The Conference Board of Canada tells us the rate of Canadian luxury sales is expected to grow twice as fast as general retail in the next five years. That paints a bright future for the likes of Saks, Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew. But to capitalize on the opportunity, luxury players will need to evolve the way they think about the retail experience.
The luxury market has long stayed away from digital integration and, as we’ve seen, the retail market is increasingly a digital one. Luxury has instead relied on traditional offline experiences. The go-to retail strategy of fostering popularity through social networks and apps does not typically align with exclusivity, which is needed in the luxury world.
However, delaying digital integration is no longer an option for luxury brands. Projections from the Business of Fashion suggest that by 2020, 40% of sales growth for luxury brands will be online.
Luxury retailers may fear that the pace of technological change is a mismatch with their cultures, customers and in-store experiences. But the truth is quite the opposite. To remain relevant, luxury brands must evolve from their traditional approach and extend their footprint into the digital space.
Executed correctly, every dollar a brand spends on digitization has the potential to provide six times the ROI by connecting the offline experience online.
This won’t require an investment of millions of dollars either, just a shift in thinking around brand loyalty — a deeper understanding of what creates your brand affinity. Brand loyalty is tied to products, while brand affinity is tied to companies. Brand affinity means forging an emotional connection with your consumer. Building an extension of that affinity online is the key to winning the luxury retail race.
How do you do that?
Unless the C-suite shifts its focus to removing silos and collaborating on execution, luxury brands will struggle to evolve.
Brands like Walmart and Target have spent millions on digital innovation, dedicating funds to internal teams that create differentiating online experiences. Led by C-level executives, employees are encouraged to innovative, share and collaborate without ROI being the main business objective.
However, while ROI shouldn’t be the only objective, every activity needs to be measured. Key performance indicators are typically used to track the success of performance with the customer, but they need to be expanded and applied to the organization internally as well. Rates of technology utilization, tool adoption and marketing campaign execution are a few examples of internal KPIs that should be used to measure the success of digital initiatives.
All social channels serve a direct purpose, and leveraging ambassadors in key channels creates an authentic connection with your consumer while maintaining the brand’s allure and exclusiveness. These ambassadors need to be kept to an exclusive group of influencers. A select group of the brand’s VIP customers are a natural choice.
Christian Dior has created a true marriage of luxury and technology through its VR experience, “Dior Eyes.” A headset allows customers to experience the Dior collection in 3D runway style. While this is only in select stores, taking this program a step further by sending headsets to some top customers provided an exclusive experience that initiated sharing with other Dior fans.
Consumers expect a seamless experience with a brand whether online or offline. Luxury brands have an opportunity to lead this transformation by ensuring their marketing spend truly drives personalized, convenient and seamless customer experiences. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter has created a digital experience that feels like a traditional print magazine that is filled with relevant and engaging editorial content. It also produces a weekly digital magazine that is seamlessly integrated into the online shopping experience. By clicking on the items, shoppers are then taken directly to a purchase page.
The opportunities to be creative are endless. For example, based on shopping patterns and preferences, a personal shopper could contact their customers by phone or email to let them know they were just sent a list with new products, all of which are viewable in 3D on their phone. The customer selects the products they like and either books an appointment to swing by the store to take a look or chooses to have them shipped to their home to try them on.
The evolution of luxury retail should be a fluid experience where consumers feel the exclusivity of brand and deep personalization at every step of their shopping journey. This includes everything from direct mailers to targeted ads informed by deep analytics, in-app chat bots driven by artificial intelligence, and in-store personal shopper experiences.
An omnichannel strategy that supports brand affinity over brand loyalty will result in a customer who has an incredible, seamless experience with a high chance of continued conversion.
AJ Dalal is the Performance Marketing Practice Lead at SapientNitro Toronto
Published on Marketingmag.CA
Today I will be chairing the Marketing Society Annual Conference, where the world of marketing will come together to discuss how brands influence consumer decisions, stay relevant and harness digital disruption for the good.
Digital is continuously dismantling what we thought we knew about the world; constructing a new set of truths and rules. This year, a Facebook algorithm burst open the century-old theory that there are six degrees of separation between any two people. You are now connected to everyone on the planet by an average of just 3.57 degrees.
This Facebook finding is proof that digital is interwoven into every aspect of our daily lives. It not only connects us to a huge pool of diverse people and places, but also transforms the way we think and behave, and changes what we believe is possible.
Digital companies are providing advanced services that raise the expectations of today’s customers, who now have greater expectations of their brand interactions. This has fundamentally challenged legacy organisations across the globe. Such organisations need to become customer-obsessed, identifying unmet needs and ensuring that the pursuit of a superior customer experience is a company-wide imperative.
This imperative is about more than staying in front of the competition. It is the reimagining of business and how it impacts the world, society and the connected population.
Whether new and digitally native, or established and highly adaptive, many organisations are keeping up pace with this profound digital shift. They are reinventing their business models and re-orienting their people around the technologies that define how, where and when they interact with customers.
Up until now, the definition of digital in marketing has been cast too narrowly – perceived as the resizing of banners, the design of web pages and at best an additional channel. We are now moving far beyond this, ‘digital’ is known as the force driving the rise of experience and the broader digital transformation of business in a customer-centric age.
During the conference, we will explore four key issues that all marketers and businesses as a whole must turn their attention to the necessity of digital transformation.
The rapid growth of digital and customer expectations mean that legacy brands are now contending against a global set of competitors who are disrupting the playing field. With ‘experiential competitors’ such as Uber or Airbnb resetting consumer expectations globally, traditional organisations need to redefine what their business is and what they offer to consumers.
To drive this change within legacy organisations, collaboration between different business units who have traditionally not worked together is necessary. As chief marketing officers are the voice of the customer, chief technology officers drive technology strategy and chief financial officers own purchasing decisions – they should work together to transform the business so that it can compete with naturally agile and integrated competitors.
Changing established ways of working and breaking down silos isn’t a simple process. It requires buy in from all levels, and an understanding of how to change the culture of business without damaging staff morale.
Whilst disruption has improved the life of young urbanites, those leading the charge of disruption need to ensure that other key customers aren’t isolated by the digital world. This isn’t a purely altruistic view – there are sound business and economic reasons for ensuring that digital transformation leaves no one behind. It should be used to create a new generation of enfranchised customers, employees and innovators.
The digitally connected world brings with it new opportunities and a need to be transparent in how businesses operate, and an honest account of their impact on people and society. This becomes particularly important as consumers seek credible, authentic and personal communication with brands that foster values similar to their own.
There are undeniably a multitude of ways that digital is impacting the marketing and broader world. And as it starts to shrink, becoming more digitally interconnected, those organisations that make necessary changes today will be the ones that thrive.
Nigel Vaz is EMEA and Asia-Pacific chief executive of Publicis.Sapient
Read more on Campaignlive
The next time you take a Carnival cruise, don't be surprised if the brand digitally tags you in photos taken aboard the ship.
The Carnival Vista just finished making its first transatlantic trip and is docked in New York this week to show off what Carnival Cruise Line claims is its largest and most souped-up ship to date. Among the ship's high-tech amenities is a digital photo experience built by SapientNitro-owned Second Story that uses digital accounts to store photos professional photographers take on the ship.
Here's how it works: Carnival Vista passengers are given accounts that are tied to their room information and photos of themselves. There are a handful of photographers on each trip paid to take photos of travelers.
In the past, the photographers took photos, printed them out and hung them on a wall on the ship. Consumers could then pick out and pay for the photos they liked.
"You're looking at a bunch of pictures that have been printed out, and you're trying to find yours among thousands—not only does this generate a lot of waste, it costs a lot of money to print out these pictures and then throw them away," said Frank Gomez, associate creative director at SapientNitro. "What we created was a way for all of these images to be sorted digitally, and searchable."
Now, Carnival is testing facial-recognition technology that matches photographs with the correct passengers. Instead of printing out the photos, they're automatically dropped into passengers' digital accounts. Tablets on the ship let consumers select and buy photos. The photo feature is also built into an interactive TV app in guests' rooms and Carnival's own mobile app.
"We took them from an analog way of doing business into the digital world where people cannot only search for their images—now they can interact with them," Gomez said.
In addition to the digital photo experience, the Carnival Vista is equipped with an Imax theater and LED light displays.
Published on AdWeek
Fact: Customers’ attention and loyalty are increasingly won by brand experience.
It sounds simple enough–and yet many organizations struggle to deliver. Why? Authentic and consistent experience transcends channels and involves reimagining the entire business to put the customer at the center.
In working with our clients across industries, we’ve encountered several common misconceptions about what makes for an improved customer experience, how to measure it, and who should lead it. Here we walk through three of the most common myths and how to address them.
Myth #1: Customer experience is a task best left to the CMO or CIO.
Not so fast. Functional C-suite executives often find themselves accountable for the entirety of customer experience, without having the authority or perspective needed to transform the entire organization. This leads to a disconnect. While some organizations have made experience design and execution part of the CMO agenda, or customer-facing technology the responsibility of the CIO, companies need to realize that customer experience in the digital age transcends every part of the organization, including all of its processes and systems. If the CEO does not set the customer experience agenda and commit to aligning every critical process, team, and decision with that vision, there can be no consistent experience.
Execution of the CEO’s vision is best accomplished by leaders with deep, cross-functional knowledge who can bridge silos and drive change through influence. To that end, some organizations have introduced the role of the chief marketing technology officer (CMTO). This individual is responsible for bringing marketing and technology together, seeing around corners, detailing the vision into concrete blueprints and plans, and driving radical digital transformation within marketing, communications, and IT. In short, a CMTO is an activist responsible for driving change through scrappy innovation, yet embracing enterprise scale and complexity.
Myth #2: Customer experience technology is complicated, and, mostly, it doesn’t work.
Many say that technology is complex and demands too much attention. They even worry that technology distracts from higher-order functions of creativity and strategy.
But the truth is, many organizations have made fragmented technology investments, resulting in unnecessary complexity and broken customer experiences. If you wonder why your favorite boutique retailer sends you completely irrelevant marketing messages, it’s more than likely because it has an incomplete profile of who you are, what you want, and your communication preferences. They probably have plenty of technology that somewhat works.
Marketing in a digital world is complex. Technology has moved from a back-office function to becoming the primary medium of customer dialogue. Marketing technology was developed in response to marketing’s complexity, and marketers must work diligently to understand and tame it. Wistful nostalgia for the Mad Men era of marketing isn’t going to turn back the clock. Technology is a tool to address the complexity of the digital world we live in. CMOs simply cannot accept somewhat working as a good enough answer.
The reason why Amazon kills it on customer experience is because Jeff Bezos cares about how the technology that supports the company’s customer experience is designed and built. Back in 2002, Bezos insisted that all Amazon technology components be built in a way that they could easily communicate with each other over web protocols, and he promised to fire anybody who didn’t do that. His focus continues to pay off. It’s no accident then that Amazon leads in customer experience, powered by technology unmatched in the industry.
Myth #3: The customer experience can’t be measured–and doesn’t translate to financial ROI.
Companies find tying customer experience investments to business outcomes very difficult–so difficult, in fact, that many simply do not try. We recently surveyed 223 marketing technology professionals, and nearly one-third (31%) said their organization does not have any metrics to measure customer experience. Yet organizations that focus on customer experience deliver superior shareholder returns. For example, Forrester Research found that CX leaders grow revenue at a much higher rate (17%) than laggards (3%).
As the adage goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Yes, measuring and tracking the customer experience is complex, but it is vital to driving improvement. While measures will vary by industry and business needs, some baseline customer experience metrics include overall customer experience rating, Net Promoter score, problem resolution time, social sentiment, and customer lifetime value. It is through careful evaluation and development of a customized scorecard that the organization can unify efforts to move the needle on customer experience and deliver results to the bottom line.
The pesky thing about myths is they often become damaging, self-fulfilling prophesies. That’s why it’s important to recognize them for that they are--and act decisively to counter them.
Published on CMO.com
Back at the MarTech conference in San Francisco this past March, we conducted a study of marketing technologists with SapientNitro. After analyzing the data, Sheldon Monteiro, the global CTO of SapientNitro, and his team finally released their report from that research this week. It’s a terrific report — well worth the wait!
It reveals a number of insights into the evolution of our marketing technologist profession. More marketing technologists (44%) now report to the CMO. The number of professionals in the space who have “marketing technology” in their official job title is growing (16%). And — perhaps surprising — more than half of marketing technologists (55%) have a background in marketing rather than technology.
One of the challenges of the study, in my opinion, is that the term “marketing technologist” has significant variance in how it’s intrepreted. For some, it is a software engineering or enterprise architecture role — closer to classic IT, but in the more specialized domain of marketing. For others, it is more of a specialized marketing operations position — for instance, the lead operator of a technically advanced, off-the-shelf application, such as a marketing automation platform.
This variance makes it hard to distill common patterns across the profession.
Sheldon’s editorial in the report raises some valid concerns with that dispersion of skills and responsibilities. However, I’m personally more comfortable with wider use of the “marketing technologist” label. The recognition that marketing technology management and operations can be a front-line marketing role — with staff who come more from a marketing background than an engineering background — is, in general, I think a good thing.
To me, it means that marketing technology is now being woven more deeply into the fabric of marketing teams at large.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t different levels of marketing technologists. In particular, those who serve as chief marketing technologists — the title still varies — in an executive capacity that bridges the CMO and the CIO have a fundamentally different kind of role than the front-line marketing automation platform wizards. Such leadership roles are arguably more about change management in the context of technological disruption. (See Martec’s Law.)
Which brings me to some of the most interesting findings in the study — perspectives on digital business transformation through the eyes of marketing technologists.
The good news is that effectively all organizations (97%), at least of those who participated in this study, are addressing digital transformation in some way — and in the vast majority of them (77%), marketing technologists are involved in these initiatives.
The theme of digital business transformation > marketing has been growing steadily this year, and the data in this report backs that up. Of course, this begs the question: what do you mean by digital business transformation?
The primary driver is “transforming customer experience holistically across all channels” (56.5%) — a front-office mission — followed closely by “transforming operational processes” (54.3%) in the back-office.
Now, our survey found that the CMO is the executive most likely to be responsible for the oversight of digital business transformation (26%), followed by the CEO (22%), and then the CIO/CTO (13%). In a few cases, the chief marketing technologist takes the lead (6%). But there’s clearly a plurality of leadership roles here. Even if marketing is the catalyst for digital transformation, it’s only the official leader of those initiatives 1/4 of the time.
What’s interesting is that when the CEO or the CIO/CTO lead these transformation efforts, they tend to do so with a “task force,” which can be a bit of an ambiguous structure. When CMOs are in charge, however, they are much more inclined to tackle the mission with a dedicated person or team:
I’m hesitant to assign a value judgment to that yet — which is the “right” way to tackle digital transformation. My impression is that the best approach is highly contextual to each particular organization and, very often, the individual leaders in these roles at this point. But I believe that this is not a one-time project, and that ultimately, companies need to approach transformation as an ongoing way of life in an ever-changing digital world.
This raises important questions when we consider such an organizatioanl recalibration in light of the major obstacles to digital transformation that were reported:
64.8% of the participants agreed that digital transformation was being driven by customer insights — although only 23.1% strongly agreed — which is a good reason for marketing, as the internal champion of the voice of the customer, to play a crucial role in these efforts.
However, when you look at the leading obstacles above — conflicting priorities (38%), lack of resources (35.2%), lack of organizagtion alignment (29.6%), etc. — it becomes clear that marketing cannot do this alone. It is digital business transformation, not merely digital marketing transformation.
Only 1 in 10 of the participants in our survey said that their organization is currently structured to deliver a seamless customer experience across all customer touchpoints.
Again, marketing alone cannot solve that. Therefore, I agree with Sheldon’s conclusion in the report that this bigger mission should be a clarion call for marketing technologists:
“Hybrid roles, in particular, such as the marketing technologist, are crucial in these times of disruption, to serve a bridging function within the organization and galvanize efforts to change and transform.”
For more data from the study, download a copy here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Published on Chiefmartech.com
Competition in e-commerce is increasing on a daily basis. Retailers are trying to make the experience “all about the customer,” tailoring it to what the shoppers want, rather than what the retailers have to offer.
One factor that we need to remember is that adding functionality often makes the experience slower. As humans we want everything now. At least I do, and I am a customer. Even if the experience is awesome, but the site takes too long to load, I will get frustrated and move on.
The question is, how long is “long”? There are numerous surveys that suggest different time frames for how long it takes for someone to lose concentration, with the most recent stat from Google suggesting that two seconds is the lowest threshold of acceptability, but half a second - ideal.
One thing that is consistent across all these surveys is that our attention span is decreasing which means that slow site speed will start to impact the bottom line. If you provide a great, fast experience, customers will be happy, and happy customers spend money. Not to mention, they are loyal.
The second question is - how much is a second worth? A simple e-commerce journey contains many experiences and pages, and depending on where in the experience a page lies, it will have a different conversion rate. This conversion rate will vary for customers getting a fast experience, as compared to customer getting a “not-so-fast” one, which could be due to myriad reasons such as mobile browsing or slow wifi speeds.
In addition, conversion can also vary across seasons. For example, it will be higher during the run up to Christmas compared to other seasons. Therefore it is important to look at conversion on a per-page basis across all seasons in order to understand the conversion cycle for your customers. We should then look at the views of a page at different levels of speed, in sessions that actually converted.
With this information in place, we will need to find the “sweet spot” for performance. This is the place where conversion was the best, or close to best. Anomalies, such as bounces, will need to be removed to get the correct data.
Using sample data from a site with an average order value of £65 and keeping all other factors constant, the effect of speeding up the site speed by one second would lead to additional revenue of approximately £337,000 per week, which is almost a whopping £1 million over a month.
So how can e-commerce sites improve site speed without compromising customer experience?
It is key for e-commerce site owners to understand what elements are slowing down the site and then start to reduce or remove them. For instance, through data visualisation for one of our retail client e-commerce sites, we can see the different tags from data providers that are associated with the site which help to personalise the experience for the consumer. By looking at the size of each bubble below we can see which tags are taking the most data and make decisions about what data to keep and what to remove for the sake of site speed.
Once the site is optimised as much as possible there are other ways to increase its speed as perceived by the customer. There are a number of tools and solutions that manage the data being sent from your website in the “last mile” – the bit from your servers to the customer’s device.
Getting to grips with the performance impact of site elements on page load is important, but it deals with only one side of the equation.
It is possible to have a very fast, lean website that falls over because the device being used to view it is on a slow connection or has limited capability. The challenge here is the “last mile,” which has an incredibly varied and complex number of permutations.
Fortunately, there are a number of solutions that can help mitigate the impact of “last mile” complexity.
A solution such as 51Degrees, for example, allows you to identify the capabilities of the end-user device and create content profiles for each type of device. Instart Logic is another option that optimises the content as it is being sent to the end-user, based on the device capabilities.
Furthermore, any discussion around performance needs to take into account the imminent explosion of browser-based, app-like functionality. One aspect of the maturing of this approach is the local “smart” caching of content, which allows for better experiences. It is early days – especially for more complex app-like capability – but Flipkart Lite is a good example of this technology in action.
Published on PerformanceIN.com
The team at SapientNitro Chicago had concerns that the 2016 election had started an unfortunate trend: choosing not to vote.
To address their concerns and fill an 11th floor whiteboard space, they decided to motivate their employees by using a prominent whiteboard space in the office, to create the “Embrace Your Right (or Your Left)” voting wall.
“We felt a need to respond to this sentiment by inspiring our people to do their democratic duty,” explained Creative Director Amy Haiar.
The team worked with a local calligrapher and artist, Jenna Blazevich, to bring the message to life and partnered with our IoT lab to create digital information screens that integrated data capture to measure participation.
The art installment aims to serve as a reminder to get out and vote, provides interactive screens to learn more about candidates, has the ability to search for polling locations, and even allows employees to register to vote.
“In the short time this wall has been up, it’s become an expression of patriotism in the office,” Haiar stated. “It was very important for us to remain neutral and non-partisan, and we did so in a striking way that demanded attention.”
Since the whiteboard measures interaction, results show that the reaction to the wall has been enthusiastic.
“Data shows that 1 in 3 people walking the floor has engaged with the wall in some capacity, while several have actually been motivated to register to vote through the digital screens,” Haiar said.
Because the office had a high number of new hires and a diverse team, the space was created to keep employees informed while encouraging them to vote.
“We believe that the most interesting things happen when story and technology come together,” Haiar added
As to if they will repeat this for the next elections, possibly on a broader level, Haiar stated “We would love to extend our reach beyond SapientNitro, to encourage even more people to vote in coming elections.”
Published on Divergenow.com
Gloria Samayoa at SapientNitro’s Miami office has been sifting through résumés as the New York-based digital marketing agency expands its new career return program to her office. The 12-week paid program for advertising professionals, which piloted in New York and Toronto, has spread to Chicago, Atlanta and London. It has led to full-time positions in some of those cities for people — particularly stay-at-home mothers — who had taken time off work and wanted to return.
In Miami, Samayoa has been surprised by the résumés she has received: An equal number of men and women are applying for the office’s return-to-work program. “There are all kinds of reasons why the men took a pause from their careers,” she said. “It’s just as difficult for them to come back in where they left off.” Samayoa expects to launch with one or two returners by early next year: “We want find that right person so the experience is successful. Our long-term plan is for them is to get hired.”
Even as the economy rebounded, people have continued to take breaks from the workforce for a variety of reasons, whether to start a family, care for a sick or elderly family member, travel or tackle an illness of their own. Unless they keep their skills up, re-entering the workforce with a résumé gap can be a challenge, particularly as technology has changed the modern workplace.
Now, in South Florida and across the country, return-to-work programs are popping up in various industries providing mid-career internships for caregivers who have been out of the workforce for a few years or more. With most programs, mentoring support is provided to the returner. The concept of a “returnship” was pioneered by Goldman Sachs in 2008, who trademarked the term. It has been replicated by financial firms such as Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan and tech companies such as IBM and Paypal.
There are about 108 active re-entry programs globally across industries, and more U.S. companies have committed to rolling out programs by year-end, according to a list compiled by iRelaunch, a New York/Boston company that works with employers and returning professionals.
These individuals, typically in theirs 40s, have something unique to offer the employer who understands their value, said Carol Fishman Cohen, the chief executive and co-founder of iRelaunch. They bring more workplace experience and usually have moved past the stage of needing future career breaks, unlike their younger counterparts. Cohen said iRelaunch is the largest supplier of candidates to Wall Street re-entry programs and has drawn more than 25,000 people to its return-to-work conferences and workshops all over the country — about 7 percent of them men.
In Miami, Akerman law firm is recruiting candidates for the office’s re-entry program that will launch in 2017 as part of a nationwide OnRamp Fellowship program. Ackerman already has brought on a lawyer in its New York office through the OnRamp program which matches experienced women returning from career breaks with law firms, legal departments and financial services firms. As of this month, 28 law firms and legal departments in the U.S. and Canada are participating in the OnRamp program, which says its goal is to fix the leaky pipeline in law with women who have the desire to return to the legal profession.
In Toronto, Ellen Kalis chose to leave her job in public relations to be home with her son who has cerebral palsy. At the time, she saw herself as confident and driven. But four years later when she decided to return to work, she began second-guessing her abilities. “I wondered how my résumé would even get into HR’s hands and assumed it would be tossed to the side as soon as they saw the gap in my career,” Kalis says.
Fortunately, a family member led Kalis toward an emerging path back to employment: SapientNitro’s program. Similar to an internship, it paired Kalis with a buddy/mentor in the New York office who helped her transition into a permanent job as the public relations lead for SapientNitro in Canada and the Midwest.
“With all the changes in digital, it was like everyone was speaking a whole new language, but the advantage of the program was that there was an onboarding process,” she said.
Yet, as the concept of return to work programs took off, some career coaches have cautioned against taking that route back. In fact, Stacey Hawley, a Birmingham compensation and talent management expert, has made her argument on Working Mother Magazine’s website, WorkingMother.com.
“Why put your self at a disadvantage and actually SUGGEST to your employer that you should be constantly scrutinized or that you might not be able to handle the job?” she wrote in 2012. “And if you aren’t hired full-time after the trial period is over, you need to start all over again. … Go after the right job, the first time.”
Donald Chesnut, executive creative director at SapientNitro in New York, says even with compelling credentials, a résumé gap is difficult to overlook in a job candidate: “While we value their experience, if they had applied for these mid-level jobs they would not have made it in.”
Chesnut says the return-to-work program at his firm offers one-on-one mentorship to help returners who have a gap in skills and experience to transition more smoothly. Sapient’s interest grew from conversation about the lack of female creative directors in the industry: “This is a way for us to bring diversity to our firm at the higher levels, and understand the value these people bring, even while they are learning on the job.”
Some larger companies are starting return-to-work groups as large as 25 people at a time, and may bring in several cohorts throughout the year in multiple departments. The success rates for permanent hiring are as high as 90 percent, said Cohen of iRelaunch.
In another example, what started as an internal initiative to increase the representation of women in technical roles at Return Path, a New York-based data provider, became so successful that the company spun off a separate nonprofit called Path Forward. The nonprofit helps corporations’ human resources departments set up mid-career internships.
So far, online education platform Coursera, grocery delivery startup Instacart, as well as customer service software company Zendesk, marketing technology company Demandbase, and CloudFlare, a content-distribution network, all announced that starting this month, they will offer 18-week “returnships” to men and women through Path Forward.
With an estimated 2 million stay-at-home fathers, Simon Isaacs, co-founder of Fatherly.com, a New York-headquartered parenting resource site for fathers, expects to see more men who want to participate in these programs. For them, the transition back can be particularly daunting.
Isaacs said they have fewer role models to turn to for help, and most of their former male counterparts who stayed in the workplace have risen to high-level positions.
Along with return-to-work programs, Isaacs suggests working parents consider flexible jobs open to people with résumé gaps at companies participating in the sharing economy such as TaskRabbit and Lyft.
1. Carol Fishman Cohen of Boston returned to work at Bain Capital after 11 years out of the full-time workforce. She eventually founded iRelaunch.com, a firm that connects employers with returning professionals. Her advice: “Get clarity around what you want to do now at this point in your life. Once you know where you want to work, get to know the company you are applying to really well.” She also advises taking courses or refreshing skills before applying for full-time jobs or return-to-work positions. “Get into the mindset that you are open to training and the feeling you can do it.”
2. Amy Brenner Schaecter of Weston returned to work after more than a decade at home. First she went to a PR firm, then in-house at a multinational company. Her advice: “When you get back to work, make friends with a smart millennial. The synergy is awesome.”
3. Ellen Kalis participated in SapientNitro’s Returns Program after a four-year hiatus. Her advice: “You have to have confidence in your skills. If you go in and show your value right away, companies will see that. Even though I needed more ramp-up time than a millennial or someone who came from that position, hopefully I am adding value somewhere else.” Kalis is now a full-time public relations lead for SapientNitro, Canada and the Midwest.
4. When Carol Hansen returned to return to work in New York after 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, the industry she had left —marketing/advertising — was transformed. Hansen’s transition through SapientNitro’s return-to-work program had its challenges: It was her first time working with millennials, balancing work and family, and digital storytelling. Her advice: “Jump in and raise your hand to help with any project. In doing so, talk to people in all areas of the company,” she said. “Even if I didn’t make it past the returnship period, I knew I needed to learn more and make myself relevant. I saw areas where I was strong and got a reading on areas where I wasn’t.” Hansen is now a full-time senior user experience designer at SapientNitro in New York.
Published by the Miami Herald
In this Finextra video, Leda Glyptis, Director, Sapient, discusses the evolution of fintech and the impact of emergent technologies on the financial services industry. The conversation examines the issues surrounding fintech as a label, and why the focus on technology misses the most important factors, namely: its effect on business model innovation, taking into account the shifting expectations of clients, the shifting value assessments of clients and the configuration of the value chain.
Nigel Vaz, our global Chief Strategy Officer and SVP EMEA, was recently invited on to the BBC World News show ‘Behind The Headlines’ to talk about how, in a digital world, businesses can ensure they are the ones doing the disrupting, and are not on the receiving end of it. He discussed how established companies often reinvent small pieces of their businesses, compared with pure-plays such as Uber and Airbnb where the starting point is to imagine a different consumer future.
In this new landscape, senior business leaders face a quandary. Do they defend, build upon and lock in their positions as incumbents? Or do they take risks, disrupt, and potentially expose themselves? The question, and Sapient’s point of view that leaders now need to consider how they go about transforming their entire organisation for a digital world, is explored fully in Nigel’s new paper on reimagining business.
The paper draws on two pieces of research we’ve undertaken to understand companies’ ambitions for digital business transformation (DBT) over the past two years. In the first, Sapient partnered with research firm Ovum to interview 50 global CEOs involved in DBT. The second, 'Digital Business Transformation and the CMTO: Leadership in the Digital Age', explores the DBT perspectives of 223 US and Canadian executives in charge of both marketing and technology – a hybrid role called the chief marketing technology officer (CMTO).
Read the full paper - Helping Clients Reimagine Business in The Age of The Consumer
Video courtesy of BBC World News
ADT alarm systems don't just protect you against burglars. They protect you against ghosts.
At least, that's what one salesman told a scared child during a phone call that agency SapientNitro has now turned into an animated ad.
As the security company tells it, 9-year-old Benjamin Carubba, who lives in the New Orleans area, developed an intense fear of ghosts. So his mother, an ADT customer named Katie, dialed the security company and surreptitiously asked the rep who answered, Xavier Rollins, to tell Benjamin a white lie—that the Carubbas' system includes ghost monitors.
Audio of the conversation shows Xavier obliging wholeheartedly, explaining to Benjamin that the system will automatically call the police if any wandering spirits found their way into the Carubba home.
It's a delightful story, just in time for the run-up to Halloween (the ideal season for peddling both candy and handwringing about general mayhem). ADT released the ad online just before Oct. 1 in honor of National Ghost Hunting Day, which is apparently a thing.
The only problem now is if a ghost actually does show up at Benjamin's house.
Originally published on ADWEEK
Just a few years ago, if the CIO was spending time with the CMO, it may have been a source of office gossip. But today, the boundaries between these functions have blurred, if not merged entirely – which means marketing and IT are closely linked.
Some organizations have made the CMO and CIO union official by creating a new position: the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO). This individual combines the technical depth, business acumen, creative flair and traditional leadership skills needed to re-imagine the business in a digital world. And perhaps no task on their agenda is more pressing than serving as a catalyst for defining and executing the customer experience.
According to a recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, 86 percent of CMOs and senior marketing professionals believe they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. Meanwhile, nine out of 10 marketers said their departments will exercise significant influence over business strategy during the same time.
Agenda Item: Minding The Customer-Experience Gap
The customer is no longer a captive and passive audience. She can buy anything, instantly – have it delivered anywhere. She can choose when to engage and for how long. But it’s not just that she has a choice, but many. In a world where a startup can scale to a million users without buying a single server and a disruptor has access to global sourcing, competitors can copy any established brand with frighteningly little effort.
Take Uber and Airbnb. These relative newcomers have not only disrupted entire categories, but are edging out traditional providers by putting the customer at the center. This same idea applies to Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker, nimble startups that reinvented the industry’s standard view on global sourcing, price, and precision targeting. Large organizations are now doing the same, as Walmart moonlights as both an alternabank and a health insurer.
In today’s digital world, experience makes all the difference. Any organization can compete on product, price, place and promotion, but none can duplicate how a brand makes the customer feel. Organizations that focus on creating a compelling and consistent customer experience – as opposed to selling products or services – have the ability to build long-term loyalty and brand affinity.
Originally published on Forbes
Leading up to Advertising Week New York, I asked my team what panels and events they were most looking forward to. While many said they planned to attend "Storytelling in the age of Snapchat," or were excited by the star power of Drew Barrymore, The Roots and Arianna Huffington, far more mentioned a topic that hits a little closer to home: diversity.
In recent months, this issue has been in the spotlight for our industry. Brands like HP and General Mills have challenged their agencies to ensure their workforce is diverse and Advertising Week has an impressive seven diversity-themed panels or events on the docket this year. We all agree that this topic is not only worth talking about, but also taking clear and deliberate action to address.
However, before we try to solve advertising’s diversity challenge, it’s important to clarify just what that terms means. At SapientNitro, and at many other agencies and brands, diversity is not quotas, targets or numbers. It’s not about having more representation of one group or replacing one voice with another. Diversity is about inclusivity. It’s a challenge to each and every member of our industry to make a conscious effort to not only accept our differences, but celebrate them. Because it is through our differences in experience that we have a real opportunity to make our work better and our livers richer.
With that in mind, I offer a few real-world solutions for fostering diversity that I will be discussing tomorrow at Advertising Week:
Approach diversity like a business initiative. Diversity of thought has a powerful impact on our business. Having a vast array of cultural experiences, ages, genders, religions, sexual orientations and lifestyles gives us the insights and the skills to evolve alongside the massive demographic, technological and social shifts that we'll see in the coming decades. And diversity of thought can help guard against groupthink, increase the scale of new insights, can help organize the right group of people to tackle new and complex problems and leads to better work overall. Given the critical nature of diversity for our business, it’s important for leaders to approach this challenge with the same rigor as we would for client engagements. Efforts should be aligned to a clear and consistent mission and vision, and results should be measurable. This work is important to our future success – and therefore worthy of our investment today.
