Archive for the ‘advertising’ Tag

Watch This Space   3 comments

March 25, 2019

What are the best sites you use for publicity?


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Like most writers, I didn’t decide to publish books because I wanted to market them. Marketing books cuts into writing time and I’m not sure how effective it really is. That said, if nobody knows your books are out there, they can’t read them.

So …. most effective sites …?

That I’ve used?

I am an unashamed capitalist, which means I believe my books need to support themselves in the marketplace. Yes, of course, I will give some money to my books to get them started, but I won’t pour good money after bad in hopes that if I keep doing the same thing over and over something will eventually stick to the wall.

What worked last year doesn’t necessarily work this year. My daughter tells me I need to be over on Instagram. Too bad you have to work off your phone or tablet for that, because I really hate working on tiny screens using my thumbs instead of full-sized screens using all 10 fingers.

Thunderclap gave me most exposure and the best sales bumps I’ve had from any “free” campaign I tried, but that went away last year. Pity, but that means I needed to move on.

I do belong to a few sites that for a small fee allow me to post my blurbs for long periods of time and I do see an occasional bump from these sites, but they aren’t all that useful. I also get some bump from my website occasionally. The discussions I post on Facebook sometimes gain interest for my books.

Posting in Facebook groups – not so much, although occasionally I can see a visit from that post over to my website where I hope they go onto Amazon. Twitter – doubtful. I’ve never tried Twitter ads because I really think Twitter is too ADHD for people to buy books from. I still have a presence there but I don’t waste a lot of time with it.

I do occasionally toss $20 at Facebook for an ad because I have seen verifiable sales from advertising there. And, of the sites that still exist, Facebook ads has been the most marketable. That said, Facebook has gotten far too bossy lately, so I’m not probably going to advertise through them any longer. I don’t want to give them my driver’s license. That’s a violation of my privacy and an invitation to identity theft. So unless nothing else works to sell books, I’m done with Facebook ads for the time being. I will still host discussions there until they ban me (or until MeWe or some other platform presents viable competition to the behemoth would-be monopoly that is Facebook. All is not lost, however.

Craig Martell, a fellow Alaska author who is selling about 100,000 books a year (he’s a retired attorney who is writing about 20 books a year compared to my one, so …), has convinced me to give Amazon ads a try. I’m not going to buy in as big as he does – at least not unless my small ad campaigns make a substantive dent in my sales. Again, I’m a capitalist and so I only spend money when it will net me a return. But I’m willing to experiment a little over the next year and see what happens. After all, it makes sense that people who want to buy books are on Amazon, so you’re best marketing dollars are spent on that platform. Amazon is just that much more expensive to buy-in to that I’ve hesitated, but now Facebook has given me a reason to try another platform.

Ultimately, folks, I suspect the best marketing technique is to write the next book. When I published my fourth book in the Transformation Project last fall, I set off a really good quarter of sales for all of the rest of my books and the only marketing I did was to announce (through a $20 Facebook ad) a giveaway of the first book in the series and a sale on the others. I sold more books in that one quarter than I’ve sold in the previous four years. Now, let’s see if I can manage to repeat that using Amazon ads.

I’m curious to see what my fellow bloghoppers have found works for them because they might know things I don’t know.

Posted March 25, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Role-Models for Real Life   5 comments

March 12, 2018 – In years gone by, clothing stores, makeup manufacturers and the like have only used models with those perfect bodies and skin to show us their products.  How do you feel about this?  Would you like to see “real” people in ads?

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Model 1I find myself in a unique position on this topic. My mother was a petites model for a Seattle department store off and on through her late-teens and 20s, even after she gave birth to my brother. She was 5’2″ and naturally maintained a weight in the 90s simply by smoking cigarettes (which everyone did back then) and not having a sweet tooth. The most she ever weighed was 102 pounds — she was pregnant with my brother at the time.

