3 Ways to Keep the Real Score in Social Branding

Too many marketing, branding, and advertising pros are going into social campaigns with a lot of information, but are confused when asked the following fundamental questions:

  • Why are you conducting this social media campaign?
  • How will you know if it’s a success?

Yes, these may seem like rudimentary questions, but the answers must be extremely clear to every single member of your team…before the social campaign gets underway. As business leader Napoleon Hill said in the 1940s, it’s all about definition of purpose.

This takes us beyond just watching the number of followers or likes that have accumulated on Facebook or Pinterest. These tallies are good for our egos but they fail to bring the conversions that are at the heart of marketing campaigns, the conversions that drive revenue and business.

It’s time to look deeper into three aspects of the data that is available to us:

Know the value of a visitor. How long does a visitor stay on your website or blog? What was their point of entry and where did you lose them? A person who is on and off the page in 12 seconds cannot be quantified the same as a return visitor who spends 1.5 minutes on your site and registered for a free catalog or white paper.

Look at where your paths cross. By fully understanding consumer behavior, you will be able to pinpoint where your brand intersects with consumers. How did the consumer find you? Was it a search engine, link from another site, or a referral from a trusted friend? Marketing and branding professionals must have access to data (and understand it) as it relates to consumer habits across content, social, mobile, and search.

Disseminate information quickly. Real-time analytics will prove vital to your campaign as data enables you to listen, react, and respond in just moments. Certainly this is important in customer service as consumers take to social channels to air their delight or disgust with a brand, product, or service. But, companies that use free tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and BrightEdge, can monitor keywords and multiple social channels to engage with the public as conversations unfold. Consider it a softer side of customer service.

We are living in the age of the connected consumer.

We must be able to dissect the information that’s going on inside the data.

According to best-selling business author Seth Godin: “The essence of marketing today is to tell a story to people who want to hear it, in a way that resonates with them so they are likely to either respond or connect to you, or tell their friends.”

 

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How Big Brands Are Using Apps to Reach Consumers

Several big name brands are turning to mobile messaging apps to touch consumers.

In February, Facebook announced the acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion. That’s when advertisers began paying close attention.

Apps such as Snapchat, Kik, Tango, and WeChat aren’t simply alternatives to avoid the cost of texting. These social portals are turning our industry upside down and inside out, a trend that will likely define 2014’s digital advertising landscape.

Let’s take a look at Taco Bell’s foray into Snapchat.

Mark Bergen writes in AdAge:

“Taco Bell announced it would premiere its newest taco on the popular ephemeral app with a short movie, a first for Snapchat. By letting companies create pages as regular users, Snapchat allows brands to toy around with its playful format.”

Armed with i-Phones and a mobile editing van, a creative team from Taco Bell filmed its short movie on the MTV Music Awards Red Carpet.

The Taco Bell foray is detailed in a new report from IPG Media Labs. While the report cautions that Snapchat offers no analytics beyond seeing the number of followers, it’s worthy of a closer look.

Nick Tran, Taco Bell’s social media lead, explains the impetus for using Snapchat. In this two-minute video on AdAge, Tran says the fast food chain has been using Snapchat for the past year.

How did they know what kinds of content Snapchat users craved? They asked, said Tran. And then Taco Bell launched ‘Snapchat Fridays.’

It’s what many marketing and advertising pros had previously called ‘focus groups.’

The Evolving Messaging Space

What role can brands and media owners play in the conversation?

“The answer lies in understanding a fragmented industry landscape dominated by a few key players with strikingly different philosophies, product offerings, and geographic and demographic strongholds,” according to IPG. “If you think apps are just a cheaper way to text, you’re missing their potential: they’re content portals enabling 1:1 interaction with friends and fans.”

A Demanding Marketplace

In new research, media analysts David Edelman and Jacques Bughin at McKinsey and Company, write that advertising will evolve in many ways that no one can predict. “But the trend towards ‘on-demand’ marketing is already clear and is placing new demands on marketers’ leadership and skills. Marketers cannot afford to wait until 2020 to be ready.”

Stephen DeAngelis, CEO of Enterra Solutions, agrees. “Digitalization and mobile technologies have placed the consumer in the driver’s seat and have changed the face of marketing forever,” says DeAngelis.

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Big News! The Small Screen is not Shrinking

Despite conflicting opinions and research, millennials continue to watch a lot of Television. Yes, TV viewership among young adults has lessened over time…but the decrease isn’t significant enough to warrant widespread panic. There’s also no need to compete for advertising dollars, thanks to a new technology that syncs the two screen consumer experience.

