When online advertising experts are asked what is the biggest shortcome of viral campaigns, no one will struggle to identify the problem of the difficulty to measure the returns on investments of such campaigns, due to the difficult quantification of the value of a parameter called “brand interaction“. This is not a new problem since even in old-school advertising, brand loyalty and brand fidelity were easily identifiable but hardly convertible in terms of added value to the sales.
In both cases we can measure the change in attitude towards the brand (and therefore sales) due to an external factor (positive or negative) influencing the purchasing behaviour, but we cannot directy see the effects, if people are not going to be tested against their consideration for the brand.
Most of the time, viral marketers promote the power of their iniciatives by showing the increase of awareness consequent to their projects. Unfortunately increased awareness by itself is not enough to qualify a successful social or viral campaign, since is nothing but the consequence of a branding initiative (by definition). Therefore what is often confused by viral, is nothing but a unusual and sometimes extravagant way of promoting a brand. If I put resources (monetary and human) in to diffusing a “viral” video on YouTube, or having people signed up to my branded page on Facebook, I’m not really creating something viral. What I’m just promoting an unconventional branding message, through what nowadays are already two (already) very commons media of mass communication.
Nowadays web analytics is a “mouthful” that everyone is tossing around just to have the feeling that they know what they are doing online. Some people may get very technical about it and start rumble about third parties cookies, conversion funnels, shinystat data without even understanding what the topic of discussion is.
I believe that web analytics is nothing but a tool that can be used (with various degrees of complexity) to backup your decisions on your activity online. Unfortunately the biggest problem with web analytics comes up when it is used not as a “decision tool“, but as a “decision maker“. If the data that we find using web analytics tools are not used to test hypothesis but to guide our decisions, we are taking business decisions based on the interpretation of a sign, as much as haruspices used to do with animals.
As often happens when you want to get out of an undesired situation, you have to struggle for it. As explain by a brilliant editorial from last week’s Economist, in this troubled economic times, the trade-off doesn’t changes.
Economies of western countries have relied heavily on debt to finance their growth. While some countries, like the US, have seen debt mainly in the hands of customers (that have often financed their spending through generous credit lines), other economies, like many European states, have seen this debt in the form of unhealthy state-backed-up companies (such as banks, airlines, automotive companies, etc.), or national bonds issued to cover exposed positions.
The mistake done by many, is to consider debt as poisonous evils. Au contraire! On the contrary, debt is more like a medicine than a poison.
Debt is a great fuel for economic growth: without debt, Sara Jessica Parker wouldn’t be able to wear her Manolo Blanhik (as the author of the article says), Airbus wouldn’t be able to build its planes, and Spain would never be able to lower its unemployment level (putting aside the euro-currency complication for a minute). But debt, like any medicine when exceeded the recommended dosage, can become poisonous as well.
In recent years we have seen two main situations that have allowed debt to exceed the tolerable limits and create a financial crisis: bad debt, and financial speculation. Let me explained how they worked (simplifying a bit).
The corporate world of big companies, with big money and big budgets, has allowed the pros in any sport to advance to a level where all the previous achievements and records are broken so easily that there is almost nothing special about them anymore. Think about the Moto GP, F1, Running, Swimming, Basketball, Sailing and much more, where the records of the past are not even comparable to today’s achievements.
One of these cases is snowboarding. As many people know, Shaun White may be one of the best snowboarders in the world right now. His primary sponsor, Red Bull, has endorsed what is known as the “Project X”, which consists of creating the best snowboarding condition for its star, to allow him to take snowboarding to “the next level”. One of the greatest achievements in Project X was to create the best halfpipe in the world, completely isolated from any ski resort, accessible only by helicopter, and built from controlled avalanches and 300 man working hours. If you want a full view of the enormous effort (of time, people, money and resources) that this project has requested, check out the Project X Website.