Surprise! Newspaper Readership Shows Uptick in Top 100 Markets.

Posted by truecreek on March 29, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

From NNN:

Newspaper readership in the top 100 markets grew to 80.6 million, up from 78.7 million, a gain of 2.5%, based on the most recent Spring 2008 Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI) survey as compared to the prior year.  MRI tracks daily newspaper readership in the top 100 markets for Newspaper National Network LP and reports the NNN 100 Daily Code.

While daily newspaper circulation in the top 100 markets has been in decline, there are several factors which can explain why readership has increased:

* Newspaper websites have shown consistent growth in unique visitors, and may be drawing in new or returning print readers.

* Publishers have cut marginal circulation, not core circulation.  These copies went to less frequent readers.

* Secondary readership is up, as more newspaper readers are reading copies they did not purchase themselves.

* Free daily newspapers like Metro or am New York which are appealing to new newspaper readers.

This is the second survey in a row showing an increase in NNN 100 Daily newspaper readership, with the Fall 2007 survey up 1.8%.  These are the first increases the measure has shown since it was created in Fall 2003.  In addition, the median household income of newspaper readers grew 4.9%, to $64,861.

ProFlowers Has a Customer for Life.

Posted by truecreek on March 26, 2010 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

My wife and I are getting ready for our annual celebration of the finer things in life, Loveapalooza.  As part of the decorating committee of two, I was charged with arranging for the flowers.

Several weeks ago we received a gorgeous bouquet as a gift from our parents.  The flowers were from  So I went to their site and found a perfect deal:  two for one on roses.  Buy a dozen, get a dozen.  Now that’s the ticket.  So the order was in.

When the flowers arrived two days later, I quickly looked at the roses and determined it was only a dozen, not two. So, being the ever vigilant consumer that I am, the call went out.  Immediately, the ProFlowers customer service rep jumped all into my perceived floral quagmire and took control.  Two dozen fresh roses were headed out the door to me for overnight delivery. With the most heart felt of apologies.  And thank you so much for being a ProFlowers customer.

A minute or so later, a very professional HTML email hits my box repeating the apology and giving me the tracking number of my complimentary order of two dozen red roses.   Now that is the way you handle it.

Unfortunately, it was a call I should never have made.  Later that evening, my wife discovered that there actually were two dozen roses in the package, they were just stacked in a way that only showed the tops of a dozen or so.  Everything was there and they looked absolutely beautiful.


So this morning, I sucked it up and sent an email to customer service. Yes, I blew it and you actually did send the correct amount of flowers.  And please don’t hurt Gabriella, the woman who packaged the gorgeous   roses. And the email was off.

Five minutes later their reply.  You’re very welcome!

I suspect the flowers will arrive shortly and will be just amazing.  Plus, there will be another note inside with some sort of coupon for a future purchase.  Trust me,  that is one coupon that will  never be used.

But  I can tell you that ProFlowers has a customer for life.

Public Opinion of Toyota’s Quality Plummets in New Survey.

Posted by truecreek on March 24, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

There are times when no amount of advertising and marketing can pull you up from the floor.  The issues facing Toyota right now are monumental in their entirety and really do have the potential to damage the brand beyond recognition.   We’re talking years here, I believe.

USA Today:  Yet another survey points to bad news for Toyota:  A pollster says findings show Toyota has crushed its quality reputation.

In two short years, Americans having a positive perception of Toyota’s commitment to building quality cars has plummeted to 21.8% from over 80%, according to the findings of the latest survey by Britt Beemer at the

Only 31.8% of Americans believe Toyota can rebuild its quality image, the verdict is still out about their ability to recover. Some 22.1% are undecided whether they can rebuild the quality image and 18% don’t think Toyota will be able to do it.

“While their reputation is on the line, Toyota’s problems don’t stop there because buyers are now wary of the Toyota brand,” says Beemer.  “Toyota has some real selling to do just to convince current Toyota car owners to buy another one.”

But will current Toyota owners save the day?

Maybe, the survey finds. The survey revealed that consumers who have purchased Toyotas in the past are evenly divided about whether they will buy another one in the future or not. Of these potential buyers, 52.6% will no longer consider buying a Toyota car in the future.

American car manufacturers may ultimately be the benefactors of Toyota’s quality issues, according to Beemer.  Due to Toyota’s quality issues, 69.1% of car buyers are more likely to purchase an American made automobile.  That number is up from 38% two years ago.

The survey comes from 1,000 telephone interviews conducted Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 12, 13 and 14, 2010, at ARG headquarters in Charleston, SC.  The error factor is plus or minus 3.8%.

TV, Computer Use Multitasking Up Sharply: Nielsen

Posted by truecreek on March 23, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

AP NEW YORK — The amount of time people spend on the computer while watching TV is going up sharply.

