Sunday, November 30, 2014

J.C. Penney Aims to Reconnect by Pulling on Heartstrings

Taking a note from Marks & Spencer, J.C. Penney is aiming to reconnect with its customers by reminding people what it means to give throughout the holiday seasons.  Their associates will be donning white gloves, and J.C. Penney will be using the hashtag #JustGotJingled to encourage random acts of kindness among their consumers on social media.   They will also be promoting the  They will be participating in various acts of kindness during the campaign, like inviting the boys and girls club for a holiday shopping trip and having a "street team of elves".  The idea is to remind customers that J.C. Penney is "heart and wallet" responsible.

In addition, J.C. Penney is using digital marketing to connect with its Hispanic consumers via Spanish-language ads and a video series.  They are trying to adjust their strategy to encompass the wider Hispanic market, which is growing.

However, that all said, their implementation of social media strategy seems a little dubious.  First, they did not really discuss unique ways of employing social media, just that they will be encouraging customers to post their own social media videos.  Secondly, while they have some campaign ideas and a hashtag, they lack the authenticity of the idea of "giving".  Marks and Spencer did a good job by creating buzz, it seems that J.C. Penney is doing this backwards.  Finally, their video series for targeting Hispanic consumers is up on AOL online - which doesn't seem too customer-savvy.

Read more about J.C. Penney's ad campaign here


Digital Pizza Toppings in the UK

Pizza Hut in the UK is reinventing the food ordering business and creating an entirely new buzz-worthy experience with its eye-tracking technology, the Subconscious Menu. The technology application determines what toppings you most prefer (in your subconscious) by tracking eye movement for 2.5 seconds of the toppings that you look at the longest. It then uses an algorithm to determine the best possible pizza for you. The technology is claimed to have 98 percent accuracy.

The app is only recently launched so time will tell if this is the future of food ordering or just another entertaining fad. What do you think?


Youtube allows you now to change your channel's URL

When you first joined YouTube it’s possible you picked a URL that isn’t quite in line with what you have built your brand into today. Previously you could have started a new account with a URL that’s more befitting of your brand, but who wants to go through the effort of starting a whole new channel, especially after you have acquired a number of subscribers.

Now there’s an easier way to get a new custom URL without having to undo all the work you have done to build your following on YouTube. The company states that starting this week it will be sending out emails and notifications to qualifying users that will give them the opportunity to claim a new URL.

Requirements are the following,
  • 500 or more subscribers
  • Channels is at least 30 days old
  • Channel has uploaded a photo for the channel icon
  • Channel has uploaded channel art

Source: Not Happy With Your YouTube URL? Now You Can Change It


Twitter puts forth one attribution solution for retailers

Twitter Offers Will Put Digital Coupons Within Tweets

The new feature will enable consumers to sync their debit or credit card with Twitter and redeem coupons online and in physical retail stores.

Twitter is adding another feature to its fledgling e-commerce stable, today introducing Twitter Offers, which will enable advertisers to offer digital coupons within tweets.
Twitter users who see the tweets will be able to claim the offers by linking their credit or debit card accounts to Twitter. The discounts can be redeemed using the synced card, either online or in a retail store.
This brings some obvious benefits for retailers, who have long struggled to link digital marketing with retail sales. As Twitter product manager Tarun Jain explained in a blog post:
With Twitter Offers, advertisers will be able to attribute redemptions directly to their campaigns on Twitter, so that they can effectively measure the ROI from their promotions, even when redemption happens offline. Additionally, we make it easy for merchants to get up and running because they can use their existing payment network, there’s no change to the consumer purchase process, no employee training and no new hardware or software to install. By leveraging Twitter’s robust targeting capabilities, advertisers can tailor their promotions and campaigns to the right audience, while optimizing for performance.
The discount-via-a-tweet idea isn’t new for Twitter;American Express offers a similar feature that gives users the ability to get discounts by tweeting a specialized hashtag, but Twitter Offers brings the commerce relationship with users onto the Twitter network.
And that relationship will be crucial as Twitter continues to build up its e-commerce features. Like the in-tweet Buy button in testing since September, Twitter said it will be rolling Twitter Offers out slowly. For now, it’s available only in the United States and will be tested with a “handful of brands.”



