Saturday, January 31, 2015

A fun story of how Facebook's targeted ads are served (and can be manipulated)


I started learning about Facebook ads last year when a couple of my other CBS friends and I wanted to test the market for a startup idea that we were developing. During that process, I played with the Facebook ads quite a bit and learned many basics of online advertising. It was incredible to have the power of targeting just a certain segment of the population based on many factors such as geographic location, age, gender, hobbies, and many more. We threw multiple $50 campaigns to gather data on our customer interests right from our hotel room.

I then stumbled upon a story of a guy who spent $1.70 in total to prank his roommate, by serving very specific ads just for him. Instead of summarizing the article, I will let you enjoy the article in its original form: http://mysocialsherpa.com/the-ultimate-retaliation-pranking-my-roommate-with-targeted-facebook-ads/



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Transparentness under era of Big Data

Yesterday, I had a dinner with my Friend Dong. He has a watch on his wrist. It sounds very normal. Everyone can have a watch. But his watch is different from other watches. He introduced to me that his watch was able to accurately track steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned and distance traveled. More surprisingly, this watch could discover sleep pattern.


If a watch wants to record how deep a person was sleeping, it has to understand the person’s heart rate. Heart rate tracking is not the latest technology. When a few years ago, I started to use treadmill, I had already seen such a technology. But applying this technology on a watch is a totally different concept. People could wear a watch all the time, especially a watch, such as my friend’s, that has a design with the textured band is durable enough to withstand rain, the shower and sweatiest workout, and comfortable enough to wear while sleeping. Such a watch could track one’s heart rate day by day and therefore could easily analyze and understand one’s emotion by some sort of modeling. I believe such an analysis is not difficult at all if obtaining sufficient data from a person. Therefore, a watch company could know a person’s emotion.


The real scary part is that a watch could simultaneously know one’s location and emotion. Imagine this, a smart watcher user everyday goes by a golf store. When he goes by the golf store, his heart rate is always a little bit higher than normal. The smart watch company through some analysis concludes that the higher heart rate is from excitement. Thus, the smart watch company concludes that his user likes golf and provides this information to the golf store. As a result, when that user goes by the golf store again, advertisement of discount or other information about that golf store automatically shows on his phone. With the accuracy of knowing a consumers’ insight, the advertisements would become every efficient.


Getting accurate advertisement to some extent is a good thing because people at least don’t have to receive some useless advertisements anymore. However,  people also lose the right of keeping privacy. 

In big data era, we are ready to get customers' information. But, are we ready to keep it at a comfortable level for customers?


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Oreo Marks First Super Bowl Ads to Be Purchased Programmatically


As marketers are competing to impress their audience with creative Super Bowl ads, Oreo becomes the first to buy Super Bowl ads with programmatic technology that will for sure excite ad geeks. Oreo Super Bowl Programmatic TV Commercial

Mondelez, Oreo's parent company, is running 15-second spots during the halftime show for Oreo and Ritz, and the commercials will only show in Erie, Pa., to about 100,000 people. According to Brett Wilson, CEO of TubeMogul, this is the very first Super Bowl ad bought through software.

Now you may wonder: what on earth is programmatic TV advertising? Well, simply put, it is a data-driven automation of audience-based advertising transactions which relies on audience data instead of show ratings to pipe advertising to optimal places. Because of the way programmatic ads work, brands and agencies stand to benefit from more targeted TV marketing. Meanwhile, advertisers can get analysis of the views within 24 hours and know exactly what ran.

Of course there is some fear in the industry about the programmatic future, because the technology is seen as a threat to the ad world's glamour and creativity. Also, ad space sold programmatically is often viewed as being lower quality.



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Beauty blogger secrets: what marketers should take in mind before their digital campaign

I recently came through a post regarding 'Top Digital Marketing Mistakes in the Beauty Industry' by Sukesh Jakharia. It pointed out several fatal mistakes marketer should avoid, which I heartly agree, such as lacking a complete brand strategy, forgetting about men, as well as not connecting your digital platforms.

