Sunday, May 28, 2017

Google Developing a Tool to Match Brick and Mortar Purchases to Digital Marketing Campaigns

At Google’s May 23, 2017, annual advertiser conference, the company revealed a new tool currently in development which will track how much money customers spend at a given brick and mortar store after clicking on that company’s digital ad.

More specifically, Google will be able to match the collective number of ad clicks (for a given ad) by customers logged into a Google account with the collective purchases on credit and debit cards made at that company’s physical store. (Google won’t be able to see the specific items purchased or how much one individual spent. Well, not yet at least).

Google currently has access to approximately 70% of US credit and debit card data sales (through partnerships they have with other companies). Put simply, this tool will match ad clicks with this spending data, and can then notify companies how their digital advertising is impacting sales at physical locations. The tool won’t be entirely precise, since it cannot account for cash transactions, credit and debit card transactions made on the 30% of cards whose data Google cannot access, and users not logged into a Google account.

However, this tool will be revolutionary, since, currently, if a customer clicks on an online advertisement and does not make an online purchase, there is no way to track if that digital ad led to a subsequent brick and mortar transaction. This tool changes that.

As such, this tool will be able to provide companies with critical data that could lead them to increase their digital marketing spends, and to do so with Google (further differentiating itself from Facebook and other social media companies with rapidly growing digital advertising revenues).

And, if this tool is successful, I think it could be modified in the future to track mobile advertising with brick and mortar stores, too, which could lead to increased spends in mobile as well.


The Art of PPC: Why users click them

In the last class session, we learned about SEO and how it is used to improve page ranking in organic search result. As Prof. Kagan mentioned, another search engine marketing strategy is Pay-Per-Click (PPC). This blog post provides insights into PPC and possible explanations on why users click them.

What is PPC? According to, PPC is a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it is a way of buying visits to your site. The most popular form of PPC is Google AdWords due to Google’s popularity. The million-dollar question is, “Do people clicks on sponsored results?”. As a user who rarely clicks on sponsored results, the answer is surprising. See the infographic below provided by

I was intrigued by the result and attempted to understand the reasons behind it. Below are few reasons why I think PPC is getting the clicks:

  • The real estate of the Search Engine Result Page is skewed towards PPC

As we can see from the search result page, almost 85% of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) is filled with sponsored results.

  • Google’s purely commercial model makes it easy for users to click on PPC
Why click on texts when the items you’re looking for show up with images and prices?

  • Bottom of the page Ads
Moving on to the next ? Perhaps these sponsored results are what you’re looking for.

In summary, it is by designed to have users click on sponsored results. After all, Google’s AdWords provides the bulk of Google’s advertising revenue. 



Sunday, May 21, 2017

E-Sport : The New Arena For Marketers

Sports In The Digital World

Internet has taken gaming to a whole new level. E-Sports is a form of competition which is supported and facilitated by electronic and digital system. Virtual "athletes" from all over the globe compete in a multiplayer video game competition. Global E-Sports audience have grown rapidly, with 115M audiences and 256M fanbase. E-Sports market in 2015 was valued at $750M, with an expected future growth generating nearly $2 billion by 2018.

In a single Major League Game competition the accumulative prize pools is over $10M. Alibaba has injected high amount of investments in over 1,200 Chinese E-Sports events in the past year. Big names like Coca-Cola, Intel, Nissan, Doritos has also followed this movement by sponsoring teams, displaying ads, and funding competitions. E-Sports, with its explosion in growth, is definitely a place for marketers to keep an eye on.

Dota 2 competitions where skilled gamers compete.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

From Horsemeat to Home...the Reinvention of Tesco

Having a wealth of positive stories about your product not only elevates your brand, but also provides a moat or buffer against the risk of negative headlines. This effect is evident in the airline sector, where negative customer press is more common for some airlines vs others (think UAL vs Jet Blue). Some firms attempt to “rebrand” or trigger positive social media/earned advertising by changing the focus and dialogue with customers after a negative episode. A great example is Tesco. Between the recent ‘horsemeat scandal’ (not cool), to large corporate fines, to growth of competitors Aldi and Lidl, the firm needed something more engaging that jut the usual BOGO advertising. To this end, Tesco sought to engage consumers using “Tesco Food Love Stories”. As described by the article “They show how Tesco products can solve any family problem, which brings Tesco right into the heart of the home. They break the fourth wall, which many marketing campaigns fail to do.” The idea, with this honest and direct dialogue, is to increase trust and thus restore loyalty to the brand. It’s a first step and unclear if successful, but shows the strides and flexibility required of incumbent players in a world with increased digital marketing.


Is Digital an Effective Mass Marketing Medium?

