Friday, October 31, 2014

Microsoft enters the Smart Watch/Fitness market

Microsoft's release of Band may have made the news, but what could prove to be more significant is the fact that it will work with any smart phone (Windows, iOS, Android.)  Equally important, is that Microsoft will reintroduce Microsoft Health - an app that will allow for health recommendations to users.  This could be a great marketing opportunity for both MSFT and marketers.


Twitter's User Engagement

The golden age of Twitter seems to be coming to an end, as Twitter struggles to engage users the way that it used to. As of now, that doesn't stop advertisers from pouring revenue into the social media giant, but the fear is that the lack of user engagement will catch on, and advertisers will soon realize returns elsewhere. 

However, Twitter is focused on new methods of advertising. Twitter is working on an exciting video ad product, along with a new ad pricing model. It should be able to attract more ecommerce users and advertisers by allowing users to achieve "one-click" purchasing, directly from the Twitter website. 

The cost per ad engagement is still decreasing, while ad revenues increased 109% during the last quarter. The CFO, Anthony Noto, has noted the changes, but does not acknowledge the details around the new ad business' contributions to advertising conversions.



M-Commerce Revenue Explodes in Q3 2014

This article provides a variety of metrics related to the boom in mobile commerce, as well as a call to action for retailers to respond immediately to the significant spikes in demand for mobile commerce solutions.

Article below:

Smartphone M-Commerce Revenues Grew 141 Percent In Q3 — Report

Merchants "must immediately face" the mobile challenge.

MarketLive Q3 Performance Index
This morning e-commerce platform MarketLive released its Q3 Performance Index. Drawn from its customers’ aggregated traffic and conversion data, MarketLive sounded the alarm on mobile commerce: “Merchants must immediately face – and address – the enormous implications and inescapable demands of multi-device shopping and mainstream mobile commerce.
The company said that smartphone traffic to e-commerce sites grew by more than 62 percent and revenue grew 141 percent. Tablet revenue and traffic grew by a more modest 20 percent. Though still dominant, PC-based commerce growth “continued its decline.”
PCs generated 57 percent of traffic to e-commerce sites but were responsible for 76 percent of revenues in the aggregate. Smartphones drove 28 percent of traffic but only 11 percent of revenue. Tablets generated 15 percent of traffic and 13 percent of revenue.
The gap between smartphone traffic and conversions is a function of the fact that m-commerce experiences are typically suboptimal. Accordingly and as part of the broader mobile traffic shift, MarketLive reported an overall 2 percent decline in conversions vs. a year ago. Shopping cart and checkout abandonment were both higher as well, up almost 3 percent and almost 7 percent respectively.
MarketLive Q3
Among the e-commerce segments MarketLive tracks brick-and-mortar outperformed the others. Here “brick-and-mortar” means offline retailers that also sell online.
Organic search traffic drove 31 percent of visits overall and 26 percent of conversions, while paid-search generated 18 percent of traffic and 22 percent of revenues in the aggregate.
Traffic from email marketing was responsible for 13 percent of visits and 15 percent of conversions, said MarketLive in its report. By comparison social media referrals were responsible for 2 percent of traffic and 1 percent of conversions. Even though social’s impact was marginal compared to the other channels, MarketLive characterized it as a “small but important shift in how shoppers are influenced.”
The full report is available for download (registration required).
MarketLive Q3 Performance Index



How Facebook uses you to annoy your friends. And how to stop it.

In the last lecture we discussed how ads work on FB and we tried to create an ad ourselves. Amazed and amused, I finally discovered the roots of the most annoying (for customers and for me today) and profitable (for businesses and for me tomorrow) characteristic of Facebook: ads, indeed.