However, the solutions were nowhere to be found - marketers are accused of there mistakes but not provided with actionables.

In the meantime, many individuals who started their beauty blogger as amateurs, had made remarkable success. Not to mention the famous Temptalia, whose website contains thousands of swatches, reviews, comparisons and attract millions of visitors, even a graduate student at University College London who call herself 'SEPTEMBER the life recorder' has attracted 40K enthusiastic followers in two months on the Chinese microblog Weibo. And the number is much greater than many beauty brands including Elizabeth Arden.

A few secrets that those beauty bloggers utilized that digital marketers might find useful:

1. 'Retweet Lottery'

The prize could be as tiny as a lipstick or an eyeshadow platte - regardless of however costless it might seem, it is one efficient way to conduct market test and increase followers. The number of retweets for lottery of a specific item could be insights on how popular the item is in the market, and as consumers have to become followers first to enter the lottery, the beauty blogger/ the brand account could attract users that actually consider making future purchase. As far as I'm concerned, a recent retweet lottery with a Chanel limited edition blush (value ~80USD) has attracted 20,000 eager users to retweet.

2. Engage the Men

Some smart moves are surveys conducted by bloggers such as - "ask your BF/BFF what's the most flattering eyeshadow color on you". Surprisingly while the question is targeted at female users to answer, many males had been bold and brave to contribute opinions. Traditionally straight men had been portrayed as '' silly dude unable to tell between no-makeup and expertly-done-heavy-makeup", but the opinion of men could matter as much. In fact, a SUQQU eyeshadow palette named SAKURAHABA had been constantly sold out for six months because it was depicted as 'THE first date eyeshadow' in a blogger survey.
THE first date eyeshadow that made women crazy

3. Talk Beauty and BEYOND Beauty.

A close friend of mine, and also a beauty enthusiast and Sephora VIBR, followed almost every popular beauty bloggers. However, whose posts does she read?

Only those bloggers she likes and feels like a real person, who live, eat, talk, date, and occasionally feel upset.

It is no time that beauty products are hidden in counters and available for VIP only - it is time that they bring along their personality with them when communication with digital audience. It does not imply that a bottle of YSL nail laquer should has a boyfriend named Ken, but rather bringing genuine experience instead of superficial descriptions of movie stars and supermodels.


4. Let Followers Interact with Each Other.

I always find users' comment more interesting than beauty posts themselves - there are green hands to be educated, experienced beauty assistant volunteer to share, eager full time moms seeking friends to hang out, and high school teens anxious to find the perfect eyeliner for a night out. That's the magic of beauty bloggers that marketers should catch. That great contents could be generated by followers, and the content team would never have to stay awake for the new idea.





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Super Bowl 2015 Pre-Game Ads - winners and big winners

http://adage.com/article/special-report-super-bowl/review-bud-real-super-bowl-pre-game-victor/296914/

It’s official. Budweiser’s puppy video has won the title of Super Bowl commercial champion once again, or at least, it has been crowned the official king of teasers and pre-released ads, based on 31 million views, the most of any that’s been released by any company looking to capture public sentiment during this once a year nationally televised event.
The fact that Budweiser captured not only the 1st, but the 2nd position in overall total views of an ad as well may be an indication of its ingenuity and marketing savvy. The 2nd commercial was completely unrelated to cuteness or animals, and to sum it up, it would be described as spontaneity meets Pac Man.
Toyota came in bronze for the number 3 position with its “Lets Go Places” commercial featuring current and ex NFL football players and their kids. We can caption this with a “touchy-feely” label.
Wix.com came in 4th on the viewership list at 9 million with its Terrell Owens pie-making piece we can tentatively title “muscle pies”. T-Mobile’s Super Bowl commercial did drew our attention to Kim Kardashian West’s “booty stuff” as directly referenced in the piece and to a sale to bring rollover minutes to internet data plans, which we can subsequently use to ogle at Mrs. West. T-Mobile came in at 5th place.
Mindy Kaling of “The Mindy Show” fame stars in Nationwide’s ad as “Invisible Mindy”, doing naked yoga and eating ice cream before it was paid for and garnering 6th place. Stay tuned for part 2. BMW’s “Newfangled Idea” ad coming in at 7th featured Katie Couric at 2 different times, 21 years ago and today, reviewing products that were brand new to the market. How times changes.
Mercedes’s “The Big Race” piece came in at 8th, featuring Jerry Rice and a Playboy centerfold. Miss centerfold was doing technical analysis on why the hare will win the race, not the turtle. Placing at 9th and 10th are Skittles and Doritos, respectively. Skittles piece featured Kurt Warner, but was not interesting in any other regard. Doritos ad had a father driving in the car with his kids, eating Doritos.

