Saturday, February 25, 2017

AI Stylist

We've all seen the "Customers who purchased this item also looked at these:" adverts. This is a very basic strategy on the surface, but could be aided by AI to more intelligently recommend items to each shopper uniquely. Propulse Analytics has set out to do just this for ecommerce. A fuller description of Propulse: 

"Billed as ‘the most advanced independent e-commerce purchase prediction tool in existence,’ Propulse was founded by former Saks Fifth Ave executives, and combines deep learning, image analysis, and a proprietary Purchase Path Neural Network to attract shoppers and multiply earnings."

Another strong point made by the above article is 87% of shoppers say their choices are influenced by in-store associates. If this technology could help buyers find what they truly want with smart recommendations it could serve to create higher cart totals for sellers, as well as bring more value to consumers. 


Whisper - An Innovative Approach to Marketing

In effort to build some hype around it's new show "Big Little Lies", HBO is working with the app Whisper- a digital media publisher that that helps brands develop content.   According to a recent article in AdAge, People post anonymous confessions inside the app, and images from "Big Little Lies" will pair with people creating Whispers about lies they have told.  The article quotes Whisper's VP of ad sales as saying "Advertisers don't just purchase an ad that lives on Whisper, they purchase the right to be a part of Whisper.

In light of our recent class discussion about branding media content, what strikes me the most about digital advertising is that not only does a successful digital marketing campaign require engaging content (as is true in traditional marketing strategies), but  that it requires a multi-platform placement strategy.  To me, the marketing campaign for "Big Little Lies" is a great example of this.

Of course, I've never heard of the Whisper App... guess what I'm going to do right now?


DNC ad targeting

In the run up to the 2016 election, political ads were unavoidable. While for most Americans the onslaught has subsided, a select group of Democrats has been hit with hyper-targeted advertisements, reflecting advertisers' increasing ability to home in on specific populations.  

In a vote today, about 450 voting committee members of the DNC will select the next party chair. In yet another example of how social media has upended the traditional political landscape, this small group has been aggressively targeted on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapshot with advertisements for various candidates. Candidates have been using various methods to reach their intended audiences, including targeting people with certain online behavior around specific political events (i.e., serving ads to people within a certain distance from a particular venue). For those committee members, the traditional tactics of calling and emailing have been aggressively supplemented with a deluge of targeted ads. The efficacy of these particular ads remains questionable, but the tactic does seem to highlight advertisers' evolving ability to target very specific segments. 


Fjuri - Digital Marketing Data Analytics - Former Microsoft CMO

The former head of Microsoft's marketing department is starting his own digital marketing firm. The firm is focused on using analytics to identify the right data to reference when analyzing customer profiles.


Children Targets of Junk Food Marketing

Digital Marketing has changed the way most companies reach their target market. For the most part, the benefits of digital marketing have been positive for both retailers and consumers. However, New Zealand health professors would disagree. They're suggesting advertising codes have been ignored, and fast food restaurants are targeting children, which has lead to adverse health effects including high rates of childhood obesity. They've used website marketing, which includes free downloadable items, promotional characters, and advert-linked gaming, to successfully target and reach children.

I agree with the New Zealand health professors. While profits are often the primary focus of large retailers and companies, there needs to be strict regulations in place to protect the consumer. Whether it's tobacco or food, governments need to make sure that they have strict regulations in place in order to protect consumers, but they need to make sure they enforce them as well. This article is a great example of how digital marketing has taken over and taken advantage of consumers.


More Brands are testing Facebook's pricey live video ads

This article from digiday yesterday brings up a topic we discussed in class yesterday on video advertising and the evolution to live video ads and Facebook Live. 

Live video ads takes us full circle and as I see it is just an evolution of what has been around since the mid-20th century: TV commercials. 

This is a positive sign for digital because if consumers are adopting live formats on digital, then consequently digital publishers may be able to benefit from transitioning their advertising from the expensive prices of TV advertising. For instance, Jose Cuervo posted a video on FacebookLive for National Tequila Day and by using Facebook's targeted, pre-determined audience amassed almost 140k views. 