But first things first.

According to Deloitte, in March, 2013, 54 percent of leading millennials watched TV on any device.

During the last quarter of 2013, Nielsen reports that TV viewership among young adults isn’t fluctuating as much as people think. (Source: MarketingCharts)

“Nielsen’s most recent study indicates that Americans aged 18-24 watched a weekly average of about 22.5 hours during Q4 2013. That was a 47-minute drop-off from Q4 2012, which in turn had been down more than 2 hours from the year before.”

Other highlights from MarketingCharts reveal:

  • In the space of two years, Q4 TV viewing by 18-24-year-olds dropped by three hours per week
  • Most of that decline came between 2011 and 2012
  • The decline in viewing between Q4 2012 and Q4 2013 amounted to less than 7 minutes per day
  • Percentagewise, traditional TV viewing among 18-24-year-olds in Q4 2013 dropped by only 3.9 percent year-over-year

Clearly, Nielsen has a vested interest in TV viewership numbers, so we must seek balanced and fair research from numerous and non-biased sources.

Stop Fighting for Ad Dollars

How can the chase for billions of TV advertising dollars come to an end?

Andy Nobbs is CMO at Civolution, a technology provider that manages and monetizes media content. He writes on TheGuardian.com that syncing the consumer experience with automatic content response technology can benefit both TV and digital.

“ACR technology and content triggering allow applications running on second screen devices to automatically recognize the content being played on the television screen and synchronize the displaying of a digital ad unit in real time. So the man in the city who wants to drive the exotic car can locate the nearest dealer and even schedule a test drive right at the moment of piqued interest – just as the TV ad has been viewed. The marketer doesn’t have to go through the costly process of re-locating this potential buyer on the internet—and the potential buyer doesn’t have to “remember” that empowering feeling of theoretically rocketing the sports car through the doldrums of the daily commute. What applies to the sports car can also apply to everyday consumables as well – anything from a pizza meal to video-on-demand.”

Nobbs goes on to explain that everyone can win because advertisers and brands ensure their content is seen rather than skipped, content providers can sell ads more effectively and appropriately, and viewers can move that much more quickly to act on that stirring instilled emotion: aspiration.

I have to agree with Nobbs when he says Television can make people take action unlike any other medium.

There’s no small screen shrinkage here.

5 Tips for Media Sellers

(Editor’s Note: The original version of this article was published on MediaLifeMagazine.com on February 1, 2013)

I would wager most media buyers and sellers would agree that the ad buying process has become more diffucult in the past five years with the proliferation of media choices, the lack of reliable research, the decrease in media buyer training programs, the integration of social and mobile media buying into the media planning equation, and the simple lack of time needed to get all the necessary work done in a single day.

Here are five tips for media sellers:

1.Do Your Homework Before Calling on a Media Buyer: As a buyer, we work closely with our advertising clients to understand their business goals, their objectives in executing an ad campaign, their customer insights, and the competitive playing field. If a media sales professional hasn’t done any homework on the client, the competitive landscape or the challenges we face, then how can they possible help “solve the problem”?

2. Spend as much time listening as you do selling. Even if you’ve done your homework, it’s likely you will learn something valuable at a meeting with the buyer or even on a phone call. If you spend the entire time explaining your technology or media, you’ve missed the opportunity to understand how to offer up the solution. Solve, don’t just sell.

3. Try to determine who the decision makers are on a media buy: on the client side, the agency side, etc. I realize this can sometimes be difficult and with limited sales force, there is an instinct to go to just one person who is “making the buy”. In reality, media plans go up the chain in an agency and then up the chain at a client and many people weigh in on its merits, its efficiencies, its content, its value. If you are only calling on a media buyer, you may or may not be at risk up the chain. If you have not worked hard to understand the relationship dynamics throughout an organization, you will be at risk of losing a buy. This is especially true for large budget scenarios. On the other hand, if you are only calling on the CMO and not the media buyer, you will almost certainly risk inclusion in the plan. This is not a power struggle but a realization that the client has hired the media team to do the analysis and crafting of the plan.

4. Ask questions of the RFP and try to understand the top selection criteria for the media buy. We are always pushing our clients and our buyers to clearly state the selection criteria so everyone understands how the media proposals will be evaluated. With so many factors determining a “good” RFP, it’s critical to determine what variables are weighted the highest. CPMs and efficiencies are always a critical factor but as noise increases with media and engagement becomes more valuable, efficiencies alone are not the single highest value. Push the media planner/buyer to help you understand how your RFP will be evaluated.