Quick recap:

   1.       Cute and fuzzy
   2.       Pac Man
   3.       Lets Go Places/Touchy feely
   4.       Muscle Pies
   5.       Booty stuffs
   6.       Naked Yoga
   7.       Newfangled Idea
   8.       Playboy centerfold
   9.       Too much Skittles

   10.   Too much Doritos

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$4.5 Million for a 30-Second Super Bowl Ad vs $4.5 million for Social Digital Ads

The Super Bowl is tomorrow and NBC is charing $4.5 Million to run a 30 second ad on TV.  It's no surprise that a lot of brands can't afford this.  What's the cheaper option? Digital media.  Digital media ads have picked up this year, in spite of rising prices, and brands are using them to complement or replace their Super Bowl spots. 

Adweek conducting an amusing (in my opinion) off the record discussion with a group of ad buyers and experts about individual digital ad prices.

So what can $4.5 million dollars during the Super Bowl buy you in digital ads?

1) Ten "Premium Day" $425,000 Promoted Trends on Twitter 
Usually $200,00 for one day but $425,000 during the Super Bowl

2) Four Days of $950,000 Facebook Reach Blocks
With a Reach Block, brands are guaranteed that their promos show up in 100 percent of a target audience's newsfeeds at least once a day

3) Five $800,000 YouTube Masthead Ads
Typically $300,000-$400,000 a day but can spike to $800,000 during the Super Bowl

4) Six Days Worth of $750,000 Sponsored Snapchat Snaps

Digital ads are more in demand but will remain cheaper.  Super Bowl ads are so expensive because there are so few of them.

Here's there article: http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/what-45-million-could-buy-if-spent-social-ads-instead-super-bowl-spots-162485

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Internet Portal & Messaging App in the Case of South Korea



Last summer in 2014, one of the biggest South Korean search portals Daum acquired KakaoTalk, a small start-up messaging application at the time. In my opinion, this was Daum's best decision ever because KakaoTalk allows personalized advertisements on its 145mil registered devices. As an avid KakaoTalk user, I am also increasingly more favoring Daum as my go-to portal instead of Naver (the leading portal in S. Korea), not only because of the convenience but also because I love seeing Daum's witty advertisements on Kakao (cute emojis and stickers, available as stationery items and toys in retail stores, too! Koreans love this stuff, you know). KakaoTalk and Daum now share a great subculture that is prominent throughout the application; Kakao has become more than a messaging app now, almost a social media platform where people converse minutely.

Naver is still the leading internet portal in South Korea today, but Daum might soon catch up. In order to combat this, Naver recently launched TV ads for the first time with the slogan "Ask Naver (네이버에 물어봐)." But will TV ads be enough? It will be interesting to observe how this Naver vs. Daum or internet portal's TV commercial vs. Digital Marketing action will unravel. We will see the results this year.



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Ship Your Enemies Glitter

What a great SEO story... http://observer.com/2015/01/exclusive-how-this-man-got-the-media-to-fall-for-shipyourenemiesglitter-stunt/

The home page probably explains the concept better than I would.


