MarketingMonitor: 24 January 2001, Vol. II, Issue 7

January. 24, 2001 Vol. II, Issue 7
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1) Intro: In this issue...

2) News: Pubcrawls Techie-style plus Text Advertising Trends

3) Case Study: A Christmas Cracker - Viral E-cards

4) Info: About the publisher

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In this issue we have a cracking case study that provides some great
tips and ideas for generating a successful viral email campaign. In News
we look at Pubcrawl, the latest gadget from the boffins at Bristol
University. Plus back to basics as adverts go all textual.

Just to clear up a little confusion from last month's issue. Yes,
the MarketingSherpa newsletter is now called MarketingMonitor and
managed by us at Chinwag. But original publishers,
based in the U.S. are alive and well and what's more they've just
launched a very handy Buyer's Guide to Search Engine Optimisation
for anyone thinking about getting some help on their search engine

* Make Mine a GPS

It's good to see that Hewlett Packard are backing research projects
that really will make a difference to the quality of life in the future.
Imagine this: You have accidentally over-refreshed yourself whilst
networking at a local hostelry and are having 'trouble' negotiating
your way to the next drinking establishment. But there's no need to
panic. Soon you can turn to the latest creation from Bristol
University's Wearable Computing Project - Pubcrawl.

The boffins at Bristol have installed a database of local pubs
onto a wristwatch-sized onHandPC. Each venue has a short description
along with it's Latitude and Longitude co-ordinates. You want to
locate the nearest pint? Pubcrawl will connect to a Global
Positioning System receiver to display the nearest four venues,
their distance and directions to reach them.

The upside of this hand-held hand-holding? You'll never die
of thirst. The downside? Researchers have yet to find a way to
help you get home.

* Textual Healing for Online Publishers

Bucking the trend of cramming as much technology as possible into
online advertising, the last year has seen a massive trend towards
text-based advertising. The format was pioneered by Google who
launched their AdWords format in October 2000. As little as $8
for a thousand impressions, advertisers will buy you small text
adverts on Google. You manage the whole thing yourself including
the text in the ads and the keywords you want.

The recent deal between Yahoo! UK and Espotting brings cheap text
ads to virtually all the major search engines. Advertisers will
get listed alongside Yahoo! UK search results in a 'Sponsored
Matches' box. These ads along with the others across Espotting's
network, which includes AskJeeves and BTLooksmart, are auctioned on
a cost-per-click basis, advertisers bid for their positions
within search results, starting at 5p/click-through.

The emphasis on simplicity and finely crafting the marketing
message coupled with the low cost-of-entry seems to fit well
with the leaner and meaner online marketing industry that's
emerged, or should that be survived, last year's rather brutal

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CASE STUDY: Pull The Other One


There's a nice little company placard for a marketing agency
round here that reads "Contagious Marketing and Design." While
'infectious marketing' would appear to be more fitting, it seems
that Disease + Marketing = Good. And that's where viral marketing
enters, stage left.

Like most holy grails, viral marketing is oft spoken of and
recommended, but few know how it works or how to make the most
of the opportunities it affords. Working much like the internet
equivalent of 'word of mouth', viral campaigns can be as cheap
as they are effective as much of the legwork is done by the user,
forwarding the campaign on to ever-increasing numbers of friends
and colleagues. Anyone with an email address knows that it's not
long before jokes, pictures and multimedia arrive in their
in-box - while it took only a few hours for the Harry Pothead
mock-ups to do the rounds (and we won't even mention Claire Swires),
Levi's is still one of the few brands to try out an internet-only
commercial during its Flat Eric campaign.

For example, a couple of years ago, Guinness ploughed a great
deal of cash into sponsoring the Rugby World Cup. Amongst television,
radio, press and ambient campaigns, Guinness also dipped a toe
into email marketing, hiring agency Circle to produce an easily
emailed game pack. Within hours of sending out the first emails
to friends and colleagues, the agency reported that there had
been several thousand responses to the game pack. Indeed, this
may have, in part, contributed to Guinness being the only sponsor
at the Rugby World Cup to have generated sponsorship awareness
amongst fans - according to a report at the time from Performance
Research Europe, over half of the fans recognised Guinness's
involvement, compared to 26% for Coca-Cola and 21% for BT.


