Category Archives: Advertising

EXP: Bringing a Human Element to a Digital World

Written by: Chris Salicrup
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Working at a large agency with offices spanning the globe, I spend more time with voices on the phone and faceless emails than I do with the people around me. I recently had the opportunity to participate in an employee exchange program (EXP) where I was sent to work with my peers at another office location. The trip helped bridge the long distance gap and put faces to the long list of names of people I communicate with daily.

via GIPHY

Part of my role is to understand how morale and communication effects efficiency. The EXP is truly an innovative idea that helps solve for some of these issues as our company grows larger. The program gives our people an opportunity to network with team members in a uniquely effective way. Having the opportunity to work in another office gave me the opportunity to learn more about their group’s dynamic, which in turn helped improve the way I will communicate with them in the future. In return, the team feels like they have an ally at home base who is looking out for their interests, as well.

In my short four-day trip, I learned more about my co-workers in New York than I had after two years of working with them remotely. In addition to juicy gossip, I gained an understanding of their communication and leadership styles. Trying to learn a personality when you’ve only ever communicated by email is challenging. Without voice inflection, emails are constantly misinterpreted and unfounded animosity can flourish. Now with a face next to those names, I find myself working harder to better meet their needs. Thanks to this opportunity I have a more keen understanding of the ways that my teammates prefer to communicate. I know when it’s more beneficial to pick up the phone, and when they prefer to have a paper trail to keep up with longer discussions.

As companies continue to grow larger and spread out across the globe, more innovation around culture and morale will be crucial. With increasing difficulties in working environments, such as the open office floor plan, many companies will need to find a system to help their employees cope with their new situations. For us, the EXP is just a small step and a way to help triage more severe communication needs. In addition, we’re looking at ways to more effectively share documents across our multiple offices, and ways to reduce email by implementing chat platforms. We do all of this with the focus of always putting people first, believing that great work will follow. In order to do this, we create an environment where we encourage suggestions for improvements. Often the best solutions come from those who deal with the issues on a daily basis.

In an increasingly digital world, we have to keep an eye on the human element. For large global companies, it’s easy to turn into a machine, quell questions, and enforce redundant policies. It helps to take a step back from time to time to understand how policies affect the group as a whole, as well as how they impact each individual. Without having a face to vent those needs to, innovation is staunched and growth cannot occur. Never be afraid to answer the hard questions; the times when you can’t give a solid answer can help adjust the focus.

Telehealth

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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As marketers, we often compare brands within specific industries and verticals, but in reality most consumers don’t think this way at all. They don’t compartmentalize their individual experiences but rather they aggregate all of their experiences into generalized expectations. Consumers take in all of this information and develop expectations for brand touch points based on their experiences as a whole. A consumer who uses innovative digital tools when they are shopping comes to expect a similar experience in their healthcare, as well.

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Telehealth is a key trend in healthcare and directly impacts the patient experience and how they interact with their physician. In fact, Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader from Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, believes the true tipping point in telehealth is coming within the next four years as “today’s digital natives expect to interact online with service providers – including their physicians – with the same convenience they experience ride-sharing via Uber or booking a vacation room via Airbnb. To remain relevant, healthcare providers must capitalize on these expectations by providing fully integrated telehealth solutions. Those providers that haven’t begun catering to the younger patient demographic using telehealth are already falling behind.”

A survey conducted by American Well found that 60% of physicians are in favor of communicating with patients via video visits.

70% of physicians believe that video is a better tool to communicate with patients than email or phone.

There are many health specialties that are implementing telehealth programs, including radiology, dermatology, and neurology. According to Logicalis Healthcare Solutions experts, there are multiple stages for adapting telehealth solutions and there are four different categories of telehealth services:

  1. Synchronous: A live, two-way video meeting between patient and physician for consultations, health exams, health education and training, and patient observation – even monitoring patients in an intensive care unit.
  1. Store and Forward: The sharing of information such as images, clinical results, education and training, and patient portals to be reviewed at a later time. This could be via a device such as a portable ultrasound device, which can send patient scans to a radiologist from another location.
  1. Remote Monitoring: The collection and sharing of vital signs and health data from chronically ill patients with a HCP in a separate location for care or support. This is extremely beneficial for patients who are ready to be discharged from the hospital but the physician still wants to regularly monitor their vitals.
  1. Mobile Health/Wellness: The ability for mobile devices to promote healthy behaviors, deliver alerts or reminders, and manage patient cases remotely, including anything from vital signs monitoring to behavioral health assistance or diet and weight loss tips. This is very useful for elderly patients who may need a way to alert caregivers or physicians if they need medical assistance.

