Looking Back on Busi-348

Often in life we find ourselves so caught up in our day-to-day operations that we rarely take a moment to pause and consider our actions in a larger view. However, life does offer us opportunities to stop and assess, one time when this is particularly true is following the completion of major tasks. In this post I will take the opportunity to pause and look back at my experience in our Market Research and Strategy course and issue an assessment of my performance and takeaways from this semester.

Our class was tasked performing market research for West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) in hopes of understanding factors that have caused freshman class enrollment at WVWC to be in a continual decline over the past few years. My particular group focused on studying those who had applied and been accepted to WVWC, but chose in enroll at a different higher educational institution. After reflecting on the conclusion of our research I find myself very happy with the overall experience of the project. My team worked very collaboratively and shared equal portions of the workload. Despite the challenges that my team faced while working on the project I feel overly satisfied with the conclusions we found and believe that they offer valuable insights to the research problem we were tasked with. Due to our class’s time constraints we were not able to a high amount of responses to our survey and I believe this does diminish the accuracy of our results. However, I maintain that certain key points we concluded on carry significance and should be considered by WVWC administration.

In the beginning stages of our research projects we were tasked with establishing personal learning objectives that we hoped to accomplish through our projects. My learning objectives were centered around how market research is applied to marketing decisions. Specifically, I wanted learn about the utilization of market research to create a informed marketing plans, how market research is applied to the overall marketing strategy of the college, and how to assess the effectiveness of the newly informed marketing. In reflection of our research project as a whole it is also necessary to reflect on the extent to which I feel I accomplished these learning objectives.

I believe that I was successful in learning how market research can be applied to marketings tactics as well as the overall marketing strategy of WVWC. While these goals were not achieved by observing the actual implementation of our suggestions by the college, I feel like through our research we were able to make educated suggestions to the college for potential marketing tactics as well as applying our research to the overall marketing strategy of the college. I learned that market research alone is not enough to cause benefit for an organization, but the benefit comes in how research is interpreted and utilized to inform marketing decisions. This will benefit my in my career as being a manager requires having a in depth understanding of all aspects of a business in order to be able to create success for the company. However, in regards to my objective to learn to measure the effectiveness of informed marketing decisions I believe I fell short in completing this. Since our time table did not allow for “follow through”, so to speak, of implementation of our market research I was not able to see the results of marketing using our research. To improve this I plan to pay attention to the marketing efforts of WVWC and look for actions that are taken that show the influence of our research and watch for their effectiveness.

Making Marketing Decisions That Are Meaningful

As marketers we are tasked with creating appeal for our products, services, and businesses as a whole which requires constantly trying to get to the edge over our competitors. Especially in the modern day where changes in consumer needs and desires can change over night one must constantly be on the lookout for the next big thing or idea that can be utilized to enhance marketing messages, but where do we find these ideas and what can we do to make better decisions as marketers? It is exactly these issues that are discussed in How to Make Better Marketing Decisions: Unthinkable Wisdom , an episode of a podcast featured on Social Media Examiner hosted by Michael Stelzner. In this episode Stelzner interviews Jay Acunzo, founder of Unthinkable Media, on his thoughts and insights into the issue of optimizing marketing decisions to stand out from the crowd.

To begin with Acunzo points out that for most of us, especially in business situations, we look for certain best practices as a way to direct us to success, but contends that the foundation for success is not looking to what others are doing but is in evaluating your own unique situation and using that to find your own best course of action. He goes on to highlight the three main way that marketers make bad decisions, the first of these as mentioned above is relying on conventional wisdom. Doing this is bad because it ignores your unique business situation and relies on what has worked for others in a “general sense”. The second mistake that marketers make is relying on new trends and essentially placing blind faith in their effectiveness just because they are the latest methods. The third mistake that Acunzo explains is relying on reactions to your short-term tactics instead of following through with an overall strategy. Keeping these common mistakes in mind Acunzo says “the secret to making better decisions is to ask better questions” and by doing so will lead your business to make marketing decisions based off your situation; he gives two questions for informing marketing decisions. The first question is “What is the principal insight about my customer?”, this question reveals what your customer wants to get out of their purchase. The second question is “Who are my true believers?”, by asking this question you focus on what resonates with your devoted customers and often leads to increased reach. The final suggestion that Acunzo offers involves setting “aspirational anchors” in conjunction with specific, measurable SMART goals. He contends that SMART goals alone can be limiting, but by including aspirational anchors that outline the goal you want to accomplish and the behavior that is required to accomplish it you can focus on HOW to achieve the goal.