How to beat your competitors on Social Media

Interesting article listing out 6 ways to beat your competition on Facebook, if you're an SMB.

Broadly these ways are:
1. Know which social medium to focus on
2. Optimize your profile on this social medium - use Company or page description well!
3. Communicate your brand's personality.
4. Build a strong fan base (quality of engaged fans is better than quantity of overall fans!)
5. Create great content (know your audience and make it relevant)
6. Measure and analyze what IS and ISN'T working
7. Integrate social channel with your marketing channel

Read more:


World's FIrst Dual Screen Ad Provides Great Opportunity for Consumer Engagement

    Durex launched a new dual screen digital campaign today creating a new way to interact with its ads.  The ad, which launched in the UK, follows a mail boy to an apartment block, where people inside can be seen "having fun" (through the windows).  If the watcher has iTunes or Google Play and points his or her phone at the TV or computer screen, it automatically syncs to reveal the ads alternative views on the second screen.  The way the dual screen ad works is by utilizing the mobile device's camera and microphone to sync the ad, which unlocks the exclusive content and Durex's new eComm store.

    I personally think this evolution is genius and provides a tremendous amount of opportunity for the right advertisers.  I see potential for brands with an e-commerce presence capturing impulse purchases (if viewing on the television) and brands with rich online content (such as those in personal care and beauty).  This approach only works however if you have a robust offering on the dual screen that keeps consumers engaged and ultimately wanting more.



Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2015

Gartner recently released its CEO Spend 2015 report detailing trends it expects to see next year. The report is based on a survey of 315 marketing decision makers in organizations with more than $500 million in annual revenue. Key findings include:
  • The highest marketing technology investment in 2014 was on customer experience. This is considered to be the highest cost innovation project, beating out product innovation. Marketers believe that investing in a personalized customer experience will create a sustainable business advantage and drive profitable revenue growth. This trend is expected to continue in 2015, so we should no longer be surprised when marketers who know more about us than our own families reach out with customized messages.
  • Digital represented 1/4 of the total marketing budget in 2014. The majority of companies plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2015 by an average of 17%. While these trends are correct, it is difficult to track digital marketing budgets precisely because different companies treat marketing budgets differently. For instance, some companies integrate digital into different marketing functions.
  • The line between digital and traditional marketing is starting to blur. Marketers are able to manage a more balanced and integrated marketing mix. The result moves customers towards a self service buying model, reducing sales costs.
  • Digital marketing will share its top ranking with mobile marketing in 2015.
  • Gartner's 2014 CEO Survey found that digital marketing was the No. 1-ranked CEO priority for technology-enabled business capability for investment during the next five years.


Amy Poehler is out at Old Navy

Amy Poehler has been the face of Old Navy video ad campaigns for awhile now.  Black Friday ads were her final commercials for Old Navy.  They view these campaigns as successful and plan to build on the buzz that these ads have created and will name a new celebrity spokesperson soon.  It will be interesting to see who Old Navy chooses as Amy Poehler has had a lot of creative control over the content.  These videos have been part of Old Navy's movement away from TV ads to online video.

I'm not sure if it is smart for Old Navy to choose a new spokesperson.  Amy Poehler is funny and has given this company some fresh and interesting material.  It would make sense to choose someone who can also be trusted with creative control as that person could also help with providing Old Navy with some much needed relevance.  Considering that Old Navy views these ads as successful, it makes little sense to replace her without valid cause.

