You Are Being Watched

Have you ever wondered why Facebook is showing you the latest Adidas sports shoes when you were just recently on their website? Or why a random website you’re looking at is also showing an ad at the top of the page of an Adidas promotion which ends on Friday? This my friend, is what they call targeted advertising; a way of placing ads based on the demographics of consumers, their previous buying history, or behaviour (Hearst Newspapers, 2015). Let me explain the types of targeted advertising.

Firstly we have social networking ads which utilise social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as a way of advertising based on who’s liking what, and your friends’ activities online. Take for example Facebook. Recently, I’ve been searching for flights to LA for my trip to the US, which brings me to how surprised (but then not surprised) I was to find this on my news feed:

facebook adWhen I went on to click ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ I saw the image below which explains I was seeing an ad of webjet.com because they wanted “…to reach people of Facebook through Criteo an advertising company that uses Facebook’s ad exchange.” Criteo is an international business which has digital performance advertising as its core focus. So this demonstrates companies’ use of external marketing businesses to tailor their advertising to targeted consumers who use Facebook.

facebook infoThe second type of advertising is search engine ads which display advertisements at the top and right hand side of search engines (e.g. Google) based on your searches for example:

search engine adsAs we can see, based on my search of one of Babolat’s racquets, Google has displayed 3 ads at the top of the page as well as on the right hand side (which we can recognise as ads with the small yellow square displaying the word ‘Ad’) as well as pictures of racquets and their prices on the right also which is a sponsored ad.

Lastly, we have behavioural ads which show up on websites you view based on your purchasing and browsing habits. As shown below, we can see that once I searched and looked at a particular Babolat tennis racquet, an advertisement for that particular product is shown when I’m reading articles on Forbes.com and when I’m ‘attempting’ to read an article for an assignment.

behavioural 1

behavioural 2In summary, targeted advertising has become a regular part of online advertising. Companies are now utilising demographics and data based on consumer habits in order to be able to target their advertisements on particular consumers who would be interested. Although, this doesn’t go without criticisms. A recent global study conducted by Adobe on 1250 Australian consumers found that 84% of Australians believe companies collect too much personal information about them, 87% believe there are too many technologies tracking and analysing the behaviour of consumers, and 73% believe “it’s creepy when companies target advertisements to consumers based on their behaviour”. In turn, 82% feel they have lost their privacy which brings me to my final questions to you – do you feel you’ve lost your sense of privacy because of targeted advertising used today? Have you ever been targeted yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

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Smartphone…Smart Tennis Racquet?

After watching this clip, are you as intrigued as I am? It’s amazing to see the increasing use of technology into everyday objects (including tennis racquets!) every single day. Already, it has been predicted that by 2025, most tennis players will be using these smart racquets in place of regular racquets.

For those who are unaware, the concept of linking machinery, other physical assets, and equipment (including sports equipment) with networked sensors and actuators to capture data and manage performance relates to the Internet of Things. The smart racquet, created by French-based company Babolat, which is an example of the Internet of Things records data on each shot you hit, and sends this information to your smartphone via Bluetooth.  The technology, which was developed over 10 years by more than 50 technicians, scientists and researchers, features built-in hardware and sensors in the racquet handle which measures the amount of racquet head speed used, whether the shot uses slice, topspin, or flat strokes, as well as where on the string bed the player has made contact with the ball.

Extracted from http://blogs-images.forbes.com/amadoudiallo/files/2014/09/babolatracket.jpg

The data is then transferred to the ‘Babolat Play’ app (on your smartphone or tablet) via Bluetooth where players and coaches can access and utilise the data to improve performance on the tennis court.  The app also takes on a social approach, where data and stats can be seen and viewed by other users in the Babolat Play community. The racquet, which is currently $449 at Tennis Warehouse Australia, houses 6 hours of battery life along with a memory capacity which holds 150 hours of tennis.

So now that we understand the gist of this technological breakthrough in tennis, what are the marketing implications? Who benefits, the player, the coach, Babolat? Let’s start with the player. Seeing the price may put off tennis players since its pretty much double the amount of a regular racquet, although the technology installed has the ability to change, improve, and evolve the game of a player, whether they’re a young up-and-comer or a professional competing in the ATP like Rafael Nadal himself.

