Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Paid Surveys, Deal Sites and Online Market Research

I subscribe to the daily e-newsletter of an online deal-aggregating site called It's basically a site that scours the interwebs for good deals on a daily basis, "community driven bargain hunting," if you will. It's actually pretty awesome given the breadth of products that it finds deals for. On this site, I have found deals for products ranging from machetes, knives, and handguns, to electronics, diapers, magazine subscriptions, and deals on airfare. It's a brilliant site.

My post today though, is not about slickdeals, but about a specific deal that was in its daily e-newsletter that I received this morning. "Free $20 Amazon gift card with survey at," the listing said. Apparently, Lexus, to get visitors to their site to participate in a survey, was offering $20 gift cards to those who completed the survey. This listing caught my eye because as an avid buyer from Amazon, a $20 gift card is pretty much worth its value in cash. I went to and followed the directions, but apparently slickdeals users (and I'm sure other deal-aggregating-site-users) stormed and that promotion had already ended.

This was interesting to me from a marketing standpoint. I could see the wheels turning in the marketer's head: Lexus wants to know how visitors feel about their website, but everybody hates filling out surveys. How do we get visitors to their site to fill out the damn surveys? $20 Amazon gift card! BOOM, brilliant, how am I the first to think of this? But of course, a few hours and lots of $s later, they've got tons of data, but it is completely useless because the sample is no longer representative of people visiting the site out of curiosity about Lexus vehicles, but mainly consists of cheapo internet deal-aggregator-site-users looking to score an easy $20 Amazon gift card for answering some questions about a website hawking a car they couldn't give two shits about. Or maybe they do care about the car too and legitimately visited the site as well (I did...and designed myself the pretty IS-F below), but I suspect those kinds of visitors were few and far between.

It is interesting to see the various new problems that the next generation of marketers will have to deal with given the relatively new medium that is the internet. Hell, they're just now finally getting the hang of marketing via traditional media, and here comes the internet with a whole new set of problems, causing marketers to have to adjust their marketing strategies, even having to adjust their strategies dealing with traditional media.

How would I deal with it? I don't know. Perhaps figure out a way to gauge the actual interest of the visitor and then give them a gift card to fill out the survey? But it would have to be done in a way that can't be easily worked around by some schemers on a site like slickdeals. I don't know. I'm sure there is currently research being done that would allow a website to gauge interest given a user's clicking and scrolling pattern on a website. I definitely know that there have been studies done that show where people look when they visit a site. This, I suppose  is a question for future marketers.

Oh the LINsanity

As an Asian-American, it has been interesting for me to watch the Jeremy Lin phenomenon (or the various puns that have arisen from his play for the Knicks). As a long-time Knicks fan, I actually found myself paying attention to them again--though this will most likely end in disappointment yet again (see Knicks History in the late 90s). But what has truly been interesting to watch has been the reaction of the populace, including the media to Jeremy Lin's performance in the past weeks.

I could not help but feel a sense of pride in Lin's performance over the past couple of weeks. But I also could not help but notice some of the commentary that accompanied his performance. Lin, also aware of this commentary noted in a recent interview "It's funny. People are still saying, 'Oh, he's quicker than he looks.' And I'm like, what does that mean? Do I look slow? People are always saying, 'He is deceptively quick, deceptively athletic.' I don't know if that is because I am Asian or what." An article published today by author and editor at Grantland, Jay Caspian Kang sums things up quite nicely.

Another poignant commentary on the Lin saga could be seen on Saturday Night Live:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Santorum, n.

As the election year picks up steam, and the various states vote in their primaries and caucuses for their Republican presidential nominee, I cannot help but chuckle whenever I hear Rick Santorum's name. Primarily due to this:

Just for additional hilarity's sake, clicking on that link will lead you here. Amazing. Journalists love playing off of it too, like this article: Santorum's Surge Holds Steady So Far (hilarious? Definitely. Inadvertent? Definitely not). Nothing like pissing off the wrong guy and having it explode in your face in comedic fashion. While this may not have completely quashed Rick Santorum's political career, it definitely did not help (or maybe it did by unifying the anti-gay vote behind him since lefties were not voting for him anyway). This link first appeared in 2004 and has festered there at the top of Rick Santorum's search results ever since, like a hilarious sore. For marketers, the lesson here is this: the internet is a beast; don't mess with others who can use it better than you. Especially if good/bad press can make or break you.

In recent years, we've heard of companies' attempts to use the internet to help their businesses, but having it backfire in their face due to their misuse of the internet and the ensuing backlash from the internet community. recently encountered this with their CEO's support of the SOPA bill that was then coming up for a vote in Congress. The ensuing backlash and threatened exodus by users of godaddy's domain services was a PR disaster. Belkin too recently encountered a similar internet backlash when it was found out that they were paying for good reviews on sites like Amazon and Newegg. With the growth of the internet, it has become more and more crucial to ensure you don't piss off netizens because if they do turn on you, it will be costly to fix, or as in Rick Santorum's case, unfixable. It is also important to remember that the internet has pretty much infinite memory, so while one could recover from a misstep, there will always be a record of it somewhere, be it in a wikipedia article, or an article from the past that can always be searched with a few keystrokes on google. Beware the power of the internet.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Taco Bell Dorito Taco

According to this Gizmodo article, Taco Bell is soon to be announcing a new taco, the shell being made of Doritos. Dios f'n mio. It is the joint venture of my dreams and someone at Taco Bell finally realized its brilliance. Didn't Pepsi used to own Yum Brands? And doesn't it currently own Frito-Lay which Doritos is a part of? How did it take this long for someone to realize the brilliance that is the Doritos taco shell?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bulk Warehouse Stores and Deceptively Bad Value

In recent years, the warehouse stores such as CostCo, Sam's Club, and BJ's have become popular for their cheap, bulk-priced items. Who doesn't love their 5 gallon drum of mayonnaise and gallon jugs of hot sauce. Research has shown though, that just because you can buy things in bulk does not necessarily mean that they are cheap. I have definitely fallen into this trap before, where I assume that just because an item comes in a huge package, it's most likely cheaper at the warehouse store as compared to the local supermarket. But apparently, I am wrong in that thinking. recently published an article that includes a price comparison between items, and a list of things that are actually cheaper at your local supermarket.

According to them, we should buy fresh foods at our local supermarkets, while their frozen counterparts were much cheaper (and better quality when it came to CostCo's Kirkland brand) at the warehouse stores. While squawkfox gives specific examples of price differences, this concept is applicable in making purchasing decisions in general. In finding value in our purchases, it is important to note the price and quality per unit to ensure that we are getting our money's worth, and not falling for packaging trickery that will try to sell us less for more. Another recent example has been the downsizing of items in the name of "health," while charging the same amount. Yogurt packaging as well as soda has recently been switched to smaller packaging while the price has remained the same.