Synopsis: This article focuses on the impact of digital media dynamics for brand marketing. Specifically, this article focuses on the interplay between digital media’s proven, short term effectiveness with targeted brand marketing to targeted audiences relative to the potential long-term effectiveness if utilized effectively in brand marketing to mass markets/audiences. This is based on an article with the same post-title written by Charlotte Rogers.

The question then seems to be; how do we effectively undertake brand marketing to reach people at scale with digital media while still keeping (not losing) the advantages of targeted advertising? Since I have only taken one, 3-hour digital marketing class at a world-class, Ivy-league business school, my initial reaction to that self-posed question is “......ummm I dunno?!”

So, I start reading this article with a bit more fascination. After all, if I am ever going to get rich with my own brand-focused business, I better pay attention and know how to build a market and if digital is the new color television, I better know how to use it effectively while still attracting television addicts like my parent and me!

My thoughts on the article, you ask (here goes my extremely deep and impactful summary):

1 – The article is too damn long for a fellow like me with zero attention span! (I will never get those 15 minutes of my life back – thanks, Charlotte Rogers).

2 – Understanding the difference between brand experience and brand marketing is probably a first step to any successful brand marketer trying to maximize the utility of digital media. (Sounds so deep and smart, I actually patted myself on the knob of my head for that one).

3 – Adopting a segmentation strategy that your entire business can use that is not too broad (a one-size-fits-all) or micro-targeted (too narrowly focused). In English – where is the sweet spot in the segmentation strategy that can be used to find the niche market and is usable across the entire business/organization (good luck finding that one. To solve for this, I say hire a Columbia EMBA, put them in a top-floor corner office with an amazing view and watch them hire 5 HBS alums to get you the answer).

4 - The IPA Director of Marketing Strategy “done lost her darn mind!” Why do I say that? I am paraphrasing a bit here, but, for starters, she believes that the insights (read “data”) from personalized/individual (read “targeted”) marketing can be expanded, since it provides more nuanced insights that can be creatively expanded to improve the advertising quality both online and offline. Okay….thanks, I think. While I get the niceties of targeted advertising, I also get the creep-factor even more so and it turns me OFF! Besides, drawing creative conclusions based on some data point about my supposed individual-level habits over a short period of time cannot possibly create a full picture of the person in the highly complex and socially uniform (read “copycat”) world we live in today. The fact that I go through a phase of loving the idea of fancy food at fancy restaurants, for example, does not mean that I will want to be targeted along those lines in three months when I go broke (thank you, expensive restaurants in NYC – I clearly refuse to take responsibility for my spending) or decide that I am over it!

Secondly, well, her title is just too fancy. Although, in fairness, I think every business should have a marketing strategy boss, otherwise you become like (I still don’t get how any of their ad’s correlated or made sense).

Where was I? yes, personalization can drive conversion for only so long before….well, before we all get bored or creeped out and want more and then it loses its allure, so it needs to be balanced with the en-mass marketing too.

5 – The “always-on” approach, as demonstrated by The Economist (haven’t read one since 2011) with its successful ‘Raising Eyebrows and Subscriptions’ approach of “targeting” a wide audience of already similarly-inclined, potential customers in a measurable manner, with defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a proven approach.

6 – Facebook lied! And maybe Google too!! How did I miss this one (I was watching TV and I guess my news anchor forgot to tell me). In reality, the issue of accurately capturing the effectiveness of ad spending is an evolving art, sorry, science that will continue to be refined as we, the people, continue to evolve in our adoption of technology that in itself, is also evolving at an even faster pace.

Impressions, pay-per-click (PPC), click-through rates, conversion rates and other such measurement tools are effective in themselves, but to really maximize the social and digital media platform, the inclusion of an “attentive reach” factor that accounts for how much of an audience is captivated by the marketing and for how long and with what effect (sales result) should be considered. Here, the idea of ‘WAVE’ is introduced – measuring Watch time, Audibility, Viewability and Engagement.

7 – Defining success is personal, at least to the business (the company shelling out the dough on marketing). Here, the idea is that each organization spending on marketing should define the effectiveness of their marketing plan/campaign and ad-spend in a manner that uniquely captures their pre-stated objective(s)/marketing plan /strategy. This allows the measurement of results to be more significant in determining the success or failure of the approach. It also ensures that the business is able to better understand how/when to stay the course and believe in a marketing plan through the long-run, or abandon a marketing plan as the results are tracked and translated in terms of sales or revenue versus the cost and impact on the business.
I’m tired! My ramblings here might be longer than the actual article, so enough of this. Bye for now!


Dove's Might Have a Home Run with "Meet Cathleen"

Dove has another potential success story this week with the release of a new 30 second commercial and online video called "Meet Cathleen".   This latest campaign is part of a collaboration with Shonda Rhimes who produced the commercial and video.  This is a continuation of Dove's successful Campaign for Real Beauty that began in 2004 and has continued with related campaigns over the past 13 years. All of the campaign's iterations have continued with the core focus on promoting natural beauty and celebrating diversity in woman and girls.