This makes me wonder about the either the morph of TV and Digital ad purchases, or at least the consolidation of the two. As it currently stands, media teams divide them into two separate items with two completely different teams working on the ad buys. However, if the same 30 second video spot is running on TV as it is on digital, then ad buyers could find efficiencies by implementing a cross-platform strategy. 

The article also mentions that FacebookLive is a pricey way to advertise, however brands benefit from this mode of advertising, as opposed to TV commercials, because they are able to grow their ability to target video spots in a way TV isn't able to do. FacebookLive enables brands to target not just based on demographics like age, but also on geography, which is becoming a huge part of search. If you're a restaurant in a specific location and have a promotion going on, FacebookLive would enable you to run a targeted live video ad to a targeted group of potential customers in that area. WOW!!!


Digital Marketing for Recruiting

Digital Marketing for Recruiting

January through March is a big recruiting season for college students in Japan (Japanese corporate calendar starts from April). One thing HR department is always worried about is that many prospective employees decline/ are poached by other companies in the last minute. This issue comes from the custom that Japanese corporations recruit college students one year before they join the company. For example, the college students recruited in this month will join the company in April of 2018. This may be odd but a normal practice in Japan.

Then, HR department of every company has to succeed in understanding the behavior of college students, who are going to graduate in one year, and optimally communicating at the best timing. In this field, digital marketing thinking is said to be essential. One marketing survey company conducted a survey on to what extent company's HR department utilizes digital marketing to solve this problem. According to this survey, the personalized communication using SNS and video contents is increasingly used. Also, 33.8% answered that "individual follow e-mails" as a part of solutions. A takeaway is that digital marketing can be used for something other than commercial activity (i.e. sales).


Friday, February 24, 2017

Facebook vs Television

Facebook had two major announcements in recent weeks, one announcing a new video app for set-top boxes, and another saying that it will start putting ads in the middle of published videos, similar to TV commercials.

The strategy behind the two announcements is clear:  To expand Facebook's share of the consumer's time devoted to leisurely activities, to create an additional revenue stream via video ads, and to add value to marketers by increasing the time spent on the website or app.  

But one of the primary reasons that video consumers are abandoning traditional television models is to avoid commercials, doesn't Facebook's new video strategy defy just that logic?  While the video publisher could continue to publish content on Facebook and now make 55% of the ad revenue that Facebook is offering to them, a viewer could just as likely see the same video the publisher is also displaying on Youtube without inconvenience of the advertisements.  Only time will tell how Youtube will react to this model, which also has a live feed option.

For the last year, Facebook has paid celebrities and publishers to use its live video product, and this new ad revenue model is meant to replace that strategy and create revenue.  


Is It Time to Separate the "Social" From the "Media"?

“The fact is that much of the social media dogma we take as gospel has been wrong from the start. As a result, brands are wasting good money to chase irrelevant or even damaging social media outcomes, and the required improvements are not minor adjustments. In many cases, the wrong departments have hired the wrong people to do the wrong things evaluated with the wrong measures.”

I read this interesting article last week in a class.

The author, Augie Ray, said social media marketing has become a house of cards, because "organic social media stopped working" and “social ads aren’t social; they’re just ads."

According to Augie, when marketers see social media as a platform for branded contents, they are already on the wrong track. Because:

1) You seldom get the message to your audience.
Facebook reach for top brands' posts was just 2% of their fans in 2014, and that number decrease further in 2015. In addition, customers work hard to block branded content. Use of ad blocking software is on the rise, having gone up by 41% from 2014 to 2015.

2) Even if customers see your branded content, they do not trust it.
In the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer Study, the majority of countries now sit below 50% with regard to trust in business.

3) Customers expect brands to engage with them, not simply push products.
62% of Millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. 63% expect companies to offer customer service on social media, and one in three social media users prefer to reach out to a brand on social media for customer service.

