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  • Marketing!!!

    When I started DNA testing years ago FtDNA was the company to use. It was where I learned about Y and MtDNA testing that most others places do not offer.. I tested with Family Finder when it first came out. I've had at least 10 people test with FtDNA and I manage all those kits under 2 different names. I always recommend FtDNA to others. My gripe is that FtDNA is hardly ever mentioned in the press and I don't see much marketing of the company either. Why not? Ancestry now has a celebrity spokesperson and 23andme seems to be mentioned frequently however, these past few years no one seems to mention this company. Obviously getting new testers makes the site better for all of us. My word of mouth can only do so much! I have used other labs as well and added DNA to others sites data bases. Ancestry's subscription fee, which no one mentions in their advertising, is a deal breaker for most people when they find out about it. FtDNA you need more market presence!!
    Last edited by Cats; 17th December 2018, 06:55 AM.

  • #2
    I always take the word of celebrity spokespersons to tell me which products to buy and which candidates to vote for. NOT!

    None of the other companies have projects and project admins. And as you already mentioned none of the other companies offer Y-DNA or mtDNA. Unlike a company that does a lot of advertising, FTDNA hasn't taken the customers money for tests and then stopped showing the customers their matches.

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    • #3
      Cats, your story is very like my own. It is too bad that Ancestry, because they can afford to pay for television advertising, has come to dominate the market almost exclusively in most people's minds. 23andMe also advertises on TV, but not to the extent of Ancestry. People who are interested in health results know about 23andMe. I have seen FTDNA print ads, in genealogy magazines, but how many people read those? And from reports, FTDNA does seem to make sure to have a presence at most of the genealogy conferences I've read about, so that is another type of exposure (although the other companies are usually at the same conferences).

      I agree about Ancestry's added subscription fee, as a hidden cost. Today I see that MyHeritage, as previously announced, is charging a fee to gain access to their tools, for those who use the free upload. Unlike FTDNA, which also has a fee to access tools for those uploading for free (but allows you to view trees for free), the ability to view trees of your matches at MyHeritage is now part of the "tools fee." At least they are different than Ancestry, and don't require you to keep and pay for a much more expensive subscription in order to view trees of your DNA matches. Yes, at Ancestry you can message your match and ask for a link to view the tree, but how many matches actually reply to that request? Some, but not all.

      Here's the link to the article in MyHeritage's blog, about the new policy: https://blog.myheritage.com/2018/12/...upload-policy/ It does not yet specify a price to "unlock," but says they are trying various price points for a few days. It will be interesting to see how that works out for them. The chart on the page shows the features available after paying to unlock, with "Subscription or Unlock Fee" shown as the cost.

      We can only hope that FTDNA is working behind the scenes on improvements and perhaps new tools and abilities. I have seen opinions in other groups that FTDNA will become a niche player (for mtDNA and Y-DNA deep testing) if they don't change.

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      • #4
        Jim I agree with you 100%! That is why I am so upset that FtDNA who was THE company to test with seems to be pushed to the back of the pack of testing companies. However, due to the small amount of visibility in print, tv or the internet there are many people who have never heard of the company who do test. I agree on the celebrity thing however the show Who Do You Think You Are has been on for years and it shows the family tree of celebrity.You can say what you want but advertising for Ancestry is everywhere.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KATM View Post
          Cats, your story is very like my own. It is too bad that Ancestry, because they can afford to pay for television advertising, has come to dominate the market almost exclusively in most people's minds. 23andMe also advertises on TV, but not to the extent of Ancestry.

          We can only hope that FTDNA is working behind the scenes on improvements and perhaps new tools and abilities. I have seen opinions in other groups that FTDNA will become a niche player (for mtDNA and Y-DNA deep testing) if they don't change.
          KATM my cousin tested on Ancestry and she is from my adopted grandmother's female line. I asked her to test at FtDNA and I would pay for the upgrade to figure out the haplogroup. They had no idea what I was talking about nor did they care. They did admit that is they knew about the subscription fee they would not have tested at Ancestry.

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          • #6
            FTDNA should emphasize their strong points and differences from the other companies in their advertising.
            • Privacy! They do not sell or share your DNA or results with any third parties.
            • Storage of sample for 25 years to enable future testing, in-house lab processing - not stored elsewhere or processed elsewhere.
            • Project groups for surnames, geographical regions, haplogroups.
            • Kits sold world-wide for many years (unlike others), so matches may be from an ancestral region or country.
            • Easy to use cheek swabs, no spitting required.
            • Besides autosomal tests like the others, only they also offer full mtDNA and Y-DNA testing for those who want to find out deep ancestry.
            • Autosomal transfers are free, can see full match list with trees, contact matches by email (not messaging).
            • Transfers can upgrade to get access to all tools for a low cost.
            • No subscription fees, can see trees of matches for free.
            • Family Finder tools include Chromosome Browser, Ethnicity estimate, Ancient Origins for deep ancestry, and more (matches in common, not in common, Matrix).
            • Ability to sort match list into paternal and maternal groups, using tree & linked relatives.
            • Ability to assign a beneficiary for your account.
            Would be nice if they could afford to advertise on something like "Who Do You Think You Are," but I guess Ancestry sponsors that one. Perhaps there are other shows with less expensive ad costs that would be good candidates to splurge on. Either that, or get some informative, eye-catching print ads into other publications, genealogy-oriented or not.