Brands are beginning to explore the telehealth trend and how it can be used for their consumers. Walgreens, for example, has developed a partnership with MDLIVE and recently announced they are offering consumers in 25 states 24/7 access to MDLIVE’s telehealth visits via the Walgreens mobile app. MDLIVE provides patients access to a robust network of board-certified doctors, straight from their mobile device. This example of a brand and telehealth provider partnership is offering convenience for patients like never before. The MDLIVE integration into the Walgreens mobile app positions Walgreens as a leader in the digital health space and gives them a strong competitive advantage.

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Adam Pellegrini, Walgreens Divisional VP of Digital Health, explained in a statement, “We have seen that telehealth solutions play an important role in helping to improve patient outcomes, and we will continue to work to evolve our offerings to ensure our patients can choose what’s most convenient for them, whether that’s live doctor consultations, digitally chatting with a pharmacist, or visiting a Healthcare Clinic.”

Walgreens has also launched their Walgreens Connect app, which provides additional benefits for Walgreens Balance Rewards members. Members who own a Well at Walgreens connected glucose meter or blood pressure wrist monitor can earn points for taking daily measurements. The app allows members to sync their devices in order to seamlessly sync data and earn rewards. They can gain up to 20 Balance Rewards points a day for blood pressure measurement and 20 points for blood glucose measurements. The Walgreens Balance Rewards program has over 500,000 connected devices, proving that patients are seeing the value of this program. The Walgreens app, as well as the Walgreens Connect app, show the brand’s dedication to providing innovative digital solutions for their consumers, through tapping into trends like telehealth and simplifying processes for patients who deal with chronic conditions and need to monitor their health daily.

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Another organization utilizing telehealth to provide better access to healthcare for patients is the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing. They are launching a research project in January that will leverage telehealth robots for elderly patients living in local retirement communities. These robots will conduct physicals and enable patients to communicate with their physicians via two-way video functionality.

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After this pilot program, students at the University of Cincinnati will conduct focus groups in order to determine how the elderly patients felt about the telehealth robot program. They also would like to explore whether the patients would be open for future robot programs to help manage chronic diseases like diabetes. While this is just an experimental program, it proves that the telehealth trend is not only being explored for use with the digitally savvy, younger generation of patients, but there are also opportunities for telehealth to transform patient-doctor interactions for people of all ages with various medical conditions.

Google Serves Up Shopper Trends to Retailers to Win in Mobile Moments

Written by: Eric Fransen
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Google has recently begun to use the term Mobile Moments to describe mobile’s place in the consumer journey across devices. Specifically, they’re trying to understand how search signals intent at a regional level and how retailers can capitalize on this intelligence. I’m certainly in Google’s camp when it comes to search as a signal — when you’re asking a question about a product, you’re almost certainly heading toward a purchase, depending on what information you discover — and Google’s plan to address (and monetize) these signals just got better.

Two weeks ago, Google announced a new ad product that allows retailers to tap into their massive databank of search and mapping data, offering them the opportunity to fully utilize local shopping trends and behaviors. For example, Google found that demand for PlayStation 4 was 2x that of Xbox One in New York while consumers in Los Angeles were 9x more interested in Xbox One. This kind of insight could change the entire strategy of merchandising and co-op advertising to fit local preferences and nuances in behavior. Why spend equally everywhere when the same dollar promoting Xbox One would go a lot further in Los Angeles compared to New York?

"I shop here because of their people-first approach to marketing across devices."

“I shop here because of their people-first approach to marketing across devices.”

So, where does mobile fit into this behavior? Everywhere. In fact, according to a recent study, 54% of shoppers are expected to shop in these Mobile Moments between other activities throughout the holiday season, rather than simply cramming it all into Black Friday or a “shopping day.” This also includes the ever-present behavior of “showrooming,” where consumers are checking prices and comparison shopping online even while they are in other stores.

