Stuart Elloitt of the New York Times reports today that “Anheuser-Busch is teaming up with Blue Lithium, an online marketing company in San Jose, Calif., to introduce a promotional program called Clink as part of its “Here’s to beer” campaign. The program, to be housed on MingleNow, a social-networkingWeb site, will let members upload and share photographs as well as video clips. Anheuser-Busch also plans to add a video-sharing feature to Bud.tvâ€¦â€
But those concerned about inappropriate marketing of beer and alcohol products to underage youthâ€”as well as online privacyâ€”should know more about the deal between A-B and Blue Lithium. It illustrates how marketing is dramatically changing as a result of digital technologies. Data collection, one-to-one targeting via new broadband platforms, and better ways to meld the consumerâ€™s psyche with the brand (such as encouraging user-generated content to promote “engagement”) are just a handful of the new techniques.
Blue Lithium is more than just an â€œonline marketing companyâ€ described by the Times. It provides advertisers a broad range of digital tools to deliver precision advertising and marketing, via its â€œad networkâ€ of online content providers (called publishers). Blue Lithium touts the power of its technology to drive change in consumers, something called â€œconversions.â€ Advertisers using Blue Lithium can count on it â€œidentifying the right people, based on tracking user actions and interests, then bundles those individuals up into a highly-receptive audience for your messages.â€ [Many other companies engage in such behavioral techniques via ad networks].
As consumers are attracted to Blue Lithium connected websites to view consumer generated video content, they will be targeted with a variety of multimedia ads. AdRoll, explains Blue Lithium, permits advertisers to â€œ[L]ayer with advanced targeting capabilities to refine the focus of your video campaigns, reaching those consumers with certain demographic profilesâ€¦â€ AdRollâ€™s network of publishers permits advertisers to engage in â€œbehavioral retargeting,â€ which means that consumers will see a refined video pitch from the same advertisers as they travel to entirely different websites. Blue Lithium notes that such retargeting â€œhas been show to improve click-through and conversion rates by [more than] 300%.
The A-B and Blue Lithium deal involve the latterâ€™s â€œMingleNow,â€ called an â€œonline/offline social network.â€ MingleNow, launched in December, â€œis dedicated to connecting users to their favorite clubs and bars and the people who go there.â€ Itâ€™s worth checking out the various functions of MingleNowâ€™s approach to social networking and marketing. According to its press release (Google cached for now): â€œMingleNow is built along three fundamental dimensions: Profiles, Places and Events. Once users indicate which bars and clubs, they frequent, their photos show up on the Place page of that establishment and they become part of the community that goes there to share photos and video, trade comments, plan events and in person meetings. MingleNow has over 900,000 place pages representing the most popular drinking, clubbing and socializing establishments in the U.S. Event pages enable users to see whatâ€™s going on in their area or publicize their own event. Profile pages give users a place to share information about themselves, feature their favorite people and places, make plans, upload video and more. In order to create an open social network, MingleNow allows users to import feeds and data from other social networks, and export feeds from MingleNow to other networks.â€
In another example of techniques to engage users, MingleNow lets you â€œearn VIP pointsâ€ as you bring others in to join it. Such rewards can be used for free drinks. We don’t know whether MingleNow is using behaviorally targeting nor the extent of its deal with A-B. But we think both companies need to be candid about what is going on.