Zeus of Marketing

Posts filed under 'Location Based Services'

Why I Don’t Trust Google – Do Not Get Caught in a Quest for Omnisciency Backlash

Could be as early as 2020

Warning: Could be earlier than 2084

The inserted graphic, found by chance in a Bing Image search, pretty much summarizes my reservations about Google. While I couldn’t find the original source to give it credit – this particular picture was found on analytics20.org.

In one sentence (my elevator pitch): In a world that is becoming increasingly concerned about privacy, Google is positioning itself as the omniscient netizen behavior sentinel. It’s a train-wreck waiting to happen.

I could go on and on with other negative factors such as, low viewership of banner ads, increasing desensitization of search ads, loss of control over the Android OS via strengthening “host brands” like Samsung, low G+ engagement in spite of major marketing investment…

Tip: a good way to confirm Google+ take in real time : always check the “share counter” in any article for how many people have liked or shared in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn versus number of G+1 shares. Here’s an example from a c|net article:Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.54.12 PM

…Above all, the one overriding Google Achilles heel is its counter-trend move by intending to keep tabs on everything about everyone. It may be a marketer’s dream (and seemingly Wall Street drank the Kool Aid too), but one that comes with a level of responsibility that, in my opinion, Google continuous to avoid.

I know – almost every “blogger” at one time or another has sang Google’s praises – I am still holding back and continue to be a Google skeptic (See my Axioms for Google in my previous post on my 2012 Predictions post) The fact that its stock price increased double digits over the past 6 months is not a function of an improved company but the lack of rationality in the market when it comes to valuing tech companies (Groupon opened at $20? enough said). Or worse yet, lack of creativity in using available technologies for innovative business models.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably read my 2012 recap where I mention that during 2013, Privacy issues will continue to grow – while somewhat buried in my advice for marketers section, I believe that it will start taking a stronger hold than any other manufactured hype that the industry may think of (insert one more shameless ridiculing of the term “SoLoMo”).

Before exclaiming “bullocks!!!!” (I am not British by the way – I´m just trying to keep a G rating), I urge you to take on a user perspective not a marketing perspective on this. Ultimately, part of marketing 101 is to put ourselves in our customers shoes. As background, here are the key factors fueling this trend:

  • Increasing points of data-entry will speed up user maturity and realization- whether we, as users, realize it or not, we are sharing more and more of our information as more applications and devices are introduced that help make our lives easier, but at the same time add higher risk of over-sharing. There comes a point in which people will “Google themselves” and realize “OMG” if this is publicly available and free, what information can be accessed by a fee? Am I willing to expose myself like this? What’s the cost? Orwell would be so happy.
  • Publicity on Large Corporate data hacks: “If a large corporation can be hacked – what level of protection do I have?” /Did GM Cadillac really acquired JEEP, was Burger King really gulped by McDonald’s)?
  • Legislation: While I am not a proponent of government censorship – left unattended and lack of self-regulation will fuel increased legislation (globally) No amount of lobbying or simple hand slapping will silence such a sensitive topic.

Google’s actions to integrate all its web properties to maintain a single user database, and at the same time attempt to control the OS of every Internet connected device (including glasses, TV’s and Cars besides phones, tablets and laptops) AND the applications running on them (while working, playing or vegetating) places them clear in the center of any privacy backlash firing Sight (rifle reference to appease any NRA reader).

Furthermore, in plain business common sense parlance, not just strategically, do you want to fund/fuel the creation of a single supplier to support your whole corporate value chain? Oligopolies are so 19th Century.

If my prediction is right (an logic and observation cearly supports it) and privacy issues become an increasingly important factor amongst netizens, here’s my recommendation to make sure you are not caught in the backlash:

  1. Transparency – be very transparent with your customers as to what the data you collect will be used for (have a privacy policy).
  2. Speak in natural language, not legalese – in following number 1, do it in everyday speak – remember you are looking for customer trust – not Court “CYA’ing.” (I look forward for someone to start a legalese-to-natural language translation website – ironically, the liability hurdles are probably insurmountable)
  3. Look beyond banner and display and search ads – be very clear as to how reach is achieved – is it invited or forced based on somebody else data (are you completely sure of how that data was obtained)? While you may not be legally liable, the court of public opinion will continue to strengthen (fueled by that same trends that brought you the “digital advertising” opportunity in the first place)
  4. Last, but most important, truly leverage the opportunity that the digital world offer you: romance your customer, mine and maintain your own permission based customer profiles (database) and engage with your best to spread the word (advocates). In my opinion this is the true promise and benefit of a digital world in marketing.

As additional resources:

I just came across this eMarketer article on Consumers reactions to “uninvited” brand outreach: Brand Social Outreach Must Walk a Fine Line – Consumers are sensitive to how much companies listen and respond to them online

Also – I found the articles and resources in the TRUSTe newsletter to be a good way to stay abreast of the privacy topic.

