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The Viral Green

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The Viral Green

  1. 1. The Viral GreenThe IT Industry and Green Web Marketing Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business Masters of Science in Marketing Capstone Independent Study Dr. Pilling – Spring 2009 Final Project Jacob J. Aull April 29, 2009
  2. 2. Abstract – The Green Movement, IT, and Web 2.0The current green movement in the U.S. has produced a fervor extending beyond thepublic into the day-to-day business world. Greenwashing has run rampant, as countlessindustries now advertise with green messaging and unsubstantiated claims. The Internet –and Web 2.0. – have been heavily imbued with green messaging.Web 2.0 is perhaps a misleading term. But essentially it represents the culmination ofopen source technologies enabling social media and Web site widgets. Thesetechnologies have changed the form of the IT industry and Web communications ingeneral. Communications in Web 2.0 are unique because they can be one-to-one,collaborative, relationship-focused, and targeted to the “prosumer.”For all the focus in modern business on green issues, the IT industry is a very minorculprit in US greenhouse gas emissions. Yet there are many green IT products andservices advertising to increase efficiency in the data center. Much attention is paid tomaking the IT industry or software companies appear more green – yet B2B buyercompanies and business journalists instead request more relevant or useful services, suchas carbon reporting software. Reasons for this lack of service could be post-dot-comcaution or lack of U.S. governmental reporting standards. Or it could be a simple lack ofability to innovate.There are new business and IT approaches regarding R&D and cost-efficiencies today.Some strategic marketing approaches celebrate innovation and reduced costs resultingfrom open collaboration in Web 2.0. Vehicles for this include Web 2.0, customer-collaborative communications. These could help birth future offerings of green ITservices. 1
  3. 3. Abstract – Content Analysis (Secondary Research Report)A study was conducted to better understand IT industry green promotions in Web 2.0.Top 20 software and programming companies (by revenue) were sought for green claimsin Web promotions (four video-gaming companies were removed from this study forirrelevance). Six of the remaining 16 firms did feature green advertising As a result, therewere 20 green ads out of 184 (total ads from all companies reviewed). Green claims werejudged (and clicked-through) for substantiation. Most green ads were judged process-oriented, and only three were judged to be unsubstantiated claims. Green advertisingclaims were checked for substantiation via maximum allotment of three click-throughs.Only two green ads were judged to have customer-orientation – unfortunately, as this wasarguably the best category to represent actual business potential and service to themarketplace. Regardless, observing differences between companies that did make greenclaims, versus those that did not, revealed intriguing results. Companies that did makegreen claims also had a higher amount each of Web 2.0 communications overall (66%),versus IT companies with no green claims (60%). This was especially true in socialnetworking profile pages (LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace), where companies that didmake green claims simultaneously occupied 24 profiles between them. Comparatively,counterpart companies had only 10 total profiles between them.None of the examined ads revealed software products whose primary offering was greenreporting. Yet readers may find interest in the revealed quantities, and unique uses, ofWeb 2.0 communications among IT companies. 2
  4. 4. Content OutlineI. BACKGROUND: GREEN IN THE MARKETPLACE TODAY p. 4 The State of Green Green and Web 2.0II. CSR IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE WEB p. 7 Reporting Standards Cautious Advancement FUTURE Potential FOR GREEN IT SERVICES Web and Business Theory Web Search Marketing The Green Beyond TacticsIII. SECONDARY RESEARCH REPORT: CONTENT ANALYSIS OF IT “GREEN” ADVERTISING IN WEB MEDIA p. 16 Introduction: Rationale for this Research Inspirations for Study Research Methods Inspirations for Study Research decision statements and objectives Companies Typology Media Channels Brand Name Search Challenges Advertising Placement Affiliate marketing Judging Time Lapse Additional Potential for Bias ResultsIV. CONCLUDING THOUGHTS p. 38V. SOURCES p. 39VI. APPENDICES p. 43 Appendix A: Preliminary research (conducted in the week before final research) Appendix B: T-Mobile green ad Appendix C: VMWare green Web promotion Appendix D: Comprehensive content analysis spreadsheet 3
  5. 5. I. BACKGROUND: GREEN IN THE MARKETPLACE TODAYTHE STATE OF GREENTrends in corporate social responsibility (CSR) rise and fall with the decades – this isespecially true with environmental issues (Scammon & Mayer, p. 34). The 2000s haveseen an unprecedented time of green consumer interest, emphasis in the marketplace andpressures on business. Current green issues comprise recycling, renewable resources andalternative energy sources. Businesses have embraced the ‘viral green.’ Companies suchas Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Tesco (Europe) have consistently made headlines forreducing supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and requiring supplier carbonfootprint credit counts (“Green is Good,” 2007). Countless sites and advertisements todaycover magazines and the Web with green messaging – whether promoting a companysgreen initiatives, reporting carbon footprints, requesting customers to "save trees byrequesting online, paperless billing" (see image in appendix; T-Mobile, 2009), or justblatant "greenwashing." Many of these efforts focus on business cost-savings fromenergy efficiencies (Feuchtwanger, 2009).In studying the motivations for CSR issues in the marketplace, many facets must beconsidered. These various motivations and ideas also reveal challenges of definitions inbasic terminology. For example, a common green word is “sustainable.” However, in thebusiness world with some confusion, sustainability can mean a focus on environmentalpreservation, the sustainable power of a corporation, or even a mixture of the two(Krueger & Gibbs, 2007). CSR issues have been used in strategic marketing to attract aninterest market, or to represent a company’s (or its leader’s) own ethics (“Union ofConcerned,” 2005). Likewise, often in business, environmental motivations or results areoften just efficiencies savings. That is, by reducing energy consumption, a company mayreduce costs and simultaneously promote an improvement in greenness (Elgin, 2007).Hence, a common business strategy is to focus on the latter, or strive for a happy mediumbetween efficiency and environmental ideals (Rigby, 2008). 4
  6. 6. While it may be tempting to judge companies on their CSR involvement or purportedethics, many business writers and thought-leaders raise issues regarding the role ofbusinesses, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in advancingenvironmental issues (Vegter, 2008). Many business thought-leaders claim thatenvironmental issues should be far more the domain of governmental control thancorporate effort. They cite industry problems of corporate motivational conflict, lack ofcorporate knowledge, inability to control the greater physical environments, and lack ofcohesion and guidance between companies for green efforts (“Good Company,” 2005.).Put bluntly, “The proper business of business is business” (“Ethics of Business,” 2005).Irrespective of theory or accountability, “green” messaging is here today and seeminglyubiquitous – in both the physical world and the World Wide Web.GREEN AND WEB 2.0The current, hot term ‘Web 2.0’ is misleading for many. Despite the suggestion, it is not a‘software upgrade.’ More than anything, Web 2.0 is a term attached to myriad, currentadvances in Web technologies and social media. Some common definitions include viralcapabilities and multi-channel networks (as opposed to traditional one-to-many broadcastmodels and single-message advertisements; “Boom in Network,” 2007).Enabling technologies for Web 2.0 include AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XMLcombined) – a merging of disparate programming languages enabling simple widgets. Anadditional enabling technology is that of “mash-ups,” yet another tool for integratingdisparate software technologies. These are easily combined via widgets on the simplestWeb site (Deans, p. 198). It is such capabilities that have allowed the Internet to advancefrom traditional search engines and e-commerce, to recommendations engines, such asfound on Amazon today. Supply and demand have increased for broadband access, alsoaiding open Web-based, cross-compatibility B2B software such as CRM (customerresource management; Bowman, 2008). Likewise, such technologies have enabled viralsocial networking software (such as MySpace and Facebook), wikis (user-written articleupload) and other user content sites, such as blog-submission sites Technorati and Digg(Scott, 2007). 5
