Netflix – its journey from online bargain bin to online awesomeness

Netflix for me started out as a bargain bin. I have had a love hate relationship with Cable (hate-love-hate) as well as Netflix (hate-hate-love) since about 2010. I am not going to get into my journey of going sans cable as I have chronicled it here.

But what I didn’t mention in my previous post was how depressing (for the lack of a better word) Netflix was at that point. It was the online bargain bin. Anything you would find in a bin at now defunct Blockbuster, could be found on Netflix. Prompting me to get cable back. But then about a year or so ago, things changed for the better.

It all started when I decided to check out the hoopla behind the show House of Cards which is a Netflix production. I remember watching a few episodes and thinking to myself, wow this is an almost HBO quality show. I remember telling this to a friend and they literally laughed on my face as apparently nothing really compares to HBO.

By then I had caught wind of Breaking Bad (I know 5 years too late) and to my surprise the entire season was on Netflix. I ripped through all seasons within 6 weeks after which I latched on to Orange in the new black. Another great Netflix production and by now I was convinced Netflix was not just an almost HBO but it was much better. Not just in terms of quality but accessibility as well. What’s more, HBO’s series “Girls” placed the first two episodes of their third season on Youtube.

Internet has become the most convenient method of “TV” viewing. For a period of time, production houses were getting were worried about piracy related to illegal streaming. Even though piracy still exists, channels like iTunes, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu are taking care of the legal issue. They are increasing affordable as well – you are paying for what you want to see rather than paying a premium and still have nothing to watch. And with devices like Boxee, your streaming experience gets even better.

Does this spell the end of cable? I am still holding my reservation on that. But all things lead to one conclusion – scheduled TV programming is not what it used to be. And this will have a ripple effect on other mediums as well particularly advertisement. Companies will have to get more creative with their Marketing technique rather than just spending most of their dollars on TV ad campaigns as TV ratings are not what they used to be. In the meantime I will enjoy re-runs of Mindy Project on Netflix. How amaze is that?!

 

 

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If you buy basic t-shirt dresses at Queen W boutiques for $250 then “Preserve” is for you

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By now everyone must have heard about Blake Lively’s new venture: Preserve. It is a lifestyle website that sells everything form 7 dollar ketchup to this 49 dollar cup for drinking milk while eating cookies. The website starts off with a “letter from the editor”  where she lets it known that she is hungry for experience and not just enchiladas.

When you first get to the website, there is an introductory video which let’s be honest does not make any sense. It is a cute video, I will give her that but it is nonsense. And then you get to the “letter from the editor” AKA Ms. Lively herself. Again, the letter has an emo high school kid feel to it. And you are still left wondering what is this website?

I finally just click on “Shop”, and the first item is a 7 dollar ketchup which could be a preservative-free version of the one you find in the grocery store but at the same time there is no description of the product so I am not sure why I would buy ketchup for 7 bucks. As I browse more products, I am beginning to see what this is all about: it is random expensive shit that they sell in those cute little shops on Queen Street West only now you can order them online. They are handmade or something as well which is still not obvious to me right now.

There are some positives to the website – promoting local artisans who usually don’t have a platform to sell their goods besides urban farmers markets. Preserve also claims to donate a portion of its sales to charity.

Although celebrity lifestyle websites are quickly becoming the norm, I still commend Blake Lively for venturing outside her comfort zone. However, the website is pretty ameteurish. The purpose and vision is not clear. It tries to tug at your emotional heartstrings but that ends soon with the sticker shock. I guess the same crowd that buys t-shirts for 250 dollars at kitschy hipster boutiques would most likely order something from here.

Don’t want your groceries going bad? There is an app for that!

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In a sea of useless apps (fireplace, lighter, kama sutra positions to name a few), I would say there are few that are useful. Among those, an even smaller subset that are not substitutes of websites DO actually solve an issue that has existed time immemorial. I have come across one such app.

How many times do you buy fresh produce only to have it go to bad just because you forgot it was sitting in your fridge? While throwing away all the spoilt food, you are gently muttering to yourself “wish there was an app for that”. Well guess what? THERE IS!

Now wait, there almost is which I found out via a guest lecture at my Digital Marketing class. It was recently developed by the UK grocery chain Sainsbury in partnership with Google and they call it the “fridge friend” and only available to Sainsbury customers ofcourse. As the you check out your groceries, the expiry date of each grocery item gets uploaded into the Sainsbury fridge friend app. And as the expiry date draws near, the app will remind you of the items that are about to expire. Now here is the zinger, it will also suggest recipes for the items that are about to go bad! How neat is that!

Here is why this has to be one of the smartest apps around:

  • Overall less food wastage.
  • You are more likely to buy fresh food which is healthier for you as opposed to canned goods. Most of us buy canned good because they tend to last longer on the shelf.
  • You get to hone your cooking skills with all the new recipes suggested by this app.

To get a glimpse of all features of this app, check out this video. Now I can’t wait till Loblaws gets its hands on this bad boy!

Why Facebook’s “Buy” might just be another failed e-commerce experiment

Facebook has just announced that it will be introducing the “buy” button i.e. users now have the option of directly buying an advertised product on their feed without going to a second website. Facebook will be basically facilitating the complete transaction.