What am I missing? Am I way off on left field? As always feel free to comment to your heart’s content. I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. Feel free to reach me if you would like to review my thoughts in a more quantitative and practical manner. You can contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana.





March 7th, 2013

It’s a Wrap: 2012 was a “BLAH” year for Digital/Social

Wrapping Up 2012

Wrapping Up 2012

After reviewing my 2012 predictions/wish list written last December, I have come to the realization that 2012 was a “Blah” year in Digital/Social. What do I mean by that? Other than the meteoric rise of Pinterest, nothing else happened to materially change the predicted trends. If anything, it seems like some of the strong have weakened, thus opening the door to new offerings which should make 2013 a lot more interesting. Here’s some highlights:

  • LinkedIn continues to strengthen its position by focusing on its point of difference and adding tools that benefit its audience.
  • Google continues to create news by manipulating user statistics and spinning news about every product prototype or research regardless of how it fits, or doesn’t, its positioning. While it seems to have averted an FTC consent decree they seem to still be gun-ho on being the gatekeeper (toll-taker) of every ad served digitally (World domination anyone)?
  • Amazon continues to strengthen its position as a global retailer and master integrator.
  • Yahoo may still rise from the ashes – as predicted due to its strong e-mail user base which has been the first service updated by the new CEO.
  • Twitter, again, what’s your raison d’être ? Yes I know that it is a public forum. Yes I know celebrities and Media love to post and create interactive “second or third” screen chat – but tell me- is this a long term, user retaining money making proposition? Or is it just a many to many IM (instant messaging) service?

While, in my opinion, there was no major breakthrough, a couple of players have somewhat fallen from the pedestal I had placed them in. Here’s a friendly warning for Facebook and Apple.

  • Facebook’s new public status seem to have changed their long term user driven positioning to short term user-unnerving monetization at any cost (which could very well be loss of users). Part of what has made Facebook successful is the ability to communicate with friends and family and share your life “timeline” with all you deem appropriate. Picture sharing and album storing, for example, not only creates customer satisfaction in using the service, but also creates a major barrier of exit for users to leave Facebook (talk about having some skin in the game). If overnight you decide that these pictures are yours to use as you seem fit and not the users (hear this Instagram) you are in essence breaking down one key barrier that’s keeping your users loyal to your service.
  • Apple, dear Apple. What’s happening to your Customer Service? As a consumer, I have spent about $10,000 over the past 2 years in your products, services and accessories ecosystem, mostly through your online and retail stores. I would say that while not enterprise spending level, it is a pretty sizable amount for an individual customer. Why do you chose to ignore service calls and provide only one choice for service; that of having to deal with “always-late-to-appointment-time/leave your-Mac-for-a-whole-week-to-repair” Genius bar. Please, If you decide not to invest as heavily in customer service then,  increase the quality of your product features at launch time. The sub-par performance of Mountain Lion and Apple Maps is just two examples of flops this year. I still have faith in you Apple, do not disappoint me further.

Stepping down from my soap box now, I see some key 2013 implications and advice for marketers:

  • Prior to any investment (time or money) in digital – look under the hood, kick the tires, make sure that whichever medium you choose is true to your end customer – keep any barriers of exit low until you see that there is no risk of being “guilty by association” and prevent monopolistic pricing  (are you really getting better returns from that ever increasing key word CPC)?
  • Do not fear Big Data, embrace it – the only way you will be able to understand who and where your customer “hangs out” and how they interact is by processing those numbers that are now freely available in the digital world. But be very aware of the point on privacy below.
  • Privacy issues will continue to grow- be preemptive and err on the side of caution. Correct handling will put you closer to Amazon type of performance, mishandling it will bring the wrath of customers à la Instagram, Google and others.
  • Continue to be weary of buzz words and fragmentation of one tool into multiple strategies – there is no such thing as Social Media versus Mobile versus Location Based Marketing – it is still good old Marketing with various digital tools and channels to better reach, acquire and retain customers. Do you really want to loose sleep at night to create a “SoLoMo” (social local mobile) Marketing Plan?  The 2012 integration of all major services and networks with mobile versions and application should more than proof this point : One strategy -> multiple channels execution.
  • If you are a B2B marketer, by all means leverage and get the most out of LinkedIn. In my opinion it is the only “major” that knows what is doing.
  • If you have anything to sell – identify how you could integrate Amazon as a channel – I don’t think their train will slow down anytime soon.
  • Last but not least – redirect all traffic to your own website. In the end the “Twitters” and “Facebooks” may come and go but the customers you have acquired should remain with you – where best to create this community than in your own property?