On January 12, a new site (and company) launched out of Australia. ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com would ship a very annoying glitter bomb to someone -friend or enemy- of your choice for $9.99 ($8.15 USD). Founder Matthew Carpenter was soon begging customers to stop placing orders so that he could keep up with all the glitter shipping demand.


However, it turned out that the prank website was itself a prank, or rather a New Years Resolution of Carpenter's to improve his marketing skills.  In Carpenter's words, he exploited the fact that the "media (here in Australia particularly) has become extremely lazy with sourcing." He started out with crowd source sites like Reddit and Product Hunt, and used the concept's popularity there to earn links elsewhere on the web. Eventually he got coverage from Time.com, Fast Company, the Telegraph, Huff Post, and Tech Crunch, until he auctioned the whole site off for $85,000.


 This story is interesting because of the way Carpenter pulled it off, both for his digital marketing strategy and for the fact that he proved something about the media in the process. Also, he uses a lot of jargon from the class, including "link juice," so he must be legit.

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3 Billion Internet Users and Growing - 2015 SEO Strategy Must

According to Internet Live Stats, an international team of developers, researchers, and analysts making statistics available live, around 40% of the world population has an internet connection today. In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005. The second billion in 2010. The third billion in 2014.
The chart and table below show the number of global internet users per year since 1993:


Google predicts that there will be more than 3 billion more internet users by 2020. We are heading from a world of 3 billion connected to the internet in 2014 to at least 6 billion by 2020. Between Facebook's drone technology and Google's stratospheric balloons (called Project Loon), there is to the potential to take that number up to 8 billion by 2020.

This could possibly be one reason why Google Executive Eric Schmidt made a bold and confident announcement that "by the end of the decade, everyone on earth will be connected to the internet." This represents trillions of dollars of economic buying power. This is a HUGE opportunity which is why it is more important than ever to focus and master these five SEO strategies for 2015.


1. Build and optimize for mobile traffic

In 2014, mobile Internet use finally surpassed desktop Internet use. This marked a fundamental change in consumer behavior with major implications on search and search engine optimization. The ability for a brand to deliver speed to market high-quality mobile experiences for consumers will certainly gain a competitive advantage.

2. Increase focus on social media and engagement

Social media is now a marketing channel as well as a customer-service channel. Your social audience expects your brand to engage with them on a more personal level. The two must go hand-in-hand.

3. Inbound links are gold

In the same manner word of mouth, referrals and customer feedback are for real interactions; inbound links are indicators of value, authority, and trust to search engines. Earning a single link on a high-quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic, leads, sales and branding exposure.

4. Expand beyond Google

With the growth of mobile, online service providers and software applications are developing internal search functions to better serve their own audiences which means search is growing beyond engines on Web browsers. In 2015, consider shifting greater focus to optimizing brand presence for search across platforms beyond Google like Amazon, Wikipedia, Yelp, and mobile applications.

5. Patience with long-tail search will reap rewards

Long-tail search, less costly than one or two word key phrases, is more promising but requires patience. Long-tail keyword queries tend to be more relevant and convert at higher rates as a result of greater specificity, and ultimately, purchase intent. Brands that can command the power and influence of long-tail queries will see positive results.

Develop and implement these five SEO strategies for a successful 2015.






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10 Big Trends Reshaping Financial Marketing Today


I ran across the following article in the Financial Brand:

http://thefinancialbrand.com/47646/marketing-trends-in-banking/

The piece that resonated the most with me was the personalization that is now being conducted. The article claims that in 2014, marketing efforts were 10-30% more effective. They claim that this new effectiveness is largely driven by banks experimenting "with mining internal (structured) and external (unstructured) data to create targeted approaches … and it worked." I think this illustrates the power of digital marketing and where the industry more broadly is moving as more and more data can be utilized across all channels.