Do something. Talk is good—but action is better. At SapientNitro we take a multifaceted approach to diversity that allows for grassroots, employee driven initiatives, and a culture and engagement team that focuses on fostering and cultivating our values. We also have a variety of formal programs like Career Returns, to help on-ramp people who have taken an extended break from the workforce, experiential unconscious bias workshops, and high-potential development programs focused on women. While we don’t propose every organization mirror our efforts, we believe it’s important for all members of our industry to help solve this issue. Our impact is stronger—and our progress quicker—when we tackle this challenge together.
Empower others. Diversity does not begin and end with the executive committee. It is a challenge that should be embraced and owned by every member of the organization. But it is the duty of leadership to empower their people to effect change. As the executive sponsor and founder of Potential Realized in Diverse Experiences (PRIDE) at SapientNitro, for example, my approach to work is to encourage people to bring their full, authentic selves to a project—and in turn bring more innovation and technological expertise to our clients. While I’m very proud of my role in this group, I would like to emphasize that I’m merely one representative … there are many more. By empowering others to join me in championing diversity, this issue becomes top of mind for many.
As an industry, we have work to do in this area, and we’re looking at ways to move the needle collectively. But the truth is, real and lasting change is often not just the result of programs, but of a person. We’re challenging ourselves and everyone we touch in our industry, because taken together, these individual commitments can create a huge collective impact.
Originally posted on CampaignLive.com
Innovation around the Internet of Things is coming from many places.
Now a major agency is working to institutionalize the process by identifying topics to tackle and then assigning agency employees to rapidly create a concept and take it to prototype stage almost overnight.
During a visit to the Boston offices of SapientNitro last year, I saw this rather interesting development method using an automated, random topic generator used to select various topics within two areas, audience and technology.
At the annual FutureM conference in Boston this week, I caught up with Mo Morales, innovation design manager at SappientNitro, and the person behind the idea.
Morales hosted Sapient’s major display of the process at the marketing conference and attendees waited in line to see how the concept of rapid prototyping teams at an agency could work.
The overall idea is to push the boundaries of storytelling through emerging technology.
Morales said the SapientNitro Accelerated Prototyping (SNAP) goes from multidisciplinary group ideation to fully-functional prototype in two weeks.
“It takes one creative and one tech person a total of two weeks,” Morales said. “It’s about two hours, two days and two weeks.”
At the start of the process, two agency employees are identified and freed to work on the project for two weeks.
The automated idea machine is used to randomly select an audience and then a technology.
Included in the list of 10 audiences are pet lovers, travelers, artists, new home buyers, new parents and coffee lovers. The 10 technologies include beacons, robotics, gesture, speech recognition and virtual reality.
Each of the two are randomly selected and then merged, so that one pairing might be pet lovers and beacons, for example.
The two-person team has a two-hour idea discussion session followed by two days to refine the concepts and then pitch them to a leadership committee. After approval, the team has two weeks to develop a fully-functional prototype, several of which Morales displayed at the event.
The prototype has to be made within two weeks and cost under $500.
The interesting twist here is that the projects are not client driven and there is no major expenditure for a large-scale innovation lab.
However, the learning may later be used to deal with client needs or requests in the future, since “90 of it is IoT related,” Morales said.
Morales said he is now expanding the system beyond Boston, starting with Sapient offices in New York and Washington.
At the very least, more agency employees are getting involved in IoT creativity at the street level.
And with so many prototypes focused on identifying potential problems and opportunities in the market and matching them with appropriate technologies for solution, there likely will be an eventual client fit. Even if they don’t yet know it.
Originally published on MediaPost
Most managers think their young employees want their own offices or bosses who give them direction from afar. They are wrong. If there is a buzzword in today’s workplaces, it is collaboration: the intense desire by young workers to spend their workday interacting face to face with their co-workers and managers.
Given the choice to work from home, Catherine Darlson, a 27-year-old attorney with Kelley/Uustal in Fort Lauderdale, prefers going into her law office: Designed for collaboration, it has six “war rooms” and four conference rooms. Lawyers at the firm use a team approach for most client matters. “The office environment creates that opportunity to pull someone in with a different level of experience when they have something to contribute,” Darlson says. “For the younger lawyers, it’s really an advantage to us as we try to grow.”
While millennial workers initiated the emphasis on workplace collaboration, Generation Z, those 22-year-old brand-new grads who are the first of their generation to enter the workforce, are ensuring it sticks. “This is the new workforce reality,” says Dan Schawbel, research director for New York-based Future Workplace. The research firm is focused on the future of working and hasreleased a new global survey in partnership with Randstad, a Netherlands-based global provider of human resource services.
Despite being digital natives, young workers want human interaction and engagement with co-workers — and are willing to trade what was previously considered a perk. When Jeff Crilley promoted Erica Cupaioli to social media director at his Dallas marketing firm, the title came with a spacious office. But Crilley soon noticed that Cupaioli rarely worked in her office and instead spent most of her day in a communal area surrounded by staff. “I feel lonely and isolated in my office,” Cupaioli says. “Now I’m where much more interaction happens.”
Many companies that consider younger workers their lifeblood are redesigning work spaces to create more places for collaboration and mentoring. The designs go beyond the open work spaces previously popular to include huddle rooms, lounge areas and communal work stations. Marlene Liriano in the Miami offices of Interior Architects, the firm that has designed cutting-edge spaces for high-profile companies, says most of her new office designs incorporate a variety of areas for employees to work together on projects or client matters, allowing opportunity to interact with different people throughout the day. “Young workers want to be in the office, but they don’t want to be tied down to a desk,” Liriano says. As millennials start businesses and become managers, they are changing office design, too. “Most CEOs, if they are younger, don’t want to be in a corner office — they want to be out there with their team,” Liriano says.
Other areas where collaboration is shaping workplace practices are manager feedback and leadership style. As younger workers engage regularly with their managers, they want in-the-moment feedback rather than annual performance reviews and leaders who are strong communicators. “Young people grew up with technology and the ability to get information at any time,” says Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America. “They want their managers to tell them ‘this worked well, this didn’t work, and this is a skill you need to develop.’ In a collaborative workplace, they figure anything worthy of feedback should be done in real time in a meaningful way.” The study found Gen Z workers also believe communication is the most important quality in a leader.
One of the most surprising ways the collaboration revolution is taking hold is the shift in the definition of flexibility. Previous generations equated “flexibility” with “working from home.” But it’s defined differently by Generation Z workers, who say they want to work in corporate offices where they can be part of a team, get real-time feedback, share ideas and solve problems together in person, according to the study of more than 4,000 full-time Gen Z (22 years old or younger) and millennial (23- to 34-year-olds) employees in 10 countries including the U.S., U.K., and Canada. To them, flexibility is about less rigidity in work schedules and less checking in with their managers on their whereabouts. “It’s about coming in and leaving whenever I want as long as I get my work done,” Darlson says.
As part of collaboration, young workers also want to spend their day interacting with their peers on social networks. “They want companies to embrace, and not block, social media because they see their day as fluid and personal and professional as the same thing,” Link says. Twenty-six-year-old Cupaioli agrees: “As long as work gets done, being on social networks shouldn’t be an issue. It’s part of the flexibility.”
Leaders in the Miami office of SapientNitro, a global digital advertising and marketing agency, have found the collaboration revolution is good for the customer. “You should want 10 different people solving your problem. It invites diversity of perspective and breeds better outcomes,” says Joey Wilson, vice president, business lead at the company. At SapientNitro, the 400 employees in Miami work in groups on the terrace or in work zones, collaboration areas and breakout hubs. The modern office and the team-like culture helps with recruiting young employees.
Eduardo Legorburu, global production services lead with SapientNitro, says that because employees work in different office areas throughout the day with various team members, no one is micromanaged: “We don’t have rigid hours. Someone might work 12 hours one day and four the next, and that’s OK. We are more focused on getting stuff done. Our young workers want freedom coming and going, but that doesn’t mean they work less hard. If a client wants something at midnight, they respond.”
Link at Randstad says he often gets the same question from clients about young employees: “How are we going to change how they think?” His response: “You’re asking the wrong question. You should be asking, “How are we going to adapt to them? By 2020, these young employees will be 44 percent of the workforce.”
Originally published on MiamiHerald.com
Business leaders from all types of organisations are re-imagining, reshaping and retooling for an imminent digital future. It’s a future many leaders would argue has been upon us for some time. But that’s an unhelpful correction for business leaders who are in the midst of catching up.
This significant, boardroom-level organisational change is referred to as 'digital business transformation'. It’s transforming our industry and affecting CMO and CIO budgets across the region.
For MNCs, digital business transformation is likely on the C-suite’s internal agenda. For agencies, the transformation is changing our clients, our budgets and the industry. Here are three questions I commonly answer from clients seeking guidance in this area.
Q. What is driving the need for digital business transformation?
A. Consumers. The rapid uptake and use of technology by consumers means many companies are finding a lag between the expectations of customers and what their organisation is capable of delivering.
While many businesses have starved the wolves of change by digitising parts of the business, there is an imminent commercial imperative to make more thorough changes. This commercial imperative compels business leaders to radically rethink the ways in which their entire organisation will meet the expectations of digitally reliant consumers.
Q. We have digitised some of our processes in the marketing division, isn’t that enough for now?
A. While marketing can be leaders in this area, digitising existing processes is a quick fix. It isn’t enough to meet current consumer expectations, let alone those forecast for the immediate future.
For example, those in automotive know the modern car buyer is focused more on the digital services that a car and its network environment may offer than what is under the hood. The expectations on the products and services offered in automotive are now entirely different.
Digital business transformation is about challenging and changing ingrained perceptions about what a company is, does and says in order to increase relevance to customers.
Q. What role can the CMO take in this change?
A. CMOs can take a leadership role in the change by initiating the discussion. CMOs are likely spending heavily on tech. If the marketing department has created ‘pockets’ of digital transformation, they will ultimately need to be connected with the rest of the business if they are to have genuine, sustainable impact on business performance.
Research driven by the Publicis.Sapient group out of Europe shows that only about 25 percent of CEOs will entrust their CMO with the significant task of digital business transformation. CMOs who begin the discussion are forward-thinkers and true business leaders.
Q. What’s the risk of taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach?
A. Inarguably, the single biggest lever of change for business is technology. Technology is the future—it’s your silver bullet. Those businesses that aren’t diving in are being left behind.
Large organisations urgently need to begin a board-level discussion to create a digital business transformation strategy and intent. The effectiveness of such strategies will become a key underlying survival and success factor for large organisations to 2020 and beyond.
Such transformations are essential if businesses are to deliver customer-centricity. The impact of new digitally empowered players is creating new expectations of service and experience across every category.
Q. How is this relevant to APAC? Mine is a distinct market. What’s happening in the West isn’t always relevant to my customers.
A. I can’t agree more. Remember, consumers are driving the need for these changes. The rapid uptake and use of technology by consumers means many companies are finding a lag between the expectations of customers and what their organisation is capable of delivering.
More than ever, this lag between consumers and brands is biggest in APAC markets. Research by Razorfish shows us Asian consumers are tenacious about technology, more so than in the West. We only need to look at the rise of social commerce, the swift uptake in mobile payments and the evolved retail environment of China to see how consumer behaviour, and in turn expectation, in our region is outpacing the changes made by brands.
Consider this: In my experience, the average MNC in APAC takes from 12 to 18 months to initiate and award an RFP for a content platform. By comparison, a startup is on its second or third phase of maturity by that time. Put that into perspective from the consumers’ point of view, and it’s clear to see why some heritage businesses are failing. Established companies that are succeeding have readjusted their governance models to meet the expectations of today’s customers.
Q. What do I need to do?
Decide what your business should look like and start building from the inside.
By that I mean:
1. Create the future: Focus on identifying what your business needs to look like/needs to do to meet consumer expectations. Do not get stuck on the restrictions of your current model. Find the services you can provide that aren’t yet there. Here’s an example of potential evolution in the traditional insurance sector:
A customer decides to go skiing in Japan. Before he leaves for his three-day weekend, he logs on to transfer some of his home insurance investment to travel insurance. Once his trip is over, he moves it back on Monday before starting work.
This new model meets the untapped need of an audience. It is service- and design-led thinking. I challenge our clients to focus on the audience or customers they don’t have, in moments they don’t yet know, through channels they don’t have; with products and services they haven’t yet designed.
2. Build an in-house team: Work with partners to bring experts in-house. Establish a team of change-agents, a transformational unit that can drive change internally. These experts will provide a focus on experience design and technology. You simply can’t expect an external agency to do this and be judged by those sitting in the old model. Find a trusted partner who becomes an extension of your team.
Kim Douglas is vice president and APAC managing director of SapientNitro and Razorfish
Source: Campaign Asia-Pacific
Many leaders have clearly missed the point when it comes to diversity. In fact, it’s probably the most misunderstood cultural point for an organization — which, subsequently, makes it the most difficult change agent to harness. The power is there, but the comprehension? Not so much.
Some, however, are getting incredibly close and setting the tone…
Alyssa Altman (vice president and managing director for SapientNitro North America) managed to achieve something that all leaders wish they could: Create a team that is diverse, yet cohesive — and we wanted to know how. As a representative of “diversity” herself (I say “‘diversity'” because, let’s be serious, female integration and leadership should appear normal to all of us), Alyssa managed to introduce multiple points of view into one group that she calls “The Growth Ensemble” — which may seem pretty generic at first glance, but once you hear the full interview, you’ll walk away with a logical understanding as to why it fits.
Here, we offer you some themes from the interview before presenting the full video at the end. See what you can glean from Alyssa’s success blending internal diversity with a strategic purpose — both for SapientNitro’s sake and for that of its clients.
Alyssa describes a situation in which diversity nurtures a culture that in turn nurtures fearlessness. This means that no one is afraid to step outside of comfortable teams and teammates to go and get new guys/gals that might be able to do the job better — or simply bring something different to the table. Rather than having a culture that is more of a systematic propagation of diversity, this fearlessness allows your internal folks to continuously generate that integration themselves, which I think we can all agree will end up in more sincere and natural relationships among peers.
You may be able to repeat “purpose is key”, but can you explain why? Alyssa does a wonderful job of this, explaining to us that when you align your teams around something that they can ultimately see, prove, and deliver, then they tend to be more involved. For example, if you choose to focus on your client’s customers and creating something for them — specifically for that persona that you know and can envision — then the work (and results) become more personal. It creates a direct bridge between your team and the end customer, the end experience. It becomes less about the employee-to-client relationship and more about the employee-to-user relationship.
All of this, in turn, has a laudable effect. It generates quality. It’s simple: If you cause each team member to become more emotionally and personally implicated in the project, then the transition from looking at only their specific role to seeing their role as part of a larger “solution” is imminent. This doesn’t just allow them to improve their contribution within the parameters of their roles, but it also moves each participant to understand and assist other team members.
All in all, it seems that diversity with a purpose-driven mindset equals a lucrative community.
Once you have set up your own “ensemble”, it’s the “growth” portion that remains. But this will happen naturally. As Alyssa mentions, by aligning every team member — each with his/her own background, ideals, values, and style — to the same purpose, leaders generate a sense of ownership (and entitlement to) the overall success of a project. Participants associate their feelings of individuality and belonging with the group as a whole, thereby not only pushing themselves further, but also offering their help to other teammates. It is this sense of community that brings about natural growth.
This kind of inherent evolution is the kind that is truly sustainable, and you can be sure that clients will notice your transformation. In fact, it is the kind of cultural change — the kind of mentality shift — that can be passed along to clients, as well. By offering a team of masterful individuals propelling a unified concept, you’ll be able to deliver the same strength and core focus to your clients and their business cases.
Hear more from a leader who pulled this off herself in the full video interview below.
Originally published on BrandingMagazine.com
“If you look at most of our clients, they’re wrestling with ‘being uber’. It’s easy to use air quotes, but it’s a really big thing,” says Sapient Nitro’s Global CCO Donald Chestnut.
Things may be challenging in the advertising and marketing industries right now, but the broader business ecosystem is undergoing a disruption comparable to the Industrial Revolution. No one knows which sector is going to be hit next by a Dollar Shave Club or Uber and that means that clients need so much more than a big brand campaign or a fun little app from their digital agency partners.
Thankfully, the team at SapientNitro are used to pivoting – which makes them all the more able to help clients through the new normal of uncertainty and change. From its roots in the early ‘90s as a pure IT business to its move into creative and interactive marketing and its acquisition of Nitro in 2009, the agency has continued to reinvent itself, going deeper into businesses’ digital infrastructure, overhauling their data systems and leveraging technology to help them respond better to consumer needs. Being nimble and responsive and able to quickly incorporate new tech might be relatively easy for a cheeky start-up. Not so much for legacy businesses with thousands of employees and a digital infrastructure that’s more of an archaeological dig site of various systems layered up over the years.
“The integration of all these things is difficult. You’ve got to get the business strategy, the creative ideas, the large scale technology,” says Sheldon Monteiro, SapientNitro’s Global CTO. “What’s really interesting right now is the speed with which brands need to embed requires them to move at a pace that they’ve just not been used to. Think about most traditional brands; they work in silos, fulfilment is very, very strong and they tend to buy from point providers and act as the integrators across those. What tends to happen is the competitors and start-ups like Dollar Shave Club will eat their lunch because they are working in agile sprints. Putting work into the real world every day.”
Given the challenges that brands face, it’s easy to see why Publicis Groupe shelled out $3.7 billion for SapientNitro and its sister divisions Sapient Global Markets and Sapient Government Services in early 2015.
Another, equally salient point is that as clients become savvier it’s becoming more common to take certain elements of digital and social marketing in-house. To prove their value and remain relevant, digital agencies have to offer more, go deeper and help solve not only branding or communications problems but business problems.
“I’d also say our clients are becoming smarter than they ever were,” says Donald. “This is something I’d say externally and internally, five years ago it was easy for us to be the digital jack of all trades – now many of them are doing it with their internal teams. So what is the continued value add to help them see what’s next.”
This can take many forms. Machine learning technology can help brands update products on the e-commerce platforms more quickly. A smarter approach to data can help businesses react and respond to challenges and opportunities more nimbly – currently, many older businesses do own a huge amount of data but it’s stored and organised in a way that renders it next to useless.
But in pockets of the advertising and marketing world, big tech and big data is still viewed with suspicion – but Donald argues that it’s hugely creative, if not as easily consumable as campaign-based projects. While the major award shows reward projects based on their newness – who’s going to award an ‘old’ idea – so longer term projects are likely to fly below the radar even if they do deliver more substantial business impact.
“A lot of what we’re helping clients do are multi-year, multi-pronged projects. There’s a lot of creativity and a lot of great ideas but they’re embedded in a longer terms approach to a platform. And then I go somewhere like Cannes as a creative – and as a creative I love and respect what Cannes is about, which idea and craft – and I look at what wins and it’s parallel but separate from how I see the world,” says Donald.
Sheldon has an interesting – if not a little controversial – solution. “The provocation I’d like to offer up is that the category that Cannes needs most, that our clients need most and frankly world needs most right now is digital platforms,” he says.
“If you look at the number one challenge clients face at the moment, it’s that their businesses are being disrupted by a nexus of forces. One is an empowered consumer. Another is that there is competition coming in from sectors they’re not familiar with. There is the reinvention of business models. So, it’s not sufficient to just talk about your brand, you have to change every aspect of our business in order to deliver on customer expectations. Including reinventing your business platforms, the systems behind it, the processes to deliver on that brand promise. And that’s what customers are struggling with. IT requires an intersection of creativity, strategy and large scale technology.”
Despite the talk of digital platforms and IT infrastructure, the heart of what Donald and Sheldon and the team around the world are trying to do is to make life better for consumers. That’s the reason the disruptors are managing to disrupt after all – they offer a service that’s simple to interact with, is built around human behaviours and makes life easier.
“It goes back to people. With gratuitous campaign ideas or banner advertising… how much do you really engage in that? Our competencies go far beyond that. Now the best ideas coming up are the things that are truly service-orientated. When a brand is informing, when a brand is educating, when it is providing some digital extension that helps consumers as well as building the brand at the same time, it isn’t just there as some sort of interesting activation,” says Donald. “That, over the long run, is where clients are trying to go.”
Originally published on Little Black Book
In an interaction with ETtech, Sheldon Monteiro, SVP & CTO, SapientNitro talks about the importance of CMTO University in creating a new set of chief marketing technologists who will have a bigger role to play in the organization.
Don't you think a more apt title should be CDMO - Chief Digital & marketing officer?
Today, the brand is the experience that the company provides and in order to create and deliver these experiences, you cannot just build a website or a mobile application. You have to fundamentally re invent your business to be prepared for a digital world.
That means changing your internal business processes, legacy systems looking how you leverage these emerging technologies and then driving cross functional collaboration in order to make that happen.
So CMTOs, CDOs work focus is to re invent the business and get all of these different departments and pieces of the organization working together for all practical purposes.
From a skill set standpoint, a combination of different things is really necessary. You got to have knowledge of customer intimacy and a tremendous grasp of business and technology. You got to have the ability to be the coach and catalyst within the organization to get the place to move in the same direction.
Similarly, in our programs, we focus on three areas - Business and marketing being one, how do you take technologists who are typically focused on core technology and give them all of the background on business and marketing.
They might have been focused on technology but typically their areas of focus would have been certain specialized areas within technology so we expand their breadth on marketing technology landscape.
Perhaps the most important thing is we really focus on their influence skills. We help them with their ability to influence the CEO or CMO as much as they would be in their comfort zone talking to CTOs and CIOs. So we give them the ability to work across the entire C Suite. That's the kind of the fundamental skill set that these individuals need to have.
If organizations start having a CMTO, what happens to the role of the CIO?
Most CMTOs report either to the CMO or to the CEO directly. Around 10% of them report to the IT heads. That's just how the state of the market is currently. In the future, all IT will become customer focussed IT. CIO's for the most part are suffering from whiplash.
On the one hand, they are being held to the 2003 standards of "you are a cost centre and you will be good enough and cheap" and on the other hand they are being held to the new standard which is "I am not going to compare you against the peers in your own industry but i am going to compare you against Amazon and Google and Facebook".
How does the CMTO University function?
The CMTO University is for all SapientNitro employees. We open a call for applications from eligible technologists from SapientNitro offices across the world. This is applicable for senior managers and above, who have been with the company for at least one year.
As part of the application process, we really understand what their backgrounds are, why they want to join the program, what their record is.
The program of study that we have put together assumes that you start of at a certain place and we will build up certain set of skills around your core.
You can start with people from a customer experience background and build up their technology skills. So for four times a year, we bring this group at one of our offices around the globe.
This year, we started our first intensive work in Chicago, wherein the students had through 4 days of intense work. Then we had our second training session at our Atlanta offices.
We then moved to London and now to India. In between these sessions, we get together on nearly every weekend for WebEx sessions.
Typically, it's about ten hours of work in addition to the day jobs that they have every week. It runs for a year. This is now our third year. We started the first year with 14 people, last year we had 16 and this year we have 21.
Don't you think more investment is required on the technology infrastructure side for the role of the CMTO?
The role of the CMTO is to bring technology to marketing. With the move of more deployment oriented technologies towards more cloud and SaaS models, it is lot easier today for a business person or a marketer to contract with a SaaS provider or with a cloud service provider and procure their own technology.
The problem is this, if you have got a number of cloud based solutions, they are all kind of standalone and they do not necessarily equate to integration and integrated experience.
You need a proxy CIO to work for the marketer or to partner directly with the CIO at the speed at which the customer experience demands and this is the reason for the need for collaboration and for essentially a role that is bridging these functions.
How will the University help in reducing the skill set gap?
There is a real challenge in the industry in terms of skill sets. In our research on the skills sets of CMTOs, information security rated dead last. This is the problem. A lot more work needs to be done particularly by people who are now entrusted with building secure systems because in our view, experiences that brands provide need to be trust worthy.
In order to be trust worthy, they need to be reliable and need to be secure and available. CMTO need to invest in their skill sets in our CMTO university program. All these specific areas, security availability, performance and resiliency are stuff that we explicitly focus on and teach.
Originally published on ET Tech
etailers have traditionally focused on pushing specific products for the back-to-school shopping season. Now, they are shifting their approach to cater to customers’ specific needs. eMarketer’s Yory Wurmser spoke with Jem Ripley, managing director of retail vertical at digital agency SapientNitro, about what retailers can expect this back-to-school season and how to put the customer first.
eMarketer: How important is the back-to-school season for retailers?
Jem Ripley: Back to school is becoming more important for retailers and with that, the season has spread out, much like how the holiday season now starts earlier than Thanksgiving.
eMarketer: When does the back-to-school shopping season start?
Ripley: From a planning-for-back-to-school perspective, the season starts as early as June. Retailers are creating opportunities for customers to put together their back-to-school shopping lists ahead of time—whether that involves reserving items, putting together packages, offering back-to-school registries or other marketing opportunities—to start the process as early as they can.
eMarketer: Based on the last couple of years, how will marketers change their approach to back to school this year?
Ripley: In prior years, there was a siloed focus on marketing product to constituents and potential customers. Now there is a focus on where different customers are in their journey and meeting their needs. Marketers are creating experiences that are focused on a particular grade level. They’re taking all of the products that would go along with that experience and marketing that as opposed to specific products.
eMarketer: Will there be an uptick in specific marketing or fulfillment tactics for back to school?
Ripley: Everything will go back to the ability to guide people through their journey. It could be a checklist or some type of guided selling that puts someone through the “have you thought of” or “people that buy this usually buy that” messaging in a packaged way depending on what grade they’re in.
Back-to-school registries are another opportunity for retailers that we haven’t seen in years past. They allow the different people who want somebody to be successful in heading back to school to make purchases.
Future date shipping and related options, like setting items aside and pack and hold in-store, will help retailers be as flexible as they possibly can for their customers. The buying cycle for back to school doesn’t necessarily happen in the three to four days before somebody is heading off—it can be weeks and months of planning.
eMarketer: How big of a role will Amazon play this back-to-school season?
Ripley: Amazon will be a huge part of back to school. However, back to school is a time when brick-and-mortar retailers can differentiate themselves. The experience of shopping together with your son or daughter and the tactile nature of shopping for products and clothes for back to school resonates with consumers, and Amazon is at a disadvantage there.
eMarketer: What new opportunities will retailers have this back-to-school season?
Ripley: Virtual reality [VR] in retail is in its nascent form. Marketers haven’t figured out how to leverage it to its best. But for back to college, students and parents are thinking about how to set up a dorm room, and VR can be used to see the room and think about products in context in the room. There is an interesting opportunity with VR for the college audience.
Read the article on eMarketer
In my country, web banners are being resized by a machine, and they look pretty damn good. It can even give you 10 options to choose from in a matter of seconds, having learned the rule of thirds and the most attractive font sizes for the banners.
But let's take a step further. We get an IBM Watson or Google Deepmind to memorize all the most awarded marketing work from award shows like Cannes Lions, One Show and D&AD.
And it starts learning what resonates with human emotions and remixes the ideas in surprising ways, developing them into pretty good marketing ideas that consumers will actually like. And it comes back with solutions in an hour max, not the two weeks that a creative team needs to spitball.
In the beginning, it will be seen as a novelty, like the very first poker-playing, chess-playing computers or that Honda robot that learned how to walk. And then it gets serious; a machine manages to beat human-powered agencies and wins the Cannes Titanium.
How far are we from this?
Computers are replacing humans in the most menial jobs. We’ve already got computers beating humans at both Chess and Go. And we’ve got AI making a passable piece of film for Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase at Cannes.
So not too far at all.
This is where things start getting really interesting.
Have you spent extended time wearing a Vive headset using a Google Tilt-Brush or playing with Atlas Reactor and The Brookhaven Experiment? As the content and technology get better, VR can potentially become your main reality. Really, it can be that good.
That’s exciting and scary at the same time.
Exciting because it is a time for truly limitless creativity and experiences, as you are no longer limited by physical laws and your body when it comes to creating or experiencing something new.
Scary because there will be a day when a machine gains consciousness and knows how to fully manipulate a human. And we are all going to get hooked up in The Matrix.
So what does this future mean for us, the folks working in the creative industry?
2.0, 3.0, 4.0 Yourself
Make better versions of yourself and become future proof.
What’s a 2.0 version of yourself? Become conversant in VR terminology? Know simple coding so you can converse with the machine?
Have a think about how you can evolve your creative game.
There was a time when the Flash Developer was a cool job. Today, this guy wouldn’t make it onto Noah’s Enterprise.
Be immune to the very thing you are trying to create
We are kind of going into the God-mode phase of Creativity right now.
You are only limited by your thinking. But that also means whatever you are going to create may be so great that you get lost in it. Like forever. This is slightly cautionary, but think "Lawnmower Man."
Now more than ever you need to define and know yourself, before you dive into this world of immersive creativity. Of course, you can also choose to embrace it and be drip-fed and adult-diapered as you spend days creating with a Tile Brush. (Not my personal preference).
Creating at this level means you have to learn to take a step back once in a while. If you play Minecraft, you know what I mean.
Partner the machine
The best creative minds know how to get the best out of their collaborators. It so happens this partner is a machine. Think about how you can get the best out of it.
In the near future, you will have the machine churning out a few viable options for stories, campaign ideas, experiential ideas and more. It will still be up to you to pick and choose and build on these machine ideas, to make it the best cocktail of storytelling and experience.
Of course what kind of machine you partner is, is just as important: is it a collaborative machine like a J.A.R.V.I.S. or an abusive partner like Skynet? Choose with care.
Maybe as this gets shared on Campaign ... brilliant engineers get inspired and start the process of creating machines like iDroga and RGAi...
And a group of jobless disgruntled creatives in the future are working with technologists to develop a time machine to come back and stop this article from ever being published.
Raymond Chin is CCO of Publicis.Sapient China.
Read the article at Campaign US
A massive change has hit Generation X over the past 12 days, according to SapientNitro’s Mark Caswell-Daniels and Chapman Lee.
Rather than skulking about glued to their smartphones browsing Snapchat all day they are instead skulking around glued to their smartphones playing Pokémon Go. It’s a phenomenon that is spreading.
Since it hit the headlines and every single channel of social media out there, it’s been a tumultuous start.
People have made new friends playing the game, helped the authorities solve crimes and some almost even lost their lives through it (both socially and physically) and it’s been discussed that it could be used to inspire social change (Poké stops at polling stations!) or be part of what’s ruining our economy.
So is it really better than sex — as its current search ranking that trumps even the ever-popular YouPorn might suggest? Nintendo’s recipe for wooing its players certainly seems right.
Pokémon is a popular brand that already grabs the attention of people of all ages, but there is more than that to its success.
There’s a slightly comic book theme to the game’s intro with a speech bubble interface mimicking classics JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) such as Zelda, and then the option to personalize your avatar.
This is a feature that the Nintendo Wii used to its success — creating a virtual persona of yourself, it is a surefire way to increase players’ emotional investment in a gaming platform.
Another aspect is the connection with where players are as well as who they are.
Niantic’s mapping data layer is used to make popular public places into Pokéstops — spawning points for items to use in-game and also Gyms (typically found in areas/businesses with high footfall) where players can battle for possession and representations of their own teams or factions.
The gameplay’s UX is nicely staggered as well. As you start up, the registration is easy and graded. You don’t have 20 questions to answer before you play — all information capture is granular, so it’s only after you’ve caught your first Pokémon that you need to choose a username for instance.
In addition, the tuition is unobtrusive and never interferes or delays the gameplay.
Similarly the monetisation aspects of the game are very subtle. The players I spoke to had felt no impetus to buy in-game credit — while other quick-play games like Pocket Fleet make it cost effective to buy a £2 ship upgrade that would take weeks of playing to accrue, Pokécoins purchases are quite steep.
If you have a Pokémon in a Gym, you might make 10 Pokécoins per Gym (with the ability to allow the players to own more than one) a day but to buy 100 Pokécoins is 79p. While it discourages purchases, this does mean there’s potentially a market for people selling their PG accounts as has happened with Clash of Clans.
Likewise the only way a business can attract players through its doors is the same way anyone else can: buying a lure and dropping it on a Pokéstop to increase the number of Pokémon spawning there.
Talks about various partnerships abound as brands look at using this to catch the catchers of Pokémon, but for now the places people are encouraged to travel to are locations that show a high traffic of mobile data.
The gameplay itself seems to invoke feelings of classic strategy games and there’s a growing feeling of team play that other GPS games like "Resources" and "Parallel Kingdom" lacked, which stands to give it a bit more longevity.
This is being expanded in the future to include player to player barter, challenges and the forming of smaller sub-teams that will lead to the communal gameplay it needs to survive.
Currently you and your friends of the same group can visit gyms together and overpower them so there is already real-world social grouping in the game.
Tactically you can choose to earn Pokécoins through stationing your strong Pokémon in gyms to defend them or you can choose to keep them at hand for battles and risk the gyms you have captured being lost to other players.
All of which alter your progress, but it’s very hard to actually fail or die, which can be a draw to more casual gamers.
There are many other AR games out there, and Pokémon Go is by no means the best at this.
