Tag Archives: Planning

Has Apple Gone Too Far In Their Packaging?

As we know, Apple has established itself as the preeminent purveyors of great technology design.  They have that strong history of not only making great hardware and operating systems, they make them actually look great. It’s no coincidence that their competitors have borrowed from some of those designs.  While some have gotten close on product design, none have really matched the beauty of their actual packaging. Half the fun of opening a new apple product is the unraveling of the packaging as if it were a beautifully intricate flower. The design always served the product, until now. With the opening of the Apple Store in Santa Monica, CA, they might have tipped their hat and gone too far in packaging their product to be beautiful at first sight – but it fails to place the product in the best light.

AppleSantaMonica

When the store opened in December, you could already get a glimpse of the inherent issues.  In a video capture of the opening by YouTube personality, iJustine, they mention the heat and the noise near the end of the video.

Apple places a strong emphasis on marketing and innovation in everything they do, but this direction in store design did too much innovation while adversely affecting the product.  When you enter the store, it is especially beautiful at night, but still loud due to the flat walls and glass ceilings – it is a veritable noise chamber. When you visit during the day, it has that same loudness but the glare and heat are almost unbearable.

Now, months in, the issues are very clear. If you are trying to check out the products, you can’t see a lot because of that glare, and if you are waiting for the Genius Bar or getting individual instruction, the loudness and heat make you not want to stick around.  One woman even brought a box for her one-on-one to place around her product as she was well aware of the issues.

While this is not the first Apple store with a glass ceiling – there has been one in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for a number of years – it seems they did not really take everything into consideration and aimed for looks more than substance. Perhaps the bigger Santa Monica store concerns were never an issue in Manhattan due to more limited direct sunlight and extended cooler weather. It’s a shame that they didn’t take into consideration that there is more heat and sunlight in the beach city of Santa Monica.

AppleSM

I hate seeing Apple miss and I hope this is just a hiccup and not more indicative of what’s to come. If they continue to make decision based more on looks than substance, we will all lose out.

Transcending The Pitch And Becoming The Lifestyle

The delineation of Lifestyle Brands as a separate vertical is odd to me.  Its hard to think of “lifestyle brands” that don’t retain a product at its core. Some examples of lifestyle brands – to me – are: Nike, Gatorade, Coca-Cola/Pepsi, and some could argue Apple or Facebook. You could arguably suggest that Livestrong at its height was a lifestyle brand, but its core product was funding and awareness for Cancer research. Perhaps one of the more recent strong transitions to Lifestyle is Dove. Though the Dove brand has been around for a long time with numerous strong campaigns, it has been over the past decade that they have been able to transcend the pitch and become the lifestyle.

What started in 2004 as a way to establish itself in a new market, Brazil, utilizing creative from London, Ogilvy & Mather Brazil’s “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” had a lasting effect that has enabled the brand to create content and community without constantly pitching its products. Perhaps the best part is the fact that the Brazil team launched what seemed to be a local campaign leveraging existing materials that then went on to drive strategy for the brand globally.

RealBeauty

A recent example is their “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” program that has garnered phenomenal viewing metrics.  Rather than describe it, you can check them out yourself, but keep in mind that there is absolutely NO product description. The US 3 minute documentary has garnered over 54 million views on YouTube in just under a month and a half.  The longer 6+ minute version has had 2.6 million US views.  Just the sampling of other markets shows Brazil with another 5.3 million views of the short and 1.6 million views of the longer on YouTube.

Needless to say, the amount of views is of incredible value, but we can’t forget how they got there.  This was certainly not a matter of posting a cool video and just seeing the video completes jump. It was about an almost decade-long investment to build the community with content and programming that helped Dove to become a Lifestyle Brand.

So, with that in mind, the way to think in this technology and media age is how can your brand become “a lifestyle.” It becomes a matter of content strategy, release strategy, Social Media, messaging and campaign strategy. And it could take quite a while.

If done right, it can effectively allow the brand to not even deal with the concerns about brand loyalty. While consumers are becoming more fickle about brands, they are becoming less so about their lifestyles. Red Bull was able to achieve Lifestyle status through their media content and Dove was able to do the same – in large part through their Real Beauty campaign.

So, if marketing product properly and thoughtfully could enable it to transcend product placement and pitching to become a part of life – or lifestyle -, then what constitutes a purely lifestyle brand?

Automakers Raise The Platform Of Inspiration

Ahhh, Automakers.  I see you did get that email.  You know? The one where it is agreed that the focus in this first quarter of the year should be on inspiration in the commercials. Honda set things off right with the Civic commercial showcasing new innovations and emoting the feeling that things can always be better. Then, during the Super Bowl, we were treated to extremely long spots focusing more on the members of the military and cowboys than on the Jeep and Dodge trucks they were marketing. The fact that many count the Dodge commercial as their favorite says something – but what that is, we don’t yet know. It seems we’ve reached a trend where inspiration becomes the platform for awareness and connection with cars – and association is almost as strong as what’s under the hood.