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            • #7
              FTDNA failed at marketing even before Ancestry started selling their test. If they had ever had any foresight, and had really pushed DNA testing, they might have gotten a lot of Ancestry's customers. They never even started a competing advertising campaign after Ancestry started selling kits. Even if they had, their lab could never have handled any volume of sales. I don't think they have the money to advertise and they don't have the money because they can't attract customers. Either that, or they just don't care to attract autosomal sales and are only interested in Y-DNA and mtDNA sales.

              It's unfortunate for those of us who tested several family members here around 2010-2012 like I did. Some of these relatives are now deceased. Luckily, I've tested my mother at 3 companies. New matches come in almost daily at the other two companies, but she's very lucky if she gets one a week here, and for some reason her new matches here have all been very distant for months.

              FTDNA does not seem to be developing any new tools for dealing with autosomal DNA either. Why can't they give us a chromosome browser that gives us true triangulation? 23andMe does. MyHeritage does. Gedmatch does. Why does FTDNA have to lag behind?

              They seem to be more interested in cosmetic changes to their forums and match display pages than in anything else. And most of these changes annoy me. I hardly ever look at this forum since the last change.

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              • #8
                FtDNA seems to have a larger Eastern European database then Ancestry. I have a lot more in common matches with my Lithuanian relative here than on Ancestry. When I encounter on the Lithuanian Genealogy boards who want to test I always tell them to test at ftdna. Can you upload DNA from Ancestry to ftdna?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cats View Post
                  FtDNA seems to have a larger Eastern European database then Ancestry. I have a lot more in common matches with my Lithuanian relative here than on Ancestry. When I encounter on the Lithuanian Genealogy boards who want to test I always tell them to test at ftdna. Can you upload DNA from Ancestry to ftdna?
                  Yes, you can. Roberta Estes has a chart in her blog post "Autosomal DNA Transfers - Which Companies Accept Which Tests?" Also, her post "Testing Strategy - Should I Test at Ancestry and Transfer to Family Tree DNA?" would be a good one to read; the main point being the notable difference in how many matches you will get if you upload an Ancestry v.1 file vs. an Ancestry v.2 file.

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                  • #10
                    One thing that Ancestry has over FTDNA is a tree that is easy to use and develop. Any information I gather here at FTDNA on matches, I transfer over to Ancestry's tree. I even have a special leaf marker for matches from FTDNA as well as one for Ancestry matches. I do all my paper research at Ancestry, developing floating branches as I work out possible relationships.

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                    • #11
                      I can only add that I recently ran across a review of genealogy DNA sites in a popular Personal Computer magazine and noticed that FTDNA is not even on it.

                      The juggernaut of autosomal DNA (as if it had the power to do all the preposterous stuff Ancestry shows on Who Do You Think You Are?) is easier to market because it is not gender-specific. I agree that FTDNA probably needs to spend a bit more on its profile, but like the company I retired from, if they get to where they threaten the 500-lb gorilla, the gorilla will buy them just to shut them down. On the other hand, if they get any worse customer service because of ad spending, they will be hard to talk up among potential customers.

                      I despise the implementation of Ancestry trees in conjunction with Find A Grave or DNA results, and so Keigh and I are on different pages; most of my surname's genealogy has been utterly corrupted by made-up citations, reliance on indexers instead of actual study of documents, and the forcing of either/or decisions (as trees do) instead of alternate possibilities. I also live where connectivity is not good enough to rely on a company that used to support my results, and then dropped them; my project grids, and then dropped them; a specific genea program, and then dropped it; my MyFamily community, and then dropped them; and now will not fix RootsWeb, which is where I stored all of my public GEDCOMs (yes, I use trees, but not like many others).