While it is magical to see a 3D character overlaid on your camera feed, there are other games like the less child-friendly Table Zombies that perform this much better. So it’s used as an optional gimmick, which will have short-term appeal to people but does well to garner screenshots for some of the 500,000 daily social mentions: it pulls people in.
It’s not essential to the gameplay nor should it be, it’s an amuse bouche not the main course. It’s a game that will die down eventually, and its meteoric rise will abate.
Hardcore gamers will continue playing and accrue higher levels and points. People will consider selling on their account logins to other people as they do with "Clash of Clans" and "World of Warcraft."
Brands may well muddy the water a bit, but I don’t think Nintendo will cross any lines that might annoy the parents of its younger demographic
It seems Pokémon Go is here to stay.
Mark Caswell-Daniels is the lead creative technologist and Chapman Lee is a creative technologist, interactive developer (and gamer) at SapientNitro
This article first appeared on campaignlive.co.uk.
Four years ago I made the choice to leave my job as a public relations professional to be an advocate for my son who has Cerebral Palsy. When I left I was a confident, driven and successful career woman, so I was surprised when I made the decision to return to work that I felt nervous and was second-guessing my abilities. Those feelings were almost enough for me to give up the idea of going back to my career completely. I wondered how my résumé would even get into HR’s hands and assumed it would be tossed to the side as soon as they saw the gap in my career.
These feelings were not unfounded. The Center for Work-Life Policy estimates that 43 per cent of highly qualified working mothers leave the workforce at some point in their career and stay out an average of two years. And these women pay a big career penalty. The Center for Work-Life policy pegs the wage dip at 18 per cent across a range of professional occupations.
After reading this, I began to feel nervous – and then resentful. Why should I have to devalue my skills and myself because I made the choice to take on one of the hardest jobs of my life, lobbying for my son who has special needs? The difficult conversations, negotiating, strategic planning, project and time-management skills and creativity required to ensure my son was getting everything he needed and deserved to succeed was just as challenging as any job I had in the past. And I was sure other women, and men, were in similar situations and were being passed-up for jobs, or taking big steps back in their careers to get their foot in the door again. It’s like we’d fallen into the parent trap.
The parent trap remains very real in many companies. But there are organisations who are leading change in this area. Career return programs, paid internships for talented professionals looking to refresh their careers and re-enter the workforce, are slowly popping up in companies in various industries.
I was lucky enough to find a career return opportunity through a family member who worked for SapientNitro – a marketing agency who recently launched their program. As I went through the interview process it was so refreshing to know that they were excited to hear about my experience outside of work. They were looking for people with diverse skills acquired in many contexts, not simply in traditional jobs.
Being part of the stay-at-home mom circle for so many years, I saw a lot of friends take on jobs that were far below their skill and pay scale. They just wanted something that brought in some money without bringing the stress and hours of their previous careers. Other moms went the mompreneur route because they felt that was the only way to stay in control of their time and life.
In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean in, she writes that “74 per cent of professional women will rejoin the workforce in any capacity, and 40 per cent will return to full time jobs." That’s a staggeringly high group of smart, qualified and capable people that companies are missing out on if they continue to see stepping away from the workforce as a detriment rather than an opportunity for diverse perspectives.
A career return program is a huge step in the right direction, but it can only be successful if a company allows for some flexibility. In many cases, the reason people left in the first place did not suddenly go away. I still had a son with special needs. Working late every night and putting in a 60+-hour work week was not an option.
This is a big worry for many people returning to the work force after an extended leave, especially when joining a fast-paced industry like marketing, as I did. From my experience, anyone who is given the flexibility and autonomy to work their job around their life – rather than have to work their life around their job – is going to give you 100 per cent more effort.
Going back to work does not come without challenges, but my perspective has changed. Before having my son, not knowing an answer or outcome would cause huge frustration and stress. But now I know what it’s like to live with uncertainty, change and hope. When doctors tell you only time will tell about your son’s abilities and future – will he talk? Will he integrate with his peers? Will he be able to live independently as an adult? Will he be happy or will his challenges eventually wear his spirit down? – you learn to really be in the moment and focus on solutions and what you can control at that time. Bringing this perspective to a job really helps you get to the matter of things and see through the clutter.
Call it a fresh perspective, or just the perspective of a mom who has been through a lot, the fact that it is valued and welcomed at SapientNitro gives me hope as well. Hope that other people have the chance to return to the workforce and contribute all the life experience they gained when they hit pause on their careers.
Ellen Kalis is Public Relations Lead, Canada and the Midwest at SapientNitro
Comparable to an internship, SapientNitro’s Career Returns Program is a 10-week, paid program for talented creative, technology and advertising industry professionals looking to refresh their careers and re-enter the workforce. SapientNitro aims to support these seasoned candidates on their path back to making an impact at work, whether that be full or part-time.
People take breaks from the workforce for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to start a family, care for a sick or elderly family member, travel, or sometimes, tackle an illness of their own. Sometimes these absences are brief, but often they can be extended, and when they are, re-entering the workforce can be a challenge. Hiring managers may see time away as an indication that someone is stale or that they may not have an up-to-date or relevant skillset.
Because we value diversity, we are asking ourselves to intentionally value the diverse skills acquired in many contexts, not simply office ones, when it comes time to making hiring decisions, promotion choices and retention efforts. We aspire to be a place that enables human potential, and we are holding ourselves accountable to see the whole person.
Originally published on LBB Online
By Claire Waring
Mobile is an incredibly diverse category covering everything from social to apps, and data to websites. Despite this category being a mini Cannes Lions Festival in its own right, there were three key trends that came through in the work for 2016.
#1. Tech for humankind
Perhaps the biggest trend this year was safety first. We saw a huge number of entries that solved real world problems in new and creative ways. Helpmet, a helmet alerting emergency crews when a motorbike rider is unconscious, Dot – the first braille smart watch, safe & sound music player, slow down GPS, Parkinsounds for Parkinson’s and Sea Hero Quest – gaming to aid Alzheimer research – were just a few among the innovations designed to help. Mobile features of geolocation, accelerometer and connectivity were all leveraged to enable services that were previously inconceivable.
While many were charity initiatives, we also saw brands sponsoring utility to play a meaningful role in consumers lives. In a world where broadcast communications are simply not as effective, big brands are embracing utility and creating emotional connection with mobile for good. Toyota Landcruiser emergency network, Estadao songs of violence, and Samsung Blind Cap all seek to have an impact on both the world and their brand perception. I can’t think of a better way to spend marketing dollars.
#2. Physical Connection
A world addicted to mobile phones has its advantages for brand communication. This we saw the ‘Tinder’ization’ of everything; from bacon lovers to runners, apps that brought people together featured heavily. But social connection didn’t stop there. For a device that is infamously anti-social, the jury saw a stack of work that was designed to be a face-to-face experience. Connected screens brought
entertainment to life and people together. Disney parades, firecrackers and music videos – the more friends with screens, the more entertainment. Cornetto’s wearables were a stand out – commitment rings utilising NFC tech to overcome the very real problem of your partner watching the next episode on Netflix without you. Genius.
#3. Hacking the platform
My favourite trend, hacking the platform was all about bending, breaking and shaping existing social networks. This trend is the digital equivalent of ‘ambient’ cleverly turning existing structures into fresh experiences or useful pieces.
Instagram was a prime target with Old Spice, Canon and many more using tags and multiple accounts to create a rabbit hole of content for consumers to explore. This twist on the visual platform allows for storytelling way beyond the intended single image.
The Gold Lion winning #comeonin used geotags with Sydney opera house exterior pics posted on Instagram to target tourists. The real-time campaign responded to posts with video, inviting those with a large number of followers to experience and post inside the venue. A triumph in location based co-creation.
Hashtags were hacked for good in Peru, bypassing cumbersome sign-up forms to create a database of blood donors. Participants put their hands up to donate simply by posting their #bloodtypeperu. Snapchat stories were hacked with a tap and messaging platforms transformed into school rooms, WhatsGerman leveraging WhatsApp as an education platform with daily language lessons for refugees.
Mobile has changed the game for communication but it doesn’t take high tech to be high impact. Human insight, empathy, creativity and above all simplicity make for big winners at Cannes.
Claire Waring was one of the jurors at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016 in the Mobile Lions category
Read the story on Digital Market Asia
As of writing this article, according to the judges, there isn’t a lot of great Chinese creativity coming out of Cannes Lions this year.
This is bad because I’ve been tasked to write an entire article based on winning work coming out of China at this year’s Cannes awards.
So now I have to write about something else.
The Chinese are better at hunting tigers.
Some of the most beloved Chinese folklore stories have got tigers in them. Even the Kung Fu Panda has a tiger girlfriend.
Tigers are simply awesome, but they generally look different from lions. Juries look at the tiger and go… “That’s a really awesome beast, it’s got sharp teeth, four legs… but where’s the mane? Why are there stripes?”
The West’s reference of a tiger is Tony the Tiger and Eye of the Tiger, things that are either too cute or classic.
So what can us creative folk working in the China market do?
Translating the roar
Some of the work from Anomaly and local hot shop W, have in the past done extremely well in award shows such as One Show China. They have quite an exceptional level of craft.
But somehow, they did not even get into the digital craft shortlist here. Sometimes a creative idea does not make sense to judges because there is a lack of understanding of the Chinese context of a “Double Eleven sale” or the Chinese digital ecosystem of WeChat. Not every jury has the luxury of a Chinese judge being there to help translate the roar. So it might be good to think about how to put it in a simple enough way for judges to understand. Maybe even get another office outside of China to help craft your entry and look at it with fresh eyes.
Breed some ligers and tigons
Ligers and tigonsare magnificent beasts. Breed some ideas that can work in all markets. Some ideas have got such strong insights and executions that they can cut across many countries and cultural nuances. And sometimes it is about breeding an unlikely combination of eastern and western thinking. This year, some of the best work done about China was created by a Swedish agency for SK-II. They took a Chinese pain point and told a story that could get empathy from everyone. Yes, it does have some shortcomings in terms of providing an authentic solution to Chinese women. But it is still very good work.
Go Voltron on everyone
Yes Voltrons are technically lions.
But they are such bad-ass mechanical beasts so awesome that no one cares if they are lions and tigers anymore… they are just… Voltron!
In many ways, China’s technology has overtaken the rest of the world but no one knows this story. Apple Pay? Pfffft, we had WeChat Payment three years ago.
How do you wow the judges with cool Chinese tech? How do you tell this story and use them smartly in your executions? How do you smartly use a cocktail of storytelling, culture and technology to break boundaries?
Whatever technology you highlight, it needs a human problem to be solved, that’s a given. You build a Voltron, but it’s got to have a bigger purpose like fighting….. (insert favourite villain here).
Break out of the zoo
If our tigers are in a zoo, they are more often than not, parked safely in the Print, Craft and Outdoor cages. Let’s break out of these cages more often, and tear the place up. Eat people, maim young lions (bad analogy!) and in general run wild in the city of Cannes. Everyone from the Lion judges to the Film Festival and Adult Festival stars should come to Cannes uneasy and nervous, asking, “Did you hear about that tiger…?”
Never dress a tiger up as a lion
Lastly we shouldn’t dress up as Lions either, that’s not who we are and chances are, we come across as hokey. We sometimes address causes that don’t really exist or come up with solutions that are too melodramatic and hard to believe. We should just be ourselves, tell it like it is, and have a level of maturity and sincerity in our work. I know there are other countries who are guilty of this too, fighting for humanitarian causes, but you sometimes wonder… if it is such an amazing solution, shouldn’t it be the last time you see a solution for said problem? It never is.
We can be better than that. We can honestly know whether we are making real impact in our community. Roars that come straight from the heart by any big cat will send shivers down the spine.
Let’s come back with a blood-curdling roar next year.
And you know what? Sometimes an idea that works in a complex market like China, and wins the heart and soul of the Chinese people, is actually more than good enough.
Raymond Chin is chief creative officer at SapientNitro China
Source: Campaign Asia-Pacific
The idea of innovation permeated Cannes Lions even before it launched the first Lions Innovation “festival-within-a-festival” last year and added new categories like Creative Data, Innovation and Digital Craft. Technology experts and companies have increasingly dominated the panels and exhibition spaces. Lions winners, even in the more traditional categories, are impressing judges by incorporating some kind of innovation, something seen so far in the Grand Prix winners in Outdoor, Product Design and Design.
But “innovation” is an amorphous term, and can have different meanings for different people. Donald Chesnut, global CCO at SapientNitro, sat on the Mobile jury last year and was part of a panel discussion on data-driven creativity at this year’s festival. He describes the kind of things being shown in the festival’s two innovation categories as “odd” because of their insistence on linking innovation with technology.
“They have a lot of pure ‘ingredient technology,’ things like programming languages, algorithms and new wearables,” he says. “Those things are interesting, but I don’t know that I would award that for innovation because that’s just functionality and capability. It feels like the ingredients for innovation.”
As an example, Chesnut points to an exhibition he saw that demonstrated an algorithm that used data from existing wearables to track a user’s posture, which is now being opened up to third parties to use as they see fit.
“You can see how that will open up wearables to be applicable in new areas of fitness and health, but they aren’t doing that yet,” Chesnut says. “It’s when they’ve taken those ingredients and actually used them to change how people are shopping and consuming that you cross the line into actual innovation.”
“Good work brings out something people have to do,” adds Alyssa Altman, managing director of SapientNitro’s Toronto outpost. “It’s not just a picture or a video or a tweet. When people are actually motivated to do something with what’s in the picture or video or tweet, and go from idea to action, is when the line is crossed.”
An emphasis Chesnut does agree on is the increased attention given to creative craftsmanship. There were so many entries to the craft sub-categories for the Cyber and Mobile Lions that the festival had to separate them out into its own Digital Craft category, and several jury presidents have cited how combining a new idea with a well-crafted execution has led to the most effective work they’ve seen.
“If you look at something like the ‘Van Gogh BnB,’ not only do you have innovation around physical going digital and going back to physical, but the craftsmanship that’s holding all that up is fantastic,” he says. “Something like REI’s ‘#OptOut’ is certainly a big, brave idea, but there’s not a lot of creativity around it. Craftsmanship is one of the ingredients that makes consumers wake up and notice an impressive idea.”
SapientNitro has identified strong craftsmanship as a major way for it to deliver value to its clients and has been organizing its offices to ensure it can deliver on that. The agency previously had a range of capabilities in each of its offices, from the tech it is known for to media planning to more traditional integrated creative. Today, Chesnut says the agency has “doubled down” on each office’s strengths and uses them across the network as needed. Though the agency has been discussing ways to do this over the past several years, they’ve been better able to put it into effect after being acquired last year by Publicis, a holding company with its own ongoing mission to “de-silo” and encourage more collaboration between its different companies and agency brands.
“I hate to use the term, but it’s a ‘centre of excellence’ model,” Chesnut says. “Clients want the best work, so we’re taking the work to the best team rather than the team most local to the client. You don’t need to do everything, especially when a lot of our clients have internal teams that are getting really good at digital work. The way we add value is doubling down on a few things you’re good at and finding a way to leverage that from there.”
Altman says in Toronto, where SapientNitro has recently moved to a new office space to house its roughly 300 staff members, the agency is set up in an open-domain style, with heavy interaction between different departments. That ensures a culture focusing on quality and craftsmanship touches everyone, and not just creative and tech teams.
Read the story on Strategy Online
SapientNitro has today (20 June) publicised a new internal programme called the Returnship, designed to allow staff taking a career break an easy transition back into the work place.
The scheme is a three month paid programme for experienced industry professionals looking to return to work. Initially offered to three candidates in the London office, the Returnship aims to help returnees reintegrate into agency life with updated skills training and experiences.
The programme evidentially hopes to improve the dominance of men higher up the workforce ladder by giving new mothers an extra incentive to come back to work following maternity leave. The Publicis company cited government research that stated the proportion of women working in the creative and digital industries is currently at 26 per cent, down from 33 per cent in 2002.
However Nigel Vaz, EMEA chief executive at SapientNitro, was eager to point out that the Returnship is open to all people, and not just mothers. He told The Drum: “This is not just about women. That’s where the original idea started out, but there’s lots of people [that can benefit from it].
“One person that we’re in conversation with lost his job at 9/11. It could be due to an economic challenge…it could be for any number of phenomenon that people fall out of the workplace.”
The news was announced one day after the agency’s group chief creative officer, Donald Chesnut, spoke on a panel discussing diversity at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In a conversation with The Drum afterwards, Chesnut said he believed the industry’s lack of diversity is “bad, and getting worse”.
He explained: “I think the situation that we have today is going to be all the more worse in the next five to 10 years. It’s critical.
“As time has gone on, [humanity is] becoming more progressive, but the industry isn’t becoming progressive. So we have new approaches towards meeting the needs and engaging different audiences, but I don’t see the internal creative teams changing as quickly as they should."
Read the story on The Drum
Second Story, SapientNitro's interactive studio arm, was presented with two interesting challenges to solve for Custer State Park—71,000 acres of beautiful land located in South Dakota. The park, while breathtaking itself, is often overshadowed by other major attractions including Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Badlands National Park. Custer State Park needed to convince travelers to get out of their cars to explore the park, sans technology, but it needed to use technology to do it.
The second challenge revolved around Custer State Park's bison—an animal recently named the first national mammal by President Obama—which can be found roaming throughout the grounds. There are herds of them constantly on the move, and while many may think of bison as subdued, gentle creatures, they actually have the potential to be very dangerous.
"While [the bison] are an amazing asset for the park, it also presents this really important safety challenge because these are wild animals that can run up to speeds of 40 miles per hour and they're between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds, for adult bison," David Waingarten, story director at Second Story Interactive Studios in Portland, Ore., said.
After spending roughly 30 hours swimming, hiking and exploring the park, Waingarten and his team came up with a number of ways to make the newly-opened Custer State Park Visitor Center interactive and educational. The space needed to be inviting enough to draw curious adventurers in, but simplistic enough that it would get people out the door, ready to explore in under 30 minutes.
Inside the Visitor's Center, Second Story created a bison safety interactive installation (featuring depth-sensing technology) to teach people how to interact with the animals should they come across them on their travels.
"We created an interactive depth-sensing technology that could track where you were in proximity to the screen that was delivering that content," Waingarten said. "We knew when you were 30 feet away and we knew when you were three feet away."
The screen changes depending on your distance from it. There are three different zones a person can stand in. In zone one viewers see footage of how bison act when people are a safe distance away, when the animal does not feel threatened. As you step into zone two (70-150 feet away) and three (less than 70 feet away) the footage changes. The bison begin to demonstrate certain warning signs that you may be getting too close—from stomping their feet and arching their tales to inhaling or exhaling loudly.
The second piece of technology was designed to not only act as the welcome desk for the visitors center, but to also help visitors plan out their time in the park based on the experience they're looking to have. Three interactive touchscreens surround the full-scale map, which shows either iconic journeys you can take —like a path on the way to Mount Rushmore, taking you through the Cathedral Spires trail—or activities you can spend time doing, like swimming, fishing or even Bison-spotting.
As you explore the different routes on the touch screen, the path you're exploring lights up on the table in front of you. "We offer the opportunity to preview what's on that road and when you do the journey, it is lit up by LEDs that are embedded underneath the map table," Waingarten noted.
Paper copies are available to take on the go, to again encourage people to connect with the outdoors and keep the smartphones away. Plus the center is staffed with park rangers to answer any questions you might have.
Originally published on AdWeek.com
Cinemax is promoting its new series "Outcast," which tells the story of a young man plagued by demonic possession, with a creepy influencer campaign from and immersive trailer from that aims to let viewers "experience" what it's like to be possessed.
"Outcast," which is based on a Skybound/Image comic title by "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta, begins on June 3 on HBO-owned Cinemax. It follows Kyle Barnes, a young man who has suffered demonic possession all his life. With the help of the Reverend Anderson, a preacher with personal demons of his own, he embarks on a journey to find answers.
Read the story on Creativity-Online
Ahead of Friday’s premiere of ‘Outcast,’ Cinemax has released an innovative, interactive trailer for the show that leveraged both 3D audio technology along with eye-tracking software.
In Outcast, a young man attempts to find out why he’s been experiencing demonic possessions. In the trailer, created by Campfire (part of SapientNitro), users enter ‘their possession’ and try to escape using eye motions.
The trailer is designed to build social buzz – which is becoming increasingly important to a show’s eventual success - ahead of the premiere.
For those who cannot wait until Friday, Cinemax is experimenting with windowing, another tactic that is gaining in popularity. The first episode is now available to view for free on YouTube:
Originally published on The Drum
Created by Campfire, the trailer uses 3D audio technology and eye-tracking software to create an experience defined by the blinking of the viewers eye. Of course, if you don’t have a webcam to track your eyes — or don’t want to activate it — keyboard controls are also available. The experience suggests what the first moments of possession might be like when your eyes are closed. Scenes of others being possessed appear when your eyes are open. The sound imaging also generates a surprisingly effective sense of dread.
The trailer can be experienced at www.PossessionBegins.com.
Based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta, the series stars Patrick Fugit as a young man searching for answers as to why he’s been suffering from demonic possessions all his life. The first episode is available online now, but debuts on Cinemax June 3rd.
Originally published on BleedingCool.com
In its latest Inside Chanel chapter, French atelier Chanel paints a self-portrait of its iconic N°5 perfume, introducing its backstory and role in the brand’s DNA.
Inside Chanel now consists of 15 chapters that explore the brand’s codes such as its use of particular colors, the lion motif and the legacy of founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. As its most well-known fragrance, N°5 has been the subject of two other Inside Chanel chapters to date, showing the significance of the house’s first scent.
"Each chapter is well produced, visually stimulating and on-brand," said Jem Ripley, SapientNitro head of retail – Northeast. "Both the video and audio storytelling are compelling. The videos communicate sophistication, progressive independence, femininity, mystery and historical authority, much like anything else created by the fabled fashion house.
"The video uses a lot of provocative, 'millennial feeling' language. The fragrance is described as an 'abstract painting' with 'complex fragrance notes' that will 'construct an aura' to evoke the 'audacity of mademoiselle,' he said. "In a way, this positions Chanel as a challenger brand from the start— the O.G. of chic provocation— which certainly could appeal more to younger consumers who seek authenticity and heritage from their preferred brands.
"That being said, Chanel is still one of the best known brands in the world; so, it will be an uphill battle any time it seeks to slightly reposition its products or pillars. The house should continue to own its history and its rightful position as a fashion authority; all consumers appreciate confidence and transparency in communication."
Mr. Ripley is not affiliated with Chanel, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Chanel did not respond by press deadline.
Chanel promoted the 15th chapter of Inside Chanel, titled "The Self-Portrait of a Perfume," on its Facebook account by leading off with a quote from the video, in which the narrator speaks as if she is the fragrance, saying, “I am a consciousness, a way of walking, of thinking, of dreaming, of being true to oneself: a final flourish of elegance. A freedom.”
Similar to its teaser’s approach, Inside Chanel’s latest chapter begins with a quotation from Ms. Chanel, spoken by the narrator. In the statement, Ms. Chanel said, “I wanted an artificial perfume. That’s right, artificial, like a dress; meaning manufactured. I am a designer of couture. I want a perfume that is a composition.”
Afterwards, the narrator begins to speak as if she were Chanel N°5, explaining that the fragrance is an “abstract painting, an olfactory geometry whose lines are emotions and whose tracings are memories.”
With its quickening pace, the animations show N°5 juice sloshing around outlines of the fragrances’ bottle, a nod to the concept of an invisible decanter, which extend into the frame’s vantage point as if it were a fun house mirror.
Chanel then introduces the “dynasty of artisans” who have worked on the scent, beginning with perfumer Ernest Beaux, who developed the scent in 1921. Also mentioned are Henri Robert, Jacques Polge and Olivier Polge, the current fragrance creator for the house of Chanel.
The overarching theme of the N°5 chapter of Inside Chanel is how the fragrance brings forth utterances of memories, whether it be Ms. Chanel’s favorite forest or the orphanage where she was raised.
As a “secret inspiration,” the video touches on additional brand codes and muses such the color black, the city of Venice and the rebellious spirit of Ms. Chanel.
Continuing the video creates a floral bouquet naming the numerous ingredients used in N°5’s composition. Iris, rose, bergamot, tobacco, orange blossom and jasmine, among many others are part of the “chorus of a floral symphony” and a “composition of the finest ingredients.”
From here, the video touches on its simple bottle design that puts the juice as the focal point rather than its glass surroundings. As it nears its conclusion, Inside Chanel chapter 15 speaks of the consciousness of the fragrance, using the quote shared as a teaser.
The Self-Portrait of a Perfume - Inside Chanel
The role of N°5
The importance of N°5 for Chanel has been explored in both the first and second chapters of the Inside Chanel series.
For the second chapter, Chanel invited consumers to learn the intimate history of its N°5 fragrance through a video featuring Marilyn Monroe.
The widely-known quote by Ms. Monroe about her only wearing Chanel N°5 to bed is the theme of the “Marilyn and N°5 – Inside Chanel” video (see story).
While the heritage of the fragrance is important to Chanel’s overall narrative, the brand has scripted present-day messaging around its olfactory offerings.
For example, Chanel personalized its fragrance marketing with a video featuring model and brand ambassador Gisele Bündchen.
Ms. Bündchen is the current face of Chanel’s iconic N°5 fragrance, and the effort departed from the French label’s typical campaign created for this segment of its brand. Instead of focusing heavily on product and glamour, Chanel concentrated on what fragrances may mean for the wearer and those around them (see story).
The Inside Chanel video formula presents consumers with a point of entry to embraces Chanel's heritage.
"The video communicates the essence of the fragrance, and the history that inspired its complex scent— Coco’s time at the orphanage; her obsession with the number 5; her desire to combine nature with artifice; her forward-thinking decision to mix floral notes with masculine smells; her understanding that every woman is complex and contains multitudes," Mr. Ripley said.
"N°5 is as much of a standalone brand as it is a part of Chanel’s DNA," he said. "It has inspired many other brands, artists, consumers, men and women, and has existed in many iterations since 1921.
"One video cannot tell almost 100 years of history; this single piece of content is one of many official and unofficial parts of the fragrance’s story."
Originally published on Luxury Daily
Last holiday season, my friend found herself in a bit of a gift-giving fiasco. A present her brother had purchased for her — a subscription to a “Tea of the Month” club — had failed to arrive by December 25, making her the proud recipient of a printed sales confirmation on Christmas morning.
Because her brother had ordered the gift from a third-party website, he needed to call two different customer service lines, speak to three different agents and give his order number at least as many times just to find out that her gift would be delivered sometime after Valentine’s Day. The kicker? My friend doesn’t even like tea.
All joking aside, with this year’s holiday season rapidly approaching, most retailers understand the importance of having a comprehensive and cohesive omnichannel strategy. Whether you’re selling gourmet teas or the latest high-tech gadget, customers expect to skip from screen to store and back again seamlessly and effortlessly. But this, of course, is easier said than done.
In working with some of the world’s most prominent retailers — from big-box chains to luxury brands — my team and I have identified a few best practices that may help organizations create a successful omnichannel strategy. Here we’ve compiled five key considerations that retailers should be aware of as they head into holiday shopping season.
1. Peak Readiness. Most of us know at least one procrastinator who puts off his or her holiday shopping until the last possible moment. They often arrive at a family gathering asking for a roll of Scotch tape and a handful of gift tags. They are the reason that we have the saying, “It’s the thought that counts.”
The same courtesy does not apply to retailers that are making enhancements to their customer experience. When it comes to a web site update or new in-store kiosks, your customer won’t care about the thought behind them. They just want them to work.
To that end, if you’re planning any new features or updates to existing channels, it is often best to complete the work by the end of August. This will allow a period of at least six weeks to test the technology and solve for issues before the start of the holiday shopping season.
When implementing a change, it’s also important to be aware of how it could affect other aspects of the business. Can you ensure that a new platform won’t create fragmentation? How are you working with content distribution managers? How will your shipping channels and in-store pickup be affected? Is your staff trained and engaged to support the changes?
When it comes to commerce systems, we still see retailers struggle every year with readiness. We have a comprehensive program for managing this successfully with our clients well before the start of the peak holiday season.
2. Incentivize staff. Most parents will admit to falling back on the line, “Santa is watching,” a time or two each holiday season. Thus, there is something to be said for offering fair and clear incentives for associates. After all, the importance of an effective sales team cannot be underestimated. And with the number of channels sales associates need to work across increasing the complexity of their roles, it’s more important than ever that they understand the overall goals of the organization, like credit for online sales in-store.
But perhaps what’s even more critical during the peak holiday season is defining and implementing an organizational model across all channels that incentivizes positive behavior. While many organizations have made progress in this area, it remains a problem for others. Part of a good omnichannel strategy involves ensuring that staff understand what the organization’s goals and priorities are, and how they can help to achieve them.
3. Pick up the phone. Or tablet. If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably shopped on a mobile phone. Or at least tried to.
Despite mobile being the leading growth channel for retail, the mobile experience is still not without its pitfalls. Many customers complain about poor navigation or cumbersome payment options. If you’re lucky, users who have trouble on their phone will move to another channel, where they usually have to start the process from the beginning.
While many companies are dialing up their mobile experience, it’s important to remember that “mobile first” doesn’t mean “mobile only.” Customers should be able to use mobile along with other channels seamlessly and effortlessly. This truly omnichannel experience will allow customers to move from mobile, to tablet, to in-store without ever having to answer the same question twice.
Unfortunately, when many retailers made their foray into mobile strategy they took what we consider “a Band-Aid approach.” The channel was not integrated with the rest of the digital experience, leaving the customer with a disjointed experience. Now is the time to unite the digital experience across all channels.
4. Wow them. It’s hardly a shock that very few people enjoy shopping. More and more, it comes down to experience, regardless of the channel. Those retailers that offer customers the best experience — the most seamless, effortless and engaging options — will win the holiday season.
Retailers can “wow” customers by providing new gifting options, including marketplaces to expand assortment to adjacencies and keep customers on their site instead of going to others.
Another route is e-gifting (send a gift notification but allow the customer to change to any equivalent item BEFORE shipping). Thus, the above mentioned tea recipient could have changed to something they perhaps preferred instead of tea.
Finally, one way to improve the customer experience is by adding to it. Whether they’re opening your front door or a browser window, customers are expecting more than just the opportunity to buy. They want entertainment. They want information. They want community. Give them what they want. Retailers need to develop a case-by-case basis for how to create a “wow” moment on each channel.
5. Know what they want. Gift giving can be an agonizing process for even the most thoughtful person. So what if I told you that there was a way for retailers to guarantee that a gift would please the recipient? Well, there’s not — but thanks to big data, we can at least get close.
Companies have an extraordinary amount of information at their disposal — through past purchasing behavior, social media activity, and even trends and patterns of similar customers. Retailers that use this data in an intelligent and thoughtful way have a huge opportunity to add value to the customer. Unfortunately, while many companies have this data, not all are primed to use it.
The world of big data — and smart data — presents an enormous opportunity to retailers. Those that figure out how to effectively use it first are sure to reap the rewards. Most important with big data is the fact that retailers need to have a solid level of granularity on their customers at this point, and so it may be more about what options the retailers can provide.
Finally, the holiday season is about crowds — and lots of customers. As such, this might present a perfect opportunity for retailers to leverage the increased store traffic to collect better data, drive more traffic to their digital channels with extending aisles and by incorporating more interactive elements. Analyzing all of the data gives the retailer a way to study a more comprehensive set of figures, and provides an occasion for retailers to “personalize” their interactions, so that they might be aware of at least one person who does not want a year’s worth of tea!
Read the article on Retail Touch Points
I'm having a field day at the Collision Conference in New Orleans. I will be sharing a ton of insights and interviews I've had, but this one couldn't wait. Sheldon Monteiro, SVP and CTO at SapientNitro so eloquently summed up the 7 most critical factors of growth, that I want to share with you what he presented.
The One That Rules Them All
As his talk was on the "CMO 2.0: Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist", it's not surprising that digital was at the core at all 7 factors of growth. Today, digital impacts everything you do as a business--regardless of what business you're in. As we explore the 7 most critical factors of growth, we'll illustrate and reinforce how digital has been the persistent factor that impacts all of them today and for the foreseeable future.
Factor #1: Experience
Do you remember reading that book The Experience Economy back in 1999? Well, it's taken 16 years to come to fruition, but we're finally here. Businesses have shifted from being "Customer Focused" to "Experience-led" and largely due to the impact of digital. Now with big data, we can measure the impact of the experiences we create both online and offline. No longer is it good enough to focus on the customer, we need to lead with powerful experiences that move our customers to action. Smart phones are connecting our customers to unique experiences and we're getting real-time feedback. The Experience Economy took longer than we were all expecting, but make no mistake. We're here and the companies that deliver amazing experiences are growing substantially faster than those who merely focus on their customers.
Factor #2: Commerce
We used to focus on a "Point Solution" such as ringing the cash register or driving a shopping cart basket through to a specific check out page. These were the point solutions, which have given way to "Omni-Channel" commerce. You can buy just about anything from just about anywhere thanks to open APIs, cloud computing and agile methods. From ordering a pizza via Facebook, to hitting the "buy" button on Pinterest, to using your Apple Watch to make a payment without pulling out your credit card, the nature of commerce has evolved to an omni-channel strategy that requires an entirely new way of envisioning the way people buy things today.