Source: Adage


Vimeo versus YouTube for Content Marketing

It should come as no surprise that in 2013 more than half of Americans watched a combined 52 billion online videos, and that YouTube owned more viewing hours than all other platforms together. YouTube is massive, garnering around 1 billion unique visitors a month – this, compared to 70 million unique visitors per month for Vimeo. While YouTube might be bigger than Vimeo, it might not be better for marketers looking to build and distribute video content for their business. There is an estimate that 100 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube each minute. With so much content out there, it becomes extremely hard to stand out and be found amongst the masses. Also, quantity does not equal quality.

Vimeo has explicit and implicit policies that help to control both the number and quality of videos placed on its platform. For instance, while there is no limit to the length of individual videos, each account has a total allotment of video space. For more storage space, account holders have to pay, therefore only the dedicated (and often talented, purposeful) content publishers have the most video time. Those who do pay for higher tiered accounts receive benefits and services, as Vimeo wants to make sure they stay.

For marketers, there is a question of pure reach vs. professional reach, and it can be argued that Vimeo is better for the latter. Premium subscribers can customize elements of their video player, allowing a business to put a logo on the player and a custom outro. Perhaps most importantly, there is no advertisements on Vimeo. No threat of having a user exit out of the window prematurely from ad annoyance, and no worries about having an untasteful ad associated with your company. Vimeo enables businesses and their marketing content to take center stage, aligning Vimeo’s interests with their paying customers – a benefit that YouTube will fundamentally not offer any time in the near future. 


Nikon Launches Innovative New Social Campaign

Aiming to revive what many consider a dying product category, Nikon has embarked on an interesting new social media campaign entitled “IAmGenerationImage.” The campaign is targeted at millennial customers who are more fond than ever of documenting their lives through images – the only problem being they do so more than even on non-dedicated imaging devices, like smartphones and tablets, and less on the bulky dedicated imaging cameras that previous generations relied on to take pictures.

Many marketers may have written of millennials at large, but Nokia is targeting them directly, reasoning that these image-addicted population could spawn more dedicated, enthusiast photographers down the line. Nikon is giving away some of their high-end cameras (specifically, the Nikon 750’s, which cost hundreds of dollars and are fairly bulky) to various consumers with the condition that they take and share pictures using the hashtag “#IAmGenerationImage.” The pictures taken will be incorporated into a wide ranging social media campaign spawning an official website hosted by Nikon as well as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Vimeo, and YouTube.
Nikon has given the cameras to an interesting set of users - urban cyclist, a homeless advocate, a pair of comediennes, a pair of dads, a vegan chef, and a family facing financial pressures to downsize apartments. These characters are obviously meant to appeal to situations that many millennials may find themselves in, and Nikon’s main goal is to inspire and pique the curiosity of users whose passion for Instagramming and picture taking could possibly “be taken to the next level” with high-end Nikon equipment.

From a digital marketing perspective, this campaign represents a very smart melding of old and new technology with cutting-edge social marketing platforms. By targeting an up-and-coming millennial demographic through social, and by doing so through the very real and contemporary obsession with taking and social photos via social, Nikon is smartly tapping into very topical social trends and connecting them explicitly with their line of cameras. They clearly now their audience and have cooked up an interesting social approach to both reach, captivate, and convert them.


Europe Issues Guidelines for Google to Extend “Right to be Forgotten” to U.S. Searches

Earlier this year, European Union’s top court ruled that individuals in the E.U. have the right to request that search links on Google’s website tied to that individual could be deleted where the material is deemed “irrelevant or outdated”.  However, these searches only applied to Europeans domains (i.e. and not the U.S. Google website (  Under rules drafted by E.U. privacy chiefs, Google will have to change how it applies the right to be forgotten to its websites beyond the European Union.  These guidelines also censure Google for notifying news outlets about links to websites the search engine has removed–a process that defeats the original purpose of the May ruling by thrusting individuals seeking privacy back into the media spotlight.

