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Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.

I'm a Hauler, Baby, I Just Want You To Know

Should I get the matte taupe eye shadow or the shimmery plum eye shadow? Decisions like these make life so difficult'?¦ Well, perhaps they don't make life difficult, but they certainly interest a lot of people. And who would've guessed? Hauls are the latest phenomenon in marketing ' in fact, so revolutionizing that our own CEO Gary Colen recently chatted with The Boston Globe about hauls and their influence (and no, I'm not being sarcastic ' you can read the article here). So what exactly is a haul and what makes them influential? Hauls are videos created by fashionistas in which they discuss their recent fashion and beauty purchases, and ongoing shopping bargains, to enthusiastic viewers in search of shopping advice. Such self-made videos have been sweeping YouTube for more than a year and some have been garnering views of nearly 48,000 per video. That's right, 48,000 views. Want more numbers? You got it: more than 200,000 hauls have been uploaded to YouTube this year, and posts are expected to rise as the holiday season ramps up. Needless to say, retailers are seeing the potential in hauls and persuading vloggers (or 'haulers'?) to pitch their products through seeding, gift cards and other goodies. The amount of money each hauler makes depends on the number of views their videos have. More views = more money. Some haulers disclose their earnings in sponsored posts, while others discreetly accept. And now for the fun FTC part: FTC guidelines that took effect in December 2008 state that haulers must disclose if they received free products. However, many of them are unaware of this; so when working with haulers, make sure to inform (or remind) them about open disclosure. Haulers also earn money through YouTube's Partners Program, which gives them a share of profits from ads that run prior to, and appear alongside, their videos. MakeupByMel, for instance, earns $12,000 a year through the program. Regardless of the kinks that haulers are encountering, they are quickly making headway in the world of marketing. Some have appeared on morning shows ' and one set of hauler sisters even have their own reality show. This frenzy makes me wonder, though, how long will this movement last? Or is it just another passing fad? Anyways, back to the important stuff'?¦ matte taupe or shimmery purple?

iPad Hype? Or iPad Hyper Speed?

Been thinking quite a bit about the iPad ' two things struck me. Went to a store today, Monday, and all three of the WiFi models were available for purchase. In fairness, if you run retail, out of stock is not a good outcome as you've missed a sale, but I sure would want to understand what really happened this weekend. The majority of major analysts all increased their respective forecast for iPad sales by almost double across the board ' I assume that's based on earlier opinion polls however those and exit polls have been inaccurate in the past. Trust me, I am not an iPad hater, I have ordered a 3G+Wifi ' more that I embrace the spectacle of the brand. The fact that I ordered the 3G+Wifi model is my second point. If we really did wire up the nation to provide Wifi access ' think the Philadelphia Experiment (not movie) ' you really wouldn't need the two versions. Just struck me that maybe the math works ' would people pay ½ the cost of a 3G plan from AT&T to support free Wifi in their community? Just a thought...

Crossing Moats and Scaling Castles

Here is something to think about. Consider two brands in the electronics category. Brand A has clearly defined technical superiority, a 30 year + history, as well as dominant brand awareness and distribution at retail. Brand B has an entrepreneurial bent, clear brand positioning as a 'cool' challenger brand, secondary retail placement and is a smaller business. Brand A spends 10x what Brand B spends in marketing. Brand A focuses on traditional media; print, broadcast and newspaper. Brand A spends on digital; display and PPC. Brand A spends $0 on social. Brand A spends zero time on social. Brand A has not one person assigned to social. Brand B spends $0 on traditional. Brand B has six full-time employees dedicated to social. Brand B is measuring the efficacy of their investment in dollar based ROI. As I approached the display at retail featuring both brands with questions regarding respective effictiveness and quality, I couldn't find an employee to discuss (brief note to thank our nation's wonderful electronic's retailers 2010 ' topic for another time). So with no in-store sales assistance, I took out my mobile, queried vark, and asked each brand's respective social presence, Facebook and Twitter specifically, and got perspectives from my own social network. I immediately received feedback from each of the brands. One gave me their feedback through lack of response. One responded back immediately. The feedback was clear, appeared honest and open to me and most importantly, was provided in my specific time of need. And that, was the difference maker. 10 minutes from start to finish, I left with Brand B. So, Brand A spends 0% of their budget on social and Brand B spends almost 100% of their budget on social. Someone is making a poor decision'?¦I have a thought on which. Brand A is in a castle under attack worrying about keeping the castle, while Brand B is building a bigger castle right next door. Welcome to the neighborhood.

AMP Agency Extends Its Capabilities with Rock Coast Media Acquisition

,/b> This past month AMP announced its acquisition of Rock Coast Media, Inc., an interactive marketing agency focusing on search engine marketing, search engine optimization and social media strategy. The addition of Rock Coast Media significantly enhances AMP's comprehensive media offerings with the addition of full search engine and social media marketing capabilities, disciplines that continue to show considerable industry growth and influence as part of effective digital strategies. Web 2.0 environment is pushing marketers to rethink their digital strategy and this allows us to provide comprehensive strategic and deployment services under one budget, and optimize against it. By adding Rock Coast Media's search offerings, we round out our integrated social and display advertising solutions, allowing our clients to leverage full scope marketing services alongside innovative technologies to maximize their online investment and extend the impact of promotional campaigns. Not to mention the fact that we have put some extremely talented and intelligent people in our corner. As we look to increase our services to our clients and further increase our value, RCM will provide yet another great suite of capabilities. The more assets at our disposal, the greater our ability to be strategic thought leaders and the better positioned we are to help you make difficult decisions with your budgets in these tough times. Let me know if you are interested in learning more ' gcolen@ampageny.com.

There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

Looking for a guaranteed way to get your product in consumers' hands? Give it away for free. In the wake of May's KFC grilled chicken riots, I've spent quite a bit of time pondering the tenet of 'free'? as a promotional strategy. Free has always been (and always will be) a strong tool to excite consumers, but in the wake of continued economic distress, we've seen a recent resurgence of 'give it away'? marketing. Coldplay has announced they'll give a free album to all concert attendees. FedEx recently offered free printing of resumes. Burt's Bees is giving away 25,000 lip balms to celebrate their 25th Burt Day. Friendly's is even giving away free ice cream. We're seeing free being met with great fanfare and consumer appeal, but does it lead to success? Understanding that success looks different to every brand based on their objectives, when free is executed well (read: strategically), it doesn't mean free of profit. It means free to succeed. Let's take a quick look at two examples from this year of how free was done right and done wrong ' Denny's and KFC. During the Super Bowl, Denny's promoted an offer giving away free Grand Slam breakfasts via a 30 second TV spot. In preparation for the rush, they extended store hours, overstocked on eggs, rallied the staff and ended up feeding roughly two million people. The hard cost: $5 million dollars on food. The amazing news: they broke even less than a month later thanks to day of drink sales and coupon redemptions, and more importantly, they cashed in on nearly $50 million in free advertising and mostly positive reviews! KFC had all the pieces in place to utilize free to create tremendous momentum for their grilled chicken launch: a new product offer, coupons for a free meal and, the ultimate kicker - an endorsement from Oprah. However, KFC underestimated the power of free. Not all their franchises honored their own coupons. Employees weren't trained to handle the demand. They ignored the risks associated with free and were ill-prepared for the response. After two days of lines, and a lack of legs and thighs, all they had to show was negative buzz and disgruntled clientele. So, what's the next big idea to harness free? How can we deliver trial and ROI, drive profitability and grow brands without the grilled chicken backlash?

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