  7. 7. There is also no question that Web 2.0 has played a strong role in the currentenvironmental movement’s visibility. From corporate green-centric promotions, toorganizational activist Web sites, to dynamic metrics reports for environmental issues –the Web teems with topical information. In fact, a truly landmark data Web site calledScoreCard was created by the US government in 1998, specifically to publicize corporatepollution data (Tapscott & Williams, p. 200). It achieved an unexpected level of attentionwith massive hits by a curious public, and was considered one of the first, best,foundation-setting examples of Web 2.0 (more on this below). In the more immediate era,green has consumed blogs, as well as online communities, festivals and fund raisers suchas the 2009 “Twestival” on microblog Twitter, which funded a charity helping watershortages and contaminations worldwide (Wortham, 2009). Not surprisingly, non-profitorganizations are escalating online fund-raisers – finding them more efficient, low-costand profitable than traditional approaches (Passmore, 2009). Playing off the Web 2.0moniker, even the term “Green 2.0” has crept up in communications to describe thecurrent green movement (Vogel, 2008).It is not surprising that environmentalists would find their voices on the blogosphere. Theunique attributes of this viral communications channel show the ability of fringe,extremist and outlier opinions (or even just the loudest in a populous) to amplify theirvoices for all to read. Amazon recently found this out the hard way. Strong opinions inthe blogosphere created national awareness around Easter 2009 regarding Amazon’s(apparently unintentional) miss-categorization of alternative lifestyle literature. Amazoninitially ignored the firestorm of negative comments on blogs and microblogs. The longerAmazon remained silent, the more the angry voices built. Finally Amazon fixed thecategorization issue and apologized online (James, 2009). 6
  8. 8. II. CSR IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE WEBNaturally, one would expect the IT industry to be Web 2.0-savvy, embracing these newchannels for communications. But what about the current green movement – areprominent software companies also on the ‘viral green’ bandwagon? And do these virtualproducts realistically contribute to pollutants or local, national or global environmentaldegradation?The IT industry currently only contributes to 1.5% of U.S. CO2 emissions – yet the most-visible green IT services’ promotional literature and public documents self-servinglyfocus on “e-waste” or greening for IT data centers (“IBM Project Big Green,” 2008).IBM at least is a small exception to this rule – having made some progress offeringcustomer green reporting software in addition to its greener data centers (“IBM’s GreenSoftware,” 2008). Otherwise, when IT companies arent focused on making servers moreefficient, PC manufacturers HP and Dell actively compete to prove whose companysupply chain is more green in the market (“Green is the way,” 2007). IT and computercompanies elsewhere are major contributors to worthy CSR initiatives, such as the non-profit program “One Laptop Per Child (OLPC),” devoted to advancing children’seducation among the earth’s poor by providing laptop PCs at little over $100 each(Talbot, p. 60).Yet, in more familiar fare, in the B2B IT solutions realm, specialized green IT servicesreceive accusations of greenwashing and a lack of true business benefit (Vegter, 2008).Members of the press and media call for more green IT services’ reporting solutions toserve business in general (Winterford, 2008). NGOs provide green issues consultationand services, and request reporting and IT involvement to serve current green values andfuture government demands (“Business Guide,” 2008). There is also common mediarequest for triple bottom line reporting: …while pursuing profit, enlightened companies should take care to protect the environment and uphold the rights of workers (and others) as well. Hence the “triple bottom line” which thought-leaders on CSR (including the United Nations 7
  9. 9. and the European Commission) want companies to monitor and report… (“World According to CSR,” 2005)And the United State’s largest contributing industry to GHG emissions, the transportationindustry (33%), is not prominently obtaining green IT services or reporting (Nat’l SurfaceTransport, 2007). While studies for this industry (and its IT solutions) are too few, whatfew there are challenge simple assumptions. For example, a study in Japan proved that e-commerce book sales have a higher transportation carbon footprint than traditional retailstore book sales (Williams & Tagami, 2002).This is not to suggest that green concerns have been entirely unaided by IT or Webdeliverables. The aforementioned example of ScoreCard has already been given. At thesame time of this innovative inception, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)also commissioned the Environmental Land-Use Control Web Ring, which enabled area-specific monitoring of environmental issues, toxins and violations, inspiring local citizensinto action (Deans, p. 198). Cited as precursors of Web 2.0 technological integrations,these Web sites performed “mash-up” type combinations of graphic information software(GIS) with dynamic data (Tapscott & Williams, p. 200).Even today, GPS and mash-up integrations are recommended for basic company Websites (Wertime & Fenwick, p. 5). For software advancement and optimization they areessential “The rise of Web 2.0 requires [software] applications to be much more dynamic,bringing demands for dashboards, scorecards, graphics, maps and even animation”(Actuate, 2009). IT and the Web have elsewhere promoted CSR issues with landmarkWeb 2.0 site “The Human Genome Project,” a global, collaborative, biological researchleap-forward (Tapscott & Williams, p. 163). Likewise, social network SparkPeopleallows people to monitor and share their exercise and overall wellness information – withtimely, contextually-served health advice (www.SparkPeople.com). And SocialVibeallows people to select sponsorship, donate to favorite social cause foundations, andpopulate this info on their other social media (www.socialvibe.com). As these projectsprove, there is at least capacity for technological and idea innovation in light of CSRconcerns. 8
  10. 10. REPORTING STANDARDSIrrespective of IT industry capabilities, multinational corporations (MNCs) meanwhile doface green reporting requirements beyond the U.S., in a world where all other advancednations have ratified The Kyoto Treaty (Vogel, 2008). Again, lack of currentenvironmental standards for business, which should be directed by the U.S. government,can be a large contributor to the confusion and lack of green IT services. There is apainfully apparent lack of baseline, cognitive metrics for environmental issues (Vegter,2008). Concomitantly, large U.S.-based corporation early adopters of green reporting arediscovering that accurate green reporting needs to come from industry-specific experts asopposed to general NGO consultants. For example, Starbucks has a strong, leading brandreputation in CSR and green endeavors (it even provides pamphlet sustainability reportsin its retail stores for all customers). Yet Starbucks complains that green consultants,accordingly employed for measurement, may know horizontal environmental issues, butdon’t know ultimately how to measure or optimize vital parts of coffee industry processes(Lee, 2008). This perhaps puts the onus back on industry-specific IT services to fill in theholes, since these already often contain customer niche expertise, as well as thetechnological knowledge to provide green reporting services.CAUTIOUS ADVANCEMENTAnother reason for lack of green IT services must certainly be the ripples of fear still feltfrom the 2001 dot-com shake-out and bubble burst. The new breed of IT has certainlybeen much more cautious in its business models. Concurrently, the IT industry is alsoattempting the maturity to recognize and wait out the "hype cycle of e-commerce andnew technologies" (see exhibit 1; “Hype Cycle,” 2008). To avoid a new, great "trough ofdisappointment" (such as with the dot-coms), IT companies may await a "green" demandthat is more relevant to predictable, traditional business concerns, and in a more maturephase of the hype cycle. 9
  11. 11. Exhibit 1: Gartner’s Hype Cycle (this hype cycle curve is considered for all new softwareor hardware technologies, broad or narrow; “Hype Cycle,” 2008).Today Americans feel the after effects of an economically catastrophic 2008, and thedawn of an unknown 2009, with a new president and economic plan. All industries,including IT, are unsure of the new models for successful business, but there is noquestion that the Internet plays a big role. Even for items not sold or advertised online,consumers now research online in advance for what used to be pure impulse, hedonicpurchases (Jones, S., 2009). And the research, in these new channels, involves consumer-written reviews and collaboration in "peer-to-peer networks" (Mootee, 2007). Usingsocial software to write content (such as reviews and opinions formerly restricted to themedia), consumers now become simultaneous producers or "prosumers" (Wertime &Fenwick, p. 73). While this increases customer involvement in supply and demandmodels, it is easy to see how this new phenomenon can confound traditional businessapproaches and the post-burst, dot-com caution of new IT services. Marketers now mustcollaborate with consumers in two-way dialogue, focusing on long-term relationships inWeb 2.0 communications, as opposed to traditional one-time-message advertisements(“Avoid Pitfalls,” 2009). Once the broad reach and collaboration of the online 10