Here’s the bottom line: Mobile is going to be bigger than ever this holiday season, and Google’s got a new bag of tricks to make sure you’re reaching the right customers with the right message on the right device.

Halloween 2015 Marketing Stats and Trends

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Co-written: Hannah Redmond, Director of Strategy, and Rita Mogilanski, Senior Content Strategist

Halloween isn’t just a fun time for trick-or-treaters, it’s also a fun time for marketers. More than 157 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending an estimated $6.9 billion dollars. Brands have the opportunity to capitalize on consumers’ excitement and become relevant with deliberate seasonal content. Here are some content marketing trends and stats to consider this Halloween:

Brands are innovating in the digital space this Halloween.
Target launched an app called “Treatster” where consumers can find the best places to trick-or-treat. Users can add in their own houses and “up-vote” houses in the neighborhood to alert other trick-or-treaters in the area which doorbells they should ring.

34% of consumers used online search to find inspiration for their costume. (Statista) Researching and planning ahead online before buying in-store continues to be an integral part of the shopping experience this fall, with almost half of households nationwide researching online before purchasing Halloween-related items in physical stores.

Consumers are more likely to indulge during the holiday, whether they are celebrating it or not. The top 5 candy sales days of the year are in October. This is in part due to the “permissibility” people feel around the holiday – even those who aren’t trick-or-treating or going to a Halloween party still feel more comfortable enjoying a treat more than at other times of the year. Studies show that people think that the same treats “taste better” during the Halloween season (Mintel Reports).

Halloween videos account for 57% of seasonal makeup tutorial video views. (Think With Google)
Beauty and lifestyle brands should consider Halloween a key moment in their video and social marketing strategy.

Halloween-related searches on mobile grew more than 1,000% from last Halloween. (Bing Ads)This is one of many stats that confirms the need for all content to be mobile-friendly.

5 Ways Your B2B Marketing Strategy can Improve with Social Media

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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While no one can argue that social media is extremely important in any B2C strategy, when it comes to B2B marketing people aren’t always so sure. In a world where SEO and email typically reign supreme, social media can seem like an add-on or a lower priority component of the larger strategy.

Consider these statistics:

  • As of 2015, 65% of adults now use social media compared to 7% in 2005.
  • Facebook has nearly 1.4 billion users and generates 4.5 billion likes daily.
  • Twitter has over 284 million active users posting 500 million tweets per day.
  • 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising – just 10% trust brands today (Lithium).
  • 81% of consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media posts (Lithium).

However, social media is no longer an innovative, new way to drive awareness and sales for your brand.

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We Are Social

Essential to your organization’s survival in the competitive B2B landscape, it needs to be an integral part of any B2B marketing strategy. Social media helps B2B businesses showcase their credibility, acquire and retain customers, and build a strong reputation. “While tried-and-true B2B marketing techniques such as search engine optimization and email still bring plenty of prospects to the door, social media entices them to enter a dialogue, pick up some information of value and step into the sales funnel” (eMarketer).

Furthermore, social media can be even more impactful for a B2B company than for a B2C company. This is because B2B companies, as Convince and Convert explains, usually have “a smaller potential customer base, a higher average price point, and customer decision funnel that is more influenced by word of mouth and reputation.”

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eMarketer

Here are 5 tips for developing a social media strategy for B2B companies:

1. Understand your audience and engage with your customers on social media. Leverage social listening to understand the pain points for your customer – what are their needs and desires and how can your product/service help solve those problems? The main benefit of leveraging social media for B2B marketing is to build relationships with current and potential customers.

2. Use social media for content promotion. Share various forms of content such as videos, photos, or longer form content to showcase your products/services in a broader context and to drive the authentic voice of the brand.

3. Drive traffic to website. Ensure that your website is prominently highlighted on all of your social channels and within your posts. Utilize link tracking to see which content drives people to click through to the website.

4. Invest in social video to produce more leads. According to a report by Software Advice, “video is the most-used content type and the content that generated the most leads for surveyed B2B marketers in 2014.”

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Software Advice

5. Increase brand awareness with paid social. Allocating a percentage of the total budget to promoting social posts helps ensure that your content is visible to the right audiences. Social networks such as LinkedIn offer advanced targeting options for promoting your brand’s content, which ensures that you reach the most important and targeted audiences.

