Category Archives: Best Practices

Prediction: Perceived Personalization

Written by: Eric Fransen
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It was sometime between my first battle with an Uruk captain and overthrowing my first war chief that I realized something was special about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. While the gameplay itself was fantastic, it was something in particular about the game’s enemies that struck me. Each Uruk had a unique name, appearance, and set of weaknesses, strengths and fears. Each Uruk had its own personality that was only present in my game. If I fell in battle to one, he made sure to let me know the next time I saw him — in alarmingly specific detail.

This is all thanks to Monolith’s Nemesis System. What the Nemesis System has managed to accomplish is something extraordinary — and noticeably lacking in many other of its AAA game brethren: perceived personalization. It wasn’t a matter of going after these Uruks because the game said I had to — I went after them because I wanted to. For sweet, sweet vengeance. It was no longer purely a game mechanic. It was personal. It was as if I KNEW the Uruk and he existed purely to antagonize me and make my life more difficult. All of this made it that much more satisfying by the time I was able to exact my revenge by parting his head with his shoulders.

So what does this all have to do with digital marketing? Everything.

You see, Monolith has stumbled onto something utterly brilliant. Mechanics that go a long way in making you, the consumer, feel like you’re having a completely unique experience. At its core, the Nemesis system is essentially a bank of possible names, attributes, personalities and sound bytes that combine to form randomly created characters. But it’s how it all comes together to form a cohesive experience that’s where it really shines.

You could apply this same logic to attributes in product design, custom web experiences, or experiential events. If you feel like you’re the first and/or only person to experience something, how much better of an experience is that compared to a one-size-fits-all approach? By creating something truly unique, you’re creating social currency and empowering your consumers to speak on your behalf.

But why perceived personalization? Isn’t it just personalization? Yes and no. Yes, the experience is unique and personalized to me, the end user. But where I see the differentiation is the fact that it’s unique without any additional input from either the development side OR the user side. It’s a highly sophisticated automated system that makes me FEEL like it’s built specifically for me. That’s the magic. And something I believe we are going to start seeing even more in 2015.

The Marketing Arm Digital – September 2014 Newsletter

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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We published our monthly newsletter! Check it out below, and to see it in all its glory with working links, click HERE.

Sept-Newsletter.2014

How To Make Trends and Influence People

Written by: Eric Fransen
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One of the proverbial Holy Grails of social marketing has been to get your brand to trend on Twitter. It signifies scale and social value of your brand, it’s easy to explain, and not everyone can do it. Or can they?

First, let’s begin with some definitions.

What does it mean to trend on Twitter?
It means appearing in the top trends box on Twitter’s home page and mobile app. The trends are tracked and viewable at a global, national and city level.

What are trending topics?
Trending topics represent what people are talking about the most at a given time. But it’s not just a traditional word cloud, tracking individual words — rather, Twitter uses an algorithm to identify the larger conversations related to topics and distill them down to hashtags and keywords. By clicking a trending topic, you can see all related tweets, profiles, and headlines.

How does something become a trending topic?
The most certain way to trend on Twitter is to pay for it using Twitter’s Promoted Trends product. These opportunities are offered once per day at a fixed rate — typically $100,000 – $200,000 for 24 hours. While this is a surefire way to get your brand in front of the massive Twitter audience, what we’re discussing today is how to do it the old fashioned way: organically.

There are a few things to note about organically trending topics. 
First, there’s no telling how long or short their time to trend is going to be. I’ve seen trends last less than 20 minutes and up to a majority of the day. It really comes down to the size and nature of the audience that’s engaging — that is, fans of One Direction and Justin Bieber are incredibly passionate and show up in the millions to create organically trending topics quite frequently.

Second, a big part of the algorithm that causes content to trend is based on two things: frequency and volume over time. That is, the more people are tweeting about a given topic in a shorter amount of time, the more likely that content is to trend. This is why you see topics related to live television like sports and The Voice trending — the viewership is so massive and active on social media that, at any given time, thousands upon thousands of conversations are occurring about these cultural events.

So, what does this mean for me and my brand?
When it comes to trending topics, there’s a lot to do with chance — right content, right time — but there’s an equally important part that can be affected with the right strategy to put your best foot forward. Here are a couple thought starters that should get you on your way to your first trending topic.