The article also talks quite a bit about storytelling, which they believe is becoming more popular again. The ad that comes to my mind is the Swiffer commercial that tells the story of an older couple that is cleaning the old-fashioned way and the Swiffer makes that process much easier:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9Bp2AszNw

I think that combining these two elements where be where larger banks, in particular, will need to head. They need to provide prospects with relevant content and stories, that are personalized to them, whereas I feel they have traditionally used a one-size-fits-all model.

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Alibaba: Influence on the global online market

I read an article online” Report: Alibaba & The Future of Global Marketing” which gives me some inspiration. Alibaba is a very influential name during 2014 in the online marketing business. It made its IPO in New York in the previous year, give the company new source of power to move on to the next stage. Alibaba is company consists of several sub companies covering the area of B2B, B2C, C2C. By far, the Alibaba group has the largest market share in the ecommerce market in China. The following table shows that Alibaba Group’s influence on the global market is also substantial.



Site ranking by traffic volume (source: Alexa, August 2014)

China is Alibaba’s main marketplace, but the company is showing a trend that it is expanding around the world. Number of visits to the Alibaba site is growing rapidly. One reason for that is the company is working with many multinational companies, such as Mercedes Benz. Another reason for the quick expansion is that the company is introducing many businesses that have no ecommerce experience to the new filed. Not only for customers, the company have changed the way they buy, the Alibaba group is also changing future businesses’ operation modes.



Demographic breakdown of Alibaba properties* users compared to general population
(source: comScore USA, August 2014)

The market in general also see some changes under Alibaba's effect. It offers many business the opportunities to get to new markets. It gives business the new operational modes to get ahead of other similar business. The platform Alibaba offers enables so many marketers to have the chance to expand globally.



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Friday, January 30, 2015

Macy's Restructures To Boost Digital Marketing, Mulls Off-Price Plans

Recently I came across an article on MeidaPost (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/241415/macys-restructures-to-boost-digital-marketing-mu.html) that highlighted Macy’s new digital marketing effort.  With the holiday selling season safely in the books — and gains at the higher end of its initial forecasts — Macy’s is shaking its strategy up. The retailer says it is restructuring its marketing and merchandising game by combining store and online operations, and that it is also exploring an off-price format for its flagship brand.

The Cincinnati-based retailer says the changes are meant to sharpen its focus on digital strategies. “Our business is rapidly evolving in response to changes in the way customers are shopping across stores, desktops, tablets and smartphones,” CEO Terry J. Lundgren says in its announcement. “We must continue to invest in our business to focus on where the customer is headed – to prepare for what’s next.”

While the changes include layoffs of some 2,200 people, it expects to keep its workforce at about 175,000 associates, as it creates a single, unified merchandising and marketing organization, which will be a hybrid of store and online shopping that “will support the entire Macy’s business to encourage both store and digital growth,” the announcement says. (The same is true for its Bloomingdale’s division.) And this year, it expects to add 150 people to its digital tech operations in San Francisco.

It also says it has put together a team to explore an off-price business for Macy’s. “The company believes that Macy’s omnichannel infrastructure and insight could lead to innovative ways to deliver value to additional segments of the customer marketplace,” it says.

For the combined period of November and December, Macy’s says comparable-sales climbed 2.7%, compared with the prior year.

It isn’t the only retailer bragging about the holiday: Target says its holiday period broke some records, including online sales for Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, up 40% from 2013; a 60% gain in mobile traffic through November and December; and double the number of Black Friday purchases made on mobile.

And Gap Inc. says it is “very pleased” with its Old Navy brand’s global performance, which saw sales rise 8% in December. But sales were flat at Banana Republic, and up just 1% at its flagship stores in the U.S. Sales at international Gap stores dropped 5%.

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The Million Dollar Dump

The Super Bowl is here! And so is the golden season for advertisements. As one of the most celebrated sports events in United States, Super Bowl attracts the biggest buyers for advertisements. In 2014 we saw a record average of 112.2 million viewers for the game (MarketingCharts), arguably putting Super Bowl as the best place to reach out to American households.  With that it is then not hard to justify the $4.5 million price tag for a mere 30 sec ad during Super Bowl.  But is it truly worth it?

