CrowdFlower Class Action Lawsuit: Is Crowdsourcing Ethical?

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Image URL: http://www.superhub-project.eu/media-centre/75-crowdsourcing-for-urban-mobility.html

Crowdsourcing has been described by a writer for CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-is-crowdsourcing/ as “the basic idea is to tap into the collective intelligence of the public at large to complete business-related tasks that a company would normally either perform itself or outsource to a third party provider.” CBS also describes that “the idea of soliciting customer input is hardly new” providing the examples that blogs, Wikipedia, MySpace and YouTube comprise of user-generated media. Crowdsourcing therefore can minimize labor and research expenses where “the crowd” rather than the employees “solicit feedback” and reduce the need to conduct formal focus groups in order to collect data or marketing research.

 

In researching crowdsourcing I wanted to know if its method presents an issue surrounding free labor and its ethical stand-point. I found an intriguing article by Florian Alexander Schmidt http://www.aprja.net/?p=836 who describes that in 2012 Christopher Otey filed a class action lawsuit against CrowdFlower (one of the largest crowdsourcing platforms) “challenging the companies’ failure to pay the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” The defense argues that Otey “did his work completely voluntarily” and contest that “cloud-workers are not employees but free contractors.”

 

Schmidt raises the questions:

  • Is crowdsourcing exploitative even when all participants are volunteers and know the conditions?
  • Is it labor when people do the work as a hobby?
  • Is crowdsourcing inherently unethical or is it just a question of how the parameters are configured?

 

Hence, for the sake of conversation and dialogue I will end with the above questions to delve deeper into your personal thoughts and feelings regarding the practice of crowdsourcing and if whether or not “doing the work voluntarily” warrants being paid less than what is permitted under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

 

Does Otey have a right to file a class action lawsuit against the CrowdFlower Company? Is the action plausible?

Blogging for Business

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There are reasons why blogging is a good practice for businesses as a communications tool and an effective marketing strategy. Ozio Media, viewable at the following URL: http://www.oziomedia.com/blog/6-reasons-why-blogs-are-good-for-business/#sthash.VhGIEeKi.dpbs offers 6 reasons why blogging is good for business to include:

  1. Increasing traffic to business sites; blogs are an affordable way to attract new users to a business site
  2. Establish your business; let consumers know what products and services are being offered
  3. Promotion; promote new services that are being offered via the company blog
  4. Additional support; blogs offer additional support for customer’s problems and concerns
  5. Create a group of followers
  6. Speak directly to the customers

In short, blogging offers a reliable source for communications that allows a company to reach its audience via the internet.

One fresh and exciting example of a current and active blog for the 2014 year is the Target Pulse Blog: https://pulse.target.com/

The Blog boasts colorful and attractive photos in the “get know us” section as well as featuring articles regarding events, news, healthcare, parties and cooking among other topics. The Target Pulse blog is one savvy business example illustrating how blogging attracts interests from the community.

In effect, blogging attracts attention to a business. Blogging allows a company to have a two-way conversation with a customer and enables the company to bring personality and a voice in a place where business topics and news can be discussed and shared.

Perhaps when beginning a new business … one media practice worth considering is to create a company Blog to open a world of conversation between you and your customer.

Emerging Media: Location-Based Services and Ethical Considerations

location_based_marketing1 Image URL: http://prfirms.org/voice/2011/are-we-ready-for-location-based-marketing Several concerns may come to mind when contemplating targeted advertising for the mobile phone user such as “isn’t that a violation of my privacy,” “aren’t those advertisers just stalking me” and “don’t they know that they’re just interrupting me”?

The privacy of a mobile phone user can therefore be an issue or a concern regarding targeted location-based advertising (LBA) or location-based marketing (LBM). Ryan Golden of Mobile Marketer http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/13669.html identifies that “seventy percent of participants view mobile ads as personal invitations, opening opportunities for brand advertisers to engage consumers.” Ryan also provides an example of location-based advertising describing a situation in which “the pizza parlor targeted John with a message and provided information for his consideration; John and others who saw the ad may visit there today, tomorrow or later in the week or month, but the objective of informing potential consumers was accomplished.”