The May ruling of the “right to be forgotten” has been widely criticized by the U.S., where the country was founded on the basis of free speech, and the U.K. However, after a two-day meeting, data protection regulators’ new rules will push Google to apply privacy requests from E.U. residents to its primary U.S. site.  While the guidelines are not legally binding, national regulators can use them to pressure Google and take legal steps to comply on a case-by-case basis. 

These guidelines made me think of the speaker we had earlier this semester that was the founder of an online reputation defender service.  I have definitely Googled myself and found some links that I wouldn't want to share publicly (i.e. social media accounts.)  While it would be nice if there were a ruling by the U.S. court similar to that in the E.U., online reputation service companies would go out of business in a heartbeat.  I believe that everyone deserves the right to know what is being featured about yourself on the internet.  While an online service can help you push down unwanted articles in an organic search, one can only hope links can permanently be deleted off search in the future. 


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Twitter is Tracking Users’ Installed Apps for Ad Targeting

Twitter recently informed users that they are now collecting information about the apps installed on users’ devices in order to better target and tailor advertising. In addition to helping with ad targeting, Twitter also said the information it is collecting can be used to improve “who to follow” suggestions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the tracking is switched on by default, though users can choose to opt out of having the information collected.

This move by Twitter should not surprise anyone, as the company has to continue to find new ways to generate the type of revenue and profits that justify its valuation. The question now is how will Twitter manage the balancing act of generating significant advertising revenue without degrading the user experience? I believe most social media users understand that companies like Facebook and Twitter need to use advertising in order to generate revenue and remain viable companies. However, that understanding has limits, and if users come to believe that their favorite social media sites have become merely a message board for advertisers, they will be quick to ditch those sites in favor of new ones.


Making Cyber Monday More Than a One-Day Deal

Making Cyber Monday More Than a One-Day Deal

Cyber Monday presents a great opportunity for marketers to turn customers into an engaged audience and even more ambitiously, turn them into marketers. With millions of  customers converting to online sales during the holidays, there is an opportunity to build a loyal social following by leveraging on this channel. The author of the article suggest five ways for marketers to make sure that new customers that come flooding into online stores have an even bigger long term impact on their business:

  1. Focus on an exceptional customer experience: This first point include two main recommendations. First, make consumer experience as smooth as possible and keep in mind the tradeoffs between gathering consumer data and maximizing the customer experience.
  2. Offer incentives: Reward the customers who provide personal information and survey with incentives.
  3. Collect data carefully: Don't lose a customer in the attempt to gather too much information.
  4. Deliver value on social media: Once you have turned your customer into a social media connection on an email newsletter subscriber give them content that is interesting, engaging and useful.
  5. Be authentic: By being authentic in social media your quality content will travel further, your brand will attract more likes and your social media strategy will achieve a higher ROI.

Read the complete article: Marketers: Make Cyber Monday More Than a One-Day Deal
Source: Cooper, M. (November 26, 2014). Make Cyber Monday More Than a One-Day Deal. Ad Age


The top 5 gadgets of 2014 (yes, they include the iPhone 6).

Reading here and there I found the list recently published by TIME magazine about the best gadgets of 2014. All of these are obviously "smart" items that, by the way, allow suppliers and operators to collect infinite amounts of information on users.

Here are the top 5, which obviously include the Apple Watch at #1 and the iPhone 6 at #5. For a more complete list, visit

1. Apple Watch
The Apple Watch wants to do to your wrist what the iPhone did to your pocket: stick a computer there. For at least $349, watchwearers will access apps, weather, photos, texts, emails, payments and, through Apple’s HomeKit software, control thermostats, door locks, televisions and lights. The watch’s sleek interface is mounted on a customizable strap, and it actually doesn’t make you look like a geek. First revealed this year but not on store shelves for a few more months, it’s a daring foray into the wearable market: Apple could be the first company to make wearable computers ubiquitous.