My daughter is 5’8″ and struggles to maintain a weight of 125 pounds – the low-end for her height. She’s got my mother’s metabolism without smoking and her paternal grandmother’s height. She has had unsolicited offers to model, but has things to say about the objectifying of women.

I don’t fit either ideal. I’m 5’1″ and I am athletic, which means I have muscles. Therefore, petite clothing lines often do not fit my thighs and biceps, even if they fit my height and waist. I buy my clothes in the “normal” lines and then modify them. It works out to costing just about the same as petite clothing costs. I also accidentally discovered that men’s jeans are 30% less expensive and you can match the waist (hips for women) and inseam to your personal needs. (So the zipper is reversed — blah-blah).

I have curly hair. Curly hair doesn’t match some sort of ideal in the advertising world. Those models in the “curly” ads didn’t have curly hair when they walked into the studio. How do I know? Because their hair is so shiny and that’s not what curly hair does without a lot of very expensive product, which is what they’re trying to sell, but having tried their very expensive product — it rarely works. (Just saying)

Of course, models have perfect everything. If you are making your living having photos snapped of you, then that’s one of your job requirements – look perfect. Occasionally you see a plus-sized model who looks fantastic, but of course, she’s really toned and she’s got great hair and perfect makeup. So we “normals” should just get over the idea that models will ever look like us. They have teams of people to make them look gorgeous while some of us are still sharing a bathroom with a guy who likes to shower in the morning.

Model 2If you didn’t get that joke,  you don’t have curly hair, which reacts to humidity, which is what is produced by a shower.

Yeah, there’s a tiny part of me that would love to see a “real” person modeling those clothes, that makeup, that hair product, but I recognize that reality doesn’t sell. Everybody wants to be able to imagine that if they buy that dress, they’ll look like the willowy 5’8″ model who eats one meal a day. It’s why we try the dress on … and why we stand in the fitting room imagining what it would look like if we lost five pounds or wore a girdle or donned 4″ heels. But the reality is I’m 5’1″, I’ve had two babies, and I eat a healthy diet rather than starving myself, so I’m not ever going to look like the model and, personally, I’m okay with that.

I sooth my annoyance at her perfection with the knowledge that she couldn’t keep up with me on the hiking trail, where it doesn’t matter if your clothes don’t flow just right or your hair is reacting to the humidity. My life has different requirements from that model’s life and, mostly, I’m okay with that.

Model 3One of my best friends used to be one of those models. She made a great living while it lasted, and that paid for a social work degree and now she runs a charter boat in the Florida Keys with her husband. She points out that models aren’t a whole lot different from professional athletes. They make a lot of sacrifices for the job. Most aren’t Rhodes scholars. They’re only qualifications for a job are looking pretty and being skinny. “What would they become if modeling wasn’t available?” Joi asked. “A couple of years starving and having my breasts duct-taped down paid for college and the career that followed. And, I used those photographers as references for my social work jobs because they could say I was a professional who showed up for work and put in a full measure. That seems a lot more dignified than the alternative – a lifetime of asking ‘Do you want fries with that?'”

Joi’s take on it colors my view as does my mother’s. If all the models looked like me, my daughter would want to see models who wore horizontal stripes and bold florals because those look fantastic on her and should be avoided strenuously by anyone my height — including petite models. And if there was a more reality-based mix of models … would that make us more comfortable with ourselves or would we still look at those taller and skinnier and less curly-headed than ourselves and want to be them?

I think this may be my individualist streak rearing its counter-cultural head, but I am not all that comfortable with trying to change other people, especially a whole industry of other people.

lelamarkhamprofilepicMaybe, what’s really needed is mothers having conversations with their daughters about how life is not an advertisement. We can admire the tall skinny people with the perfect hair and makeup … or the short athletic people with the perfect hair and makeup … or, the frankly-chubby people with the perfect hair and makeup, but real life will never be like that and it’s okay because that advertisement is a moment in time captured after a whole lot of work to create a fantasy that is nothing like real life with the aim to sell us clothes, hair and skin products or something else. We might accomplish a great deal more having that conversation about accepting our bodies as they are and about the lure of consumerism with our daughters (and sons) instead of trying to change the fashion industry.