Extracted from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02910/rafa-esc_2910365a.jpg

If you’re wondering, no it won’t put tennis coaches out of business. As a matter of fact, it will make lessons with players more efficient and effective, aiding the coach in giving instruction to improve how a player hits each shot. Although the data collected from the racquet may significantly improve a player’s performance on its own, a coach’s instruction is still important in how to use this information and where to make changes in a given style of play. It also demonstrates (if the player needs proof) that the coach knows what he’s talking about.

Now let’s talk about Babolat and how they benefit from this amazing product.  The French-based company actually has access to all the data collected from each user’s saved hitting sessions. Why does that not surprise me? It means that Babolat has the information contained in each person’s profile including how often they play tennis, whether it’s a practice session or actual match, what sort of strokes they hit, how fast they hit their shots, and where they hit it on the string bed of the racquet. Sure, to some people, if not most people, this won’t be a big issue which is fine, although some may think it dives a bit too deep into the issue of privacy.

An example of data collected from using the smart racquet. Extracted from http://blogs-images.forbes.com/amadoudiallo/files/2014/09/babolatapp.png

What’s really interesting though is that if players purchase Babolat’s smart racquet, it’s almost certain they’ll grow attached to the product since it stores all the data of how you play. Therefore, the consumer will most likely not feel comfortable to use another smart racquet or another regular racquet for that matter since all their data is collected from the Babolat smart racquet. David Benady confirms this, in that creating direct digital relationships between consumers, and the product (plus the brand), makes it harder for consumers to switch to other products. He then goes on to explain that products like the smart racquet allow Babolat to build profiles of user behaviour which was previously unobtainable data, including their style of play, how often tennis is played, and insights into where the customer is at in their tennis journey (whether they are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player).

I’d love to hear what you have to say about the smart racquet! Would you use it? Or are you concerned about Babolat’s access to your data? If you ask me, I think it sounds like an amazing product which would greatly improve my game, although it would be nice if users were given the option to make data private rather than accessible for others to see (including Babolat). Having said that, I would absolutely love to give it a try!

Australian Open 2015 Serves An Ace With Its Use Of Social Media

Social media and its rise in popularity have completely evolved the sporting industry today. With the growing use of internet on mobile devices and the immediacy of producing and sharing content globally, it’s no wonder sporting teams and athletes are getting on board the social media wagon. It gives sporting organisations the opportunities to reach new markets and develop broader and larger fan bases through live updates, news articles, photos, videos, competitions, events, and the list goes on. To be more specific, let’s have a look at the stats:

  • 80% of fans use social media while they are watching sporting events
  • 20% of fans invite friends to sporting events via social media

The most popular content is accessed via social networks where:

  • 51% follow teams and leagues
  • 46% follow individual players
  • 48% watch video highlights
  • 48% read written articles

Benefits of social media use (within the sporting industry)

There are many reasons as to why each sport should integrate social media into their strategies in order to remain popular with fans and competitive with other sporting teams, and athletes. These include:

  • Increase in brand (team and/or individual athlete) exposure and reach through fans’ growing use of social media
  • Retains fan loyalty through interaction and engagement such as constant updates, competitions, give-aways, video interviews etc.
  • Social media bridges the gap between expensive sporting events (which fans may not be able to afford) and free exposure of social media where fans still feel involved through live updates and scores
  • Promotes awareness of the brand including sporting event dates, ticket sales, information on the team or athlete
  • Promotes products or services of the sporting team or individual where fans can purchase sporting merchandise or experiences such as valet parking and dining before a match – these can be purchased either through social media platforms or the main sporting website and can lead to an increase in revenue

Risks of social media use (within the sporting industry)

As shown above, several advantages exist in the sporting industry’s use of social media, although disadvantages do also exist including:

Negative feedback – any sporting organisation needs to ensure they regulate their use of social media to ensure appropriate messages are being sent out to fans. This includes messages which send out a message which isn’t intended for example Liverpool’s post below:

Liverpool-FC

Although the sporting organisation behind the team claimed to post this tweet to find out who fans thought should be the club’s new manager, it sent out a vibe that Liverpool were that desperate to find a manager, they called on fans for their opinions. Therefore, even though sporting organisations may have a certain message they wish to communicate, another may be interpreted by the audience.