As a Digital Marketer, I loved this tool. In a simple way, I can target my potential customers and delivery my ad right on their homepages. Back in the customer’s shoes (in which I still feel more at ease), I hate it. I hate ads. I have always hated them. Except perhaps for those cool TV commercials of the 90s. Some. With years I developed a useful disease: a complete insensibility to ads. Blindness to ads on webpages, deafness to radio commercials, blindness and deafness to TV commercials. If ads had a smell, I would probably be unable to smell it by now. Facebook ads no: they are persistent, they force me to see them. Even worse: they are targeted. They know me, or at least think they know me. I was looking for a holiday a week ago and now I keep on seeing ads of flights, rent-a-car, hotels. They are terrible and powerful.

We have seen in class how FB, or better, the advertisers that use FB, targets us. Let’s now look at how FB collects information. The easiest way is, of course, when we like something. Easy: we like it, therefore we are interested. Secondly, FB understands what we are interested in from the data we provide (e.g. our age) and from what our friends like. More subtly, however, FB gathers information from every activity we do on the web. Facebook social web apps send information to FB and can post to our profile and to those of our friends. Also, FB cookies never expire: they are only altered when we log off, not cancelled.

What can if we want to stop FB? A lot, starting from 4 steps.
1) FacebookDisconnect: FB gets notified when you visit a page that uses Facebook Connect and that data can be used to target ads. Facebook Disconnect stops that flow of data.
2) Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus: This subscription for Adblock Plus blocks Facebook plugins and scripts from running all over the web so your browsing data doesn't get tied to your Facebook account.
3) DoNotTrackMe: DoNotTrackMe is another extension that blocks trackers and anyone who wants to collect your browsing data to create targeted ads.
4) Opt out of the Facebook Ads that use your actions (liking a page, sharing pages, etc) to promote ads to your friends. Disable Social Ads.
If you want this tools can help you protect your privacy from the intrusions of FB. However, we are digital marketers after all. So, keep them for yourself and don’t tell your client!

To know more:


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Instagram Video Ads Go Live

After a six month testing period, Instagram has launched video ads on its platform. The company has deals to show 15 second autoplay advertisements from Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic and the CW. One of the first ads to roll out will be for Disney's new film, Big Hero 6. In the ad, characters will be posing as if they are taking selfies.

Instagram has been very hands on with both the static and video advertisements that have appeared on its site. The company has aimed to ensure that the content looks native and isn't simply a re-purposing of another campaign. The company recently has had a lot of pressure from rivals Snapchat and Tumblr which have also released video advertisement capabilities.

Clients are excited to take part in this first wave of video ads on the platform since it allows their brands to do something unexpected and different. Although Instagram's targeting capabilities are still rather basic, it does allow companies to reach consumers by age, gender, and country. 


Native Advertising Bolsters the New York Times

Digital-ad revenue at The New York Times increased by 16.5% to a total of $38.2 million in Q3 2014. This was fueled by native advertising, a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. The New York Times manages its native-advertising through its Paid Post product, which launched this past quarter. Paid Posts are ads that look like editorial articles but are not created by the newsroom and are labeled as ads.

It appears that The New York Times is mirroring to its print roots where advertisements are integrated among editorial stories or placed as an insert. The ad is labeled "sponsor generated content" and has different formatting and fonts, but sits among newsroom generated content. This is a more discrete way to grab the audience's attention and engage them in the material.

While digital ad sales comprise more than a quarter of total ad sales at The New York Times and the company is employing creative methods to capture audiences, it seems that it is still struggling with its digital platform overall. More than 50% of The New York Times' digital audience is on mobile while only 10% of digital advertising revenue is generated by mobile. This is a result of the fact that advertisers are not willing to pay as much for ads on mobile sites compared to desktop sites. However, the Paid Post platform combats this trend as branded content can be designed for mobile viewership.



