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  • When will it stop being okay to be ignorant about technology?

       July 29, 2010

    During his appearance on The View President Obama remarked that of course he doesn't do his own tweeting, but rather some "20-year old" does it. He's also made comments about how he doesn't know how to work his iPod. I get that he's trying to be glib and self-deprecating, but at what point does that attitude and those comments turn into the perception that he's hopelessly out of touch?

    I remember when George H.W. Bush was roundly mocked for apparently not knowing how a grocery scanner worked. There are over 500 million Facebook users, about 15 million Twitter users and the iPod hit the 100 million sales mark back in 2007. These aren't "new" technologies anymore. Maybe our leaders should simply get with it.

    And I'm not just talking about Obama or some other blowhard politician. I see the same thing in business. Some 50+ executive will make a comment about how he doesn't know anything about this internet stuff and he's never been on Facebook and blah blah blah. I want to yell at them and point out that they're in marketing or communications and how can they be in the field, much less a leader in the field, and be so ignorant. It's not cool. It's downright scary.

    I was in a meeting the other day and saw some data about the gap between Americans' media usage and how advertiser's spend their budgets. Even though (at the time - the stats are a couple of years old) 37% of media consumption was online, only 14% of ad spend was. Likewise, newspapers accounted for just 4% of media consumption but 24% of media spend. The ignorance of out-of-touch marketing leaders leads to bad decisions like this.

    The ignorance of political leaders will likewise lead to more poor decisions. Maybe if you're going to be President of the United States or President of a company, you should play a few less rounds of golf and spend a little more time learning about this "whole Internet thing". It's not going away.

    Posted by kris at July 29, 2010 03:18 PM

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    #  July 29th, 2010 3:34 PM      james
    I don't think "percent media consumption" is a very useful metric for determining how many advertising $ should be spent on a particular medium. Take the newspaper, for instance - you say that it accounts for only 4% of media-consumption, but I'll betcha anything that a coupon printed in the Sunday paper is a heckofalot more effective than spending 20x more dollars on an online campaign.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 3:37 PM      james
    Also, Twitter is stupid.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 3:41 PM      BVBigBro
    Twitter is pretty useless. It will always be OK to be ignorant of it. Men after a certain age are never going to be glued to Facebook. It's too demanding. The iPod doesn't really do anything that my existing technology doesn't already do and hence I don't use it, although I can understand others' use of it.

    I think you should be careful. Most people are already overrun by technology. Technology that is time demanding is likely to only be used extensively by people with lots of free time. Additionally, this recession will create a permanent change in people similar to what the depression did to a generation. It will no longer be sufficient for technology to exist, it will have to be useful as well.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 3:48 PM      kris
    Twitter is stupid, I'll agree.

    I think the key is to design all of your media to work together and don't just not do something or only do it in a halfass way. So if you're going to spend God knows what on a Sunday TAB (so you've got media, print & creative costs) then put a decent amount of your budget online to make sure you get the bang for your buck. I got 22 million impressions on a local Facebook campaign for $6,300. That's almost literally nothing. So, use some of that media to help the TAB.

    People do that, of course, the problem is that after the fact they'll evaluate the online campaign via metrics like click through and conversion and sales rather than the boost it gave print.

    #  July 29th, 2010 3:50 PM      kris
    I'm just frustrated in the pride some of the leadership I've worked with take in the fact that they have no interest in an entire area of marketing. It's nothing to be proud of.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 3:52 PM      BVBigBro
    What was the demographic breakdown of your Facebook crowd?  
    #  July 29th, 2010 3:56 PM      kris
    24 and up - geographically based.

    But, to the point I think you're driving at, I think you would be SHOCKED by the audience you can get in older age groups.

    For example, there are 339,000 male Facebook users aged 45-60 within 50 miles of Chicago.

    There are 16,000 men between the ages of 50-60 on Facebook from Alaska.

    There are 12,000 people (both sexes) aged 50-60 on Facebook within 50 miles of Wisconsin Rapids.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:01 PM      kris
    There are 7,700 users in Wisconsin who list kayaking as an interest

    There are 160 people in Wisconsin who like Todd Rundgren

    There are 40 people within 50 miles of SLC who like Trek Bikes

    There are 6,700 people in the US who like Summer Shandy.

    There are 40,000 women within 25 miles of Houston who are engaged.

    You get the idea  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:12 PM      BVBigBro
    I think you should differentiate between users and active users.

    How often do women view and update Facebook vs. men.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:14 PM      kris
    That number is active users.

    I'll look to see if I can get a breakdown between male & female, but I don't recall ever seeing a differentiation.

    Wait - I'm being stupid - I can make comparisons myself.

    America as a whole:

    Up to 18
    % Male: 45%
    % Female 55%

    % Male: 46%
    % Female: 54%

    % Male: 43%
    % Female: 57%

    % Male: 41%
    % Female: 59%

    51 and up
    % Male: 38%
    % Female: 62%

    So you're right that it does start to skew female, but it's pretty gradual.