Based on the reasons above, Augie suggests that we separate the “social” from the “media,” making the social network a platform not for posting branded content, but for managing customer service and relationship.

Generally, people associate social media as a channel for marketing and driving sales. However, from Augie’s perspective, social media would be a responsibility for public relations if it is used to improve customer satisfaction, reputation, loyalty, and retention.

In my opinion, I agree with most of what Augie said—that social media should be a platform to engage with customers and increase loyalty, to get people talking to each other and generate authentic WOM. However, that completely separate the “social” from the “media” goes too far. It is reckless to conclude that branded content is no longer working. After all, it depends on the content. If the branded content created by marketers is fun, shareable, relevant, useful, and meaningful, such as #LikeAGirl or #RealBeauty, I believe that people will connect to it and social networks will be the effective “media.”


Ultrasonic Spying

We're all aware of the many tracking tools used to assist advertisers in their pursuit of analytics. Aware enough that many of us use ad blocking software or choose to use services such as Tor in some circumstances. Another tracking method involves the use of ultrasonic signals that do not degrade our viewing or listening experience, yet is able to inform listening microphones on other devices of our activities. This, for example, could let an advertiser know you were present while a particular commercial played on TV. See the below snippet for a fuller explanation. 

"The technology, called ultrasonic cross-device tracking, embeds high-frequency tones that are inaudible to humans in advertisements, web pages, and even physical locations like retail stores. These ultrasound “beacons” emit their audio sequences with speakers, and almost any device microphone—like those accessed by an app on a smartphone or tablet—can detect the signal and start to put together a picture of what ads you’ve seen, what sites you’ve perused, and even where you’ve been.

SilverPush, a company mentioned in the above article, offers such beacons. However, in 2016 the FTC warned app makers using SilverPush code they had not properly given warning to their users that their microphones could be used in the background to listen to their activities.


18 Essential Metrics to Measure Your Digital Marketing

As we have learned in class, there are so many metrics to consider when trying to measure how a digital marketing campaign has been performing and it can be tough to keep track. While some were specifically called out in the past few class sessions, such as Click Through Rate and Conversion Rate, others delved a bit deeper, such as the Micro-conversion Rate and the Conversion Funnel Rate, which puts a new spin on the way these metrics can be used and the level of detail that should be considered.

A few of the themes found through out include:

- Don't focus too much on the short-sighted metrics and fully explore the drop-off rate at each stage of a converstion
- The reason for a poor metric may have an unexpected root cause, so don't be quite to jump to conclusions
- Understand the difference between new site visitors and returning visitors and how their behaviors may differ
- Formally track each metric, even the less impactful ones (such as click-through) so you can easily identify trends and variances

18 Essential Metrics to Measure Your Digital Marketing


Under Pressure to Prove Its Ads Actually Work, Google Opens Up

This article brings up the conflict of interest that is inherent with the two biggest digital ad companies, Google and Facebook. Each company both sells ads and gives ad buyers the data to assess how well those ads are performing. Thus far, advertisers have not had the ability to independently verify that the analytics are accurate so Google is now implementing an audit process in order to instill more trust in their customers. It will be interesting to see how this audit plays out and the level of access that Google actually provides, given its proprietary ad algorithms may be sensitive to too much transparency.


When ad targeting is discriminatory

After first emerging as an issue last fall, Facebook has recently announced steps to address concerns that some advertisers on the social network use discriminatory ad targeting. In response, Facebook will begin using tools to help identify discriminatory practices and will roll out revised policies so “that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.” 

In addition to this new documentation, Facebook also announced that advertisers who want to buy ads related to housing, employment, and credit will now have to confirm they are abiding by Facebook’s discrimination rules after finding that some advertisers were excluding certain races for these types of ads.

These new Facebook policies hint at a larger issue in the digital advertising space; as ad targeting becomes more and more sophisticated, and advertisers are better able to specifically  segment consumers, what criteria will be permissible when serving ads?