5. Make it easy for mediaplanners/buyers to find you and your sales team. I cannot tell you how many times the past 5 years we tried to find a key sales rep at a digital company with extreme frustration. Find a way to make easier to get your phone number and contact information.

The marketplace demands are more robust than ever, for both media buyers and sellers. The pure number of available media impressions for purchase has increased at an alarming rate. The sophisticated measurement tools are not keeping pace with the marketplace. The good news is that brands are still spending record amounts of money on paid media. The bad news is that every digital company now has paid advertising as its cornerstone for revenue and that means more sales reps in the marketplace.

At the end of the day, most media buyers are looking for solutions to help solve a client’s marketing problem. The media sales professional who can offer that up in a compelling and clear way and understand what the issues are will be successful. It’s not just selling it’s solving.

4 Topics Every Marketing Pro Must Embrace

Trends twists turns editedThe advertising and marketing arenas are bursting at the seams, and for good reason. The transformation of consumer behaviors based on technology are exciting…and yes, sometimes chaotic.

Are you keeping up with the trends, twists, and turns?  Here are some recent news stories that amplify the shifts in consumer marketing.

Advertising

Long-Form Digital Ad Views Skyrocket

Tumblr: Yahoo Overhauls Advertising Model to Leverage ‘Data Insights’

Dermablend Moves Beyond Shock and Awe of Zombie Boy for an Emotional Connection

Online Auction Site Ganklt.com Expands National TV Media Buys

Facebook to Marketers: Expect a Drop in News Feed Distribution

Brand Voice and Engagement

Big Opportunity for Social Media Campaigns with Emotional Appeal

Can a Payment Tech Company, Visa Canada, Create a Buzz and Shift Consumer Spending Habits?

Is Nike Paying Too Much for Superstars and Endorsements?

Future of Brand Marketing/Tech/Mobile

Mobile Startup Jana Launches New Tool to Reach Next Billion Consumers Via Mobile

Apps: The Future of Marketing

Mobile and the In-Store Customer Experience: How ‘Showrooming’ is Helping…or Hurting

Social Media Marketing Tips for Highly Regulated Industries

Visual Hashtags and Big Brands

Metrics

In Defense of Advertising’s Gross Rating Point

Trends to Act Upon: Avoid the Vortex of Valueless Marketing Metrics

Finally, Chobani Yogurt’s Chief Marketing and Brand Officer Peter McGuinness says that part of marketing is innovation. “You have to keep pressure in the marketplace to keep things exciting.”

Chasing Facebook: Google+ is Pacing Itself to Top Facebook in Social Media Growth

googleplus logoYou may have noticed that it’s difficult to get a good read on Google+. You either love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground. Is it fair to call Google+ a ghost town when there are 343 million users, making the network the second largest behind Facebook?

Launched to the public in September, 2011, Google+ has been touted as a fertile ground for in-depth conversations. It’s been lauded for its video chat service, Hangouts and photo services.

Patrick King, CEO of Imagine, a Virginia-based website design firm, writes that tech leaders and social media novices have criticized Google+ from its launch. But King is impressed with the network’s broadcast visibility and audience engagement:

“By now, a lot of people have taken a ride on Google’s Hangout tool, which is by far the best videoconferencing tool of any social site. And now that they’ve released Live Hangouts, you practically have your own live talk show, recorded, and open for anyone to watch. With audience engagement, multi-person conversations are much easier, communities are more accessible, integrated and easier to promote than LinkedIn groups, and Google+ allows the second largest image size of any of the social sites, the first being Pinterest.”

An infographic on Social Media Today highlights several interesting stats. One important fact about Google+ is that there is a significantly larger amount of people registered for the site (1.15 billion) compared with the number of actual users (359 million). These figures are based on the last quarter of 2013. During the same period in 2012, Google+ had 435 million registered users and a mere 223 million active users. (U.S. numbers only).

David and Goliath

So what’s the deal with Facebook? Can Google+ catch and surpass this social behemoth?

Marcus Tober, the founder of Searchmetrics, a global provider of digital marketing software and services, has researched the possibility. Based on Tober’s calculations, Google+ can—and will—top Facebook by 2016.

“The Google network is growing at the stage of small to small which therefore is fast. Facebook is growing from its extremely large base to something larger, and is therefore slower, explains Tober. “The remarkable thing is that Facebook is still growing. And that’s why the blue giant appears to be unquestionably ahead of the market.”