As always feel free to comment to your heart’s content. I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view.  Feel free to reach me if you would like to review my thoughts in a more quantitative and practical manner.  You can contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana.

Have a wonderful New Year and successful 2013!!!




1 comment December 27th, 2012

Is NOT About You !!!

When it comes to Social Media - It should NEVER be!

How many 0’s and 1’s are being wasted in spinning the latest Google + change?  The latest Groupon “brilliant” offering that will make its valuation real? The illusion that you have to participate now or “miss the boat”? I hope that, at least, we are not printing these articles/blogs and sparing a forest or two for our children. I have news for you – It’s not about you – It’s about your customer!!!

Now that I have that off my chest, in my usual “holier than thou” mode (I hope it doesn’t put you off too much) let’s go back to Marketing 101: It’s all about your Customer, it’s about what he/she is saying, it’s about where he/she is saying it, it’s about who is he/she saying it to.

Most of you don’t know me from Adam, but you will make me very happy if you consider the following (oops I forgot, it’s not all about me, either):

1. Before investing another second on considering to “G+ or not to G+”,  or even continuing to read this post – go back to your positioning statement – who’s your target?, whats your benefit?  your frame of reference? Use this information to track/monitor these variables across the Internet. You will be surprised the amount of customer and competitive insights you could gain with this exercise.

2. If you are feeling adventurous, develop scenarios about your customers and how they will be interacting with you 1 year from now, 5 years from now, in a decade. Will Facebook have a 7 billion user base by then?, will Google have become the all inclusive Portal it wants to be (shattering every rational bone in my body that keeps reminding me of the failure of every Internet business model that has tried to do this, again, AOL anyone)?

If you need a starting point for a scenario – consider the following basic one – which keeps coming back in literature all the time. “Your refrigerator will become your household´s  “Command Center” It will be powered by your Smartphone where you will have constantly updated applications that YOU choose (not someone else latest acquisition integration). Every morning and night you will sync your smartphone with the refrigerator which will remind you what products you need to replenish, at what time is your kid’s soccer game or school play, what to take to your best friend’s housewarming party based on their Amazon purchasing history, etc. Under this scenario, do you really care about creating a G+ page or is it more important to predict which companies/applications are gaining strength for grocery delivery, calendaring and recommendations? Do you really think that under a “best-of-breed-multiple-options-modular-cloud based” world,  a closed network/portal will survive?  Talk amongst yourselves….or better yet comment below.

As always, I hope I have given you some food for thought as I try to bring the discussion back to the basics – forget the hype – Marketing is all about your customer – where are they , where will they be and securing you are there for them before your competitor does. Time to do some “WOWING” and less “aimless wondering.”

Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view.  Feel free to reach me if you would like to review my thoughts in a more quantitative and practical manner. You can contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana


3 comments December 1st, 2011

QR Codes, a marketer’s dream or his/her biggest nightmare?

I have been reading so much about QR (quick response) codes lately that I dreamed about them last Tuesday night. In my dream I had opened a tattoo parlor with a distinct point of difference. I only tattooed QR codes on the back of people’s neck representing their business card information. Was this a nightmare? Thinking of the mark of the Antichrist and its 666 symbol? Or, a dream, where we are making ourselves more green and environmentally conscious by further reducing our need for the printed form?

The truth is that, well used, it can be a very efficient and selective promotional tactic.  Why selective? Consider the demographics of the current Smartphone user:

“Smartphone owners continue to be predominantly male, are 65% more likely than the average mobile subscriber to be between the ages of 25 and 34, and nearly two times as likely to make more than $100,000 a year.”


Source: Nielsen


Which beer, automobile or financial services marketer wouldn’t drool for this one? The question is, where do I “stick” this QR code efficiently.

The answer, right now – from my point of view – is that QR codes are best tested in a retail environment. I am surprised that I have not seen an explosion of QR codes for store delivered coupons in my local A&P. What’s best but to receive a targeted coupon while I am looking for my favorite frozen pizza in my local supermarket.  What a great trial incentive for Tombstone pizza when I was simply picking my weekly DiGiorno treat,  but a POP (Point-of-Purchase) display that tempts me to look for a QR code which directs my iPhone browser to a $0.75 off online coupon for Tombstone.  Definitely a better use than Bravo’s print ad in the subway station by my apartment – WHERE THERE IS NO CELL SIGNAL!!!!!!  promising to give me more information about Andy Cohen – Really? “Can you hear me now?”

For more ideas and 5 steps to a successful test – aim your Smartphone reader (my favorite is RedLaser) to:

Or click here Mobile Marketing: How to Ensure a Successful Test in 5 Steps.

You can generate you own QR code at http://qrcode.kaywa.com/, try out today and have some fun.  Let me know what is your “dream” use of a QR Code.

Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana

Happy Passover and Easter!!!!!!