Is the gold rush to digital marketing finally backfiring?

In this article CNBC analyzes the creeping caution of executives (Specifically Procter & Gamble chief marketing officer Marc Pritchard) who are not heeding Mark Zuckerberg's motto to move fast and break things.

The article suggests that large firms like P&G might be distracted by new digital marketing techniques and benchmarks. Digital marketing executives are being influenced or lured by first move advantages that new technologies can provide. The article mentions Google and Facebook controlling 54% of the digital marketing spend. During class we mentioned how Google has dominated search and Facebook's imminent approach.

A huge issue with display ads is where these ads may end up on. For large companies its quite risky because their ads can potentially end up on questionable sites.

"unwittingly funding Islamic extremists, white supremacists and pornographers by advertising on their websites," 
"Funding of extreme websites is just one of a myriad of complex, opaque issues around digital marketing, it is not the issue, it's just one of them, and that's what's made this so complicated."
A brand affected by these issues is Jaguar who had suspended their digital advertising.

Click me


Power of earned marketing and the negative impact - Uber's recent fiasco

We'd learned in the core marketing class the concept of earned marketing, where the fans or customers drive the marketing message through social media. However, this same concept need not be used just by fans but also by people who hate a product or brand.

A recent example of this can be seen with what's happening with Uber. It first started when Uber sent a Twitter message that they will not have surge pricing at airports where people were protesting the travel ban order and NY Taxis joined the protest. Uber's message was meant to reduce travel issues for the customer and not profit out of it. However, some consumers thought Uber is trying to support the travel ban. This started the #deleteUber hashtag to go viral. This made Uber take more steps in clarifying their position as well as their CEO deciding to step down from the President's economic adivsory council A few weeks later, Uber received a second huge blow when an ex-employee's blog went viral. The blog described the sexist culture at Uber and who she was harassed by her supervisors and there was complete inaction from the HR department. The customers again reacted to this and the #deleteUber campaign by the customers had a second surge.

The above is an example of a perfect storm - poor/ambiguous marketing message by the company, poor leadership and culture in the organization, driving customers to spread a campaign that can deal a serious blow to this once loved company. 


Yours By Day - Their By Night: Uber Wants To Rent Your Driverless Car

Though this strategy is dependent on a huge cultural mindset shift, to avoid adding depreciating assets onto it's balance sheet, Uber is looking to partner with consumers and use their cars during off-hours. Through marketing efforts looking to change public perception and communicate the differences between exclusive and shared ownership, Uber will need to convince a massive car-owner user base that it's worth it to share.


Digital Creative Institute Bridges the Talent Gap

Interesting story about an institute now specifically designed to help people develop digital marketing skills over for a short period of time and potentially lower than more formal graduate education. The article argues that many students leave schools still without the proper skills to be effective on roles that require a specific digital skillset and knowledge base. There metrics, programs, and tactics that have been developed and continue to be developed that are not always taught in a traditional school education that are needed to be successful as a marketer these days.

Reminds of many of the IT and computer institutes that have sprung up, especially on the West Coast, to teach people how to program and build websites. These are targeted at entrepreneurs and I would imagine these digital marketing institutes would attractive similar people - those with formal education but looking to expand their skill set to build their business.

In theory, these make a lot of sense. Traditional undergraduate and graduate educations can fall behind the curve on new trends and strategies, especially in the social age, and so a bootcamp of sorts can be a good way of learning and learning quickly. My only question is what their actual effectiveness really is. I think sometimes these programs provide a good base but skills are not really developed unless put into practice over time (in which I think it would be hard to measure their effectiveness). Curious to see how these develop - whether they grow and are effective learning institutes or other programs that cost money with minimal gain.


Click to buy - Everywhere.

Social media platforms are critical for brand awareness, but now with embedded click to buy functionality growing, they also allow marketers to be where their customer is, available for purchase, when customers are demonstrating interest in the products or services.