Social media is extremely valuable for top-of-funnel engagement and for generating strong leads for B2B companies. As we move into 2016, a social media component is going to be critical for every B2B marketing strategy.

How Pinterest Connects Brands to Audiences Better Than You Think

Written by: Olga Kraineva
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When thinking of social networks that are beneficial for tune-in, Twitter comes to mind first. Twitter and TV are intertwined to the extent that Nielsen came out with SocialGuide two years ago to track TV viewing with Twitter. A less likely pair for TV networks? Pinterest.

With no strong data to support that the platform helps drive tune-in, why should networks dedicate time and resources to Pinterest? With 48.7 million users, Pinterest is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to engage consumers. A Pinterest board full of interesting and relevant content can be extremely influential in engaging a brand’s target audience when strategically executed.

Like many, Lifetime was unsure of increasing their time commitment in the Pinterest space. However, looking at the similarities between the Lifetime viewer and the Pinterest user, it became apparent that focusing on the platform could be a great benefit to the TV network in terms of forming stronger connections with their target audience.

Lifetime viewers are 78 percent women, compared to 80 percent on the Pinterest platform. Fans of both also share an interest in music, fashion, and travel. From a brand perspective, Lifetime is working to shake off old-school views of the network, with a lot of younger women probably thinking, “Lifetime isn’t me.” What better way to discover new Lifetime programming than through carefully curated boards in topics that interest their target viewer with branded posts interspersed throughout? Pinners can see Lifetime pins and choose to repin them onto their own pages, an action by itself that makes the statement, “This is me.”

Pinterest.com/lifetimetv

Pinterest.com/lifetimetv

Aside from a brand play like Lifetime’s, TV Land just published a case study with Pinterest showing that using Promoted Pins and real-time optimization helped their show “Younger” achieve record-breaking ratings and season two pick up.

Pinterest.com/youngertv

Pinterest.com/youngertv

Pinterest helps brands build stories and experiences that speak to their audience members, building up a portfolio that defines the brand. TV networks’ investment in the platform can help extend the stories of their programs and most-loved characters, helping people continue to connect with their favorites. More importantly, it can help consumers discover new programs from places they might least expect.

The Next Frontier for Food Influencers: YouTube

Written by: Allie Wester
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It is undeniable that YouTube is a big platform for influencers. But when it comes to the food space, compared to the massive power and reach of food blogs, it is still finding its footing.

Why? I think it is because Gen Z – the core YouTube consumer – hasn’t quite entered the stage of life where they want to learn to cook. The oldest Gen Z members are in college, which means a lot of eating out and easy convenience foods. 

However, once Gen Z graduates, they will want to learn how to cook. Will they look to blogs or Pinterest (which ultimately leads to blogs)? As a majority, probably not. They’ll look to where they always look for “how to” information: YouTube.

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Source: Google

There are a TON of high-quality food blogs out there right now. There are a handful of food YouTube channels, but comparatively it’s slim pickings.

For food marketers: Start experimenting now! You may not get huge view counts right away, but think of the long-term effect. Your video could get hundreds of thousands of views down the line. And you can perfect your craft now before it is mainstream.

“Food hack” videos, demonstrating tricks and tips for making cooking exciting and fun, draw interest from one in four millennials. Use this as an opportunity to not only promote your product, but also explain how to cook with it and why it’s a useful tool or ingredient.

For food bloggers/influencers: Start experimenting now! Many food bloggers I’ve talked to are hesitant to start on YouTube because video is complicated. I get that. But I also know that the food blogging industry figured out food photography and styling from scratch. I have faith that they can also figure out food video. 

In the meantime, the millennial generation is watching food YouTube videos. According to a survey by Google, Millward Brown Digital, and Firefly:

  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial moms purchase food products featured in the videos they watch. Sixty-nine percent of these highly-engaged moms watch food videos every week, and 68 percent of them will also watch videos while cooking.
  • While three out of four millennial women are open to watching branded food content, close to half (43 percent) have not done so, representing a significant opportunity for brands to gain new audiences.
  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial men described themselves as a “confident cook” – two times more than their millennial female counterparts.
  • Millennial dads are the most engaged with food content on YouTube, watching videos to spark inspiration and create meals. And 42 percent of them will make special trips to the store to buy products they learn about in food videos.
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Source: Google

For the foreseeable future, food blogs are not going anywhere. They’ll always have the millennial, Gen X, and boomer generations. But if they want to remain relevant with the younger generation — and let’s be honest, make more money — they should start experimenting on YouTube now!