The suggestions offered by Jay Acunzo are applicable to all facets of business from sales to marketing to manufacturing. Business professional have to be able to make informed business decision often on the fly with limited time to evaluate all aspects of the decision. In having a solid understanding of their unique business situations professional are better equipped to be able to make these decision based on their unique situation and are less apt to turn to what others have done in situations that may not align to their’s. Furthermore having a solid understanding of the customer that you are targeting allows you to enhance the ways that you reach them and make a more meaningful connection. Personally, I find the topics covered in the podcast very interesting and see many potential applications in my future career. Notably, I like that they explain that there is no one true right answer in marketing (or overall business) decisions. As college students we are taught course content and are evaluated on it often in an all or nothing way, but the realization that things are no nearly as clear cut in the actual business world is refreshing. They advocate for independent thinking and making decisions based off your situation and in my professional career I anticipate utilizing their suggestions to inform any decisions that I will make as a business professional.

Avoidance Methods for Nonsampling Errors

As we have learned in studies of marketing research its is of upmost importance to ensure the quality of data collection in order to be able to draw meaningful and valid conclusions from research. Without safeguards to maintain the highest of quality in data collection the conclusions that are drawn then is it difficult to prove the validity of your findings. The two major sources of issues in data collection are sampling errors and nonsampling errors; nonsampling error are all errors that are not attributable to the sample plan and the sample size, this type of error is the focus of Chapter 11 and will be the primary focus of this writing. Nonsampling errors can take many forms, however, major issues arise from all types of nonresponse errors, data-gathering errors, data-handling errors, data analysis errors, and interpretation errors.

In our research for analysis recruitment and retention issues for West Virginia Wesleyan College it is important to evaluate the possibility of nonsampling errors within our own research and have a framework by which to avoid these errors. The remainder of this post will be analyzing each error type and provide a plan to safeguard against each in our research.

Intentional Fieldworker Errors:

Issues arising in this aspect of data collection include interviewer cheating in which the interviewer intentionally misrepresents respondents and respondent leading where the interviewer attempts to influence the respondent’s answers. To combat these errors in our research we will work as a group to keep ourselves accountable in data collection through the use of supervision, meaning that not one person will be responsible for data collection, and by validating the data by randomly choosing surveys and seeing if their answers align with the whole.

Unintentional Fieldworker Errors:

The three major issues arising from this area are interviewer characteristics, interviewer misunderstanding, and interviewer fatigue. Interviewer characteristics such as accent, sex, and demeanor which can cause bias- to safeguard against this our data will be collected via online survey. Interviewer misunderstanding is when the interviewer believes they are correctly administering the survey but instead does it incorrectly, to combat this the survey will be created and checked by all team members for errors before it is administered online. Lastly, interviewer fatigue is when the interviewer is tired and makes mistakes, this will not be an issue in our research as the data collection will happen online.

Intentional Respondent Errors:

In this aspect of research falsehoods and nonresponse are the primary issues; to combat falsehoods our group will include with our survey an assurance of anonymity (the respondent’s name will not be associated with their answers) and confidentiality (the respondent’s answers will remain private). By giving the respondent assurance their answers will remain private they will be more comfortable in full disclosure.

There are three potential types of nonresponse errors that we may encounter with our survey refusal, break-off, and item omission. To discourage refusal to take the survey our group will inform the respondent that their responses will be used to inform the college of present issues in an attempt to enact meaningful changes; additionally they will be told that by participating in the survey they will be entered into a drawing to win an Amazon gift card. Break-off error occurs when the respondent stops participating in the survey after answering some questions; to prevent break-off we will tell the respondent that they are only entered into the gift card drawing if they complete the survey in its entirety. Lastly, item omission is when the respondent does not answer a particular answer, but answers others; to combat these we will again ensure the respondent’s confidentiality and anonymity while also providing “unsure” option with questions.