Here is another example, featuring skateboarder Tony Hawk, which demonstrates a disadvantage of social media for the sporting industry in that it can be damaging to a brand image.

tony hawk

Image via @tonyhawk on Instagram

The above post on Instagram displays Tony Hawk riding his skateboard whilst holding on to his daughter without any sort of protective helmet or safety gear on himself or his daughter. This is very damaging to his brand image as it shows he isn’t taking his own or his daughter’s safety very seriously. Hopefully no one got hurt…

Australian Open 2015 success

This brings me to the Australian Open this year and its use of social media in various ways throughout the event which led to the tournament’s highest attendance on record. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram were predominant social media platforms, as well as the official website and phone app which allowed fans and spectators keep up-to-date with the latest results and news. Fans were continuously encouraged to be interactive and get involved through the use of hashtags, selfies, competitions, and interactive stands at Melbourne Park where the event was held. Take a look at my video I made for a university assignment below to see in detail how the Australian Open this year was so successful with its use of social media:

Implications for the sporting industry

So what does all this mean for sporting organisations? What should sport teams and athletes be wary of when using social media? Here are a couple tips and tricks:

Focus on user engagement – make sure fans are constantly being kept engaged through daily updates and interaction such as asking questions and feedback on matches, holding competitions to win merchandise, being given prizes for tweeting about an event or posting a selfie (like how it was done at the Australian Open this year).

Regulate statuses and posts – this is important to ensure that what is put up on social media is relevant and appropriate to the sporting brand and athlete as negative backlash can occur if not careful, which can lead to a damaged brand image. A forward-thinking approach needs to be put into place which is demonstrated by the Football Association which banned players from tweeting 24 hours prior to a match. This was implemented in order to protect players, opposition teams, and related bodies.

With the popularity of social media, it is absolutely essential for sporting organisations to use social media as a marketing tool as they result in numerous benefits (when risks are monitored) for a sporting brand.

I’d love to hear what you think as a sporting fan. Is social media a great marketing tool for sporting organisations to use or should they focus on other marketing strategies? Was the Australian Open successful this year with its use of social media in your eyes? Let me know in the comments below!

#whatisahashtag #whyhashtag #whypeopledodis

Before I wrote this post, I didn’t understand hashtags. I’ve seen it all over social media and the internet, but didn’t see the point of it. Why do people use it? Does it actually have a purpose? Well I did a bit of research, and let’s just say, I’ve learnt it is one clever concept…

According to Urban Dictionary the hashtag is predominantly associated with Twitter, in which case it allows people to post tweets linking to topics, sparking a worldwide, giant conversation. It allows people to also search for or follow discussions by searching a hashtag. #interesting #crazyonlinediscussions Considering the inventor of the hashtag, Chris Messina, sees it as an “accidental” invention, its amazing to think how it has evolved social media (not just Twitter) and created conversations for everyone around the world to join in. #worlwideconversation #accidentalawesomeidea

Although it seems like a clever concept, the idea of the hashtag hasn’t been lucky enough to cop absolutely no negative criticism and feedback from the public. Some are saying the hashtag is harmful in that hashtags associated with a specific event or topic can be overused by tweeters, meaning that for those who want their tweets to be noticed by a wider audience, it ain’t gonna happen. This is because in different cases, for example popular sporting events, hashtags will be used millions of times per second! So your tweet MAY get noticed for a second (literally), then get buried under a truckload of other tweets the next second. #soz Other negative criticisms of the hashtag are that they are ruining the English language. Instead of writing full sentences, we now use hashtags. #lazy #needcake #eatingnutella #mmmm This also gives our posted words on the internet a sense of ambiguity for example in the case of #winning:

Let’s not forget hashtags that can go absolutely wrong. Having words mashed together can lead to being read in a way which they’re not meant to be read, or they can be abbreviated to something completely different and unrelated. A couple of my personal favs #susanalbumparty #nowthatchersdead.

The Australian Open this year used many different hashtags to spark a wide spread conversation relating to Australia’s biggest tennis event of the year, but even they managed to be associated with an interesting hashtag which unfortunately had a double meaning. #AOselfie was used by fans at the Australian Open to post selfies whilst at the tennis on social media platforms. Mistakenly the #AOselfie hashtag could also be interpreted as ‘Adults Only’ selfies, although luckily, due to the heavy flow of traffic during the event, it was only a minority compared to the amount of tennis selfies. #yay #phew #R18+

So there we have it, the hashtag. Let me know what you think, are you a heavy user of the hashtag? Do you understand it? Or do you agree with the negative criticisms? #opinions #lemmeknow #commentsbelow #keepscrolling #enjoyinghastagging #alittletoomuch

Oh, and to finish off, here’s some JT eye candy my fav video on hashtags (the world better not come to this). #enjoy #JTisababe #ifpeopletalklikethis #iwillmovetomars #toodloo