Monday, July 31, 2017

A Guide to the 10 Next Hot Jobs in Digital Marketing, and for Several Years to Come

A rapidly evolving digital marketing sector is creating new jobs that did not exist in traditional marketing. The list shows that: "the combined forces of globalization and the commoditization of technology are exacerbating the pace at which new, promising tools are becoming available to brands".

Jobs such as VR editor and Mixed-reality designer show that content development integrated with up-and-coming technologies will become more important and widely used by digital marketers. Companies will continue to use data to optimize marketing strategies by hiring data scientists and develop new technologies and processes with engineers to better serve businesses' goals.

The emerging new jobs are very interesting and great indicators of the future direction of digital marketing. For example, it is hard to imagine brick-and-mortar stores with physical products but hologram retail display designer jobs are emerging to provide products and services to the customers through holograms. This definitely will change the landscape of how stores utilize its space and showcase products to customers.


Did You Mean MailChimp?

In January of this year, MailChimp began rolling out what I think is, frankly, one of the best digital campaigns I have ever seen. The Company came up with nine “uniquely engaging experiences” that all sort-of-sound like “MailChimp,” and created a paid search campaign around each so that no matter which of these experiences/terms people were searching for, Google would say “Did you mean MailChimp?” when executing the search and populating the results. Each of these experiences searched for is hip, trendy, mildly ridiculous, and appealing to targeted audiences.

So why do we care? We care because this campaign uses search advertising in its most effective form. It takes advantage of the knowledge of human behavior – that people will Google these slightly strange names (“MailShrimp; “KaleLimp”), and when seeing “Did you mean MailChimp” at the top of the results page, would appreciate the Company’s creativity, cleverness, commitment to quality (each of these nine experiences – whether song, film, food, or other content – is very well produced), and clear abilities for strategic communication across channels. A company that is, itself, a marketing tool, went ahead and created de novo products (i.e. “FailChips”) and media, got people talking about the coolness of MailChimp (a product that otherwise wouldn’t be expected to be trendy) and the Company’s overall creativity. This campaign increased brand awareness, and got people searching and clicking at the same time. Also, since the campaign was not rolled out in one fell swoop, it left people guessing, and kept people searching.

This serves as a reminder that a great digital ad campaign should have two key components for success. 1. The campaign MUST be in the voice of the brand/company. This is critical to come across as authentic and genuine, which fundamentally builds trust among users/consumers. 2. A great campaign will take advantage of already-programmed human behaviors (i.e., like MailChimp did with search). This will enable a campaign to grow more quickly and also reach more people., 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Babies R Us - Blog 10

Babies R Us wants to take loyal users of Amazon and Target in the baby product line.  Amazon currently holds nearly 20% share of the online baby product market. To gain this share, Amazon introduced Amazon Mom, which later changed to Amazon Family in 2015.  Just by these small changes, Amazon is creating a more personal experience for the user. 

Toys R Us is struggling with this.  Currently, Toys R Us holds 5.1% of the online baby product market.  Their legacy campaign is an image of polished, spotless, everything-is-awesome branding.   Toys R Us wants to improve this image.  Their new campaign is to celebrate the true moments of parenthood – the poppy diapers, smashed peas and all.  Toys R Us wants to recognize these pain moments and paint a beautiful picture to honor the parents.

For the newly launched campaign, Toys R Us will create awareness through social media.   A digital video will be promoted through social channels and through brand’s site.  Just like in lecture, Toys R Us is targeting the user experience through social media.  Through likes and shares, there will be more user generated data, which is highly trusted by parents.   Toys R Us is also restructuring their loyalty program to increase users and avoid user attrition. 


Fitbit's Smartwatch...Should Apple be worried?

Fitbit was one of the first ones to venture into fitness wearables. It has sold several devices in various formats and has been struggling to be profitable in an ever increasing competitive market.
It has been one of the pioneers in bringing innovative products to the market, i.e Charge 2, Alta.

The challenge that Fitbit's users have faced so far is the user interface. One has to currently log into Fitbit app to track the progress that makes it loose competitiveness to Apple watch. Fitbit acquired Pebble in 2016 so that it can focus on smartwatch and a software development kit(SDK) that will allow app developers to develop apps for ios and android devices.