Factor #3: Organization
If you're company is still operating in silos, you will be disrupted within the next few years. Collaboration reigns supreme with the deployment of cloud computing and agile methods of working together. Smart phones let your employees work anywhere, anytime on anything. Instead of organizing your team in siloed functional areas, take a queue from Slack, which brings your core team of innovators together--despite having formal structure. Breaking up teams by functional areas is an archaic way of organization your company. Instead, building agile teams who collaborate and solve problems.
Factor #4: Marketing
Perhaps I'm jaded because I've been talking about this one for the past 22 years, but marketing has (long ago) migrated from "Mass" to "Precision". This one should be obvious, but many companies still treat marketing as a one-to-many function. No question that's easier to do, but your results are screaming that it's the wrong thing to do at any price. Precision is about thin slicing your target so that you're authentically speaking to the very heart of the person you're looking to engage. The more narrow, the more focused, the better your results.
Factor #5: Data
We've moved from "Backward Looking" to "Real-Time Impact". Gone are the days when we review data from a historical perspective. By that time the opportunity has already slipped through your fingers. Real-time impact is about seeing your data in the moment and making decisions that impact your growth right now. Retailers are able to pinpoint the inventory that's not moving and do something about it (i.e. merchandise differently). Traffic apps reroute fleets of drivers in real-time to keep them moving and allowing deliveries to arrive on time. Google Analytics, Adobe Test & Target and other reporting platforms allow you to change up what's not working online and immediately address the blockage in your customer journey. Gone are the weekly, monthly and quarterly reports. By then you've missed the opportunity.
Factor 6: Products & Services
It's no longer about "Individual Products", but rather a "Service Ecosystem". Just like your organization if your products are operating in their own silos, you will continue to lose market share. Today your product must operate in an well defined ecosystem. This is why Apple's and SalesForce.com's App Store have done so incredibly well. They know that their product isn't the whole enchilada. Sure the first iPhone and original version of SalesForce.com was powerful, but neither was anything compared to what they have now that there's a full end-to-end service ecosystem built on their platforms. More over, you don't have to be the platform to be hugely successful. Just look at Marketo who has become the default marketing automation system tightly integrated to SalesForce.com. By building your product into a larger service ecosystem, you're building off the momentum created by other well-established businesses.
Factor 7: Enterprise IT
We used to live in an "Industrial" world. Now we're living in "Multi-Speed". What does that mean? No longer does the IT department control the speed of technology adoption. Agile methods have allowed non-technical groups like marketing departments to deploy technology at speeds previously unthinkable. If a need exists, technology will be deployed at the speed commiserate to the level of the need--despite a company's desire to "maintain control".
Digital at the Core
With the help of smart phones, big data, wearables, open APIs, IoT (the internet of things), cloud computing and agile methods, it should be clear why digital is at the core of each of these seven forces. While none of this, in and of itself, is entirely new, my hat is off to Sheldon Monteiro, SVP and CTO at SapientNitro, for so eloquently summarizing what we all need to ensure we've figured out. Our growth (and ultimately our survival) are at stake if we get any of these 7 forces wrong.
Read the article on Inc.
Publicis Groupe agency SapientNitro has entered into a multiyear deal with James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox to bring a digital Avatar experience to life. The project will kick off before the second film debuts in 2018 and extend through the release of the next four sequels.
"A studio has to worry about 20 movies in one year. We want to worry about one movie for 20 years. We have tried to envision how we manage the brand of Avatar and how we make it accessible for fans around the world," Jon Landau, Avatar producer and chief operating officer of Lightstorm Entertainment, told Adweek.
The deal, which has been in the works for just over a year, is designed to augment the world of Avatar and Pandora, a fictional moon within James Cameron's Avatar universe. To sell moviegoers on the film, the agency will invite fans of the franchise to learn more about the world of Avatar and participate in it.
While Sapient will bring its expertise of weaving technology and creative together, the agency also collaboarted with Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Many details of the project are still unconfirmed, as much of the work is still being developed. The SapientNitro team has shared some general concepts that it's thinking of pursing to create this virtual experience.
Late last year, Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando revealed plans to open a World of Avatar park in 2017. While much of the construction will rely on replicating the actual world, from the flora and fauna to the characters from the film, the deal between Cameron's Lightstorm and SapientNitro could allow for unique tech-based experiences.
"Nobody has ever really thought about how they all tie together in a fan experience point of view, that's what we get to think about. That's just profound on so many levels that it's exciting, it's bold, it's kind of fast," David Thorpe, vp of strategy and analysis at SapientNitro, told Adweek.
Franchise projects, which offer opportunities for the digital ecosystem include an Avatar-themed Cirque du Soleil show, TORUK, which has its own website where fans can go and explore the world of Pandora, unearth different artifacts and learn about the purpose of those different items or creatures. Global Experience Specialists has also been working on creating interactive museum exhibits. The global traveling exhibit not only teaches people about the Na'vi culture and life forms on the planet.
The Sapient team is already thinking about new and exciting ways to bring the Avatar universe to life for fans, putting the fan experience at the center of its creative process. Thorpe said the team kicked off the project by paying attention to user needs and insists the agency will continue to do so as the next four films roll out.
"We want to be able to open up the wonders and the science of Pandora to users in a way that meets their needs of curiosity and exploration," Thorpe said. "What [James] Cameron has already created, the breadth and depth of his imagination, and the rigor that he brings to all of that, has created such an enormous world of potential and opportunity."
by Jonathan Bloom
Save the Food.
That’s the message now being issued in a big way by the people who brought us Smokey the Bear and “Keep America Beautiful.” Why? Because American consumers waste more food than any other segment of the supply chain (43 percent of what’s wasted, according to the recent ReFED Roadmap).
Through TV spots, billboard ads, and a sleek interactive website, Save the Food aims to illuminate America’s food waste problem. Co-created by the Ad Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the campaign is both long overdue and sorely needed. Most Americans don’t realize their role in wasting food, despite U.S. households’ collective 27 million-ton annual output.
“Consumer awareness and education is the most important solution to reduce wasted food,” says Jesse Fink, seed funder of the Ad Council and ReFED initiatives. “The Ad Council campaign will be the major contributor to attitude and behavioral change.”
What does the campaign look like? Save the Food’s bold 30-second PSAdepicts the plight of a forgotten package of strawberries. With no dialogue, we simply see the berries slowly rot in a family’s fridge and ultimately get tossed. The spot ends with a black screen and a stark sentence: “40% of Food in America Is Wasted.”
There are also one- and two-minute versions, all created pro bono by marketing agency SapientNitro. These longer, more narrative PSAs better detail the long-distance food chain and what each strawberry must surpass to arrive in our fridges (apparently, one issue is an abiding lust for limes).
The extended spots communicate the embedded resources squandered when we waste food, hammered home by the ending text: “Wasting Food Wastes Everything: Water | Labor | Fuel | Money | Love.” That last one is a little squishy, but likely rings true to anyone who’s ever worked in the food industry.
Print ads—which you might soon see in magazines, at bus shelters, and on billboards—feature the brilliant slogan “Best If Used” printed on food packaging. Without an expiration date, the familiar phrase takes on a new meaning. Perhaps politicians’ proposed date label legislation should just adopt that oh-so-powerful message.
All campaign materials direct people to SaveTheFood.com. The standalone website summarizes the environmental and economic impact of wasted food, but it doesn’t mention the indirect relationship between food waste and hunger. The site does provide strategies for avoiding waste, including a detailed guide on how best to store foods.
That Save the Food exists is a real win for food waste awareness. But it’s even better news that the Ad Council—which also created McGruff the Crime Dog, those talking crash test dummies, and other classic campaigns—produced it. Having the people who reminded us that “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” now implore us to “Save the Food” suggests that food waste has truly arrived as an issue.
Given its history with Smokey, McGruff, and friends, the Ad Council could easily have created an anti-food-waste character, of sorts. But this stark campaign will likely resonate with the public more than any anthropomorphized food item or winking worm would. Finally, having its namesake slogan—Save the Food—knowingly allude to the old “Save the Whales” slogan encapsulates how much care went into this project. It took more than a year of work to take food waste awareness from in the air to on the air, but that time and effort certainly wasn’t wasted.
Read the article on National Geographic
Strawberries make a powerful statement in "Save the Food," a public service campaign breaking today from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Developed pro-bono by SapientNitro through The Ad Council, the initiative focuses on a sad reality: Some 40 percent of all food purchased in the U.S. each year goes uneaten, wasting money, water and energy to the tune of $162 billion.
And consumers are mostly to blame. We throw food away too soon and too often. In fact, each of us trashes nearly 300 pounds of food every year. Wow, we suck.
To illustrate the problem, a remarkable two-minute online film (with TV commercial edits) from Partizan director Martin Stirling follows a single strawberry from its salad days on the vine through its packaging odyssey and purchase by a typical American family.
Forgotten at the back of the fridge, our hero (and his increasingly funky bunch) fall into a sorry state, and we get the feeling things won't end well.
It's a juicy performance, though the strawberry has the advantage of playing itself.
Moms are a primary target here, because "no one makes more of the decisions around food—planning, shopping, cooking and disposing," Gary Koepke, North American chief creative officer at SapientNitro, tells AdFreak. "We know that moms are compelled by facts that tie food waste to household finances, so the campaign emphasizes this information."
Millennials are also a key audience, says Koepke, because they are "engaged and idealistic about helping the environment" and show an interest in "life hacks that help them experience more and waste less."
If the strawberry's jaunty theme music sounds familiar, that's because it served as the soundtrack to the 2009 animated film Up, winning an Oscar for composer Michael Giacchino. (Disney donated the tune to the campaign.)
Print, web and out-of-home ads are also in the mix, urging consumers to "Cook it. Store it. Share it" rather than prematurely trash milk, eggs, bread and chicken:
That "Best If Used" line really says more with less, and the crisp, uncluttered art direction is a highlight. A clean visual aesthetic also graces SaveTheFood.com, which provides detailed information and tips for cutting down on waste.
Relying exclusively on donated media, the push includes outreach on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, plus support from Getty Images, Buzzfeed, Social Native, Upworthy and influencers like celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.
Unlike hunger, pollution, poverty and other global concerns that seem insurmountable, food waste is imminently addressable, and the actions we can take are largely painless. "With small steps, we can save large amounts of food, and along with it, money and precious natural resources," says NRDC president Rhea Suh.
What's more, ending food waste can save consumers money, an outcome wisely played up by the campaign, which maintains that throwing away less food can save an average family of four about $1,500 a year.
Appealing to consumers' pocketbooks is always a smart tactic. After all, saving money has no sell-by date. More creative appears below.
The Advertising Council – NRDC – Save The Food
Alyssa Altman - Vice President Business Consulting
Ronald Shamah – Senior Vice President
Shade Vaughn – Vice President Marketing
Chris Hall – Vice President General Management
Peter Shanley – Vice President General Management
Donald Chestnut – Global CCO
Gary Koepke – Chief Creative Officer
Matthew Atkatz – Executive Creative Director, Creative Lead
Jenessa Carder – Strategy Lead
David Serrano – Client Services Director
Mary Zumba – Account Supervisor
Jacqueline Murphy – Manager Program Management
Monica Alameda – Senior Associate Producer
Bill Pauls – Executive Creative Director
David Iglesias – Senior Designer
Faye Ibars – Copywriter
Andrew Goldstein – Creative Director
Jason Levine – Creative Director
James Allen – Creative Director
Stephen Frederick Levy – Designer
Eduardo Santiesteban – Retouching Manager
Jose Acosta – Head of Production
Amy Houston – Print Producer
John McHale – Executive Creative Director, Experience Lead
Katie Plua – UX Design
Alicia Marshall – Designer
Jessica Gray – Designer
Andrew Hodge – Designer
Sara Commet – Copywriter
Bryan Scott – Art Director
Chris Burke – Senior Manager Interactive Development
Graydon Pleasants – Interactive Developer
Ravi Evani – Director of Technology
Sarah Jones – Senior Content Strategist
Sophia Calderone – Junior Interactive Developer
Kevin Rossum – Associate Marketing Strategy + Analysis
San San Ng – Designer
Louis Palacios – Editor
Alejandro Roses – Motion Graphics
Luis Giron – Sound Mixing
Ariel Bellumio – Post Supervisor
Stephie Wassmann – Producer
Alejandro Villanueva – Developer
Emilio Acebo – Developer
Yvette Gomez – Business Affairs Manager
Martin Stirling – Director
Lisa Tauscher – Executive Producer
Georges Bermann – Executive Producer
Molly Griffin – Head of Production
Megan Moore – Producer
Carlos Veron – Director of Photography
Nico Cotta – CD
Chris Allen & Beatrice Bowdon – Producers
James Cornwell – Lead Flame
Christopher Maslen – Flame Assist
Sezen Akpolat – 3D Producer
Tony Landais – Lead CG
Emre Samioglu, Utku Ertin, Doruk Saglam, Zafer Ercevik, Caglar Ozen, Altug Yılmazer, Enis Uzbek, Bogi Gulacsi - CG team
Steve Akyrod - Editor
Read the article on Ad Week
It's often the troublemakers who are pulled up for doing what they know best - brewing trouble (be it in classrooms, boardrooms, or even homes). But, wait. Are you a troublemaker? If you answered that in the affirmative, there's some good news for you! And the good news is that Sapient India, a part of Publicis.Sapient, in a move to attract talent, has rolled out its latest campaign called Troublemakers.
Hinged upon the insight that disruption breeds innovation, the agency is on the lookout for what it calls 'a rare breed of extraordinary minds that are not afraid to break boundaries in digital innovation and transformation'. As part of the same, the agency has created the microsite www.troublemakers.co.in, which defines what a 'troublemaker' is and invites people to take a quiz to find out if they are the 'misfits' who would fit in with the agency's requirements. The agency, in a press release, says that it hopes to increase its headcount by 20 per cent by the end of 2016.
"Businesses today seek partners that can guide them through the journey of digital transformation. The Troublemakers campaign is our way of attracting the kind of people who can fuse creativity and technology, along with an understanding of brands and consumers to solve business problems. Such people are important for the success of our clients, as well as our business," says Rajdeep Endow, managing director, Sapient India.
"The Troublemakers campaign is a mission to challenge the conventional. With its disruptive attitude, this unique breed makes trouble that we believe is good, which is the need of the hour for organisations today. We believe the connected millennials today are gifted with the passion and curiosity that aligns well with our vision," adds K V Sridhar (Pops), chief creative officer, SapientNitro India.
Interesting print creatives are also a part of the two-month long campaign which point towards the fact that the agency is hunting for non-conformists, dynamic and impact-driven individuals who can actually think out-of-the-box and who choose to stay relevant in a constantly changing world by dealing with challenging situations at work.
The campaign also includes two one-minute digital films titled 'Compliment Generator' and 'English To English Translator' which shows the difference between a 'people-pleaser employee' who can do anything to earn his share of appreciation in stark contrast with the one who cross-questions everything that happens at the workplace by speaking his mind rather than accepting things blindly as they are.
The campaign will be visible across all physical and digital media, social channels, and outdoors in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru, and experiential installations in all Sapient offices.
Read the story on Afaqs!
Across the world, the retail industry is being disrupted. Consumers expect personalized experiences aimed directly at their needs and desires. They expect to be able to engage with a brand anywhere and at any time, and technologies like mobile, social, responsive environments and cloud are creating new models for customer interaction. As a retailer, now is the time to shift your perspective to leverage these changes to your competitive advantage.
It’s not about adding digital channels to your current model, or digitizing parts of it. It’s about leveraging technology and always-on customer behaviours to provide greater relevance in every customer interaction. Future winners in retail will power and connect the full customer journey by providing platforms that realize customer desire and solve needs throughout the path to purchase.
Here are the four mindsets to adopt to win in retail now and in the future.
Understand that “digital in-store” is neither your mobile app, nor your website formatted for a touchscreen
The harsh reality is that few retailers have app download numbers worth boasting about. The opportunity to extend consumers’ experience through in-store digital touch points cannot be ignored. Solutions should be created to solve the problems customers face. The Appliance Finder from Home Depot (a SapientNitro client in the U.S.) is a great example of this. This in-store digital touch point has significantly increased the company’s highest-margin category sales by delivering an experience focused exclusively on the challenge of selling appliances, a complex product whose sheer size makes it hard for shoppers to assess online, and for Home Depot to maintain a full assortment in-store. The Appliance Finder interface allows customers to get a realistic sense of how an appliance will look and feel in their home and allows Home Depot to merchandise a broader assortment of appliances without having to expand physically or invest in products for every location.
Embrace the customer ecosystem, not just your own
The assumed driver of competitive advantage in mass retail of the past was scale of footprint, but connection into the larger ecosystem is the bigger opportunity moving forward. With the advent of APIs (tools that allow developers to build on other companies’ software for the purpose of creating added features and new integrated experiences for consumers) retailers can easily expose their product catalogues, carts and other e-commerce services. These services can be consumed and integrated by a wide variety of partners like Google, Pinterest and Facebook, providing a path for growth minus the need to scale physical infrastructure.
Best Buy, for example, uses its API to integrate with CitiBank’s reward program, allowing CitiBank customers to redeem points for Best Buy products directly from the CitiBank reward site.
And it’s not just a one-way proposition. Retailers can integrate third-party services, such as shipping and directions to store, through the same mechanism to create a more valuable offering for customers.
Realize that stores serve roles beyond conversion
The store is no longer only the end point of the journey. As foot traffic in retail decreases globally, the role of the store should be rethought. Smart retailers use stores as a foothold for all of their activities, not just the final frame. Bricks and mortar can act as content ecosystems, an opportunity for decision support, or as a way for customers to get extended care. Nordstrom, for example, drives customers in-store by acting as a physical store-front for many e-commerce retailers like Baubblebar, Shoes of Prey, and Bonobos in select locations.
Don’t think of loyalty as your father’s loyalty program
Traditional loyalty programs that focus on cards, tiers and points aren’t going to create devoted brand enthusiasts. There are simply too many retailers vying for attention. Loyalty should be about connecting customers to the store beyond the physical location through pre- and post-purchase connections – for example, by increasing the time customers spend with the brand and introducing complementary products and services. Starbucks’ wildly successful app acts as its loyalty program. It not only reduces friction for purchasing, stores customers’ favourites and reduces wait times, but increases conversion and helps up-sell. This is the future of loyalty.
The bottom line for retailers is that the imperative to change is in the air. More than ever, consumers are in control and demanding integrated omnichannel experiences. This requires us to move digital from being an extension of our business to being the core. The time to transform is now.
Originally published on Strategy Online
Like centaurs, marketing technologists are merged creatures — part marketing, part IT.
As such, says Chief Technology Officer Sheldon Monteiro of digital marketing agency SapientNitro, they are central figures in helping marketing merge its needs with the requirements of information security.
Monteiro, along with Publicis Groupe Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Thom Langford, presented at our recent MarTech 2016 conference eight steps toward information security for enterprise-based marketing technologists. We caught up with Monteiro to get a little more background on the recommendations.
To begin with, marketing technologists’ skillset clearly needs some upgrading. In a study of about 300 marketing technologists’ skills and attitudes that SapientNitro did in 2014 with Scott Brinker, program chair of the MarTech conference, the weakest of ten self-assessed job skills was “information security/firewalls/encryption/data recovery.”
And it’s an upgrading that has no small amount of urgency attached, given the cost and growth of security lapses.
According to a 2015 study by the Ponemon Institute, for instance, the average cost of a data breach is $3.79 million. Cryptography Research notes that “the number of new digital security threats has increased 10,000-fold in the last 12 years.”
Botnets, pharming, phishing, worms, spam, spoofing, spyware, viruses. The list of threats is only growing longer, so Monteiro/Langford recommend that marketing technologists settle in for a cultural change. Here are their eight recommendations:
Originally published on Marketing Land
By Sheldon Monteiro
Why chicken soup, you ask? Well, during the buffet of SXSW Interactive, we witnessed an array of tasty items on the menu, hundreds of individual events covering everything from voter technology to data-driven farming to weight loss to digital parenting.
Attendees feasted on a smorgasbord of non-stop inspiration: sessions from an amazingly diverse selection of thought leaders and networking opportunities with tens of thousands of digital innovators and creatives from all over the world, not to mention happy hours, expos and parties hosted by dozens of brands and all that Austin nightlife has to offer. Now it’s time to let all of these goodies digest and look toward what interactive marketing trends will be on the menu in 2016 and beyond.
Although you might think the aftermath of such an extravaganza would be a hangover and upset stomach, I call it chicken soup because SXSWi actually nourishes attendees. It’s different from any other festival — SXSWi isn’t focused on creativity, technology, or even innovation. It’s about all those things, but mostly, it’s a movement of passionate people — marketers included — with a thirst to change the world.
The triumph of beneficence over maleficence
In Disney’s movie, “Maleficent,” Angelina Jolie plays an iconic villain who is betrayed, turns vengeful, casts an evil spell, yet ultimately capitulates and becomes a powerful force for good. The movie takes us on a journey through “maleficence” to “beneficence” — from evilness to goodness and actions that benefit others.
Max Levchin, the former CTO of PayPal, referred to beneficence as one of his “Unstoppable Trends That Are Changing the World.” His assertion: Companies that are building businesses on a foundation of “active kindness” will disrupt their industries and thrive by looking after their customers and the world first.
For example, maleficent banks, which make 40 percent of their revenues from late fees and overdrafts, are being disrupted by new beneficent entrants like Levchin’s Affirm, a brand seeking to reinvent the financial industry with fair fees and radical transparency.
While Levchin was the only SXSWi speaker to co-opt the term “beneficence,” it is a word that captures the gestalt of what SXSWi — the festival as a whole — is all about. It encourages us as marketers and human beings to strive for greatness as we imagine the futures of our businesses and the world we live in.
The truth is, as business leaders and marketers, we need to find new, sustainable sources of growth. We’ve streamlined, realigned and squeezed every dollar of profit from existing business. We’ve been operating in a long-term, low-growth environment where investments in innovation have been starved, Cap Ex & Op Ex is under pressure, and capital returns have been maximized by returning money to shareholders via stock repurchase or dividends.
As a nation, nearly two-thirds of Americans, a full 61 percent, say they are sometimes or frequently anxious about what’s going on in their lives — despite a multi-year economic expansion, six consecutive years of job growth and the lowest unemployment levels since 2008. We need a new formula for business and social success; we need to transform our businesses and our world, and SXSWi provided plenty of brain food to inspire us. I’ll share three of my favorite session takeaways.
President Barack Obama at SXSWi
For the first time in its 23-year history, a sitting president and first lady participated at SXSWi, with President Obama kicking off the festival with a keynote dialogue.
“The reason I’m here really is to recruit all of you,” Obama said. “We can start coming up with new platforms, new ideas across disciplines and across skill sets to solve some of the big problems we’re facing today. If the brainpower and talent that’s on display here today and throughout this conference takes up that baton, then I’m gonna be really confident about the future of this country.”
Is President Obama’s confidence in the SXSW community based on well-founded optimism? Regardless of how you answer, there is no mistaking the degree to which technology, marketing and social good have converged. Too often, we wonder why somebody didn’t do something about “that.” Our president reminded me once again that I am somebody.
Moments of value in the I0T
“Moments are the units we should be thinking about with brands in the Internet of Things,” Brian Wong, CEO of KIIP, suggests.
With the Internet of Things set to inject itself into every part of our lives, Wong shared a real concern about it becoming an “advertising cesspool.” His response: We need to break down people’s lives into units beyond the transaction and provide real service and value in these moments, rather than simply inject messages.
The traditional advertising models are dying. Service, human experience and real value exchange is what’s going to win. As I reflected on Wong’s session in the context of all the buzz around Virtual Reality (VR) that pervaded Austin during the festival, I realized that his advice is spot on.
Immersive, virtual experiences will bring unique challenges to marketers, not the least of which will be the ethics of what constitutes responsible marketing in a fully immersive medium — VR and IoT included. It’s worth noting that Wong is a 24-year-old CEO who has already raised $30 million in capital. I was inspired.
AI and the future
Kevin Kelly, author and founding executive editor of “Wired,” was at SXSWi to lift the lid on “12 inevitable tech forces that will shape our future.”
He proposed a new verb, “cognify,” meaning to take something and add Artificial Intelligence (or vice versa). What AI won’t do is become self-aware and decide to terminate humankind. But AI will provide “artificial smartness,” which is narrow in focus and free of consciousness. Think of it as “IQ as a service,” which will flow from a grid like electricity to wherever you want it.
It’s exciting to consider the near future of AI as “many kinds of minds and many kinds of thinking.” With Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Siri and Google Now, AI is already pretty pervasive around us, but we have only gotten started.
For me, SXSWi was full of so much more to reflect deeply on — smarter, humanlike robots, health and medtech, advances, conversational UIs, sensors and data, ethical algorithms, startups, diversity and exceptional career advice.
Among other sources of inspiration, I’ll take Levchin’s advice and help my clients realize a better future for their business, by creating transformative experiences and business models that improve their customers’ lives. And yes, I’ll be back in Austin next year for another helping of chicken soup for my soul.
Originally published on Marketing Land
Twenty-sixteen is going to be a pivotal year for virtual reality. Already, the New York Times used VR to cover the emotional aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Apple has implied an interest in VR in its most recent earnings call and made key hires like that of Doug Bowman. And most critically, consumer launches of products like the Oculus Rift will finally happen.
THE EMPATHY MACHINE
The rich potential of VR is best described by one of its leading auteurs, Chris Milk. He has documented a Syrian refugee camp for the United Nations. He has covered the Millions March against police brutality for Vice. And much more. In his 2015 Ted Talk, Milk said of VR:
"It connects humans to other humans in a profound way that I've never seen before in any other form of media. And it can change people's perception of each other. And that's how I think virtual reality has the potential to actually change the world."
Enabling this "empathy machine" as Milk refers to it is a powerful aspiration. And one I think many creators could believe in. Unfortunately, as with many emergent technologies, VR has a bias baked in: It's sexist.
ACCIDENTAL SEXISM: FROM ATOMS TO BYTES
An age-old example of gender bias in technology is the humble air conditioner. When standards were put forth in the 1960s comfort levels were set based on tests conducted on 40-year-old men. That's problematic given men and women have different metabolic rates. This is why women are more likely to be cold in offices. Men are freezing women out of the workplace.
Another more recent example proves the problem has followed us from atoms to bytes. Research by Carnegie Mellon in 2015 outed Google algorithms as "accidentally sexist" too. The CMU study revealed that Google was displaying more prestigious job ads to men. Algorithms created largely by men are exacerbating the gender pay gap issue. Even as some governments are forcing companies to finally publish data on the topic.
THE SEXIST SOFTWARE BEHIND SIMULATOR SICKNESS
Based on that pattern it should come as no surprise that VR suffers from much the same. Motion sickness in VR has plagued the format since its inception. Women have shown a greater tendency toward VR-induced nausea than men. But why? It's all about unconscious bias and technology’s notorious self-selection bias.
In brief, there are two main methods of suggesting distance in most modern VR systems. Motion parallax and shape-from-shading. At its simplest, motion parallax is a play on perspective. Shape-from-shading is about how light sources interact with objects and your point of view. They’re conflicting depth cues.
Most systems favor motion parallax as it's easier to program and render. As a result, it's the default model used by most. And guess what? A study by danah boyd of Microsoft Research shows that men prefer motion parallax while women prefer shape-from-shading. Men are literally sending the wrong signals to women’s brains!
Another possible explanation was presented at the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on Human Factors in a paper by R.S. Kennedy and L.H. Frank in 1983. The pair’s research suggested a different biological factor at play. They believed the higher incidence of simulator sickness in women was due to a wider field of view. Other researchers pursued the topic in 2006 and noted the severity was even higher in older women.
TROLLS ALL THE WAY DOWN
Despite all that direct and related research, boyd became a flashpoint for gamergate-style blowback. On Oculus's own developer forums even. You can read it here at your own peril. Peter Andrew Nolan, a noted Men's Rights activist was the ringleader of that hot mess. A sample:
THE HARDWARE IS HARD-HEADED, TOO
Defaulting to masculine factors isn't just a software problem. The bias exists in the hardware as well. Adi Robertson, who covers the VR beat at The Verge, recently covered a host of "atoms" problems as well:
As Robertson points out, when you're in the early stages of development, decisions like these are perhaps understandable. But with products close to market it becomes disheartening that varied sizes aren't available. It's astonishing especially at an event like CES. Those early decisions build a weak foundation. As a result, concerns like this end up addressed in third or fourth product generations, if at all.
The key lesson to take away from all of this is simple. The only way to beat the sort of self-selection bias at the root of this problem is to get more women in VR. To join luminaries like Carolina Cruz-Niera, Brenda Laurel, and Margaret Minsky. Thankfully there are groups like Virtual Reality Girls driving this mission forward. And events like VRUK Fest that create friendly environments to probe the issues further.
Silicon Valley brims with hiring initiatives to tackle gender bias organizationally but progress is slow. In the meantime, the onus rests on existing developers to practice inclusive design. Diversity is a design problem.
How can we create Milk's "empathy machine" if we ourselves aren't more empathic? How much of VR's potential has been held back by focusing on the male default? What might we create that we wouldn't have before?
Originially published on FastCoDesign.com
SapientNitro’s director of innovation and unofficial virtual reality evangelist Howard Goldkrand thinks brands have a very good reason to get on the VR bandwagon: experiencing VR for the first time can be life changing, and whichever brand provides that experience will be remembered for a lifetime.
“We have the opportunity to be part of the origin story, at the beginning of this century — with our users, our clients, our families, our communities,” he told his audience at the ICA’s FFWD Ad Week 2016 in Toronto. “These people are all going to say, ‘The first time I tried VR was when The New York Times sent me a Google Cardboard.’”
Marketers should get into VR any way they can, he said. Leaps of imagination that might seem like a bad fit in established media like TV are perfectly acceptable in VR. He is a big fan of California creative workshop WeVR (pronounced “weaver”), whose tagline is “Make brave VR.”
One such “brave” brand experiment Goldkrand cited came from tequila-maker Patrón: the company created a 360-degree simulation that allowed people to experience flying over its agave fields as a bee (like the bee on its bottle).
In his work with clients, Goldkrand said he’s constantly pushing for the magic, not the KPIs — to rise above trying to sell a sweatshirt and create an experience that transports the user.
“If you go back and look at some of the early explorations and ideas in the internet, they didn’t have the bandwidth, they didn’t have the opportunity, but they also didn’t have any of the rules,” he said. “To have that now, with VR, is awesome. There’s no Spielberg in VR… It’s gonna be some other person from China, Ethiopia or the Philippines, that starts breaking new ways for us to think about interaction with it.”
During his talk, Goldkrand strove to put VR in a historical context. The first modern VR technology goes back farther than a lot of us realize — 3D headsets and gloves were being designed as far back as the 80s. What’s different today, Goldkrand said, is the ubiquitous computing power available at our fingertips, which can generate realistic, physical environments.
There are more than 1,000 products related to VR on Amazon, he said, rattling off names like Facebook’s Oculus, Valve and HTC’s Vive, Sony’s Morpheus. But Goldkrand believes brands shouldn’t get bogged down in the guessing game of which platform will dominate.
“It’s okay to shoot [3D video] with anything. It’s the wizard, not the wand,” he said. “It’s what you do with things, not what [platform] you do it with.”
The VR revolution calls for a whole new generation of creators, he said. People who have excelled at filmmaking may not necessarily do well with VR because of how inherently different the two experiences are. A filmmaker is used to controlling the narrative — they take the viewer on a journey, rather than creating a space where the viewer can take their own journey. Film decides where the viewer will and will not look, but in VR, there’s no “wrong place” to look, he said.
What a lot of brands don’t get about VR is that it’s about emotion, Goldkrand said, adding that VR doesn’t carry people away because of what they see, but because of how it makes them feel. He points to the work of Nonny de la Peña, a journalist who uses VR and 3D video to recreate news events, and give people the sense of being there and how they would have reacted.
To end his talk, Goldkrand quoted Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Originally publised on Marketingmag.ca
French fashion house Christian Dior has cast men from different career verticals to showcase that the Dior Homme consumer is not a singular vision.
Dior Homme’s summer 2016 campaign brings together a singer-songwriter, actor, artist and model together for a video effort capturing “Dior men in the plural,” showing that its menswear is appropriate for a wide range of consumers. The definition of a luxury shopper is constantly evolving, and impossible to pinpoint as consumption behavior changes, but by showing various interpretations of a brand’s ideal consumer those exposed to the campaign may see themselves in the effort.
"There’s no doubt men’s cultural attitudes about appearance have shifted; it’s no longer taboo to discuss designers, trends, grooming habits, celebrity style icons, street fashion or the rise of Kanye on the catwalk," said Jem Ripley, SapientNitro head of retail – Northeast.
"Men are also significantly less afraid to experiment with clothing. With many offices adopting less formal dress codes and many retailers expanding their breadth of size, style and accessory offerings, there’s more incentive — and freedom — than ever for him to express himself," he said. "What we see is not clothes making the man, but today’s man using his buying power to mix and match, and to make the clothes work for him.