The "Meet Cathleen" commercial, which debuted during Shonda's season finales of both Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, and the online video focus on Cathleen Meredith, who started the group "Fat Girls Dance" which promotes weekly dance videos via different social media outlets.  The partnership with Shonda seems like a natural fit for Dove and their Real Beauty campaign.  She has made an extremely successful career showcasing women in her television shows from different backgrounds and ethnicities.  Dove has had previous successes with their online videos and content for its Campaign for Real Beauty, its most viewed video being that of the "Real Beauty Sketches" from 2013 which was downloaded 15 million times in its first week.

While all the data for the newest campaign has not been made public yet, "Meet Catherine" has pulled in 1.5 million YouTube views since it was posted 2 days ago.  I think that this will be a very fruitful collaboration that will help the  Dove Real Beauty campaign.   Their most recent venture prior to this was an attempt to offer Dove's body wash bottles in different shapes to symbolize women's body types has had mixed reactions.  Related articles on the new "Meet Cathleen" campaign and the Dove Body Wash bottles are below.


Using digital and data to get closer to users

Two articles in the latest issue of Fast Company caught my attention. One was about how Ulta Beauty has now surpassed Sephora to become the nation’s largest beauty merchant, while the other was on how Hulu is looking at reprogramming the way we watch TV

Though they are two different companies in vastly different industries, both articles were riffing on the same theme: how companies are using digital and data to get closer to the user.

Previously, Ulta has been known for its discounts and coupons. They have since edged away from that, and instead, incentivize customers to join their loyalty program, allowing them to tailor benefits to the shopper. Ulta believes that thoughtful freebies do more to deepen the customer’s emotional connection with them than a generic discount eDM. 

Ulta also goes on shop-alongs with customers, asking them about what they like and how they use the products as they move through the store. Coupling this intel with data from their robust loyalty program, Ulta is able to complete a picture of the customer. This understanding informs Ulta about how to market more than 20,000 of their products for maximum impact. 

The strategy appears to be working. The program’s 21.7 million active members now generate more than 90% of Ulta’s overall sales.

At Hulu, they have been obsessing over the new user-interface for Hulu’s network bundle, deconstructing everything from a screen’s “information density” (how many titles you see at one time) and background color gradation to how much time it takes new users to complete the onboarding process (three minutes).

The belief is that if the content itself isn’t the differentiator, then they have to look to other things to compete. Hulu’s future, and that of its traditional entertainment partners, rests on reimagining the user experience and creating a bold new template for how we consume TV.

To understand what their users want, and to help educate these algorithms, Hulu has deconstructed its programming to remarkably granular levels. Users can express a preference for everything from “fantasy anime” to “romantic K-dramas.” Users get customizable profiles, and Hulu surfaces content for them in real time. Some of its selections are users’ own picks; the rest comes care of Hulu’s predictive algorithms.

The result is an elegant, recommendation-filled interface that’s filled with poster art, one that’s worlds away from the experience of pulling up a clunky grid of channels and deciphering hard-to-read text. In trying to understand the user better so as to improve the experience of TV-watching, Hulu hopes to elevate and distinguish their unique offering, thereby changing the way we experience TV.


How #RompHim leveraged digital marketing to bring its idea to life

While checking my twitter feed early this week, I stumbled upon a hashtag (#RompHim) trending in New York. Curious to know more, I started searching the topic and followed it rigorously across social media and news websites for a week. Here’s what I found: RompHim is a romper designed for men! The brand claims to ‘revolutionize the men’s fashion industry’ by extending the onesie style (traditionally perceived to be limited to babies and women) to men, and is currently dividing Americans in a debate.

RompHim launched its product on Instagram and promoted it at events like Coachella and the Kentucky Derby. Days after its launch, the brand went live on Kickstarter with a crowd funding campaign where it beat the initial goal of raising $10,000 in mere 4 hours! By Saturday morning it had raised more than $332,000, thanks to more than 2800 backers (the numbers continues to climb, by the minute)! Despite its popularity on Kickstarter, the brand is attracting mixed reactions on the internet – twitter for one is a RompHim meme paradise. However, in spite of receiving mixed feedback and initial negative media, today RompHim is taking the internet by storm!

The idea of RompHim helped me put our learnings from the introductory class in perspective. It shows how digital is continuously changing the way we market our product - RompHim was ideated by four MBA students (yes, you read that right!) over drinks. However, they believed in their idea and were smart enough to use digital to test their product and raise funds. It is interesting to see that RompHim’s success is completely attributed to online marketing. Additionally, it shows how brands can leverage digital to identify their niche target audience and build campaigns to influence them. RompHim faced backlash on the internet in the initial few days of its campaign launch. However, the brand proactively monitored online sentiment to address concerns and eventually survived its harsh critiques by engaging with them online. Their first signature style of RompHim is already sold out on their website, reflecting the audience's interest in the product.