Fitbit has missed the boat earlier by not being able to release smartwatch to the market due to manufacturing quality issues. Time will tell if it can bounce back and rule the wearables market again. It will be interesting to see if Fitbit uses innovative approach in marketing these smartwatches after repeated bad press about its release.



Think critically about building your data capes

As consumer data becomes more and more accessible, and the tools to develop insights from data are more prolific, more and more companies are beginning to harvest data to drive their marketing campaigns. This article focuses on publishers using data, but the key takeaways are helpful for most people building a data capability.

There are several big challenges with sourcing the right data as each decision you make comes with a cost.

First - what is the right data to acquire? Acquiring data represents a cost- whether it's a direct cost of purchasing someone else's data, or the costs of harvesting data through lead generation efforts, or building software capabilities to track users and potential customers. The article suggests users start with understanding the goals of the company and work backwards from the goals. By asking a series of questions around the goals, you can help determine what types of data would help your company achieve its goals.

The article then suggests that before you build your data capability, you think about aggregation and storage. Oftentimes you'll be sourcing data from a number of different locations and being able to combine all that data can represent a significant hurdle. Chose your sourcing methods and storage capabilities carefully (when able) to ensure they are compatible.

Finally, data capabilities and usage is an iterative process. This is something you need to plan for ahead of time. How are you going to design your system to ensure you can evolve and innovate. If you build your systems with too narrow of a scope, you may have to undertake a costly redesign in the near future. Think about what your data needs in the short, intermediate, and longer term will be as you make decisions around how you acquire and build your data capability.

With Data, Is More Always Better?


Why Google+ just proved why smaller social networks can’t die…

While marketer’s do not hold Google+ with the same regard as Facebook or Pinterest, something happened this week that shows why smaller networks are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Remember Google+ boosts 2 billion users, primarily because anyone with a Google account is automatically given a profile. Really, there has been minimal innovation on the platform since the underwhelming launch in 2011. Not to mention, according to Forbes, Google+ only has 111m active users. This week however, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) announced Google+ is now #1. This surprisingly leap from obscurity, from a survey of 4,978 consumers, shows how smaller, specialized audiences are still important for advertisers and should not be overlooked.


Jeff Bezos lost $6 Billion overnight, but, who cares

On Thursday, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, surpassed Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world, and it lasted for only a few hours.  Later in the afternoon, Amazon’s stock took a significant dip and Bezos, who owns about 16% of Amazon’s stock, lost an estimated $6 billion dollar.  Bezos is so rich, though, that the lost barely matters.

Amazon as a company has had what the New York Times calls “Mind Blowing” success since 2002.  What was once an online book store now virtually owns the entire retail universe.  Its success is a testament to the evolution of retail into digital and is called one of the great tales of capitalism of our time.

Is this only the beginning of Amazon’s climb to complete retail and internet dominance, or are we finally at the peak?


Home Automation

Home Automation has become the largest trend amongst the top tech companies in the world. Starting with Amazon's Amazon Echo which revolutionized the way we control our homes. In this first quarter of the year 2017 Amazon’s Alexa has dominated over every other company including google home, Microsoft, and Apple Home kit. Every single technology company such as SONY, Samsung, Logitech, and etc have announced device compatible with Alexa and it has been revolutionary. It is believed that by the year 2020 the Amazon Echo will generated an extra 11 billion dollars in sales revenue to Amazon in total. Amazon has been investing much more than any other technology home automated services out there for example, in this case of the Ecobee internet connected Thermostat. Amazon invested 35 million dollars into just this one product, but due to this investment Amazon as raised the venture capital of Ecobee to 60 million dollars as the battle of home automation continues in the advertising space. 


Twitter is testing a $99 per month subscription

In a bid to stay relevant, Twitter has offered a beta service to small businesses and individuals in the form of a $99 subscription that helps them to grow their following. The subscription allows their tweets to be seen on viewers' timelines outside those of their followers. Whilst subscribers cannot choose which of their tweets will be promoted, or the extent (tweets will be automatically promoted at random), they can choose the demographics and interests to target. Subscribers will receive a weekly report mentioning the number of new followers and engagement as a result.

This can help small start ups who do not have the resources or capabilities to manage their Twitter campaigns or create ads as a method to grow their audience, but it remains to be seen whether or not this will be a popular service and whether the lack of customization for small businesses and individuals will be beneficial, as being able to test the type of content is important to marketers.