Unintentional Respondent Errors:

The main errors arising from this section involve respondent misunderstandings, guessing, attention loss, distractions, and fatigue. To avoid respondent misunderstandings our group in the creation of our survey had it peer reviewed before publication to catch any potential confusion or misunderstandings. To prevent respondent guessing our group in the creation of our survey created well-developed answers and leave no room for confusion and included “unsure” options. Lastly, to combat attention loss, distraction, and fatigue in respondents our group created our survey with brevity and conciseness in mind so that the respondent does not feel labored in the completion of the survey.

Importance of Response Rate

In communication of the results of any research survey it is important to include the response rate because it allows the recipients of the information an idea of the totality of the information collected and if it is representative of the whole. According to the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO), inclusion of the response rate is designed to “protect the user of sample survey data and to provide measures to evaluate the interviewing performance”. For the purposes of our survey we will calculate the response rate according to the accepted method by CASRO as defined in our textbook Marketing Research…

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Sources

Burns, A. C., Veeck, A., & Bush, R. F. (2017). Marketing research. Boston: Pearson.

Top Tricks for Cultivating a Strong Brand

As anyone in the business world can tell you the actual operations of a brand, what it makes or does for its consumers, is often the easiest, or at least the most straight forward, part of the equation. The second, often trickier, piece of the puzzle is managing what the company represents in its operations, or its brand; a brand, as defined by the American Marketing Association is “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers”. In essence, the brand of a company is the summation of its reputation and image that it seeks to impart unto its customers and the public as a whole. The value of a brand for a company greatly affects the outcomes of many of its operational aspects, such as buyers’ willingness to pay, sales cycles, and recruitment and retention of customers according to Jonathan Fisher in The Real Business Value of BrandingIn the words of Carly Stec in a blog on Hubspot.com, a brand is the intangibles of the image of a company and is often the defining factor that separates successful business ventures from failures.

With the importance of strong branding in mind it is that I will outline five top tips for cultivating a strong brand for your company in an attempt to help mitigate the murky waters of brand management for marketers so that they may achieve optimal success for their companies and brands.

1. Company Purpose

Defining the purpose of your company gives consumers understanding not only what you do, but why you do it. In today’s market consumers are often overwhelmed with choices of equitable product and service offerings and by defining your purpose will increase the perceived quality you will give customers a reason to choose your company over competitors by providing higher quality, according to Greg Marshall and Mark Johnston in Marketing Management (p. 251). Cultivating an emotional connection to your purpose by letting your brand tell a story enhances this effect and increases the likelihood that your customer will form a deeper attachment to and understanding of your company. Consumers seek our brands whose motivations move beyond solely making a profit, they seek companies that wish to make a difference in the lives of their customers and society overall, according to Rebecca Kowalewicz of Clearwood Branding Agency in a post on Forbes. Additionally, a strong purpose behind your brand gives your employees something to rally behind and derive deeper meaning from their employment increasing loyalty and satisfaction.

Patagonia is an excellent example of a company with a strong purpose behind their company as they seek to be as environmentally and socially conscious as possible in their operations. This is shown through several of their programs, including Worn Wear which encourages their customers to repair their Patagonia clothing or to purchase used clothing in an attempt to minimize the environmental impact caused by the production of new clothing.

2. Message Consistency

Your brand should provide for a message that is consistent with all other aspects of the business while avoiding others that do not have anything to do with your company or its operations which can cause confusion in customers. This consistency begins with the uniform usage of your name, logo, font, etc. and goes as far as how representatives of your company behave or how your company acts on social media. Carly Stec explains that by instituting this cohesion in your company message helps avoid customers trying to fit together disconnected pieces of your brand and being confused by the end result. Ultimately, message consistency is key in promoting brand recognition which drives customer recruitment and retention.

Apple excels in their use of consistency across their company by utilization of their trademark sleekness of style that is seen in their products as well as their online and physical Apple stores. This is paid off greatly for them as they boast some of the greatest brand loyalty there is with their iPhones and Mac computers.

