Digital omnivores

“This is the first year that consumers have started to decouple the notion that content from a particular source [must be viewed] on a different device,” said Gerald Belson of Deloitte.”


The rapid adoption of the tablet (iPad, Kindle, Galaxy, or whichever other you fancy) is changing the way consumers are, well, “consuming” content, according to Deloitte’s eighth annual “Digital Democracy Survey.” As a result, consumers have expressed more interest in consuming programming on different devices and from different sources. What it means is, multitasking is on the rise — which can be good or bad for us as marketers.

Marketing to multi-screen users requires a unique balance of consistency and collaboration between different types of devices to relay a singular message. Or, as ANA’s Bill Duggan put it, “The industry needs to adopt measures that are consistent, comparable, and combinable across screens to provide a complete picture of a campaign’s effectiveness.”


Here are four tips for mastering the multi-screen domain:

  1. Strive for consistency: Think about second- and third-screen experiences and how best to interact and engage consumers seamlessly whether they’re using multiple devices consecutively or concurrently.
  2. Create mobile-friendly content: Simply moving a laptop-designed ad over to mobile may not work. And, if it isn’t viewable and pretty, consumers are going to lose interest pretty quick.
  3. Consider focusing on different aspects of your brand: You can still say, “We’re <insert brand of choice here>,” without using the exact same content. An ad for a Big Mac may look awesome on a tablet, while French fries look better on a smartphone.
  4. Connect with consumers: If you’re sponsoring an event, consider creating an advergame or other interactive content that promotes your sponsorship, but in a new and refreshing way. A great example of this is American Idol’s highly-interactive web content that plays right along with the weekly television shows.

One thing’s for certain: There are more and more channels clamoring for our marketing dollars every day. Multi-screen marketing is an opportunity to reach consumers where they are and tie all of our campaigns together.



Let’s Kik it in a Line (or maybe WeChat while doing the Tango)

When Facebook purchased the mobile messaging app named “WhatsApp” in February, a lot of people were asking the same question: What’s THAT?
What’sApp along with its contemporaries Kik, Line, WeChat, Tango and others started as “extra” apps designed to help users avoid texting charges, but along the way they managed to grab social media users and convert them, turning the apps into their own social-type avenues.


It has created yet another new and emerging media form for marketers to take advantage of, tapping into a technologically-savvy group of users with large amounts of disposable income. WhatsApp boasts more than 350 million monthly active users, according to The Guardian, with a full 78 percent of teenagers and young people using these apps to communicate in “a more personal way” with friends. The power users and early adopters of these apps, according to the same article, are in the 25 and younger demographic – a population group that boasts more than $200 million in buying power, according to a 2011 Harris Interactive poll.

It offers a entirely new and different opportunity for marketers, who want to reach smartphone users not just through their phone, but more specifically through the apps that users deem important. Just in the past month, big name retailers and restaurants have announced their intention to get involved in marketing inside of the mobile messaging app craze:

  • Taco Bell will premiere its newest taco on Snapchat
  • Columbia Records teamed up with Kik to bring fans of the boy band One Direction onto the app
  • Dunkin’ Donuts bought space on app-install ads inside the app, Tango
  • McDonald’s ran a “Big Mac Rap” contest on WeChat, joining major brands like Burberry and PepsiCo who launched campaigns on the platform

What is the advantage of reaching a consumer inside their favorite mobile messaging app? Like Facebook became a gateway to the Web, many of these apps serve as the gateway to mobile devices. One study said users of apps like Kik send more than 30 messages per day (compared to an average of five regular texts). Simply put, these apps attract massive audiences – and advertisers are salivating. The question is: What’s the trade-off for spending ad dollars on an unknown commodity? How do you justify spending big bucks on an unknown quantity? Only time will tell if mobile messaging apps-turned-new marketing machine will be beneficial for brands or just another annoyance for young adults trying to connect with friends.

Shoppable social

If traditional shopping channels and a plethora of online shopping sites aren’t enough, there’s a new shoppable social presence reaching for your wallet.

The department store Kohl’s has made shoppable social video on Google+ and YouTube a key part of its strategy to introduce a limited-edition line of clothing from designer Peter Som. A Google+ Hangout allowed viewer to get a sneak peak of items and purchase directly from the Hangout, and a shoppable YouTube channel that featured individual items available for purchase adjacent to the video.


Kohl’s is also showcasing the collection across social channels ranging from Facebook to Pinterest and everything in-between, including a live Twitter feed where Kohl’s representatives answered questions in an “On Air” function.

