LinkedIn Will Launch Their Own Ad Network

According to comScore, LinkedIn has over 27 million registered users, most of these who are in the professional workspace and own smartphones/PDAs. Currently, LinkedIn already already sells ads against this professional audience right on its site that are targeted by industry, seniority, company size, gender, and other specifications. Freddie Laker discusses in this latest post on SocialMediaToday that LinkedIn will expand its reach to targeting partner sites.

Publishers will have to apply to become part of the LinkedIn ad network. Similar to Yahoo’s and Google’s ad-targeting network, when someone visits LinkedIn a cookie will be placed in their browser. When these users visit partner sites, they will be identified as LinkedIn members and they will be grouped into different categories. Users will also be able to opt-out of this network if they so choose.

Facebook has received a lot of heat in the past for releasing Facebook Beacon and similar ad networks. Will LinkedIn users be annoyed with the new ad network?

Cable Customer Service

In this previous post we had discussed a new position that had been created by Comcast called “digital care manager” whose responsibility was to manage customer service through new media methods. This latest news report, however, gives no indication that customer service is looking up for the cable industry. As the article states, cable customer satisfaction score is 60 out of 100 with 70% of respondents citing that they would have no qualms about jumping to a competitor. The article also reports that:

“the industry average was was weighed down by the scores of Comcast Corp. (58) and Charter Communications Inc. (51).”

In addition to the threat of changing to competitors Customers also cited, that they would

“dump cable, given the chance, because of poor customer service.”

Focused Group Dynamics

One of the best things about my job as a moderator is getting to create an atmosphere where a group of strangers feel comfortable enough to talk about a focused topic for a couple of hours.

It’s fascinating to be in the driver’s seat, gently nudging each person to give a point of view or express their opinion. And it’s just as interesting to watch the complexity of group dynamics in action. What a joy it is when the group interacts and expresses differing opinions in a constructive way, providing true insight. I believe this doesn’t happen automatically. Rather, it comes with a bit of finesse. While there are times when it’s necessary to go to more dramatic means to ensure cooperation and avoid group think, the following steps will help you get there most of the time:

1. Set the Stage’I believe people in most focus groups generally want to give you what you want’insight from their perspective. I also believe that people need ‘coaching’ many times on how best to do that. So, it is your responsibility as the moderator to properly set the stage. Tell respondents that you expect everyone to participate, that you expect them to have at least some differing opinions. Explicitly stating your expectations in the beginning will help you when you have to shut down the loudmouths and call on the wallflowers later in the discussion!

2. Be in Charge’you, as the moderator are responsible for the discussion thread. If you don’t manage it, someone else will. Do not be afraid to shift a respondent from an off-the-topic monologue. Time is not your friend in a group’you only have a set amount of it to extract insights. Therefore, keep yourself and your respondents focused on the objectives of the discussion. Again, be in charge of what you want to hear!

3. Use Non-Verbal Feedback First’this is especially important when gaining reactions to communication pieces or concept ideas. Get a quick read non-verbally by having participants write their opinions first. I also believe that structuring the verbal feedback process is helpful. Ask for positive comments first, then neutrals, then negatives. Structuring the feedback this way helps you stay on a path of constructive feedback rather than everyone jumping on a negative bandwagon.

4. Control the Loudmouth and Nurture the Wallflower’it is important to your clients to hear from everyone (if they all have something meaningful about the topic to say, that is’) So, again, it is your job as the moderator to ensure that the ‘loudmouth’ doesn’t overtake the conversation. You can do this by simply stating, ‘Thanks, I really want to hear from XXX.’ When trying to get the ‘wallflower’ to speak, it helps to make strong eye contact with them and when all else fails, call on them. ‘I haven’t heard your thoughts yet, XXX. Please tell me what you’re thinking.’ Specifically stating the respondents name who is not participating will usually at least get them focused in again.


Making a Difference with SocialVibe

Mashable recently gave a great review of the online network SocialVibe which allows users to build sponsored widgets that give back to various charities. What’s great about this tool is that creating the widget is fairly simple, and SocialVibe does all the work in inserting your widget in existing profiles on Facebook and Myspace.

Since its launch six months ago, it has already generated over $120,000 for charities that they support. SocialVibe users don’t donate the money themselves or spam their friends, they just simply display the widget on the profile pages and click-throughs generate sponsored donations. Companies like Adobe, Apple, the NBA, and the UFC are among the sponsors involved.

Merits of CRM

In this news report, they discuss the merits of CRM. Since the conception of CRM systems, much has changed. In 1997, 39% of contact centers said they “had a single view of the customer” with 45% planning to follow their lead within 2 years. By 2007 this number had dropped to 34%. As Stephen Loring, a business development manager for customer interactive solutions stated:

“The rise of the Internet, and the use of different channels such as IVR and Web self-service has disrupted the unified 360 degree view of customers in CRM. At the same time the payback period for CRM installations is too long for many of today’s business managers.”

This has lead people to question the usefulness of CRM. In response Pete Marston, a Forrester Research Analyst had this to say:

“If you have customers won over you need to maintain those relationships, on the marketing side you need to get people interested in your product or service by understanding their buying behavior is, and then on the sales side you understand what the customers’ needs are. The various CRM tools help you carry out these functions.”

What is your take on this debate?

Times People a way to share what you’re reading

Mashable recently took a second look at the new TimesPeople launched this week on the New York Times’ website. It’s a way to share with other readers favorite articles and give recommendations to fellow readers, and follow those who are giving their opinions with RSS feed updates. It also includes a function where you can rate restaurants, movies, and Broadway shows. Check out the new addition here.

Have you used this yet? What do you think about the new functionality?

The Speakers of the Market Research Event

Over the past month, we’ve been introducing you to the speakers of The Market Research Event. With the event next month in California, we’d like to give you a rundown of some of the keynote speakers and podcasts we’ve been working on for you:

Billy Beane
Kathleen Vohs
Read an excerpt from her book: Part 1 and Part 2
Colleen Fahey Rush
Dan Ariely
Lindsay Zaltman
Heather Kluter
Kelley Styring
Marcus Buckingham
Simon Uwins

A guest post by speaker Greg Heist
A podcast with speaker Tom Brailsford of Hallmark
A podcast with speakers Greg Heist of Gongos Research and Bill Eisele of Hallmark
A podcast with keynote speaker Dr. Kathleen Vohs
A podcast with conference producer Krista Vazquez.

For more information on The Market Research Event, check out the

Marketing Research Budgets

While organizations may be contemplating cutting the marketing research budget to help squeeze through these financially turbulent times, a survey by the AMA found that 60% of respondents felt that this was the “biggest mistake” that could be made. In fact, interestingly enough as reported here, many of the respondents felt that, with the current economy it is more important then ever to continue marketing research efforts. Here are their inputs on what is important for corporations in this industry to find:

1. Shape the message; don’t slash the price.
2. Focus on who NOT to target.
3. Stand apart from the Crowd

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that it is as important as the AMA survey seemed to stress?