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Marketers Root For Expanded Opportunities Represented By Google+

Marketers Root For Expanded Opportunities Represented By Google+

Marketers have had a close eye on the launch of Google+, and what I’m hearing at this point is similar to what I once heard about Bing. In short, it’s great to have a potential competitor to the behemoth in the space (Facebook, in this case), but how important Google+ becomes to marketers will depend on what kind of scale it achieves, and what kind of audience it ends up having.

As Efficient Frontier’s senior director of business analytics Siddharth Shah notes in a blog post: “While features and tools might draw advertisers to a platform, it’s access to large audiences that is the biggest draw for advertisers when it comes to the adoption of a marketing platform.”

The most obvious Facebook analogue that was missing at Google+’s launch was the brand Page, which Google executives said would be coming soon, though they wouldn’t indicate when the new feature would launch. It’s apparently in the works, though, and head of commerce and local Jeff Huber said the company wanted small business profiles to be “great” and said “we’re coding as fast as we can.”

But as Ian Schafer, CEO of branding-oriented agency Deep Focus notes, there’s no obvious way for brand Pages to take part in Circles. Does a user have a special Circle for businesses, or does he include the Page for the local kayak shop in his “krazy kayakers” Circle?

AdWords+?

It’s pretty much a no-brainer that AdWords will show up at some point or another, but how exactly they will be targeted remains to be seen. The challenge is to make it as effective as possible for advertisers, without alienating consumers. One could imagine contextual targeting, based on the content of the page, as Gmail users have grown accustomed to seeing related ads beside e-mail messages. But Facebook-like targeting on demographics and interests doesn’t yet seem to be in the cards, as Google profiles don’t yet invite the same level of intimacy. Perhaps it’s because most of the folks in my Circles thus far are business contacts (the early adopter crowd), but I’m not as up for discussing my favorite TV shows on Google+ as I am on Facebook.

Craig Macdonald, Covario’s chief marketing officer and senior vice president for products, believes the eventual advertising opportunity on Google+ will resemble Facebook (demographic, interest-based and push) much more than search (keyword and pull). “Targeting should be do-able on any data provided by the user that is considered ‘public.’ In Facebook, this is data that is in a person’s public profile record — their home town, their residence, their hobbies, favorite book, etc. — as well as on the real time data stream from day-to-day comments, which should be target-able by ‘keyword.’ So a potential use case is: Let me serve a banner to everyone in California who uses the keywords ‘laptop’ or ‘personal computer’ or ‘HP’ or ‘Lenovo’ over a particular period of time. That seems like a completely reasonable use case – so long as the user understands the conditions.”

Differentiating Factors

Shah from Efficient Frontier suggests that Google has an opportunity to outdo Facebook by offering more transparent reporting about more complex targeting. “For instance, on the Facebook platform advertisers cannot target logical combinations of different interest segments (you can target people who are interested in bikes OR scooters OR cars but not those who like bikes AND scooters but NOT cars),” he said.

One interesting possibility for brand integration might also be the Sparks section, if it catches on. This area, seemingly meant for serendipitous discovery of items worth sharing, also allows users to bookmark, or pin, areas of interest so they can more easily find them again — enabling interest-based ad targeting. But it also serves as potential entry point for brands seeking to introduce wanna-be viral videos, or other content-based marketing efforts.

“Six Apart used to have an ad product like this, a thought-starter for bloggers, on their platform,” notes Deep Focus’ Schafer. “Google has that potential with Sparks.”

The caveat to any excitement about Google+’ possibilities as a marketing platform is the big question we started with: will it have a substantial enough user base to make it worth marketers’ while. Needless to say, the fact that so many are already logged-in to Google accounts for Gmail or Google Docs — as well as the potential for Android integration — are substantial advantages, but sharing, and keeping up with what your friends share, is an ongoing effort, and it remains to be seen whether people will make a place for it in their daily lives, as they have for Facebook. Marketers seeking new opportunities certainly hope so.

“I want them to be succesfun, because the more successful parties there are, the better we all are,” Schafer told me. “I’m sure there’s a lot more to come out of this.”

All interesting stuff, and it will be interesting to see how Google fairs with this…..

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Sex sells – Just ask Australia’s Gold Coast Real Estate Agents ‘Neo Property’

Sex sells – Just ask Gold Coast real estate agents Ian Adams and Adrian Jenkins.