Kohl’s isn’t alone in the new shoppable social media feature. Target is also testing the waters by launching what it called the Target Awesome Shop, a Pinterest-powered site featuring the best-reviewed and most-pinned items from daily. Product placement isn’t chosen by what the store wants to sell; rather, it’s being decided by what Pinterest users want. Customers can click on an item to see price, reviews and number of pins, and even to be taken to to purchase. Other well-known retailers are also following suit including Nordstrom, Anthropologie and J. Crew.


With both Target and Kohl’s, the goal is to try to influence customers down the decision path, from discovery to purchase. Businesses should consider how their product can fit into any channel to reach consumers wherever they are.

“At a time when social platforms seem to be looking more and more alike – particularly the morph of Twitter’s feed into a Facebook doppelganger – it’s refreshing to see something new in social media,” said Deborah Hanamura, director of marketing at Metia.

“Here, let me scan your wrist.”

Odd-sounding phrase, right? But, it could be on the horizon in the new and emerging media field.

Wearable products such as Android’s smartwatch, Nike’s Fuelband, the Fitbit, Google Glass and the rumored iWatch from Apple are the latest items on the marketer’s radar as a booming business for advertisers.

The potential for reaching customers on these devices increased exponentially in March when Google released Android Wear, a software development kit for wearables. Marketing insiders believe that any effective advertising with these devices, however, would come from the native application. For example, a GPS-enabled app that could deliver a coupon to you based on your location. A fitness-based product such as Fitbit could deliver appropriate sports- and health-related content to its wearer at pre-determined times (such as when you achieve your daily step goal or surpass a certain amount of weight lost).

Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Flex could be part of the new wave of marketing.

Ads must have immediate, tangible value, marketers say, such as a discount when in or near a restaurant or retail store. It must enhance what you’re already doing, experts say.

Concerns, though, are already being voiced that the personal nature of wearable devices could cause advertising and marketing messages to be easily viewed as invading the wearer’s life and habits moreso than even smartphones. Your smartphone could be sitting in the cup holder of your vehicle, but a Fuelband is almost an extension of your person.

Neither marketers nor gadget lovers need to worry just yet. While the wearables market is just starting to take off, many believe it grow to be a huge success. Forbes contributor Michael Wolf said of the emerging media: “I think wearables is a market that will ultimately be bigger than the tablet market, mostly because wearables will take so many forms and address so many potential users scenarios (from elder care to gaming and yes, to fitness).”

What is your opinion of wearables? As a consumer, would you consider a device that delivered targeted advertising to someplace as close as your wrist? As a marketer, do you think this type of marketing could be the wave of the future?


The Breakfast War: What is it good for?

Who doesn’t love a good food fight?

Taco Bell and McDonald’s certainly do. After years of merely operating in each other’s turf, but not really infringing (burgers vs. burritos), Taco Bell has taken a straight-to-the-face jab at McDonald’s in promoting its new breakfast menu, marching out real-life men named Ronald McDonald across the country to give rave reviews of its waffle tacos et al. The approach has earned more than 1.6 million views on YouTube.

Not to be outdone, McDonald’s fired back the following day with this photo, a link to its breakfast menu and the caption: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” They followed it with an offer for free coffee during breakfast hours through April 13th.


The social media back-and-forth is another example of brand-on-brand banter on digital channels. Another recent example was J.C. Penney’s “mittens” tweets and the even-better responses from at least two major brands:


The big question is: do these types of social media “fights” benefit a brand beyond the initial viral buzz? One expert says no.

“Brand fights are like train wrecks — you can’t look away, but the end result is rarely positive,” said Drew Nessier, CEO of social agency Renegade, in a recent interview at Digiday.

What are your thoughts? Do these social interactions between brands make you approach either brand differently? Do you see a clear winner in the food fight? Because, at the end of the day, it’s a Taco Bell ad, right? Yet, viewers are being reminded of Ronald McDonald over and over again…Anyone want a McDoOver?



Jack Daniels: Well-rounded?

There may not yet be a winner in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, but one thing’s for sure: Whiskey brand Jack Daniels is currently running away with the tie-in marketing trophy.


Using a multi-channel approach, the brand (which previously used a multi-channel approach to launch its Tennesse Honey in 2011), is connecting brand and consumer through the madness that is March Madness. The campaign is designed to grow the brand’s SMS and email databases and social media following, according to Mobile Marketer.

It is a comprehensive program using SMS, mobile Web, social media and email for the total digital marketing package. Customers take part in eight rounds (yes, eight rounds) of competition and prizes, with the big kahuna being a trip to Las Vegas.

The contest implements a mobile-optimized website, opt-in SMS sweepstakes, and social media to distribute promotion codes that unlock additional entries.