1) Live Events
What better way to replicate the momentum achieved by a live television or sports event than to create one of your own? I’m not saying you need to produce a television show or host the next Dodger game. Quite the opposite, in fact. You can create an online event targeting a smaller but passionate audience. The most common example of such an event is a Twitter Party — an event hosted by a popular Twitter personality, centered around a hashtag, and designed to get their audience talking about a topic. Another type of live event that I have personally seen success with is a live trivia event. Working with a gaming client, we devised a program that offered up high value prizes to the first Twitter follower to answer each of a series of increasingly difficult trivia questions using a designated hashtag. We hosted a similar event for four weeks and organically trended three of the four times.

2) Mass Appeal
Don’t have the means to make an event of your own? You can try appealing to the masses with something that holds a universal truth or can be entertaining to everyone. A program I created for the same gaming client was designed to tap into the passion around nostalgia for a particular franchise and the result was the topic trended within the first 10 minutes of publishing the original tweet. It comes down to understanding your audience and their motivations. What are they passionate about at scale?

Google’s Updated Search Algorithm Puts Greater Onus on Social Content Marketing

Written by: Eric Fransen
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What’s changed?
Google recently announced significant changes to their legacy algorithms — Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, which impact 90% of the world’s searches — that took the war against spam links and black hat SEO to new heights. At its core, the change is putting a much greater emphasis on content relevance and quality by stripping out bad searches (keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and hyperlink manipulation) and clearing the lane for the good stuff.

So what does this mean for digital marketers and brands?
The bottom line is this: great, relevant content will prevail over all else. No longer will marketers and SEOs be able to stack the deck to artificially inflate the presence of bad and/or irrelevant content. If the ever-increasing demand for original, quality content wasn’t already apparent — this is your wake up call.

The good news in all of this is, if you’re already creating engaging, high quality content for your marketing campaigns, this is some of the best news you’ll hear all year. With the clutter out of the way, your content stands that much greater of a chance of being discovered by your intended audience.

As a brand or agency, there has never been a more important time to focus on the creation of original content in real time. By reacting to global events and trends quickly in an authentic manner, you’ll not only ensure your content is original and fresh, but you’ll be poising your content (and brand) for discovery. And the changes to Google’s algorithm have cleared the lane of clutter to make a clearer path to the top of the search engine results pages.

SXSW 2015 – What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Now through September 5th, 2014 is the time to vote on panels & presentations for SXSW Interactive 2015. I have submitted a presentation for consideration and would greatly appreciate your support.

Screenshot 2014-08-11 11.06.41

My proposed topic is What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020. This is an in-depth extension of my previously published iMedia article of the same name. Here is a brief outline of the proposed presentation. I will also roll out the new consumer engagement platform called #DatabaseOfYou during this presentation.

Screenshot 2014-08-07 10.30.58

Presentation Description

Where should marketers and brands place bets over the next five years? What is hype over substance? Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020. We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people, and more. While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and cons to impact and feasibility. The following panel is the consolidated and highly visual vision of the future of advertisting in the year 2020. This presentation will take a look back at transformational media moments that give clues to the future state of advertising. We will then look at the role of integrated mobile, converged media, connected life and the digital ecosystem of the future. Presentation Cameos by Drones, Terminators, the Jetson’s, Marty McFly, Grumpy Cat and more!!!

Questions to be Answered

 

The presentation will focus on the three predicted core pillars of advertising in 2020 (Content, Data, Channels). The pillars will fuel the discussion and points of connection between where technology is going and how to stay relevant with a information overloaded consumer.

1) How can media of the past predict the future state of advertising?

2) What role will mobile + wearables play in 2020?

3) How can media fragmentation and personalization unlock new opportunities for converged media?

4) What role will the internet of things and connected life play in predictive advertising?

5) Who will be left standing as major players digital ecosystem players in the year 2020?

Here is a preview of some of the initial visuals tied to the presentation.

 

I would greatly appreciate your support with a vote. You can vote here. In order to vote you must create an account at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com

Then you can simply search for Tom Edwards and give it a thumbs up to submit your vote.

SXSW - Tom

Thank you in advance for your support! It is much appreciated.

Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360

#SelfieRevolution White Paper

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Say what you will about the term, “Selfie,” but whether you hate it or love it, odds are you are doing it. Not a day goes by where millions of us aren’t snapping photos of ourselves with the intent of capturing the moment or the location using the front-facing camera on our smartphones.  Did you ever wonder why we do it? And, if you are a marketer, are you curious about how your brand or your client’s brand can benefit from this so-called #SelfieRevolution?

Olga Kraineva, one of our superstar account executives at Fanscape / The Marketing Arm Digital, wrote an insightful White Paper that dives deep into the psychology and the marketing case uses for the Selfie.

Download a copy of the #SelfieRevolution White Paper HERE (click ‘Save’ to take it with you).  It’s free, you don’t have to sign up for anything, we just want you to enjoy it and we hope that it helps expand your knowledge on the Selfie!

Say cheese!

What Advertising Will Look Like In 2020

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I wrote an article that appeared in iMedia Connection today. You can view that here and I’ve also posted it below. I hope you enjoy it.

————–

As a technology-centric digital marketer, I am constantly evaluating consumer adoption trends, tech startups, and the latest in emerging platforms. My goal is to align consumer behavior with relevant digital solutions that create value for my partner brands.

We are in the midst of an innovation revolution, with a slew of new and innovative companies and startups vying to become the next big thing. We are now more connected than ever, and functions that used to require separate devices are now accessible simply through your phone. Finally, we have seen exponential growth in terms of the sheer volume of data being created.

We are also in a state of constant bombardment about the future state of digital marketing. Microsoft recently stated that the company believes by 2020 marketing departments will be reshaped to concentrate around three digital hubs: content, channels, and data.

Where should marketers and brands place bets over the next five years? What is hype over substance? Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020.

This was a very interesting exercise, as my expectation was closely aligned to the idea that we would rally around five to ten top-level topics, which are mainstream points of discussion. After the first hour, we had identified 31 “territories” we felt were going to represent the next five years of digital marketing.

We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people, and more. While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and cons to impact and feasibility. The following are the top four territories we felt would be most relevant in five years.

Mobile plus wearables equals integrated mobile

Before we look forward with mobile, it is always helpful to take a quick look back. With the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, we experienced a transformational shift, which has since changed the way we live our lives.

Generation 1 iPhone.

Prior to its launch, most mobile phones were just that — phones. The iPhone was transformational, with simple emphasis on usability, utility, and personalization via a robust app marketplace.

Heading towards 2020, we will experience another transformational shift in mobile. This time, the transformation will be less about the handset and more about mobile-as-a-mindset — coming to life through a collection of integrated technologies, some virtual and some physical, such as wearables.

The rise of integrated mobile will create a seamless physical-to-digital or “phydigital” ecosystem. From a marketing perspective, integrated mobile represents the next iteration of media-to-shelf.

Tesco virtual supermarket. South Korea.

A brand’s ability to connect with a consumer will primarily exist through mobile connections. Such as when, based on consumers’ personal preferences, brands provide contextual content that seamlessly transitions into serving a location-specific value.

Converged media and mass customization

Traditional advertising shifts, combined with on-demand behaviors, such as connected televisions, original branded entertainment, curated content, and native advertising, all wrapped with mass customization, was an extremely hot topic of discussion with a majority of the team.

We have all seen the shifts in how media is consumed. Fragmentation and non-linear consumption will lead to more cohesive and relevant networks to connect with consumers. That sounds counterintuitive, but the fragmentation is an opportunity to reimagine connections with consumers in the near future.

Refined segmentation, based on usage and self-selected behavior — overlaid with the core desire for discovery and recommendations — will create signals and new points of connection based on platform consolidation over the next five years.

We will see better connectivity between the branded entertainment being consumed and the opportunity to personalize relevant and contextual information, which is focused on creating a 1:1 connection with the consumer.

We will see the shift in terms of branded entertainment, as well as social platforms such as Facebook, now making a major strategic pivot towards a reach and frequency model, which is built to provide incremental reach to television. This shift is also predicated on the principle of lowering post frequency with a high rate of personalization through targeted media.

Here is a whitepaper that I recently wrote outlining the full Facebook shift.