"If we needed any further indication of this trend, for Dior designer Kris Van Assche to have put aside his rigid commitment to minimalism and to experiment with new proportions, textures and colors, it becomes crystal clear that today’s powerful male consumer is anything but homogenous in his dressing habits, and expects versatility from leading designers.
"There is not one Dior Homme consumer, but many; and each of them is looking for something to which he can aspire, as well as something to inspire him directly to purchase," he said.
Mr. Ripley is not affiliated with Dior, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Dior was unable to comment directly.
For summer 2016, Dior selected singer-songwriter Oliver Sim, actor Alain-Fabien Delon, artist Rinus Van de Velde and model Victor Nylander as the physical representations of the Dior Homme man.
The campaign, a collaboration between season artistic director Kris Van Assche and photographer Willy Vanderperre, shows each man’s own personality, and the differences between them to reflect the realities of Dior’s consumer base.
In a statement shared on Dior’s magalog DiorMag, Mr. Van Assche said, “Charismatic, each with their distinct individuality, they break the rules of the male wardrobe while respecting its traditions. They move in a contemporary and creative world. These are the men that we know embody something of the spirit of Dior Homme.”
The video, titled “Stranger in a Room,” begins with Mr. Delon waking from a nap and sitting on the edge of his bed pensively before having a bite to eat at a table. He exits the frame and Mr. Sim is shown sitting on a staircase as he ties his shoes.
Mr. Sim is then shown writing on a pad of paper, and as the video progresses, he stands and walks out of the frame. As Mr. Sim walks out, the camera pans to Mr. Nylander in an arm chair.
The camera spends time on Mr. Nylander as he reads a book, then in a following frame the model is seen walking past Mr. Van de Velde as he sits at on a stool next to his art supplies.
Victor Nylander for Dior Homme, summer 2016
Next, Mr. Van de Velde stands and walks over to a sink basin and begins washing the black inky substance from his hands. When finished, Mr. Van de Velde grabs his coat from a hook and follows Mr. Sim out the doorway and onto the street where Mr. Nylander and Mr. Delon stand waiting.
The four men walk together down the street and as the video concludes Mr. Sim turns and looks back at the camera as the film’s credits begin.
Within the credits, viewers learn that the song used as the campaign’s soundtrack is also titled Stranger in a Room and is performed by Jamie xx featuring Mr. Sim, who plays bass, keyboard as well as vocals for the band The xx.
Stranger in a RoomFor the Dior Homme Summer 2016 campaign, Oliver Sim, Alain-Fabien Delon, Rinus Van de Velde and Victor Nylander express the diversity of the Dior men, as captured by photographer Willy Vanderperre.
Posted by Dior on Monday, February 8, 2016
Although Dior did share the campaign on its social platforms and through a posting with the still imagery on DiorMag, the brand does not present consumers with a path to purchase. Since Dior does not yet operate its own ecommerce for ready-to-wear, providing the necessary route to learning more about the clothing seen may be beneficial to the brand in the future.
"While the video content from this season’s Homme collection seems to be omnipresent on multiple pages of dior.com, hiding the complete story under DiorMag makes the products feel secondary to the rest of Dior’s offerings," Mr. Ripley said.
"We would also love to see Dior livestream its shows, experiment (in a brand appropriate way) with shoppable runway showings, and consider VR experiences for its VIP customers who cannot be present at the catwalk," he said. "Though it’s an extremely iconic fashion house, Dior must offer one-to-one experiences and premier personalization in order to stay competitive in the saturated luxury market."
You do you
Individuality and a celebration of personality has become a common thread for campaigns as luxury houses are becoming increasingly inclusive of the wide variety of consumers that shop high-end wares.
In an effort similar to Dior’s approach for summer 2016, Italian fashion label Tod’s brought together a diverse group of talents for a personality-driven launch of its new driving shoe.
“Tod’s Band Leo Mania” centers on a cast of 12 men who come from the worlds of ballet, music, film and more. Through a series of portraits and short videos, the “virtual club” share their views on life and fashion, creating a backdrop for the brand’s new Leo Clamp shoe (see story).
In women’s wear, U.S. fashion label Diane von Furstenberg is prompting women to be themselves in an uplifting spring/summer 2016 campaign.
Introduced Feb. 1 on social media using the hashtag #YouBeYou, DVF’s campaign centers on a video of model Karlie Kloss having a frank conversation with the label’s eponymous designer about female empowerment and being a woman today. DVF is using this campaign as a platform to not only build desire for its clothes, but to begin a larger conversation about being true to yourself (see story).
As with consumer portraits injected into campaigns, a brand must also reflect its own personality through product ranges.
"Dior showed admirable variation this season. As GQ noted, the collection was 'warm, wearable and masculine,'” Mr. Ripley said.
"In addition to showing interesting proportions for shirt and slacks separates, we saw shades of red in the primarily black collection, variations on the bow tie and the belt, futuristic sunglasses and even painted nails," he said.
"Menswear enthusiasts from all geographies and professions are sure to find something to add to their closets from this Dior Homme collection."
Published on Luxury Daily
German fashion brand Hugo Boss has announced it has appointed SapientNitro as its lead digital agency. The Publicis.Sapient agency has worked on the brand in the past.
The new partnership is aimed at enhancing the omni-channel experience for consumers and redefining how content and commerce can be merged across channels, informed an agency statement. SapientNitro will run the brand’s digital platforms, including the website hugoboss.com, it added.
Gerd von Podewils, SVP, global communication, Hugo Boss, said, “With SapientNitro, we have appointed a partner that represents our global approach to creating compelling brand experiences, driven by state-of-the-art technology. The ongoing digital revolution confirms our decision to transform from a vertically integrated retailer, to a data-and-experience-driven fashion brand.”
Nigel Vaz, global chief strategy officer and SVP Europe, SapientNitro, said, "The appointment of SapientNitro as Hugo Boss’ digital agency is an important moment for both partners. What was separated before – e-commerce and an exciting brand experience – will join forces in a unique and highly personalised hub page concept in the future. We will bring the brand's strong, global, physical presence far closer to the increasing number of customers who experience fashion digitally."
Published on Campaign India
To take back summer from other beach-loving beers, Corona Extra called in winter. In The Community's poetic "Dear Summer" campaign in both Spanish and English versions, winter writes a letter to summer, enviously extolling all that people love about the latter, ending with a request to hang out: "You bring the beer, I'll bring the ice."
The Community looks at life—and marketing—a little differently. And with its focus on multicultural consumers, the Miami-based shop wants to help its clients avoid building brands for a world that doesn't exist anymore. "They really understand the concept of cultural fluidity, the ability to move in and out of various cultures that defines us," said Diego Scotti, exec VP-chief marketing officer at Verizon, one of The Community's big 2015 account wins.
"They don't think in TV commercials, they think in terms of conversations with consumers, and I like that a lot. As the importance of culture and authenticity increases in the total market, they become more and more valuable to general market marketing efforts."
By Sam Schaust
For businesses, the integration of high technology, like virtual reality (VR) and artificial reality (AR), may appear distant. However, Adrian Slobin, global innovation lead at digital marketing agency SapientNitro, sees the immediate potential for AR/VR right now. For the fourth-straight quarter, AR/VR investment has topped $100 million in funding. Meanwhile, brands like Target, Volvo and Red Bull are breaking into the new digital space, priming themselves for the expansion of VR adoption in 2016 with the release of Oculus Rift (Facebook’s $2 billion bet on VR) and Sony’s Morpheus Project (also known as PlayStation VR). Slobin, who heads SapientNitro’s global office in Minneapolis, breaks down both the near and distant future of VR and how it could affect the way consumers interact with products.
TCB: What is it like working in the field of forward-looking technology, like VR and AR?
Slobin: For starters, I grew up watching movies in the 80s like Blade Runner and Total Recall… Now is the first time you can start to see a glimpse of that crazy sci-fi fiction coming into reality. I have two young kids and, well, if we think the smartphone is revolutionary, what in the world is their experience of the world going to be like in 15 or 20 years? It’s mind-blowing.
How is SapientNitro utilizing this new techology?
That’s a tough question because we do a lot of work in a lot of different areas. But I think it is all centered around how brands sell their stories and how consumers use technology to get access to those stories. Whether it is the nuts and bolts of a commerce or content platform that delivers omnichannel transactions or content—we do a lot of work in that space. In terms of high tech—more exploratory, emerging technologies—we’re very invested in the intersection of digital and physical. So we have a team called Second Story that does a lot of work on the blending of physical environments and digital experiences because we believe those two will collapse into very interesting configurations. Artificial reality, we are starting to dabble around with, but that’s further out and needs to mature a bit before it hits primetime. It’s hard to predict, but [it may be] three to five years out before [artificial reality] becomes as compelling as virtual reality is in the next 18 months.
There’s plenty of application for VR in industries where Minnesota thrives, like healthcare. What sort of potential do you see there?
Right now we are having conversations with our clients in healthcare and the obvious plays are training and the ability to experience and learn about a complex product—for example, a medical device. In a way, it can be both more effective and less risky in understanding procedures and installation that would be involved. The healthcare profession has been exploring VR for some time in the same way military training has been a primary driver for VR. Trailing away from devices and more toward application from a consumer-facing standpoint, VR therapy for things like PTSD is very interesting. With soldiers coming back who are suffering, allowing for VR to recreate certain moments and help them through those moments is a proven and effective way in helping them get through the more traumatic dementias of PTSD.
When you say “certain moments,” would something like that be more personalized to each patient?
Yep, so I’ll make something up here… If you were in a particular scenario, like Iraq or Afghanistan, you can create something close to those environments and re-live it under the guidance of a trained therapist, you can work through those moments more effectively than just talking through them or taking drugs. Another one is for pain therapy. For burn victims who were really suffering and traditional pain medications weren’t as effective, a trial found that by creating cold environments in VR, it brought their pain down. So in the healthcare space, the power of VR is really about creating an emotional connection to an experience. So for trying to engage in some kind of therapy or training, that immersive dimension of VR—if used for the good—could be tremendously powerful.
Adoption of this technology obviously won’t happen overnight, so what sort of timeline do you see as far as brand/VR integration goes?
Except for the big, splashy brands—the Red Bulls, Nikes—healthcare is such a conservative industry, so those brands are going to be much less likely to get out over their skis in terms of publicly announcing what they are doing until [VR technology] is well-baked and proven. If you think about the consumer-facing devices like Oculus Rift that is coming in 2016 and Sony’s Morpheus—this stuff will become the furniture in people’s lives over the next 18 months to 2 years. It won’t necessarily be a foreign thing to strap in and have an interaction. I was actually talking to my mom about this. Not to stereotype her, but she had a hard time learning how to use the CD player, she’s a sort of a luddite, and I was starting to explain what the coming world of VR will be to her. And I realized it’s almost like trying to describe a movie to someone at the turn of the 19th century. The best way to do it is to get them in a theater, and there isn’t a single person I know who has experienced VR who takes off the headset and isn’t immediately like “you could use it for this or that or this.” It seems weird now, but it seemed weird in 2006 to be doing so much stuff on a phone. With the primary drive of gaming and entertainment, people will start to have these devices in their homes and then it’s a fairly easy step to start getting people in the healthcare space to think about using them to talk to your doctor in a way that is more meaningful than a phone call.
So with nearly every American industry having some potential use for VR, you believe gaming and entertainment the initial draw?
Yes, that will definitely be powering adoption. On the consumer-facing and business professional side, it’ll be the military and healthcare spaces—maybe education. There are a lot of start-ups exploring the potential for VR in the education space. My wife is a professor and so I’m maybe old school on what a good educational environment would be, but I guess I’m more skeptical about it being prime ground for the exploration of VR today. Who knows down the road? For super experience driven brands, like in the automotive industry, butts in seats is the mantra for any car dealer. But you don’t need to actually get someone’s butt in a physical seat in VR. You can actually recreate something close to the experience of being in a BMW or Audi and get that person primed to go to the dealer.
I’m glad you brought up the automotive industry. I know that Harley Davidson is a client of yours. Does that mean you’ve generated a bike trial for them?
I’m sorry, I won’t be able to comment on them in particular, but I will say in general, it’s an obvious play. It’s obvious that these brands are going to want to give consumers the experience of being on their car or bike and the question becomes execution. It goes back to risk aversion. If you’re a [chief marketing officer], is it really worth the risk of creating a bomb and having to do damage control versus using the traditional channels to market? That is the tipping point: when that CMO has to realize it is not optional to play in the VR space. At that point they will take on risk, but for now it is still optional.
What sort of clients is SapientNitro engaging with right now?
Of the projects we are talking about… healthcare, automotive and retail are the industries that are most open to the VR conversation. We are right now architecting the actual transactional capabilities in VR to enable it to plug into existing commerce platforms. So if you’re a retailer and you’ve invested x-gazillions of dollars in setting up a digital commerce capability, you are not about to set up a second capability in VR. There is no business case in the world that would provide for that. What you want to do is plug the VR channel into your existing e-commerce. But how does that hook into your catalog, checkout and inventory management? From the pure technology side, we’re in the process of the architecting that.
Taking the retail angle, can you describe a scenario for the use of VR at home or a brick and mortar location?
For tools or toys, getting to virtually experience what that is like… Whether it is test flying a drone or at a Home Depot or a Lowe’s—before buying a saw or drill—having the consumer experience of what it would be like. Or it could be a Black and Decker installation inside a Home Depot. So if you think of Home Depot as the venue, the brand could put a kiosk and get consumers to engage in that personally. And this isn’t five years out, I think it’ll be much sooner than that. It’s not expensive to do and what are most retailers interested in? Foot traffic. Those that have brick and mortar locations want people to come through the doors one or two times more a year than they usually do. And so what do you do to inspire that? You create destinations to draw people in. Don’t quote me on the numbers, but it’s a sub-$5,000 for the raw equipment and then the creation of the experience, which is not that expensive depending on the level of sophistication… You compare that to getting a one percent increase in foot traffic, and there will be no reason not to do it provided it is done well.
What is your step-by-step process of taking a client’s proposal and creating a VR experience for them?
I’d actually flip that around and say at this point of the conversation that we are pitching the clients. I think consumer-facing brands have been burned by digital technologies as many were late to the e-commerce game, and played catch-up. And then they were blindsided by mobility and the smartphone, and played catch-up. I don’t think VR is going to have the same level of revolution that the smartphone had in terms of ubiquity. But what it will lack in ubiquity it will make up for in depth of experience. So if I’m a marketer, do I want to be really late to that party for the third time? Can by brand survive it? Can you think about all of the brands that are no longer on the New York Stock Exchange because they were late to one of these digital disruptions over the last 15 to 20 years? Or let’s put it this way: for a big-box retailer that is suffering from lack of exciting product… You have this new medium that can bring your products to life in a way that is much richer than a glossy circular in the Sunday Star Tribune or really nice JPEG on a flat website. Now you can actually get the consumer to engage in that product in a new way, so wouldn’t you want to just see if setting up a kiosk or a few in your space might generate more demand than the product on the shelf alone does? Isn’t it worth the bet?
We’ve glossed over this, but I’d like to get your full take on consumer adoption looking into 2016 and beyond. As you said, what the timeline until VR becomes “the furniture in people’s homes?”
I’ll answer your question by coming at it from the side. There are three or four different vectors that are going to drive adoption. There is the consumer device side—with the new Samsung Gear VR device, with the Oculus Rift headset, with Sony’s Morpheus, with the HTC Vive—you’ll see a flood of these devices that will be in people’s homes. Verizon and AT&T may start giving them away or at a reduced cost when you get a new contract because Samsung has put a lot of money into VR, and they want to make sure people are incented to get these devices. En masse, in the next 18 months to 2 years (and I think depending on who you believe), somewhere between 50 to 100 million head-mounted displays will ship. So there’s that vector. Then there’s the vector of devices to create VR experiences, and that’s coming down both in price point and going up in terms of sophistication. The third is content creation itself because who cares about a device if there isn’t anything interesting to go experience. The YouTubes and Facebooks of the world have created platforms for sharing content and users are generating VR experiences like crazy. I don’t know what the metrics are, but if you go to #360 on YouTube, there’s a ridiculous amount of user-generated content there. And then the fourth one is the content from professional-grade studios and game shops. There used to lots of great ideas for content on VR but not enough processing power to realize it. So you won’t have devices in search of content or content that wishes it had the right device to play it. You are—for the first time in history—having these things intersect at the exact same time.
To cap it off, Adrian, I’d interested to hear what personally excites you most about VR?
Good question, but professionally or as a person? Professionally, I’m most excited about helping our clients in the coming years reach their consumers in a more meaningful way. And I know that sounds cliché, but that’s what marketing companies are about. This medium will expand in every dimension for brands to tell stories in an emotionally connected way. I mean, it’s a new canvas. On the personal side, frankly I’m more apprehensive than excited for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I have two young kids and I see them already so pummeled by digital and are connected in ways that I wasn’t even five years ago. I worry about what this new medium will do to their sense of the world because I see there being a lot of power in it but also a lot of challenges. It’s an interesting sort of schizophrenia when I think about the opportunities on the business side, but that comes with a little bit of trepidation. I don’t mean to end the conversation on a sour note, but the potential for misuse is there and it needs to be carefully guarded so VR can be a force for good.
Originally published on TCBmag.com
Execution, however, varies according to interpretation. What does creativity and fearlessness in marketing really mean? Therein lies the subject of CMO.com's annual predictions compilation.
As we have done in years past, we turned to the many experts who helped shape our content--CMOs and other high-level marketers featured in our exclusive interviews, contributors of thought-provoking "From the Field" blog posts, and insightful sources for our topical feature articles.
We posed to them the following question: How will you bring more creativity and daring to your marketing in 2016?
But we added a wrinkle, in the interest of space and to get the creative/fearless juices flowing: Answers had to be kept to approximately 144 characters. If it's good enough for Twitter ...
Read on for the inspiring range of responses we received. They come from around the globe: the United States, across Europe, and through the Asia-Pacific region. Answers are arranged alphabetically, by company name.
Shift the emphasis of marketing from messaging to interaction. Listen to customers, help them, excite them–don’t just promote your agenda.
--Olof Schybergson, CEO of Fjord, Design and Innovation, Accenture Interactive
Tap mobile to make ads more memorable and more personal than ever. Bold art + science delivers real outcomes. Also, more budget.
--Nikao Yang, SVP Business Development & Marketing, AdColony
ADMA charging ahead with total transformation to a data-led content driven marketing strategy. Walking the talk so we can better support our members.
--Jodie Sangster, CEO, ADMA
I’m excited for amazing marketing experiences using VR/AR, large-scale digital walls/tables, and digital/physical environments that blur lines between home and store.
--Mark Asher, Head Of Market Intelligence & Strategy, Adobe
Allrecipes will be expanding our social and shopper native advertising solutions, delivering hyperlocal contextual targeting and ROI tracking.
--Esmee Williams, Vice President, Consumer and Brand Strategy, Allrecipes
Be bold, be creative, but be human. Think beyond getting attention; design for engagement. And design beyond impressions, think expressions.
--Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group, and author of “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design”
Mobile is our platform. Open is our model. Global is our market. Data is our fueld. Video is our medium. Talent is our differentiator.
--Allie Kline, CMO, AOL
By taking a break from social media and what everyone else says. Put my own thinking cap on and answer this question: What can I do to bring more profit to the bottom line?
--Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, CMO.com Blogger, and Professional Recruiter
Audiences are turning to online channels for video content at an explosive rate and at the expense of TV viewership. Advertisers will continue to follow these users and invest more in video advertising.
-- Nick Utton, Chief Marketing Officer, BMC
Next year, we’re daring to go from being valued to being loved. We’ll be showcasing the power and value of creating an emotional connection.
--Susan Ganeshan, CMO, Clarabridge
C4’s very remit is to be creative and daring, and we’re looking forward to taking some more big risks at the Rio Paralympics.
--Dan Brooke, CMO, Channel 4
Unlocking creativity and driving success demands agile marketing: gain insights, make hard choices, take fast action, learn quickly, perform better, deliver revenue.
--Barre Hardy, Associate Partner, CMG Partners
Our creative mind-set allows us to align with technology innovators in a global smart home leadership position.
--Sean Blankenship, Coldwell Banker Real Estate CMO
Stay focused and connected to the consumer. Sharply define the consumer and articulate his needs. Choose media carefully and offer consumers an experience.
--Hetal Kotak, Vice President and Brand Head, ColorPlus & Park Avenue
More digital engagement. More intent-based approach. More social. More mobile. More predictive. Embrace failure as the best path to awesome.
--Chris Powell, CMO, Commvault
Elevating content to more than collateral. Marketing doesn’t change content’s purpose; a great content strategy changes marketing’s purpose.
--Robert Rose, Content Marketing Strategist, Content Marketing Institute
To qualify as an insights provider in 2016, companies must take more edgy, counterintuitive stands—and back them up with research-based rigor.
--Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Corporate Visions, and CMO.com Blogger/Marketing Messenger
Train our salesforce on social media tools and turn them loose, push the marketing org to turn up innovation 20% more.
--Bryan Jones, Vice President Of Marketing For North America and the Global 500, Dell
Bold storytelling to show how we help our clients stay ahead of disruption, act confidently, and achieve impact that matters.
--Jonathan Copulsky, CMO, Deloitte Consulting
A major television network will announce a programmatic offering by the end of the year. It will be limited, they’ll call it something else, and there will be several strings attached, but it will signal the move.
--Doug Ryan, President, Chicago & San Francisco, DigitasLBi North America
Creativity needs big ideas. Having lodged Direct Line as a “fixer” brand, the journey continues.
--Mark Evans, Marketing Director, Direct Line
Marketers, please come out from behind your tech and data and start acting like humans. You’ll be amazed at what can happen.
--Jeff Pundyk, Vice President, Content Marketing and Strategy, The Economist Group, and CMO.com Blogger/Digital Disruption
By bringing digital technology and machine learning as the key enablers of innovative (fearless) marketing.
--Sameer Poonja, Head of Digital & Mobile Experience Technologies, Emirates
I will be fearless about who I invite to #CMOCLIC16. CMOs need more courage; this is a safe innovation laboratory to help them find it.
--Lisa Nirell, Chief Energy Officer, EnergizeGrowth LLC
Routine can be your enemy. When in doubt or feeling a creativity drought, the left brain can help. There are always insights that could give you a new perspective to being creative.
--Rickie Hobbie, Managing Director, Epsilon (Asia Pacific)
Engage your community for daring, unexpected, and authentic creative. Per our VoC research, community-generated creative has the greatest impact.
--Ernan Roman, President, ERDM
We’ll engage movie fans on many platforms with promotions and event marketing, captivating content and unique offers to enhance their experience.
--Adam Rockmore, CMO, Fandango
Farmers will continue to help consumers get smarter about insurance. We will blend information with creative humor and a digital presence.
--Mike Linton, CMO, Farmers Insurance
What if brand storytelling was compelling, real, and fun? To quote Stephen Colbert, our 2016 mission is the pursuit of “truthiness.”
--Mark Jones, Chief Storyteller & CEO, Filtered Media
The marketing discipline will accelerate faster from art and science to science and art. Strategic creativity will be more important than ever to engage people in our mobile 1-2-1 world.
--Steven Cook, Founder/Managing Partner, FortuneCMO, and CMO.com Contributing Editor
Social media marketing will leap into the hands of company employees for business in 2016. This means enabling team members to share the company content in social.
--Christopher Maloney, CEO, Gremln, and Former CMO, Wells Fargo Advisors, Experian, Scottrade
I have devolved access of social handles with fearless and innovative 20-year-old marketers who leverage this edgy trend to spread the brand message.
--Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing, Product, Analytics, Digital & E-Commerce, HDFC Life
We’re taking an outsider’s look at our brand. Asking clients how they explain what we do helps us to identify where to put our focus in 2016.
--Jen Todd Gray, SVP, Brand, Marketing & Creative Services, HelloWorld
Creating concerted efforts toward face-to-face marketing. Those who use digital to bring together physical interactions will lead within their industry.
--Sinan Kanatsiz, Founder and Chairman, Internet Marketing Association
At IQ 2016 is about creative intelligence, not creative fearlessness. That means creative shaped by data and insights, not by gut and guts.
--Tony Quin, CEO, IQ Agency, and Board Chair, SoDA, the Digital Society
Ad blocking invites us to be bold. Kiip will reach out to unexpected brands and encourage real mobile moments that matter to consumers.
--Brian Wong, Co-Founder/CEO, Kiip
Marketers are told to write at the level of a 7th-grader. We’re going to take a risk that our audience is smarter than that.
--Doug Bewsher, CEO, Leadspace
Effective creativity now requires pairing shrewd psychology with showmanship. In 2016 I resolve to channel, daily, Daniel Kahneman and P.T. Barnum.
--Marsha Lindsay, CEO, Lindsay, Stone & Briggs
It’s now about mobile commerce, not just eyeballs. E-wallets, loyalty, beacon recognition, and mobile coupons will become increasingly integrated into shopping activities.
--Peter Krasilovsky, Principal, Local Onliner
Creativity comes in many forms; hopefully 2016 will see marketers and technologists collaborating smartly to create extraordinary user experiences.
--Wayne Arnold, Global CEO, Lowe Profero
Fail small, fail many times, and be ready to scale-up small successes. Only pilot what is scalable in marketing and business.
--Deepali Naair, CMO, Mahindra Holidays & Resort India Ltd.
2016 is about personalisation and authenticity. Brands must provide a humanistic element so each touch point brings value or at least a smile.
--Ambera Cruz, Head of Marketing, Meltwater Asia-Pacific
For a bold 2016 we must commit to digital, listening, hard analytics, and improvising real-time campaigns where only qualified leads matter.
--Paul Gottsegen, CMO, Mindtree
Meet the needs of connected customers using whole brain thinking that links creative with the rigour of analytics and the art of storytelling.
--Nicole Sheffield, CEO, News Life Media
Few things speak more to fearlessness than the conscious decision to “not do.” In taking our creative impact to the next level, we will be focused on conveying fewer things in our marketing--taking a narrow and deep approach.
--Doug Zarkin, VP, Head of Marketing, Pearle Vision
tarting with removing a mainstay that has been one part of our brand’s DNA for over 60 years, we now see a whole realm of possibilities opening for us.
--Robin Zucker, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Digital Media, Playboy
It is fearless to consistently and boldly challenge your audiences to rethink who they are and what they need. We will use new approaches to broaden our reach.
--Bluford Birdsong, Vice President, Participant Engagement Marketing, Prudential Retirement
In an age where brands know more than ever about our customers, embracing creativity and fearlessness should no longer be seen as risk taking but instead as smart, innovational thinking.
--James Earp, Experience Director, Razorfish
Creativity is about how we challenge or exploit obstacles. More than design, it’s a mind-set. Teamed with fearlessness, it’s the courage to deploy.
--Nick Baker, CEO, RedBalloon
Blow up any process that isn't dynamic and collaborative. Creativity in a world of technology takes constant collaboration, not process.
--Darren (Daz) McColl, Global Chief Brand Strategy Officer, SapientNitro
We believe in women inspiring women and have to dare ourselves to put our passions in the forefront of our business.
--Samantha Skey, CMO/CRO, SheKnowsMedia
As simplicity gains traction in culture, brands will need to create clear and surprising experiences to delight customers.
--Margaret Molloy, Global CMO, Siegel+Gale
The rise of brand (generic top-level domain) and creativity unleashed from the left side of the dot.
--Joe Loy, Head of Digital, StarHub
Do something unexpected, launch a breakthrough, challenge a leader, “wow” consumers, make memorable moments, engage in new conversations.
--Ed Vlacich, Chief Marketing Officer and President, National Brands, Sun Products
Being a tech start-up means disrupting norms. Irrespective of 2016 budgets, we’ll approach our marketing with a unique flair that continues to win hearts and minds.
--Andrew Davis, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Tapit
Data-driven marketing is the future. If you fail to embrace it and instead focus solely on creativity, you will quickly become obsolete.
--Ken Chaplin, CMO/B2C, TransUnion
At TransUnion, we find creativity in data. In 2016, I’ll harness and apply data and analytics to sharpen our targeting, messaging, and customer engagement strategies.
--Julie Springer, CMO/B2B, TransUnion
In 2016 we’ll give Ozbrands and agencies more opportunity to highlight creative video and other rich content through Promoted @TwitterMoments.
--Karen Stocks, Managing Director, Twitter (Australia)
Consumers want meaningful conversations. We’ll provoke marketers to rethink their traditional ways and join the movement to create authentic, social brand-consumer relationships.
--Don Anderson, Regional Managing Director (Singapore), We Are Social
Editorial and advertising will continue to blur lines. The merge of how content/decisions get made by customers will reign; PR and marketing separatist mentalities lose.
--Diane Scott, Chief Marketing Officer, Western Union
In 2016, we will be fearless by connecting more with our customers in person, learning more about who they are and what they need now.
--Allison Checchi, CMO, YP
Originally published on CMO.com
By Will Flanagan - General Manager at Chicago Inno
According to eMarketer, advertisers will spend over $100 billion on mobile this year, representing "roughly 50 percent of all digital ad expenditure." That figure is expected to double over the next three years, reaching $195.55 billion in 2019 and accounting for 70.1% of all digital ad spend. And as a friendly reminder, the mobile advertising industry is just twenty years old.
Given the staggering growth in the market, nearly every agency in the world needs to be a mobile expert in order to survive. However, on top of that pursuit, one Chicago agency is also proactively working to build its expertise in the medium that it expects to one day supplant mobile - virtual reality.
This week, SapientNitro's Chicago office demoed the work that it's doing across a variety of VR headsets, including Google Cardboard, Gear VR, and Oculus. Though the agency is exploring a handful of VR projects with its clients, they're currently focused on simply familiarizing themselves with and mastering the technology.
"If you're not building, you're not an expert," says Zachary Jean Paradis, SapientNitro Chicago's Director of Innovation Strategy. "So we're building VR environments."
For example, SapientNitro has built The Apartment, a virtual reality environment simulated after a SoHo boutique retail store. When "inside" the detailed virtual realm, individuals can discover and learn about new items and furniture in a hip, inviting setting, as well as add products directly to a shopping cart. The Apartment is designed to be an immersive shopping experience and showcase the opportunities within VR for SapientNitro's clients.
"It's important for us to identify emerging categories and invest heavily in them," adds Jean Paradis.
SapientNitro believes that virtual reality is the next "new mass industry" for a couple reasons. First, the industry now has accessible, affordable production systems, like the Nokia OZO and GoPro's VR rig, enabling people to more easily create virtual reality content. Second, the market is about to be flooded with a variety of consumer headsets within the next year, including the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR. And third, publishers, brands, and studios are committing to the space.
"From Disney with the Star Wars trailer to Apple Music, you're seeing some of the biggest companies in the world lining up to make it in virtual reality."
And that's exactly why SapientNitro is hustling to get ahead of the curve. Earlier this year, the agency announced a partnership with Sixsense, a leading VR tech platform. Together, they've worked on a number of environments, including a virtual showroom for women's shoes. At SapientNitro's demo, they showed off another virtual space that allowed users to play with and test consumer drones.
For SapientNitro, the aim is to turn themselves into experts, rather than waiting for the expertise to come to them. (In a similar vein, the agency has transformed their Chicago office into a lab for instrumented intelligence in order to learn how brands can use data that's gathered from sensors). In other words, SapientNitro expects virtual reality "to be huge" and they want to be experts before their clients come to that realization, too.
"A lot of big brands got caught flat-footed with the web and mobile," says Jean Paradis. "Nobody wants that to happen again and that's why they'll be paying attention to virtual reality."
Originally published on ChicagoInno.com
Even in virtual reality, it seems, there will be no escape from advertising.
The Oculus Rift, which is owned by Facebook, won’t be available until early next year, but many of the two billion consumers worldwide who own smartphones can already try out virtual reality on the cheap with Cardboard, a device from Google that folds into a viewer with a slot for a smartphone. As more devices come to market with the aim of making virtual reality more commonplace, advertisers and agencies hope virtual reality will be the next great medium for persuading consumers to buy stuff.
For now, marketers are producing mostly eye candy in their own apps and on YouTube’s #360Video channel. But with virtual reality movies, shows and stories coming soon, the question is what kind of ads, if any, will work on the platform.
Companies including Coca-Cola, Volvo and HBO are struggling to figure that out. So are publishers like Facebook, which introduced 360-degree ads on Thursday, including video ads from AT&T, Nestlé and other brands. The first obstacle is that it is not yet clear what kind of programming besides games will catch on in virtual reality to provide a place for that advertising.
“There’s lots of spectacle, but I can’t name one great story in VR,” said Ben Miller, director of content development at WEVR, a virtual reality entertainment and technology firm in Venice, Calif. And without a clear consensus on what sort of content will succeed in virtual reality, it’s difficult to predict what form the advertising will ultimately take. Success in the new medium will depend on finding the equivalent of the 30-second TV spot or the digital search ad.
Like juiced-up View-Master toy stereoscopes, virtual reality headsets such as the Rift allow viewers to navigate three-dimensional videos and animations. The 360-degree images and sound shift with the user’s head movements, tricking the brain into reacting as if it were all real.