The Nielsen Co. said Monday that people who multitask this way spent an average of three and a half hours doing so in December. That’s up sharply from the two hours, 29 minutes that Nielsen reported only six months earlier.

The percentage of TV viewers who do this isn’t going up that fast. That increased by 57 percent to 59 percent during the same period. But those who are doing it spend much more time at it.

Television executives have pointed to this trend to help explain why big events like the Oscars, Grammys and pro football playoffs have been doing so well in the ratings – people watching and making comments to their friends through social Web sites like Twitter and Facebook.

More about TV, computer use multitasking up sharply:  Nielsen here.

A 12-Step Program for Marketing Failure.

Posted by truecreek on March 12, 2010 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | Be the First to Comment

Tongue-in-cheek, but valuable none the less.

By Steve Cuno

We rarely hear about the fourth law of thermodynamics. In brief, it states that whenever a server says, “Careful, this plate is extremely hot,” an invisible force compels the customer to touch the plate. The compulsion grows as the cube of the number of decibels with which the server pronounces the word extremely.

It seems that, given a choice between heeding a voice of experience and sabotaging ourselves, many people do not just opt for, but positively execute, a mad dash for the latter. This can be as true of marketers as it is of other human-like creatures. So, for those who prefer wasting time and money, I offer the following personally witnessed, surefire shortcuts to screwing up your marketing. (I should add that narrowing it down to 12 wasn’t easy.)

Sabotage Tip 1: Don’t set firm objectives. You’re much safer stating that your goal is to “get your name out there” or to advertise because the competition does. That way, even if sales tank, you can sit back and say, “I did my job.”

Sabotage Tip 2: Put the goal where the ball lands. With a little practice, anyone can learn to retrofit objectives to results. Soon after a VP of marketing proudly showed me a new sales video, it became apparent that the video appealed to employees, but offended customers. No problem. The VP promptly claimed that the video was never intended for sales, but for training. George Orwell would have been proud.

Sabotage Tip 3: Write and design for internal approval. Authorize as many people as possible to revise or, better yet, outright veto creative work. This will ensure that creative people avoid trying to connect with the market. Instead, they will focus on creating what is sure to fly internally.

Sabotage Tip 4: It’s all about what YOU want. A major coffeehouse chain lost customers for years by refusing to fill the demand for lattes made with nonfat milk. Why did they resist? Because the CEO liked coffee the way it was made in Italy, and Italian baristas don’t use nonfat milk. Darned customers. What makes them think they should have a say in what they want in their coffee?

Sabotage Tip 5: Misuse research. Herd a bunch of people into a focus group and ask them to evaluate your campaign. Treat their comments, especially the ones you like, as if they’re statistically valid. You can also phone 5,000 people and ask them what they do, don’t, would and wouldn’t buy, and why. Assume they know.

Sabotage Tip 6: Don’t listen to your salespeople. The only thing that salespeople do is interact face-to-face, every day, with real customers who use your products. What would they know about marketing?

Sabotage Tip 7: If it’s wild and creative, go with it. If you have a killer concept that’s destined to take top honors at the next awards show, it would be a sin not to back it with your budget. Who cares whether it’s effective? It deserves to be shared!

Sabotage Tip 8: Avoid valid evidence. Proper testing and analysis let you reliably predict a direct mail strategy’s outcome before risking big bucks. But if nature had intended for us to conduct valid, predictive tests, we wouldn’t have hips to shoot from. Showing the concept to coworkers, friends, family and people in a mall, though not predictive, is faster and easier. And, only in the short run, cheaper.

Sabotage Tip 9: Don’t trust your agency. Your agency may have experts on staff, but you can still hobble them by overruling their expertise with your intuition. You can also focus on minutiae. For instance, make the art director change a border on that mail piece from black to dark blue.

Sabotage Tip 10: Trust your agency. Not trusting experts is self-sabotage, but so is trusting non-experts. Many agencies, figuring they can affix stamps as well as anyone, list “direct response marketing” as a core capability. If you are firmly committed to failure, this is no time for due diligence. Just hand them the checkbook.

Sabotage Tip 11: Mistake a slogan for a brand. Imagine a person who is fast losing friends. This person might do well to take an honest look, figure out what alienates people and make changes. But substance is such a bother. Surely this person could more easily regain friends by learning to say something like, “Hi, I’m Alex—where coolness is Number One.”

Sabotage Tip 12: Disdain proven techniques. For nearly two centuries, direct response marketers have amassed information on what works in the marketplace. Moreover, experience shows that what worked yesterday works today. But learning all that stuff is tedious, and using it might hamper your creativity. Mustn’t let that happen.

There are many ways to sabotage marketing, but this should give you a good start. If you fail to implement these recommendations, don’t come whining to me if your marketing succeeds.