Ryan Golden’s example has therefore illustrated an area of opportunity; perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to receive a coupon from a store where a consumer would like to shop. Also, perhaps the advertising message would be received at a most opportunistic occasion in which a shopper would want to use a promotional offer. Hence, in lieu of the given scenario, targeted advertising may not be viewed as an interruption – but as a convenience for the consumer. Ryan Golden further adds that targeted advertising may stimulate impulse behavior “since the offer was relevant to the time, location and people in the area” therefore detailing that “it is truly targeted mobile advertising where consumers are and when they are there.”

In effect, a targeted mobile marketing strategy that uses location-based services is similar to advertising that takes place at the location of the store such as by handing out fliers to bypassing patrons – except now the advertisement is coming across a mobile phone that is in the proximity of the store location. The concept of proximity advertising is not directly threatening to a mobile phone user; there are however ethical concerns that should be considered by the advertising agency such as the mobile phone user’s rights to privacy; the mobile phone user should therefore be entitled to enable and disable mobile phone advertisements or have the right to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of location based services.

One writer for emerging media, Jill Whiskeyman in an article located here: http://jwhiskeyman.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/the-ethics-of-lba/ quotes the Mobile Marketing Association in that for consumers to have a positive experience regarding LBA or LBS “six factors must be met: choice, control, customization, constraint and confidence.” Jill therefore explains that “as marketers, it’s important to only exploit and use the data we are given within ethical and reasonable boundaries.”

In effect, when ethical obligations are considered by the advertising agency, location-based services and location-based advertising can be a positive experience for the consumer and a viable method for marketing as a new and emerging media for mobile phone users.

However, in addition to the care that a consumer or an advertising agency can place in being sure that rights to privacy is protected – the consumers’ rights to privacy has been recognized by The Obama Administration in a “call for a Privacy Bill of Rights” to cover online consumers including location-based services according to writer Kathy Cripps for the Council of Public Relations Firms that can be viewed here http://prfirms.org/voice/2011/are-we-ready-for-location-based-marketing

64% of Shoppers Use Mobile: From Showrooming to Reverse-Showrooming and Location-Based Services

Blog Post # 5:
64% of Shoppers Use Mobile: From Showrooming to “reverse showrooming” and location-based advertising

According to an article than can be viewed here http://www.digby.com/mobile-statistics/ 64% of smartphone owners are now using their mobile devices to shop online. From the same article it is found that of those 64% of smartphone shoppers 43% have participated in a practice called showrooming – and 25% of consumers engage in online shopping only via their mobile devices.

With all the hype that is gaining attention around mobile commerce the article projects that mobile messaging advertising spending should account for 7% of marketing budgets (budgets currently seen at a mere 1%) and is projected to reach $7.4 billion in advertising spending by the year 2017 – driven by location-based services.

What is happening today: showrooming.

The definition of “showrooming” explains that “the practice of examining merchandise or products in a store and then buying it online for a lower price” can be viewed here http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/showrooming.asp hence, describing that the brick-and-mortar stores merely acts as a “showroom” for products that can be investigated online by the shopper – and be abandoned for the sake of having found a lower price either online or in another store. However, according to a writer for Business Insider the brick-and-mortar department store has begun to fight back – a practice called “reverse showrooming” which can be viewed here http://www.businessinsider.com/reverse-showrooming-bricks-and-mortar-retailers-fight-back-2-2014-2 meaning that consumers can go online to research products then head out to the department store to make their purchase.

The results are this: 69% of survey respondents according to the same writer for Business Insider reverse showroom while 46% showroom – making the trend to browse online and shop in-store the most favored option.

What is happening tomorrow: location-based services

Reverse showrooming can be advantageous for businesses to advertise online and reel customers into their stores; hence, department stores can take the lead over showrooming via location-based services.

Writer Kamal Kaur for Mobile Marketer http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/16949.html explains that “the biggest challenge for brands being the conversion of online traffic to brick-and-mortar store traffic.” Bridging that gap can be accomplished through location-based services through geo-location and proximity data; “in real time,” she says, “marketers can engage consumers on mobile channels before, during and after in-store activity to drive branded offer redemption and against target audiences in a particular geographical area.” Location-based advertising particularly via mobile coupon offers that can be redeemed in-store can account for the leverage of in-store purchases.