Finally, as a strategic communications professional, I am curious to see how and what brands communicate. In this case, RompHim claims to ‘Revolutionize the male fashion industry’ by breaking away from stereotypes and it is trying hard to do so through its strategic messaging and creative positioning. This is similar to what iconic brands like Dove (#mybeautymysay) and P&G (always#likeagirl) did through their powerful campaigns. As a society we are constantly conditioned to view things one way or another – we view women as fragile and men as strong; thin as beautiful and fat as ugly; pink as feminine and blue as masculine - we stereotype people, frame language and symbolize things. It's interesting to see how brands like Dove, P&G and now RompHim are challenging stereotypes through online media.

It is true that RompHim is burning the internet with its bold move to re-frame masculinity as we know it. Sure, men in rompers could appear funny – but is masculinity that narrow?

Primary links:
Additional readings:
Dove campaign:
Always campaign:


Content Curation Always Matters For Business Growth

This article shed light on how the internet giants Tecent and Alibaba attract both marketers and consumers. Two big phenomena currently exist in China – domestic consumption increase and high demand for digital video.  

If we still recall the success of streaming video service provider Netflix and Hulu, then it’s not hard to understand why Alibaba and Tecent are competing against each other through their online video platforms by providing distinguished content. Such unique video content generates heavy traffic daily, which has seen increasing subscriptions and provides a profitable platform for marketer to place ads.

On a deeper level, this strategy is aligned with content curation which makes marketing success impossible without it. The key element of content curation is not producing infinite information; instead, valuable and relevant ones. Think about how we are inundated with unlimited information each day and how we are trying to avoid most of it. Only those content with a purpose will stand out and retain consumers because they find values in it. In other words, when marketers curating content, they first need to understand what the audience really need, identify their problems and challenges through research and then strategically produce content that are relevant and valuable to them. By doing this, there is a higher chance to raise brand awareness and convert leads into consumers.

Royal Jordanian Proves Trolling Fills Airplanes

Many Middle Eastern airlines, most notably Royal Jordanian have recently used trolling on social media as a very effective means of marketing. World events have given them an unusually large amount of material to work with:

- The United incident. United was very vocal in trying to limit Middle Eastern airlines entry into US markets, calling them non real airlines, here was Emirates' response:

-Trump’s election

-The laptop ban

-The French election

These edgy social media campaigns have gone viral and been highly effective. But are they playing with fire? For instance, just this week we learned of the real reason behind the seemingly arbitrary ban on electronic devices. Turns out there was a very good reason to ban them from specific areas:

By mocking publicly and taking stances on highly contentious issues, these social media campaigns risk backfiring in a big way. Does that risk outweigh the reward? For the time being, the answer appears to be yes.

Will trained IBM Watson change the advertising industry?

Will soon computers take on the roles of human? In the last 90 years, Hollywood industry has certainly leverage on the topic of Artificial Intelligence to produce many top box office movies such as Star Wars, Avatar, Terminator, Matrix, A.I., Blade Runner and many more. But it is in this century that society is collecting the benefits of artificial intelligence.

Machine learning has been changing many industries that we thought that couldn’t survive without humans being in the driver seat. The financial industry is in a transformational cycle where algorithmic trading is replacing traders from its old fashion trading floors. New investments funds are arising with event driven strategies. The transportation industry is being disrupted with driverless cars from Tesla and shared economy service providers like Uber.

Now is the advertising industry also susceptible to such disruption? Creating an advertising requires understanding of people. Based on traditional wisdom, humans can only be understood by other humans that experiment similar feeling. Is that right? Interestingly, Mirai, Toyota’s car of the future, advertising campaign was written by IBM’s super computer Watson. This computer scan the internet to find words that appeal to potential buyers of the car which are new technology adopters including psychologists and scientists.

The article below talks in more detail about the creation of Mirai’s campaign.


Chase Had Ads on 400,000 Sites. Then on Just 5,000. Same Results.

As digital display ad spending has continued to grow over the past several years, advertisers have looked for ways to exercise greater control over when and where ads are displayed across the web. The key concern of advertisers is that their ad will be displayed next to undesirable site content such as “…fake news sites or offensive YouTube videos” and possibly negatively impacting their brand.

