Facebook Connect vs. Google Friend Connect, Redux

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the critical battle going on between various providers of online identity, the most notable being Facebook, Google and OpenID.  I asked the question:

"If you could use one login for all websites, which would you use?"

Although not statistically significant by any stretch of the imagination, the poll showed some interesting results.  Here they are:

The things that raised my eyebrows:

  • 28.8% – nearly a third of the respondents! – really, really liked having different credentials for every website
  • 30.8% said "OpenID" – although I have no way to back this up, I was stunned by how high this number was, as my gut is that OpenID is still much more of a techy thing than a general-populace thing
  • Facebook was about 11%, and Google almost twice that at about 19%, but both were still substantially below the "keep them all different" and OpenID responses
  • Once you get out of California, Facebook drops REALLY low (see the map above)

Again, more "anecdote" than "data," but interesting nonetheless.  Your take on the results?

Customer, Meet Brand

Great post by Jennifer Leggio (aka Mediaphyter) on the pros and cons of customers and brands interacting by way of sponsored blog posts.

The money grafs (pun intended) from Jennifer:

"The questions:

  • Is sponsored blogging authentic?
  • Is it transparent?
  • Is it sustainable?

Authenticity: Why not? A person can do a sponsored
blog post without selling his or her soul just as a product reviewer
can be unbiased when he or she gets a free gadget to try out for a
while (or keep, depending on the reviewer, and that’s a whole other
debate). This is not an issue of integrity. People need to stop making
it one. Nowhere in any of the PayPerPost marketing info do I read “if
you sponsor a blogger you guarantee that blogger will sing your

Transparency: Again, I say, why not? In the case of
blogger transparency, using Brogan as an example, he’s one of the most
transparent guys on the Internet even before he did this post. That did
not change with his sponsored post. You still saw the true author. In
the case of brand transparency, Kmart took a risk sponsoring Brogan to
do this post. I’m sure, behind the scenes, management had tough
conversations over what piece of their business might be exposed by
giving someone more intimate access. It’s the same thought process that
an enterprise tech company goes through before determining whether or
not it should send one of its products out for review.

Sustainability: Wait for it… YES. This is absolutely sustainable, and I think this is the most important question to answer."

Go read it.

Ask Not What Your Customers Can Do For You…

There are some solid points in this article.  Yet, the overall tone is
a bit offputting; a paean to the "customers are a resource to be mined"
mentality.  Customers need tools of independence and engagement, not a new form of servitude.  From HBS Working Knowledge:

"An organization’s best customers — measured in terms such as size, loyalty, or lifetime value — often are the most willing to go to work for it, whether that means referrals of new customers, ideas for new products or processes, or even help in the selection of its frontline employees.  Of greater significance than satisfaction or even the willingness to recommend the organization to others, these ‘ownership’ behaviors can make some customers more than a hundred times more valuable than others."

(A big thanks to Denise Ryan at Blue Marble Strategic Marketing for the pointer.)

Evolving the Mona Lisa

Back in the day, when I worked at Andersen Consulting, I spent about the first decade of my career working on a whole host of emerging technologies, many of which were related to AI and genetic algorithms. Additionally, my grad school roommate Scott Neal Reilly implemented one of the first ever examples of genetic art on the web. Have always had a soft spot for these technologies.

So, a huge thanks to John Paczkowski over at AllThingsD for pointing to Genetic Programming: Evolution of the Mona Lisa. SO HOT! Go check it out.


The Color of Market Share (Redenbacher Remix)

In response to yesterday’s The Color of Market Share post, here’s a guest post from Brian Crockett, Managing Partner at the Customer Imperatives Group, with some great insight into how the retail shelf space game works.  Brian, thanks for the note!  And take it away…

Brian says: "Dominant companies such as P&G, General Mills, Kraft, etc. exert enormous influence at retail.  They often assume ‘category captain’ roles, which means that the retailer essentially delegates a lot of the tactical management of a category/section to the manufacturer.   The category captain recommends a shelf set, which determines how many facings each SKU receives and where those facings are located on the store.  In most cases, the # of facings (and location on the shelf) that are recommended to the retailer by the category captain have a very strong analytical basis.   

The planogram (great word, meaning the layout of the SKU’s on the shelf) is typically based on the # of turns per SKU per store per week.  Turn a lot and you get the prime spot.  Turn a little and you get relegated to the top row or the bottom row (or you ultimately get thrown out).  It’s all about maximizing the profitability of a store category.  There are some special circumstances – back in the early 90’s, we helped a manufacturer design a planogram for the popcorn section, which in most stores takes up a standard 6-7 shelf, 4-foot wide section.  The dominant brand was Orville Redenbacher, the challenger was Pop-Secret (our client).  Orville had about a 45% share, Pop-Secret about a 25% share, and the rest were lesser competitors and the store brand.  We came up with a solution that positioned Orville on the right (on shelves 2, 3, 4), Pop-Secret on the left, and the store brand in between.  Lesser brands were on the very top row (hard to see, hard to reach), and the Jiffy Pops, poly bags of kernels, and the jarred kernels were on the bottom rows.   We called it the “Twin Tower” program (long before 9/11).  Retailers loved it because it favorably displayed their store brands.  Pop-Secret loved it because it signified to consumers that Pop-Secret was comparable to Orville.   Other manufacturers didn’t like it, because they were relegated to a far lesser status, but they didn’t have the retail presence (in most cases) or strength in the category to prevail.  But the net result was that this shelf set helped Pop-Secret gain market share.

In the case of Tide and other big brand names, there’s another big factor … the amount of money that the manufacturer spends on their brands, both in terms of advertising (which pulls consumers to the store looking for the brand) and merchandising/promotion dollars that P&G provides the retailer (which incents the retailer to provide better displays and even shelf placement in order to earn the manufacturer’s promotion dollars).   Those merchandising dollars (in some cases) make up a big share of total retailer profit.   Pay enough to play and you increasingly call the ball."

Brian, thanks for the note and the insight.  Great to hear from you!

The Color of Market Share

  The Color of Market Share 
  Originally uploaded by christophercarfi.

Why does Tide dominate the laundry detergent aisle at my local grocery store?  Why does it have over 40% market share?

Was walking down the laundry detergent aisle, and was stopped in my tracks by the wall of orange that took up (literally) almost my entire field of view when standing in front of the section.  A quick count of facings showed that Tide had about 50 (yes, FIFTY) different facings for different sizes, options, and formulations.  The next closest brand had about five.  Not scientific, but it appeared that Tide controlled over half the available shelf space.

So here’s the question.  What do you think — did Tide’s dominant distribution strategy (get as much shelf space as possible) drive its market share?  Or, because of its market share, was it able to convince the grocery that it should be given an utterly dominant percentage of the shelf space?

(By the way, I did need laundry detergent.  I bought the store house brand.)