  12. 12. marketplace is better understood, it is conceivable that IT providers as well can bequicker to conceptualize and serve new demand (see exhibit 2).Exhibit 2: A value chain progressing toward green IT solutionsFUTURE POTENTIAL FOR GREEN I.T. SERVICESDon Tapscott and Anthony Williams in Wikinomics forecast a new era of businessbroad-reach and collaboration on the open source Web (2006). They see businessinnovations, in all industries, working in an open approach and benefiting from the reach,strategies and external involvement of agile giants such as Google, The Human GenomeProject and even IBM. Specifically, this strategy is termed “open innovation” (or opensourcing), and focuses on collaboration – with customers, affiliates and vendors(McGregor, 2009). This new model of collaboration achieves and caters to the newmarkets of prosumers. Contrarily, traditional corporate and IT intellectual property R&Dapproaches have highly guarded innovations and technological capabilities within thecompany’s “walled garden” (Smarr, 2008). According to Tapscott and Williams, world,science and technology problems now just need an invitation for publics online tocollaborate and solve. 11
  13. 13. Exhibit 3: Helen Brown’s “policy-borrowing cycle in case studies” of tech andenvironmental innovations (p. 38)This outlook has parallels with that of Helen Brown, author of Knowledge andInnovation (2008). In this book Brown explores the global, interwoven cross-pollinationsessential to major innovations today (comprising IT, Web and environmental thought andbreakthroughs; see exhibit 3). Following these theories, the world seems ripe forbreakthrough innovations, for both environmental issues and IT, requiring only thetactical implementation to communicate and facilitate.WEB AND BUSINESS THEORYIn spite of new Web 2.0 technologies and ideas however, the business aspects of thesetheories still purport the early dot-com credo – requiring early, huge Web presence forawareness, market share and economies of scale. These “network effects” representMetcalfe’s Law, an Internet theory requiring more and more users to achieve e-businessprofitability (“Boom in Network,” 2007). Often-cited companies such as Amazon andeBay are chief examples of this model. To the downfall of many, this original dot-comWeb-presence strategy (based on single-channel networks), required a critical-massadvertising awareness before economies of scale kicked in – only then did the lower costsof e-commerce (versus brick-and-mortar) truly profit the company. 12
  14. 14. Yet this is not the only perspective. Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine sees the newpower of the Web as a platform for businesses to increasingly serve the “extreme nichecustomer.” Here, the “long tail” of product offerings and revenue profit niche providers(2004). While the costs to serve such miniscule segments were too high in traditionalbusiness models, the Internet now becomes the great, low-cost, niche-business driver(Scott, 2007). If this particular concept gains popularity and acceptance, it could solvesome complex problems of current business green reporting – such as the aforementionedStarbucks dilemma. If a coffee-industry-specific, environmental-efficiency expert were toarise 20 years ago, how easily and quickly could she have publicized her niche offering tothe appropriate people in promising companies? Likewise, how could they have knownof her existence? Hence, the demand for niche, a business model already visible in theshadows of the modern IT environment. If vertical specialized IT services couldincorporate green expertise and reporting in their offerings, they could grow profits fromthe increasing needs of the "infinite niche" (DigiMarketing, 2008) - while simultaneouslyaiding the world’s greenness.WEB SEARCH MARKETINGTo further explain the long tail, search engine marketing (SEM) can be considered. Forpay-per-click (PPC) keyword purchases, search engine marketers choose between “head”and “long-tail keywords” (Jones, ch. 2). Head terms were common in the early days ofsearch engine advertising. These broad keywords (for example, “green”) were purchased,following Metcalfe’s Law, to achieve network effects via broad, common searches. Theindustry has migrated to much more niche keyword purchasing. For one, keyword bidprices are based on demand. Hence, broader, more common terms are more expensive.Long-tail specific terminology is less in demand and less costly, but also more actionable.For example, the chances of someone searching keyword “green” and simultaneouslyseeking “green IT services” are pretty slim (and expensive). Yet someone searching“green IT services” is seeking just that – and consequently represents a higher likelihoodto click-through and purchase (Jones, ch. 2). 13
  15. 15. Google CEO Eric Schmidt further severs The Long-Tail Theory from Metcalfe’s Law byendorsing the latter’s network effects as a requirement for new Web business models andcompanies. He predicts “In fact, the Internet will lead to larger blockbusters and moreconcentration of brands” (Schmidt, 2009). Regardless, both theories as discussed abovehave application for advancing green efforts.Beyond critical mass or behavioral niche, there are opinions that environmentalism needsto be a local geographic issue (Krueger & Gibbs, 2007). The argument spotlights howdifferent locations have very different environmental problems with very differentscopes. Therefore, who better to address and discuss these than local governments andtheir publics?Since a major strength of the Web is the ability to transcend geographical boundaries, itmay seem counter-productive to tie Web 2.0 approaches to local issues. Yet ScoreCardand Environmental Land-Use Control Web Ring, as discussed above, operated on a localZIP-code level (Deans, p. 198). An important differentiator here is the role of Web 2.0 aspublic collaboration. In aforementioned book Knowledge and Innovation, historicalproblems with government-initiated innovations are revealed (2008). These hierarchical,“waterfall” management approaches dictate top-down, cascading orders (Gentle, p. 156).Yet what is truly required for innovation and public support (critical elements toenvironmental causes) is bottom-up (and horizontal partner) knowledge and ideas(Brown, p. 68). The power of Web 2.0 and social media rise from this bottom: theultimate power of mass-collaboration.THE GREEN BEYOND TACTICSThis paper has examined myriad perspectives on optimal business and technologyinnovations – as well as their applicability to modern environmental issues and ideas. Ithas reviewed accusations that the IT industry is not serving much-needed B2B tools forgreen reporting. This paper has presented examples of environmental, Web 2.0integrations and their applications at the local geographic level. It has presented thepower of global, open-source innovations – attributable to Web 2.0 business approaches, 14
  16. 16. as well as Metcalfe’s Law network effects. Likewise, the appropriateness of the Web hasbeen demonstrated for low-cost, non-profit fund-raisers. The business requests for niche-specific knowledge and IT green reporting have been reviewed. This paper also presentedthe long-tail of the Web as potential enabler of niche business. This paper consideredarguments favoring environmental issues as governmental concerns rather thanbusinesses’. And here the U.S. has been considered as a world laggard in political policyfor environmental issues.The common thread to all of these purports that the ideas and tools for technological andgreen innovations and achievements are available – requiring only openness and tacticalfacilitation to bring them to fruition. Yet there are voices indicating that true greensolutions require something bigger and much more elusive – a kind of ‘universal mentalshift’ (Boyle, 1996). Additionally, some claim that this mental shift must be encapsulated(or perhaps even conducted) using new terminology for association. This too has beenattempted, as green promoters in industry and education alike have attempted new terms,such as GE’s “Ecomagination” (Rigby, p. 1), or research authors Menon and Menon’s“Enviropreneurial Marketing Strategy” (1997). Often, used verbiage is either confusingto uninformed audiences or immediately receives bias (Scammon & Mayer, p. 34). Forexample, part of the U.S.’s laggard approach to environmentalism, according to the NewYork Times, lies in preconceptions or misconceptions of terms. “Carbon tax”terminology has immediately received negative connotations by politicians, while“carbon offset” terminology has received positive attributions according to research(Gertner, p. 43). Another, often-cited prerequisite for positive, environmental discussions,is correct “framing” for the audience (Gertner, p. 42). It is worth considering whetherWeb 2.0 collaborative, two-way communications could enable optimal dialogue in theseregards. 15
  17. 17. III. SECONDARY RESEARCH REPORT: CONTENT ANALYSIS OF I.T. “GREEN” ADVERTISING IN WEB MEDIA INTRODUCTION: RATIONALE FOR THIS RESEARCH Beyond traditional business models, and even without monetary reimbursement, Web 2.0 tools have allowed for much successful consumer- and professional-driven innovation (take for example the “open-source” computer language Linux platform – available to anyone for free use and creation; Tapscott & Williams, p. 8). For the IT industry to advance green reporting software and services, a key factor to success could be Web 2.0 (and Web 3.0) approaches (Wertime & Fenwick, p. 13). This paper does not attempt to predict the future. It does attempt to better understand cross-pollinating issues of environmentalism, B2B software services and Web 2.0 integration. Therefore, the content analysis research portion of this report examines the occurrence and nature of green Web promotions among the top 20 IT companies. IT companies’ proven familiarity with green-focused communications and Web 2.0 technologies may reveal a degree of advancement in customer benefiting business green solutions. 16
