Category Archives: Retail

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.

With New Offerings, Instagram Comes of Age

Written by: Jake Schneider
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This week, the Golden State Warriors will take the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first NBA Finals appearance since 1975. As incredibly as the Warriors have played over the past month, the buzz over the past few days may belong to another Bay Area team: Instagram.

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For marketers, Instagram has largely been about building a brand through creative and visual storytelling. Like Tumblr before it, success for brands on Instagram has relied on compelling visual narratives, where both brand and user sit equally at the table as premium content creators.

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Because of this, they’ve given way to a massive influencer support channel for brand engagement and a supplementary channel for authentic content. They rolled out their first trial ads service a year ago – injecting sponsored content into newsfeeds and crafting what would be their offerings, waiting like any good Nor-Cal vintner for the perfect batch.

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What has been missing for brands is direct attribution for business outcomes for advertisers…until now.

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I checked the “this day in history” calendar for important events, and other than Marconi filing his patent for the radio and Dana Carvey and wrestler Lex Luger’s birthdays, “Instagram releases action oriented formats and targeting for ads” is about the biggest thing going for June 2 – especially for brands.

Instagram has taken the time to meld the visual narrative we love with the business outcomes (“shop”, “install”, “sign-up” and “learn more”) direct response marketers need without sacrificing the authentic feel we have come to know from Instagram.

Blending aspirational creative and narratives with specific calls to action can hit multiple goals specific for retailers looking to drive discovery, purchase, and mobile app downloads all with attribution back to campaigns.

Combining these new assets with the recently launched Carousel, Instagram gives brands the potential to extend their story and expand their ecosystem. Providing the user an interactive and near immersive experience evolves Instagram into a destination rather than a vessel for serendipitous content that relies on “link in profile” clicks to further the conversation.

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The ability to provide a deeper, richer front-facing experience through Carousel, along with the ability to extend to actionable outcomes through “learn more” CTAs, could prove to be a game-changer for Tech and CPG brands looking to drive registrations for loyalty programs, innovation sessions, or specific communities that are brand-centric.

It’s been called “a year of progress” by Instagram, but the additions of these actions and interest targeting evolves the platform, pulling it from the periphery as a support/influencer channel and adding it to core digital and digital media strategies as a viable and true power channel.

How We Used Google Maps APIs to Help Hunt Monsters

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Editor’s note: Tom Edwards, EVP Strategy and Innovation for TMA Digital Engagement, was a guest blogger on the Google Geo Developers blog today, speaking to TMADE’s use of Google Maps APIs in building a website for GameStop to promote the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Congrats to our GameStop team for a successful program and a post on the Google Geo Developers blog!

If you’re going on a monster hunt, it’s a good idea to bring a map. And if you want to build buzz around the release of a new game, you should have the right tool as well—in our case it was Google Maps APIs. We built a website for GameStop to promote the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, an action role-playing game from Warner Brothers and CD Projekt RED. After a visitor logs in to the promotional website, she is dropped into a map of the world and collects clues about where to find monsters. The goal is to be the first person to find each monster and win a prize.

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The game’s launch deadline required us to build the site within a tight timeframe. We chose Google Maps APIs because they provided the tools we needed to build our maps quickly and easily. They also let us focus on the site creative rather than get bogged down with technical issues. We use the Google Maps JavaScript API for the front end, to start the experience and immerse visitors into the virtual world. Then, with the Google Maps Street View Service, we allow users to search for monsters. We took images of the monsters and used overlays to drop them into familiar surroundings.

We use the Street View API to plant the user in a random location somewhere in the world, then visualize their surroundings, including monsters and trails of blood. We set a randomly generated starting point to the map based on five predefined locations. From there we have event listeners in place for ‘mapView: bounds_changed, streetView: visible_changed, streetView: position_changed, streetView: pov_changed, searchBox: places_changed’.

When the user has initialized Street View, we make a call to our API to see if any monsters are within a defined distance from the LatLng of our monster data set. We continue this test any time the position_changed event is fired until a monster is within range. At that point, we update the class of a div that sits above the map view. Each monster is assigned a specific CSS class, which allows us to easily make tweaks.

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Google Maps made it easy to combine the real world of Street View with imaginary creatures from the game. Our goal went beyond just our users having fun — we wanted to build a site that would create genuine excitement around the game and give people a taste of monster hunting in the real world.