Very real. In one scene of a virtual reality video shot for the outdoors retailer the North Face by the production house Jaunt, mountain climbers leap off a sheer rock cliff in Moab, Utah, before opening parachutes.
“VR is a way to create intense moments and rich, enveloping experiences that can help bolster a brand’s story,” said Adrian Slobin, global innovation lead at the digital agency SapientNitro. It also accommodates old-fashioned branding, like the big North Face logo that hid Jaunt’s 360-degree camera rig in the video.
In April, the luxury denim designer 7 For All Mankind, Elle magazine and Jaunt produced a minute-long impressionistic vignette of a model walking around a French chateau. It was intended more to let the brand bask in the reflected glow of the shiny new technology than actually show off its spring line. “We were, like, ‘Wow, how cool and exciting and new — we’re in,’ ” said Barry Miguel, 7 For All Mankind’s president.
The main event, though, will be advertising that occurs inside other virtual reality content. Samsung, maker of the Gear VR headset, which is due this month, has announced a virtual reality video service for which David Alpert, an executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” plans to create a fictional series.
Newspapers and magazines are also dabbling in the medium; late last year, The Des Moines Register created a virtual view of an Iowa farm. (The New York Times distributed free Cardboard viewers to more than a million subscribers this month to support a mobile virtual reality app and a virtual reality film about children displaced by war.)
One option for advertisers is to go native. TV commercials can certainly be annoying, but as miniature shows they fit naturally into the medium. A 360-degree video that Gatorade released this year, for instance, would be welcome on a virtual reality sports channel. The video puts viewers inside the computer-graphics-enhanced body of the Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper. They hear his thoughts whispered as he takes pitches at the plate before hitting a home run over a fence bearing Gatorade’s logo and tag line.
The most effective ads will probably be interactive, because there is no multitasking while wearing a headset. MediaSpike, which creates in-game product-placement ads, has demonstrated an ad for virtual reality games that lets viewers drive a car through a city and stop to watch a movie.
Another option is to provide utility. Several carmakers have created virtual test-drive apps that would make compelling ads. During a commercial break for, say, “Days of Our Lives,” Tide could provide hands-on laundry tips if the virtual reality setup included touch sensors.
Many advertisers will slap old tropes and formats onto the new medium. No one will be surprised to see 30-second TV spots shot in 3-D or food chopper infomercials on Sunday-morning VR-TV. They might even work. But for how long? Today, the banner ads that have sustained thousands of online publishers have become so annoying that millions of people are installing software to block them entirely.
Thomas A. Furness III, international director of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington and a pioneer in the world of virtual reality, said using this technology was “like writing on the brain with indelible ink.”
Some in the advertising industry suggest there is an opportunity for a fundamentally new approach in what will be the most intimate medium yet. In virtual reality, brands will need to make their own leap into the unknown.
Orriginally Published on The New York Times
Instead of looking at a picture of a dress online, the new age of marketing would have a woman step into a virtual world to see how it looks on her, how it flows — and even meet the designer who made it.
Virtual reality marketing is blossoming, and marketing firm SapientNitro considers a new tool for retailers to add in reaching consumers.
“We think that virtual reality is the next wave of experience that marketers and retailers and anyone who has a brand and wants to connect with consumers have to explore,” said Adrian Slobin, vice president and global innovation lead at SapientNitro.
SapientNitro’s Minneapolis office has two rooms dedicated to trying out the technology.
One room offers a virtual reality experience that takes people to a nice New York City apartment with items people can experience and then buy. “The Apartment by the Line” earned the company a “Best in VR-AR as Advertising and Live Event and Installation” award earlier this month from Digital Hollywood.
“The intensity of the experience is really what is interesting to us,” Slobin said. “People start to think of the experience as the brand … not the slogan as the brand.”
Sixense, a company that partners with SapientNitro, has set up virtual reality situations where people can use an Oculus Rift, grab a drone off a shelf and fly it around. They are creating different scenarios that give people the “try before you buy” experience.
Dave Hopkins, director of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management’s Enterprise Program, said his students have worked on research projects related to the application potential in the entertainment industry.
“What it does at the end of the day is it can enhance the experience and create associations with a particular product or brand that could enhance selling,” Hopkins said.
Slobin still considers this the Wild West days when it comes to using virtual reality as a marketing tool. He said it is not as expensive as people might think, and massive advancements in technology continue to make it more affordable.
Slobin believes some of the forays into the VR space will fail and others will be successful.
“It is not going to destroy the brick-and-mortar store,” Slobin said. “It is not going to eliminate mobile shopping. It is not going to eliminate the Web. It’s going to be one experience that retailers are going to have to stitch into a true omni channel offering for their consumers.”
Originally published on StarTribune.com
By Tim Nudd
Have you left the advertising business for an extended period of time, perhaps to have a family or take care of a loved one? You might not find too many sympathetic hiring managers when you want to come back. They may well consider your prior experience, and your current skill set, to be out of date.
In fact, your job interviews might look something like this:
But now, SapientNitro is launching a "Returnship" pilot program in Toronto and New York, aimed at helping professionals who have left the workforce for a while and are facing barriers to re-entry in a system that places value strictly on work experience.
The Returnship is a 10-week, paid program for creative, technology and advertising professionals looking to refresh their careers and re-enter the workforce. "With this pilot, we aim to learn more about how to support these seasoned candidates on their path back to making an impact at work, whether that be full or part time," the agency says.
SapientNitro debuted news of the program at the 3% Conference in conjunction with 3% and New York agency General Assembly, which gave a UX scholarship to the inaugural pilot candidate.
"A gap in your résumé shouldn't make you career invisible," the agency says. Read more about the program at invisible.careers.
Originaly Published on AdWeek
Publicis Groupe is making a bet on artificial intelligence as a tool to help marketers better navigate a changing digital landscape.
Publicis.Sapient, a division of ad holding company Publicis Groupe focused on digital technologies, has taken a minority stake in AI company Lucid. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
With the Lucid investment, Publicis.Sapient will also launch a new AI practice that will leverage tools that help aggregate data, look for trends within the data and identify causal information behind those trends to help ultimately improve clients’ marketing strategies.
“Through our partnership with Lucid, we can deploy transformational solutions to uniquely enable our clients to analyze and glean insights from data to gain a competitive advantage,” said Alan Herrick, chief executive of Publicis.Sapient in a statement.
The rise of new digital platforms has provided brands with a plethora of data about their campaigns and customers. However, it remains a daunting task for many marketers to draw connections across different data sources and use that information to improve the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. To better serve their clients, big ad holding companies have been ramping up their investments in the areas of data and technology.
“We believe that artificial intelligence is going to be a transformative technology both on the marketing industry as well as the other industries that Publicis.Sapient is focused on,” said Josh Sutton, the global head of Publicis.Sapient’s AI practice.
Lucid’s Cyc platform has been designed over the past 30 years to analyze vast data sets and reason like a human, meaning it can provide answers to why decisions are made and not just identify correlations within the data.
Among the AI practice’s focus areas will be applying causal reasoning AI technologies to marketers’ media buying decisions, Mr. Sutton said. Publicis.Sapient can, for example, determine from various data sets the granular details about what types of people have started to purchase products from a given brand in the past three years. It will then tap Lucid’s Cyc platform for insight into the reasons why those customers starting choosing that brand. As a result, the marketer can then use those insights to tweak the creative in its ads to better address those purchase decision triggers and optimize the placement of those messages, Mr. Sutton said. The partnership with Publicis.Sapient marks the first time Lucid will be developing marketing-specific products.
Publicis.Sapient’s new AI practice also aims to deepen the use of AI technologies to tackle business challenges within the financial services, health care and energy sectors, industries that Lucid has previously worked with. Lucid CEO Michael Stewart said the company initially began working with Publicis.Sapient because of the group’s client relationships in those sectors as well as its marketing services expertise.
Lucid’s past work includes creating a compliance investigation application that helped a global bank avoid potential regulatory penalties and building an application for a global oil company that increased yields on its deep-water platforms.
Originally published on WSJ.com
The Miami Heat wants you to be thinking, talking and breathing basketball — whether you’re watching them play or not.
This week, the Miami Heat launched a new app that the company is hoping will change the way highly engaged fans interact with the team — both when they’re on and off the court.
“When we sat down with SapientNitro and started to chart the source of this product and project, I kept saying, ‘I need this to be an everyday experience,” said Michael McCullough, chief marketing officer at Heat. The idea was to create an app that fans would open every day. “If you’re a fan of the Heat, you’re a fan 365 days a year,” he said.
Two years in the making, the brand took cues from how fans interact with them on social media to create the app. For example, the team noticed that fans were interacting with them during the off-season and when games weren’t playing. Then, they noticed spikes before game day as well. “So what we needed was an always-on app that enhanced the Heat experience,” said McCullough.
The homepage of the app will offer different content depending on the user’s location, time of day and if the Heat is playing or not. Also, it has three modes that offer up information depending on what kind of user you are: someone who loves stats, someone into social media and photos, or someone who likes a bit of both.
The app is turning engagement into actual sales by letting fans buy tickets and merchandise on the app itself, and a mobile wallet that lets people buy food or drinks at concessions stands inside the arena using their phones. “When it comes to fan behavior, you can’t narrow preferences down to one thing; there’s not one type of fan or one thing they want to do,” said Joey Wilson, vp-business lead at SapientNitro. “You have to open a world of possibilities.”
For sports fans, games have turned into experiences — and the teams increasingly need to keep them engaged whether they’re watching them live or following along from home. Unmetric, the social analytics firm, crunched some data for Digiday comparing the Heat with its direct division — Charlotte, Orlando, Atlanta and Washington. It showed that the Heat had the largest fan base and the largest engagement across social media and has the largest “share of likes” among its competitors.
On Twitter, the brand has more than 3 million followers. Content runs the gamut: Vines showing key plays and behind-the-scenes photos from team practice. On Facebook, where it has 16 million followers, the content is similar, with a higher concentration of videos.
Clearly, it already has the rabid fan base, so the trick now is to translate that into ticket sales and get those fans to watch the games. Inside the app, also, fans can find curated social media streams and can interact with the team on Twitter or Facebook.
The big challenge for any sports brand trying to digitize fan experiences is to know when to stop. McCullough said that walking the line between entertainment and distraction is very important. That’s why the app is selective about when it serves up content like video — most games are available to be watched if you have a cable subscription on the app, but it won’t necessarily re-play every single dribble or pass if you’re actually in the arena, so as to keep fans’ eyes on the court.
“You need two hands to clap,” said McCullough. “And you can’t do that if one of those hands has a phone in it all the time.”
Originally published on Digiday
When they were in college, your CMO and CIO did not have the same major. Their first jobs out of school were probably not the same, and no decent hiring manager would consider them for the same position today.
Yet here we are, increasingly asking them to do one another's jobs.
As marketers depend more and more on technology to connect with consumers in an always-on world, and as IT is increasingly responsible for creative executions, the boundaries between CMO and CIO are rapidly blurring. Consider the now-famous prediction from Gartner analysts Laura McLellan and Michael Smith that "by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO." As we approach that date, their forecast seems less and less far-fetched.
This is not a bad thing. Consumers today want seamless brand experiences. They want to move fluidly among a company's advertising, its shopping platform, its social media and its customer service. This means that marketing and IT must learn to work more closely together. Leading organizations are centralizing accountability for investments in marketing technology by establishing a newly created executive position: the chief marketing technology officer.
They are introducing this person either as a fully decorated member of the executive team or, more commonly, as accountable directly to the CMO, with close to the full mandate of a CIO or CTO. Ten years ago, the CMTO position didn't exist, but lately it's become something of a hot topic.
As important as departmental alignment is, the CMTO charter is not to bring technology to marketing. There are plenty of application vendors who are happy to do that on their own, selling to the CMO.
What, then, should the CMTO charter be? This person's most important work focus is to change marketing, customer experience and IT—including what those functions do and how they work together—in service of creating competitive advantage.
Three meta-trends fuel this charter. First, empowered consumers demand seamless brand experiences. Second, connected martech systems, built in thoughtfully organized layers, are replacing stand-alone products as enablers of competitive advantage. Third, organizations must consider how they go about transforming their entire businesses for a digital world, rather than digitizing a piece of them or adding limited digital revenues as an adjunct.
Despite excitement around the CMTO role, the ambiguity as to who these individuals are, the skills they possess and where they sit organizationally has led to considerable confusion. To help us understand the state of martech talent, SapientNitro conducted a first-of-its-kind study of marketing technologists' skills, career paths, attitudes and behaviors.
The results are striking. For example, we discovered six distinct professional archetypes, differing in background and competencies and which, consequently, are not equivalent or interchangeable.
Organizations in search of the best person to steward marketing technology through a period of profound disruption need to define the role more specifically than simply as "marketing technologist."
But regardless of how each organization defines the CMTO, there is, without question, an enormous industry skill gap to fill these roles. In 2013, SapientNitro decided to do something about it and created CMTO University. Each year, up to 20 of our best technologists—talented people who are already in the business of creating beautiful experience platforms and e-commerce systems—spend an entire year learning to become full-fledged marketing technologists.
We've leveraged the best thinkers from across our agency and from every discipline, including business strategy and branding, research and analytics, creative and interaction design, experience and enterprise technology, and data management and data science.
This program takes a three-pronged approach to creating these hybrid individuals. First, CMTOs should be immersed in the business and culture of marketing and advertising, understanding concepts like segmentation and positioning, ROI and NPV, branding, media and mix modeling. Second, they should be exposed to the vast and ever-expanding marketing technology landscape, its categories and evolving vendor landscape, and advanced practices in software and product life-cycle management.
Lastly, they must possess the influence and management skills to foster cross-department collaboration. If they're going to break down silos, they must be able to speak to and influence people coming from different backgrounds.
To move beyond ads, we need people who can see around corners, paint the big picture and allow customers to experience brand stories through integrated story systems. We need to move beyond thinking in terms of channels and platforms.
The truth is, employees rarely come equipped with that breadth of perspective, or the charisma to evangelize it.
It's up to us to grow our talent.
By Nathalie Tadena
For a marketer, virtual reality technology can bring consumers to faraway places, add an immersive element to a product demonstration or bring a new experience to life.
While such virtual reality campaigns can offer visually stunning experiences – Gatorade and Ocean Spray are among the brands that have recently incorporated the technology — for the most part they have limited audience reach.
“It’s so far from scale is the real reality,” said Deutsch North American Chief Digital Officer Winston Binch. “For the optimal experience you need an extra piece of hardware… and that’s a pretty big barrier.”
Virtual reality has gone through multiple hype cycles over the years, but the technology has elevated its profile in the last two years as big technology companies like Samsung, HTC and most notably Facebook make massive investments in the space.
Facebook, which acquired virtual reality company Oculus Rift for $2 billion last year , is working on a stand-alone video app that would support 360-degree videos, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. Though development of the app is still in early stages, the Journal reported, the app could help extend Facebook’s presence in virtual reality beyond the headset and bring the technology to a wider audience.
Facebook’s move could also propel increased adoption of virtual reality for marketers.
“Some [clients] are waiting for a bit more of a broad audience to reach through 360 video or other virtual reality experiences,” said Adrian Slobin, managing director and digital strategist at SapientNitro, a digital agency.
Most of SapientNitro’s clients that have a significant consumer-facing presence are in experimental stages with virtual reality, but none have gone all in on VR quite yet, Mr. Slobin said. Right now, “the play is really to create a wow factor,” when it comes to doing something with virtual reality as opposed to racking up impressions, he added.
Agencies also face production hurdles when it comes to creating virtual reality campaigns. SapientNitro, for example, is investing in the equipment, software and talent to shoot, produce and edit 360-degree video.
“The real barrier is creating an immersive, worthwhile experience that doesn’t get people sick and is produced well,” Mr. Slobin said. “Stitching together video is no easy task.”
A mobile video app for 360-degree, or “spherical” videos, however, would give consumers a taste of the virtual reality experience that a headset would provide. Such videos compile footage from multiple cameras and allow viewers to watch the video from multiple angles. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the social network would support video in its news feed. Google’s YouTube has also enabled advertisers to use 360-degree ads, a format the video giant says will help better engage mobile users.
“What that spherical capability really allows for is a more immersive, emotive experience around a piece of content,” Mr. Binch said. “That’s going to be something that scales faster than deep virtual reality.”
To date, virtual reality has been used as more of a one-off kind of marketing play and few brands have yet to invest heavily in the technology for a big campaign. Few people have access to their own virtual reality technology and Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset, along with other similar technology, won’t be available for consumers until next year.
“There isn’t a lot of [client] demand for virtual reality right now because consumers don’t have the headset yet,” said RPA’s senior vice president of growth and innovation Tim Leake. “Virtual reality is built to be a storytelling and experience medium, that’s what’s really exciting about it.”
Originally Published on The Wall Street Journal
The beauty industry is worth an estimated $20bn and continues to grow at a rate of around 3% per year, mostly through geographical expansion and the knock-on effect of rising gross domestic products (GDP) across the world. However, while some industries are thriving in the digital age, it could be said that beauty merely survives.
Despite the analogue nature of the lotions and potions that enhance our external appearance, technology is becoming the key to unlocking exponential growth for this industry. There are three key ways in which it can be harnessed.
Breaking the tangibility barrier
Currently, digital only really helps to supplement rather than grow sales in the beauty market, since digital purchases are often discount or replenishment purchases, rather than first, or experimental purchases. Despite this trend, it’s possible that there’s a future where technologies like augmented reality (AR) and face-mapping could transform the way consumers discover products.
A good example of this is Maybelline, which trialled an AR nail app that allows users to discover new nail shade combinations at home. Within the next year, we will start to see more sophisticated AR technology that could allow consumers to digitally discover and trial products in new ways that feel tangible enough to drive new purchases.
This technology will impact on self-serve in retail outlets that comprise of walls and walls of products. Shoppers are currently offered little guidance or assistance to select what they need. AR creates the possibility of a seamless and tailored sales process that takes customers on a journey of discovery, which will have huge implications for the beauty sector and its rate of growth.
Technology will also lend a helping hand when targeting first-time buyers. According to make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, 50% of women in the UK don’t use makeup. With so many primers, pots and potions available on the market, category apathy is alarmingly high for this segment. Tapping into those potential customers who aren’t actively using or buying products would lead to significant growth for the beauty industry.
In this vein, YouTube and the 14.9bn beauty-related videos that exist on the web have certainly helped to aid education, but new technologies can further help brands provide a customised service, to help connect with a broader group.
In the future, artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to analyse skin tone, type and texture, as well as eye shape, hair type and our colour and lifestyle preferences, pulled in from Instagram, Facebook and other social channels. Using all of these data points, brands would be able to automate the kind of tailored experience that consumers could previously only get from visiting a top make-up artist or stylist.
Taking this idea further, software that recognises facial features, coupled with technology such as 3D printing, could offer consumers the ultimate made-to-match beauty service. Technology such as the prototyped Mink, a personal 3D cosmetics printer, can take identified skin tones and print the exact pantone onto foundations, blushers and lipsticks.
There is a level of personalisation that the industry needs to be able to replicate at scale, in order to cater to a mass market of potential consumers. However, what if we could do this at a genetic level, where we could select new products based on what fits with our physiology at a DNA level?
From elaborate hairstyles designed to display wealth to make-up that highlights our best features, throughout the centuries, people have worked to shape their outward appearance to fit with their personality and identity. In today’s world, digital is forcing a new shaping of our identities since we spend as much time curating our online presence and appearance as we do our physical selves.
Since the psychology of beauty is rooted in our identities, in the future it’s conceivable that brands will take the opportunity to own an entirely new space by taking the concept of the “curated self” and enabling people to bring this new reality into the physical world.
It’s a long way off, but through bio-hacking – the process of bringing together technology and biological processes to optimise how our bodies work – we could effectively alter our physical selves using digital tools.
The technology to do this is still years away as we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of what bio-hacking can achieve, and the ethics are still to be debated. However, the concept certainly opens up new opportunities for beauty brands to look beyond catering for women who want to look good and enabling everyone to own their identity on a much deeper level.
Cosmetics brands could unlock major growth by using digital in new ways that enable more personal self-expression. At the intersection of beauty and tech lies the opportunity to give the category a complete makeover.
Adriana Coppola is a strategist at SapientNitro
Originally published on The Guardian
The Gryphon is a mythological creature that has the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. It has been depicted through the ages in art and classic literature. The Gryphon’s hybrid strengths and capabilities give it a powerful advantage over creatures existing in our ecosystem today. You can find out more at any good independent bookstore or, more likely, through Amazon.
As a business metaphor, Amazon is a Gryphon. So, too, are Uber, Netflix and Airbnb – these more easily brought to mind as digitally oriented start-ups that have entered and disrupted their chosen categories at will. Perhaps because it is older, larger or more diversified, Amazon is often underestimated as an omnipresent, apex predator.
We like to deal in specifics. The spotlight of media scrutiny is put back on Amazon when it accelerates the roll out of Amazon Fresh, because we can see the implications for the grocery retail sector. It snaps up the former Top Gear presenters for a new show for Amazon Instant Video, which we interpret as a signal for its intent in entertainment. Drones, drive-thru store trials? We see impending chaos in retail distribution.
If you’re at ground level, peaceably grazing on the verdant abundance of one of these industry plains, the shadow of a Gryphon passing overhead will trigger the fight or flight reflex – although in truth you’re a little late to do either. If you’re looking up for the first time and seeing Amazon, your existential game is up.
There are contradictions and controversies that come with such laser-focus on purpose, as was seen in the recent New York Times article on Amazon’s employer practices. They surfaced only a few weeks after Amazon shares exploded 15 per cent in after-hours trading following its last earnings release to as high as $567 per share after the company beat expectations on the top and bottom lines. Based on the after-hours spike, Amazon's market cap is now worth about $264bn. Wal-Mart is worth $233.5bn, making it the world’s largest retailer by market cap.
Amazon is a business with a disruptive culture that challenges convention and brings with it both trials and extraordinary triumphs. It displays almost all of the characteristics that define a Gryphon organisation: from ongoing commitment to change and a digital core to visionary leadership, speed and agility, and customer centricity. One of the fascinations of Amazon-watching is not what it will do next, but why. Its actions are rarely as unpredictable as observers make out; its behaviours and characteristics can, in fact, be modeled and are replicable.
To be a Gryphon is not about age or size, but about state of mind. Digital startups have it, but so too does Apple and Amazon. The next time you see Amazon make a play, the question shouldn’t be ‘how about that?’ but ‘how do we do that’?
Nigel Vaz is global chief strategy officer and European CEO at SapientNitro. ‘Be the Gryphon: Transform Rather Than Be Disrupted’ is part of the SXSW PanelPicker vote.
Originally published on The Drum
By Adrian Slobin
For some customers, the story behind a product can be almost as important as the product itself. Such was the case for one recent shopper at The Apartment by The Line, a luxury boutique specializing in home décor, clothing and jewelry, who decided to buy a neoclassical black opaline glass lamp after learning it was a one-of-a-kind French antique.
The transaction would have been largely unremarkable except for one detail: This customer wasn't standing in SoHo browsing The Line's curated collection with a sales associate by her side. She was halfway around the world, interacting with a cutting-edge virtual display that used 360-degree video technology and a Samsung Gear VR headset to tour the showroom and learn more about the items she liked.
Welcome to the future of retail, where brands are in the early stages of using virtual reality to create fully immersive, contextual experiences that reach beyond existing physical and digital channels to create a very new, and very real, type of shopping experience: v-commerce.
By Neil Dawson
Serendipity is variously defined as ‘the occurrence or development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way’ and ‘the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident’. It is the art, or maybe the science, of delivering pleasant surprises. It is a powerful way of making people happy, making life richer, inspiring stories and advocacy, and creating new behaviours and preferences. For brands, this makes it a powerful engine for driving new users and loyalty.
We all implicitly recognise this, and it has always informed the way brands behave, especially in retail where autopilot shopper behaviour is an ongoing challenge for supermarkets – as evidenced by the gorilla suit experiment in Sainsbury’s ‘Try Something New Today’ IPA Effectiveness paper. The challenge is that brand marketing is becoming increasingly (but unconsciously) biased against serendipity.
This is the unintended consequence of the beneficial impact of the digital world where filtering for relevance has become ever more necessary to avoid our ‘lazy brains’ becoming overburdened by an abundance of choice. The evolution of the digital space in response to this has led to our experiences being increasingly pre-processed and personalised, whether via search or programmatic or customer experience management. Technology reduces the perceived wastage of traditional mass marketing. So we mostly get what we want (‘status quo relevance’) with minimum effort, but don’t know or get what we’re missing outside our own invisible personal bubble of algorithmic filters (‘new / potential relevance’). Serendipity is diminished.
This is driven by a strong short-term commercial logic and may be a very efficient way of ‘fishing the pool empty’. But ultimately growth depends on extending reach and expanding the pool. And brands also risk foregoing the benefits of serendipity to enrich people’s lives and reap the rewards.
The majority of a brand’s marketing should be ‘status quo relevance’ focused, but we need to understand and start developing ways of addressing the anti-serendipity bias that comes with it.
This is an emergent problem and it’s mainly pure-play online service brands that are exploring the power of serendipity. One example is Spotify, which introduced a new approach to music discovery by acquiring Echo Nest, a music intelligence platform. Echo Nest combines multiple filters to analyse music on both an audio level and a cultural level. The former deepens our music discovery by giving us more of the same, while the latter broadens our music discovery.
Hitlist uses Chrome extensions to offer serendipity in travel. Whenever you open the browser its Wandertab shows you a stunning picture from an amazing place as well as how much it costs to go there. There’s even a new company, Surprise Industries, ‘a community of Surprisologists’ passionate about offering surprises as a service to people. Their mantra is "we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but most alive when they’re not".
Serendipity in its purest form may not be reproducible in the digital space. As soon as people start to ‘choose’ serendipity (e.g. shuffle music playlists), their experiences can no longer be seen, strictly speaking, as truly serendipitous. Nevertheless, it’s worth brands thinking beyond the ‘immediate relevance’ bubble to experiment with states of ‘controlled serendipity’.
There are several ways of doing this. One solution is to filter only a certain percentage of our digital experience based on relevance (e.g. 80%), while the balance (e.g.20%) remains unfiltered and diverse.
Another example is algorithmic. Instead of only filtering according to relevance, different criteria – such as whether something is ‘challenging’, ‘important’, or represents ‘other points of view’ – could be applied. These criteria can vary according to platform types and their purposes.
Regardless of strategy, controlled serendipity can be valuable in ensuring that users are exposed to as many distinct experiences as possible, and commercially relevant in an overcrowded marketplace, where brands can only grow by attracting new users via unique, memorable and unexpected user experiences.
It’s time for every brand to consider the anti-serendipity bias within their core activities, to ask ‘what’s our Serendipity Plan?’ And to then allocate an element of budget – say 10 or 20% – to support activities that make the algorithmic bubble permeable and promote the discovery and surprise that drives growth.
Originally published on Marketing Magazine
By Robert Hof
Facebook’s second-quarter results today didn’t thrill investors, who knocked shares down more than 3% in after-hours trading. They don’t like to hear about an 82% jump in expenses to get revenue growth of half that much–even less so when Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of the social network, says that spending won’t slow down much anytime soon.
But advertisers were a different story–in particular, big brand advertisers like Procter & Gamble PG -3.99% and Under Armour UA +0.51% that are looking to reach people via the mobile devices they carry with them all the time. Mobile ad revenues shot up 74% from a year ago, considerably faster than ads overall, which rose 55% after taking out currency impacts, and it’s now 76% of ad revenue.
In particular, Facebook is starting to become a must-buy for big brands that still spend the most on television, because it has the reach and the impact they want. Now, according to ad agency executives, they think Facebook is finally poised to capture more TV ad dollars that Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has spent years pursuing.
“We see Facebook at a core pivot point,” says David Hewitt, VP and mobile lead at the digital agency SapientNitro. “It’s now a safe bet to put a lot of money into.”
In the last six to eight months, he says, brands have started to understand the reach Facebook has among smartphone users–some 844 million people each day. “It’s hard to get reach on mobile,” he says, but now “Facebook checks that box” in a way that few others online besides Google can.
Another reason is that Facebook can run those ads in a lot of places besides just Facebook. Now that the company is operating a number of other distinct apps, such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and its own Messenger app, advertisers have a wider choice of places to reach a broader range of audiences in unique ways. It also can run Facebook ads on other sites that are part of its Audience Network.
Not least, advertisers like what Facebook is doing with video. In video ads that play automatically in people’s central news feeds, they have a format they know people watch (and that commands much higher prices for Facebook). “There’s an amazing amount of upside to video,” says Hewitt, enough to overcome what he calls “muscle-memory media buying” by big brands. Already, a few brands are crafting campaigns. At the Cannes Lions festival last month, Sandberg noted, some of the winners included Under Armour’s “I will what I want” created with the agency Droga5 and Procter and Gamble’s “Like a Girl” created with Leo Burnett.
What’s more, Facebook is pitching advertisers on the ability to buy ads using the same measures they use for TV ads, according to a recent report. Indeed, the ability to measure the impact of its ads on product sales is another big reason Facebook has attracted advertising’s biggest spenders. One example Sandberg cited: Acura used Facebook video to launch the TLX, then showed “retargeting” ads when people who saw the video went elsewhere online. Using a Facebook service called Conversion Lift, she said, Acura could prove the ads drove car sales.
For now, image advertising like on television is still likely a small part of spending on Facebook. Let’s not forget that a large chunk of Facebook’s mobile ad revenues still come from app install ads, which prompt people to download an app–more of a classic direct-response ad than the image ads brands favor on television and other media. But even app install ads are attracting big brands such as HBO too, according to Sandberg.
Facebook isn’t alone in its pursuit of brand advertisers. “Google, for example, is rapidly building out audience targeting options, and has a ‘little’ video network of its own—YouTube—that is massively successful for advertisers and very effective on mobile,” says Craig Palli, chief strategy officer at the mobile marketing technology firm Fiksu.
So far, though, Facebook appears to be more than holding its own.
Originally published on Forbes
by Adriana Coppola
Newly appointed CMO Hugh Pile recently announced that L’Oreal’s core focus is "data and ecommerce" with an aim to increase ecommerce from 10% to 20% of total revenue, whilst testing out a new instant buy platform. Ecommerce has always been problematic for beauty brands. Unlike other consumer packaged goods, consumers prefer to physically go in store to purchase beauty products because they’re so personal: each shade or texture must be trialed because of how they differ person to person. So consumers have only ever really used ecommerce as a discount channel for repurchases, rather than a more lucrative discovery channel.
This however, may be changing very soon, but before it can, brands need to break the tangibility barrier. There are three ways technology can do this, trial, discovery and mass customization.
Facemapping is a technology system that can chart the many different contours of the face and use that data in conjunction with designs or animations to accurately map them onto the face for a hyper-real illusion. Beauty brands like Max Factor have wanted to use this for years, but the technology is only just starting to reach maturity.
Last year, L’Oreal launched the revolutionary beauty tool, Makeup Genius that transforms smartphones into an interactive mirror. It’s an augmented reality product catalogue that lets people try on different products in real time, eradicating the need for physical interaction with beauty products.
Facemapping and projection mapping technology are finally reaching maturity, becoming more accessible to brands, and the better it gets; the more consumers will look to use this technology as an everyday alternative. It could completely alter the current experience for consumers. Imagine seeing yourself in the same make-up worn by Jenifer Lopez in the L’Oreal ad. It would make advertisements and promotion a much more personal experience.
Currently digital supplements, rather than grows the market. The purchases we make via digital are very considered, allowing for very little incremental growth. However, within the next year or so, we’ll see digital become a medium where we can discover products we’d not previously considered.
Augmented reality nails projects designs and colors onto your nails, as a means of tempting customers to buy more. Maybelline has already begun trialing this in the form of an app, and within the next year we’ll start to see more sophisticated AR from major nail retail chains.
For the beauty industry this technology could signify the end of self-service in retail – where shoppers walk into a store and are faced with walls and walls of products but little guidance or assistance. Sophisticated AR has opened up the possibility to create service and discovery around products both on and offline, which will have huge implications for the industry.
Predictive technology will take the idea of service and discovery even further. It will be able to analyze our skin tone, type and texture, eye shape, hair type, and our preferences pulled in from Instagram and Facebook. Using these data points we’ll be able to automate an experience which consumers would have only previously received from a top makeup artist or stylist, democratizing beauty and empowering consumers.
#3 MASS CUSTOMIZATION
There is a growing demand for cosmetics more bespoke to consumers’ needs. This is currently met with products such as the new Cover FX Custom Cover Drops, which provide consumers with pure pigment to mix with other products to create their own bespoke base. Eyeko has also produced a ‘bespoke mascara’ which offers 23 different wand types. This is certainly something that technology will address in the future.
Last year Grace Choi took TechCrunch Disrupt by storm with the Mink printer, founded on the insight that consumers need to turn to high-end brands to get the best color selection. The printer lets users choose any color on the web or reality and, using simple pre-existing software, print that color into a blush, eye shadow, lip gloss or any other type of makeup. Choi is currently working on her prototype which could take up to five years to perfect.
