Category Archives: social media

Trends forecast

 

Houdini“I see…no, wait…it’s an ad blocker!”

At the start of the year, our clients typically ask us what we see in the areas of consumer marketing and media…a glance into the crystal ball, as it were.

This past year most of us were focused on enhancing digital outreach. We have seen this area at least double in activity in our campaigns over the past two years, as clients’ desire to customize and measure the impact of their messages grow.  We see no different for the new year.

In short,  “If you ain’t doing it digital, you ain’t doing it right”, as one of our agency creative gurus quipped.  But HOW to keep doing it right is the question.

Rather than reinvent the wheel on this topic we are taking the shameless and easy path, excerpting what “alum/chum” Publicis — the world’s largest ad agency — tells us.  If they don’t know  about this, then no one does.  So, without much ado…

1. Programmatic targeting of content, not just ads.  Programmatic targeting of ads is now very common for brands and advertisers. In 2015, we’ll see a critical mass of publishers begin to leverage behavioral data to programmatically target content to optimize experiences for users on publishers’ sites.  Content will be personalized and specifically aimed at individual consumers on websites and blog pages, similar to the way ads have been targeted until now. Medium-to-large sized publishers will also invest in data management platforms and in-house programmatic resources.

2. Content marketing spend will need to deliver a more measurable ROI impact.  In 2015, we’ll start to see more sophisticated means of measuring the impact of content marketing campaigns, leveraging multi-attribution techniques to understand the downstream impact on conversion caused by these higher-funnel marketing activities. For example, a brand might spend $1 million on a native advertising campaign but not understand to what degree — if any — that investment impacted ROI.

3. A critical mass of merchants will finally optimize their mobile affiliate tracking capabilitiesWhile the browsing experience is now largely optimized for mobile devices, the same cannot be said for tracking of performance campaigns on mobile devices. [In 2015], we can expect to see retailers work continuously to improve conversion tracking and affiliate payouts in order to satisfy the demands of their increasingly mobile publishers.

4. The startup bubble will deflate slightly and result in consolidations of a fragmented adtech startup market.The last few years have seen an avalanche of entrepreneur startup companies, many focusing on the adtech space. While this has resulted in a great deal of innovation — publishers and advertisers have benefited from a wealth of choices for optimizing their ad spend — we’ll start to see this slow down as some of these companies struggle to raise successive rounds of funding.

5. Point solutions will struggle, and clients will shift their desire to want to work with more full-funnel marketing suitesIn a similar vein, some adtech companies offering point solutions will also start to struggle, as an overwhelmed publisher and advertiser community will prefer to work with fewer partners, opting for ad tech companies offering full-funnel marketing suites. This likely will result in further consolidations of the fragmented adtech market, resulting in stronger conglomerates offering their customers a number of key services combined.

6. Publishers will develop sophisticated in-house capabilities for behaviorally programmatic targeting of premium advertising. Historically, publishers have worked with ad networks and other programmatic adtech partners to outsource their programmatic ad targeting. However, in 2014, a number of larger publishers started to bring this capability in-house, and invest in infrastructure to manage their audience data, such as data management platforms.

7. Ad blockers will become as big of a problem in 2015 as “viewability” was in 2014. The increasing technical sophistication of the adtech market and the increasing demands on accountability by advertisers saw ‘viewability’ become a dominant theme in 2014. Technologies that can filter out automated bot traffic and determine if a human truthfully saw an ad are regularly used now despite it reducing impression metrics significantly. This movement will continue in 2015, with attention turned towards ad blocker software.

Ad blockers (in the form of toolbars and browser extensions) have quietly gained popularity by users wanting a faster, ad-free browsing experience. However, a little-known fact about these ad blocker companies is that they monetize by charging ad companies to let their ads bypass the blocking software. While a marginal problem in the early days, the popularity of these ad blockers means that ad revenues for publishers are impacted; on average about 20 percent, though up to 50 percent for publishers with a tech-savvy readership.

In 2015, we will see a variety of solutions emerge on the market, offering various experiences around user-driven personalization of advertising. (Credit:  Publicis Alum Group, via LinkedIn.)

 

 

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Secret stuff

It's what's for dinner
It’s what’s for dinner

We’re lovin’ it.  McDonald’s secret menu, that is.

This week, the business media was buzzing about two major restaurant chains that have these.  Starbucks is the other.  Maybe there’s more of them we don’t know about, but surely there are more to come.

What it involves is what some of our foodie friends do at five-star establishments:  ordering off the menu.  But we’re talking  QSRs here,  and the “secret” menu is actually on the menu, it’s just that you can’t see it.  And this is where it captures the imagination.

This menu strategy involves serving items that are not printed or promoted anywhere, but apparently customers know are there.   The tactic involves using word of mouth to promote.  One satisfied diner and a text later,  the viral effect kicks in.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to try something “secret”?  Starbucks apparently launched  this new strategy with their Cotton Candy Frappuccino (photo above).  Yuck…for us adults, but we’re not the target market.

In fact, only kids seem to know much about this drink, and whether it even tastes good seems beside the point.  It’s all about the experience.  Junior can now share in your daily adult coffee fix, and Starbucks can count on it being Facebooked or Twittered before you can say “Machiatto”.

