Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Traffic, Influencers and Exclusives REALLY Mean

Is, in fact, any one's guess.  This is not a new theme here at Tempus Fugit, but it is apparently becoming a more relevant topic as more and more brands and media outlets are asking, and being asked some increasingly uncomfortable questions about how they are handling their pr, marketing and media.

So let's get one thing out of the way right from Jump Street -
Tempus Fugit does not accept any watch brand advertising.  You will note a Bell & Ross interactive clock on the site, and it is there because I personally like the feature (clock adjusts to whatever time you are tuning in from).  No money is charged in exchange for this.  Tempus Fugit does run approximately 3 fund raisers a year selling branded t-shirts and sweat shirts which brands and brand managers are certainly allowed to purchase (p.s. still time to order your Tempus Fugit Sweatshirt -

for only $45 US - Support Tempus Fugit - Get a Super-Dope Sweatshirt!)

Note how I smoothly snuck in a pitch ; )

So how do I make money?  I have consulting clients in the watch industry (ones that you will not read about here, as that would create an ethical conflict), and I work as a teacher and social worker (as I have discovered, that is also part of my calling).  And then why do I do it (I get this question a lot from PR folks), because I love it.  The point being, I found a way to make enough money at it to make it worthwhile while not having to park my ethics at the door.

Okay, so that's me, but let's have a quick whip-round to consider what is happening outside my little ecosystem.  In order to have an even passably interesting site (whether you call it a blog, an online magazine, etc.) you need to have content.  And all of us, from the mighty to the small get lots of press releases.  Interesting to relate, I noticed that more than a few brands and PR agencies would send releases in 2 waves - the first wave to outlets that the brands and PR agencies ALREADY PAID advertising money to.  In other words, the outlet not only sold the brand ad space, but as part of the deal, secured exclusive advance intel on new products in so-called exclusives.  And this really creates a false impression for the reader.  If you are the reader (or a potential advertiser) and you notice again and again how a certain outlet can manage to "scoop" the competition on a new release again and again.  You would think that outlet and their platoon of writers must have some amazing inside track.  Guess again.  Several of these sites do not write a sentence until coin of the realm has passed hands.  Ever wonder why a mid-tier group brand will suddenly be relevant exactly two times a year to one of the biggest digital outlets, and never during the rest of the year?  Yeah, I don't wonder either.  The "package" takes care of  your needs even if you are not a "known" advertiser.

Another goofy trend is the once-a-year outreach employed by some brands.  These are the brands that will never give you a BaselWorld appointment, never respond to any emails, never assist in ANY way for a story.  But out of the blue you get this warm, fuzzy, honey-laden entreaty to connect because:

"We have a story that we think your readers will be interested in..."

What I have come to understand, is that this is code for:

"We have an influencer/instafamer/instagrammer under contract and we need to push this content".   

In such cases, I request other photos not from the influencer/instafamer/instagrammer and often never hear anything further.  So in the new year, a kind message for the PR office - I am happy to write about your brand and your releases.  I am not happy to blindly promote someone you already pay money to to promote your brand, which you are now trying to get me to promote by promoting the promoter... 

Confused?  I'm not.  You hired these folks, you paid them, they are supposed to be promoting you, not the other way around.  And please stop asking me and other people to promote them for you after you paid them.

Oh, and p.s. - the FTC is taking an increasingly dim view of paid promotion through instagrammers & influencers who fail to disclose the financial nature of their relationship with the brand/brands that are featured in their social media feeds.  So as a public service gesture, I'd like share this info from the Federal Trade Commission -

And now that not-so-tiny elephant in the room - TRAFFIC.

Traffic as it relates to the Internet is really one of the most misunderstood metrics out there.  On the one hand, traffic is based
on a number.  Something that is quantifiable, something easily understood by salespeople - selling 100 is far better than 50.  The bigger the number, the better!  But as we are now seeing with watch sales numbers and export numbers getting a "flavor enhanced" boost via the Grey and Light Grey market, we can see that these do, in fact represent sales numbers, but not in the sense that demonstrate sales through the traditional outlets.  Grey and Light Grey Market sales are cover for product dumping.  Well, website traffic is really not that different.  A website can have millions of hits per month, but that does not mean that millions of people are actually visiting those sites -

Click Farms via Vice News

For many of us who run these outlets, it can be a very tempting option, we get nearly daily offers to pay $15.00 for 2,000 followers!  And as the competition among click farms increases, the rates charged will continue to fall.  Pretty soon it will be 10,000 followers for $5.00.  And in fairness to the guys and gals making ad buy decisions (or editorial package decisions) at watch brand HQ, this is really all that they have to go by.  They do not generally have the time (or sometimes even the interest) to read the actual articles and postings that are generated.  Let me put this in a different context, I think despite that fact that everyone reading this is probably pretty interested in watches, we can also agree that the number of people interested in fashion would far eclipse the numbers for watch interest.  Scott Schuman's the Sartorialist - fetches approximately 500,000 visitors per month.  Do you really think that more people are "clicking in" every month to read about watches than fashion?  

Ever wonder why nobody ever wrote a book called "The Devil Wears an Omega", and why nobody ever made a documentary movie titled Biver: The Last Emperor (although, in fairness, I did right an opinion piece the last time he announced his impending retirement back in 2012 -, as someone did about Valentino - Valentino: The Last Emperor IMDb?

Simple, watches are interesting, but they're not that interesting.  Or put more precisely as it relates to the whole traffic conundrum - there is traffic, and then there is traffic.

As with my food, I generally prefer to keep my website traffic organic.

So another year is in the books, and we all look forward to turning the page.  I thank everyone who participated in Tempus Fugit from the brands, to the PR folks to most importantly you, the readers.  I promise you that in 2018 you will continue to get content that is "free range" and hopefully some commentary that will give you a different perspective.  And while you will probably read and hear about some of the brands that I am working for/with, you will not be reading/hearing about them here ; )

With our very best wishes for you in 2018 -

Tallulah Henderson - Executive Publisher, Tempus Fugit Media
James Henderson - Chief Messenger, Tempus Fugit Media


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