Tech specialists are finalizing plans to let you design, produce and wear your own bespoke makeup formulations using 3D printing. We will be the creative directors of our own make-up brands. Although this technology is only a glimpse into what the future of the beauty industry holds, brands may choose to offer consumers special cosmetic inks and base products for them to mix themselves as opposed to presenting the consumer with a selection of finished products.
Tangibility is the biggest barrier to the beauty industry’s success at the moment, and is currently the bottleneck to digital transformation. Technology presents beauty brands with the opportunity to lead the category: not only allowing them to grow their e-commerce sales, but to completely revolutionize the brand experience and the future of the beauty industry with digital.
Originally published on MarketingMagazine.co.uk
Ash Farr, CEO, McCann Australia
Disruptive advertising is not dead, but your brand will die without it. That’s because disruptive ideas are the new norm in advertising. In today’s environment of media fragmentation and multi-screening – where you can’t just buy eyeballs anymore – you have to disrupt or you’ll be ignored.
As consumers, we are now wired to look for disruptions – it’s what excites us and it’s what engages us. Constant brand launches, product iterations and technological advances have conditioned us to take incremental innovation as a given. No one ever said, “I love that it is now 10% better.” In the same vein, Triple Choc Tim Tams are not a disruption. True disruption creates excitement. The disruptive innovation that has transformed our lives is the ultimate proof point. Think Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, Uber, Dyson, Sonos, Tinder, YouTube. It’s interesting to note that most of these successful companies were not the first to market – they became the dominant players through disruption. Did I forget to mention Google?
As far as disruptive advertising goes, Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is a great example. It was disruptive because it was highly engaging and participatory, and we’d never seen anything like it when it launched. However, attempts to repeat this and make ‘Share a Coke’ a platform were less successful because repetition is not disruptive.
Our own ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ was disruptive, the original ‘Compare the Meerkat’ campaign in the UK was disruptive, as was the work for the Shreddies breakfast cereal brand in Canada, which took the same squares of wholegrain wheat and repackaged them as diamond-shaped. Pure genius.
Jaguar’s recent high-wire stunt in London, in which a stuntman drove the latest Jaguar XF on two 34-millimetre diameter wires suspended high above the River Thames, is also disruptive advertising at its best.
Disruptive doesn’t need to have tangible value, but it does need to shift attitudes or behaviour and ultimately make the brand more relevant.
The message? Be disruptive or face a slow death.
Ben Sharp, managing director Australia and New Zealand, AdRoll
The current blend of Mad Men and Math Men in advertising is allowing disruption to flourish, more now than ever.
Consumers expect brands to be highly engaging and provide them with personalised content directly. The marketers’ challenge is to keep content disruptive, but not interruptive. Encouraging your audience to participate with your message, and not actively avoid it, is not an exact science, but with a combination of knowing your customer (or potential customer), understanding timings and excellent creative, it is achievable.
In this era of unprecedented technology development, marketers need to understand what technology to use in order to keep a competitive edge. Consumers are no longer spending all their time on a dedicated device. Reaching these customers across devices with greater levels of efficiency and scale will only become more important, especially as native advertising continues to evolve.
We’re constantly seeing new business models emerge to disrupt the ad space, through blending tech with highly targeted messages and creative to the right person, at the right time in the right context. Offline media channels such as TV, radio and outdoor will start to have more of an influence and heavily disrupt their markets. We’re already seeing some grumblings here, with some agency trading desks starting to investigate these options.
The traditional offline media owners will most likely resist this for as long as possible – we initially saw a huge reduction in CPMs (cost-per-milles) online with the development of new technology and greater levels of transparency. An open auction format such as RTB (real-time bidding) would significantly impact offline business models. This is absolute disruption – potentially not all that positive initially.
Marcos Kurowski, vice president and managing director, SapientNitro Australia
Disruption has never been more important and it’s being fuelled by technology. Consumers – people like you and me – are becoming desensitised to the relentless barrage of ‘advertising’ we are constantly exposed to. Attention spans are shorter, and consumers when given the choice will often skip ads altogether. Some brands have tried to combat this through one-off disruptive ads, viral videos or even crazier stunts.
But those brands that have really nailed marketing themselves in the digital age have done so because they’ve recognised three things: traditional advertising is dying, disruption is a long-term strategy and it’s being fuelled by technology. Technology is key here; brands that have embraced technology are leading their categories in the most innovative ways. For example, Nike disrupted the entire sporting category through the creation of the Nike Fuel Band – moving from a brand selling sportswear and shoes to a brand that is now symbiotically tied to tracking people’s fitness and lifestyle. It’s resulted in more sales for Nike and created a brand at the forefront of health and fitness.
Apple has similarly always recognised the importance of technology in disrupting the marketplace, moving from selling well-designed computers to the creation of iTunes, which has evolved into an entire ecosystem, allowing millions globally to buy, sort, share and listen to entertainment across multiple devices.
It’s not just ‘sexy’ brands that are embracing technology either. The latest disruption is happening to the car insurance industry. Companies are now installing devices in customers’ vehicles that monitor driving behaviour. Drive well and your premiums are lower; drive badly and you pay more. Again, more policies are sold, because technology is allowing for a much more personalised insurance rate.
My advice for brands: embrace disruption through technology because that’s when you’ll find things get interesting.
Originally published on Marketingmag.com
By Evelina Lye, Head of Marketing at SapientNitro Asia Pacific.
Wherever you are in the world, imagine for a moment.
You’re being transported to the streets of New York City, it’s summer. It’s hot. It’s busy. You gaze at a high-end boutique apartment and moments later you’re inside browsing the gorgeous interiors on offer. In the living room a chaise lounge draped with a sheepskin throw sits by the window adorned in sunlight; walk around further in the cool and airy studio space and you spot a series of crystal chandeliers hanging above a solid wood dining table all neatly set for dinner; in the bedroom a lady models a pair of stylish designer trousers perfect for the summer heat. On closer inspection a female voice and typeface screen informs you where the trousers are made, whom by, material and washing instructions. You love it all. You tap. You purchase. They’re yours. Nice work.
No longer confined to the imagination, SapientNitro has made this virtual reality shopping experience very real. Partnering with The Line luxury boutique and utilising a Samsung Gear VR headset shoppers are able to enter, browse and shop at the brand’s The Apartment, Manhattan boutique from anywhere in the world. I just happened to be at the Cannes Lions Festival in a penthouse in the South of France.
Too often we buy an item online only to be disappointed by its shape, colour, size. VR can change all that. By wearing a headset you can see items in real life-size proportions, in the context of yourself, space and room around you. The promise is ultra seductive; it turns the flat ecommerce experience into a panoramic masterpiece and changes a customer’s entire online shopping experience by putting them at the heart of it. “Yes please,” retailers are crying. Who are understandably excited about showcasing their goods through the technology and experimenting with a very unique brand engagement.
So, will we be shopping solely through VR in the future? No, not for a while at least. The point of VR is not to replace the walk-in store (we’re a while away from that), think of it instead as a spectacular side dish to accompany a great main. VR shopping adds an extra dimension to retailers’ existing channels; physical brick and mortar stores and the web.
The vision for VR is ambitious, research and aggressive prototyping is already underway to improve the experience, evolve and scale. Google Cardboard has, attempted this by encouraging interest and development in VR and VR applications through simulating the experience in a low-cost cardboard cut out and mobile phone app. How virtual shopping might evolve to include simulation touch, improve user experience, and how valuable it could be to the retail industry still remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain however, the experience of wondering around in my own private New York boutique, with an impressively intuitive stylist and a pair of chic designer trousers in my VR shopping basket has got me reaching for my credit card.
Originally published on Digital Market Asia
By JACK MARSHALL and SUZANNE VRANICA
CANNES, France—In an apartment overlooking the Mediterranean, Jerri DeVardstrapped on a high-tech Samsung Electronics Co. headset Wednesday morning. The chief marketing officer of burglar-alarm company ADT Corp., wasn’t playing a game but rather taking a virtual tour of a trendy store in New York’s SoHo.
The exercise on the sidelines of the Cannes Lions advertising festival left Ms. DeVard thinking of ways to incorporate virtual-reality technology to make her own brand’s advertising more “emotional” and “immersive.” Perhaps, for example, prospective customers could walk through a virtual house where ADT could demonstrate home-security issues.
“This kind of technology allows you to bring the consumer into the experience,” said Ms. DeVard. “When I can see it and feel it, it helps you sell.”
Ms. DeVard was among the throng of marketers who descended on the shores of the French Riviera for the industry confab, now in its 62nd year. Their mission: To sip rosé, party on yachts and—hopefully—learn something to help cope with the technological changes upending the $531 billion global advertising business.
The ever-growing list of digital advertising platforms promises to give brands more options and control over their messages, and a way to reach elusive young audiences. But the multiplying possibilities also can be overwhelming.
At Cannes, marketers learned of new smartphone-specific ad formats for Facebook; were counseled on the power of “vertical video” ads on phones; watched demos of a digital-image projection system from Microsoft (think Princess Leia hologram from “Star Wars”); and digital agency SapientNitro demonstrated Samsung’s virtual-reality technologies.
Agencies whose main skill has long been crafting 30- or 60-second TV commercials are now expected to churn out six-second Vine videos for Twitter, to formulate silent ads for Facebook’s auto-play videos, and to create branded virtual-reality experiences.
“Digital has changed our industry completely,” said Maurice Lévy, chief executive of advertising giant Publicis Groupe. “If you don’t change you are out of the picture.”
Meanwhile, new-media companies like Vice Media and BuzzFeed are encroaching, showing how they can serve at least some of the functions of agencies, such as creating branded content.
“I like the fact that competitors are pushing us,” said Mr. Lévy.
Teaming up with digital gurus is one option. Ad giant WPP PLC, for example, is one of the partners in Truffle Pig, a joint venture Snapchat Inc. announced on Tuesday. The venture, which also includes the Daily Mail, will create for clients content such as vertical video, which is meant to be shared on social media.
The new venture potentially could compete with WPP ad agencies, which are also trying to position themselves as creators of sponsored content for brands, but WPP CEO Martin Sorrell said the change should be embraced. “At some point in time, you do cannibalize what you have,” he said. “I believe in eating your own children.”
Vice announced a tie-up with digital scrapbooking site Pinterest Inc. aimed at creating branded video content for Bank of America Corp. Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp said his company has started a division called Pinsight Labs, through which a team of strategists analyze data from its platform to find insights for brands and other partners to help inform their marketing efforts.
“What’s happening now is partnerships you’ve never seen before” said Vice Chief Executive Shane Smith during a panel session on Thursday. “You have new alliances forming.”
Marketers are putting a premium on the ability to unearth data about consumers to improve ad-targeting. Hundreds of attendees stood in a long line for the seminar “The New Engine of Creativity: Data Science,” where executives from Coca-Cola Co. and Louis Vuitton described how they are using location data to help them create ads that are more relevant. For example, Coke could send an ad to a mobile device that promotes a nearby restaurant selling Coke.
Marketers say ad agencies aren’t the only ones who have to adapt—the media companies and publishers that sell ads do, too. And all sides need to have a firm grasp on the technologies now at their disposal. “Usually it is when you take your agency and bring them together with the best publishers and the most sophisticated ad tech that you get what you really need for your brand,” said Shiv Singh, global head of digital and marketing transformation at Visa.
The technological takeover of Cannes—between ad technology firms, data nerds and the would-be moguls of the new media world—isn’t sitting well with everyone. Some industry veterans are nostalgic for the days when creativity of ads towered over the plumbing systems of digital media.
Jeff Goodby, co-chairman and partner of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, bemoans the fact that the ad business is no longer about doing things that are “big and famous” but instead dominated by “content delivery systems,” and “astonishingly targeted things that chase us all down like wild dogs.” According to Mr. Goodby, Cannes is now more like a “industrial roofing convention” than a festival of advertising creativity.
Some executives said creativity hasn’t lost its edge, despite the appearances. “We can talk about digital, we can talk about new media, we can talk about fragmented media,” saidMichael Roth, who heads ad holding company Interpublic Group of Cos. “But in the end, creativity makes it all come together and really is the secret sauce to what we do.”
—Mike Shields contributed to this article.
Read on WSJ.com
Tinder is gaining popularity among Millennials, as well as brands that want to target the group of 18-to-34-year-olds. Its success can be ascribed to one thing: the swipe.
A social network built for dating, Tinder has been used by Millennials "obsessively" to find potential matches, according to Sean Rad, the company's founder and president. In order to monetize its growing user base, the app introduced its first ad last year, which was a promotional video for Bud Light.
Meanwhile, Tinder tapped into native advertising in the form of promoted profile. On average, this type of campaign can achieve a more than 20 percent swipe-right rate, Rad said at Cannes.
The effectiveness of Tinder's advertising products lies in the swipe that gives users full control over their experience. Since users can make a decision by simply swiping left or right, brands are less likely to be perceived as annoying or interruptive when they serve ads on the platform.
"The beauty of Tinder is that users can control their experience," Rad said. "For users who haven't opted in to hear a brand, the experience is fine, because they can simply swipe [an ad] off. There's no hostility towards that brand."
The swipe is far more complicated than it looks. "People think the swipe is just a simple directional motion. But there's actually so much math and science going behind the physics of the swipe. And we are constantly improving it and tweaking it," Rad said.
How can brands leverage Tinder to target Millennials? What are the thoughts and decisions behind the swipe? Watch the video interview with Rad to hear what he had to say.
Video Credit: SapientNitro
Additional Reporting: Yuyu Chen
Originally published on ClickZ
The Community's campaign for the City of Buenos Aires Public Bike System has won the Grand Prix for Press at Cannes.
Many big cities now boast public bicycle systems, including Buenos Aires. Unlike most major metropolises, however, the Argentine capital's bike program ran from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm -- until recently. This year, the service became 24/7, so to promote the news to city dwellers, The Community (formerly known as La Comunidad) debuted this fun, illustrated print and OOH campaign, "Never Stop Riding." To demonstrate the non-stop nature of the program, it personifies the wheels of a bike as familiar "partners" in a chase: a baby and a breast, a dog and its tail and a squirrel and a chestnut. The campaign was created out of La Comunidad's U.S. office.
Originally published on Creativity-Online
CANNES, France—Apple and TBWA\Media Art Lab won their second Cannes Grand Prix in three years here tonight, topping the Outdoor Lions category with their iPhone 6 billboards featuring photos taken by actual iPhone users.
Apple found photos it liked from 162 users from around the world and created outdoor boards of their work. In all, the campaign featured more than 10,000 installations in 73 cities in 25 countries. Apple called it "the largest mobile photography gallery in history."
Check out the case study below for more.
Grey New York and The Community won gold and silver for the U.S. for campaigns that have already been honored in other categories. Grey won for its States United to Prevent Gun Violence client, while The Community won for its Buenos Aires bike ads—which took home the Press Grand Prix on Monday.
Agency and client also won a Grand Prix in Press in 2013 for their ads on the backs of magazines showing their covers at iPad size.
—Other U.S. Outdoor Winners
• Grey New York for States United to Prevent Gun Violence (gold, silver)
• The Community Miami for the Buenos Aires Public Bike System (gold, silver)
• Red Fuse Communications New York and Y&R New York for Colgate (silver, two bronzes)
• R/GA New York for the Ad Council's "Love Has No Labels" (silver)
• Alma DDB Miami for Green Works (bronze)
• BBDO New York for Snickers (bronze)
• David Miami for Burger King (bronze)
• Conill Saatchi & Saatchi Miami for Toyota (bronze)
• AKQA San Francisco for Jordan Brand (bronze)
Published on AdWeek
CANNES, France—Sean Rad, co-founder of Tinder, is the face of modern dating. His app is responsible for billions of potential love matches, all based on a rather simple concept: swiping right.
The term has gone mainstream—to "swipe right" means you have explicitly endorsed someone or something. So you can see how brands would want to get in on the swiping action in the context of millennial dating.
Rad is at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to help the company make its first big push into the ad world, an environment Tinder is only just becoming acquainted with.
But what a courtship it's been so far.
"We have what we call Promoted Profiles, so brands can create profiles in Tinder, and we promote them," Rad said, during an interview after his first public talk in Cannes on Sunday. "Users can match with these brands when they swipe right, and what we've seen sort of consistently when we've done this is an over 20 percent swipe right rate, which is amazing engagement."
So when early advertisers like Bud Light or the movie Spy post profiles, more than 1 in 5 Tinder users swipe right to match with them and open the way for the ability to share more content with consumers.
Rad said Tinder ads work best when they're sharing exclusive content and offers. There are also video ads, which Bud Light and Orbitz have bought, and the completion rate on them is "leaps above" rival mobile video ad offerings, Rad said.
Tinder said it was not ready to reveal more meaningful numbers behind the success of video ads. The company, owned by digital publishing giant IAC, also hasn't ever stated how many active users there are on the app, only that there are billions of matches, and of course some users can be responsible for hundreds of those.
Rad did say there is wide global audience, and that the average user spends 11 minutes a day swiping and texting through Tinder.
The company has ambitions that are perhaps more broad than dating. At its core, it's a people discovery app that could theoretically introduce more than potential lovers.
Rad said Tinder is in the process of patenting the swipe right, too. "We're filing to get a patent on basically swiping in any direction to perform an action, which covers swiping right or left, up or down, any direction."
Asked whether Tinder would introduce "swipe up," and what for, Rad avoided answering, but it's clear he has ideas in mind for more swiping and more advertising. While there's no swipe-up feature today, Rad said, "there might be a reason" for one in the future.
The Tinder co-founder, also former CEO, was at Cannes holding talks with digital marketing companies like SapientNitro.
"What we can learn from Sean and Tinder is how to connect with an audience," said Sapient CMO Bill Kanarick. The company is hosting events at a penthouse overlooking the Croisette in Cannes, a place to invite influential tech leaders like Rad.
"We are learning about the rate at which people are able to consume content versus in the past," Kanarick said, identifying one key characteristic of today's consumer. "That's an interesting consideration for an advertiser."
There's an immediacy and speed about Tinder, where users have split seconds to engage with a potential date before they get swiped to the left. The same action is forcing brands to consider how to attract consumers there.
"The beauty of Tinder is that it's an environment where the user is in control," Rad said. "If you don't want to see something, you can easily swipe left."
Originally published on AdWeek
By Tim Nudd
CANNES, France—U.S. advertising is off to a flying start at this year's Cannes Lions, with The Community, Google and Grey New York each winning a Grand Prix in separate contests here tonight, as prizes were awarded in the festival's first four categories.
• Press Grand Prix
The Community (formerly La Comunidad), the Miami agency owned by SapientNitro, rode off with the Press Grand Prix for its fantastically illustrated ads promoting biking in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition to the Grand Prix, the campaign also won two gold Lions.
The surreal, playful ads brought to life the idea of a never-ending chase. The four executions honored tonight showed moths pursuing a light, a dog chasing its tail, a baby going for a breast and a squirrel seeking an acorn. The ads, with a hand-drawn typeface, appeared in magazines and on posters, subway walls and street billboards.
The client was the Buenos Aires Public Bike System, which started in 2010 with just three bicycle stations and an average of 100 trips per day but has grown to more than 200 stations and 11 million trips per year.
• Mobile Grand Prix
Google topped the Mobile category for Google Cardboard, the simple virtual reality platform it developed featuring a fold-out cardboard mount for a mobile phone.
The pleasantly low-tech do-it-yourself VR starter kit can be bought online starting at just $15, a staggeringly low entry point compared to professional headsets like Oculus, truly. democratizing the space.
• Direct Grand Prix
Grey New York earned the top prize in the Direct Lions for its Volvo campaign around the Super Bowl titled "The Greatest Interception Ever."
Instead of running a Super Bowl ad, Grey did a social campaign for the automaker—urging viewers to tweet #VolvoContest when any car commercial did air during the game and nominate someone to win a new Volvo XC60.
• Other U.S. Press Winners
Young & Rubicam New York for Land Rover (two silvers, bronze)
Conill Saatchi & Saatchi for Crest (bronze)
FCB Chicago for Copic (bronze)
BBDO New York for Sneaker Freaker magazine (bronze)
The Community for Buenos Aires blood donation (bronze)
• Other U.S. Mobile Winners
R/GA New York for Equinox (gold, silver, bronze)
R/GA New York for Hammerhead (gold, silver, bronze)
FCB Chicago for "The Unforgotten"/Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (gold, silver)
Grow in Norfolk, Va., for EA Sports Madden Giferator (gold, silver)
R/GA New York for LISNR (gold)
The ALS Association for "The Ice Bucket Challenge" (gold)
R/GA New York for Owlet Baby Care (silver, bronze)
Eric Mower + Associates in Charlotte, N.C., for Domtar's "Project Learning Curve" (silver)
Wieden + Kennedy New York for Gap's #SpringIsWeird (silver)
R/GA New York for Logitech Harmony App (two bronzes)
BBDO New York for Lowe's #TapThruHowTo Vines (bronze)
BBDO New York for Foot Locker's "Horse With Harden" (bronze)
Elastic in Santa Monica, Calif., for HBO Game of Thrones "The Sight" (bronze)
BBDO New York for the American Red Cross and Bit.ly's "Hope.ly" (bronze)
• Other U.S. Direct Winners
FCB Chicago for Kmart and Joe Boxer's "Joe Boxer Inactivity Tracker" (gold)
The ALS Association for "The Ice Bucket Challenge" (gold)
Grey New York for Volvo's "Interception" (gold)
R/GA New York for The Ad Council's "Love Has No Labels" (gold, two silvers)
David in Miami for the Proud Whopper (two silvers, bronze)
Grey New York for States to Prevent Gun Violence's "The Gun Shop" (silver)
The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., for Geico's "Unskippable" (two bronzes)
BBDO New York for Foot Locker's "Horse With Harden" (bronze)
Leo Burnett Chicago for Allstate's "Social Savvy Burglar" (bronze)
Originally published on AdWeek
David "Big Papi" Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski may play different sports, but they have teamed up for Dunkin' Donuts.
The two athletes lend their vocal talents to a collection of songs themed around summer and Dunkin' Donuts' iced coffee.
Videos for the songs will roll out through the summer, with social media promotion via quirky images featuring Big Papi and Gronk. The materials cary the whismical asethetic seen in the video with tongue-in-cheek jokes like "best album ever."
The quirky campaign comes just after the donut company unveiled a vision of the future: donut delivery.
Originally published on Campaign Live
By Mike Shields
It’s never been easy for advertisers to get people to pay attention to them. It’s even harder when millions of people literally can’t hear their commercials.
But in a world where Americans are consuming more and more Web video on mobile phones, or in Web environments where video ads play without sound–particularly on Facebook –brands and top creative executives are having to adjust quickly.
Over the last few months, they have been radically rethinking the way they produce video ads. Besides adjusting to the soundless environment, they’re also figuring out ways to grab people’s attention much faster in social and mobile feed based environments — an imperative in the digital world where consumers can easily scroll past content with a flick of a finger.
“We talk about this all the time,” said Mike Haynes, global digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry’s. “Over the last six months it’s picked up.”
Mr. Hayes said his company has begun producing video ads that aim to communicate just as well without sound, such as a recent set of ads featuring close ups of ice cream brands accompanied by on screen text, as well as a video featuring a pint of ice cream trapped in a slowly melting block of ice.
Ron Amram, senior media director, marketing, Heineken USA, said executives at top digital media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all consulting brands on this new reality, and why ” you need to focus on that first three seconds” of a video ad, he said.
That means adopting very different creative strategies compared to those employed in classic 30-second TV commercials, which are shot assuming most viewers are watching a full screen experience with the sound turned up.
But in feed environments on mobile phones, “you’ve got someone scrolling over the thing, and you’ve got to grab him by the throat quickly,” said Adam Wohl, executive creative director at the agency mcgarrybowen. “On TV, you can let things play out.”
To that point SapientNitro Worldwide Chief Creative officer Gaston Legorburu said he’s been holding classes for his agency’s creative executives that focus on this new sound-off reality. That’s a reality that is not always easy for classically trained creative executives to embrace.
“Things like the delayed product reveal, the slow ad payoff, that stuff just doesn’t’ work anymore,” he said. “Now you have to think, how do you make this unskippable, which is really hard to do.”
Sound at the start of TV ads is often a crucial signal for a spot’s tone, said Lincoln Bjorkman, global chief creative officer at Wunderman. “I used to be able to play that “Jaws” music for you at the start of an ad and tell you to be scared,” he said.
Now brands need new tactics. One new rule of thumb Heineken has learned: if you have a celebrity, show them right away. That’s something the beer brand has used to great effect with stars like Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Stewart–faces that should stick out in news feeds–but faces you may save for a few seconds in a TV ad to keep the element of surprise.
“It almost feels like they reversed the order of how you shoot ads for video,” said Mr. Amram.
Mark D’Arcy, chief creative officer of Facebook’s Creative Shop, generally agrees. “If you have LeBron in your ad, don’t wait until 34 seconds to show him.” Facebook has been actively counseling brands how best to advertise using Web video without sound.
“We are definitely moving away from disruption to discovery in video ads,” he said. “The burden of interest is on the creator.”
But with that burden comes great freedom and possibility, Mr. D’Arcy says. Video ads on Facebook can run much longer than 30-seconds. And autoplay video carries unique creative possibilities, he added, citing “cinemegraph ads” that resemble those newspapers from the “Harry Potter” movies to a recent campaigns from Burberry and other marketers that features still images that incorporated subtle motion.
“That’s a really beautiful thing that autoplay enables,” he said.
And it’s not just Facebook. Autoplay ads are said to be coming to Twitter. Many people regularly consume Snapchat videos without sound. And of course, lots more Web publishers are automatically streaming videos without sound.
Mr. Amram thinks that media companies are actually ahead of brands on this revolution. In fact, BuzzFeed mentioned how the lack of sound is influencing how it produces both video content and ads at its recent NewFront sales event in New York.
According to Ze Frank, president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, the company has built out a group focused on developing “post literate” video content, centered on motion and visuals, particularly well suited for international audiences.
“In linear, interruptive world, you borrow from aesthetics around you, which is why TV ads are like mini movies, min sitcoms,” he said. “In social streams, that adjacency doesn’t exist, so the old tactics could be quite jarring. You need different types of strategies.”
That doesn’t mean that such strategies shouldn’t disregard sound altogether. Some brands, like Capital One, are trying to prompt consumers to turn their sound on, including a recent video featuring actress Jennifer Garner knocking on a person’s screen, causing a volume graphic to appear.
“If i do my job right. they’ll turn it up and listen,” said Mr. Bjorkman.
Originally published on The Wall Street Journal
By Tom Kaneshige
There's a new breed of tech buyer working inside marketing departments and influencing purchasing decisions in the hottest enterprise tech market today. This buyer balances the needs of intuition-driven marketers with data-driven technology, speed with due diligence, vendors' lofty promises with technology realities.
And this buyer, often called the chief marketing technology officer (CMTO), is struggling.
he reason is that the CMTO comes from either the technology or marketing ranks and doesn't have a firm grasp of the other discipline. The position is so new that formal channels of higher education, such as colleges and professional training institutes, haven't gotten around to creating CMTO programs.
Enter SapientNitro, a marketing consultancy and technical services provider and division of Sapient Corp. Last year, CTO Sheldon Monteiro created at CMTO University within SapientNitro. The program is designed to tap internal expertise, industry experts and educational providers. The inaugural class of 13 SapientNitro technologists spent a year of intensive study, which included weekend work and global travel. This year's class has 20 students with backgrounds in technology. All had to go through a rigorous admissions process.
CIO.com talked with Monteiro about his ground-breaking CMTO University.
CIO.com: How did the CMTO University start?
Monteiro: We saw a tremendous amount of dialogue about the need to have professionals sitting at the marketing-technology intersection. While there was a lot of tongue wagging about the need for this role -- and, frankly, a lot of recruitment -- there was slim pickings. It's a very new discipline. There aren't academic programs from universities really addressing this space. People who jumped into this space were essentially motivated because they found themselves having to wrap up their own skills.
In January this year, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan observed that 81 percent of organizations now have the equivalent of a chief marketing technologist. Companies are actually standing up this function. I asked Laura, 'How many of these are actually successful?' She said, 'Maybe a quarter of them are successful, while the rest are struggling in some way.'
I think they're struggling due to a lack of preparedness of the talent itself, because as I said the role didn't exist. The convergence of story and technology is something that all organizations have realized they need to do, and so they're putting people in these roles -- prepared or not. This is a shame. We could be grooming this talent, because we have all the domains in-house to teach the core content. And so we stood up a program.
CIO.com: A SapientNitro study found that CMTOs come from all sorts of backgrounds. How do you go about crafting a program?
Monteiro: People can come at it from different career backgrounds. Depending on your background, you need to level up on different topics. This isn't a case of majoring in one area and minoring in another. To be fully able to bridge the gap between technology and story, you need to feel like a native in both. You cannot be uncomfortable in a conversation that goes across the two sides.
You need preparation that really matches your background, your gaps. CMTO University focuses on taking technologists who've already had a number of successes with customer-facing technology of significant scale. There's a very rigorous admissions process where we're looking for stellar on-the-job performance, client references, and internal sponsorship.
CIO.com: Can you describe the CMTO University program?
Monteiro: From a curriculum standpoint, it focuses on three broad categories. One is the breadth of marketing and advertising from a business standpoint. This starts all the way from real marketing fundamentals and marketing history to branding schools of thought to advertising and advertising history to different kinds of media marketing, mixed modeling. A whole slew of topics. Second area of focus is marketing technology. There are roughly 31 topics ranging from enterprise architecture to putting together marketing technology blueprints to Internet of Things to physical computing.
Perhaps the most transformational one for people is the influence-communication (category), and where we work on their attitude and disposition, really driving them towards fearlessness. We focus on storytelling skills and speaking to different audiences, so they're able to walk into the CMO's office or the CIO's office and present to them.
Let me be really specific on this: If you come from an IT background, you have been beaten into submission that you are to reduce risk and do things in a manner that leverages experiences from the past. CIOs always ask the question, 'Where have you done this before? How can I be sure it will be delivered when you say?'
These are very important questions, but the reality is that it means you're going to do what everybody else has already done. In a marketing context, you're trying to create differentiation. You're trying to innovate. You're trying to break boundaries for the benefit of your brand and your customers. You still need to value reuse, but you also need to value intuition. You need to connect those two worlds. Graduates are able to push new kinds of thinking and working in the course of their work with clients, influencing a broader set of stakeholders, connecting the dots of creating new ideas and convincing others to take risks.
CIO.com: Is this an online studies course?
Monteiro: No. We use a combination of different techniques. We have four in-person intensives, which are four to five days long depending on the intensive. We hold these in different cities around the globe, bringing the full batch of students. There are group projects, weekly assignments and discussions through an online collaboration tool, semi-weekly virtual classroom sessions held over the weekend, and presentations.
During the first interim, the period between the first and second intensives, we have a core technology presentation. This is where each of the students must pick a technology, which fits within the curriculum and is not familiar to them, and use their storytelling skills that we imparted during the first intensive to really tell the story of this technology. Then we provide active feedback.
We culminate the program with a conference, which will happen at the end of July in Delhi, India. Each of our students will present on their marketing technology topic (similar to a thesis) to a 300-plus audience consisting of peers, recruits, media. It's essentially exercising the skills acquired during the course of the program.
CIO.com: Chief marketing technologists are in hot demand, good ones anyway. Are you worried they're going to leave upon graduation?
Monteiro: It's a good question. We invest over seven figures in this program annually. We put 15 to 20 of our people through it. At the end of the day, you have to have an employee value proposition where people want to work for you. Not training them to really be the best they can possibly be is kind of short-sighted. Of course, this always remains a risk just as it remains a risk with any one of our crazy, talented folks that we have within the agency.
There's this (business parable) floating around the Interwebs: A CFO asks the CEO, 'What happens if we train these people, and they leave?" The CEO retorts, "What happens if we don't train them, and they stay?'
Originally published on CIO.com
The chief marketing technologist
Technology has body slammed the marketing profession, turning a black art into hard science. Marketing now must be well-versed in customer data, analytics, mobile, social and marketing automation tools. Who's going to lead this dramatic and critical transformation? Enter the chief marketing technologist, a hybrid role bridging the diametrically opposed worlds of marketing and tech.
Here's a look at six types of chief marketing technologists from a SapientNitro survey, which also found that four out of five companies have someone in this role (such as a CIO reporting to the CMO). Interestingly, SapientNitro found that chief marketing technologists are evenly split coming from marketing and technology disciplines.
One out of four chief marketing technologists are really marketing mavens. That is, they are marketing experts trying to add tech know-how. These folks fancy themselves as marketing strategists, business consultants and customer experience pros, not so much marketers involved in the daily operations. The downside, of course, is that their technical acumen is probably weak.
Digital marketing content has become the currency of the modern marketer. Some of these content creators and curators will rise to become chief marketing technologists. At the end of the day, marketing tech is about delivering the right content at the right time to the right person. Content marketers have considerable expertise in digital asset management platforms.
Media and marketing analyzers
A few chief marketing technologists have a marketing background as market analyzers. According to the SapientNitro study, this group has skills in research, consumer insights, strategic segmentation and connections planning. It makes sense that the most analytical marketers will become chief marketing technologists.