Cardlytics: a card-linked ad tech company

There’s a time to invest in tech and there’s a time to invest in marketing – for Cardlytics, it’s time to do the latter. 
The card-linked ad tech company, which enables advertisers to send targeted offers to consumers directly embedded into their online banking experience, announced Wednesday that it’s raised $70 million in Series F funding led by Discovery Capital.
Although some of the money will be invested in product development, a large chunk of the new cash, which brings Cardlytics’ total to a bit more than $170 million, will go towards spreading awareness about its existing product line, said president and COO Lynne Laube.
“We’re one of the biggest companies that nobody’s ever heard of,” Laube said. “People don’t believe how much data we have access to. We’re going to use this money on marketing. We can deliver our services at scale – we just need to create the awareness.”
When Cardlytics partners with a bank, it provides a piece of software that sits on the bank’s own server behind a firewall. Transaction data is fed back to the bank on a nightly basis. A separate piece of software managed centrally by Cardlytics allows advertisers to create segments by interacting with the bank’s software. 
For example, an advertiser could ask: How many consumers are there in the system who have spent more than $100 in my store over the last three months? The Cardlytics software would then communicate with the bank’s software to come up with a number. From there, the advertiser could issue a command, such as: Track those high value consumers identified by the software for 30 days to see how their spending shifts.
In that way, a consumer’s personally identifiable information never leaves the safety of the bank’s environment and individual information doesn’t have the chance to leak out.
“We never know who the customer is,” Laube said. “We know that it’s the same person over time, but we never know their name. The only entity that knows that is the bank. And all the advertiser ever knows is that a certain segment of people does this or does that.”
Cardlytics serves anywhere between 1.5 billion and 2 billion impressions monthly within the private bank channel, depending on the particular month and seasonality. According to Laude, Cardlytics-driven offers garner a roughly 8% click-through rate, versus the pitiful industry average – .01%, according to DoubleClick.
Cardlytics claims the technology can scale. The company maintains partnerships with just shy of 400 banks, including Bank of America and PNC Bank, and integrates directly with more than 83 million checking accounts, representing roughly 70% of the US population.
That gives Cardlytics a front row seat to a consumer’s shopping behavior through actual purchases and transactions. Beyond serving targeted offers, Cardlytics also sells anonymized data packages through its insights product. 
For instance, Cardlytics can track market share by ZIP code or where a consumer is spending money both inside and outside of a particular advertiser’s store. Laube was quick to note that the packages are comprised solely of non-PII segments.
In addition to increasing awareness, Cardlytics is using a portion of the money to beef up its board membership with agency vet and industry heavy hitter Tony Weisman, CEO of DigitasLBi North American, and to prepare itself for a possible IPO possibly by the end of 2015.
“We want to make sure we have a strong balance sheet so we can take advantage of a potential IPO within 12 to 18 months,” Laube told AdExchanger. “We’re starting the process now. If the window is there when we’re ready, we’ll go with it. If not, we’ll wait. We’re not in a hurry.”


Do brands need to use every social media tool?

I went on a company visit to a luxury clothing brand yesterday.  Not only do they have a normal marketing department, they now have an "integrated marketing" department aka social media.  The department head spoke about the brand's use of twitter, facebook, pinterest, tumblr, instagram, google +, and additional social media outlet that no one in the class had heard of.  It got me thinking: do brands need to be on every social media channel to stay current?

As I've glanced at the content on various brands channels, my gut instinct is: no.  I think that a lot of brands do one of two things if they're on every popular social media application: they either post (mostly) irrelevant different content on each one simply to fill the content calendar or  they post the same content on each channel.

It's frustrating to see a plethora of instagram posts that are not relevant to the brand message, do not have a call to action, and simply seem like spam.  I think it would make more sense for a brand to concentrate on one or two social media channels that make sense for that brand's message and customer base.  If they do this, they can focus more on creating great content instead of just trying to bombard their followers with as many messages as much as possible to stay top of mind.


Political parties seem to disagree on everything....except Amazon

Anyone that has watched the news in the last…forever…knows that political parties rarely agree on anything. In the YouGov Brand Index released lately, however, studies have revealed that individuals from both sides of the political spectrum do agree on one thing – they love Amazon.  

YouGov recently interviewed 600,000 people about 1,200 brands and ranked them by their level of positive and negative feedback. Amazon came in #1 for Democrats, #1 for Independents and #2 for Republicans, just behind Craftsman. Other brands that landed in the top 10 across all political parties include Johnson & Johnson, Craftsman, Clorox and Dawn.

