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By Affect Strategies

Foursquare is a location-based social networking platform that allows users to alert friends, in real-time, of their exact whereabouts using their mobile phone. The first official Foursquare Day will be recognized in more than 100 major cities across the world and encourages users to attend special Foursquare Day events at nearby participating locations. To celebrate this global social media holiday, Affect has highlighted five easy ways that businesses can use this valuable social networking tool to help their businesses increase brand awareness and drive demand for products and/or services to boost sales:

1. Create incentives for new customers – Even if you are not a restaurant or retail establishment, offering incentives using Foursquare can help to attract new customers to try your product or service. By offering a discount, free demo or complimentary tour to those who ‘check in’ to your company location, businesses can raise awareness, increase customer traffic and capture new business leads.

2. Give special treatment to the Mayor – Businesses can easily take advantage of the Foursquare users’ obsession to become the ‘Mayor’ of their favorite locations. Foursquare users can become the Mayor by being the person that has checked in to the same location the most. By offering special discounts or limited time free services to their location’s Mayor, businesses can encourage frequent visits to their establishment and encourage loyalty.

3. Offer promotions, contests and giveaways – One of the most effective ways to create a buzz around your brand on any platform is by offering free or discounted products or services through promotions, contests and giveaways. With Foursquare, implementing these marketing tactics becomes easy. Whether it’s offering a discount to anyone who checks in to your location on a particular day or awarding the first person to check in a free product or service, Foursquare allows companies to attract and reward new and existing customers.

4. Maximize the success of events – Having a Foursquare check-in at your company events can help to make them more successful and effective. Operating around the users’ locations, Foursquare is one of the few online networks that encourages offline engagement. Company sales and marketing teams can use this network to invite their online prospects to meet them face-to-face at a networking event or tradeshow. Additionally, a Foursquare check-in at an event allows attendees to connect in-person with other users that they follow online, providing an additional incentive to attend the event.

5. Marketing intelligence –
Foursquare recently announced a free analytics tool and dashboard that gives businesses access to a plethora of information and statistics about the customers that visit their locations. This information, such as who has checked in and what time they arrived, can provide businesses with valuable insight into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, allowing them to adjust their strategies accordingly.

By using Foursquare in these five simple ways, businesses can bridge the gap between online marketing and in-person engagement. The Foursquare phenomenon is only in its nascent stage and this social media platform is changing and will continue to change the way in which businesses market and promote their products and services.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment offers music lovers a backstage pass to witness the King of Pop plan and create what would have been his electrifying and triumphant return to the stage when MICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and PSP this January 26, 2010. After breaking box office records around the world, MICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT will dazzle on Blu-ray and DVD. Directed by Kenny Ortega, the Blu-ray and DVD release will allow fans to go beyond the theatrical experience of the film Roger Ebert called “one of the most revealing music documentaries I’ve seen” with the two documentaries “Staging The Return: Beyond The Show” and “Staging The Return: The Adventure Begins,” in which Michael Jackson is shown developing, creating and rehearsing for his sold-out This Is It tour. Also available are a series of illuminating featurettes, including “The Gloved One,” a costume themed featurette; “Memories of Michael,” in which cast and crew pay moving tribute to the legacy of Michael Jackson; “Auditions: Searching for the World’s Best Dancers,” spotlighting the search for the show’s incredibly talented backup dancers; and the film’s Theatrical Trailer.

Additional features exclusive to the Blu-ray include the complete and uncut versions of “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller,” two all-new vignettes seen briefly in the film, along with a special “Making-of Smooth Criminal” featurette. In “Smooth Criminal,” sit back and marvel as Michael Jackson seamlessly shares the screen with some of the greatest movie stars of all-time in a new black and white vignette that celebrates Michael’s love of ‘Old Hollywood.’ Then, in the all-new “Thriller” vignette, watch in awe as Michael brings one of his most popular songs to a monstrous second life in a thrilling new video featuring a whole new cast of zombies, ghosts and ghouls igniting awareness with all-new and signature Jackson dance moves.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition of MICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT are even more must-have bonus features Jackson fans will love, including the BD-Live(TM) enabled movieIQ, which lets viewers add their favorite songs from the film to an emailable This Is It playlist. With movieIQ, viewers can also access live trivia information about the movie’s cast, crew, music and production – all while watching the movie!

MICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT, available on Blu-ray, DVD and PSP, this January 26, 2010, at an SRP of $39.95 (BD), $28.96 (DVD) and $24.94 (PSP).

Good news for marketers. The Nielsen Company and Facebook join forces to help marketers better use the Internet to develop and market new products according to statements from Nielsen.

The alliance combines Facebook’s global consumer reach with Nielsen’s market research expertise to provide better insight and information to marketers around the world.

First, the companies will roll out with Nielsen BrandLift, a product designed to provide marketers with effectiveness measurement for Facebook advertising. It will launch in the U.S. with select test partners this week and roll out to all Facebook advertisers in the coming months. BrandLift uses opt-in polls on Facebook’s homepage to measure consumer attitudes and purchase intent from display advertising that has appeared on the site.