Internet of Things is now connected life

Another topic of interest to the team was the Internet of Things. The term “Internet of Things” was coined in the mid ’90s and may already be dated. “Connected life” seems to be the leading candidate to describe the next wave of interconnectivity.

You may have noticed the rise in intelligent home offerings, smart-grid enabled appliances, personal fitness devices, and enhanced vehicle telematics. All of this accessibility and interconnectivity leads to more opportunities for marketers to create relevant, predictive connections with consumers.

This is both a blessing and a curse for brands and marketers. As the various connected devices communicate with one another during the course of the day, they may soon have the predictive capabilities to deliver products in near real-time based on personalized preferences.

When this happens, it may fundamentally shift our current thoughts about the five stages of the consumer buying process. To recap, the current process is based on problem recognition or need state, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.

With a predictive model based on interconnected systems, marketers will need to focus more intently on brand affinity to drive consideration, while also accounting for consumers having to take an additional step to proactively swap a product in an existing consideration set.

Close-up mid section of man touching crystal ballAccessibility and interconnectivity throughout our everyday lives will be built on yottabytes (1 trillion terabytes) of personalized data, which will drive digital marketing significantly beyond rudimentary banners and transform traditional thinking about digital marketing.

Google

2014 and 2020 will be similar in that Google will still be incredibly relevant for digital marketers. Google is a key player in all of the previously discussed elements, such as mobile through Android, converged media through YouTube, mobile accessibility, connected life through Fiber, telematics and autonomous vehicles, and even wearables, with the continual evolution of products like Google Glass.

I am participating in the Glass Explorer program.

By serving as the curator of the open web, Google is not a portal such as Yahoo and MSN of the past. It’s not Facebook in terms of a closed platform that limits its footprint on the open web. Because of these factors, combined with the focus on innovation, Google will be an incredibly relevant marketing platform in 2020.

Its reach and focus on innovation, as well as owning key waypoints of consumer interaction from search, will give Google’s YouTube and Google+ the ability to focus on simplifying access to all properties through single sign-on.

After a recent meeting with the Google+ product team in NYC, it became very clear to me that the role of social in the Google ecosystem is less about the stream and more about the interconnectivity of the ecosystem and the ability to connect content where it is the most relevant for a consumer.

If I were a betting man, I would anticipate that Google’s staying power for the next five years, as well as the possible acquisition of other key discoveries and curation platforms, will round out its ability to go beyond search-and-retrieval, such as Pinterest and Evernote. Remember, you heard it here first.

No one truly knows what the future holds or what digital marketing will look like in 2020, but based on 14 years of digital experience and a strong track record of identifying substance over hype, I feel confident the Microsoft view of content, channels, and data is accurate. Integrated mobile, converged media, connected life, and Google all represent the core digital hubs of content, channels, and data — and each will be relevant in 2020.

Follow Edwards at @BlackFin360.

Planet system in your hand” image via Shutterstock.

Stats of the Week

Written by: Jackie Mendez
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Every week we compile lots of interesting stats here at Fanscape and we try to share a lot of what we learn with you in these posts.

70% Of Brands Respond To Social Media Customer Complaints Within 24 Hours

Social media marketing is hardly the new kid on the block anymore. eMarketer estimates that among US businesses with at least 100 employees, 87% used social media for marketing last year, and 88% will do so this year.

But old problems still plague the space. Not only are many marketers still not measuring their efforts, dealing with negative buzz remains a questionable proposition for nearly half.

February 2014 research from social media training firm Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) found that fewer than half of US marketing professionals had an effective plan in place for dealing with negative posts on social sites. One-quarter did not have a plan but were working on one, and nearly one-quarter more had no plan—and no plan for a plan.

Not having a plan in place doesn’t mean marketers are doing nothing, however. While around one in five respondents said they rarely or never responded to negative social buzz, most marketers did—and quickly. Nearly as many answered within 1 hour, and a further 52% replied to posts within 24 hours.

Is responding without a plan a good thing? While many marketers certainly do so without a hitch, the room for error is clear. And since negative buzz can cause anxiety—or worse—among marketers that don’t have a plan in place, it can easily spur intemperate or otherwise poor responses.

Source: eMarketer