While the company did not report on the bottom 10 list, there were some brands that only appeared for one party, including Dove, PBS and Barnes & Noble, which appeared on the Democrats list only.  Some companies, like Dove, whose ads focus on female empowerment, played into many of the issues of a particular party; others, however, are head-scratchers.


Addicted to Coke

Can we just talk about how Coke has been killing it recently? I came across an article in AdWeek this week which talks about Diet Coke’s latest and greatest genius packaging launch. As a brand that has been around for a looooooooooooooong time, Coke needs to stay relevant and hip. What does packaging have to do with digital marketing? Everything. As most of you are aware, Coke recently launched its “Share a Coke” campaign where the company printed names on its Coke bottles. If you are on Instagram, I guarantee you saw at least one of your friends post a photo of a coke bottle with their name (or someone else’s name) on it. Genius.

Now, Coke has decided to print 2 million unique labels onto its coke bottles in Israel. Yes, 2 million unique designs. Coke used a special algorithm to create these designs. Pretty cool, right?

Not only are the bottle labels unique, but the company also designed unique billboards and sold t-shirts and other merchandise featuring your own specific bottle design.

If you watch the video in AdWeek’s article (, Coke shows some of the outcomes of the campaign:

· 2.1% increase in sales
· 3% increase in brand preference
· 2% increase in purchase intent

The video also features a girl taking a selfie with her bottle and various people posting pics on social media. I think it is very interesting to see big companies like Coke, who don’t have too much to post about on social sites like Instagram (they’ve only posted ~330 photos), utilize marketing campaigns like these to generate social buzz.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1-800-Flowers Uses Data to Create a Deeper Connection

Many of us have used 1-800-Flowers for special occasions and flower gifting. This company has a history of embracing new technologies and platforms early. According to the article, 1-800-Flowers was one of the first companies to purchase a 1-800 phone number; one of the first companies to power a keyword on AOL; and one of the first to partner with Verizon's data-marketing operation, Precision Marketing Insights.

As we all have learnt from our digital marketing class, the data associated with these platforms could be leveraged to understand the marketing returns. In reality, the enthusiasm for new platforms and new information streams gave 1-800-flowers a head start in the race to keep up with the torrent of data marketers have to think about today. These partners and data sources have the ability to revolutionize customer relationship management operations. In the years to come, Mr. Shah from 1-800-flowers said, cold, hard data will have the ability to create much more involved, more intimate connections. 
For other industries that could leverage such platforms and networks, Mr. Shah noted that as those platforms and networks continue to diversify, it will be important for marketers to understand what they do for a brand's customers. For 1-800-flowers, they really spend time and efforts to understand the customers' preferences and what platforms they tend to gravitate towards. For example, core customer segment for 1-800-flowers includes a lot of younger cohorts in the U.S., who tend to use mobile platforms more than older generations. Therefore, being able to leverage the m-commerce platform and truly connect with the customers is one key area of development.


Kraft Concerned Over Digital Ad Impressions

Consumer brand, Kraft--one of Ad Age's 100 leading national advertisers--spent more than $35 million dollars on digital advertising in 2013. Recently, the brand has been extremely concerned with advertisement fraud and viewability. Kraft has rejected close to 85% of real-time ad impressions that are offered to them due to quality concern, leaving executives at the brand slightly worried. When Kraft puts in it's "pre-bid" tools, the company rejects anything that appears unsafe, doesn't meet the brand requirements, and is not viewable.

According to the company's director of data, content and media, "75% - 85% is either deemed to be fraudulent, unsafe or non-viewable or unknown." This statistic brings to light conversations about digital advertising "supply-chain" corruption, and raises industry-wide concerns. This analysis from Kraft was only recently highlighted, so time will tell what this really means for the brand and the consumer industry. 

