Selling our integrity

The world is changing and the way it makes money is evolving.

Two quite broad and rather obvious statements I know, however in terms of marketing or (to be more specific) digital marketing or (to even more specific) third sector digital marketing there are trends that may need to be taken notice of.

What I’m referring to is advertising… or more accurately the placement of third party advertising.

This isn’t a new thing in any way. Google has been making billions for years simply through the placement of adverts on its search engine and third party sites… and those site have, obviously, been displaying ads.

A couple of other interesting developments have also occurred recently in the world of advertising:

1 – Product placement within TV programmes.

2 – Ads at the beginning of YouTube videos.

This has, in general, been accepted by the masses as a great way to increase revenue.

Want some examples? I’ve got two very recent one’s for you:

James Bond

Daniel Craig gave an interview in the Metro a few days ago talking about production team choosing to switch the international man of mystery’s drink of choice from Martinis to a certain brand of larger. His argument: the sponsorship helps pay for the film – “There’s a big furore but it’s not what the movie’s about – we haven’t sold out completely.”

Similarly movies trailers on YouTube are (ironically) often preluded with a short 15/30 second ad from someone else.

Simon Cowell

In the Evening Standard yesterday Simon Cowell spoke out about the sale of EMI. During the interview he spoke out about the need for music companies to diversify to survive citing that his own label – Syco – “[isn’t]  a music company… Ten years ago, we realised we couldn’t stay as a record company and we created a TV company. Now the TV business is creating an ancillary business. That’s what all of the music companies have got to do with their artists or they are not going to survive.”

The beauty of Cowell’s business is that it provides three functions: 1 – it helps find “talent”, 2 – it markets said “talent” and 3 – it presents opportunities to bring in marketing revenue.

So with most of the rest of the world leaping on every opportunity to bring in cash why have NFP sites been, on the whole, reluctant to include advertising on their sites, YouTube accounts and marketing materials?

I think the answer is in the title of this post – a concern for integrity. Are we selling out by associating with another company / organisation / product?

This is a valid concern – I’m not going to suggest otherwise. Most NFP organisations are very careful about their corporate relationships and have teams dedicated to managing them.

However – I’m not sure that the concern need be all that great. I think the majority of people out there realise that by providing advertising outlets on your digital portals you’re not endorsing that product (not to mention that you can have some very strict control over who advertises).

The jist of what I think I’m asking is ‘What is the value of this “integrity”?’

And this is probably quite a personal thing…

For me – well – I’m definitely not going to suggest that we start placing advertising banners all over our site at work. However I think I would feel ok allowing ads to feature at the beginning of our YouTube videos.

As always please – feel free to leave comments below (that’s what it’s there for!)


Where’s our Pinterest account ? (or “Building for the future”)

Since the announcement, and subsequent release, of the new iPad there has been a lot of talk about playing catch up – how to make your website (or app) fulfil the capabilities of the new retina display.

This has lead a lot of my designer friends and colleagues to start blogging about future proofing sites (this is a good article from Paul Boag).

They argue (and I agree) that the developments in CSS3 and JavaScript now allow us to build sites that automatically render in pixel perfect quality on these new devices. There is, really, no excuse to be playing catch up.

It goes further than this now though. A question I often find myself asking is this: 

“Why are we still building fixed width sites?”

When it comes to website development one of the first questions you should be asking is “How will this look on a mobile device?” And one of the main specifications you should be requesting is that it is responsive!

Responsive design:

A way of designing a website (using W3C CSS3 media queries) that enables it to resize and realign itself to the screen dimensions of the device it is being viewed upon.

If your site is responsive you can rest easy knowing that whatever device a visitor is viewing your site on it will always look (and fit) perfectly.

I recently built a quick site for the Microchipping Alliance for work. Whilst it isn’t the prettiest thing on earth (it’s main purpose it to act as a contact point for politicians), whatever device you view it on it will fit perfectly on and I can rest easy knowing that the politician on the move will find it just as easy to access the information as one sitting behind their desk.

But where do we stop future-proofing?

As we all know, we no-longer live in a world where our digital footprint is just our website. Most of us will have a Facebook fan page, a twitter account… probably a YouTube channel and flickr profile.

If we travel back once again to a few weeks ago there seemed, all of a sudden, to be an explosion of interest in Pinterest.

Now, almost overnight, most of the people I know are asking me if I have a Pinterest account (I don’t by-the-way). Similarly the question is asked at work… “Do we need to be on [x social network or y sharing platform]?”

My answer: “Do we?”

We are somewhere within the birth of the social web. And when Mashable puts out articles such as this one it’s hard to imagine when it might start to settle. It’s quite likely there’ll never be a time when someone, somewhere isn’t bringing out a new social platform.

A while back there was a rush for organisations to create their brand pages on Google+. Now as the Social Media Explained guide shows us Google+ is mainly used by Google+ employees… so why the rush?

Was it cause their supporters are there? Probably not.
Or possibly because of the value the +1 rankings give to SEO? Maybe a little.
Or could it have been that this was something new and everyone wanted to secure their share of this new real estate? That’s the answer I’ll be putting my money on.

But is this future proofing?

I would argue not.

Each new channel you open is a new channel you have to maintain. Dogs Trust created a Google+ fan page… and they update it about once or twice a month (in comparison they update their Facebook the same amount EACH DAY).

Does that sound like a community that’s very well cared for? Do you think they’re very engaged? So my question is “What’s the point?” Surely the staff time would be better spent elsewhere… especially as I would put bet that each any every one of those Google+ers are also Facebook or Twitterers.

We are often weighed down (time-wise) by our social communities. We need to manage the channels we communicate to them from as carefully as we manage the communities themselves.

So the next time you are asked “Where’s our Pinterest account?” ask “Where’s our need for it?”

Disclaimer: you may have a very valid reason for joining up to, and using, these sites – I’m not promoting a blanket ban… more a careful thought process.