2. SmartThings starter kit
From alerting you when your kids get home from school to brewing your coffee before you wake up, the connected home promises to be the invisible aide we’ve always wanted. Few smart home companies are doing it as well as SmartThings, which offers a $200 kit that connects inanimate objects in your house to your phone. Use it to attach sensors to your home and program smart objects from locks to crockpots and soon you’ll be living like the Jetsons. This year, the company was bought by Samsung and announced a new phone app interface.

3. DJI Phantom vision
Smartphones, hi-tech cameras, and security videos are making the world eminently recordable, allowing us to monitor and revisit our every move. But nothing is pushing the video boundaries as much as camera-wielding drones, and few camera-wielding drones are doing it like the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+. The roughly $1,200 device is expensive, but it’s known for its exceptional flight capabilities and powerful camera—and it’s cheaper than other high-end drones. It allows joyriders to gain a birds-eye view of nearly any terrain.

4. Oculus rift development kit
In a matter of months—exactly how many months, we don’t know—consumers will be able to buy Oculus Rift. That’s the promise of the company’s 35-year-old CEO, Brendan Iribe, who is riding high after Facebook purchased his company for $2 billion this year. Rift offers a fully immersive, virtual reality headset, the most promising of its kind, and its second development kit (first available this year) greatly improves the technology to help eliminate simulator sickness and increase resolution.

5. iPhone 6 plus
Bigger is better, or so the critics cried, calling for Apple to make a supersized phone. That was before Apple quieted them with the release of the iPhone 6 Plus in September, the company’s largest iPhone ever. With an alluring 5.5-inch display that makes it feel something like a portable iPad, the phone is is a challenge to Samsung’s larger models. Along with a powerful 8-megapixel camera and longer battery life, the phone is more a statement than an answer.


Friday, November 28, 2014

The Awkward Downside to Automated Ad Technology

A digital marketing mistake in a New York Times article last weekend highlights the occasional shortcomings of selling ads through automated auctions. The report cast energy companies in a poor light, except for one called Statoil, which has an impressive safety record.  However, in the story’s mobile version, a display ad for Statoil appeared just a few paragraphs from where the company is approvingly mentioned. A spokeswoman from the NYT said that the ad was served via automated ad technology and that its appearance in the article was a coincidence.

Companies can buy certain ad space on the Times through automated ad-buying platforms, referred to broadly as programmatic technology. Once the story is live, the Times opens unsold ad inventory to ad networks such as Google AdWords, which wound up serving the Statoil ad. Statoil or its media-buying agency likely used Google AdWords to bid on ad space in articles with certain keywords.

Except when selling their ad space directly, publishers have few effective tactics to completely prevent awkward adjacencies. "There are ways to block categories or advertisers, but you have to do it within a whole section or site," Mr. Prohaska said. "There isn't an automated way to say, 'Hey, if there's something positive there, it shouldn't be there because it won't look right.' So sometimes things slip past the goalie."


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Are Millennial Travelers Loyal?

In an age when digital-savvy millennials in the United States are starting to enter the working world and are often on the go for business, it’s interesting to examine their loyalty when it comes to corporate travel. It is now a big question for marketers and travel managers, who must re-examine their previous approaches to advertising and loyalty programs. Travel brands are becoming increasingly popular among this audience, using a healthy mix of attainable, flexible rewards, ongoing guest feedback and traditional hospitality to win them over and gain their business. It has been found that once a millennial traveler picks a preferred brand, he or she tends to stick with that brand for a long time to come.

According to a hotel loyalty survey by Deloitte, 45% of millennials in the United States belonged to none or just one loyalty program during Q1 2014, indicating a huge opportunity for travel loyalty marketing professionals to up the ante when it comes to engaging younger travelers. Deloitte also found that approximately 75% of millennial business travels would stay with a preferred and valued hotel loyalty program even if for some reason they lost all of their status and points. These participants also demonstrated that they would spend an extra $41 per evening, on average, simply to stay at a hotel in their favored program. The right rewards and perks are key to millennial audiences, as younger travelers enjoy accessible rewards, including merchandise, gift cards and hotel upgrades. Younger travelers prefer this to harder to earn rewards such as free airline tickets. Easy-to-earn rewards resonate with the millennial audience.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kendall Jenner Is the New Face of Estée Lauder