  18. 18. INSPIRATIONS FOR STUDY:A driver for this research was to achieve answers to the following questions: 1. What types of environmental claims are being used by top IT companies to promote their green concern? 2. What types of claims appear most often among Web green promotions? 3. Is there incidence of vague claims, or claims not substantiated, among environmental ads? 4. Do some Web media platforms serve more green promotions than others?These questions, largely drawn from “A Content Analysis of Environmental AdvertisingClaims: A Matrix Method Approach” by Carlson, Grove and Kangun (p. 29), inspired theresearch decision statement, questions and hypotheses below (exhibit 4). Capitalizing onthat same source, this study harnessed content analysis to research IT industry Web greenpromotions. The original source approaches were deemed transferable, as both that andthis study examined green promotional claims.RESEARCH METHODS: • Search and access GoogleFinance top 20 IT companies’ Web sites. • Search and document companies’ (immediately accessible) green promotions. • Access top Web 2.0 and 1.0 channels (listed below) and search and document same companies’ green promotions (exclusively from first page results listings). • Observe and document all ads based on content types and orientation (criteria below). • Aggregate, and calculate quantity of common, like ad occurrences. 17
  19. 19. RESEARCH DECISION STATEMENTS AND OBJECTIVES Exhibit 4: Decision statement translation process (Zikmund & Babin, pp. 112-113)Top IT Industry Players’ “Green” Advertising in Web Media Decision Research Research ResearchSituation Symptoms Probable Problem Statement Objectives Questions HypothesisThe Many To appeal to Are IT Search for top What, if any, are Majority ofresearcher businesses, current green companies 20 IT the types of “Green”desires to including IT, trends, much Web “greenwashing” companies’ (by messaging in IT messaging, inunderstand promulgate advertising in their Web revenue) Web green IT Webthe nature “green” ad showcases vague advertising? advertising to advertising advertising, isand messaging “green” messages. discern types (vague, vague orpervasiveness today and (and qty) of quantitative, unsupported.of IT industry are accused “green” narrative)?“green” Web of “green- messaging.advertising washing.”claims. IT industry It is easier to spin Do IT Discern the What is the The “Green” has been company-focused companies content content focus advertising accused of green initiatives for self-serve, or orientation for for the majority majority’s not ad messaging, serve their same (as above) of IT companies’ content- delivering than to create and customers’ IT companies’ green orientation is B2B- promote products needs, with green advertising not customer- demanded that aid customers their green advertising. (process, focused. green- in greening. offerings (as image, reporting communicated environmental, products in Web or customer)? focused on advertising)? buyers. Web 2.0 Newer Web How commonly Discern balance How many IT “Green” presents advertising are newer Web of IT “green” “green” ads advertising many new channels require advertising advertising in exist in Web 2.0 representation channels for up-to-date channels used prominant, media vs. (qty) exists advertising technology as compared to innovative Web traditional Web equally in today. awareness and older Web 2.0 (social 1.0 channels? Web 2.0 creative media? networking and media as Web capabilities. Many tagging 1.0 channels. industries lack software) media here, but vs. traditional presumably the IT Web 1.0 industry are new channels (SEM, Web ad channel Web page ads). innovators. 18
  20. 20. COMPANIESA purpose of this study was to observe top IT companies who could potentially aidcustomer companies in green reporting and analysis. Therefore, the top 20 “Software &Programming” companies by revenue were picked from GoogleFinance.com(GoogleFinance.com, 2009). It is important to note that Google Finance offers differentsubcategories to choose among for “technologies.” For example, Google itself is listed asthe top in the “computer services” subcategory ($21.8b). For this report, the subcategory“software & programming” was chosen, because these companies have the greatestability to provide green reporting services to business customers. Undoubtedly this reportwould have uncovered a more hardware-efficiency focus if focused on availablesubcategories such as “computer hardware,” “computer storage devices” or “computernetworks” (GoogleFinance.com, 2009).The top 20 software and programming companies include: 1. Microsoft Corporation 2. Oracle Corporation 3. SAP AG (ADR) 4. SAIC, Inc. 5. Symantec Corporation 6. CA, Inc. 7. Infosys Technologies Limited (ADR) 8. Adobe Systems Incorporated 9. Amdocs Limited 10. Intuit Inc. 11. Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. 12. Autodesk, Inc. 13. VMware, Inc. 14. Lender Processing Services, Inc. 15. BMC Software, Inc. 16. McAfee, Inc. 19
  21. 21. From the original list, the following four companies were discarded, because they arevideo gaming companies and do not serve B2B software as a prominent deliverable:Electronic Arts Inc.Activision Blizzard, Inc.Konami CorporationInternational Game Technology.TYPOLOGYThe typology of this report owes much to predecessor research reports and journalarticles on green advertising: Green advertising is defined as any ad that meets one or more of the following criteria: a. Explicitly or implicitly addresses the relationship between a product/service and the biophysical environment. b. Promotes a green lifestyle with or without highlighting a product/service. c. Presents a corporate image of environmental responsibility (Banerjee, Gulas & Iyer, p. 24).Further, the following words (and their variations) for this study identified “green”messaging: • greening • environmental • recycled • sustainable • global warmingSustainability is a bit confusing, as it can mean either environmental sustainability orbusiness sustainability for the future (or both; Krueger & Gibbs, 2007). Likewise, the 20
  22. 22. following words are sometimes associated with environmental issues, but were ruled toovague to identify “greenness” in this study: • efficiency • renewable • energy • corporate social responsibility (CSR; “Union of Concerned,” 2005)Typology used for this study was largely drawn from Carlson, Grove and Kangun.Derived categories for green content orientations included, “Process Orientation, ImageOrientation, Environmental Fact and Combination” (p. 31). Another orientation, “ProductOrientation,” was dismissed from this study, since software products themselves aremostly intangibles and don’t truly exist in the physical environment (aside frompackaging, which is used less currently due to Web downloads). Any claims in this studyfocused on products were portioned into other appropriate categories. A final categoryadded for content orientation was “Customer Orientation,” for example representingsoftware products claiming to make customers greener, or to serve customer demands forgreen reporting (see second research objective, exhibit 4, above).In addition to content orientation, a second typology of concomitant categories was addedto represent content focus – derived from “Corporate Social Disclosures by ListedCompanies on Their Web Sites: An International Comparison,” by Williams and Pei(1999). That report analyzed claims made involving “environmental,” as well as otherCSR categories. The report’s categories for “sentence… analysis” included: “(1)monetary; (2) quantitative; and (3) narrative” (p. 397). That typology was deemedtransferable to this study, as it too studied companies’ green claims found published onthe Web. The content-focus categories were used concomitantly in this study to clarifyhow found, green promotional claims were substantiated by their advertisers. Thedeparture from the Williams and Pei typology here was to combine the first twocategories (quantitative/monetary). This category collapse was conducted to betterfacilitate the relatively small base, and to cleave numerical from narrative claims. 21