3. Loyalty

The advantages of creating a brand that drives loyalty to the company is that brand-loyal customers spend less time considering competitors and are driven to their purchase decision more quickly, as Marshall and Johnston explain (p. 252). Having a brand that invokes loyalty in your customers drives sales, reduces long run marketing costs, and increases the value of your brand through time-tested commitment to your customers which leaves them always coming back for more.

Dewalt by creating tools that boast their toughness and longevity along with having a reputation for excellent customer service have become a company with a large amount of brand loyalty with customers being so loyal to them that they purchase only their tools.

4. Adaptability

By being adaptable in your brand image it allows your company to be able to be dynamic in an often quickly changing business environment. “Change is the only constant” as it is often said which requires to be flexible in your brand and what it represents; companies that fail to adapt with changes in the market are usually the first to fold. Additionally, being adaptable allows your company to be able to shift to be able to mitigate the effects of any potential public relations incident.

Volkswagen in recent years was a company that was deep in the throws of public scandal after their dismal emissions scandal. However, due to their adaptability they were able to mitigate the effects of the scandal and are still a very relevant brand today.

5. Competitive Awareness

Companies do not exist in vacuums and all have competitors, by being aware of what your competitors are doing (or not doing) can allow you to have an edge over them. It, also, allows an opportunity for your company to clearly set yourself apart compared to your competitors by highlighting what makes you better.

Wendy’s is an example of a company that is very aware of their competitors as is seen through their Twitter presence in which they often call out their competitors and highlight their shortcomings compared to their benefits. This allows them a certain competitive edge in the highly competitive fast-food industry.

Brand management is, in many ways, more of an art than a science, however, by utilizing these tips companies can optimize their brand image and thus their entire business.

Let me know in the comments below the ways that you feel brands can be enhances to the greater good of companies!

 

 

Market Research Project for WVWC

I’ve been fortune in my time as a student at West Virginia Wesleyan College to have had many opportunities to gain valuable experience through real world applications of knowledge from my course work. The latest of these opportunities that have presented themselves is the main project of this class Marketing Research and Strategy; the aim of this project is to assist the Wesleyan’s Office of Enrollment in assessing and understanding the problem of stagnating freshman enrollment in recent years. Specifically, our class will be assisting by doing market research for the Office of Enrollment concerning two key issues that have been identified that are effecting the number of students at West Virginia Wesleyan. The first issue is the recruitment of new students, the second is retention of current students; we will be looking at these issues through researching the wants and needs of students/prospective students and the positioning of the college itself compared to its competitors.

For this project our class is decided into four different groups with each group handling a specified portion of the overall research for the class. My group is made up of Lauren, Tyra, Caleb, Chad, Ian, Logan, and myself with Devon Alt being our team lead. While our group has yet to fully define our specific roles, however from our initial interactions I believe that for the most part our roles will be to share the work of the project as equally as we can. I believe that my team’s main strength is that we are a group of people with diverse experiences that will help us keep an open mind in terms of research, but a weakness we have is I feel our communication within the team needs to be improved. Personally, I feel my strength is in research and any writing that will be part of the project, however admittedly I am not the best with presentations.

My personal objectives for this project center more on the marketing side of thing, as opposed to market research. Specifically, I hope to learn more about the utilization of market research to create an informed marketing plan, the utilization of the information in the actual marketing strategy for the college, and the assessment of the effectiveness of the marketing. My plan to achieve this personal learning goals is to obviously complete the requirements of the project for the class, but above that I look forward to listening to other groups findings and suggestions. In the long run I will always keep an eye on Wesleyan’s marketing because of the interest I have in it and hopefully will see the utilization of some of the suggestions our class comes up with in the actual marketing of the college. Even as a graduate of the Wesleyan I will keep an eye on the enrollment numbers of the college just to see if there is an uptick after our project. Who knows? Maybe our class can come up with some really effective stuff! Only time will tell…

Big Data – What’s at Stake?