Walmart, Target, Best Buy Named Most Valuable Brands.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Elaine Wong

Walmart topped the list of the most valuable retail brands in the U.S., followed by Target and Best Buy, per a new report issued by Interbrand today.

The report, compiled by Interbrand Design Forum—a division of the global brand consultancy, ranks retailers based on the value of their brands. The ranking is based on a number of factors: financial forecasting, the percentage of sales and profit that can directly be attributed to branding, and brand strength. These form a net present value, or the economic value of a brand.

Walmart dominated the charts again this year with a 19 percent increase in brand value to $154.1 billion. Target, in second place, saw a jump of 49 percent to $25.5 billion. Best Buy dropped 19 percent in brand value, though it still came in at third place with a brand value of $17.8 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 were The Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS, Sam’s Club, Dell, Coach and e-commerce site

More about Walmart, Target, Best Buy Named Most Valuable Brands here.

Alice’s $1 Billion Consumer Products Tea Party.

Posted by truecreek on March 5, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By: Julia Boorstin

“Alice in Wonderland” opens in theaters today, accompanied by Disney’s most wide-ranging array of consumer products ever, chasing an unprecedented broad audience.

Tim Burton’s 3-D “Alice” follows the classic character years after her first visit to Wonderland, so it makes sense that Disney would go after an older audience.

So now Disney has adult women in its cross hairs: in addition to the usual range of kids toys, games and apparel, it’s licensing “Alice” for products for adults.

Disney’s going grown-up and high end.

For more on the potential Consumer Products Tea Party, check here.

For Social Networking, Women use Mobile More Than Men.

Posted by truecreek on March 2, 2010 under Opinions. Everyone has them., Research | Be the First to Comment

From Nielsen.

In a demographic view of social networking activity on mobile devices, women were found do use their phones to “tweet” and “friend” 10% more than men. And while social networking is commonly thought of as something for “the kids,” the 35-54 age group had more active mobile social networkers than any other group.

U.S. Ad Spending Down Nine Percent in 2009, Nielsen Says.

Posted by truecreek on under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

NEW YORK, NY – February 24, 2010 – U.S. ad spending declined nine percent in 2009, according to preliminary figures released today by The Nielsen Company. Spending fell an estimated $11.6 billion to a total of $117 billion last year. The figures continue a trend of at least six straight quarters of negative growth in the ad industry, but it’s a trend that shows evidence of slowing down. In the previous two quarters, Nielsen reported declines of 15.4% and 11.5%.

“Fourth quarter ad spending was down just two percent year-over-year, and that helped soften the full-year decline,” said Terrie Brennan, senior VP for new business development at The Nielsen Company. “In fact, most of the top advertisers showed increased spending late in the year. These are encouraging signs for an ad market that’s still trying to stop the bleeding.”

Ad spend declines are easing up even in print media, which have taken more than their share of lumps over the last few years. National Newspapers were down 13.7% last year, but it’s an improvement from the -21.6% pace that Nielsen reported through the first three quarters of 2009. Local Newspapers finished relatively strong in 2009, cutting its reported 14% decline in ad revenue through the third quarter to -10.4% by year’s end.

Spanish Language Cable TV (+32.2%) and Cable TV (+14.8%) stood out as the top-gaining media in 2009. Free-Standing Insert Coupon (+11.5) was the only other medium to show significant year-over-year growth. Internet (+0.1%) remained essentially flat.

African-American TV (a subset of network, cable, and syndicated) enjoyed a 13.8% increase in spending year-over-year. Spanish language TV (cable and network combined) fell 0.4%.

Understanding the Participatory News Consumer.

Posted by truecreek on March 1, 2010 under More Dam News, Research | Be the First to Comment

Interesting Pew Study.

by Kristen Purcell, Lee Rainie, Amy Mitchell, Tom Rosenstiel, Kenny Olmstead.

The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily news, according to a new survey conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The Internet is now the third most-popular news platform, behind local and national television news and ahead of national print newspapers, local print newspapers and radio. Getting news online fits into a broad pattern of news consumption by Americans; six in ten (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day.

The internet and mobile technologies are at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing. In today’s new multi-platform media environment, news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory:

* Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.

* Personalized: 28% of Internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.

* Participatory: 37% of Internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

In addition, people use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news. And they use traditional email and other tools to swap stories and comment on them. Among those who get news online, 75% get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% share links to news with others via those means.

Despite all of this online activity, the typical online news consumer routinely uses just a handful of news sites and does not have a particular favorite. And overall, Americans have mixed feelings about this “new” news environment. Over half (55%) say it is easier to keep up with news and information today than it was five years ago, but 70% feel the amount of news and information available from different sources is overwhelming.

Take a look at the study and download it here.