Fastest Growing Online Retail Channel: Social Media

Written by: Hannah Redmond
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Social for retail is a growing space, from embedded Buy buttons on social to referring traffic to retailers’ websites and apps via social posts. Platforms are creating more and more options for brands and consumers, and brands need to consider social as a serious avenue for sales. According to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500, the top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping in 2014, up 26% from 2013. That is well ahead of the 16% growth rate for the overall e-commerce market in the U.S.

Business Insider recently published a report showing that social is driving more retail traffic than any other online channel. Additional findings below:

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Key points from the report:

  • Social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain these social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile, where social engagement with retail content is still limited.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence for mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and event marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers, but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

It is no surprise that people are spending more time on social not only consuming content but also making purchase decisions, and ultimately purchases. As we think about helping our brands navigate the digital space, social provides enormous value for retail, mobile, and beyond.

To read the Business Insider article that inspired this post, click here.

The More You Know: Wantering

Written by: Jordan Lee
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Online shopping can be overwhelming. Combing through a sea of retail sites, blogs, and Pinterest in search of something on trend to wear can feel daunting.

Many retail search engines, like ShopStyle and Polyvore, offer the same experience. You can sort by color, size, and price. A new site, Wantering, is offering something more to consumers: item search based on social popularity.

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Image via wantering.com

Ranking is determined by mentions across the web including blogs and social networks. Clicking on a product allows you to see both where it is most popular and a “hotness” score based on current mentions and relevancy.

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Image via wantering.com

Social influence impacts the consumer journey as a consultative force. According to a study by Bazaar Voice, 84% of millennials say user-generated content plays a role in their purchase decisions, even when that UGC is from a stranger. In addition, 71% of millennials say they share their opinions and input because they help other consumers’ purchase decisions.

Wantering is leveraging the movement of consumer empowerment and providing a unique online shopping experience. Product reviews are going to be weighted more and more in the future. Brands and retailers will need to not only keep up with how their products are evaluated but also with what is trending in order to drive sales in the changing shopper landscape.

Influencer R&D: The New Landscape of Brand Partnerships

Written by: Jordan Lee
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As the landscape of bloggers and social influencers changes, so do the partnerships that drive their content. As bloggers, YouTube stars, and Instagrammers become more popular, the campaigns become more robust. Product seeding is almost an expectation and not innovation in this landscape.

Bloggers partnering with retailers is nothing new. However, over the past few years, brands have been looking for ways influencers can shape their consumers’ experiences offline and bring innovation to influencer marketing. Target was one of the first brands to collaborate with these influential social stars and create product consumers can actually buy. Baublebar is another brand consistently partnering with bloggers to create products. Some mainstay products, like the Courtney Bib Necklace named for Courtney Kerr, owe their moniker to bloggers – a place in fashion typically reserved for models and actresses.

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Image via Target

The recent announcement of blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere partnering with Nordstrom to create a product line should come as no surprise. Undoubtedly, it’s a smart move for retailers. They are leveraging online popularity in a way that directly impacts sales in addition to any brand affinity generated by social media.

According to a study by Imperial, expert content by influencers lifted purchase intent over brand content by 38 percent, and 83 percent over user reviews. Influencers are critical to the purchase journey for consumers, so the extension of this is naturally influencer-created products.

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Image via Nordstrom

This collaboration correlates to the new normal for bloggers and social influencers. Those with larger star power are looking for more meaningful partnerships – for them this is a career path.

This new normal isn’t just product creation, either. YouTube stars are getting their own shows and some, like Flula Borg who recently appeared in Pitch Perfect 2, are landing movie roles. Others like Zoe Sugg are writing popular books.

Influencers are already becoming more selective about brand partnerships. Just having enough budget for fees is no longer going to land you a deal. Brands with thoughtful, meaningful integrations are going to win in the future of this landscape.