Posted March 12, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Ratings Are Important   Leave a comment

Neil_CavutoA commercial medium wants to sell ad space or time to businesses with products or services for sale. To make that sale, they need to be able to tell potential advertisers that their messages on the air, in print, or on the monitor screen will be viewed and heard by large numbers of consumers. And that’s where ratings come in.

Nielsen program ratings for cable news channels for April 2012:

  1. The O’Reilly Factor – Fox News — 2.87 million total viewers
    2. Hannity – Fox News — 2.075 million total viewers
    3. Special Report with Bret Baier – Fox News — 1.778 million total viewers
    4. On the Record with Greta van Susteren – Fox News — 1.722 million total viewers
    5. Fox Report with Shepard Smith – Fox News — 1.688 million total viewers
    6. The Five – Fox News — 1.674 million total viewers
    7. America’s Newsroom – Fox News — 1.272 million total viewers
    8. Your World with Neil Cavuto – Fox News — 1.252 million total viewers
    9. O’Reilly Factor (11PM) – Fox News — 1.22 million total viewers
    10. America Live – Fox News — 1.191 million total viewers
    11. Studio B – Fox News — 1.113 million total viewers
    12. Fox & Friends – Fox News — 1.082 million total viewers
    13. Happening Now – Fox News — 1.029 million total viewers
    14. The Rachel Maddow Show – MSNBC — 985,000 total viewers
    15. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell – MSNBC — 931,000 total viewers
    16. The Ed Show – MSNBC — 875,000 total viewers
    17. Hardball with Chris Matthews – MSNBC — 744,000 total viewers
    18. PoliticsNation – MSNBC — 712,000 total viewers
    19. Piers Morgan Tonight – CNN — 567,000 total viewers
    20. The Situation Room – CNN — 548,000

Notice that programs owned by News Corporation dominate the first 13.  The next five are NBC Universal programs and the bottom two in the top 20 list are Time Warner programs.

Bill O’Reilly has five times as many viewers as Wolf Blitzer. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing nor should it be considered evidence that Rupert Murdock is Satan. Ratings just show what people are watching. When I worked in newspapers as a journalist one of the things I learned was that advertisers often couldn’t care less about the politics of a program so long as their advertising gets seen. Advertisers do not, therefore, exhibit much influence over the news they advertise on. Viewers actually exert a lot of control with the power of their remote control.

Rupert Murdock is not a conservative by American standards, but Fox News Network has a strong right leaning bias. Some of that can be attributed to Roger Ayles, the CEO, who is a conservative, but more of it is attributed to who viewers are tuning into. Apparently viewers like Bill O’Reilly more than they like Chris Matthews, so advertisers, wanting their ads to be seen by the most people, buy advertising where the viewers are. If Murdock were to replace Ayles with Hendrick Hertzberg (for example), Hertzberg would do well to note the ratings of Fox’s media stable and not mess too much with a winning formula because Murdock is all about making money and Bill O’Reilly brings in more advertising dollars than Wolf Blitzer.

 

Would those advertising dollars shrink if Hertzberg made O’Reilly modify his message? Yes, probably. How do I know? Look how high in the ratings Neil Cavuto is. Neil is not the most entertaining person to watch, but people are tuning in, so it has to be something other than his scintillating personality. His message is compelling and viewers are tuning in for that.

I’m not making a judgment about which message is better or whether you can trust Fox News to give you better information. I am saying the viewers seem to prefer FOX’s message over what is offered at MSNBC and CNN.

Who is Influencing Whom?   Leave a comment

We live in an age that demands timeliness and instant access to information and the media play a crucial role in informing the public about politics, campaigns and elections. While the media fulfills this role, American culture is cynical about the media and politicians, perceiving a media bias. What is often overlooked is that government has a tremendous influence on the media at least equal to the influence the media exerts on government

Does the media report politics or does it shape political events?