  23. 23. Unlike the Carlson, Grove and Kangun content analysis (p. 37), these Web promotionswere given the benefit of claim-checking in linked materials. That is, after discovering agreen promotion, a maximum of two click-throughs were allowed, as rules for thisresearch, for an advertiser to provide content to substantiate a claim. For example, if agreen claim was made on a Web site home page, the (single) nearest or most pertinentlydescribed link would be clicked to seek claim-substantiation. The maximum allottednumber of two click-throughs was determined by preliminary research into the nature ofWeb promotional content, claims, sales communications and linking strategies(additionally, Kristopher Jones’ Web book Search Engine Optimization, 2008, providedbest-practices reference).This rule of two click-throughs also applied to keyword-sponsored ads, which weretypically short enough in copy to exclaim company or product name and a minimaloffering statement (usually not enough room for a cognitive green claim). Hence, adswere typically clicked-through once to review (and verify) the company’s ad landingpage, and then one additional click-through was checked to substantiate a green claim (ifmade). The term “click-through” is used in this study liberally to imply functionsresulting from clicking a link or button. However in social networking software such asLinkedIn, clicking upon the “see more” content button merely expanded the profile pageto preview more content – without actually “clicking through” to a disparate Web page.Despite this technicality, the term “click-through” in this study was applied to thisfunction in LinkedIn. Therefore, any claim made on a customized LinkedIn profile pagewas still expected to be substantiated in the expanded copy from clicking (if not fromanother link).If a green promotion (with a designated content-orientation category attribution) wasobserved not to substantiate its claim, it was re-categorized with one of twoclassifications: “Vague” (again drawn from Carlson, Grove & Kangun, p. 31, but yieldedno coded results in this study), or the added category “Unsupported (no claimsubstantiation).” Further, vague or unsupported claims were separated from true greenclaims results. Hence, just as the Carlson, Grove and Kangun content analysis (p. 30) 22
  24. 24. permitted “classification of claims that were deemed to be acceptable,” this study gave apositive value to green promotions which had either monetary/quantitative or narrativeclaim-substantiation.The background content of this study reported industry accusations and requests,purporting that IT companies have not offered their true green IT capabilities to themarket. They have neglected to produce green reporting to make customer companiesmore green (instead concentrating on presenting themselves, and data storage products,as more green). It would be tempting to judge all green-message companies in this studyas proponents of greenwashing – unless they truly featured customer-oriented,substantiated green claims (see second research hypothesis, exhibit 4, above).Substantiated green claims of customer orientation would presumably represent B2Bsoftware that aids customers in green measurement or estimates. This would likewiseassume that claims of process- or image-orientation did not provide an optimal, greenbenefit to B2B customers or the greater market. However it is important to remember thatenvironmental perceptions and claims require subtleties beyond black and white thinking.It is not as simple as declaring a company (or many claims) right or wrong, “green ornon-green” (Banerjee, Gulas and Iyers, p. 22). In “Shades of Green: A MultidimensionalAnalysis of Environmental Advertising,” Banerjee, Gulas and Iyers purport that “Beinggreen, therefore, should be conceptualized as a continuous variable with shallow anddeep involvement as the two extremes” (p. 22). Therefore, green claims in this study havebeen judged solely on the nature of the claims themselves and how, or if, they weresubstantiated. To truly determine and rate IT companies based on their responsibilitiesand benefits to the greater market is beyond the scope of this study and would requiresteep attention to the multiple "shades" discussed by above authors.MEDIA CHANNELSA purpose of this study was to explore promotions in publicly accessible Web channels(see first research objective, exhibit 4, above). More specifically, careful examinationwas given to Web 2.0 media, their collaborative approaches and communications forcurrency (see third research objective, exhibit 4, above). Just as the modern green 23
  25. 25. movement and alternative energies require global collaborative efforts and majorinnovation (Guggenheim & Gore, 2006), according to Moore’s Law, IT requiresinnovation at rapidly accelerating rates. The background portion of this paper has alreadypresented Helen Brown’s studies cross-pollinating environmentalist movementinnovations with IT and Web. While innovation in and of itself was not a focus for thisresearch, a cross-section of IT and the modern green movement in business was.Therefore, this convergence of innovation-related topics suggested careful examination ofthe innovative media of Web 2.0. Hence, top Web 2.0 “multi-channel networks” werestudied as promotional media (“Boom in Network,” 2007). Specifically, top channels ofWeb 2.0 platforms were derived from the book Social Software and Web 2.0 TechnologyTrends, edited by P. Candace Deans (2009). These channels included social networkingsoftware (LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace), tagging media (Flickr and Del.icio.us), andvirtual world (Second Life). From book The New Rules of Marketing and PR,recommended top blog search engines Technorati and Digg were selected for the study torepresent Weblogs (track 4). As blogs are very niche in content focus, primarily based onone person’s view points, these major blog submission sites were chosen to represent themost Weblog content.Although key to this study, Web 2.0 media were not intended as exclusive sources –more traditional Web platforms were also integrated (see third research hypothesis,exhibit 4, above). Web site home pages could not be ignored – particularly since on theInternet today, many Web 2.0 ads click-through to company Web site ad landing pages orhome pages themselves. In this research, Web site home pages were found by typing thecompany brand name in the Universal Resource Locator (URL) field in a Web browser.This typed company name was the common, familiar brand name for the market, or thename used in a company logo. For example, instead of the full, formal name “InfosysTechnologies Limited,” only the name “Infosys” was used for searches. This applied toall other names as well (exact details and results of searched names were captured inindividual research documents recorded for each company at the time of research). Whilein almost all cases there were no problems, questionable Web site home pages wereadditionally confirmed by linking directly from the GoogleFinance Top-20 page. 24
  26. 26. In addition to the Web site home page as a common, bountiful source of promotionalclaims, traditional search engine keyword searches could not be ignored. Most socialmedia incorporate search engines and contextually serve keyword PPC ads (a primaryfocus of this study). Hence, it made sense also to study keyword ads served from thetraditional, top three search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft/MSN (Jones, ch. 11).Searches in social media were conducted in the same way as searches in search engines.In all cases the same (common) company brand names keyed into URL fields were keyedinto Web search fields on appropriate sites. If a choice was given between searching “theWeb” versus just a site search, searching the specific site was chosen. For example,MySpace defaults to “search the Web.” For this study, “search MySpace” had to bemanually selected to receive only MySpace organic and sponsored list results.An important channel for Web 2.0, the future of marketing, and this study is virtual worldSecond Life. Second Life does require download and installation on a desktop computer(although it interacts on the Web). To begin “searching” in Second Life, an avatar mustbe created. For the purposes of this study, an avatar was created and teleported to the“Orientation Island” to learn optimal company-searching strategies. The chosen, optimalapproach involved searching for company-owned islands from the Top 20 IT group.Once “in-world,” from the Second Life “search” button, the company name was typed inand searched for “place” (Deans, ch. VII). For the resulting listed company islands, theavatar “teleported” (without flying) and stood where landed. For rules of this study, theonly permission for avatar forward progress occurred when Second Life directed theavatar to move. That is, red directional arrow indicators appeared on the island, in frontof the avatar, listing proximity to the company island’s epicenter or reception location.Once the avatar moved and arrived at the epicenter, the indicators would disappear, andno additional avatar movement (forward progress, walking or flight) was permitted.Keyboard right- and left-arrow buttons were permitted and used to turn the avatar’svision 360 degrees in search of “green” promotions. Any perceived communications were“zoomed” (via Second Life “mouse look;” physically turning the mouse’s wheel) to 25