If it were in the previous era, judging the effectiveness of a TV ad would solely rely on impressions. In this digital marketing era however, a lot of the impressions and even conversions could finally be measured. A glimpse at the number shocked me: 2.4 million Twitter users posted 4.9 million tweets about the ads; conversation about the Super Bowl (including the game, halftime show, and brands) reached 25.3 million tweets by 5.6 million authors, equating to 1.8 billion impressions and a unique audience of 15.3 million accounts; advertisers enjoyed social mentions that were 7 times higher than on their typical day. (MarketingCharts) Who wouldn’t give it a try if their target audience is all US residents?



Traditionally, the automobile industry would take the major share in the Super Bowl season, and this year is no exception. The interesting thing is, some of the major car manufacturers are backing out this year while many new companies have joined the race. Is that a sign of ad ineffectiveness? Perhaps only the companies know. Nevertheless we do see many companies took full advantage of the opportunity in expanding their influence. For example, T-Mobile had several awesome ads that were pushed out and went absolutely viral. This year they are back with Kim Kardashian, well, I guess a video is worth a thousand words:


It is also interesting to look at different companies’ strategy in releasing their Super Bowl ads. Some companies chose to release their ads in entirety weeks before the actual event, whereas some other companies such as Nissan, chose to release just part of their ads. (Movie Trailers? Really?) Interestingly, data have shown that companies who released pre-game content saw 175% higher viewership compared to content released only during the game. Looks like some companies should reconsider their strategy now.

In addition, there is an increasing trend of multi-screen consumers who would not be engaged with the Super Bowl TV ads that well. Data show that 83% Super Bowl viewers use a second screen (Lab42), and mobile sharing was up by 67% compared to last year. Given that, many digital marketing companies have developed new solutions for their clients: cross-platform targeted advertisements, so that no matter what device you are using, you would most likely see the same ad appearing on your phone as on your TV. (God, where can we hide now?)


All in all, it seems that the true value of super bowl ads lies way beyond the 30 seconds on screen. With the help of Youtube, Facebook, etc., many well produced super bowl ads were shared and promoted basically at no additional cost to the producer. Serving as the best seeding point for companies, Super Bowl ads have created a resonating synergy between traditional and innovative media platforms. 

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Mobile Marketing: a good lessen to learn from the New York Times

Recently, I came across an article on New York Times turning its focus to mobile marketing on social apps. With the help of Gallop Labs, a mobile marketing automation platform and a recent winner of Facebook’s Innovation Award, New York Times came up with an innovative way to utilize the huge data gathered from the publisher’s app. "Under the hood of the mobile analytics dashboard, there is a ton of detail on their users. Marketers can use this data to drive more targeted advertising based on what users are looking at and what they’re interested in at the right time and with the right message,” said Farzana Nasser, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Gallop Labs, New York.

In July 2014, the New York Times equipped its new app with functions that allows users to customize their experience by choosing what types of news they want to receive. The development of these features was introduced to encourage more engagement with the apps, given users can filter different news genres, depending on their personal interests. However, these fancy updates bring the company far more benefits than simply attracting new app users and retaining current users. More importantly, by adding these features, the New York Times will gather tons of valuable data revealing the interests of their app users.

Gallop recognizes the channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, that marketers can use to deliver not only targeted contents but also appropriate advertisements. Gallop then encourages their clients to use these channels to better acquire, engage and retain app users. In a similar way that Facebook remembers the sites its users visit and then develops coordinating ads, Gallop’s capabilities can use the habits of dedicated New York Times’ users to advertise more targeted information to them while they browse on their favorite social sites. By using a combination of algorithms, specifically in-app behavioral data, Gallop aims to help New York Times' marketers optimize their campaigns based on post-install metrics.