The creative pair, principals of Neo Property, have gained international notoriety for a risque internet clip to promote a luxury Sorrento home.

Using the services of a glamour model, the pair showed off the property as well as the model’s, erm, best assets, in a bid to get attention.

And it has worked.

”We’ve been getting about 2000 hits every five minutes from all around the world,” Mr Adams said.

”The ad is not about sex, it’s about marketing.

”And judging by the response the marketing has been a success as well as being easy on the eye!”

See the video that all the fuss is about below –
(We are not responsible for the content of any other videos presented on You Tube that may follow this intended one from Neo Property).

VAT increase – prepare and prosper

VAT increase – prepare and prosper

 

The headline rate of VAT increases to 20% from 4 January 2011 and will have important implications for your business. We offer some valuable tips to help you prepare and lessen the impact.

For many businesses, VAT paid on purchases is fully recoverable. The increase will produce only a small change – positive or negative – in net cash flow. But it represents an extra cost for consumers and small companies not registered for VAT or who use the flat rate scheme and operate on tight profit margins. So, particularly if you sell direct to consumers or cannot reclaim all the VAT, there are several things worth considering.

Think hard about pricing. Are you going to pass on the extra VAT to your customers or absorb it yourself? Absorb it and you lose 2.1% in revenue (120/117.5); passing it on means a price increase to customers of the same 2.1%. If your product or service is unique or you use other selling points, for example, outstanding after-sales care as a differentiator, absorbing the increase may not be necessary. But if your market is highly price sensitive, this could open the way for competitors and you need to think twice about passing the increase on.

If you provide services rather than goods and have non-VAT or flat-rate paying customers, offer to invoice them early, before the rise. They’ll welcome the gesture and it should help your cash flow. But take care that payment of the invoice is due within six months of the invoice date.

Talk to your employees. As they are ‘at the coal face’ of your business, ensure they understand the impending changes. Provide them with a few ready answers, should customers query any price hikes – such as ‘it is the government’s decision, not ours’ which could persuade the customer to accept the higher cost.

Check supplier contracts. You may see your overheads increase as suppliers put up their prices and this could be the deciding factor on whether or not to pass on the increase. If you are not already VAT registered but make a large number of VAT-liable purchases, registration may be a more attractive option.

Review current accounting systems. Sole traders, start ups and SMEs should have a technology solution in place by 4th January that is capable of accommodating the rise. This will ensure a seamless transition and will free up time for core business activities.

Get your record-keeping right. Despite the problems you are likely to encounter, HM Revenue and Customs are unlikely to take a kind view of companies who fail to keep up proper accounts, and errors are expensive. Those companies with manual pricing systems in particular may struggle with the extra work needed to make sure that the first VAT return submitted following the hike is accurate. Issues to tackle include:

• Reporting at two different rates within a single accounting period;

• Applying the new rate to sales orders in progress;

• Equivalent changes in purchasing, self-billing standing orders and direct debits;

• Applying different rates to VAT-inclusive purchase invoices or employee expenses systems during the transition;

• Issuing and receiving credit notes;

• VAT-inclusive sales pricing in retail and ‘etail’ systems;

• Quotations where words/prices will need amending;

• Forecasting and budgeting systems.

You should make sure you seek advice from your accountant to help you deal with issues of this sort.

Focus on marketing. If you plan to absorb the increase, make a lot of noise about it after 4th January. Even if you plan to pass the increase on you can still exhort potential buyers to purchase pre-4th January, before the increase takes hold.

Get set for a pre-hike surge. Consumers generally rush to take advantage of ‘bargains’ before a VAT rise. Especially if you deal in big-ticket items you should ensure that you’re ready for it.

And then the post-hike lull. Retailers should expect sales to suffer. How long for is a matter of debate but you should factor this eventuality into your cash flow forecasts.

Although the overall costs of the rate change could still be significant, they won’t be as high as the previous two changes. By thinking ahead you can minimise the difficulties for your firm – and possibly even profit from the change.

(Image from: mark-lawton.com)

The Eric WoodhamsDaily Newspaper

Read The Eric Woodhams Daily ▸ today’s top stories are contributed by @Davejwebb @GarethDotDesign and @ProfitsRGood ▸ http://t.co/ygEuYi2