According to the same aforementioned article providing statistics – 46% of showrooming shoppers still made an in-store purchase at an 11-point increase from the year 2011 and more interestingly 68% of men are likely to make purchases thanks to mobile advertising compared to the 58% of women who are likely to make a purchase; men are also more likely to redeem mobile coupons at 35% to 27%.

In short, whatever the avenue – whether redeeming coupons online or in the store – it is time for businesses to jump on the Mobile Advertising bandwagon – knowing conversions are a grand possibility.

How likely are you to redeem your coupons? Do you redeem in-store or finish your purchases online?

Obtrusive Ads in Online Media

Blog Post # 4
Obtrusive Ads in online Media

So, you are browsing the net for your favorite items and are bombarded once again with a pesky advertisement that you don’t have time to pay attention to while looking for your favorite things. You keep in mind that you do enjoy receiving coupon offers or promotional discounts when it applies to the things you like. However, those obtrusive banner ads, pop-ups and “pop-under” ads are not always relevant and are therefore not of interest to you at the time of surfing the net – isn’t that what all the software is to stop pop-ups and banner ads from taking over your viewing pleasure – and how dare it slow down the computer to advertise some promotional offer for something you’re not even looking for anyway.

One online writer that can be viewed at http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/is-it-time-to-move-on-from-intrusive-annoying-online-advertising comments that “the investment in digital content is huge and there is good stuff to read and view” but also ascertains that “sites are littered with attempts to interrupt and distract the reader from that content. Hence, most online users do not want to be distracted from the activities they have going on online especially from an advertisement that is entirely irrelevant in relation to those activities.

The writer also comments that online advertisements go beyond traditional banner ads and pop-up displays to include auto play video ads, rollovers, and flash animation ads “to the ever-popular homepage takeover, with sidebars that follow the reader’s gaze down the page.”

With so much activity going on online it is no wonder that companies and advertising agencies want to connect with users who are accessing the internet – and considering the costs of traditional advertising such as print (magazine or billboard) and television or broadcast radio – the costs of advertising online are merely a fraction of the cost. Hence, online advertising offers a great advantage for a company to save on advertising while potentially investing in a return on investment (ROI) that can heavily outweigh the costs.

So how well are those advertisers reaching you with online advertising strategies?

Writer Erik Sherman offers a “surprising new finding” that can be located via this URL http://www.inc.com/erik-sherman/effect-of-online-marketing-on-offline-sales.html who addresses that ROI invested from online advertising ranks favorably from the POV of the advertising company. Sherman explains that online advertising has an impact on offline sales meaning conversion takes place within the brick-and-mortar store rather than via online click-through rates; online advertising does not prompt a purchase power that takes place immediately upon viewing an ad – but takes place within the store!

In lieu of Sherman’s commentary, from findings that were conducted by the analytics firm Rapid Blue which found that “when brick-and-mortar stores ran Google Ad Words Campaigns, they saw double-digit increases in the number of shoppers and in the time people spent in retail stores,” therefore such “crossovers” were not previously considered; when a company ran a campaign via traditional media channels the intention was to bring customers to the store and in lieu of online marketing – “the idea was to get people to click a link, go to a site, maybe place an order online.”

The power of advertising online cannot, and likely will not, be ignored by the company or advertising agency; the advertisement that was ignored at the time of browsing the net for your favorite things may have prompted an in-store purchase at a later date (maybe without you ever having realized it).

With respect to in-store conversion rates and crossover data such online methods of advertising may reach new insights and further conclusions if more time would be invested in measuring ROI.

Promoting a Brand: Social Media

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Image        Lesson 3 of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism resource discusses how to promote a product via a website – this blog will be a continuation of that premise but regarding how to promote an identity in a digital age. The lesson featured via the WVU website located at: https://ecampus.wvu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset addresses how emerging media can be used to enhance a brand.

            This blog post will specifically delve into social media as a new and emerging media trend that has been used by companies to enhance brand awareness. An online source Mashable located at: http://mashable.com/category/social-media-marketing/ describes that social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites and also explains that social media serves as a relatively inexpensive platform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns (creating an online identity).