One major institution, JPMorgan Chase, is going to extreme measures to combat this site display concern. To exercise greater control over where ads are displayed, JPMorgan has enlisted a whitelisting technique, limiting its ads to about 5,000 preapproved sites. Prior to this JPMorgan had advertisements being displayed on about 400,000 sites, a typical amount for large companies that use automated tools to touch as many consumers as possible online. This whitelisting effort by JPMorgan was initiated “…this month after The New York Times showed it an ad for Chase’s private client services on a site called Hillary 4 Prison. It was under a headline claiming that the actor Elijah Wood had revealed ‘the horrifying truth about the Satanic liberal perverts who run Hollywood.’”

This shift by JPMorgan represents a larger, underlying skepticism in the industry on how effective and cost efficient automated display ad technology is. Automated technology has provided advertisers with the ability to buy “…ads on individual sites in favor of cheaply targeting groups of people across the web based on their browsing habits, a process known as programmatic advertising.” The risk vs reward of this approach is not always clear, and JPMorgan began considering the impact of creating their whitelist and reduced the number of sites they display ads on.  

As some background on what JPMorgan did to reduce the number of sites, “…Of the 400,000 web addresses JPMorgan’s ads showed up on in a recent 30-day period, said Ms. Lemkau, only 12,000, or 3 percent, led to activity beyond an impression. An intern then manually clicked on each of those addresses to ensure that the websites were ones the company wanted to advertise on. About 7,000 of them were not, winnowing the group to 5,000.”

Although this tactic has only been in use for several weeks, JPMorgan has seen no deterioration in their performance metrics. For firms like JPMorgan Chase, who are able expend the capital, this is a simple solution to help prevent/reduce display ad PR issues. This may not be a viable solution for all advertisers, as the benefit of the programmatic advertising is the cost effectiveness of targeting specific customers. Additionally, if a trend begins to take hold in the industry, with others following the JPMorgan approach, you could see a change in the way ad tech companies handle sales. In the current environment, these ad tech companies “…profit from funneling trillions of ad impressions from brands to consumers.” By actively reducing the number of sites allowed to display ads (i.e. from 400,000 to 5,000), ad tech companies may need to change their approach and how they market their services.


Friday, May 19, 2017

How Major Retailers Are Using Big Data

How 4 Major Retailers are Using Big Data, explores emerging trends in customer data analysis. Major retailers used to collect data through loyalty programs, now they're using big data to go beyond understanding purchasing habits and predicting when a customer is ready for another purchase. Major retailers are using predictive analytics to determine demand before it even happens.

The article uses four companies as case studies - Costco, Target, Walgreens and Red Roof Inn. As we discussed in class, Target surprised a teen's family by sending her baby-related coupons after it determined she was pregnant based on her search and purchasing habits. Pantene/Walgreens partnered with The Weather Channel to pinpoint high humidity days and target women that need anti-frizz products on the go. Similarly, Red Roof Inn analyzes weather patterns to predict flight delays or cancellations and target guests who might need a hotel room near an airport. Costco was able to pinpoint the source of a salmonella outbreak in 2010, and recently a listeria outbreak in one California company's stone fruits.

After reading about each retailer's strategy, I understand this is not a black and white issue. While Costco helped the CDC to prevent a major outbreak, Target accidentally compromised a teen's privacy. Red Roof Inn and Pantene boosted sales and beat their competitors to consumers in particular weather-related events, which neither positively or negatively impacted society. On the one hand, this data analysis can be used for the greater good, and in other instances it's an aggressive, borderline creepy marketing method that most consumers can live without. Overall, there needs to be stricter guidelines for how our data is used against us to avoid retailers overstepping boundaries.


Global Conglomerate Looks to Slash Media Spend

This article touches on P&G’s five year plan to slash upwards of $1.5 billion from its marketing budget - of which at least $1 billion will come from media. The global conglomerate is looking to achieve these savings by lowering rates and getting right of supply chain waste, e.g., eliminating expenses resulting from poor standards adoption and redundancies of having too many cooks in the kitchen.


Engagement via Social Media

All of us are aware of the power of social media platforms for advertising. This article discusses brand and celebrity marketing specifically and the strong engagement numbers on Instagram versus Facebook (Instagram 700m users vs. Facebook 1.9b). From the article, it seems marketers have not focused on customer conversions via Instagram. It states that marketers should shift their Instagram strategy towards this. However, the article does note that Facebook's scale and reach make it the #1 spot for advertising.


Markets at New Highs

Have you seen such a long bull run earlier? Markets are creating new highs every day despite uncertainty. Oracle of Omaha, 'Warren Buffett' says that we still have long way to go as long the interest rates are low. The firms will continue to borrow money at low cost in the hope of making profits.
The technology boom is creating companies with valuations that one has never heard of. It is time to be cautious and at the same time make money if you can.


Content Delivery and Alignment with Consumers

A current trend in SEO is marketing / brand pursuit of full alignment with customer intent. That means that when a customer searches online for a given product or service, it is imperative that the brand is not only prominently displayed but also satisfying the customer's need.