  27. 27. observe in detail, but no avatar movement (forward progress) took place. The reason forthis approach was to avoid directional (or other) bias, as it would be nearly impossible toreplicate avatar exact movements in a location for purposes of future study. Threehundred and sixty degree vision, however, is not impossible to replicate. Since a purposeof this report is to view the “immediate accessibility” of IT green communications, avatarmovement (beyond teleporting and head-turning) was restricted in this research.Microsoft is a good example to illustrate the importance of Second Life to Web 2.0approaches and innovations. In preliminary research Microsoft’s top Second Life organicsearch result (for “all” instead of “place”) produced a Wiki on how to build in Windowsfor Second Life. This is a great demonstration of prosumer- and Web 2.0-integration –touching consumer connections, collaboration and creation (Wertime & Fenwick, p. 222).Following teleportation, the Microsoft island also immediately offered product demosand class-style learning in a virtual amphitheater (also good customer focusrepresentation). However scoring such items was beyond the scope of this research.Many social media, such as Del.icio.us, have profile pages appearing in organic searchresults. However, profile page results, for the purposes of this study, were researchedonly in social networking software (as their core business offering comprises profiling forsocial connections). Social media on the whole offer myriad Web 2.0 functions.Del.icio.us is primarily a URL bookmarking, tagging and sharing site (Deans, p. 193).Likewise, MySpace is one of the highest-activity blog sites (Deans, p. 154). Also, severalIT companies studied here uploaded video demos to MySpace pages, emphasizingMySpace as a video resource (upload, tagging and sharing) site. All social media studiedhere appear to have similar dichotomies of roles and positioning – they all offer moresocial media features than their primary, perceived positioning represents.Readers may wonder about personal favorite media with similar features, for example,Wikipedia, YouTube and Pandora. Wikipedia for one does not allow advertising.Likewise, these sites were not the top subjects of focus in Web 2.0 marketing sourcesSocial Software and Web 2.0 Technology Trends (2009), The New Rules of Marketing 26
  28. 28. and PR (2007), DigiMarketing (2008) or Wikinomics (2006). Yet Google’s YouTube isan important widget integration – just as GoogleMaps is an important mash-up (mash-upsare Web 2.0 widgets and tools for combining software technological and hostingcapabilities on Web sites). YouTube-hosted video allows company sites or software toeasily upload, integrate and measure results (Wertime & Fenwick, p. 76). Pandora is amusic customization site, allowing users to create, customize, share, bookmark and ratetheir own radio stations – another great example of Web 2.0 capabilities integrated(www.pandora.com).Two other Web channels that had to be removed from the study were Twitter and MSN(search engine). Twitter, a microblog, is one of the most visited sites of Web 2.0 media(Walsh, 2009). However it does not return obvious company-paid advertising (such assearch engine pay-per-click results for company listings, or other contextual advertising),and therefore was removed from this study. Likewise, Microsoft (MSN.com) is one of thetop three search engines (Jones, ch. 11), but an obvious conflict of interests arose in thisreport, as Microsoft was also the top IT company (in revenue) being measured. Assuminga natural skew in its favor, the Microsoft search engine was consequently removed fromthis study. This is not to say that all conflicts of interest were herein removed –presumably some subject IT companies are affiliate partners of, or else own shareinterests in, the social media providers within which they are studied. For example, theGoogle search engine now searches Adobe PDF files for content on the Web, presumingsome cooperation between the two companies (Adobe is one of the top 20 IT companiesstudied; Chartier, 2008). At least in name however, the one obvious conflict was negated.BRAND NAME SEARCH CHALLENGESThis brand name search approach did create problems for the company “CA, Inc.,” whichreceived searches for company name “CA,” and in many cases yielded many returns forthe state of California or other acronyms. In fact in Digg, the search produced no results,as two letters were too short for a proper Digg search. These problems were perceived asa branding problem for CA – research results were recorded as found. Resolving potentialconfusion in the greater marketplace for company names is beyond the scope of this 27
  29. 29. research – when CA advertises, they have the misfortune of competing in part against allorganizations that might also have some claim on those two letters. Similar problemsoccurred with Lender Processing Services, Inc. When searches for “Lender” producedconflicting, undesirable results, “Lender Processing” was attempted as well in all mediafor confirmation. In both cases, results were exactly the same (most of the time yieldingno promotions), proving Lender Processing Services as a company with very little Webpresence and an unfortunately confusing brand name.ADVERTISING PLACEMENTSocial Media PPC sponsored results text advertising is not necessarily always chosen bythe advertiser. For example, Google AdWords advertising networks allows contextually-served ads on a vast network of Web sites including some social media. Depending onthe level of an advertiser’s chosen account, there are varying degrees to control where adsappear. Some accounts allow network preferences controls to exclude advertising oncertain sites. Other account levels allow only “all or none” choices between all Googlenetworked and affiliate sites or just Google.com (Jones, ch. 11). Of course such Googletextual advertising is contextually served, providing an automatic filter for ad locations.Yahoo!’s model of advertising options is similar. However the purpose of this researchreport is not to investigate whether IT companies deliberately chose specific social mediafor green advertising. Logically, the companies (and/or their advertising buyers) thatappeared in Google- or Yahoo!-served sponsor listings in social media, at least knew theycould appear in Social Media (and approved of this possibility) – and likely had evenmore control than this, given the size of company and advertising accounts(Jones, ch. 11).Some media channels are more transparent about their search engines than others. Forexample, Flickr is a Yahoo! company, utilizing Yahoo!’s search engine for site searches(flickr.com, 2009). Del.icio.us also provides Yahoo! search PPC listings. Digg’s searchesare provided by Microsoft (Digg.com, 2009). But LinkedIn has its own search engineindependent of Google or Yahoo! (Longest, 2009). Technorati has its own search engine 28
  30. 30. (Technorati.com is considered a blog search engine, but it additionally does present acouple of ads by Google buried in organic search results).Of course regardless of keyword sponsored listings, company-customized pages arepurposefully placed in social networks. Take for example, a Microsoft page in MySpace,obvious of Microsoft’s own creation to attract fans and raise brand awareness. Somesocial media pages are harder to discern in origin – employees, users or brand fanssometimes generate pages for companies they wish to support, or to connect with othersupporters. Likewise, some social network pages exist in foreign languages; for exampleMicrosoft has several Facebook pages in foreign languages. The purpose of this reporthowever is not to examine languages beyond English; therefore these few pages arediscarded from the study.While the term PPC (pay-per-click) is used liberally throughout this report, it is importantto note that not all keyword sponsored ads are necessarily PPC. Some Web sponsored adsare CPM (cost-per-thousand, based on reach or “eyeballs”). For example, Facebookoffers CPM advertising. But for the purposes of this study, the term PPC is anunderstandable designation for labeling ads and is used accordingly.AFFILIATE MARKETINGBeyond advertising choices, IT companies do decide upon affiliate partnerships. Thewealth of affiliate advertisements resulting from specific company media searchesdemonstrates the growth in collaborative strategies synonymous with Web 2.0 and 21stcentury approaches to innovation success (McGregor, 2009). Affiliate listing results havenot been included in this report, as they exceed its purpose. That is, not all affiliates (oraffiliate programs) are created equal. Some PPC listings by parties may be close alliancesales partners for the IT companies, some may merely be third-party retailers who carry,for example, some Microsoft products. In many cases, PPC listings are presented byhead-hunters or customer-companies hiring employees experienced with the forenamedcompany’s products/services. It is conceivable that some PPC advertisers may not evenbe authorized, or knowingly allowed, to use the brand names. Likewise, there is thepossibility that a company’s product or daughter brand sponsors served links. However, if 29
  31. 31. the company does not obviously claim the brand as its own, it must be ignored for thepurposes of this study. Logically, even if a company does make a “green” promotionalclaim through its daughter brand, if it does not also claim the daughter brand inpromotions, then it must be assumed that the mother brand does not desire to project arelationship (whether the desire concerns “green” associations or not is left unknown -only the divide is purposeful). Therefore, this report concentrates on listings obviouslytraceable to the IT companies themselves.Social networking software profile pages present similar problems, such as many profilelistings, with none clearly created to fit and promote the IT brand, by the IT company.That is, many profile pages appear “unprofessional, not designed” relative to, forexample, company Web sites. It is certainly worth considering that some IT companiesmay desire profiles to look authentically created by customers and fans, to propagate thatvery spirit among others. For example, it is conceivable that Microsoft may want aMySpace page to look as if it were created by a common MySpace user, to represent heraffinity for Microsoft products, to put the focus on customers and fans rather than thecompany. Affirming authenticity for such stealth marketing is beyond the purposes ofthis study, and therefore questionable sources are removed. Lest it seem a biased andhaphazard method of judgment, here are the criteria by which social network softwareprofiles, as well as apparent PPC keyword ads and landing pages, are measured: 1. Use of the IT company’s official logo 2. URLs containing the company’s name, for example, www.sap.com/landing_page, or www.facebook.com/sap 3. Copyright statements with the IT company’s name, for example, “Copyright 2009 SAP All rights reserved” 4. Visual and tone consistency with other “official” company promotions, for example Web site home pageProfile and landing pages which did not automatically measure up to such criteria wereautomatically disqualified from the study. 30