            Social media sites refers to  platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in which companies can expand on brand topics utilizing such social media channels. One article for Hubspot located here http://offers.hubspot.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-business describes that 42% of Twitter users use the site to follow brands or companies. In another article for Adweek located at http://www.adweek.com/brandshare/five-ways-use-twitter-s-new-targeting-capabilities-154298 writer Dax Hamman explains that companies can use Twitter as a vehicle to:

  1. Acquire new customers
  2. Encourage new customers to engage socially
  3. Start a conversation with brand loyalists
  4. Market to a subset of existing customers
  5. Reconnect with dormant customers

            An article for Kissmetrics http://blog.kissmetrics.com/thrive-on-twitter/ details that successful companies such as JetBlue https://twitter.com/jetblue use a Twitter account as a customer service platform – therefore providing a means to engage a potential consumer through meaningful conversation in addition to being a platform that is used to sell a product or to promote the brand.

            Another social media platform that can be used by companies to create an online identity is that of Facebook located at https://www.facebook.com/ where a company can interact with the consumers. One article for Queensland http://www.business.qld.gov.au/business/running/marketing/online-marketing/using-facebook-to-market-your-business/benefits-of-facebook-for-business describes that businesses can benefit from having a Facebook page in addition to a company website. Such benefits include:

  1. Being a low cost marketing strategy
  2. The ability to share information about your business
  3. Sharing of pictures and videos
  4. Talking with existing and potential customers
  5. Provide customer support
  6. Raise brand awareness
  7. Facebook can steer traffic to a company website
  8. Offer deals through Facebook places

            For example, one company, BMW https://www.facebook.com/BMW delivers a well laid-out Facebook page as described by Econsultancy https://econsultancy.com/blog/6438-25-brilliant-examples-of-facebook-brand-pages along with a list of the top 25 companies that have a successful Facebook page.  In effect, the simple success of the Facebook platform can also provide successes for companies that elect to have a Facebook business page where users can choose to “like” and “talk about this [the brand or the brand message].”

            Last (but not least), Instagram http://instagram.com/# can be used by a company in order to share content with the world.  For instance, Content Manager Hilary duPont for the Chobani brand communications sector explains, “we want to be where out consumers are” when she was asked why the Chobani brand chose Instagram as a marketing strategy according to the article http://business.instagram.com/blog/ therefore – consumers are provided with a means to engage with the brand through conversation across the Instagram social media platform.

            Additionally, one writer for Wishpond http://corp.wishpond.com/instagram-marketing-resources-for-businesses/5-ways-marketers-can-use-instagram/  describes that Instagram can be used by companies to achieve marketing goals, identifying that Instagram serves as an effective marketing platform that can be used to:

  1. Gain a wider audience
  2. Create engagement
  3. Reward followers with promo codes
  4. Feature your customers
  5. Get more interests in your events

            Social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be used by companies as a method for connecting (and staying connected) with their consumers. Social media platforms are therefore interactive media channels where consumers can elect to engage with his or her favorite brands and services through online communications. Hence, social media platforms extends companies’ promotion and advertising channels by providing the vehicle for engagement that goes beyond direct, one-way advertising.  

 

 

 

 

Marketing to Generation Z: ethical considerations

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Blog Post #2: Marketing to Generation Z: Marketing net “positive” and ethical considerations

03/15/2014

 

            Writers Anderson and Rainie of the Pew Research Center propose the question “as to whether the younger generation’s always-on connection to people and information will turn out to be a net positive or a net negative by 2020” that was addressed “in a survey about the future of the internet” that can be found via the

URL: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Hyperconnected-lives.aspx

            The findings conclude that “technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split” revealing that “in 2020 the brains of multi-tasking teens and young adults are ‘wired’ differently from those over age 35 and overall it yields ‘helpful’ or ‘baleful’ results” according to the survey findings.