9 comments April 20th, 2011

Mobile Marketing: How to Ensure a Successful Test in 5 Steps

Where Am I?

First let me get this off of my chest: Mobile Marketing? When are we going to start calling a spade a spade? Isn’t it time that the pseudo-marketers a.k.a. techies start integrating these amazing new tools within the existing marketing lexicon.  Location Based Services (LBS) actually comes closer to what this is all about, but it still ignores the fact that it represents the best promotional tool marketers have ever had for trial and continuity. The term also tends to identify it as a whole different effort than Social Media when in fact; it should be treated as an extension and complement to any social media effort you are currently implementing.

With that said, let’s put the opportunity into perspective, remember all the point of purchase (POP) merchandising widget offers in the 1990’s and early 00´s?  The flat screen attached to your shopping cart that would broadcast an ad for a specific product as the consumer “drove by” that product in the aisle? Or the mini printer clipped to the shelf that would print a coupon on demand to motivate trial? These are all “ancient” forms of LBS.

The new smart phones augment the possibility of POP success by eliminating the high fixed costs of earlier technologies (flat screen on every shopping cart?). Imagine not only the investment necessary, but also the CPM (cost per thousand) charge to recoup it within 3 years. At which point the technology would be obsolete. With an Android phone, Blackberry or iPhone in-hand the consumer provides the hardware investment and the offer can be better targeted to the individual’s taste and needs.

While still nascent, already over 1 in 4 mobile phones are Smart Phones (i.e. have data capabilities) and network speeds continue to increase (6G anyone?). Similarly with Google and Facebook also intent in penetrating the location based space, the opportunities to find and test promotional efforts for your business will abound.

InformationWeek recently reported, according to a study by Jwire Mobile Audience Insights (http://tiny.cc/0x4s3), that:

  • 17% of consumers actually spent money because of location-based ads
  • 78% had location-based apps on their phone
  • 29% use them daily
  • 57% of respondents were more likely to engage with an ad that was relevant to their location
  • 42% used apps to locate a store and to find points of interest

I recommend that in order to best identify the potential for your particular business, you test one or two of the existing services to familiarize yourself with their capabilities and read the potential benefits for your business.

Five Steps to a successful test:

1. Start with your marketing objectives: who’s your target, what strategy are you following. Awareness, trial or continuity of usage, e.g., I recently heard an anecdote regarding a hotel chain franchisee in Florida that monitors feedback on one of these services. After leaning that a customer was disgruntled (based on his feedback post), they sent a bottle of champagne to his room – how’s that for motivating continuity and loyalty?

2. Check out and start using existing location based applications that are relevant to your business (never select an app that you have not used yourself – it’s like trying to swim in the ocean, at night, with a blindfold).

  • Restaurants or bars: Yelp, Foursquare, Loopt, Urbanspoon.
  • Retail: Yelp, Foursquare, motivate your customers to use UPC reader applications like RedLaser (http://tiny.cc/n9qh6), but only if you are sure that you offer the best price/value or willing to match the best price and/or promotions available.

As an example, a client of mine started using foursquare and when comfortable with it used it to send messages (free) to customers as they checked into her establishment (foursquare window pops up as soon as someone checked-in) for a free trial of selected products. How’s that for a trial test?

3. Integrate: If you are using any other type of Social Media, make sure that you plan the best way to cross-promote your LBS effort and leverage all channels. Remember these are all complementary marketing tools – not standalone strategies.

4. Execute: self-explanatory

5. Measure: Like with any other successful strategy, understanding the results against your objectives is critical to identifying if you’ve moved the needle, and at was cost … if any. Oftentimes a small-scale test can be performed for free but for a larger scale you may need to invest. If you understand the revenue potential from the test, you will be in a better position to project the ROI, even if it costs you to expand.

What’s next?

The good news for many of my readers is that by starting now you will be way ahead of the curve and be more ready to expand and succeed as the existing services grow in capabilities or capitalize on the capabilities that mammoths like Google and facebook will have when they finalize their plans in this area. The not so good news is that I see that the opportunity is not that clear for B2B yet, but I maintain with my eyes and ears open to identify creative solutions in this area as they materialize.

As we move forward, I am keeping my quick survey open for one more week so that everyone has a chance to respond. The objective of the survey is to ensure that I keep writing about what you want to read about (and take some measure on who’s listening – practice what you preach, right)? Please take a minute or two to fill it out:


Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana

Additional Sources:

For more details on Pros and Cons of “Mobile Marketing:” http://tiny.cc/pm167

For a summary report on 2010 Digital trends (comScore presents the 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review, its annual report on the prevailing digital trends of the past year and their implications for the future. The report looks across the digital landscape to highlight the industry’s leading stories of the year.) http://tiny.cc/qdn0x


2 comments February 22nd, 2011


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