Criteo to Launch Data Cooperative to Help Retailers Take On Amazon

The Robin Hood of digital marketing, Criteo, is getting some pub from the Wall Street Journal for their efforts to eat away at Amazon. 2Q revenues of over $600M are nothing to brush off, so they must be doing something right. I found the article to be interesting because it touches on a multitude of points that we spoke about in class as well as making some other interesting points that were not readily apparent.

Criteo's business model is built around the idea of retargeting, or showing a consumer an ad based on what they had viewed previously. Instead of pointing these "retargeted" consumers to Amazon, Criteo will show them other online marketplaces where they can find the same goods, possibly for a better price or with better terms. The way in which Criteo succeeds here is crowdsourcing enough data to be competitive with the major online ad players that are Facebook and Google. They are banking on their relationship with publishers as well as this "Robin Hood" type play that appeals to smaller retailers who have been hesitant to give their business to the internet giants of the world.

Unfortunately for Criteo, more and more companies are succumbing to the pressure to sell on Amazon. The article talks about how Nike finally relented earlier this year through a partnership and how important it is viewed as to be on the site in order to be relevant. I, myself, am a fairly big Amazon user and "Prime" subscriber but definitely support free-market competition that Eric Eichmann, Criteo CEO, is looking to drive.


Will 'Keywords Search' fade into history?

In May 2017, Google announced the launch of Google Lens, an AI powered visual tool search. Google CEO Sundar Pichai described Lens as “a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action.”

A visual search engine allows the customer to search for webpages, documents and other material on world wide web using image as an input. In recent times, we have seen tech giants like Microsoft and Google invest heavily in this new technique. The visual search has the ability to connect an image with an action. The user can use a photo from its surrounding to find relevant items on the internet. In recent times, people have stared using voice search increasingly and visual search could be the next big thing. 
The companies can obtain a huge advantage over competitors by using this technique. Some times the consumer has a visual image of what they want but do not know how to describe it in words. Utilization of visual search engine in such scenarios can help the consumers instantly. 



Alexa’s Got a Screen – Assessing the future of the Newish Amazon Echo Show

As if flirting with the title of Richest Man on earth is not enough, Jeff Bezos and Amazon have begun a push to enlarge the Amazon ecosystem even further by giving the adding a visual interactive platform to the Amazon Echo. This new device, called the Amazon Echo Show, is essentially the Echo with a screen.

Of course, the Echo Show’s interface is no ordinary screen. Having learned some lessons from its Amazon tablet misfires and never one to waste any resources, Amazon has created a screen that is more visually stimulating to support a software platform that takes over the users home. All you have to do is power-up the Echo Show and sign-in to your Amazon account and the device automatically accesses all smart devices in the home, installing itself as the new central control hub for the house and probably your life! Dramatic? Maybe. True? Absolutely! This first-generation Echo Show is the introductory salvo in the new frontier of AI’s penetration into the consumer’s most sacred sanctuary – our homes. My expectation is that as the Echo Show gains prominence and popularity across homes in the US and abroad, its ability to learn our habits grows exponentially, based on the multiple sources of data it can access. As such, the Echo Show is bound to provide a wealth of consumer information for Amazon to mine and compile in a manner that better tailors advertising to the tastes and sensibilities of the household. With the benefit of a screen and potential projection capabilities, I expect it is only a matter of time before the Echo Show is able to anticipate our consumption needs and tailor advertising to meet our expected demand. In addition to telling us what the weather will be on any particular day and what important events are on our calendar, for example, the Echo Show may eventually turn the TV to our favorite news channel, place our dinner order to our favorite restaurant and even tell us about the latest pizza place that has opened up two blocks from our home, in line with the customized marketing that can be accomplished with such a device. The future is truly upon us all.


P&G Cut Digital Ad Spend for Brand Safety

Recently the consumer goods giant P&G cut its spending on digital ads. Their two main reasons for the cut were brand safety and ineffective ad placement. CEO, David Talyor, reported that they received research data reporting their ads were ineffective. The most surprising aspect of this is that P&G did not see a decline in sales after the cut.