Kraft representatives say that if they do not know where that advertisement is going to end up, they will treat it as unsafe, and end up rejecting the vast majority of impressions out there. Does this drive up their costs? Because there is such a huge pool of inventory, Kraft has been able to achieve it's deliveries without having to pay more.  



Twitter Marketing Drives $716M in Car Sales

Auto marketers have been asking themselves if their tweets really influence people to buy cars…it seems that the answer is yes.  Marketshare, a marketing analytics company, measured the direct and indirect effects that Twitter had on auto sales for more than 20 volume midsize and luxury compact cars that accounted for 34% of annual U.S. sales in 2013.  MarketShare concluded that Twitter drove $716 million in auto sales among those 20 nameplates through Twitter Ads, positive brand mentions, amplification of TV advertising and the Twitter activity of the automakers themselves.  The new research from MarketShare highlights the power of Twitter for auto marketers, who can leverage the platform to not only build brand awareness and affinity with auto-intenders, but actually move cars off the lot.

One way auto marketers are using Twitter to their advantage is by sending out Tweets to correspond with TV commercials in order to give their messaging longer legs. The idea is that a user engaged enough with a TV show to tweet about it is very likely to have seen the commercials and is a perfect target for promoted tweets. 

Audi took advantage of this strategy this summer when it tied its A3 launch to the TV show “Pretty Little Liars.”  PPL viewers fit with the A3 target consumer demographic in terms of age and income and PPL had a built in reach stemming from its 2.46 million Twitter followers. In addition to running A3 ads during the show's commercial breaks, Audi took its outreach a step further by directing tweeters to its Snapchat mobile account, where it posted video clues and puzzles of what would happen next in the episode -- people took screenshots of the clues and distributed them on Twitter.  The Twitter push drew 876,000 engagements overall, and the campaign's #PLLAudi hashtag was mentioned nearly 30,000 times. The promotion resulted in 487 million social impressions on networks, including Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook.

While finding a direct correlation to sales in a campaign like this is difficult, a Nielsen brand-effect study found that Audi awareness ticked upward among those who were exposed to it.  When people were asked what cars came to mind when they thought of the luxury sector, Audi responses rose 30% among those who saw the "Pretty Little Liars" campaign. In addition, opinions of Audi became 56% more favorable among the exposed group.

Other auto makers have done similar campaigns using Twitter marketing to their advantage.  These include Jaguar and Acura.



Mobile advertising continues driving Facebook’s growth

Facebook presented its quarterly results yesterday satisfying the expectations: Mark Zuckerberg announced $3,200M in revenues in Q3, a 59% increase versus the same quarter last year. The company has focused its growth efforts on the mobile division lately, and the results are showing. Mobile ads supposed $1.95 billion for Facebook in Q3, a 121% increase in a year, and growing. Around 66% of their revenues come from mobile advertising, versus 62% in Q2 and 59% in the same quarter last year.

“The social network is increasingly focused on catering to mobile consumers because that’s increasingly how its audience interacts with the social network. Facebook has 1.12 billion mobile active users, and 456 million of them, roughly 34% of Facebook’s overall user base, only access the social network through mobile apps or mobile versions of its web site.”

It seems the right place to be considering that, according to emarketer, the mobile advertising market will grow by more than 30% annually in the next 3 years; it is estimated that it will surpass desktop-based ads by 2017. Experts have anticipated that Facebook will control 20% of the mobile advertising market by the end of the year, while the current leader, Google, has suffered a 5% drop on its share down to 45%.
Source: Business Insider Intellgence for
Some interesting numbers announced by Facebook yesterday:
  • Profits almost doubled compared with the same period in 2013, from $425M to $806M
  • EPS increased 13 cents up to 30 cents per share in a year
  • The number of active users continues increasing, with more than 1.35 billion active users currently (including both desktop and mobile)

On a side note, Facebook’s share price dropped 9% after announcing bigger than expected expenses in 2015. The company plans to increase expenditures as a result of a more aggressive hiring and acquisitions strategy between 55% and 75%; for sure the $19 billion investment in WhatsApp will account for a big part of it.