The media helps influence what issues voters should care about in elections and what criteria they should use to evaluate candidates. There’s a belief that the media influences the voting behavior of people. It’s unlikely that someone who takes an active interest in politics is going to be redirected by the media. However, the media can sway people who are uncommitted to a clear position. Since these voters often decide election results, the power of the media can be substantial.

Because I read Barack Obama’s books and saw stances there that I could not support, it wouldn’t have mattered what the media reported in the run-up to the 2008 election. I was going to vote against him. But if you never read the books or you hadn’t met Sarah Palin personally or you thought John McCain was a little old, the media promoting Barack Obama at every turn probably had some influence in convincing you to vote for him.

Successful politicians learn that the media are the key to getting elected. FDR massaged American sentiments with his Fireside Chats. Ronald Reagan used his film skills to communicate very effectively with American voters. Government officials stage media events with the precision of wedding planners. Critics believe too much attention is focused on how politicians look and on the occasional soundbite than on how they have performed in office or the experience they bring to their first crack as a public servant. Media exerts a profound influence on the behavior of candidates and officials.

Most Americans learn about social issues from print or electronic media. Media focused on some issues and ignores others and that can help set what gets done in government. Media sources are often accused of emphasizing scandal and high-interest issues at the expense of duller, but more important political programs. The government’s priorities can be rearranged as a result.

On the other hand, a 2013 Pew report on the state of the media exposes one of the worst-kept secrets in politics: reporters are losing their power to frame presidential contests for the average citizen.

Technology has enables candidates/campaigns to more effectively end-run the mainstream media. President Obama’s campaign team has used everything from Twitter to images on Flickr to sell their preferred image of the nation’s chief executive.

This is exaserbated by their being fewer news reports than there were a decade or so ago. Magazines and newspapers are shrinking and these were the investigative reporters of the past. With fewer reporters and more to cover due to the 24-hour news cycle, there is a tendency to resort to paint-by-numbers reporting for those who are still in the business.

What does this mean for political coverage? Well, political media has less ability to play its traditional referee role at the same time that public distrust of the media is rampant among partisans of both parties. Without the negative influence of the media, some people say, the public can focus on the issues and where the two parties stand.

Or not….

Nearly three-quarters of all statements made about the two candidates’ characters in 2012 were negative, which was a significant rise over 2008, which was the most negative campaign I watched on television … and one reason I no longer use television for political news.

With the news organizations pushed out of the information pipeline, voters are alone in sorting through messages that are tested before focus groups and opposition attacks tailored with great specificity. Is that independence a good thing? Well, I like it, but it is a lot easier to campaign successfully if there’s no one checking a candidate’s facts and increasingly, there is no one checking the facts.

Campaigns have more power to frame both their positive narratives and their opponent’s negative one. If the Pew numbers are right, both sides are spending an inordinate amount of money on the negative side of the ledger.

This is where social media come in. I don’t buy that you can learn anything about a candidate or an issue in a Twitter or Instagram post, but social media does give folks an opportunity to talk about what’s important to them and how a candidate might or might not address those concerns. And, if the current debate on the Keystone Pipeline is any evidence, Facebook is filled with emotional rhetoric lacking the ability to fact-check.

More than that, the Internet has allowed a flood of non-tradition news sources — some with variable trustworthiness. Again it comes back to whether or not we the people should trust any media source on any subject.

Additionally, we should be aware that as much as the media influences government through influencing elections, our government influences us through its manipulation of the media.

Media and Advertising   2 comments

“Advertising is the art of arresting human intelligence just long enough to get money from it.” (Chuck Blore of advertising firm Chuck Blroe & Don Ruchman, Inc., quoted in The Media Monopoly, by Ben H. Bagdikian, p. 185)

Mass media is a natural way for companies to let a large number of people know about their products. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that idea of reaching large groups of people with products they might want or need. I do have some concerns with the influence exerted by advertising methods and techniques that entice, shape and even create consumerism, turning luxuries into necessities and distorting our view of reality.