HondaBetter

For those who remember Paul Harvey and loved listening to his radio broadcasts, the subject of his talk could have been about toothpicks and he would have made it inspirational. Play him talking about God making a farmer over beautiful images, and there might not have been a better connecting inspirational moment for its intended audience. The fact that it was effectively a two-minute slide show with voice over takes it to another level with its simplicity amid the pandemonium of the big bowl game.

Going directly for the heart-strings, Jeep clocked in at 120 seconds with Oprah guiding us through our wait for our armed forces to return home. And, there were a couple of compulsory shots of the actual car they are selling. It seemed the seed was planted by Chrysler’s spot in last year’s super bowl stating that Detroit (and America) was back.

Other than the Millions of views those two longform spots have received on YouTube in the two days since the Super Bowl, it remains to be seen what will be done to build on them.  But the onslaught of inspiration has been taken to the next level by Honda and its Civic model.

Tying into every big social media platform, Honda is leveraging its inspiration into a content play surrounding innovation.  The social media program is called the #HondaInnovator Series and it sets off to provide more information about the innovators in its spot.  With a slew of programming across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube to distribute content and enable interaction, they’re hoping to also generate buzz around the 2013 Honda Civic.

Though it’s not clear how many people will show up for the hour-long Tweet chats with the innovators featured in the spots, Honda will end up with a bunch of content that indirectly touches on their product. To a certain extent, the sky is the limit on where they could take this new-found content stream. Though I don’t believe its the same, it feels sort of like the moment that ESPN decided to create the X Games – but that had sports at is core. Maybe a better example was when MTV decided to air a reality TV show about kids living together – perhaps they all liked music.

Regardless, the opening up of a single commercial concept to create more content and enable more touch points with consumers is a strong one.  Honda’s tie to innovation is as strong – if not stronger – to its product than Jeep’s tie to our military and veterans or Dodge to God, cowboys and Paul Harvey. Let’s now take a moment to reflect on the proliferation of content converting to market share…

JELL-O Takes Their Best Shot At 12.21.12

As it has become simpler (and quicker) to produce commercials and place them, we have begun to see many campaigns that are launching to coincide with specific events.  What might have once been considered a waste of money are now considered the norm – whether they are a waste of money or not.  With the ability to launch these micro-campaigns quickly and effectively, we’re seeing that it happens more in this “I want it now” society.  Add in to the mix that today might be the end of the world, and you’ve got a recipe for some fun.  That is, if the creative and placement is done right – as JELL-O seems to have done with their latest TV Spot.  Perhaps its the best JELL-O shot at saving us from the apocalypse?
Jello122112

The 60s spot is a fun one that offers up JELL-O brand pudding to the gods in order to save us from the end of the world. It seems that they did spend a bit of money – or at least found a solid vendor who could produce it on a tight budget. I saw it on ESPN last night and I guess you could say that the audience is ripe for chocolate pudding – if even in a nostalgic way.

While they did a funny commercial that has a short shelf life – much much shorter than the shelf life of the product they are selling – seems as though their press release went out on the 17th – they might not have prepared to leverage whatever media was bought.  They announced in the release that there will be a contest and that people should use the hash-tag #funpocalypse and they also announced the url, http://www.funpocalypse.org but that just goes through to the Facebook page.

I would have liked to see more integration into their main site or even just placement of #funpocalypse on the commercial.  There were a couple of people who searched for @unclejimsays – which was clearly shown within the spot. Unfortunately, it was not really managed by the company.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ItjE3f3clQQ

It is great to see these compelling bits of content coming out in support of products, but there is an acute risk of leaving value on the table by not extracting the most value from any campaign element. I look forward to seeing more of these fun, time-specific offerings, but hope that any campaign elements are dealt with holistically to make sure there is the best ROI possible.  Because, if you’re reading this on the 22nd of December or later, JELL-O was successful in keeping the apocalypse at bay – and businesses will have to continue turning a profit.

 

NBC News’ Confusing Destruction of Demographics

I’ve been quite bullish on the need to move away from straight demographics in marketing and media from some time.  And I haven’t been alone.  We see in research that a person’s age or sex isn’t always the best marker of what the consumer is interested in.  Even some products that historically might have been limited to a demo or sex are seeing a bit of change.  One example of that is where we are seeing more stay-at-home fathers who are responsible for buying the diapers – and they’re not into the same programming that a mother might be into.  I understand that the example is nowhere close to becoming a norm, but it illustrates the point. What concerns me more than the slow move to affinity marketing from demographic marketing is the opportunity for publishers to bring bogus solutions to market that only make the transition messier. The latest affront can be found in a MediaPost exclusive with NBC News Digital’s confusing move towards a “Persona” structure that seems even worse than straight demographics.