                      In my opinion, of all DNA testing, the yDNA STR, flawed though it may be, is the only scientific test that actually supports genealogy. mtDNA's time-scale is too vast, and atDNA only works for me in conjunction with the Y or mt. I am not saying that X and atDNA are useless, but if yDNA STR leaves the marketplace, the sharpest tool in the genealogist's (not the geneticist's) toolbox will be gone. So let's hope Mr Greenspan finds the balance and keeps this going.
                      Last edited by clintonslayton76; 23rd December 2018, 05:30 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by clintonslayton76 View Post
                        In my opinion, of all DNA testing, the yDNA STR, flawed though it may be, is the only scientific test that actually supports genealogy. mtDNA's time-scale is too vast, and atDNA only works for me in conjunction with the Y or mt. I am not saying that X and atDNA are useless, but if yDNA STR leaves the marketplace, the sharpest tool in the genealogist's (not the geneticist's) toolbox will be gone. So let's hope Mr Greenspan finds the balance and keeps this going.
                        You haven't dealt in some of the Y-DNA branches that have significant convergence and/or mutations going on, even between parents and children. STR's are great and all, but they need to be backed by SNPs to be reliable, and even then results can differ for very close relations.

                        Agreed on mtDNA having too large of a time-scale to be directly useful for genealogy.

                        Disagreed on Autosomal, it is highly useful, but only when you're dealing with
                        1) (Large) Groups of tested individuals.
                        and
                        2) Documented paper trail.
                        and/or
                        3) Additional supporting information/tests

                        1:1 research with an Autosomal test tells you very little. Running autosomal tests against many people with known relationships can do some amazing stuff. But you have to have a rather substantial database to do it, something Ancestry is starting to have for North America in particular. (Triangulation with Autosomal DNA is insanely useful, although Ancestry's tools leave a lot to be desired)

                        That said, in some cases, two people with a Big-Y test can potentially demonstrate things you'd likely have to autosomally test many dozens of people for otherwise... And even then, the Autosomal testing requires education and prudent use, particularly the deeper you venture down the tree. Which is where Big-Y can help provide potential landmarks to navigate with along the way. Because just from being able to lock down the male lines, other options become available, as it helps with the "you're related to this person X number of ways in the last 8 generations" problem autosomal cannot address on its own. (But a Chromosome browser might help with)

                        For that matter, mtDNA has uses, as it can rule out certain options, much as Y-DNA can, but it still remains lousy for trying to "rule something in" as confirmed because of that time scale problem.

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                        • #13
                          I think we are in agreement: atDNA is enormously useful for more recent connection, and especially if you have enough tools and info to do triangulation, and especially if one is investigating adoption or half-relationships.

                          My problems with it: 1) the marketing of atDNA by television presentations that studiously ignore what can be learned from other types of DNA; suggesting that atDNA is the only way to find relatives out there, 2) ethnicity and medical claims based solely on DTC atDNA testing, and 3) the autosomal optimism/confirmation bias I see in blogs where I am not convinced that the share sizes and locations indicate the connection that the authors propose.

                          I find that keeping the mantra in my mind: atDNA is randomly recombined...randomly recombined keeps me bullish about yDNA. But to the original posting, it is hard to market yDNA and unless you pay close attention to the only TV presentation that ever mentions patrilineal DNA, Finding Your Roots, you might never know that it existed.

                          I do not understand why evals do not mention FTDNA, when a reasonably popular book like A J Jacobs' It's All Relative certainly mentions it, but then again, I just read Bryan Sykes' DNA USA and noted that Sykes flew to meet Greenspan and mentions not a single word about the meeting at all.
                          Last edited by clintonslayton76; 25th December 2018, 12:20 PM.

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                          • #14
                            I've only found the Y-DNA test to be useful for genealogy once. I had a couple of matches over at Ancestry who took their tree back to one of my 3rd great grand uncle. There was an affair from which resulted in my match's ancestor being born. I mentioned the Y-DNA test to my match, since my brother had taken it to 67 markers. She had her father take it to Y67 and he was a close match at 4 distance with my brother. This sort of proved to her that her family story of who the male partner in the affair was. The Y-DNA test is good for proving matches but along such a very narrow band of ancestors back that many people can't see the point in doing it. To me it can confirm matches already suspected, but hasn't made available any new ancestral DNA information.

                            My atDNA tests have both provided good genealogical information confirming my paper trails. But I'm working with a very large match base over at Ancestry and because of the sheer number of my matches, I have a lot of information to glean through. Give me a couple of names and the location of WV, and I'm off and hunting up one tree and records and down my tree and records.

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                            • #15
                              It is all about the goals: mine was determine if the surname variants shared by the lineage of my wife and I (Slayden, Slatton, Slayton) were from a common source (they are not), and to support the years of paper genealogy that lead me to suspect that there were at least two patrilineal lines. But these records were "enhanced" by false citations by another man to post (and sell) tree-books stating that everyone with this name variant tn the entire US is connected to a common male, leading to hundreds of totally misleading trees, mostly posted at Ancestry.

                              Therefore, I found the yDNA to be the most useful, because my goal was very focused on those narrow bands.
                              Last edited by clintonslayton76; 28th December 2018, 11:44 AM.

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