The official Estée Lauder video announcing Kendall Jenner as the brand's new spokesperson

On November 14, Kendall Jenner, the 19 year-old daughter of Kris and Bruce Jenner (and of course, sister of Kim), was named the newest face of Estée Lauder. In a highly coordinated move, officially broke the news with Kendall herself promptly following with a post on her Instagram account. The post quickly garnered over 1 million likes and 50,000 comments. On the Saturday of the announcement, "received six times the number of unique visitors as on an average Saturday. Within 48 hours of the announcement, 90 percent of visitors to the site were first-timers, 71 percent viewing the site on a mobile device" according to a NYTimes article.

The choice of Jenner to be the next face of the iconic cosmetics line, which has featured the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Hurley in the past, represents a shift towards a younger positioning for the brand as well as the changing notion of modeling and celebrity.

While Jenner has been working on establishing a modeling career for several years and is certainly a pretty face, what makes her especially attractive to a more traditional brand like Lauder is her serious social media following. Jenner has more than 16 million followers on Instagram, the visual nature of which lends itself perfectly to marketing cosmetics. Her Q Score, which measures a celebrity's awareness amongst the general population, is 33 - only 2 percentage points lower than Gisele Bundchen, the world's highest paid model.

Jenner is uniquely positioned to a younger, media-savvy audience to the brand and will no doubt play an active role in marketing announcements and efforts. All you aspiring models out there, take note - your social media presence might help land you your next gig. And if that fails, maybe you can ask your sister for help...


Comcast, Stop Scamming Me So I Can Stop Scamming You

Have you ever heard anyone excited to get Comcast service? Of course not. That’s like being excited for a hernia operation.
Here’s my hernia operation: every year or so I have to do a dance with Comcast. You know, feigning the intention to quit their service. The so-called trial period on my TV and Internet package ended, causing my bill to nearly double from $90 a month to $160 a month. So I have to quit. Or at least say I’m going to quit. Both the lowly customer retention associate and I know I’m not going to quit. I hate doing it but it works and it’s the most frustrating thing in the world.
The call goes something like this. Let’s call the Comcast rep Ted. I’m talking in a soft and sad voice.
Me: “Hi there, my bill is too high so I need to cancel my service.”
Ted: “Oh I’m sorry to hear that. Let me take a look at your bill.”
Me: “Okay, but I doubt there is anything you can do.”
Ted: “I see you’re on the digital extended plus basic package with Xfinity Internet with speedboost and extra bloatware. That’s a good package. But you don’t have the home phone service.”
Me: “I don’t need the phone service.”
Ted: “Yes you do.”
Me: “I really don’t.”
Ted: “Okay, I hear you. They make me ask.”
Me: “Sure.”
Ted: “Matt, I’m sorry to hear you want to leave and I’ll do anything to keep you as a customer. What will it take?”
Me: “Well, I don’t know, maybe if you drop the price back down to under $100. I don’t need HBO or anything past the basic Internet.”
Ted: “Okay, let me go ask my manager. We have a special I might be able to work you into.”
Me: “Thanks.”
Ted: “Good news, Matt. My manager snuck you into the super digital enhanced package with 25 Mbps [note – he says megabytes, though] Xfinity Internet with speedboost and extra bloatware. It’s just like your other package but we’re throwing in even more digital channels. How is that, Matt?”
Me: “Sounds good. Thanks, pal.”
Ted: “We would like to sign you up for the digital home phone service too.”
Me: “No thanks.”
See, this is the problem, Comcast. This is why no one likes you. It’s because you force people to scam you to get out of being scammed.
Comcast is the only option outside of satellite in my area. Around me, each neighborhood has a different cable provider. Some have Comcast, some have Charter and some have municipal cable companies. I long to live in an area where competition is allowed and fiber is available. I’m not alone. This is a common complaint and a common practice. Essentially if I didn’t do this dance – which always works – I’d suddenly pay double. It’s like going to the gas station and suddenly prices are $6 a gallon just for you – but you can get a discount if you whine to the guy behind the bulletproof glass. Why does this have to happen?
Of course the company does this for profit and the simple fact they’re allowed to price their service as they see fit. And that’s great! Go capitalism! That’s not the issue. Comcast simply does not care enough about its subscribers to institute fair pricing. Wireless carriers cannot get away with this scam. Insurance companies cannot either. Both of their markets are competitive enough to force the companies to compete on pricing and features. But when areas sign over their souls to a single cable provider, the residences suffer and the companies win.
In Ryan Block’s infamous call with Comcast, the rep he spoke with was clearly just doing his job in doing whatever it takes to keep a Comcast customer. None of the laugh line he delivered suggested that Comcast wanted Ryan as a customer, they just wanted Ryan’s money. Treat your customers with respect from beginning to end, and the profits will follow.
Look at T-Mobile. The company is billing itself as the “uncarrier” and is aggressively advertising its new policies. No contracts. Great selection of phones. Amazing pricing. And it’s working. The company is recovering.
Sadly, Comcast doesn’t need to reinvent itself like T-Mobile. The company is already the top cable provider in the country is attempting to buy its closest competitor. Comcast is swimming in coin like Scrooge McDuck. From an investor’s point of view, the company should expand its practices. They’re clearly working great.
But here I am. Here you are. We don’t have any other options. It’s either give Comcast a fortune or… give Comcast a fortune.


