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Halloween is arguably one of the greatest marketing successes of all times. From a modest holiday that provoked kids to raid their parents' closets in search of a makeshift costume, Halloween has grown to a spook-tacular extravaganza.

Mike Kercheval, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers, said this week that consumers have become more and more be”witch”ed with Halloween. According to an ICSC survey,  nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of US households plan to spend money on costumes, candy, decorations and Halloween-related items this year.

Eight out of ten households plan to spend the same or more than they did in 2013, giving the holiday an estimated $11.3 billion price tag for 2014. "This is good news for retailers because Halloween spending is considered non-essential or discretionary, so all signs point toward a similar consumer sentiment during the holiday shopping season," he stated in a blog post.

You gotta love Halloween ... Go ahead, click. I dare you.

Trick-or-Treat, Smell My ...

And the party isn't limited to the US alone. Last October, according to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent $340 million ($381 million CAD) on candy, confectionery and snack foods, leaving the month second only to the nearly $451 million spent in December.

Nearly 70 percent of Canadians plan to celebrate Halloween this year, according to a somewhat unscientific online poll conducted by digital coupon website RetailMeNot. About one-third of respondents said they planned to spend more than $44 ($50 CAD), with spending highest in Alberta and Ontario.

OK — Americans will spend even more, an average of more than $77 per adult shopper 18 and older, according to the National Retail Federation. But what can I say? As Priscilla Gray wrote in The (London) Telegraph this week, "Halloween is so much better in America."

Granted, it's easy to see the promotability of a day that revolves around scaring people, demanding free stuff and gorging yourself on candy, especially among Americans. 

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But marketers should still take a bow: from the traditional print and radio days to today's omnichannel, location-based, personalized digital extravaganza, you're efforts have been frightfully good in getting people everywhere into that spooky feeling. Heck, this year, AppSumo even introduced virtual trick-or-treating. As Austin-based AppSumo developer Anton Sepetov explains on the site,

I miss trick-or-treating. Grabbing a big pillow-case, putting on a costume, and walking door-to-door getting surprised at each house with some some mean trick (floss, really?) or some beautiful treat (king-size candy bars, hell YES!). Now I'm too old and would probably get arrested walking to a stranger's house begging for candy :-( But what if you could trick-or-treat from the safety of your computer, no matter your age?" 

OK ... it's a weird idea. But Sepetov is from Austin, so it fits, right? And I bit this morning, happily filling my virtual bag with treats from random websites. I only stopped when I received a bite of a virtual taco, which is not a food I like to share. Besides, I want candy ....

Hellish Deals

Of course, there is a fine line between cleaver and stupid. In the past week, anyone who writes anything online has been bombarded with Halloween focused story pitches, frightful lists and even "hellish deals." Just today we were told that Taiwanese computer maker Lian Li "unleashed hell on the PC market," a claim that provoked somewhat disturbing imagery and dampened any enthusiasm to buy. Could this PC be the new Chucky, I wondered?

Rather than explore the possibility of a PC opening the gates of hell, we thought we'd share some of the other less nightmare inducing Halloween tidbits. Enjoy!

Scariest IT Requests

Bomgar, a provider of enterprise remote support solutions, surveyed its customer-base of IT professionals to develop a list of possibly the scariest IT support requests:

  • The words “water” and “laptop” in the ticket.
  • Just a screenshot…
  • Anything involving printers. They are evil, evil, evil devices. 
  • My mom... When she can't print… then reboots, then she can.
  • “I have been working on a document all day and forgot to save it and would like it recovered.” 
  • “What is a web browser?”
  • “I'm on sabbatical out of state and my laptop has a virus. I have no Internet connection. Please fix my laptop.”
  • "So I was trying to clean up behind the computer and trying to cut your zip ties. I think I cut the power cable of the call bell system. Is that bad? BTW, the call bell system is down now."
  • "My laptop is whack" 
  • “Dear IT, the internet is broken. Please fix it as a matter of urgency.” 

Spookiest Enterprise Threats

Walker White, president of BDNA, a Data-as-a-Service company that helps companies manage IT assets, offers a sampling of the spookiest enterprise management threats.

The Walking Dead — The use of outdated software creates an increased risk of hosting undetected security vulnerabilities, which hackers are quick to identify and exploit. Target and Home Depot are two large companies that recently made unwelcome headlines for widespread data breaches that may have stemmed in part from unstable, outdated software. Once software crosses past its end-of-life date, it is no longer tested or updated by the manufacturer, leaving users on the hook for any consequences.

Keeping track of software expirations is essential, but most companies – even among the Fortune 500 – do not even realize that they are using outdated software. In fact, up to 25% of Fortune 500 companies use software that is past its support date, according to analyst firm Gartner.

“Ghost” Data — Businesses are often missing the crucial market intelligence that is essential to many day-to-day IT projects, including software lifecycle management, license compliance and audits, data center consolidation, virtualization and vendor management. It is impossible to keep track of which licenses are up for renewal, or which software suites are about to sunset, without having a clear, uniform view of market information for each product deployed in an enterprise.

This missing insight can sink IT budgets with audit non-compliance fines and lead to overspending on duplicative or irrelevant software. According to Gartner, bad data plagues organizations of all sizes, and costs an enterprise an average of $14.2 million each year. Putting information management processes in place to improve the quality of data is key to avoiding those unnecessary costs and ensuring better business outcomes.

What Lies Beneath — Inconsistent vendor and product data make it difficult for businesses to manage and understand their IT inventories. The factors behind poor data are many, from changes in vendor and product naming conventions to multi-source data aggregation that can create inconsistencies, duplication and inaccuracies. For example, BDNA found that the average software product has 20 different naming variations, making it nearly impossible to keep track of each deployment across an enterprise.

Data can be “cleaned up” with a concerted effort, and companies typically try to manage their own data on an ad-hoc basis when time allows. But continual maintenance is the often-missing ingredient to maintain clean data – that is, data that is kept consistent, complete, accurate and up-to-date. Automating the cleanup process is the only way to correct flaws in data before they create repercussions in business outcomes.

Sad, Silly, Scary

Coub is a video sharing website and iOS app that allows users to create and share looping videos up to ten seconds long, using existing video from YouTube, Vimeo or their own files. Here we present a selection of its scariest (or, perhaps, the saddest or most stupid) Coubs.

 

 

Title image by Liz West  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.Secondary image by peasap  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.