            Not regarding or disregarding the findings of the study, the always-on interconnectivity of teens or those referred to as “Millennials” or “Generation-Z” (the generation of the internet – those who do not know of an existence without the internet) have also been referenced as “the holy grail for brands” as cited in Forbes from Marketing Magazine at this

URL:http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2013/12/16/five-tips-for-marketing-to-generation-z/

            According to writer Patrick Hourihan of Marketing Magazine at

URL: http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1214118/generation-z-holy-grail-brands

 “Generation Z is a highly diverse, social generation who [has] grown up in the digital age” and describes that “while there is no consensus on their exact demographic, they range in age from teens to early twenties and are often referred to as digital natives.”  Hourihan goes on to describe how Generation Z can be understood by marketers today as individuals who receive vast amounts of information as those who are constantly connected to those sources of information; “A tricky group to reach,” he explains, “they are notoriously fickle, but well worth the investment in understanding a prime target for so many brands with their disposable incomes and astronomic levels of online engagement.”

            Hence, the new and emerging generation of young adults and teens make for prime candidates to receive advertising messages since those individuals stay constantly connected to those sources in which advertisements and the marketing message would be found. Those sources include social media channels and other on-line media such as email, texts and various games that can be played where banners and ads can be found.

            Additionally, another writer Bill Goodwin of Packaging Digest http://www.packagingdigest.com/packaging-design/undeniable-influence-kids explains that “kids influence up to 80 percent of all household purchases” and that by “ignoring them [that] may mark the beginning of the end for your brand.” Therefore, marketing directly to the interest of children can pose as a “positive net” for a brand especially considering the spending influence that Generation Z teens, “tweens” and young adults have within the home. It therefore seems to make perfect legitimate sense to market to those individuals who influence those expenditures therefore creating a viable market for a brand that is geared toward youth.

            Although there might be brands that are advertised specifically for children such as cereal, juices and vitamins, certain ethical considerations should be considered when marketing to minors (or youth minorities). For instance, Gerda Van Damme explains that “some ethical issues of digital marketing towards children” should be considered by advertising agencies to include concerns of violence, lack of parental control, obesity, screen addiction, privacy, online safety, uncontrolled purchase, age inappropriate content among other concerns that can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/gerdavandamme/some-ethical-issues-with-digital-marketing-to-kids

            In conclusion, although Generation Z kids are constantly connected to the net – there are limitations that should be considered by the advertising agency prior to making youth a target audience for brand-specific messages. The Apple Company for instance recently refunded App store purchases that were made by children without parental consent in the astonishing amount of $32.5 million dollars that can be viewed here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/technology/government-and-apple-settle-childrens-app-purchase-inquiry.html?_r=0. Such an occurrence proves that parental control and uncontrolled purchases pose a problem when targeting specific marketing messages to young teens.

 

           

 

 

Emerging Media: Gamification

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ImageBlog Post # 1: 03/11/14

Emerging Media: Gamification

A hot new trend in emerging media is the use of social and digital media as it pertains to business. According to writer Gingerich of Media Connection, whose blog can be found via this URL: http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/blog/2012/12/11/digital-and-social-marketing-trends-for-2013/ who describes that “A key point for businesses will be to rise above the clutter, and savvy marketers will use a mix of content, engagement, and promotions to grab the attention of consumers and extend the reach of their communities” thus describing that businesses, aside from personal everyday use for digital media, are finding that new trends are good for business.

 

One hot new trend that will be discussed in this blog post pertains to exactly how businesses are incorporating content and engagement to promote its new products and services – in a form called “gamification.” Gingerich explains that “gamification is not new” and the marketing platform provides “tools for social networks that have a game component – and that incentivize social sharing as part of the promotions [that] have proven successful, and we’ll see more growth in that field.”

 

Gamification is therefore a new media trend that has its place in the marketing sector according to writer Gingerich. The Coca Cola Company in particular has experimented with the gamification marketing technique through its “gamified coke vending machine” which can be located at the following URL http://www.gamification.co/2012/10/26/coca-cola-takes-vending-machine-marketing-to-the-next-level/ in which individuals who dance have the potential to win free products.

 

Coca Cola extended its gamification technique in 2012 with a mobile application game PUSH! That was made available for free via iphone that can be viewed here http://www.mycokerewards.com/rewards/cocacola-freestyle-push–play-app/22037?fullSite=1 additionally Coca Cola also created the mobile application THRED that could be played by a participant that was launched to help fight against mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus and can be viewed here http://www.coca-colacompany.com/press-center/press-releases/thred

 

Gamification is a modern digital technique that companies can employ to engage the consumer, provoke brand-to-consumer interaction and even help to prevent crisis by raising awareness.