Once upon a time the human race depended solely on spoken communication to tell its story, stories that for the most part, aside from tales of monumental men and cultural traditions, disappeared or simply ceased to exist upon the end of one’s life. Throughout the past few thousand years we have evolved to have exceptions to this rule as written history and art have sought to tell our stories. However, in the 21st century mankind has in a sense transcended our own mortality by the advent of technology that makes the capturing, interpretation, and storing of nearly any imaginable stimuli or information possible. The scale of this data collection is the subject of a PBS documentary called Big Data Revolution that seeks to give a sense of the enormity of the ramifications of the collection of information in every aspect of our lives. The documentary explained the possibilities that lay ahead for the utilization of big data in health and wellness sciences, as well as industries. Based on the mass collection of biometric data from sources like cell phones and smart watches combined with medical information that is recorded and stored on online databases the contention of the documentary is that this information will be able to be used in the future to better understand how our body works and behaves and to draw correlations between different sets of raw data to help better prevent, diagnose, and treat illnesses. I found these possibilities most interesting, but also most concerning due to the ethical concern of privacy rights of individuals. The collection and divulging of sensitive personal health data is in direct violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that seeks to promote data security for medical information. The main question is are we, as a human race, willing to give up our right of privacy for what has traditionally been considered most private for the greater good so that we can better our science and practices to benefit of our health and wellness?

Concern for the privacy of individuals in relation to big data is of main concern to most when asked about the subject. Why? Well in part due to the fundamental desire to protect our personal information, but in larger part due to the fact that just in the past five to ten years there have been scores of highly publicized data breaches of large corporations that have compromised the data privacy of billions of people. The largest of these data breaches to date involve the former internet giant Yahoo, this breach according to an article on CNN the account information of 3 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) users was compromised in an August 2013 cyber attack. The hackers gained information such as email address, passwords, and date of births of Yahoo users and resulted in a $50 million settlement to those user whom the data breach severely affected. Another high profile assault of personal data security occurred when hackers attacked Target  in December of 2013 and revealed the personal identifiable information including names, addresses, and debit/credit card numbers of more than 70 million people according to a New York Times article. Target reached a $18.5 million settlement and agreed to totally revamp all digital security measures, but reported the estimated total cost of the breach at $162 million dollars and caused the resignation of Target’s CEO and CIO.

The future of the use of big data remains unclear, but what is perfectly clear is the effect that data collection and retention will have on us as a human race as we are no longer able to drop off the map after death. There will almost certainly be huge steps taken by large corporations to incorporate the data of its customers to business strategies. However, I believe the ultimate question in the future of big data is whether those using it with good intentions will be able to stay on top of the practice or if ill-intentioned hackers will come to the top of their games in the future of big data and billions more of personal data will be released. What are your thoughts on the future of big data collection? Let me know in the comments below if you think that big data will be used as a source of good or will fall into the hands of the bad.

The Road Map of Business

In business, as well as in many other venues of life, to achieve fully realized success there must be a certain level of planning. Having a plan can often times be what makes the difference in attaining success in a venture or failure. In business the comprehensive plan for how a firm will meet its mission and objectives is called a strategy; the best strategies have been throughly thought-out, researched, and evaluated from the beginning and incorporate the experience and expertise of those at every level of decision making during the development phase. Strategies are of upmost importance in marketing management because by being enforced and followed through during the execution phase of the strategy they ensure symmetry of message and voice throughout the entire marketing of a business so that it falls in line with the tactics, or the actual ways that a business seeks to achieve its mission and objectives.

In most traditional teachings there are two major types of strategies; generic which is the overall direction of the business and competitive strategy which delineates the way a business will position themselves in relation to other similar firms. Competitive strategy is particularly important when it comes to marketing management because it’s largely the job of marketing efforts to create a portrayal for the product/service that falls in line with the competitive strategy of the business in relation to how it wants to be seen against competitors. There are three main categories of competitive strategies which are cost, differentiation, and focus and is often applied through a matrix structure.

By looking at competitive strategies through a matrix we see four subdivisions that can define the plans of various businesses. Walmart is an example of a company that uses cost leadership strategy since they have the resources to sell large amounts of relatively quality goods for a discounted price. On the opposite side of the spectrum from Walmart, Rolls-Royce is a company that is cost focused because they highlight their cost as meaning quality and prestige to promote their business. Apple is an example of a company that uses differentiation because the highlight the uniqueness of their products and how no other companies have the specific features their products do. Lastly, Patagonia is a company that use focused differentiation because they highlight the uniqueness of their products, but target it towards a smaller market of those who enjoy outdoor activities primarily.