Looks like digital ad agencies will be happy this holiday season…and so will shoppers at Kohl’s

US sales during the holiday shopping season are predicted to increase 4% to nearly $490 billion this year. This is a huge number – and holiday advertisers want to capture as much of the pie as they can. Retailers make up the biggest share of ad spending during the holiday period according to Kantar Media (ad tracking firm owned by WPP). In the 2013 holiday period, retailers accounted for 15% of total ad spend – almost $5 billion of the total $32.5 billion. During Black Friday, retailers spent almost $790 million during that week alone (omg).

Guess which retailers spent the most on ads last year?

Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Target, and Sears – not surprising. Wal-Mart spent the most: $300 million. See the chart below for other top spenders.

I don’t know if this is surprising to anyone else, but last year retailers spent 45% of their November and December ad budgets to television ads. I personally would have guessed it would be a lower portion. I’m going to go ahead and guess that this number will drop this year, and much more significantly over the next few years as retailers move more advertising to digital. Internet advertising was just 17% of total spend last year, and I bet that will be much higher this year.

Now that we’re on the topic of the holiday season and Black Friday, I’d like to highlight an article from WSJ about Kohl’s. Maybe this is not so related to digital marketing, but I found it interesting. In such a competitive environment, Kohl’s has spent the last year trying to reach a deal to undercut competitors’ prices. Kohl’s took the approach of working backward from the price they wanted to offer, and then to find a product that fits the price. $5 is that price – and this year Kohl’s will be offering toasters, coffee makers, blenders, and slow cookers at five bucks a pop. Yes, you heard it correctly!

Kohl’s was able to reach an agreement with Select Brands to manufacture these products. You might be wondering “why would Select Brands agree to such a thing?”. Well, even though the margins will be quite slim, the volume and one-time shipment makes it worth it. Also, the $5 price tag is after a $10 mail-in rebate – which many people won’t even bother to redeem so they’ll actually be sold for $15.

Happy Holidays!