“Facebook is an increasingly vital link between consumers and brands,” said John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen’s online division. “We will now be able to add deep knowledge of this important social network to our unmatched media measurement and consumer insight across all three screens. Together we will be able to provide the missing elements to clients seeking better understanding of how Web content and online advertising affect consumer behavior.”

“Nielsen is the leader in measurement and is an excellent partner for us as we look to provide marketers with richer ad effectiveness data,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. “The combination of our unique ability to quickly and effectively poll a sample of our more than 300 million users and Nielsen’s expertise in data analysis will give marketers access to powerful data they can use to understand and improve current and future campaigns.”

A new report from Nielsen shows the overall online video usage and top online brands ranked by video streams for August 2009. Year-over-year, unique viewers, total streams, streams per viewer and time per viewer were up, led by a 41 percent growth in total streams.

Take a look at these numbers:

Overall Online Video Usage (U.S.)
August 2009 | Year-Over-Year | Month-Over-Month
Unique Viewers (000) 139,176 18.00% 2.40%
Total Streams 11,363,819 41.00% 1.50%
Streams per Viewer 81.7 19.60% -0.80%
Time per Viewer (min) 204.9 38.60% -3.20%
Source: The Nielsen Company

Top Online Brands ranked by Video Streams for August 2009 (U.S.)
RANK Video Brand | Total Streams | Unique Viewers
1 YouTube 7,188,638 107,730
2 Hulu 392,545 9,894
3 Yahoo! 226,601 28,402
4 MSN/Live/Bing 180,603 17,244
5 Nickelodeon 158,790 6,376
6 Turner Network 151,606 7,826
7 Fox Interactive 149,304 14,823
8 Disney Online 103,992 9,524
9 MTV Networks 102,021 6,227
10 Blinkx 94,728 425
Source: The Nielsen Company

Ruckus Wireless announced Consolidated Communications, a U.S. incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), is actively deploying the Ruckus “Smart Wi-Fi” multimedia system as its in-home connectivity standard, enabling wireless IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) for its subscribers. Consolidated Communications includes the Ruckus MediaFlex(TM) gear at no additional charge as part of its popular Digital Video Service.
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Bloomberg reports that Google Inc.’s YouTube will let users get a portion of the site’s advertising revenue when a video goes “viral” and draws a wide audience.

A clip will qualify for the program if it meets certain criteria, including the number of views and its so-called virality, the company said today. Users who regularly produce content can already make money through YouTube’s ad-partnership program. The new policy would apply to one-off hits.

Running more ads on viral videos will increase revenue for both users and YouTube, helping bring the site closer to its goal of turning a profit. One-off YouTube hits include “Battle at Kruger,” a showdown between buffalo and lions, which has racked up more than 45 million views. “Otters Holding Hands,” another viral hit, has drawn almost 13 million views.

“There is a huge amount of money to be made,” Tom Pickett, director of online sales and operations at YouTube, said during a conference call with reporters. “We have hundreds of millions of views a week that are monetized. We continue to grow that aggressively.”

Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said last month that he is now more optimistic about YouTube becoming profitable. Google doesn’t break out specific revenue numbers for YouTube, the most popular Web site for viewing videos.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose $2.64 to $471.37 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has climbed 53 percent this year.

‘JK Wedding’

While the company had offered the ad-sharing program to some one-time hits in the past, YouTube will now officially adopt that approach. Users will get a message when their clip qualifies. Pickett declined to say how many views a video needs before it’s invited to join the program.

YouTube only sells advertising on clips that are part of the ad-partner program, Pickett said. In some cases, outside parties can get ad revenue from a video they didn’t create. That happened with the “JK Wedding Entrance Dance,” which used music from Chris Brown. His recording company, Sony Corp., received a portion of the ad revenue.

Extending the program to one-time video hits will expand the number of people getting ad revenue from thousands to “tens of thousands,” Pickett said.

Coinstar, Inc. announces an agreement with The Kroger Co. to expand the presence of its Redbox fully automated DVD rental kiosks at stores the company operates nationwide. Redbox DVD kiosks are currently available at more than 200 Kroger locations, and more than 2,600 Kroger-operated supermarkets and convenience stores will feature the popular redbox DVD kiosks within the next year.

“Kroger has been a valued customer of Coinstar for a number of years, and we’re very pleased to expand our relationship with this industry leader beyond our self-service coin counting kiosks to now include redbox DVD kiosks,” said Gregg Kaplan, president and chief operating officer of Coinstar, Inc. “Our products are designed to deliver convenience and value to the consumer while increasing foot traffic for our retailers, and we look forward to partnering with Kroger to serve their customers.”

“This partnership with Coinstar will give our customers across the country access to new release DVDs for $1 a night,” said Paul Scutt, senior vice president of Retail Operations for Kroger. “Our shoppers tell us that the redbox kiosks are an easy, convenient and affordable way to watch popular new movies at home with their families.”

The rollout of more than 2,600 redbox DVD kiosks at Kroger and Kroger-operated banner supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide will be completed in 2010.

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