Creating a Marketing Campaign for Meadowbrook Mall

When we were first tasked with creating a complete marketing campaign for Meadowbrook Mall it felt somewhat overwhelming; working in a new group on a semester long final project for a company that actually exists beyond the pages in a textbook was an initially daunting task. However, as time passed and we were able to communicate as a group, talk in person with the folks from Meadowbrook Mall, and develop the skills and knowledge through classwork the task became accessible and ultimately was a valuable practical learning experience.

Meadowbrook Mall, located in Bridgeport, WV, opened in 1982 and is one of the largest shopping centers in West Virginia and primarily serves the residents of Clarksburg/Bridgeport and surrounding areas of north central West Virginia.

Meadowbrook mall has had great success since its opening and today boosts an array of full line retailers, such as: Target, JCPenney, Elder-Beerman, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls, Cinemark Cinema in addition to over 100 specialty stores and restaurants located at the mall. The marketing task that was given to us was to create a campaign for a set of future events to happen in summer 2018 that they called “Festival Fridays”; the event is to take place in the outdoor food court at Meadowbrook Mall and will include free live music, food, and other entertainment. Their goal was to use the event to draw more potential customers to the mall, but also to create the image that they are more than just a mall and also a place for entertainment. 

After talking with the representatives from Meadowbrook Mall we determined that their target audience was younger (18-24) Picture1and sought to find bits of leisure and entertainment on the weekends apart from their busy lives. The largest barrier that we had to tackle in the marketing campaign was the awareness of not only the event (being brand new) , but of the mall being a destination for entertainment. Bearing this in mind we set out on using Commspoint to research and more closely define the target audience; we found that the audience is part of the new online generation that is more likely to spend their time on and to get information from online or social media. Using this information we came up with our strategies for driving interest and attendance of the event. The main platforms of marketing we decided on reflect the on-the-go nature of busy young adults. Using radio advertisements on both local stations and streaming services we will attempt to reach the user when they are in “relaxation mode” so that they would be more likely to consider the event for future entertainment. Picture2.pngAlso, the radio will serve as a platform for communication of another tactic, using contests for gift cards for stores in the mall or Meadowbrook Mall merchandise. These contests will drive interest and attendance at the mall because after all everyone loves free stuff, to enter said contests consumers must interact with the another one of our tactics, social media. On social media we will be using paid advertising to promote the business and the event on platforms such as: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Consumers will be encouraged to tag the mall, tag their location, and use the hashtag we created (#MBMFridayNight), by doing this in special circumstances they will be entered in the various contests that the winners of will either be revealed on social media or at the actual events. Overall, we were excited with the project that was given to us by Meadowbrook Mall and believe that by using the marketing campaign we created for their Festival Friday series they will be able to take it from an idea and turn it into a successful event.

In the Age of Ad Bombardment- How Does it Effect the Message?

In the new found digital age that we are all living in it seems that the only constant we can find is that of change, growth, and innovation, this is evident in all elements of our modern lives, things such as: food we eat, music we listen to, media we consume have all seen a drastic shift in the way that they exist, how we consume it, and how we are delivered it. With the above in mind, how exactly does this effect us as consumers?

One of the most overt ways that this is noticed is through our exposure of advertising and it has exploded in recent years. According to a study done by Media Dynamics, Inc. (reported in a SJ Insights article) since 1945 media usage has nearly doubled in terms of the amount of minutes per day, even if 1945 seems far removed it has still risen from an average of 433 minutes per day in 1985 to 590 in 2014.

This echoes the obvious trend in American culture of “turning off and tuning in” as a means of leisure in our everyday lives. In fact, in terms of advertising exposure Yankelovich, a marketing research company, (reporting in NY Times article) we are exposed to an estimated 5,000 ads per day compared to around 2,000 thirty years ago; the sure amount of these ads is staggering and if one does as much as open their eyes to full amount of advertising they are exposed to on a daily basis these numbers seem to become more realistic. That is exactly what we aimed to do when we were tasked with the job of trying to keep track of the number of ads that we were exposed to and observed in one day from waking up to going to sleep.