Searchmetrics chart google_facebook_prediction_usCritics say there are a few reasons why Google+ hasn’t caught on like other channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. First, Google+ is not a social networking destination as it is everywhere. This confuses people. Second, potential users are concerned about privacy issues and Gmail accounts, and finally, Circles requires too much effort and high maintenance.

Will these reasons hamper the exponential growth that Tober predicts?

 

How 2 Brands Walked the Talk of Ad Innovation at SXSW

“Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers have once again attracted the flamboyant and nerdy to the quirky capital city of Texas. ‘South by Southwest 2014’ kicked off on March 6th, and is keeping Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels popping with news and keen observances by the weird, wacky, and wonderful.

Advertising, branding, and marketing professionals are amongst the thousands on hand to share and experience interactive trends, music, and film. The Ad Council presented five panels. Adweek’s Tim Nudd is participating as well.  And names like Kevin Bacon, Mark Cuban, and Gary Vaynerchuk are flying around, too.

The best part of SXSW for ad types and branders are to watch with a keen eye how Brands themselves embrace innovation at SXSW. But we all know that SXSW is not about the panels and the breakout sessions. Below are two industry gems taking place this year, a reminder that brands continue to be amazing!

Trending Vending:  Global candy manufacturer Mondelez (Oreo, Cadbury, Trident Gum) has debuted its Oreo Trending Vending Lounge that delivers customized snacks based on real-time data collection. Two custom vending machines at SXSW allow attendees to create their own snack based on trending social conversations. Twitter is partnering on the project, using the hashtag #eatthetweet. If that’s not far enough over the edge for you, the Oreo cookies are being made with 3-D printing technology, which creates the personalized cookies in less than two minutes.  Bonin Bough, vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelez, says, “We’re connecting trending moments to the cookie itself in real time and in real life.”

Mario Kart Races: How could Shell introduce its new Pennzoil synthetic motor oil brand to 18-to-24 year-olds who don’t read traditional auto magazines? The company’s ad agency, JWT Atlanta developed “Mario Karting Reimagined”, a perfect blend of go karts, gamification, and Nascar race tracks. SXSW attendees in Austin became the target of the campaign. An article on AdAge.com explains: “Pennzoil is launching Pennzoil Platinum with PurePlus Technology, a new offering under the Platinum line that is made with natural gas. The company is eschewing Nascar and appearances in auto magazines for “Mario Karting Reimagined,” an activation that will let South By attendees jump inside a life-size Mario Kart for a racing experience.”

What are some other Brand innovators at SXSW?

 

 

The Evolution of Marketing and Advertising: 10 Insights From Brand Stars

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Brand Masters Conference has left marketing, branding, and advertising professionals feeling energized about the coming months.

The event, held in Hollywood, FL from February 26-28, is considered the premier annual conference for Brand Marketers.  Top advertisers gather to share important Brand insights and trends.

The seismic shift in consumer messaging sparked discussions on campaigns, strategies, successes, and missteps from companies such as Samsung, Taco Bell, CitiGroup, and Chobani.

Here are 10 takeaways from the various sessions and panels:

On the New Customer Relationship: “We are shifting from marketer to publisher with the vision to create, curate, and co-create with customers.” -Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer, Taco Bell

On Millenials:  “Show me that you know me.”-Millennials Panel Discussion

On People and Brands: “We don’t always see a brand as a person. They should be human though. We do think each person is a brand.” -Gen Y Panel

On Functions: “Brand is not a marketing function. It’s the core of the business and should involve all functions.”-Greg Revelle, Chief Marketing Officer, AutoNation. Noteworthy: Revelle said the auto industry spends $15 billion a year on ads.

On Innovation:  “Innovation shouldn’t just be the role of marketing. It needs to be instilled in the DNA of the organization.”-Andy Callahan, President, Hillshire

On Differentiation: “Connect your brand to something that impacts a consumer’s life in a meaningful way and people take notice.” -Elyssa Gray, Director, Head of Creative and Media, NA Marketing, CitiGroup

On Storytelling: “We’re breaking the mold with storytelling that demonstrates what the brand is all about.” -Mike Accavitti, Senior Vice President, Automobile Operations, American Honda Motor Company

On Relevance: “The world is changing and we need to stay relevant…Flavor and ritual are the two things we think about most. We innovate with what’s new and what’s next.”-Chris Fuqua, Vice President of Brand Marketing, Dunkin’ Donuts. Noteworthy: Dunkin’ Donuts launched 100 products in the past two years.