    #  July 29th, 2010 4:18 PM      BVBigBro
    I suspect lots of people maintain access to such technologies in case they need or want them. I have a twitter account which I don't use, and texting ability from multiple phones which I use essentially not at all, but probably enough to be counted as an active user even though the average teenage girl will out text me by a factor of 1000.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:22 PM      kris
    Twitter's % of active users is remarkably small. Basically, people try Twitter and then realize it sucks, whereas people try Facebook and are sucked in.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:26 PM      kris
    That's not the update answer that you're looking for - but that's irrelevant from a marketing perspective. I don't care if you update your status - I just want you seeing my ad.

    Now, if I'm doing something where I'm trying to actively get you to do something with your status or share something, I care more about your particular behavior more than just if you visit the site.

    Banner click through rates are so sucky that facebook ads can still be unprofitable, but if just want impressions and to generate awareness like you might on a branding TV ad it's a pretty sweet mass audience.

    I'd like to have a more niche product because I'd be curious what click through rates are there and if it makes it worthwhile.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:27 PM      BVBigBro
    The key to attracting an older male audience to something that they don't need and really are not interested in is to be undemanding. Facebook needs an online assistant that does all the work for you, and requires you to do virtually nothing.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:30 PM      BVBigBro
    The other caution I would offer is that I suspect everyone is afraid of what would happen if such technologies are no longer free.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:30 PM      kris
    I actually think the # of older male active Facebook users is actually undercounted because I think there are probably a lot of older men who use Facebook but use their wife's account. They may not post, but they're still looking around the site and could still see ads and stuff. You can't tell me Grandpas aren't looking at pictures.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:33 PM      kris
    I guess I don't get what you're afraid of. The only fear with Facebook is that you spend money stupidly on it. If you run the numbers and the campaign either looks like it'll make money or the campaign's goals aren't direct sales, then go for it. It's one of the easiest ways to reach a mass audience now and demographic targeting is just pretty slick.

    #  July 29th, 2010 4:38 PM      BVBigBro
    Nope. Men aren't using facebook.

    On the other hand, if you had an application that automatically downloaded audio and/or video to a dedicated channel on the car stereo you might have a winner. Men could listen in the car at their own leisure and it would demand nothing more than turning on the radio and tuning to that channel to hear your updates. As an advertiser, your ad would be a radio ad mixed in with personal audio segments.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 4:41 PM      drew
    I don't think Twitter sucks. It's become my primary resource for news consumption.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 5:27 PM      kris
    I should amend my comment - it's stupid for ME to post on Twitter. It's somewhat useful to follow some people.

    BV - you are falling into that trap where you're extrapolating your behavior to other people. You are unique.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 5:41 PM      BVBigBro
    I'm obviously not unique and I'm not writing that you shouldn't advertise here or there depending on who you want to advertise to. This post, though, started with you complaining about the people ignorant of certain technologies. They are ignorant of them because they, and people like them, don't use them. I just told you some of the reasons they don't. Rather than try to make them use the technology, make the technology conform to them.

    Always provide what the market wants. They're telling you and you're telling me there's a 50 plus crowd being underserved in the technology market. A 50+ crowd that has money.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 6:06 PM      kris
    Yes, and then I provided you with a bunch of stats that clearly show the volume of people "like that" that use these technologies and I feel like you basically said the stats were wrong because of your personal experience.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 6:10 PM      BVBigBro
    The stats for the men you complained about aren't good.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 6:17 PM      BVBigBro
    I'll add something. Give them they're own TV channel, too. Have your app translate their computerized crap to their TV. Then all they have to do is turn on the TV and switch to their channel for an update. You can stream in your ads and know that they're actually watching.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 6:59 PM      kris
    To get back to the original point of my rant, it's irrelevant whether you as random older man are internet savvy. The point is that you, as leader, should be. If you're a leader you need to step outside of your own experience and learn what the heck is going on in the world.

    I do a lot of social media stuff just to learn about it for work. I don't expect a leader to be at that detail, but at this point if you're a CMO or something you need to be on Facebook, you need to use email, you need to making Google searches. I'm not asking for that much here.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 7:06 PM      james
    I often pretend that I have no idea how something works just so I don't have to talk about it or explain it to someone. Maybe President Obama just doesn't want to have to explain to the press corps why he won't water their plants in Farmville.  
    #  July 29th, 2010 8:29 PM      themandownthehall
    "spend a little more time learning about this "whole Internet thing". It's not going away."

    Well, unless that internet kill switch I read about on happens... :)

    "Maybe President Obama just doesn't want to have to explain to the press corps why he won't water their plants in Farmville."

    James, you are kind. You try to see the best in people. The sad fact is that he hasn't deserved any such benefit of a doubt. This president, like the one before him, probably wouldn't know how to log on to email without a teleprompter (or Cheney for W) telling him how.  
    #  July 30th, 2010 9:02 AM      james
    And now he claims to not even know who Snooki is! When will the madness end?

    #  July 30th, 2010 9:06 AM      kris
    I bet he denies Snooki three times before the cock crows.



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