Before getting into the details of NBC’s move, its important to point out that the shift from affinity to demographic sales from a publisher prospective might not be such an easy thing.  Even if a publisher perfectly hits a demographic segment, we know that not everyone in that segment is interested in all things exactly the same.  As data and algorithms are refined, there will be ways to define the buckets and deliver to them more easily.  But, at this time, the easier way to target may well be through smart social media targeting. And traditional publishers shouldn’t be too far behind – unless they go in the wrong direction.

Which brings us to NBC News.  Their direction is confounding.  Instead of breaking down their affinity into what their users are specifically are interested in, they are effectively playing off of how much their users are interested in. Instead of Demographics, they want to move to Persona.  That’s great if they want to hit those who are more interested in more granular buckets like political, entertainment, sports, local and more.  But they are basing their four buckets on how much news they read.  From the description, they don’t glean much about the individuals based on these segments ranging from avid digital news readers to spotty or traditional news consumers:

  • “Always On:” Consumers who are constantly connected to news feeds across  multiple devices throughout their waking day.
  • “Reporters:” A slightly smaller segment of “digital natives” who grew up  consuming news via online and mobile media, and who have manifested the behaviors of news disseminators, taking pride in their ability to break  important news to their friends via their own social media postings.
  • “Skimmers:” Consumers who are not passionately connected to news.
  • “Veterans:” Consumers who primarily rely on traditional media as a trusted  source for news.

NBC News Digital will be focusing on the first two Personas, but as a media buyer, I really don’t have an idea about what any of those groups are interested in.  I understand that the “Reporters” might be most likely to share news information with friends, but does that mean that they care about what branding comes along with it? Do the CPMs I pay mean more when it reaches “Always On” readers more because there is the assumption that there are more impressions? Or is it worth less because those readers may be much more adept at tuning out the ads those who are not always checking online for the latest news?

Perhaps the solution for the latter issue is based on sponsorship opportunities.  But, such an engagement is even more challenging in the news environment due to the accepted separation of editorial and advertising.

I couldn’t find much more information about the program – other than MediaPost’s piece on it, so I don’t know what NBC is looking to do. Sadly, it looks like NBC may have garnered a headline, but ended up diminishing its proposition because there wasn’t enough within the article or supporting it.  With the input the group has from research teams and other organizations, I’m hopeful that there is more sense to this than can currently be seen. Otherwise, it is just another in a long line of curious announcements that miss the especially engaging aspects of digital media and flattens them almost to incomprehension.

At the speed in which we are moving forward and the challenges of selling in concepts and practices to clients and management in that same expedited time, we collectively need to be thinking more clearly about the products and measurements we introduce. Decision makers are too quick to pass judgement that it still causes many to shake their head when half-baked or confusing concepts are presented to the marketplace. The true shift from media planning for demographics to affinity needs to happen – and can happen – but we can’t be placing obstacles in our own path.

 

Leaders Of Media Will Get It And The Rest Will Be Pushing Buttons

Over the past couple of days, there’s been many good panels taking place at the Spring Digital Hollywood conference in Marina del Rey. I believe I heard the conference’s organizer, Victor Harwood, mention that there were over 600 participants through around five or six concurrent program lines (such as the Variety Entertainment and Technology, Connected TV – Hollywood Alliance, Content, and Urban Media summits.) There are more than plenty of sessions that could be taken in over the course of four days.  For the most part, I made it a point to check out the sessions on media/advertising – in gaming, online video and regular video inventory – and a couple of things became abundantly clear.  The major point to me is that there are many people who are focusing on the mechanics of how to pull off campaigns and not enough people who are developing media rollouts for a holistic and strategic point of view.  As more and more functions of the media business become automated, there will be a clearer delineation between those who get it and those who are just pushing buttons.

At these types of conferences, the best use of time is when there’s open discussion and even debate among the panelists.  Those times have come up a bit – and they are interesting more often than not – but there’s been a greater amount of timidity (or too much manners) on many of the panels.  In each case, the more excitement and engagement came when the audience (or strong-willed panelists) pushed the needle and added some spirit.  It forced the panelists to get beyond their surface comments and dig deeper into the hows and whats about what they were describing.  In those moments, you could begin to see the separation between the ideals and themes that will elevate further in the future and those that won’t.