 

The way I attacked this experiment was by simply carrying a piece of paper and a pencil in my pocket and marking a tally mark every time I observed a piece of advertisement and to count tallies at the end of the day. As I fully expected the results of this were overwhelming; in the day, with all of my coming and going, I was able to count 354 ads that I observed (a lot of tallies to count). Obviously, this number is a huge difference to the estimated 5,000 ads (or the 10,000 that the AMA claims to be more realistic). However, it is almost an insurmountable task to truly count the exposures that we each receive everyday. It seemed that most noticeable to me was that of the amount of branding on almost every item, even now as I type this I see an Apple on my computer, a logo stitched on my shoes, and a label on my coffee; this owned media is pervasive in its force and breadth. Personally, the most interesting ad that I spotted was while I was streaming an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix, the ad came in the form of product placement when I noticed that in nearly every scene of the gang drinking beer it is a Coors’ Light, it is never mentioned or referred to, but it is what they are always drinking.

Spending a day fully taking in the amount of ads we see was at best eye-opening and at worst exhausting, I became hyperaware of all of the different advertising around me; on my phone, tv, computer, and in my music, I have since come back to an equilibrium of awareness, but still it catches me by surprise sometimes. I definitely at times felt a sense of ad burnout; in an article on MediaPost it speaks about how an overload on ads can actually hurt the brand’s reputation, but the costs and benefits must be weighed because a lot of times to get the consumer the correct number of exposures for the ad the ad has to be overexposed. I see how the validity of this standpoint, but it does not keep me from feeling at time almost used or followed by a company that is continually sending ads my way. Overall, it is difficult to predict the exact future of advertisements, but we can sure expect to keep seeing them on increasingly diverse platforms at an accelerated rate.

 

NFL Protests and Their Effect on Advertising

When one thinks of things that are distinctly American one of the first things that comes to mind is football and America’s insatiable hunger to watch and root for their favorite teams every week, we simply can’t get enough of it.

Specifically, the National Football League (NFL) is a beast unto itself; as Albert Brooks character said, in the 2015 film Concussion, “The NFL owns a day of the week. The same day the Church used to own. Now it’s theirs.” this statement succinctly puts the scope of the NFL into focus. In fact, according to Statista, the NFL took in over $13 billion in independent revenue last year; beyond that networks showing games took in around $3.5 billon in advertising money, up about 3.5 percent from the 2015 season, according to Forbes. These figures are dazzling and hard for one to wrap their head around, but what happens to these numbers when internal forces change the perception of the sport that the NFL has worked so hard to create?

It started last season when former San Francisco quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, began kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem as a protest to racial oppression in America; in the time since dozens of players from varying teams have followed suit and joined in the protest into the current season. However, against the backdrop of the numerous social, societal, and political hotbeds of debate there is a very real and concrete outcome of the movement being the suffering of NFL ratings and implicated in that is the massive amounts of advertising that happens during games. The numbers give us an insight into what exactly is happening, overall this season NFL ratings are down 5 percent from last year, according to AdWeek. This decline, being echoed from the end of last season (ratings were down 8 percent), is contrasted with a slight increase in money being spent on advertising for games.

Adweek reports that the average ad load has increased 2 percent and the average cost for NFL ads had gone up 7 percent in relation to September of last year. What can be made from these seemingly contradictory figures? It seems that advertisers have not been shaken from having confidence in America’s love affair with football, for now at least. If the downward trend in ratings continues advertisers will be forced to rethink their tactics and perhaps pull back the amount of stock they put in the traditionally tried and true platform as one article reports that if the trend continues the NFL could see up to a 10 percent downturn in ratings, this could potentially cause a $200 million dollar cut in advertising earnings for networks.

As with anything there are other factors that are weighing on the networks that broadcast games that are more overarching than any recent protests, one of the main ones is the simple fact that more and more American homes are cutting ties with pay-TV services and instead opting for subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. According to a USA Today article there has been over a 5 percent decline in homes with pay-TV since 2014; in addition various networks have seen a decline in stock prices anywhere from 2 percent with FOX to 9 percent with CBS. It is difficult to discern which factors are having the largest effect on ratings and advertising money, but one thing is for certain is that there is something amiss with NFL ratings and it is bound to have an effect in the future for advertising dollars.