“This promotion is about connecting the consumer to the brand through the hype and hysteria that only this basketball tournament can provide,” said Casey Nelson, senior brand manager at Jack Daniel’s, Lynchburg, Tenn. “These consumers are out and about watching the games and hanging with their friends. If we aren’t on mobile, we will miss most opportunities to capture their engagement. We want to add to their tournament experience, not get in the way of it.”

The campaign lends itself to these questions: What are you doing to tie-in to major events, be it sporting or otherwise? How are you reaching customers wherever they are?

Is Twitter killing the @, #, RT, MT and #FF stars?

Unless you already know what any of the characters in the title of this blog entry mean, those characters and abbreviations are meaningless.

Just as Facebook is adopting hashtags, lending themselves for easier searching for topics such as #MarchMadness and #catmemes, Twitter may be abandoning them in an effort to reach what they’re calling “one billion disaffected users,” users who have tried Twitter and quit.

“That language and scaffolding can be confusing and opaque,” Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, said. To solve the problem of so-called Twitter quitters who log in once and never come back, he said, it needs to be “clear and simple.”

Complaints about the hashtag (#), reply symbol (@) and abbreviations such as RT (re-tweet) and FF (Follow Friday) are that the language too closely mimics computer coding, something ordinary users hate and, furthermore, don’t understand. It might explain why Twitter’s growth has slowed, according to Business Insider, adding only one million users in the past quarter.

New visitors — and prospective converts — to Twitter have difficulty figuring out how it works, experts say. That’s why Twitter executives are looking for a way make sure new users “get it” from the beginning. To that end, they are testing the waters of a more conversational language, eliminating # and @ in favor of a simpler Facebook-style dialogue.

There are no plans to completely do away with the special characters and awkward abbreviations at present, according to PC Magazine, but the creative juices at the company are at work, in an effort to make one of social media’s frontrunners more intuitive.

Is Living Social dying?

The rise of the daily deal sites came swiftly and almost without warning: savings of 60, 70, 80 percent being dumped in consumer’s e-mail inbox for products ranging from cell phone chargers to Mexican vacations.

Sites such as Living Social and Groupon came on the scene in 2009, sprouting up in the digital landscape like that first welcome Spring day, blooming with promise. In the short four years to follow, the daily deal field has grown crowded and the frost of indifference has settled over consumers and businesses alike.

But, why?

Social Media Examiner reports that marketers are moving away from sites like Groupon and Living Social by large margins: as many as 80 percent surveyed said they had no plans to use the daily deal sites in the future.

Marketers may be shying away from this once emerging media field because of the perceived lack of profitability.

“The daily deals space is saturated,” said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali. “And, it never provided tremendous value to merchants. That was the fundamental flaw in the business model.”

There are other worries, too: few repeat customers, lack of enthusiasm from small-business level partners and bigger offers from more channels including Facebook, Apple, Yelp and Foursquare. All of that — and then some — likely led to AdWeek‘s explanation of 400 layoffs and a $560 million net loss during Q3 2012 at Living Social.

To compete, Living Social and Groupon must adapt to the shifting tide of digital offers, coupons and wallets by offering more geo-social options, card sync features, targeted advertising based on purchase history and location, and rebates to drive customers back to the daily deal site over and over again. Both of the larger sites — Living Social and Groupon — also might need to consider expanding its location offerings so that Sally in Small Town USA has offers as relevant as Sally in Sacramento.

I’m curious — have you used one of these daily deal sites? What was your experience?



SoLoMo – Whoa!

Did you read that as a nonsense word?

If so, not so fast.

SoLoMo, as it is affectionately known by marketers the world over, is the intersection of social, local and mobile marketing efforts. In short, it is the very definition of our daily job.

SoLoMo is reaching out to consumers in the social network spaces they inhabit, on their mobile devices, and encouraging them to visit local stores or take advantage of offers within close proximity.

It might be a no-brainer in terms of marketing options, but it is a relatively new phenomenon that has come around as the result of consumers shifting their communicative ways toward smartphones and tablets.

From a consumer perspective, SoLoMo is the integration of one’s social media platforms and physical location with their mobile device. For businesses, it represents opportunities to target customers (and potential customers) wherever they are and at any time with relevant content or promotions.

The importance of SoLoMo cannot be denied. The explosion of mobile technology has made this type of marketing a must in order to retain existing customers and engage new ones. It has put the power of the marketed message in the hands of the consumer. Instead of marketers pushing their message to consumers, SoLoMo enables consumers to pull it to themselves in a timely, efficient and accessible way.

While SoLoMo is, in essence, a term that doesn’t mean anything, it’s a six-letter clue for marketers to get with it: socially, locally and mobile-ly.

Looking for new SoLoMo? Check these links out: