Back in July, Netflix announced that it was changing its plans to offer “the lowest prices ever.” They did this by raising my membership price by 60% per month. How did this make sense? By unbundling the streaming from the DVD services, Netflix could charge $7.99 for each service separately. While I used to get both for $9.99, now I would need to pay $15.98 for the same services I used to receive.

Had Netflix PR not try to spin this price increase as their “lowest prices ever” and characterized it more properly as an increase in the cost of streaming services, I would’ve likely coughed up the extra $6 per month. Instead, somewhat out of spite because Netflix’s bumbling marketing move, I actually evaluated what I was getting for my money. Netflix used to have a sweet spot–direct billing on a recurring basis to my credit card. I never questioned the value of my Netflix account. But  instead of confronting the issue on its face and regretfully needing to pass the increased costs to its customers, Netflix was trying to pull one over on me (and the rest of the disgruntled customer base).

Netflix officially denied that the price increases had anything to do with increased costs of streaming rights. I hardly believe that considering a few months later, Netflix streaming’s main content provider Starz Play backed out of its contract, depriving Netflix of the Sony and Disney catalogs. People seem to think that streaming is almost costless to Netflix because it doesn’t have to mail out DVDs. What people usually don’t realize is that copyright laws are different for streaming content and those rights can actually be much more expensive.

As I said, had Netflix just been upfront about the price increase instead of trying to disguise it as a price drop, I probably would’ve just swallowed it whole. But because of the path it took, I had to think critically about what I was getting for my money. The results weren’t good. Netflix streaming had little content that I valued. I couldn’t get any new releases on popular titles, the main purpose for my Netflix account. Come to think of it, I usually get no more than two DVDs per money anyway. So I downgraded my plan to the cheapest option, the limited DVD-only plan for $4.99 per month. I can only get two DVDs per month and have no streaming services.

Netflix has done much to revolutionize the industry. It generated so much consumer loyalty and goodwill. But when it wants to play chicken with its customers and lay down “the only game in town” card, it better be ready for the mass exodus. Netflix is now losing $5 per month from me and I suspect many more former satisfied customers.

 

I’ll be the first to admit that advertising often isn’t logical. It appeals to the consumer’s emotions, hopefully in a positive way. Having walked past the above pictured trash bins for the last two years and seeing these signs have only elicited my confusion and frustration.

We’ve already examined the fallacy of correlation = causation before. What have I proven by looking at the sign?

  1. The sign is placed in a conspicuous location at the eye level of many pedestrians.

That’s it. All Creative Outdoor Advertising has proven is that the sign is placed somewhere that is trafficked. Advertising is not just about eyeballs. There’s a concept in marketing called conversion. Advertising is only as effective as its ability to induce behavior. For Creative to prove anything, it has to show that the use of its own advertising has actually convinced people to buy advertising space from them. A successful conversion for Creative would be a purchase of space; a failed conversion would be a blog entry negatively criticizing its tactics.

But wait, perhaps the concept of conversion is more important in the online realm and isn’t that vital a measurement in real world advertising. That is just ludicrous. What is the point of advertising that does not induce action or awareness? It’s not like Creative is benefiting from brand awareness.

I especially like this other fallacy of causation in their FAQ:

Why should I advertise on a bench/recycling unit?
Street furniture advertising has seen high success rates in reaching potential customers. Many of our clients have been with us for over 7 years and with a 75% contract renewal rate it just further reaffirms that street furniture advertising is a proven, cost effective means for communicating to your current and future clients.

They measure their success rate by the evidence that their clients haven’t decided to pull their ads. The longevity of the contracts is questionable. I imagine that those companies that choose to advertise on trash cans aren’t too devoted to cutting edge advertising techniques. They probably have never heard of social networking. The products or services that these clients advertise are also probably local to the community. Also, a high contract renewal rate only reveals that the marginal cost of continuing the ad is less than the marginal benefit of associating your product/brand with trash. It doesn’t mean that the initial cost would be worth it for new clients. A more convincing statistic would be some statistic about the success of clients’ ad campaigns after the introduction of garbage advertising. Of course, Creative doesn’t have these numbers so it must rely on the imprecise measure of contract renewals. That would entail actually proving that the ad works.

Perhaps Creative Outdoor wins after all; they got me to write about the stupidity of their campaign.

Warning to those who list “dogs” as an interest on their FB profiles. Another example of FB trying to fit everyone into convenient labels.

It might seem like I write too frequently on bathroom etiquette considering that one of my first entries was on urinal selection procedure, but the subject matter just lends itself so easily to curiosity and dissection. I’ve even written about the impropriety of black toilet seats, a seemingly innocuous subject that irks me enough to comment. Bathrooms rules are among the most unspoken, yet they seem to elicit the most outrage when they are disregarded. How do you feel when you witness someone go straight from stall to door without a stop at the sink?

Part of why I these issues are at the forefront of my mind is that urinal culture is something completely closed off to slightly more than half of the population. As such, I’ll continue to supply my simple observations about what men take for granted. Take this post’s topic for example, why Falcon?

If you’ve been to enough high-traffic bathrooms, undoubtedly you’ve come across a Falcon Waterless urinal. You probably paid little attention, considering so many people neglect to flush urinals. But if you’re a considerate, decent individual, you would’ve noticed that this glazed enamel fixture has no handle or sensor. Purportedly environmentally-friendly because of the water saved, these urinals are probably doing its share in saving the world (as much as you can expect for something you piss into). By the way, studies have shown that painting a little honeybee image onto the inside of a urinal increases accuracy and decreases mess. My question, which I’ll leave open since I can’t find any answer on Falcon’s site, is why the name Falcon for urinals?

I don’t associate birds-of-prey with excretion. That’s an association I usually reserve for the annoying pigeons that drop disease infested bombs on city sidewalks and parked cars. When I think “falcon,” I imagine raptors that dive at 200 mph, though the mental image of peeing on a falcon is mildly amusing.

When Facebook changed it’s profile policy a few months ago in an effort to stamp out all individuality on the profile pages, I protested to deaf ears of the Facebook customer service team. In an effort to standardize everyone’s interests, it stamped out everyone’s individualistic quirks and forced broad categories onto us. I formerly listed my favorite karaoke songs under the “Music” section of my profile. When the profile renovation came, I lost all of that. As a consequence, I now mostly neglect my Facebook profile. Still, there are some interests of mine that go back up as generally generic interests.

While Facebook is pretty good at matching you up with recommended friends, its interest matching needs much more work. Sometimes the recommendations are absurd (see above, food and eating are apparently correlated).

Sometimes the recommendations are just plain wrong.

Though I’ll give them some credit for matching “Avatar” with “video games.”

Perhaps Facebook shouldn’t just shoehorn its users into these digitally defined interests. Of course, that’s how Facebook is going to make its money, by dissecting you into Likes and Dislikes. Here’s an article explaining the threat Facebook presents to Google by indexing the Internet through Like buttons.

What you, as a digital consumer, should be aware of, is the dissemination of your personal data. We have this general perception that we don’t have a say in services that we don’t pay for. This is not true. Check out dotrights.org for more information on privacy protections.


How much clearer does it need to be? According to the Clearblue Easy Digital Pregnancy Test website, 1 in 4 women can misread a traditional pregnancy test. Citing a medical study sponsored by (shock) itself, Clearblue offers the digital pregnancy test as a sure means to determine if you’re pregnant.

Honestly, how difficult is it to read a stick that either has one or two lines, or watching a stick change colors? Apparently very. The inaccuracy of home pregnancy tests due to failure to read the instructions or misinterpretation of the results is well documented.

Admittedly, I’ve never been present for a live unveiling of a pregnancy test, but I’ve seen plenty of dramatizations. If a woman thinks she’s pregnant, doesn’t she agonize over the instructions while waiting for the results? Don’t people double check after getting a blue stick to see what blue means? Actually, many of the false negatives in the study are due to women using the tests too early before their menstrual, not because they can’t read a test correctly. Therefore, having a clear PREGNANT or NOT PREGNANT digital read out would do nothing to alleviate those cases.*

Is this really a concern for women? I just feel that needing a clear PREGNANT result in words just shows the dumbing down of our society. I question the effectiveness of Clearblue’s marketing campaign. It relies on women admitting that they might be the 1 in 4 who can’t read a binary stick result. Maybe women who think they’re pregnant are already so insecure that they might fall for this ploy.

*Clearblue Digital also detects pregnancy sooner, which does alleviate those cases, but that is unrelated to the oversimplification of its test readout.

Twice the cleaning power? Where was the other half of the power before?

Weeks ago, I went out for laundry detergent and got lost in the aisles looking for my old product*. I couldn’t find the same behemoth I used to have to lug back to my apartment. Instead, all the detergents were now half the size, much more reasonable to carry back home by hand. Noticing that now Tide had a new 2X concentrated formula, my first instinct was relief. Now I could get the same number of loads with half the liquid detergent. But it didn’t take long for me to wonder what I was using before. If this is the 2X formula, which by the way is now the standard Tide product, was I using some sort of diluted detergent before?

I realize that Tide has a tough marketing campaign to convince people to use less of this new concentrated formula and calling it 2X might make people use less, but that also implies that the previous formula was 1X. Rather than thinking I was holding a revolutionary new detergent, I thought I was using a less diluted version of the old. It doesn’t help that Tide’s website still lists “Water” as the most prominent ingredient in its detergent. Also, consider this tidbit from the site:

More cleaning ingredients. Less water.*

Did you know another concentrated detergent contains up to 80% water? Not Tide. Tide has more cleaning ingredients, less water.*

*vs. the next leading regular liquid detergent, past 12 months as of 11/15/08

It’s like the McDonald’s campaign now promoting its 100% beef burgers. What were they using before? I don’t see any guarantee that they’ve alway used 100% beef. Tide has an uphill battle, and just the same, I don’t see any assurance that they aren’t just taking more water out of their detergent and rebranding.

*2X Ultra could have been introduced much earlier. I have no idea. It’s not like I buy detergent frequently