A good example of how effective viral marketing can be is in
Dial Media Group's (DMG) recent Crackermatic promotion to
showcase its online marketing department. Deciding, with some
justification, that viral campaigns are often best associated
with a specific event or experience, DMG chose to follow the
popular browser-based e-card approach in the form of a
Christmas cracker - users would receive a Christmas cracker by
post and be given the opportunity to create and send multiple
crackers of their own. Launched on 29th November 2001, the
campaign delivered a total of over 200,000 crackers by the end
of the campaign on 3rd January 2002.

The process began when DMG employees sent out multiple crackers
to personal and professional contacts from their databases -
while 1,112 crackers were sent with this method, each individual
cracker can be set up to display a To and From field in the email,
enhancing the direct and personal feel of the campaign. The
immediate result of this original posting was that around 1,500
more crackers were sent on by the recipients.


Clicking on a link in the email led the recipients to their
individual cracker which would download in a separate browser
window - while the navigation was hidden, 'close' and 'minimise'
buttons were added to avoid oft-voiced criticism of intrusion
when sites, ads and multimedia force changes on a users machine
(pop-up ads in particular).

The cracker animation itself, a comedy scene with elves and
exploding crackers, was chosen to emphasise the light-hearted
and 'cute' nature of the campaign (the word dominated much of
the campaign's feedback) as well as showing the potential to do
something fun and different without excluding companies whose
brand integrity does not normally sit well with internet humour.
The recipient was then given the opportunity to construct their
own crackers in the Crackermatic area.

In order to continue the direct and personal involvement with
the recipient (and, presumably to prolong their involvement with
the campaign), the creation of the crackers was intended to be as,
if not more, fun as receiving them. However, in anticipation of
a users growing weary of going through the whole process each time
they began a new cracker (and for those discouraged by the use of
Flash), a Quicksend feature was added for repeat visitors. The
popularity of Quicksend with second and third-time users resulted
in around 13.5% of crackers being sent via this method.


While viral marketing can often work in isolation, DMG also
carried out a mix of innovative and traditional marketing methods
to boost its results. A small amount of PR activity resulted in
Crackermatic receiving Radio 2's Website of the Day tag, achieving
an increase in crackers on the day of the broadcast from 1,500 per
day to 15,000 - and doubled to 30,000 on the next day. The number
of visits coming from URL searches on Google and other search engines
(especially at the time of the broadcast) was also substantial,
aided by search engine optimisation done in the run up to the campaign.
This meant that specific URLs and a tightly-focused set of search
terms were used to minimise waste and introduce the site to as many
'cold' users as possible - there was also attention paid to the
likely descriptive text used on linking sites, especially as Google
gives ranking preference to sites with higher link popularity.

The decision to explore the marketing potential of discussion
lists and signature files is a welcome acknowledgement of
oft-forgotten techniques. While signature files are rarely
used beyond contact details and 'witty' quotations, a link
pointing back to the URL was used on an international Usenet
group (although the campaign was primarily UK-centric,
downloads from Australia, Estonia, Indonesia and Japan were
recorded), resulting in use in the Southern Hemisphere, which
ended up trailing back to the UK and, hence, a new set of UK
recipients. While newsgroups are hardly ever used or written
about (in business terms anyway) nowadays, discussion lists
are frequently forgotten in the marketing mix. However, an
announcement on Chinwag's ViralMonitor (announcement service
for viral campaigns) and a signature file on the uk-netmarketing
discussion list throughout December resulted in a further 1,800
crackers, along with the 1,400 that the Usenet experiment had


Although tracking of the campaign was limited to unbroken chains
(i.e. if a recipient closed the site and came back to send a/more
cracker(s), tracking was broken), it generally allowed DMG to
follow the spread from user to user, with the average number of
chained crackers being 3 and a maximum of 14. Similarly, the
average number of crackers sent by each user was 3.4, although
the maximum was 100. In addition, the single server dealing
Crackermatic managed over 25,000 download sessions and 50,000
outgoing emails on peak days.

While the Crackermatic campaign is clearly an experiment, it
does show how successful viral marketing can be, provided the
same level of effort goes into planning as with traditional
marketing campaigns and that the initial proposition is a good
one. In these current times of reduced marketing budgets,
similar efforts could reap ample rewards.

General statistics for Dial Media Group Crackermatic campaign:

Total days of activity 36
Total number of crackers sent 200,667
Unopened crackers 76,195
Visitors to main site 91,353
Total number of unique senders 58,735
Average number of crackers sent 3.4
Most crackers sent by one person 110
Longest unbroken viral chain 14 users
Visitors to DMG site from Crackermatic 9297

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