Those who looked at issues of media from a holistic and strategic level that went beyond straight demos and display started to get into why a different way of thinking is required in order to excel in the digital space.  The times of planners being able to do the status quo and/or think of media in terms of how it has been thought of for decades is becoming the past.  Certainly, I’m not talking about a wholesale change.  But, if you consider the fact that exchanges for the purchasing of inventory will be automated in such a way as to emulate the financial trading systems (or exchanges) currently on Wall St, then you’ll see that there will be much more reliance on smart and nimble executives than on the “plaster the world with RFPs” mentality that is currently so common. Roger Wood , of iCrossing, talked about this in a session yesterday and Cory Treffiletti focused a bit on it in his column today.

The people we are trying to reach and the platforms on which to reach them are fragmenting so quickly that its sometimes hard to get a handle on it – much less convey the intricacies to the C-level – with the benefits and drawbacks to that fragmentation sometimes showing itself on the same side of a coin. On top of that, you figure in elements relating to social – and the opportunities become exponential. It is those who are smart about the ways to reach and engage that will stand out. Those who rely on gross numbers alone might tread water, but those who understand that managing those gross numbers AND finding ways to expand reach through intelligent execution, innovation and sound strategy will be swimming laps around the competition.

Even the establishment for what constitutes a campaign’s success continues to grow in the way of measurement options and their varying forms. While the KPIs may have been simpler or more clearly defined and consistent across campaigns, there are many more nuances to take into consideration from one campaign to another. It will require a much more strategic mind to qualify and quantify the milestones you are looking for – as opposed to just setting an impression threshold. That in itself is what will separate the opportunities in digital from what was the norm in the past.

While the mechanics are an important part of any product – whether it be a media campaign or a gizmo sold in Walmart – the overall vision is what separates ho-hum from solid or even spectacular. Those who get that, either on the client or agency side will be the ones to excel while the others will be simply going though the motions – and the differentiation will be absolutely clear.

In Digital Media, Old School’s Not Where Its At

I Like MediaMind. I really do. They have been tremendous partners in assisting me in numerous game-breaking marketing executions over the years.  The ability to pull off some really cool things in the media space is helped greatly by their drive for trying new things and pushing the boundaries for rich media. That’s why I can only shake my head and wonder why they are wasting time rallying about old-style data points. In this fast-paced age of digital media, why do providers keep going back to the dated modicum of click-throughs that are such old news – especially when there’s so many data points that are so much cooler. As we all try to convey the possibilities of digital media at scale, its time that we invest in the future and not go Old School.

As the leader in digital media serving around the world (especially in light of their acquisitions of large rivals over the past year), MediaMind can steer advertisers toward using metrics that matter – both in providing richer context and clearer benefits in the medium. Instead, it just feels that they are hinging on the same-old, same-old. Their recent study examined 24,000 ad creatives serving over 12 billion impressions to compare effectiveness of rich media versus standard banners in driving site traffic. The take-away was roughly the fact that users who interacted with rich media ads incorporating video were almost 6x as likely to visit the advertiser’s website than those who saw standard banners.

The entire basis of comparison is out of whack to begin with. Obviously, those who interact with rich media banners are paying attention and you can count those as a true impression (for the most part). But standard units are ignored or not even seen for most of the time. Why would you even want to compare them unless your numbers were even more exponentially higher?

Additionally, with rich media, there is so much more that matters like dwell time and even the opportunity to track type of engagement and purchase completions. I would have rather seen a straight comparison between types of rich media engagement rather than between what can technically be considered oranges (rich) and apples (standard) – and in some circles, juicy oranges and rotting apples…

Perhaps its the scale and the feeling that people are impressed by larger aggregate numbers that a CTR stat can bring you. Perhaps it is because not enough advertisers are sharing sales completion stats with MediaMind for their study. I believe we are slowly (OK, extremely slowly) moving toward planners warming to more meaningful numbers on a smaller scale than useless numbers on the large-scale. If anyone is in a place to lead the charge to more meaningful data, MediaMind (DG) would be it.

GM, Gal Trifon is quoted saying, “By investing in more engaging experiences powered by rich media and video, advertisers increase the chance that consumers will spend valuable time with their brand.” This would have sounded pretty great a few years ago, but it’s not where the planners’ or advertisers’ heads are today.  They want to know how it will enhance conversion to sales or clear ROI. Unfortunately, digital media was pitched for so long as being able to provide exact conversion data – which traditional media has not absolutely been able to do.  Because of that, those details have been waited for and they aren’t readily available.  How much longer will we be able to rely on the esoteric or the warm-fuzzy figures of dwell and engagement?

As I said at the beginning, I really like MediaMind.  I’ll just like them more when they are able to provide that real data that advertisers are looking for – even if they themselves don’t know what that is. They should take advantage of  their innovative spirit, size and market share to force that shift by providing that data that matters. They can do so much more to lead the industry into the future rather than keeping it relatively anchored to a couple of years ago.