Customer "journey's" have in fact evolved significantly over the past 5 years given the progression of technology, the power of internet search, and the increased adoption of mobile. Marketers now have the challenge of making a very clear path from the initial customer search to final purchase - against the backdrop of ever increasing competition and investment in sales and marketing.

Understanding intent means knowing what customer's really desire when entering a search query. What information are they looking for? How will they then use the information once they find it? Content creation is now more than ever before based on data. Creation of content and intertwining that with SEO can produce powerful affinity results when used effectively. Articles, videos, funny youtube clips can help you capitalize on trendy topics and win over customers.  


Personal Branding @ The Player's Tribune

A can't recall exactly when it was when I first stumbled upon an article on The Player's Tribune; It may have been Kevin Durant's decision to leave OKC to sign with the Warriors. Regardless, I have always admired the unique idea of giving the athlete's the pen to tell their story so that it is not misinterpreted or misrepresented by a reporter. Although this may not qualify as traditional marketing, I feel that this is a tremendous way for athlete's to endear themselves to fan's, which makes them even more MARKETABLE to the corporations looking to sign up a spokesperson who may have influence over the general public.

The Player's Tribune was actually launched by Yankee legend Derek Jeter back in October of 2014, well before the KD article I mentioned. Since launch, there have been hundreds of articles penned by athletes, many of which provide a level of access that into the mind's of the players that has never before been mass marketed. The success of the site has driven its own digital marketing example with brands such as Porsche signing up for online ads.

I think this was a great idea and win-win for everyone involved, including the athletes that choose to leverage the platform, Jeter, and of course us sports nerds who enjoy the insight.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Your Aggregated Consumer Data May Not Be Secure

An article on AdAge ( brings attention to the challenge of the privacy of individuals, when aggregation data is shared on browsing history or online preferences.

Thusfar, companies that have provided data in aggregate to third-parties have argued that stripping out personal data such as names and addresses would make it impossible for someone's individual data or private browsing history to be individually pinpointed. However, this article makes the point that since short journeys in browsing are made repeatedly by the same user, it actually is possible to figure out someone's specific browsing history from large amounts of data.

While the technical aspect is confusing to me, it does worry me that individual browsing history can be detected, as I think this could lead to wrongdoing in the digital marketing space, and even worse if the data fell into the wrong hands. Reading this article made me think of the importance of cybersecurity in the marketing space, and the need for some regulations on how internet data is used. 


Weibo now has more users than Twitter

Whilst Twitter is reporting less than stellar growth, China's version of Twitter, Weibo, is seeing the opposite.

Twitter currently has 328 million active monthly users whereas Weibo has 340 million, a 30% increase from last year, and is a popular platform for most mainland Chinese media outlets. Weibo has also seen a year on year increase of 67% in net revenue and, unlike Twitter, Weibo monitizes through e-commerce rather than advertising.

Considering that most western social media platforms are blocked in China (LinkedIn is the main exception), western companies wanting to reach out to a Chinese audience might want to tap into Weibo for brand exposure.

Weibo has been innovative in that they have created a live video streaming app, and partnered with e-commerce giant Alibaba, allowing merchants to turn their Weibo pages into a CRM platform where they can manage their marketing campaigns and accept online payments, increasing social shopping convenience for its users.


Nike Manila - Attract Runner and Non-runners

Nike developed a new running track that allows user to compete against their digital Avatar.  The Avatar will continuously beat the individual's best lap time, which leads to challenging the runner to do better each time.  The Nike Unlimited Stadium is located in Manila, Philippines.  It is shaped as the latest sole print of Nike’s Lunar Epic footwear.   

There have been a lot of advertisements about the Nike Manila.  After doing a little digging, this stadium started in 2016.  It is only operated for 17 days and specific evening hours from 4-10PM.  It's that time again in 2017.  

This is encouraging the Filipino community to reach their unlimited potential along with supporting the innovations and the Nike+ community.  Along with the theme of reaching ones “unlimited” potential and the “Unlimited” stadium Nike in parallel launches the “unlimited” Colorway collection offering sportswear across running, training, and basketball.  Nike Manila also have events where athletes, and non-athletes, can signup to register and work with expert Nike Trainers. 

The impacts it will have on a typical customer would be capturing them into the Nike world.  It could enhance their use of electronic Nike apps, which would further expose them to digital ads produced by Nike, and therefore encouraging them to continue to buy with Nike.

Not only does Nike continue to attract runners, but non-runners will surely want to test the track too.  


Twitter Now Lets Users See Who Is Advertising to Them and Why

Yesterday, Twitter released an updated privacy policy and a few new site features that enable users to see who is advertising to them and why.