From a company perspective, let customers choose the content they want to receive is definitely a good choice. With data that indicates consumers’ interests and habits, marketers are able to look past the bigger picture and know users on a personal level, enabling them to provide an overall pleasant experience while using the app and recruiting users that will keep coming back. “We see a huge focus on driving cheap installs within mobile advertising these days, and there is not as much of a focus on high quality users,” Ms. Nasser said. “If users don't stick around after their install and do not drive revenue, they aren't too valuable."


So if we are able to offer customers more autonomy while make them more valuable to the company, why not?

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AOL's Dumbell Strategy

AOL just recently fired 150 ad salespeople as part of its re-organization, and it's a strategically interesting question for digital marketing. AOL is structuring itself as a two-product player in digital advertising: on one end there is a commodity programmatic ad sales division. On the other end is a high-margin, customized products division. Part of AOL's restructuring is getting rid of the middle ground that used to exist between those two ends of the market.

Now, what is interesting about this is how obviously similar it is to the story in other industries. It seems that everything from PCs to mobile phones to apparel to food to housing to, apparently, ad sales, is being affected the same way: the low-end is flourishing due to a technology-driven expansion, but that expansion is fueled at the expense of margins, because such a large, open market tends to be come standardized and commoditized.

The high end of the market also does well, because when the underlying technologies are harnessed for a specific, custom purpose, the custom products that can be produced are perceived as higher-quality than the mass-market commodity goods in the low end. But in this situation, there really isn't room for a "middle": if you are buying on price, you buy the low end, and if you are buying on quality, you buy the high end.

This process has been so widespread that we can look at some other industries in which it has already had more time to reach its later stages, and see if we can make some predictions about the future of digital marketing.

In fast food, the companies with the best performance are the ones that have managed to keep margins high through a willingness-to-pay strategy and a high organizational focus: Five Guys, Chipotle, and Panera all keep their menus small and expensive, attracting customers who want a perceived better experience with higher-quality food for slightly higher prices. On the other hand, the formerly dominant commodity players like McDonald's are struggling. McDonald's in particular has expanded its menu in a quest for higher margins, but still can't move its core customers off the dollar menu, and now has to deal with increasingly complex operations thanks to the new breadth of its offerings.

In electronics, the good news is even harder to find: the big players have only a few years of high margins on any given product before it gets commoditized into unprofitability, so they have to relentlessly try to develop improved products, or at the very least new products (customers can disagree about the value of some of the innovations, e.g. the flub that was 3D TV).

In retailing, the similarity to the current state of digital advertising is even starker. Amazon and related web-commerce sites are taking over the low-margin low end of the market, and boutiques are embracing digital technology to develop their brands and reach more customers with their high-margin low-volume products.

So, which of these three situations will digital marketing find itself in in the next 5 to 10 years? This wouldn't be much of a blog post if I didn't make a prediction (although I frankly admit to no special expertise in this matter), and my prediction is that it will look like the electronics market. The low-end business will be huge but not very profitable, and the high-end business will be split into small, profitable niches threatened by the improving quality of the low-end products (e.g. the audiophile market).

Now of course, this is assuming that no major changes occur in the structure of the industry, which is itself unlikely. It will be interesting to see how the different players respond to the changes taking place, and whether for instance Google will embrace the "dumbellization" of the digital advertising market and seek to empower one or both ends of it, or whether there will be some attempt to rescue the old middle of the market.

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Super Bowl: A New Game for Digital Marketers

As football fans prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl, marketers are looking forward to the game just as much. Each year, marketers spend millions of dollars to advertise during Super Bowl; as for this year, a single 30-second spot is selling for about $4.5 million. With modern day Super Bowl advertising evolving into a multi-platform event, the role of social and mobile becomes increasingly relevant.