Pinterest' Buyable Pins allow customers to buy a product they see directly in the platform and high average purchase prices make it particularly attractive. Instagram purchases have been clunky for advertisers, e.g. needing to manually update links to purchase in a bio. But Instagram is about to rollout a "Shop Now" button that will make it exponentially easier. Facebook is still standard ads taking users to another site for purchase, but businesses make 152% ROI with Facebook ads demonstrating user purchase interest.

The message from this article is that companies need to be EVERYWHERE to sell their products. Create an E-commerce site (no big deal) and spread it like wildfire. The article glosses over what this means for inventory management, distribution, and updating ads and buyable products across platforms as inventory sells out. If I were a small company with a new product or service, this would give me a little bit of anxiety. For them I would say power walk, don't run.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Linking Editorial to E-Commerce

Featured on MediaWeek recently was an article that discusses how MarieClaire magazine aligns its brand and influencers by linking editorial to e-commerce. The magazine underwent a transformation mid-2016 to bring on 13 influencers who have helped change the magazine's e-content strategy and in turn has managed to significantly grow their online traffic.

Media Week: Marie Claire links Editorial to E-Commerce

Marie Claire's website is driven by content. Everyday its editors update stories, different looks, etc. which further drives website traffic. As we have learned in class, it is important to update content on one's website as the frequency of updated content is one of the criteria that goes into Google searches, and is similar to blogging. By adding influencers to the marketing mix, Marie Claire has noticed that their offering is extended because all of the influencers have different aesthetics, thus appealing to different demographics.

In addition, this article and learnings in class have helped with a venture I am working on with a fellow classmate at CBS. We are building a marketing platform which aims to help local communities, products and services get noticed. We will be bringing niche, local businesses to mass market by using content marketing and data to connect customers with these businesses. After speaking with many small businesses, it seems they need help reaching a larger audience as they are just wearing too many hats at a time, such as production, finances, distribution, just to name a few. We want to help these businesses on the marketing and branding side by building content and stories around the businesses and entrepreneurs themselves. The digital marketing side of this class has been very helpful so far and I am excited to put these learnings into practice!


Email Marketing: how often is too often?

When was the last time you unsubscribed from an email list?

For me, it was this morning. After I read this article, I opened up my email box and clicked “UNSUBSCRIBE” in the latest email from Groupon.

I can no longer bear its email frequency—at least three times a day! I’ve been suffering from Groupon’s email fatigue for months, although the messages were sometimes relevant to me, I could not put up with it anymore.

I am definitely not alone. In Marketing Sherpa’s Consumer Satisfaction Research Study, one in four US adults said they unsubscribed from email lists because they received too many emails. 19% said too frequent emails from a specific company would spur them to quit. Since “too many,” “frequent” is subjective and vague, I couldn’t help but wonder: for email marketing, how often is too often?

If we take a look at the DMA's National Email Client Report 2016, from 2012 to 2015, more than 50% companies sent emails to their contacts less than 3 times per month. In 2015, 25% of respondents were sending just one email per month to each contact.

From the consumer’s perspective, a survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa in 2015 found 61% of the 2,057 respondents said they would like to receive promotional emails "at least weekly.” In August 2016, another survey from Mapp Digital found that 40% of US internet users preferred receiving marketing emails once a week.

The statistics may shed some light on the optimal email frequency. Once a week could be a choice, which at least won’t push customers away. But certainly, for most companies daily email is just too much, let alone more than that!

In fact, to define the best email frequency, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It really depends. Still, there are some useful tactics:

1) Test options. Define a random control group and use it to test frequencies of 1,2,3,4,5, ...times per month. Measure this group’s unsubscribe rates against a default group.

2) Customize frequency for different segments. Decrease the frequency for those inactive users with lower open or click rates.

3) Let customers decide. When people opt-in, give them a chance to decide on the frequency they prefer. Moreover,  always make the process easy to change it.