On Culture: “Don’t build a brand, build a culture. Build trust.”-Todd Pendleton, Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung

On 2014’s Next Tech Trend: “Wearables are all about context. Deliver information based on where you are and what you’re doing. There is massive market potential with wearables. Brands can focus on utility, not simply brand marketing.”-Christina Warren, Senior Tech Marketer, Mashable

Finally, three words were prevalent throughout the ANA Conference: Authenticity, trust, and innovation.

 

5 Essential Branding Questions About Google and comScore’s New Partnership

life in the cracksScore one for instant gratification in the measurement of digital advertising. Google has announced an agreement with global ad metrics firm, comScore.

The plan:  Google will integrate comScore’s measurement platform, Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE), into its DoubleClick ad business.

The anticipated result: Google corners the market on big brand advertising by providing instant tracking of online campaigns and consumer behavior. If a marketing initiative isn’t performing as companies had anticipated, quick changes can be made to improve results. Industry execs won’t be waiting 24 hours to receive analytics; the data can be available within minutes or hours.

The integration of vCE will allow Google to drill deep into the segmentation of digital consumers’ habits, preferences, and behaviors. vCE promises agility to brands watching from the sidelines.

In theory, Google hopes to woo advertisers who spend billions of dollars a year on TV out of traditional media and onto the Internet.

Isn’t the web the place where instant gratification is magnified in real time?

But as brands, advertisers, media companies, and tech firms continuously create this trajectory of opportunity that brings immense power, I have to wonder:

  • How are consumers reacting to this news? (Let’s not forget consumers can make or break a brand)
  • In the wake of security breaches and hacking, will a stepped-up level of online monitoring leave a bad taste in the mouths of online shoppers?
  • Are  powerhouse companies like Google considered too ‘sneaky’ for their own good?
  • Will lawmakers try to legislate this piece of our industry?
  • What role, if any, will comScore’s rival Nielsen play in the transformation of TV advertising?

Executives from both Google and comScore say that for now, the multiyear agreement covers display ads and advertising on video and mobile devices. It will likely also extend to future ad products, technology and platforms that Google may develop.

As the advertising and branding landscape transforms at warp speed, we’ll continue to watch the measurement side closely.

The colossal impact that new measurement tools can have on potentially billions of online ads each day brings us into uncharted waters.

Are brands prepared to manage the convergence of instant gratification, agility, and sneaky? Is it even possible?

Social Media Should Not Be A Stand Alone Brand Tactic

Everyone knows we trust our friends’ opinions more than we trust brand advertising.

So naturally brands are testing social media to learn how best to create brand advocates.  A CMO said to us recently, “If we can get our  FaceBook fans to tell their friends, that will be more powerful than paid ads and we can create more efficiencies.”

 Nobody doubts that statement.

Unfortunately, turns out to be not quite that simple. It’s a lot of work and takes a 24/7 always -on approach. And the biggest challenge remains creating scale anywhere close to paid media in order to generate desired sales lifts.

In our media brand practice, we’ve tested everything from influencer programs to blogger programs to multiple facebook brand initiatives. We’ve had  varying degrees of success.

We’re  bullish on social media but testing has proven that social strategy works best as part of a larger integrated marketing and business plan.

Social Media should NOT be a stand alone brand tactic.  Here are some reasons why:

1. Social Media is very hard to scale on its own.

2. Social Media should part of the overall communication of the brand and work in unison with all other brand touchpoints.

3. Social Media, when done well, is integrated into the total business goals of the brand, not just the marketing goals.

4. Social Media is a long tail strategy and takes a period of time to realize results. Social Media is not inherently a fast audience builder.

5. Social Media should constantly tell a brand’s story (through video, blogs, photography, scribing) with rewards and incentives ocassionally thrown in to keep fans motivated. It should not be solely a broadcast vehicle that is only about brand selling.

6. Social Media, supported by paid advertising, can scale quickly and social content can be amplified to a much larger audience.

7. Social Media, when integrated into customer service, can help reinforce the brand attributes with customers and create happy customers.

When brands integrate social media with other marketing and business strategies,  the results are greater response rates, greater reach, greater brand engagement, and deeper overall metrics.

Don’t isolate  social media marketing into a siloed marketing tactic.  This approach greatly limits the ability of social media to be a force in strengthening the brand story.