A similar feature had been introduced on Facebook in 2012 as Facebook currency which didn’t quite take off and hence shelved.  Yes we get it, Facebook can’t just be a charity and needs to make money somehow but the general sentiment out there is that people just want a social media without blatantly promoted ads. Personally, Facebook’s sponsored posts are really the least of my worries. The privacy concerns are more off putting.

Speaking of privacy, Facebook has been under constant fire regarding its fast and lose policies on protecting Personal information. What makes them think we are just going to hand over our credit card information??? It would be nice if they convinced users about safeguarding their privacy and maybe THEN try to convince them to buy goods off their site.

As for advertisers who will be selling stuff to me online , I am really interested to see what will be sold to me. Considering how some of the promoted tweets have nothing to do with me e,g, “Looking for hot single black females” (I am happily taken by a man). Actually this image in their press release is a perfect example of stuff that will be shoved on my face – cute articles that have no relevance in my day to day life (I am betting a vintage ottoman or something will be one of the first articles thrown at my face).

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And didn’t someone conduct a study somewhere that showed that promoted tweets doesn’t necessarily mean you will create a favourable view of your brand. Imagine now being bombarded by that brands products…

 

 

 

Cottonelle – I just can’t….

Brands cleverly incorporating current news events into their Marketing tactics has been one of my all time favourite strategies. The news has to be apolitical, upbeat and possibly catering to a very focussed target market. It does not really have to be strongly associated with the target market of the brand. At the top of my head, I can think of this Molson Canadian ad that aired during the NHL lockout in 2004 (or was it 2006?).


Molson Canadian ads usually air with a heavy frequency during the regular NHL season but with a lull in hockey due to the lockout, their challenge was to remain relevant with the hockey-viewing crowd. Clearly they overcame this challenge with this brilliant ad. Although the news wasn’t upbeat per se but it was clearly a first world problem.

Fast forward to 2014, Lebron returned to Ohio and Cottonelle tweets this:

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First, I must commend Cottonelle for actually even considering using a current affairs tactic in their tweet. But mostly it feels like Cottonelle’s social media manager just haphazardly threw this together.

This whole “situation” got more bizarre with Charmin’s tweet (obviously going head to head with their competitor)

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I am pretty sure Lebron was unavailable for comment at this point.

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I must give an honourable shoutout to India’s famous butter brand “Amul”. Their billboards in India have pretty much perfected the art of current event incorporation into a science and they come out with a gem each and every time. I left India at a very wee single digit age but thanks to the internet, access to these billboards is quite easy.

Anyone can think of any other clever tactics, please fill up the space below!!

Why do I even bother with Facebook?

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Facebook news feed loads.. …Baby pics…..scroll down…another baby….keep scrolling…wedding…sc..woah engaged (wow her sluttish ways paid off finally)scroll scroll scroll something interesting will come up… geezers boring couple is so excited about their 20th all inclusive to Mexico….on to the next ….. oh Jeebus another one with a baby it has been 30 seconds and I was starting to get worried about the decline in world population….my hunt for excitement continues… oh yayyy finally someone with a new album… oh no it’s Alex and Rohanna’s* wedding album update, created in 2008 and 40 lbs ago… loading new posts ….Anand and Mary* have moved out of the city and bought a new house in Bolton, ON becaue you know the city is horrible for their kids and houses in Bolton have backyards where their kids can play just like they did when they grew up……. close Facebook window

*Names Changed

 

Has LinkedIN jumped the Shark?

LinkedIN has largely been viewed as a resourceful social media tool. I personally found it very useful whenever I have had to hunt for jobs or look for professional networks. It also does not face the same kind of criticism that is faced by more popular social media like Facebook or Myspace.

However, lately some of the features have started to annoy. The “endorse” feature does not make sense to me. I have been endorsed for skills that I barely have (graphic design) by contacts who I know on a personal level and not professional (an Architect that I used to play rec league soccer with). And just by speaking around, I can tell that no one takes this feature seriously. Now that we all know it doesn’t take much to endorse someone for a skill, it is hard for anyone to take these endorsements seriously.

But I would just grin and bear as it was but a minor irritation in the grand scheme of things. That was up until a couple of weeks ago when Barbie (yes Barbie Doll) decided to get her OWN LinkedIN profile. This was launched at the same time as the release of “Entrepreneur Barbie”.

At first I wasn’t sure if I heard it right, maybe Mattel had gotten a LinkedIN profile for their company. But of course a big corporation like Mattel would already have one. After a little online browsing, I found out Barbie had her own profile with fictitious job experience (entrepreneur). At which point, I am just plain creeped out.

My first thought is, the younger demographic of graduating students who are just entering the workforce will probably not view LinkedIN as a serious resource. It will however become popular among the not so serious if these showcase pages start popping up everywhere. But as I spent more time on Barbie’s LinkedIN page, I realize that it does tie in neatly with the release of the doll itself. However, Mattel’s plummeting doll sales suggest that Barbie is going down and might be dragging LinkedIN along with it.

So to answer the original question – Has LinkedIN jumped the shark? I want to say mmmm yes…

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