McDonald’s has sprung this secret menu strategy with success in key foreign markets.  In Brazil, just in time for the World’s Cup next month, you’ll be able to order a side of traditional rice and black beans with your Big Mac.  (That might be the only thing that will actually be ready in Rio in time for the Cup…but that’s a whole other story.)

Or, if your tastes are more refined or restricted, you might prefer a sautéed chicken breast with small boiled potatoes for a few cents more.  But you have to know the code to order it.  (Shhs…it’s the “prato executivo”, or executive plate.)

Lest we think this is all about expanding assortment, let’s think again.  It’s about delighting — and retaining — the customer.  It’s savvy customer segmentation, allowing the chain to be all things to all people, while making you feel like a member of a special club.

You’re probably not going to see these chains openly promote this practice, at least not in their advertising.  It goes against their core competencies and the brands they have so carefully cultivated.

This is where the marketing lesson lies:  there’s a time for transparency…and then there’s not.  When that time comes,  stealthy is the way to serve it.

“Not your father’s” marketing trends

Could it be 25 years already that the TV ad spot  “This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” (see video below, starring the still-slender William Shatner) became an instant classic?!  The catchy phrase was quickly adopted in any context (“This is not your father’s whatever”) reflecting the gestalt of the era.  In other words:  things had changed…

Yet perhaps the change mantra has never been so applicable as in marketing today.  The game has changed, and for many reasons.  To commemorate the New year, below are some of the key ones we see:  the trends we see coming at us less like an Olds and more like a Corvette:

  1. CONSUMER AS CREATOR.  God forbid you asked the customer to help develop your product!  You only dared came out with it after exhaustive research, branding and budgeting.  In today’s era of crowd funding and social signals  (“Like”, “Follow”, etc),  consumers want to share in the creative process.
  2. CALLS TO ACTION VS. CAMPAIGNS.  Used to be you planned a nice and orderly campaign months in advance and ran it on the media schedule you chose.  Today, you need to communicate with your customer all the time:  they pick the time they want to receive your (timely and relevant) message.
  3. MOBILE MATTERS.  It’s all about the smartphone now.  If you don’t have a mobile app you lose cred with consumers, period.
  4. SOCIAL STRATEGY SMARTS.  Before, getting your company name or product up on Google was enough.  Now, with tighter content controls, search engine optimization (SEO) has become quite a science.  With SE recognition of complete questions instead of just keywords,  this provides more opportunity for capturing them (the good news), but you have to keep working at it.
  5. INBOUND ABOUNDS.  It’s not about pushing your product out the door any more.  Attracting customers by the online content you create and the value your company provides is the all-important pull strategy that builds long-term loyalty.
  6. OMNICHANNEL SURFING.  Back in the day, it was solely the bricks & mortar  that counted.  Today, you may still want to get them in the store but the outreach now involves additional platforms, all working together to achieve “omnichannel”, or seamless shopping experience for the customer. (We’ve posted about this trend a few times, so please check out the topics on right)
  7. B2B SPECIALTY.  More than at any other time, business-to-business marketing is becoming a recognized and respected specialization.  Helping businesses do business better is critical in these times of reduced resources, higher costs, aggressive competitors and demanding consumers.

Mad over metrics, or looking for stuff where the light is better

English: John Wanamaker
Smarter than Don Draper?

Consider this statement from a renowned retailer:

“…Another experience that goes largely in ordinary advertising is the waste of money.  There have been many calculations concerning the vast sums of money expended upon advertising in this country.  I do not recall what their magnitude is, but the figures compiled by observers are really astounding.   I think if we could manage to analyze that expenditure…we would find that a vast percentage of it, probably one-half, is entirely wasted…”
 

Was this WalMart’s lament at the last shareholder meeting?  Or,  perhaps JCP’s excuse for its continuing doldrums?  Neither, dear reader.  It was part of an industry speech by none other than John Wanamaker (pictured left), founder of the late, great Wanamaker’s department store, in…1898.

100+ years later, the issue still hounds marketers, albeit pared to the more sound-bitey:  “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” 

When Wanamaker wailed about advertising, the term “marketing metrics” was unheard of.   There was no TV, of course, and “social networking” meant getting together for tea with your neighbor.

Even more than half a century later, in the 1960s (the Mad Men days) there were only three TV networks and three national news magazines to consider.  With limited venues and a high captive audience, advertising was, as a “Don Draper” type quipped: “like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Those halcyon days are now clearly over, as expanded communication venues and, especially, social media, provide an audience of mega-millions.  Expectations are high:  there are so many more fish to shoot!

However, this has created a climate where marketers wish to quantify everything.  How many Followers, Pokes, or Likes did we get today?  How many unique viewers visited the site?  For how long were they engaged?  What was the conversion rate of the ad?  There is barely a company today not pondering their metrics, or, how to measure the effectiveness of their PR, advertising, social media, and myriad other marketing activities.

