The Twitter 13; Paywalls In Newspaper Purgatory; Geofencing Unplugged

Posted on May 12, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , |

The Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Twitter 13: just 13% of American adults subscribe to Twitter; yet these 13% are the “influencers” of America, according to news reports this week based on a study by the Pew Research Center. The Twitter 13 make for an outsize contribution on the direction of political campaigns, according to the Pew study.

That’s because Twitter people are such active communicators. They re-tweet, they post on Facebook, they gab among friends, they make friends on LinkedIn, they make speeches, teach classes, write news copy, etc. It’s the chattering class in full-bore action. Punditry in motion.

Paywalls As Newspapers’ Maginot Line?

National affairs blogger-at-large and master computer programmer Dave Winer argues that newspapers that put up paywalls are operating in desperation mode with an eye to using last century’s business model.

Plugging holes in a leaking roof, and not replacing the old and worn-out roof with a brand-new one incorporating new, space-age materials is what the newsies are doing, in other words.

But newspapers face a tough choice.

Their classified ad business is gone, gone, gone.

Their primary product is viewed with some disdain by the environmentally conscious (printed on dead tree stock, although that is a specious argument in my opinion – the newsprint industry is not denuding the world of irreplaceable old growth trees).

Reporters, also known as content producers, and others in the editorial ranks are high cost items. Justifiably so. They’re highly trained, highly skilled people who collectively produce the newspaper product. I want newspapers to succeed. Putting up paywalls is a defensive move. Another patch in the leaky roof of newspaperdom.

Retailers On The Geofence.

Geofencing came in for some scrutiny by the Wall Street Journal this week.

Neat, cool, convenient. Words that can be applied to geofencing — the idea of stores using technology to send text messages about in-store deals to the mobile devices of customers and consumers traveling within the bounds of an electronically defined marketing zone.

It’s akin to the electric fence that is supposed to keep pets from straying outside their owner-designated boundaries (or is it to keep other pets and critters from creeping into the yard, I’m uncertain about that and not going to research it right now).

You get the idea.

Retailers want to both lure passersby into their stores with impulse-oriented surprise offers beamed into their smartphones, and combat the insidious consumer practice of “showrooming.” Reviews of geofencing are mixed. Rugged outerwear maker North Face reports recruiting only 8,000 subscribers to its “Shopalert” geofencing service despite heavy promotion over the past two years.

Free Sells.

Giveaways are good for geofencing results, according to the Journal story.

No surprise there. Everybody likes a freebie, even the rich.

Offers too good to refuse work too.

Try blasting off a 30% off offer on a new Volkswagen in the next 30 minutes to people driving by within 10 miles of your business — and see how many people flock to your car dealership.

Interestingly enough, geofencing is also potentially stealing more revenue from newspapers.

Who needs to run static display advertising in a newspaper when they can target a sales message directly at prospective customers when they are within shopping distance of a store?

Perhaps there’s a way for newspapers and retailers to market together here – buy this item, earn points towards a month’s free online subscription to your newspaper of choice.

This technology is just in its infancy. There is so much more to come. One of the challenges of marketers is to learn how to use it without abusing it. Consumers can only take so much marketing. For proof, look at the backlash that rose up to swat down telemarketing — this after years of ever-more-ferocious use of the telephonic medium by marketers. Still, the idea of building and holding a captive audience is much to rich with potential to ignore.

Sources cited:

Twitter’s Big Impact On Political Campaigns

Newspapers Look In Rear View Mirror

Geofencing To The Retail Rescue?

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