The Adobe Digital Index data shows that the NFL is the most popular social sport in the US, hence, social will remain an important digital marketing strategy. However, with Facebook algorithm changes, marketers are expected to rely less on images and more on videos or link posts. Mobile visitors will also play a huge role as consumers will likely be watching the game and simultaneously accessing social channels from their mobile devices, which should serve as a sign for marketers to ensure their communications are mobile-optimized. This year's game is also expected to attract a bigger international audience than ever before given the increase of broadcast availability. With this new crowd, advertisers have the opportunity to increase brand exposure to consumers who might never have heard of their products or services. (Look up http://mashable.com/2015/01/27/super-bowl-marketing-trends-brandspeak/ for detailed statistics on the trends in Super Bowl marketing)

Super Bowl is the ultimate platform for advertisers to reach out to consumers, and the field awaits the most creative advertisement that marketers will be presenting this Sunday.

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Social Media Will Have 5.4M More Users by 2016

Interesting stats in this article:
There are nearly 180 million Americans who use social media, and there will be 5.4 million more users by next year, according to data from eMarketerThe market research firm looked at the number of users on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, comparing the numbers from 2013 through 2015 and predicting those for 2016.
The article further breaks down the usage by age groups.  For example, one of the predictions is that by next year, there will be 4.9 million social network users younger than 12, a number that will have consistently increased by 300,000 over the previous years. With 3 million users, this demographic is most active on Facebook. eMarketer predicts that number to increase incrementally, though the youngest Americans' presence on Pinterest and Tumblr will stagnate.
Not sure how others feel, but a 9 year old chatting away on Facebook?  What's wrong with that picture?

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10 Best Digital Marketing Stats of the Week

As a quantitative type of guy, stats have always intrigued me, and what I find fascinating about digital marketing is the ability to quantify so many aspects of digital campaigns.  In this week's top 10 countdown on Adweek, there are a couple of interesting stats that caught my attention.

Stat number 3 came from Facebook, where it reported that video views have hit 3 billion daily, and ad revenue reached $3.6 billion, of which 69% came from mobile devices.  That's an astounding number and speaks to the value of being able to hyperfocus ads on specific groups, rather than blasting to the 18-45 year olds that watch a certain TV show at a certain time slot., for example.

Stat number 7 was surprising not for the statistic, but for the fact that the NFL didn't have a Youtube channel.  They've proven to be out of touch regarding domestic issues and health issues, but their overprotective-ness of their content is probably hurting more than helping.  I immediately think of the MLB network, its "Fancave" here in NYC, and MLB.com, which are the best interactive/digital marketing assets of any of the major sports.  The NFL should review what MLB has done, as there's likely tons of value to be captured through these channels.  It seems like mobile betting and fantasy football apps and their respective online presences are leveraging the NFL more than the actual NFL.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Omni-channel marketing: Good or Bad?

Marketers working for Barnes & Noble have an interesting opportunity: they can connect with their customers in their brick and mortar stores, on their website, via online marketing, through their mobile app, through their tablets and eReaders, over email, social, direct mail, and push notifications. That’s a lot of ways to market to their customers! And with great opportunity comes high expectations. Customers expect their favorite brands to remember them, treat them well, and give them the level of service and the experience they are used to. Add to this perhaps the most relevant customer expectation of personalization and it’s quite a complex undertaking!

The most sophisticated solution would involve a system that constantly monitors available customer data across the millions of customer accounts, matches it up with relevant product and content offerings, and stands ready to deploy a timely and relevant marketing message across any (or all) channels. After all, the most successful marketing tactic would also be useful to the customer. Therefore data analytics serves as the intelligence engine or feedback loop to this sophisticated omni-channel CRM system without which disparate and alienating mass-marketing messages risk meeting a brand’s best customers at every turn. In some ways it reminds me of this great clip from The Office.




Will it be Google or a startup that comes up with the one-stop shop for omni-channel marketing? Or would omni-channel marketing even resonate with customers? Would this be when they say that companies have too much of their personal preferences and data? Time will tell.

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