There is even a new crop of “consultants to consultants” looking to advise agencies how to win big by “generating metric reports that dazzle!”, or by offering “100 Ways to Keep Clients Happy and Budgets Intact” (without having to bribe them with booze, drugs, or game tickets, we assume…)

One such group recently advised to be careful how we use nouns vs. verbs in our metrics reports, as they can dramatically “affect the effect.”  No wonder self-professed “AdHo” George Parker, a veteran of the already-waning Mad Men era in the 70s, says we’ve all gone mad over metrics.

He claims we often measure things without considering what it is, exactly, we are looking for.   And if we were to find it, what does it all mean?  He clarifies:  “It’s like a guy losing his car keys in the garage but going into the living room to look for them because the light is better there.”

This “looking for stuff where the light is better” trend rings true.  Truth is, marketing programs should be measured, but not all marketers should or know how to do the math. (Actually, the only old math they need to memorize is:  REACH + FREQUENCY = IMPACT.  It still holds true today.)

Never having made it to Statistics 101 in college, they certainly don’t have time to deal with it now.  They just want a good story to sell.  “Put up a realistic number that makes us look good”  they beg, preparing the slides for the upcoming stockholders meeting.

On the other side, we have recently slogged through an extensive (and expensive) report by a respected university. It contained complex, multi-page regression analyses to help justify the client’s advertising campaign. (People, it’s just advertising!)

Of course, there’s no harm in searching for brightness where the light is dim.  If, say, your post-campaign survey reveals 40% of consumers “seldom” buy your product and 20% “sometimes” do, then you can probably safely say 60% are “frequent purchasers.”  We used to call this a minor statistical enhancement.  Now, it’s metrics.

In summary, good advertising is part science, part art, and lots faith.  There are things that we can’t put an immediate number to, but we just know are right.

They sound and feel right, and we get the right reaction to it.  That’s the emotion “metric” the best ad-makers have always gone for.

John Wanamaker knew that, and that’s why, grumbling, he kept up his ad spending to build one of the most successful retail chains in the world.

Social media awakens sleeping giant

"Independency or death." Despiction ...
“Independency or death.” Despiction of the declaration of the Brazilian independence by Prince Pedro (later Emperor Pedro I) on 7 September 1822. Oil on Canvas painting by Pedro Américo (1888). (credit: Wikipedia)

“Mas, se ergues da justiça a clava forte/Verás que um filho teu não foge à luta/ Nem teme, quem te adora, a própria morte…”

♠  ♠  ♠  ♠  ♠ 
(excerpt from Brazil’s national anthem, written c. 1880s, Verse 2, roughly translated from Portuguese:  “If the strong arm of justice raises up, you will see your adoring son will not flee the fight nor fear death.”)

This was the week that may have changed Brazil.  We’re not talking about how they beat Mexico at the stadium, although that’s big stuff (if you care about soccer).

We’re talking of the huge public demonstrations simultaneously mobilizing every major city in the vast country.  This we should care about.

If you follow global news you know it all started with a student-driven protest about the increased bus and metro fares in the major cities, but soon escalated to cries about the exhorbitant World Cup and Olympics infrastructure expenses while schools and hospitals crumble.  The people took to the streets, proudly singing their national anthem (see above), using the greatest tool of democracy:  protest.

But this is not the typical student protest:  they’ve had plenty of those before.  We’re talking about estimated millions of young and old, rich or poor, taking to the streets.  As with the Arab Spring,  this movement (now dubbed the “Tropical Spring”) could not have happened without social media.

It’s the perfect cocktail for today’s world:  social unrest + social media = new society.  Yet lest we believe this unrest is new, let’s take a look at the old.

Beyond the specific complaints of the people now, this week reflects the symptom of a greater and older malaise.  This general dissatisfaction can belie the blindness when faced with Brazil’s famed “Four Bs”:   beaches, bikinis, beer, and barbecue.

Beyond the “fab four”, this Brazilian malaise — a general feeling things are not quite right — has been an underlying sentiment as far back as we can recall.  We remember because some of us actually grew up there.

This was Brazil pre-democracy, a country where benign yet brazen dictators ruled and where popular singers were exiled for defamatory lyrics; a place where someone you knew would just simply disappear one day, never to be heard from again, and where you tripped daily over crumbling mosaic sidewalks.

The bureaucracy was stupefying.  If you wanted anything done in the public sector, you paid someone else lots to do it.  You also paid some poor peon peanuts to hold your place in line at the bank because it might take all day to cash your paycheck.

(Actually, it took two peons:  one to hold your place and the other to run up to your office to tell you when your turn was close.  So…how many Brazilians does it take to screw in a light bulb?)

Yet we kept our mouths shut.  Ah, Brazil…love it or leave it.  Some of us did.

Today’s Brazil is a different place, with educated and progressive leaders, economic growth, and expanding natural resources making it “The Miracle” once again.  Formerly low-heeled friends now own three cars:  the American dream!   It should all work very nicely, and the people (and a peaceful people, too!) should be happy…but apparently not.

As of this post, the people of Brazil just got their low bus fares back.  Emboldened, they will ask for other things,  and they will keep on demanding.

Today, the sleeping giant is up and boarding the bus.

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