What does this mean for ad agencies and the ad space as a whole? The article also stated that ad agencies are seeing a decline of almost 1% because of a drop in revenue from consumer packaged goods clients. Will other industries follow suit? Why didn't P&G see a decline in sales because of the cut?

I am still a believer that digital advertising will continue to be the advertising format of choice in the future. This whole thing makes me wonder what role brand loyalty and other factors play in P&G's ability to avoid a loss in sales. I suspect other industries will roll the dice and make the same play, making answers to these questions clearer.


Friday, July 28, 2017

And Now for Something Completely Different...(or not)

So my last few posts have all been about how amazing AI technology is and how digital ads are becoming more and more effective. So much so, that it's clearly the way of the future and the best way to spend your marketing dollars. Or is it? Turns out not everyone feels that way, including some very large companies who have very very large marketing budgets. Take P&G, for example. I'd venture to say we all agree they are a marketing industry juggernaut. Well, they just dropped a bombshell.

Turns out they were spending a LOT of money on digital ads and getting very little in return. Part of that was due to malware bots running up their ad bills with no humans actually seeing anything. But another part was their ads being shown in places not up to P&G's standards. Temporarily suspending their digital ad buys is a big deal and should be sending shockwaves around the cubicles of Google and Facebook (do they have cubicles?). P&G is reducing its digital ad spend by $140 million for the next quarter.

$140 million. Next quarter. Let that sink in.

Now for a little math: Google charges roughly $2-3 CPM for display ads. So if P&G were spending the entire $140 million on display ads, it could get roughly 50-70 billion impressions. Google handles approximately 5-6 billion searches a day (the exact number is a secret, but I googled it). So that means in theory P&G's digital ad budget reduction could have purchased an ad on every Google search for 10 days.

This story highlights both the massive volume of low value ads that are out there (and the problem of what to do with them while not hurting brands), as well as the damage the malware ad-clicking bots are doing. It's no wonder then that Google recently announced major changes in an effort to reform and protect against these issues.


Programmatic ad buying is declining as native advertising increases

As digital advertising continues to evolve, advertisers have begun shifting away from programmatic advertising due to concerns around brand control and fraud. “The number of advertisers running programmatic ad campaigns declined by 12% year-over-year (YoY) in Q1 2017, according to MediaRadar.” Although programmatic ad campaigns have several benefits, including cost savings and ability to scale, brands lose much of the control around where ads are shown. Concerns around the quality of ad partnerships has become even more relevant due to numerous incidents where ads have been displayed next to inappropriate content.

With these programmatic concerns, advertisers have shifted to native advertising. “The number of ad buyers purchasing native ads increase 74% YoY in Q1 2017, the largest increase of any ad format measured. Native ad formats outperform traditional ad units, and even though they’re more expensive, they garner higher click-through rates.” Larger brands, such as JPMorgan, are placing greater importance on controlling the ad narrative by manually vetting and selecting their ad partners. So not only will the shift to native advertising allow for greater control, it will also see greater ROI for advertisers if executed strategically.

Programmatic advertising platforms have a place in the digital marketing landscape, yet unless greater controls are implemented, the large advertisers (and their dollars) will be shifting to methods that offer greater visibility and governance.


New Sources of Revenue for Online Entertainers

Online entertainers are breaking into new sources of revenue.  Previously, majority of the revenues came from advertising on YouTube.  Revenue has since diversified into merchandise, live events, subscription video on-demand, content royalties, etc.  For example, provider of witty video game commentator Rooster Teeth hosts multiple day gaming conventions,  web comic Penny Arcade has spun its original business into new series, a merchandise line and its own gaming convention and Penny Arcade Expo. Podcast network Maximum Fun hosts its convention MaxFunCon at least twice a year on the East and West coasts.   

These online content creators are tapping into the long tail and developing a large following.  Once sequestered to YouTube and other web spaces, online entertainers like Rooster Teeth are breaking into new sources of revenue, and events, which can draw thousands of loyal fans, are becoming a key component of their growing franchises. Today, as Rooster Teeth continues to branch out, advertising makes up 31% of the company’s revenue. Less than half of that comes from YouTube ads; the rest comes from sponsorship relationships.  This is a great example of companies / entrepreneurs using digital media to promote themselves.  Once they reach a certain number of targeted followers, their brand will take off and there are various ways to monetize.