This new feature allows users to review what Twitter, and, in turn, advertisers, thinks their interests are. Users will be able to see how many advertisers are targeting them, and how many “audiences” (targeted groups) they are a part of – and both numbers can be well into the thousands.

The new update contains a feature to empower Twitter users to de-select what interests they don’t want to receive advertisements for, and, in the vein of transparency, users can request to be sent a list of the advertisers they are being targeted by.

However, while users can opt out of certain “interest-centric” advertising, Twitter did simultaneously announce that no user will be entirely removed from advertisers’ audiences.

Twitter, which has experienced slowing financial growth for the past 10 quarters, and in February reported losses of $167 million in Q4 2016 (higher than what was anticipated), should financially benefit from more targeted adverting, since more tailored advertising should lead to increased revenue for the Company. Additionally, the more personalized the user experience, the more likely that the curated tweets for any given user will be more engaging, making the Twitter experience more holistic and worthwhile for users.

So why would Twitter make this announcement and give users the option to opt-out of any tailored interest-centric advertising? Privacy.

Privacy is the counterbalance to personalization and a highly targeted online experience. The last paragraph of Twitter’s announcement yesterday read: “Privacy is built into our DNA as a company and it’s something we take an active role in promoting and advocating for across the world… Our commitment to protecting and defending your privacy will continue as we build our industry leadership on this issue. Yes, it seems somewhat paradoxical to end a release that talks about sharing highly targeted, interest-based information with thousands of advertisers this way. But privacy remains a critical issue among users, and especially in today’s political climate, users want to have a sense of security regarding online privacy. This balance between personalization (which, to be successful, requires user data to be shared) and privacy is a critical issue that online companies and digital advertisers must continue to navigate and refine in today’s world.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lack of Consensus on KPIs for Digital Campaigns in Europe

Based on survey results, there are some differences in opinion between brand marketing executives and agency professionals on which KPIs are most important in France, Germany and the UK.  For example, in the UK, marketing ROI and website visits were agency respondents’ most commonly used success metrics and brand executives value conversion rates and shares or “likes.”

It was interesting to observe that 1) brand executives and agency professionals still do not agree on key success metrics after years of experience and 2) different countries value different KPIs.  To help improve the brand-agency relationship, agency professionals must be open-minded when talking about KPIs with their clients and be ready to discuss the pros and cons of different metrics.  Every client has different marketing campaign goals and all should work together to define success.  Also, depending on which country the client is based in, agency professionals should acclimate to its client's way of doing business.



Local Digital Marketing

The article describes “local digital marketing” and how local businesses can utilize different platforms (Facebook, mobile apps such as Snapchat , Instagram, and yelp) to compete with large chains and websites like Amazon and CVS. The article states four main areas for the local businesses to be successful in local digital marketing: using location-based advertising, leveraging delivery startups, create welcoming in-store experiences, and expanding to e-commerce channels. There are many concerns that big players such as Amazon are dominating the market and discouraging new businesses to grow. I have seen local coffee shops and stores asking to follow its Instagram and Facebook pages in newer shops yet not all the stores have set up advertising platforms. As a customer, I would like to see more local stores setting up these platforms and updating their websites. Local businesses can use local digital marketing to provide services that Amazon cannot. Local businesses can easily see what local customers’ demands are and react to it faster than big corporate chains. I especially liked the article’s point of utilizing delivery startups for local businesses to provide “Amazon” like delivery services. I don’t think local businesses (excluding food services business) do not partner up with new startups enough to expand their business. As a consumer, if I am able to get same type of delivery services from a local business vs. big chain, I would be indifferent to use both services.


Digital Video Ad Experience

We discussed briefly online versus TV advertising and these two articles somewhat dive deeper into the topic. I found these interesting because they provide two slightly different points of view on the topic and underscore the changing dynamic of commercial advertising. The first article discusses an improving view of advertising during online streaming video. The second article pits NBCUniversal against Google in terms of brand safety. NBC is claiming that their ads are superior to that of online because of the safety and quality they maintain when compared to those experienced online.

NBCUniversal’s chairman of advertising sales, Linda Yaccarino maintains that, “Television is the most effective advertising means there is,” ...“You know it and our friends in Silicon Valley know it.”

The study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) may suggest that consumers are not that off-put by brand safety and online advertising. In the survey conducted by the IAB an interesting change from 2015 to 2017 respondents shows that 34% of consumers surveyed felt that Ads experienced during shows that are streamed are better than those experienced during regular TV. This number is up 11% from 2015, indicating a growing appeal of online advertising compared to regular TV. I think one part of this increase might be due to the improving ability to target specific viewers with specific advertisements, something that TV can only do to a limited extant with their broadcast advertising. NBC may be correct that TV is still king, but this 2 year trend in online advertising will be interesting to watch in the near future.