Media companies (at least in the US, but to a smaller extent in countries that subsidize their media) are heavily dependent upon advertising to keep the doors open. It’s their primary revenue source. Yes, there are audience-supported media that do not utilize advertising, but the influence there is similar. The revenue source largely controls the medium. If something is reported that the advertiser (or paying subscriber) doesn’t like the medium risks the loss of revenue. If a television network is heavily reliant on advertising by Monsanto, they’re going to shy away from covering a story about bad practices by Monsanto.

As a result, the mainstream media is largely driven by market forces.

But it’s also important to realize that a medium must sell advertising to an audience in order for that advertising to be effective. So the medium must sell the audience to the corporations in order to sell advertising. So you have a situation where the audience is both a product and the consumer of a product. There is tremendous pressure on media companies to change content and to shape content based on the demographics of the audience. The content of media is less important than the type of person being targeted by the ads that support the media.

In Bagdikian’s book The Media Monopoly, he looked at magazine advertising and news content in several countries. He noted:

“The influence of advertising on magazines reached a point where editors began selecting articles not only on the basis of their expected interest for readers but for their influence on advertisements. Serious articles were not always the best support for ads. An article that put the reader in an analytical frame of mind did not encourage the reader to take seriously an ad that depended on fantasy or promoted a trivial product. An article on genuine social suffering might interrupt the “buying” mood on which most ads for luxuries depend. The next step, seen often in mid-twentieth century magazines, was commissioning articles solely to attract readers who were good prospects to buy products advertised in the magazine. After that came the magazine phenomenon of the 1970s — creating magazines for an identifiable special audience and selling them to particular advertisers.” (page 138)

There is also the known manipulation of media images to promote certain mindsets to consumerism. I grew up when Saturday morning cartoons were funded by Mattel, where huge Transformers destroyed toy houses on the screen and when you ordered them, they turned out to be smaller than the houses. Models are manipulated to look prettier, sexier and skinnier. This leads to unrealistic expectations for reality that can have profound effects on our national psyche.

There are areas for concern however. Advertorials do exist. This is where news stories or editorials are often thinly-disguised product advertisements. Disney owns ABC and there have been allegations of hyping a movie under the guise of news coverage. Over the weekend, Brad and I watched a “news” story that covered the refurbishment of a local gym that sure seemed like an advertisement to us. Is it First Amendment protected speech when it comes from a public relations press release? Of course, we also must realize that special interests from the Sierra Club to the National Education Association also issue these press releases that become, in many cases, unfiltered “news” at the 6 o’clock hour.

I am not suggesting regulation of advertising, however. We are only as stupid and easily led as we allow ourselves to be.  The risk of regulating advertising for the “good” of the public is that regulators never stop where they were originally asked to regulate. First it’s advertising, then its news and why not the editorial segment as well? We’ll address the unfairness of the “Fairness” Doctrine later in the series. What is needed is more consumer skepticism and the willingness to talk about media manipulation with our kids combined with the chutpah of the audience to realize that as the third leg of the advertiser-media-audience relationship, we have the power to demand truth in advertising and that advertising be separated from news coverage.

The problem is that we don’t even recognize when we’re being manipulated and we deny it when it’s pointed out. This is true whether it is corporate advertising influence news coverage on network and cable news channels or on PBS, where corporate sponsors exert a powerful influence on coverage, but because PBS is “commercial free” supporters will insist it is neutral and balanced.

Ha! That’s what I have to say about that. HA! And, no, this is not a rant against Bonnie Erbe. It’s a rant against people who thing she is a journalist or that her show presents news. It is an opinion program that presents a very narrow view of the world and the people in it. Okay, guys, take your eyes off her knees and the other chick’s cleavage.

Media manipulation is everywhere! And that’s why the idea of PBS presenting unbias news — HA!

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