  32. 32. As discussed, more IT companies that did have green messaging also presented moresocial networking software customized-profile pages than did other companies. It may betempting to expect that these IT companies (with green-messaging and greater socialmedia representation) have an end-consumer face to the market, eliciting socialnetworking media. However, two giants with consumer- (and B2B-) facing sides,Microsoft and Adobe, did not make green claims in the media studied.JUDGINGA total of 184 total promotions were observed, judged and categorized by the author.There were many duplicate promotions (for example, ads leading to duplicate landingpages); however, unlike the content analysis of Carlson, Grove and Kangun, duplicatepromotions here were not discarded (p. 32). This was because of the purpose here tocount instances of green Web promotions – regardless of repeatability. In this study, totalbroadcasts were more important than unique, disparate messaging.The author of this study was the sole judge of content. Obviously, this can raise questionsof bias. Certainly, it can be insinuated that it was the author’s nature to find greenpromotions that might be overlooked by the casual observer. However, it was not a goalhere to replicate the common or Hedonic consumers’ potential discovery of IT industrygreen promotions. Rather, a purpose was to capture what, if any, Web green promotionswere being conducted by top IT companies within a narrow timeframe. Another, futurebeneficial study could attempt consumer awareness or attitudes toward such promotions.Likewise, a study on perceived relevance, by IT customers toward IT company greenclaims, could be of future interest. Both of these are beyond the purposes of this study,however.Rather than attempt causal observance of green promotions, the author of this studycarefully scoured (often twice or thrice for confirmation) the promotional content tocapture any and all green claims. This purposefully skewed search approach by the authorshould be perceived as no more biased than that in “Shades of Green: AMultidimensional Analysis of Environmental Advertising.” In that study, the authorspurposefully researched ads selected by a “green marketing consultant” to study the 31
  33. 33. nature of green ads (p. 23). Here in this study, the author himself scrutinized Webpromotions to discover green claims.A (reduced) trial run for this study’s research portion was even conducted by the authorone week prior to the specific time of research to affirm research systematization andcomprehensiveness, or to discover flaws in methodology. Typology and categorizationwere also observed and approved by two doctors, professors of marketing at GeorgiaState University J. Mack Robinson College of Business, two days in advance of theactual research. Likewise, individual documentation of specific company results wasreviewed and approved by same professors for depth of detail immediately followingactual coding and reporting.TIME LAPSEA sensitive aspect of the Web is time required to alter communications. Obviously, Webpromotions do not require advance insertion as do monthly periodicals. Change can be asinstantaneous as desired.To attempt to control at least changes in time and resulting bias, the research wasconducted over only three days. Web 1.0 and social media research was conducted overSaturday, April 4, and Sunday, April 5, 2009. All Second Life research was conducted onMonday, April 6, 2009. The purpose here was to capture a horizontal assessment of greenWeb promotions within a narrow snapshot of time. This timely value was referenced byresearchers Williams and Pei whose typology was designed “…to control for potentialfluctuations due to timing differences when comparing results based on Web Siteinformation…” (Williams, Pei, p. 396). It is worth noting that later in the same monthwas Earth Day (April 22). Likewise, just before this content analysis began, lights wentout worldwide for Earth Hour on the evening of March 28 (“Sydney,” 2009). One wouldexpect advertising studied during this time to be abundant – perhaps even biased.However a goal of this research was to study green advertising and greenwashing. If acertain period yielded more results than another, the proliferation could boost this study.Regardless, no green messaging in this study mentioned these events, nor were there anyinconsistent communications suggesting event-specific advertising. 32
  34. 34. ADDITIONAL POTENTIAL FOR BIASWeb content is often greatly impacted and altered by automated efforts. Cookies enableWeb sources to glean a user’s specific information and preferences, and contextuallyserved ads change based upon algorithms or user search terms. Web search fields“remember” previous terms searched and offer these again. What’s more, the Internet isstarting to move into its next phase – Web 3.0 – which threatens greater invasion ofprivacy to more accurately serve listings and advertisements. It also boasts the “semanticWeb” – the ability for algorithms to transcend keyword and terminology affiliations inspider analysis, moving into semantic analysis and ad serving (Deans, p. 13). That is,content will be automatically assessed based on the semantics of the messaging. Forexample, content searches for “tree houses” will serve relevant ads rather than ads about“houses with trees.”Social networking software achieved more bias than any other examinations of this study.Specifically, LinkedIn and Facebook, are very biased – searches are not allowed withoutlogging in with a user profile. Login access requires full profile creation, includingpersonal information (allowing the social software to contextually suggest links onprovided information). Therefore, keyword ads are served based on a user profile’srecorded background information and interests – as well as search terms. In spite of thisbias, social networking software was deemed too critical to Web 2.0 advertising to beexcluded from this study (and in fact interesting results were provided).By heavily drawing from the content analysis of Carlson, Grove and Kangun, theiremphases on “objectivity, systematization, sampling methods, and reliability” werehopefully to a degree inherited in this study (p. 29). Regardless, the potential forms ofbias discussed here are simultaneously indications of the Web’s unique strengths – andtherefore grant great importance on such research. As Williams and Pei state, “Spaceallocation… provides Web Sites with an advantage... companies have the advantagewhen using Web Sites of being able to establish a one-to-one relationship with astakeholder… This ability to communicate… immediately enables a closer and morepersonal relationship between the stakeholder and entity in question” (p. 393). 33
  35. 35. RESULTS:16 total disparate investigations (or visual fields to examine) occurred per IT company(total 256 investigations), but many more disparate promotional possibilities existed (inthe form of total potential results listed on one page). That is, for each company,examinations occurred on Web site home pages, search engine results listings, socialmedia search results listings, etc., totaling 16 investigations each. One positive findresulting from one company search, for purposes of this report, was considered to be onepromotion, or one claim. Claims were checked for substantiation, but click-throughs werenot counted as disparate promotions or claims themselves. These were viewed merely asthe support documents to the original promotion or claim (hence, results counts did notinclude separate, support iterations).A total of 184 promotions were observed and recorded. 10.9% of these contained greenclaims (20 green promotions total; see exhibits below, or comprehensive spreadsheet inappendix). Only three green claims (from three different companies) were judged to notbe substantiated (hence “greenwashing”). This result was contrary to the original researchhypothesis predicting that the “Majority of ‘Green’ messaging, in IT Web advertising, isvague or unsupported” (see exhibit 4 above). These three, unsubstantiated claims (withinmaximum allotment of two click-throughs), coincidentally also all achieved “process”claim-orientation judgments, as well as a “narrative” claim-focus. It follows logically thatunsubstantiated claims did not project quantification or monetary claims focus, sinceaccurate, pertinent numbers would have theoretically proved substantiation for the initialgreen claims. Regardless, results were virtually equal between total number of greenquantitative/monetary-focused claims versus narrative-focused claims. Processorientations also dominated overall green-claims results with 12 (out of 20). The nextmost-common result was image-orientation, which achieved six green claims.Unfortunately only two claims were judged to be “customer orientation” (both fromVMWare; see VMWare Web site promotion in appendix). Theoretically, substantiated,customer-orientation claims would prove the most value to customers and greaterindustry. This result was consistent with the original research hypothesis predicting that 34
