IAR Bits and Bytes

Nike Rolls Out Mia Hamm IM Bot

AOL and Nike have teamed up to release an interactive agent on AOL Instant Messenger for U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm.

ActiveBuddy powers the IM bot, which will be officially released next week, coinciding with the start of the Women’s World Cup. By typing to MiaHamm9, AIM users can get information about Hamm, play hangman, and participate in polls. The bot also has links to Nike’s Web site.

The IM window expands to include a section on the left with links to Nike video of Hamm and other players on the team. The section includes a link to a Nike contest (run in conjunction with AOL Time Warner property Teen People) for one fan to join the team for workouts in Portland, Ore.

The Mia Hamm bot is part of a wide-ranging ad push by Nike on AOL to coincide with the World Cup. The campaign targets young females interested in soccer. Fans can query Mia about everything, from the U.S. team to her fiancé, Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. One option allows AIM users to sign up for notifications when something new is added to the bot.

The Nike campaign follows in the footsteps of other campaigns using AOL IM bots for branding. Keebler rolled out a recipe bot, called Recipe Buddie, which dispenses guides to making dishes such as fruit salad and nacho chicken cheese spread using Keebler products.

In May, Dow Jones linked up with InfiniteAgent to launch a news bot, WSJOnline, which allows AIM users access to Journal news briefs and headlines. The Journal’s bot, unlike Nike’s, includes text ad links supplied by DoubleClick.

Chicago Tribune Offers Online-Offline Real Estate Listings

The Chicago Tribune announced a new offline-online advertising product designed to lure more real estate listings to the Web.

With Tribune Homes Plus, real estate agents can buy an offline-online package for $49 that includes a photo listing in the Tribune’s Friday real estate section, as well as a weeklong listing on the newspaper’s Web site and a classified listing. (A listing in the paper’s Sunday real estate section costs $99; listings in both cost $129.) The print ads will direct homebuyers to a code that can be used to find out more information about the house at the Tribune Web site.

Tribune Homes Plus has a $99 premium option for agents to list a home in the Web site’s database for four weeks.

Survey: B-to-B Marketers Clueless of ROI

Despite the repeated mantra that return on investment is all that matters in marketing, few business-to-business marketers actually measure ROI in all their communications, according to a new survey by agency Mobium Creative Group.

Mobium asked business marketers about their measurement techniques, finding 64 percent measured ROI for at least some of their communications, but just 28 percent measured it for most. As for how to measure, just 37 percent said they tracked sales. Instead, respondents relied on metrics such as Web visits or email responses (68 percent), survey research (54 percent), and lead-tracking databases (51 percent). Even anecdotes from the sales force (44 percent) scored better.

“The best kind of marketing unambiguously links marketing communications to the hard sales numbers,” said Guy Gangi, Mobium’s partner, in a statement. “To make these links, we encourage business marketers to go beyond just measuring things like awareness and preference and start looking at how customers/prospects act on those perceptions.”

The survey also found few marketers measuring brand effectiveness: Just 35 percent said they measure shifts in brand associations.

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