes sense, but is something that just never occurred to me. Bottom line: SEO is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – even across the multiple platforms that might be used for a single brand. With this learning, I actually feel as if the proverbial light bulb has been illuminated above my head! If I can learn SEO – just enough to be “dangerous” – I would be very pleased. Here’s to digging deeper into SEO!

Privacy Takes a Pause

It was interestingly coincidental that during our recent course discussion on Twitter, Facebook and privacy concerns, Facebook decided to do away with a privacy option that will now make every Facebook user searchable to any other user – basically, anyone can find your profile via the main search bar. Talk about trying to keep up with all the changes that take place when it comes to privacy settings in a social media world!

The old privacy feature — called “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” — gave users the option to not appear in Facebook search results. Users who had turned on the setting prevented other unwanted users from seeing their Timeline and activity via the Facebook search bar, allowing only friends, or friends of friends, to access this information about them.

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In upcoming months, users who used the privacy setting to avoid being searched for by name will see a notification at the top of their Facebook home page explaining what’s happening. But before they are put back into the name search and the privacy setting removed, they must confirm that they understand the change that is taking place.

After the change is implemented, the only way people can stay hidden from a search is to manually restrict the visibility of each piece of their profile.

According to Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Michael Richter, “People told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn’t find them in search results,” he said in a statement. “We’re removing the setting because it isn’t as useful as it was before, and now there are better ways to manage your privacy using your privacy shortcuts.”

No one wants to be “exposed” or taken advantage of, or harmed because of lack of attention/understanding to privacy settings and policies, but at times, keeping track of the constant change can be a bit – overwhelming. I find some social media privacy policies a bit more difficult to understand than the typical legal lexicon I might receive in the mail for my credit card! I am sure there is a contingent of social media users who would truly appreciate if an easier, simpler way to roll out and explain changes could be developed, particularly when it comes to privacy concerns.

Creating Buzz Raises the Bar for “Scandal”

Since our most recent lesson is about creating buzz, and in three days the season premiere of my favorite TV show, Scandal, is back on, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore some of the buzzworthy tactics being employed to create hype and interest ahead of the premiere. All of us devoted Gladiators are waiting with bated breath to see what happens next in the life of D.C. fixer Olivia Pope when the show’s third season debuts October 3.

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Last season, one of the biggest elements that helped create buzz for the show was the use of Twitter. There were live tweets throughout the entire season among the fan base, as well as with the show’s stars during the week leading up to an episode, as well as during the episode as it played on air. The actors tweeted behind-the- scenes photos and often teased fans with possible plot twists and were overall very enthused about engaging with fans. Earlier this year, the show was considered “the most tweeted-about show on Thursday nights” after one episode in February generated 350,000 tweets. The official Twitter account is @ScandalABC, and there are several hashtags: #Scandalisback, #Scandal and #AskScandal to name a few that are trending now. This season, I am sure those behind the show will aim to keep up and even surpass the Twitter accolades the show earned during Season two.

A buzz-worthy comical take on the show has Jennifer Hudson in a parody done for Funny or Die, where she plays an Olivia Pope-like character named Lydia Cole, complete with a fashionable, crisp white trench coat. In the video, launched September 26, Cole believes that she has to go around Washington, D.C. fixing a number of scandals. But as it turns out, she somehow ends up sharing information about the Affordable Care Act with the people who seek her help. The video is a joint Hollywood-Obama public service initiative created to persuade Americans to sign up for health care coverage. It is an interesting way to get the point across about health care reform, yet still stir up some buzz on Scandal right ahead of the season premiere.

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One last buzzworthy campaign announced September 25 is a joint effort between fashion store icon Saks Fifth Avenue and Scandal, celebrating the iconic and unique style of the political drama. Promotion for the collaboration will take place in store, online, onscreen and at a live event. It all kicks off with the live event, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, to celebrate the show’s season three premiere. Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store will feature a window installation curated by Kerry Washington, star of the Scandal, and the show’s Emmy-award costume designer. The campaign will include social media efforts and visual statements in Saks Fifth Avenue stores across the country. Also, clothing designs and accessories from the stores will be shown in a number of Scandal episodes throughout the season.

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All of these efforts illustrate interesting ways emerging media is being used as a promotional tool for a product that is delivered by way of a typically “traditional” form of media. Scandal exemplifies how a brand has exploded and can sustain itself as a result of Twitter. The video spoof PSA is also a different way to show the success of Scandal and the positive halo affect it can possibly have in delivering an important, real life, politically-related message to consumers. And finally, the fact that a high-end, well-known brand like Saks Fifth Avenue wants to even be associated with Scandal says a lot about the show and its appeal to a wide and varied audience. I can’t wait to see the end result of these buzz-building efforts, as well as the first episode of the show this Thursday! Are you ready Gladiators?

My Visit to Lakewood

This week’s course discussion centered around selecting an organization — a for-profit or non-profit — and assessing the variety of online marketing techniques it employs to promote itself. I selected Joel Osteen Ministries and Lakewood Church, which most people might find a bit strange but was very appropriate and was on my mind, given that I had taken a trip to Houston for the weekend and was staying about 6 miles from the Church.

Joel Osteen appNow I’m not huge into TV preachers, but there’s something about Joel Osteen that’s captured my attention … I’ve watched him for years on TV, he doesn’t yell, and he always has that smile that people seem suspicious of. But for some reason I find him calming and interesting to listen to.

So I was amazed at just how much of an online presence Pastor Osteen has and how much marketing goes into promoting his presence as well as that of Lakewood Church. I’m not saying it’s negative, but it’s just something that is new for me to see, particularly for a faith-based organization. There is an app and there is e-commerce. There is separate representation on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for Joel Osteen Ministries and Lakewood Church. I believe it is a very smart idea to separate the two, since Osteen is at celebrity status, which could be a bit distracting for overall church business and shows the church isn’t just about him. But the two are linked to one another, which definitely makes sense. Info about Osteen appears on the main church site, of course, and information about Lakewood appears on the Joel Osteen Ministries site.

And my visit was further proof of how sharp the marketing is. Lakewood is run like a well-organized business, again very  interesting and something I’m not used to thinking of for  faith-based organization. From the greeters at the front doors to the brochures detailing all going on at the church for that week to the ushers whisking me away to a seat on the lower level before the service started — everything was well run. The non-denomintional crowd was very diverse, more diverse than I had expected, and everyone was very friendly and positive. There are so many opportunities to participate: volunteerism, attending “Healthy Living” weight loss challenge, a Financial Ministry, a “Love Your Marriage” seminar — a plethora of options to take care of many aspects of a person’s life … a holistic   approach to feeding a person’s soul.

As a result of experiencing it first-hand, I can see all the marketing is warranted and working! And given that Joel Osteen and Lakewood aren’t just popular here in the United States, it would only make sense that the online/social media platforms are up to snuff for a global audience to access. The marketing well suits the personality of the man and the church — interesting, clear, not overbearing and very inviting.