Adidas - Emotion and Experience through Digital

Adidas, like many other retailers, is attempting to leverage their digital platforms in order to connect with their customers and build sustainable relationships that last beyond a one-time purchase.  The key to building a relationship is evoking emotions from the customer, and Adidas believes digital platforms are the best way to foster this relationship.

One key highlight of the blog is that Adidas attempts to engage the "creator consumer". That is, Adidas wants their customers to co-create with the brand, rather than simply be fed products for purchase. This ties into what we learned in class Saturday as to how Product has been transformed by digital technology.

There are numerous benefits to Adidas leveraging digital platforms in this manner. Not only does the customer get to create the product they want specifically, but they purchase it directly from Adidas, as opposed to searching for another brand elsewhere or for Adidas products at a third party retailer. Additionally, this allows Adidas to see what the customers truly want, and as in the Lego example, they have the opportunity to mass produce a particular style or product if they see there's enough of a demand for it within their customer base.  In Adidas case, they even have same day pickup for some of these custom products in their London stores.  Finally, the greater the experience the customer has, the more likely they are to spread the word to friends, and these opinions are trusted more so than a typical marketing ad.

The digital battle for customers and retention between competitiors such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour will only continue to expand as the digital revolution continues. I'm interested to see the ways in which these brands can continue to leverage their digital platforms and create unique user experiences for their customers.


The Evolution of Compelling Storytelling in the Digital Age

It's no secret that how we watch content in this current digital age has drastically evolved from as short as a decade ago.  Growing up, we all remember flipping through channels on our television sets, making sure we were home by 9pm on Wednesdays to watch the latest episode of the O.C, or running to the video store on a Friday night before it closes to pick out a few flicks for the weekend.
Now, the effort and planning required to find your favorite content is minimal.  Information and content is literally at our fingertips.  With the press of a button (or maybe a few if we're being exact) you can almost always find the exact program, season, episode, and minute that you'd like to watch.

But, the age of digitization doesn't come without challenges.  With this ease of accessibility, the sheer task of deciding what to watch has become the biggest challenge yet for the viewer.  And from a content creator's perspective, there is more competition and more decisions on how to distribute content than ever.

This Variety article discusses how creators are changing the way they tell stories and deliver their content to consumers due to the dramatically evolving age of digitization.  It discusses issues like news dilution due to increased information demand, the decision of distribution channels, new technologies and how it changes the way we watch content, and more.

Image result for variety logo


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SEO Trend in 2017

With every passing year, SEO continues to evolve with the development of new search algorithm and rules. Below are some of SEO trends to look out for in 2017:

Structured data markup. This is to provide “featured snippet” on Google’s search engine result page (SERP). See example below on “How to clear cookie cache on Mac”.

Mobile search optimization. In May 2015, Google reported that mobile searches had surpassed desktop searches on its search engine. Thus, it is critical to have more responsive pages on mobile browsers. One practical solution is integration of Acceleration Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP pages only use one-eighth of data to load content compared to average webpages.

Cross-channel marketing. These days, users are browsing products using multiple channels i.e. mobile, desktop, and tablet. It is important for marketers to create a consistent brand presence across these channels, so that users can move seamlessly between devices and platforms to interact with the site.

Voice search. According to, teens are the highest users of voice search with 59% using voice search while watching TV and 57% while with friends. This high usage number is no surprise given recent improvements in voice recognition technology. In fact, in SMX West 2016, Google’s director of conversational search noted that speech recognition error rate has been reduced to just 8% today.

Short branded links. One way to share one’s content is via ‘short branded links’. This is particularly relevant on Twitter, which imposes 140 characters limit. Compared to generic short links e.g., branded links are easier to remember and offer signal of quality on the destination webpage.
Branded links have been used by Fortune 500 companies – Pepsi (, Starbucks ( Furthermore, research shows that using branded links increase CTR by 35%.


#illegal #restricted #copyrighted #notforyou

Many companies use hashtags to measure viewer engagement, monitor reputation, trigger or amplify a social media dialogue, raise awareness of a product/consumer education, etc. What’s interesting is the sharp rise in hashtag copyrighting (per the article) “The first application to trademark a hashtag was made in 2010. Since then there have been over 5,000 applications of which 2,200 were in 2016” That implies a 60%+ increase y/y. A few brands are active copyrighters, for example: Marriot (#lovetravels) and T-Mobile (#getthanked). 

As the article points out “overall rise in global applications does indicate is that brands are seeing the value in going through the proper trademarking process”. The implications though are unclear. What happens when a consumer wants to use these hashtags on Twitter? Is it free speech? Will there be infringement risks for consumers who use copyrighted hashtags in negative or critical reviews? How will the large number of social networks police and monitor these hashtags? This seems like a growing trend worth watching…