  36. 36. “The ‘Green’ advertising majority’s content-orientation is not customer-focused.” (seeexhibit 4 above).Exhibit 5: Green promotions content resultsTOTAL GREEN WEB PROMOTIONS FOR TOP 20 IT COMPANIES Content Orientations 12 Process Orientation 60.00% of all green claims were judged process orientation 6 Image Orientation 30.00% of all green claims were judged image orientation 0 Environmental Fact 2 Customer orientation 10.00% of all green claims were judged customer orientation 0 Combination 20 TOTAL (Orientations) 37.50% of top 20 IT companies had green Web promotions Content Focus 9 Quantitative/Monetary 11 Narrative (Instructional or Theoretical) 20 TOTAL (Focus) 7.81% is the yield of green promotions from investigations 20 GREEN COMMUNICATIONS TOTAL 10.87% of all promos contain green msg 2 Claim-Substantiation AVG#of click-thrus 2 avg click-throughs per green claim 0 Vague description green claims 3 Unsupported/no claim-substantiation 15.00% of all green claims were unsubstantiated 3 VAGUE/UNSUPPORTED TOTAL 1.63% of all promos contained unsubstantiated green claims 17 SUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS TOTAL 85.00% of all green promos had substantiated claims 164 Promotions contain no green msg 89.13% of all promos had no green messaging 184 Total Promotions 9.24% of all promos were substantiated green claims 256 Total investigations 71.88% is the yield of promotions from investigationsInterestingly, although IT companies that made green claims represented only 37.5% (sixout of 16) of all companies studied, more of these IT companies had customized socialnetworking software profile pages (LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace), than companieswith no green messaging. The six IT companies that did have green promotions alsooccupied a total of 24 customized social networking software profile pages (five of whichcontained green messaging), while the other 10 companies had only 17 customizedprofile pages among them total. Similarly, companies that did make green claims alsohad more keyword sponsored ads overall in Weblog search engines (Technorati andDigg) than did companies with no green messaging. The green-message companiesfeatured nine ads (three of which contained green messaging), compared to seven adsamong the other companies.Only one green advertisement was observed in virtual world Second Life (the same one,twice). Following the rules of the typology, signage was viewed in-world on the 35
  37. 37. Autodesk island (after teleporting, to the same location, from two organic listings). Thesignage promoted a lecture on environmental importance. Hence, this researchdemonstrated that even Second Life is used for accessible presentation of green claims.Exhibit 6: Media platform advertising results Media results for: All (6) IT companies who did have green web promotions Corporate Social Networking Weblog Tagging Virtual Web Site Software Totals: submission Media SEM PPC Worlds Web 1.0 Web 2.0 AGGREGA HOME Custom PPC ad Second TE PAGE pg total: totals: sites total: Total: Total: Life Total: Total: TOTAL: 25% 15% 10% 15% 10% 15% 10% 40% 60% 100% Green Communications Total: 5 3 2 3 2 3 2 8 12 20 33% 13% 67% 33% 20% 30% 67% 32% 24% 27% Claim-Substantiation #of click-thrus: Average = 2 0% 100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100% 100% Vague/Unsupported claims total: 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 0% 13% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 6% 4% 29% 0% 12% 18% 12% 18% 12% 47% 53% 100% Substantiated claims total: 5 0 2 3 2 3 2 8 9 17 33% 0% 67% 33% 20% 30% 67% 32% 18% 23% 19% 39% 2% 11% 15% 13% 2% 31% 69% 100% Promotions contain no green msg: 10 21 1 6 8 7 1 17 37 54 67% 88% 33% 67% 80% 70% 33% 68% 76% 73% 20% 32% 4% 12% 14% 14% 4% 34% 66% 100% Total Promotions: 15 24 3 9 10 10 3 25 49 74 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% Media results for: All (10) IT companies who had no green web promotions 25% 15% 8% 6% 15% 15% 15% 40% 60% 100% Total Promotions: 27 17 9 7 17 17 16 44 66 110 n% = out of aggregate n% = out of total promotionsResults show that companies that did make green claims were simultaneously more likelyto communicate more overall in Web 2.0 media. 66% of the communications from green-message companies were in Web 2.0 (49 total for six companies, 12 of which containedgreen messages), while only 60% of the other 10 companies’ communications were inWeb 2.0 platforms (66 total). Companies that did make green claims also averaged 8.2promotions each in Web 2.0 platforms (12.3 promotions each in overall Web media),while companies without green messaging averaged only 6.6 Web 2.0 promotions each(11 promotions each overall). A partial explanation for this increase in promotionsoverall for green-message companies may be real estate: more media, more ads and morepages allow for more content - including green claims presumably secondary to primaryproduct or service offerings. 36
  38. 38. An original research hypothesis predicted that “‘Green’ advertising representation(quantity) exists equally in Web 2.0 media as in Web 1.0 channels” (see exhibit 4 above).This paper has already discussed the research proven problems with attempting such adivide – namely that many Web 2.0 technologies (such as widgets or blogs) now exist ontraditional Web media channels (such as Web sites). Likewise, the amount of investigatedvisual fields and specific media channels were not equal between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0categories (see exhibits here, or comprehensive spreadsheet in appendix). These Webterms aid in understanding the history and roles of the Internet, but ultimately challengeresearch categorizations such as these. That said, results showed that greencommunications in Web 1.0 platforms represented 12% of all (16) IT companies’ Web1.0 promotions (8 out of 69), while Web 2.0 green communications represented 10% ofall Web 2.0 promotions (12 out of 115).Exhibit 7: Total advertising results Media results for: All 16 IT companies Corporate Social Networking Weblog Tagging Virtual Web Site Software Totals: submission Media SEM PPC Worlds Web 1.0 Web 2.0 AGGREGA HOME Custom PPC ad Second TE PAGE pg total: totals: sites total: Total: Total: Life Total: Total: TOTAL: 25% 15% 10% 15% 10% 15% 10% 40% 60% 100% Green Communications Total: 5 3 2 3 2 3 2 8 12 20 12% 7% 17% 19% 7% 11% 11% 12% 10% 11% Claim-Substantiation #of click-thrus: Average = 2 0% 100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100% 100% Vague/Unsupported claims total: 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 0% 7% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 3% 2% 29% 0% 12% 18% 12% 18% 12% 47% 53% 100% Substantiated claims total: 5 0 2 3 2 3 2 8 9 17 12% 0% 17% 19% 7% 11% 11% 12% 8% 9% 23% 23% 6% 8% 15% 15% 10% 37% 63% 100% Promotions contain no green msg: 37 38 10 13 25 24 17 61 103 164 88% 93% 83% 81% 93% 89% 89% 88% 90% 89% 23% 22% 7% 9% 15% 15% 10% 38% 63% 100% Total Promotions: 42 41 12 16 27 27 19 69 115 184 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% Total Investigations: 48 48 48 32 32 32 16 80 176 256 n% = out of aggregate n% = out of total promotionsWeb 1.0 platform promotions in general had virtually equal quantities among thecompany groupings, as both green-message companies and their counterparts averagedjust over four promotions each in Web sites and search engines. It also bears explanationthat Web site home pages (labeled here a Web 1.0 media platform) in this study weregiven three disparate positions of promotions (primary banner graphic, textual descriptionor body copy, and skyscraper or other image ad). While this may be viewed as unequal 37
  39. 39. weighting, it is the real estate consumed, and relative importance of the medium tocorporate marketing, that warrants a Web site’s heightened status. However, even on ahome page, as “traditional” as it gets for Web media promotions, Web 2.0 technologiesmay be incorporated. For example, blog entries, widgets or mash-ups can potentially beintegrated into a corporate home page (Deans, p. 198). Hence, there may be no true, cleanway to separate Web 1.0 from 2.0 media today (in fact a truer study may be to compare e-promotions today to those of 10 years ago).IV. Concluding ThoughtsNone of the examined ads focused on software products whose primary offering wasgreen reporting. To be fair, the purpose of this research was not to find these products.Rather, it was to better understand the amount, and nature, of green claims in IT industryWeb promotions. Specifically this comprehensive paper has discussed: • Alignments between 21st century, Web 2.0, business and R&D approaches • The modern green movement and innovations in industry • The IT industry and green IT reporting services • IT industry Web promotions and green claimsIt appears from this research that modern software and programming companies are notharnessing a strategic alignment with Internet channels to aid environmental concerns.Nonetheless, these companies are using Web 2.0 approaches to attract consumers,provide them with professional content (including environmental facts and information),and interact with customers in interesting – perhaps innovative – ways. - Jacob J. Aull, April 29, 2009 38
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