Coke Uses Crowdsourcing for New Ad Ideas

Coca-Cola China has put a challenge to creatives on a crowdsourcing platform asking for videos that show what Coke tastes like. The company is trying to generate advertising ideas.
Coke's brief on eYeka, a crowdsourcing platform, read "Don't create an ad for Coke -- we are interested in your creative point of view about the taste." "If you had to explain to an alien who has never tried it before, which particular element of the Coke taste experience would you talk about, and what creative expression would you show him to get him to crave a sip of that Coke taste?"
This is not the first time Coke has used crowdsourcing. It is unclear exactly what the company is looking to get out of video submissions. It could either be to help develop marketing content or be used for market research to drive future marketing campaigns. The initiative was developed by McCann Shanghai.
Richard Cotton, a content director for Coca-Cola China stated that Coke has done typical focus groups and consumer interviews thousands of times, therefore, the company is expecting something a little different from this experience. "It's a very personal thing, taste, and words don't necessarily capture it, so getting people to express that through video, through photography, eventually could lead us to a much more visceral and interesting place."
The contest is open to creatives outside of China and will run through January 18th. Coke will give out more than $31,000 in prize money.
The brief asks people to make videos or animations on one of five themes. One is "Romance of the Magical Caramel Liquid," and another is "What It Does To Me" meaning what happens to your body after drinking Coke. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New York Times Hires Editor for Innovation and Technology

The New York Times has recently created a new role of editor for innovation and strategy. The publisher tapped Kinsey Wilson, a pioneer in digital journalism, for this role, and he will start in this new role in February 2015.

According to The Times, Wilson has build digital strategies for three major news organizations, most recently served as executive vice president and chief content officer for NPR, a position he held since 2008.

In the new job, Wilson will expand mobile strategy and create new digital products inspired by Times journalism. The company pointed to the NYT Now and NYT Cooking apps as examples. He will serve as the newsroom’s primary liaison on digital matters to the business side of The Times Company.

NYT believes that at this crucial time as they accelerate their transformation into a news organization that delivers great journalism on all platforms, Wilson can bring his substantial talents to the Times.

At NPR, Wilson oversaw the network’s global news-gathering, programming and digital operations, which included the development of the NPR One mobile app. Previously, Wilson was executive editor of USA Today where he oversaw digital strategy and daily news operations. He also led Congressional Quarterly’s early Web strategy and served as a reporter at Newsday for seven years. 



Digital marketing for service providers - make a partnership with Amazon

Amazon shoppers in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle would see the offers of service providers fter purchasing items like a car stereo or air conditioner that may require installation. The listings service, known as Amazon Local Services, is part of a broader Amazon effort to compete with brick-and-mortar stores, which still account for more than 90% of retail sales. Similarly, Amazon is trying several initiatives to speed deliveries, and released a credit-card reader earlier this year.
But the listings service will face hurdles. It can take years to build a stable of service providers. Moreover, Amazon is entering a crowded market with established players such as Yelp Inc., Angie’s List Inc. and Craigslist, as well as startups like Thumbtack. GrouponInc. recently rolled out a listings service through which it will eventually offer daily deals. Amazon aims to distinguish itself by offering a money-back guarantee on services rendered by its contractor partners. 
Amazon will conduct background checks on the businesses and determine if they have liability insurance. A recent Amazon search in Los Angeles for ceiling fans yielded recommendations for three installers, or “handpicked pros,” with estimated prices ranging from $89 to $185. Customers can add the services to their shopping carts before they check out.
Kim Hopkins, owner of Electric Connection in Los Angeles, said he had been invited to participate in the program less than a month ago. He said he believed his electrical business had only appeared in search results for a few days. “If this is done right, this could be a huge business,” said Mr. Hopkins. He said he had had one inquiry so far from a customer who wanted to install an unusual lighting fixture. Mr. Hopkins said he would pay Amazon a fee when the service leads to a job, though he declined to elaborate.
On its website Amazon will display reviews of the professionals from its customers. And the service providers will, in turn, be able to create their own profile pages, with additional information about their businesses, and a scheduling feature will help customers book appointments.
Eventually, Amazon hopes to expand the test to include fitness instructors, music teachers or other service providers, according to the document.