Netflix and Hasbro’s New Deal: A Solution to Kid-Targeted Advertising?

Cross-posted from [Beneath the Brand].

In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission made the decision to remove the limitations that had long been in place for children’s advertising — what kinds of commercials could be viewed during children’s programming, for example, or how many minutes per hour could be dedicated to advertising aimed at young kids — stating that the marketplace would determine what programming was best for children. Fast-forward nearly 30 years and there is still a dialogue going on about what actually is best for children.

Children’s advertising has been blamed in the UK last week for everything from rising rates of childhood obesity to excessive drug usage and teen pregnancy. In America, we’ve seen a similar correlation drawn between media consumption (particularly “superfluous” content such as advertisements) and childhood obesity.

Needless to say, people are nervous about — and perhaps even fed up with — the effects of aggressive advertising on younger children.

So what’s a brand to do without targeted advertising? Netflix thinks they might have the answer in a tactic that’s a little more… subversive.

Everyone knows why Netflix can, at times, be preferable to cable television — there are no advertisements; much of its content is on-demand, streaming media; and full seasons of shows are ready to be watched all on one lazy weekend afternoon, whenever and wherever you like. And they already had a large selection of kid’s media to choose from: in 2012 alone, over 12 billion hours of children’s content was streamed through the popular media hub.

As of April 11, Netflix announced that they were teaming up with Hasbro to offer even more streaming kids’ content, adding shows such as “Littlest Pet Shop” and “Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters.” They wanted to create an atmosphere where kids could stream content “unencumbered by aggressive advertisements or inappropriate material.”

But is it really uninhibited and “free” from advertising? With virtually unlimited hours of television right at their fingertips, children are easily able to cherry-pick what they deem most interesting to watch. Long gone are the days of waking up early on Saturday morning to catch a few hours of carefully packaged cartoons with the intermittent advertisement for Rock-Em-Sock-Em-Robots or a Skip It. Now, you can have whatever content you want, whenever you want it — as long as mom and dad still have a subscription to Netflix. And the shows certainly put activities and material items in them that kids will want to emulate or obtain for themselves.

So really, aren’t the brands themselves doing all the advertising? Hasbro is the classic staple for children’s entertainment, Netflix has become a monolith in on-demand entertainment, and your child can select their favorite shows with just the click of a button, learning of their desires through their favorite shows.

What do you think? Does this count as unwelcome advertising, or is Netflix on the right track?

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Link Bait: Why Blogging is Still Best

[Cross-Posted from Beneath the Brand]

I’ve written in the past about multiple social media platforms that any company — even small businesses — can use to generate brand image and customer interest. And there are definitely quite a few social media sites to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Reddit… the list goes on and on, depending on your audience and your marketing goals.

In a recent survey released by Ascend2, an agency consulting company, the greatest number of both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies rated customer engagement as their top priority when using social media marketing. While they both had other goals, such as attracting more web traffic, increasing content reach, and boosting their sales, it was interesting to note that customer engagement remained such a strong focus, even above immediate fiscal goals.

In particular, both B2B and B2C companies rated the creation of high-quality blog posts and articles as their best way to draw in traffic; this was followed by creating whitepaper or research content, and creating video or audio media. This is exciting news for most people at first thought because it seems relatively straight-forward and organic. But don’t get ahead of yourself: Content creation, whether blogs or video/audio data, is also the most difficult tactic to pull off. But why?

Well, simply put, to create high-quality articles and engaging content, you can’t just “list and link” locations, key phrases, and zip codes. You have to have an actual, live human being put together a coherent post, usually sprinkled with strategic SEO tactics such as backlinking and maintaining the proper keyword density — and then on top of that, the copy needs to read naturally and be easy for the customer to retain. All of this costs money, and of course it takes up quite a bit of time. This is the primary reason content creation is tough to master.

But it’s most definitely worth it. Potential customers will more than likely find your site while conducting personal research. Whether an eager student is trying to find information for their next school project, an individual is trying to find job interview tips or a great way to cook a healthy dinner, or a grandma is trying to figure out how to best ship her grandkids’ presents, people search with a purpose in mind. Creating insightful and SEO-friendly blog posts with tips, tricks, personal stories, and informative content is the best way to ensure customers will find you and remember you. Not only does blogging help search engines cache your site more frequently (and therefore rank you higher in search results), but it shows your customers that you’re engaged with your products and eager to connect with your audience.

The takeaway lesson from Ascend2’s survey is simple. Get blogging! You may need to invest in a part-time writer or researcher, but it is definitely worth it. Blogs generate almost four times the return than just advertising on social media, and in creating original content, you generate that human interaction that is so often missed on the Internet.