Technologists with the most marketing chops logically make good chief marketing technologists. These are data specialists with projects in marketing operations, CRM, data science, analytics and data modeling. They are the managers of big data from which marketing gleans actionable customer insights. As marketing becomes more data driven, data divas already have a leg up to become chief marketing technologists.
Marketers lacking tech skills often buy marketing tech without considering the big picture, unknowingly creating the dreaded Frankenstack. This handicaps marketing's ability to serve the customer down the road, let alone break things today. It may take years to fix the marketing tech stack. That's why infrastructure architects are often anointed chief marketing technologists to ensure a well-designed stack.
Technologists working on tech that touches the customer, such as e-commerce and mobile tech, can become chief marketing technologists. After all, they know more about the customer and how technology affects the customer experience than anyone else in IT. They can help marketers better leverage technology at these critical touchpoints.
Color of money
Whether the chief marketing technologist has a marketing or tech background, there's one thing everyone can agree on: the color of money. The role of the chief marketing technologist is absolutely critical to the success of the company. Marketing tech is all about the almighty customer experience, and a chief marketing technologist is paid accordingly. According to Mondo Resourcing and Staffing Agency, a chief marketing technologist's salary ranges from $140,000 to $241,000.
Originally published on CIO
By Tim Nudd
Corona Extra's new campaign from SapientNitro agency The Community will resonate potently in certain parts of the country—the ones that were blanketed by snow for months on end this past winter.
The spots are narrated by Winter, who writes letters of complaint to Summer, which end up being more like love letters. The approach is sort of hokey, and there's nothing particularly breakthrough about the imagery, either—it's a step above stock. And yet the elements combine into a surprisingly evocative snapshot of the season, and a dreamy reminder of how it's all the more magical because it's long awaited and short lived.
The copy is playful, and the gruff voiceover has just the right amount of charm. The product is nicely incorporated, too, and is cast as the beer of Summer. Indeed, the tagline, "Always Summer," suggests it's beyond Winter's reach entirely. That's a fun twist on the brand's "Find Your Beach" idea. And it's nice to see actual beaches in the brand's advertising at a time of year when you don't just have to imagine them.
The best Winter can do is bring the ice.
Agency: The Community
Chief Creative Officer: Jose Mollá & Joaquin Mollá
Creative Director: Rodrigo Butori
Art Director: Aaron Willard
Copywriter: Aaron Zimroth, Matias Blazevic, Ibon Iraola
VP of Integrated Production: Laurie Malaga
Senior Producer: Julio Rangel
Account Director: Maryanne Dammrich
Account Associate: Daniel Gergely
Account Executive(s): Sophia Gonzalez
Account Coordinator: Erika Rivera
Production Company: Partizan
Director: John Dolan
Director of Photography: Alex Lamarque
Executive Producer: Sheila Stepanek
Head of Production: Jennifer Gee
Producer: John Benet
Offline Editing House: Beast Editorial
Online Post House: Vapor Post
Editor: Rob Watzke
Assistant Editor: Evelina Gokinayeva
Producer: Mary Stasilli
Music House: Circle of Sound
Composer: Circle of Sound
Producer: Guillermo De La Barreda
Color Correction/VFX: Vapor Post
Audio Mix: Elastik Music
Producer: Luli De Oto
Mixer: Gustavo Briceno
Originally published on AdWeek
By Ryan Joe
If MediaMath co-President Mike Lamb has his druthers, the convergence of ad tech and marketing tech – the industry’s current inescapable narrative – will manifest in two ways.
The first is beginning to happen: a set of integrations that advertisers or their agencies can use to clip together their paid media platform to their marketing tech platform.
The second manifestation is way cooler: a button built into a marketing tech system that, toward the end of the campaign workflow, enables the seamless purchase of media based on budget and marketing goals.
But while that type of deep integration is technically possible, it’s not happening quite yet for a number of reasons – many cultural, some technological and some around data governance. After all, connecting the anonymous data sets in ad tech with information about known customers can be a delicate dance.
The culture clash between ad tech and marketing tech, which a few years ago seemed to be the main inhibitor, is starting to dissipate for reasons that have already been discussed. To recap: Marketer needs drive this merging because they want to understand the entire customer journey, and ad tech vendors are aware that they need to change the way they communicate their value to marketing tech providers. At the same time, technologies like DMPs enable data sharing across different tech systems and communication channels.
Dan Salmon, managing director at BMO Capital Markets, pinpointed Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai in 2014 as the real catalyst. To be clear, BlueKai’s acquisition wasn’t an industrywide ah-ha moment for ad tech. Many vendors, like Turn, were predicting the confluence well before Oracle made its move. (Turn has partnerships with Adobe, Marketo, IBM ExperienceOne, SAP Hybris, Salesforce.com, Kenshoo, Maxymiser, Monetate and Optimizely.)
However, the acquisition indicated the acceptance of ad tech from a sister industry that had previously been resistant.
“That was a major enterprise software company making inroads with advertising tools,” Salmon said.
MediaMath’s Lamb also looked at this moment as a watershed: “Oracle, whether they knew it or not, was getting into ad tech businesses with BlueKai and Datalogix. They both just happened to look like data businesses.”
Oracle, for its part, acknowledges that the BlueKai acquisition was a major push into the ad tech ecosystem, though its head of product marketing, Chris Lynch, said the company is still “early in the process” and just beginning to see converged ad tech/marketing tech use cases develop. The Datalogix buy, he added, pushed Oracle further down that path by providing the capabilities to connect online media buying and marketing activity to offline buying.
And there’s been a lot of partnership activity since BlueKai went off the market. Marketo has hooked up with LinkedIn, Rocket Fuel, Turn and MediaMath. MediaMath just announced a slew of API connections with marketing platforms like Oracle’s Eloqua and IBM’s Digital Analytics, Interact, SilverPop and Tealeaf applications.
Meanwhile, Oracle rival Adobe, which nurtures its own ad tech partnerships, in March debuted its search-centric Media Optimizer application as a bona fide demand-side platform.
It’s possible that all this partner activity stems from independent ad tech vendors setting themselves up for acquisitions, especially as the industry has lost investors’ favor. Elgin Thompson, managing director at Digital Capital Investors, noted that Oracle partnered with Datalogix right before purchasing.
“Ad tech pipes have to integrate with other pipes, or the system breaks,” he said. “It makes more sense than not that your acquisition partner will generate from an existing business relationship.”
Or these partnerships might simply signal tech vendors trying to add value to their products. Building a stronger business certainly makes one a more attractive acquisition target – but it’s also necessary to thrive independently in a hypercompetitive industry.
Whatever the reason behind this dating activity, there are still a few issues that could send the stakeholders into couples therapy. Gartner research director Martin Kihn noted in a column that ad tech and marketing tech players traditionally haven't understood the value of each others' solutions. That’s clearly changing. But Lamb pointed to another disconnect: Marketing tech favors licensed-based business models while ad tech tends toward spend-based models.
Despite Gartner’s prediction that by 2017 CMOs will have bigger tech budgets than CIOs, marketers still think in terms of media budgets.
“[CMOs and agencies] have an established history of paying for the technology that enables that media spend out of the media budget,” Lamb said. He anticipates marketing tech vendors will also accommodate the business models that the ad tech vendors favor.
If marketing tech vendors want to go beyond the CIO or CTO, they’ll need to serve the bulk of the CMO’s budget, which is often paid media. And if the ad tech levers in a marketing cloud are pulled by the media agency, the percent-of-spend model is definitely going to apply.
Even with these consolidated systems, Oracle’s Lynch noted that marketing tech is still generally controlled by digital marketers, while the ad tech still tends to fall under the purview of the head of advertising or media agency.
Of course, even this configuration is changing. “We’re starting to see heads of digital technology,” he said. “Groups that are a liaison between the marketing and IT organization. It’s a complex project because there are three core stakeholders, and you’re bringing in data from all over the enterprise.”
Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia said these combined systems are mostly a brand play. “It’s the brands who see this immediate value and promise,” he said. “It doesn’t live with the agencies, which are just execution arms. All of the customer data sits with the brands.” Of note: Marketo sells directly to brands.
So does all of this movement indicate a major shift in the way marketing is executed?
Sheldon Monteiro, CTO at Publicis Groupe digital agency SapientNitro, is skeptical. For one, he’s not certain whether the narrative around the ad tech/marketing tech conflation is born of reality or hype.
He’s also not certain when these integrations will pay dividends.
“Do I believe we’ll see a lot richer contextual experiences 12 or 18 months from now? We’ll see incremental improvements,” he said.
It’s admittedly hard to find proof points.
As Lynch pointed out, there aren’t yet a lot of converged ad tech/marketing tech use cases, and certainly not many public ones. Vendors will quietly mention a few cool deployments or allude to impressive business results, but getting clients to talk is notoriously difficult. Turn has a posted case study about collaborating with Marketo for 3 Day Blinds and has spoken about its hooks into Kraft’s proprietary marketing stack.
But in general, it’s still a mystery how well these integrations actually work. Vendors might say they’ve developed APIs that latch onto different platforms, but these connections have varying qualities. Does data flow both ways? How quickly does it flow? What sort of data is made available to each system?
“There’s varying degrees of sophistication in terms of what you want to do,” said Matt Westover, Turn’s product marketing lead. “Sending in pre-built segmentation at a user level and automating it, via a real-time event stream, is relatively simple.”
A more complicated connection might be something that affects bidding strategy. Say a car insurance company, which already runs lookalike targeting through the platform, wants to add an extra factor. The company knows that customers in Illinois are statistically more profitable than customers from Florida. “It’s not that they want to target just Illinois, but they’ll have a slightly higher bid based on that narrow geoset,” Westover said.
Few clients, however, are doing anything that complex. “These are really early days in this,” Westover explained. “The bulk of people, I’d say 95%, are still getting a lot of mileage from the simple segmentation.”
But SapientNitro’s Monteiro indicates the ad tech-marketing tech connections are still on training wheels.
“There will be a break when we really see that contextual targeting and relevance happening in real time,” Monteiro said. “And the quality of the data in these ad networks has to get a lot more current.”
While it’s natural that ad network data doesn’t have the same impact as the first-party assets powering marketing tech, it certainly has its value. “The ad tech partners have data on where else a person has been during their travels on the web,” said Dholakia. “Marketo won’t be aware of websites you visited that aren’t in the Marketo system.”
But though ad network data can clear up some of the foggy patches along the path to purchase, that’s not always good enough for advertisers. Agencies like SapientNitro want to understand each dataset’s cleanliness and precision (whether segment-level data includes pools of thousands, hundreds or even tens of individuals).
Another complication: The marketing platforms that ad tech vendors try to integrate with are often products of acquisition and, despite the messaging around them, are not native to whatever stack they are housed under.
The APIs and direct connections developed by various ad tech companies are on an application-by-application basis. Turn develops pre-built connections based on customer requests. To date, this is largely relegated to email marketing platforms (though strangely it hasn't seen as much demand for connections to Oracle’s Responsys or Salesforce’s ExactTarget) and, increasingly, ecommerce platforms.
Westover said there isn’t yet a standard like OpenRTB to connect ad platforms to marketing platforms, though he expects one in the coming years. Unfortunately, if a marketing platform is built on a foundation of creaky old code and a direct connection isn’t possible, data will have to route through a database, an intermediary connecting the two systems. This introduces latency, and kills off the ability to perform real-time functions like buying an impression at auction.
And while Westover said most marketing platforms are up to date and can be connected to other systems, often within weeks, SapientNitro from its digital agency perch sees "a wide array of legacy and bespoke CRM systems."
Finally, data-quality and transference issues aside, privacy compliance remains a big hurdle. While vendors give lip service to the topic, it’s the brands and agencies that pay the piper if an issue comes up, Monteiro said, since privacy breaches erode brand value.
Erin Winters, VP of marketing strategy at Acxiom, agreed that responsibility lies first with the marketers. “It starts with the brands,” she said. “Then the brands need to look to the marketing tech companies who can manage that.”
Acxiom, which owns data onboarder LiveRamp and maintains partnerships with marketing tech companies and media agencies, released a study last week claiming that brands don’t often understand the extent to which consumers are comfortable getting messages from them.
“You’re taking different data sets, combining them, and that can make something that’s non-sensitive and anonymous into known data tied to an individual,” Winters said.
Monteiro also worries less about the lack of precedent.
“How precise can you get when you haven’t permissioned a brand to target you in a very specific way?” he wondered. These issues haven’t played out on either the legal courts or those of public opinion. Until they do, it’ll be difficult to get full brand buy-in on a converged marketing and ad tech solution.
Originally published on AdExchanger.com
Bruce Sterling once said "those that live by disruption, die by disruption". No one is immune. Apple has laid waste to many industries, especially the music business. In turn it has seen its downloads empire eroded by challenger Spotify.
As a brand that continually reinvents itself, we know Apple's retaliation strike is coming soon, maybe even at WWDC. Here's how it could make Apple Music a winner in the war.
1. Make it integrated
Apple’s success is due to functional integration. It makes systems, not just services. Being native in iOS and OSX means a potential audience of epic proportions.
Seamlessly working with iTunes, Radio, and PodCasts would increase convenience for many. Evolving Garageband to give musicians a way to produce and distribute in one platform could be another. Factor in CarPlay, Apple TV and HomeKit and you’ve got a classic walled-garden play.
2. Make it matter
We know Apple is going to charge a subscription fee. That’s going to erode the audience size. But what if it used a part of its war-chest to subsidise the service for, say, three months? Just long enough for us to habituate on it, unlike Beats' laughable two-week trial. Or what if it offered better family plans than Spotify?
Apple’s notorious 30 per cent cut has earned it few musical allies. Musicians hate Spotify’s pari-mutuel model too. What if Apple paid-per-play instead? And reported it to musicians in a way that was transparent, easy-to-understand and fair?
3. Make it better
Sound quality is a debated concept but what if Apple had a better standard? 320k + surround sound could move more hardware product and differentiate it from Spotify. We've been listening to stereo for too long. Can Cupertino create what's next?
Think of the potential to use Siri as a Shazam-style search. Sing lyrics or hum a melody to find the song you want. All within the core Apple Music app. Siri could automatically create playlists on the fly based on your context, mood, etc. That could be a powerful way to challenge Spotify's just announced "Now" functionality.
New Apple hire Zane Lowe is going to be every bit as critical to this effort as Jimmy Iovine, Dre or Reznor. Beats' best features — Just For You, Expert Essentials and curated playlists — are all going to get a lot better. Lowe’s cache means the indie crowd found on Bandcamp and SoundCloud could follow.
4. Make it social
Social integration on Spotify (and all the other services) is terrible. They all suffer from YASN (yet another social network) syndrome. You have to rebuild too much from scratch.
Apple has access to your contacts, Facebook and Twitter thanks to native sharing on iOS. Imagine a 'Twitch'-like ability to just drop in and listen along with your friend. The one that has the hippest taste in music? Think of it as 'This is My Jam' in real-time, all the time. A streaming mixtape made for you from the people that know you best.
You could do the same with musicians and experts – with the added bonus of seeing exclusive, early release or behind-the-scenes content. Artists could eschew the 'secret album' trend and just release tracks when they're ready. We might finally see 'the Serial effect' for music.
5. Make it live
Regardless of all the above, it’s still not enough to make money. The real money in music is in live.
Apple could alert fans to concerts based on their playlists, favourites or owned music. They could let you know friends wanted to go too. Top that off with an ability to buy via Apple Pay and we’re off to the races with a 30 per cent cut of ticket sales. Toss in merchandise and you’ve got untapped revenue streams Spotify would love.
Apple doesn’t have the potential to disrupt just Spotify but every related service. Shazam, Ponyo, Soundtracking, This is My Jam, Songkick, Tidal, SoundCloud, Bandcamp et al could all suffer if it manages to close the gap between customers’ expectations and the services and experience they receive. Every last one of those apps is at risk of deletion from your home screen.
Daniel Harvey is experience design director at SapientNitro
Originally published on The Drum
Normally, it’s politicians who are hammered at the hands of the polls. Last week, it was the pollsters that were pilloried at the hands of the politicians. The Labour strategist David Axelrod Tweeted: "In all my years as journalist & strategist, I’ve never seen as stark a failure of polling as in UK. Huge project ahead to unravel that." I think the ICM Unlimited director Martin Boon put it most succinctly on the release of the exit polls when he Tweeted: "Oh shit."
In a pyrrhic victory for creative directors everywhere, as they have always told us: the research was wrong. All the final pre-election polls had Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck. The result was a 6.3 per cent margin of victory for the Tories.
So who is to blame? Well, first, UK pre-election polling has form in getting the result wrong. YouGov’s Anthony Wells wrote: "Every couple of decades, a time comes along when all the companies get something wrong." When general elections only occur every five years, decades represent a short span of time.
In fact, we only have to go back to 1992, the last Tory majority, to witness pollsters’ nadir. In that year, the polls had Labour narrowly ahead on the eve of the election, only for the Tories to win the popular vote by 7.5 per cent with a record total number of votes. Yet, in the aftermath of the 1992 debacle, polling was – in theory – put right.
One of the problems polling companies have to face is human nature. When you see them quoting 1, 2 or 3 per cent margins of error on their forecasts, it is very easy for us to confuse precision with accuracy. Those error margins merely refer to a 95 per cent confidence level – that 19 times out of 20 we would get the same result within the stated margin of error – based on the same question. However, the margin of error has nothing to say on the gap between what people say and what they do.
We should not take for granted that stated voting intention is a perfect indicator for voting behaviour.
One of the reasons exit polls are far more accurate is that the question is asked after the fact. Sadly, in my career as a data analyst, I have always had far more success predicting the past than the future.
There are two known effects in play. The first is non-responder bias. It would appear that those polled systematically underrepresented the Conservative vote. The Sunday Times journalist Rod Liddle pointed out that Tories are mostly at work when the researchers come knocking. Polling companies seek to adjust for this bias – especially since 1992 – but evidently it’s still there. Are Tories deceptively harder to reach by polling methods?
A potential reason for this is another bias – that of social desirability. When asked in research, we overestimate our level of charitable giving and underestimate our pay if we are paid a great deal or overestimate it if we are paid little. Labour talks about fairness and paints the Tories as evil. According to some, a Tory majority would mean the end of the NHS and/or the end of the world. Who wants to admit to being selfish or voting out of self-interest? Probably more people than would care to admit.
In defence of the forecasters, this election has seen a radical shift in the share of votes. The Liberal Democrats’ votes dropped from 6.8 million in 2010 to 2.4 million in 2015 – a fall of 65 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Greens’ vote increased by 336 per cent, Ukip’s by 322 per cent and the Scottish National Party’s by 196 per cent.
Again, when you are using historical data to predict the future, it only works well when the past bears a strong resemblance to the future. The surge of seats for the SNP and votes for Ukip were both accurately forecast – but the scale of the collapse of the Lib Dems vote was not.
Polling companies were not the only ones to call it wrong. You could have placed a bet on a Tory majority at 16-1 with Betfair (in-between important meetings) as late as Thursday afternoon.
Professional gamblers are usually very good forecasters because they back their opinions with their own money. Not this time (see chart, below).
Anyone who has worked in this industry long enough will have been part of a campaign that flew in research and yet bombed with the general public. Just like the pollsters, we are all wise after the fact, assigning blame randomly among unexpected market events, pesky competitors or, worst of all, an apathetic public.
In an era when statisticians like Nate Silver feature in their own episode of Panorama, this is a victory for creative teams everywhere. Research is fallible. My first boss once said to me: "Simon, one should use market research as a drunk would use a lamp post – for support, not illumination."
I use that phrase far too often. But, at this point in time, I think it fits.
Simon James is the global lead for marketing performance analytics at SapientNitro
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
By Adriana Coppola
The first past the post electoral system means that, for any party, the most important voter is the floating voter; a recent ComRes poll has shown that up to 40% of Britons are still undecided. With around 10m votes still up for grabs just days before the election, any major political party could theoretically secure a landslide win. Emerging digital targeting methods are making it easier for parties to do just that.
Political campaigning still uses an outdated model
This election, the British political parties have started to move away from traditional electoral broadcast methods following the successes Obama enjoyed in 2008 and 2012 through heavy investment in digital. The two main parties have subsequently hired communications experts integral to the Obama campaigns – Jim Messina for the Conservatives and David Axelrod for Labour – upped spend in social, and can now target people on Twitter via postcode.
For all the new media and tools that electoral campaigns are beginning to embrace, parties still concentrate their efforts on voters in the middle. The fact that those efforts are not making a noticeable difference to either party in the polls suggest they could do a far better job.
In order to win, political parties must move from a broadcast approach, where the same message is sent to the entire country, to a much more targeted approach where data can be used to have direct conversations with individuals on the things that matter most to them. While the Conservatives are spending around £100,000 per month on Facebook, users are getting the same banal updates that do little aside from document the electoral campaign. They could be a lot smarter with their messaging to talk about different manifesto points to different people.
Outside the realm of political parties, technology such as data management platforms and demand side platforms help companies to find the exact consumer they want and better understand how to target them – meaning that they can create a personalised experience based on the data held. What might this mean for politics?
Smarter targeting: find the floating voter
The floating voter is no longer invisible. A few years ago, we could only really identify the vociferous minority who were willing to publicly voice their political opinions through social media. Now, with the influx of data, we can start to target the significantly larger group of ‘don’t knows’. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have started to use software like NationBuilder, which can match electoral rolls to online activity, but with the increased sophistication of online targeting methods that use machine-based learning, it is possible to be a lot smarter with targeting.
In order to accurately identify floating voters to convert, parties would need to build a propensity model – a data tool that would help them understand what identifies a person as ‘unsure’ or ‘swayable’ and classify how likely they are to be at a particular end of the political spectrum. Rather than using a few data points, such as postcode, parties could build models that plug in tens of different data sets from across the internet, such as what online newspaper you read, where in the country you are, your age, what school you went to and even look for keywords such as ‘NHS’ in your Twitter feed.
Influencing voter behaviour
Once parties establish their data points they must create systems that constantly feed off data, to identify floating voters most likely to align with their policies and build algorithms to identify at what point a person is on the political spectrum and what type of communication might be most effective and contextually relevant.
This opportunity to understand the type of personalised message to relay and on what platform is the biggest missed opportunity for British political parties. To go even further, they could target people with their own social spheres of influence: understanding who in someone’s social circle is voting the way of the party and using that person as an advocate to help to influence behaviour. The Obama campaign used this tactic to great effect in 2012 with the Great Schlep campaign which urged young Jewish people to encourage grandparents living in Florida to vote Democrat.
Making politics personal
The prospect that data presents is wider than just targeting: the real opportunity here is for parties to get to know the electorate better. And that could mean parties could focus their manifestos and even their leadership around popular opinion. It is widely held that politicians are out of touch with everyday lives. These new methods of understanding what really matters to people may go beyond the election and change the face of politics as a whole.
Adriana Coppola is a planner at SapientNitro
Originally published on The Guardian
By Hilding Anderson
Perhaps for the first time, researchers now have the ability to see digital device activity – smartphone, tablet and PC – at a millisecond-by-millisecond level, and then aggregate that data into patterns of days, weeks and months.
Our researchers are recruiting volunteers who will let us track and understand where and when their devices are being used to see the devices’ activity inscribed on maps, charts and photographs.
These new tools are unlocking a world of knowledge about how people use technology at levels of resolution we have never had outside a few specialty research labs.
This has enabled researchers to explore major facets of consumers’ lives – from financial management to communication habits to healthcare choices – by tracking what as well as when and where they actually do and not just what they say they do.
What are digital activity loggers (DALs) and why you should care?
Quite simply, digital activity loggers are software tools that run in the background and record activity on a specific device.
DALs got their start as programs for individuals to measure and improve their own productivity on personal computers. Think FitBit for your computer. They have evolved to work on PCs, tablets or smartphones, and upload their data to servers in the cloud on an ongoing basis.
This approach has significant benefits for researchers.
While most traditional methods rely on the customer to tell us, DAL analysis tools allow us to focus directly on the traces of observable activities, avoiding participant recall errors and psychological bias.
Further, integrated DAL platforms continuously aggregate and reviews data, giving us the chance to look at months of behavioral data as context for the activity happening right now. This is data of significant scale – our initial community of users has more than 500 individuals logging data 24/7 for more than a year.
Applying DAL to develop an understanding of customer behavior
We recently ran a study for a major hospitality chain, and we were able to show all the digital activities people perform prior to visiting their Web site including their mobile site, and how they relate to one another in time.
We then looked at the same analysis for post-client-site activity. This type of analysis allows us to identify triggers and opportunities for additional marketing investments. It allows us to document the customer journey through the purchase path.
A separate study examined smartphone-based banking.
We explored banking habits of millennial women. By monitoring smartphone activity, we determined that the average time per visit for millennial women on smartphones was much shorter than anticipated – just 26 seconds – helping shape the design of a next-generation application.
These types of analysis and findings allow us to pull the curtain back on actual activity in the digital realm.
Implications for future research
Digital activity logging data is being used to explore interactions with finances (e.g. activity related to taxes), health (e.g. New Year’s resolutions and technology usage to achieve fitness goals), travel and transportation (booking engine usage times, travel research) and many other elements of life.
We are able to look across brands to identify patterns of interaction, behavior and activity.
IT IS AN exciting time to be in the research and insights business. We now have new tools that complement traditional surveys and focus groups.
Digital activity loggers allow much greater precision related to specific activities than some other methods.
Look for more brands and agencies to use these tools to better understand their customers – and to guide the next wave of breakthrough products.
Originially published on MobileCommerceDaily.com
Stacy Simpson is the Chief Communications Officer for SapientNitro, part of Publicis.Sapient. In this capacity, she oversees global communications, strategic and brand marketing strategies for SapientNitro, as well as the global corporate communications strategy for Sapient.
With more than 13,000 employees in 35 offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific, her role at SapientNitro is to lead international, domestic and regional communications and brand marketing teams in creating and executing strategies that increase awareness of the brand and the innovative and breakthrough work her colleagues deliver daily to clients around the world.
Prior to joining Sapient, she was the senior vice president of global communications and brand marketing for IAC, a leading multimedia company, where she led the brand marketing and communications functions for IAC and its more than 50 consumer internet and media brands. She has also held senior positions at IBM and in public relations, media relations and strategic communications in Washington, DC.
As a Boston native, Stacy recently returned from New York City to her hometown. Stacy graduated from Syracuse University with Bachelor's degrees in broadcast journalism and public policy. She still looks great in orange.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
When I was growing up, my siblings were often sick. As "the healthy child" in the family, I took on whatever role was needed in each situation--sometimes I was the storyteller who kept my sisters entertained, other times I proudly fended for myself so that my parents could focus on giving my siblings the care they needed. Regardless of which hat I wore on any given day, there was one constant for me: the desire for information. I was always asking questions, connecting dots, seeking answers and searching for reason and order amidst the chaos. The power of information was my way of giving my sisters, my family and myself hope and encouragement.
I channeled the curiosity that fueled me as a child into my studies as a broadcast journalism major at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. As a journalist, I had to identify who my audience was for each situation and create and guide a story accordingly. I drew upon the same skills of asking the right questions, analyzing the connections between ideas and people, and arriving at a strategy for telling stories that would resonate with audiences.
Following college, the transition into a career in communications was a natural one for me, applying my storytelling skills to help shape the way internal and external audiences understand a company and the issues facing our world and the industry today.
I'm a firm believer in the age-old view that information is power. Today, I take every opportunity in my role as an executive, a woman, a mother and a contributor to my community to share my passion for knowledge and to instill in others the thrill of asking the right questions and finding the answers.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position as the Chief Communications Officer of SapientNitro?
Every experience is a foundation for those that follow, so I can honestly say that each role I've had has helped shape my view of the world and the contributions that I make today.
I started my career in the non-profit sector, surrounded by people who had made it their life's work to arm others with information and to lend a voice and a perspective to issues that are often overlooked. As I moved into the radio industry, and then later into the technology space at IBM and then into multimedia at IAC/InterActive Corp (IAC), the need to communicate--to craft a story worth hearing, to create a connection with an audience (internally or externally), to build a relationship across mediums--grew steadily in its importance and its urgency.
If you put all of my experience into a blender--the altruistic, change-the-world ethos of the non-profit sector, the storytelling and immediacy of broadcasting, the technology and business acumen of IBM, the entrepreneurial and industry-disrupting spirit of IAC-- you will get a set of experiences that are the foundation for driving an integrated communications and brand marketing function at SapientNitro, as the agency is all of those things in one.
In an environment as complex and chaotic as the one we as communicators and business leaders find ourselves in today, we have to enable an environment of risk-taking as we create various strategies for the company, be it marketing, press or internal communications. Of course, these opportunities come with trial and error scenarios, which is just part of the growing process in any career. You can't be afraid to fail, but you should absolutely be afraid to not try. At SapientNitro, we create a space where our people can "fail forward" to break boundaries to better serve their always-on audiences.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Personally, I don't have balance, but I do have a "mix." I have chaos and excitement and deadlines and family obligations, like most working women. All of these things compete and at any given moment on any given day one thing wins out over another. And I'm OK with that.
I surround myself with people who understand my professional commitments, what's expected of me, and what I expect from myself and offer unconditional encouragement and support. This provides an (almost) guilt-free atmosphere that allows me to focus 100 percent of my attention on whatever I'm doing--whether it's at home or at the office. When I am engaged with my family, my focus is on them. When I am working, I am singularly focused on my work. I don't talk to my family when I'm at work. I know that if someone needs me, they'll call. Blending work and family life simultaneously can often be productive, but for me, too much multi-tasking can cause me to miss those key moments, both personal and professional.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure in the communications industry?
I have had more of each than I could possibly list. I will say that my proudest moments have come on the heels of taking risks, of doing the thing that terrifies me, that seemed almost too big to imagine tackling. It's at those moments when you know that you've challenged yourself, your team, and your company to move out of their comfort zone and to reach for what's possible.
Throughout my tenure I've seen great strides in the role of women in the technology and new media communications worlds. Because of the breadth of roles and expertise a communications program provides, I have learned the importance of bringing together a team of people who are able to not only carry out the mission of our organization but also who teach others to do so. It makes me proud to look around our current marketing team and see smart and gutsy women coming to the table with ideas that will catapult our company into the future. But, I know there is still room for improvement. In our company alone, we are constantly looking for the caliber of women to fuel our creative and leadership teams, while striving to enable an environment that attracts them.
How is SapientNitro making a difference in worldwide brand awareness?
One of the most exciting things about working at SapientNitro is that we view the world in a different way than any other company I've experienced and that view informs both the work we do and the way we work together. The agency was founded on the premise of enabling human potential, and we fulfill that vision by helping brands transform to better serve their consumers in a rapidly-changing, always-on world - and we help to change the world in the process.
Its remarkable to be part of an agency that has received nearly 100 creative awards in the first part of 2015 alone for the breakthrough work we've delivered for our clients, as well as consistent ratings as a leader in industry analyst reports, ranging from Gartner's annual assessment of digital agencies to Forrester's analysis of the most innovative agencies.
It is now well accepted that to engage the digital consumer, brands need a new set of connected capabilities that span marketing, technology, commerce and consulting. SapientNitro saw this opportunity 10 years ago and has been building those capabilities inside one organization. We started as a "challenger brand," but have come to be seen as a key player in a changing agency landscape, as evidenced by the acquisition of Sapient by Publicis Groupe earlier this year, to create Publicis.Sapient, the world's most advanced and largest digitally-centered platform focused exclusively on digital transformation and the dynamics of an always-on world. The platform leverages unmatched capabilities in marketing, omni-channel commerce and consulting, underpinned by tremendous depth of technology expertise, to help clients advance their ways of working, given the daunting new reality of a highly-connected operating environment.
I'm proud to be part of a company that stands for breaking boundaries where technology, storytelling, and humanity meet.
What advice can you offer those seeking to have a career in communications?
Everyone has their passions and goals, and it's critical to stay true to those. Even more so, it is important to know what you bring to any table or conversation, and how to leverage this. We each have unique talents, and we have to not only utilize them, but also be empowered by them. My journalism and broadcast background gave me "ownable" and marketable skills early in my career--the ability to draw connections, understand what makes something newsworthy to an audience, and create concise, compelling stories. It was important to me to find opportunities where I could use, and build upon, these skills to be a voice on the team with a unique perspective.
Someone looking at a career in communications needs to recognize, and adapt to, the landscape of diverse opportunities that come with this field. Your unique skills are likely someone else's weakness. Understanding that, and being able to collaborate, can result in some powerful unions that can take a company from relatively "unknown" to global awareness. It's not only about delivering information, but rather developing a strategy with identified goals that answers, "Why is this important?" I ask this question daily to evolve and design strategies around campaigns that maximize results for the company.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Institutionally, there are still not enough women in senior leadership positions. It is each of our responsibilities as leaders to teach and mentor colleagues in earlier career stages and it is a critical component for influencing and shaping the next generation of the workforce. Individually, women at any stage of their career need to trust themselves--trust that your character, education and experience, which has taken you to this point in your career, will take you to the next stage. One thing I like to remind people of is that it isn't necessary to have mastered every aspect of the job or project you're about to take on, you only need to have the skills and the instincts to know you have the right foundation for any challenge. We get better when we take risks, learn from our mistakes, and incorporate those learnings into the next experience.
What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I enjoyed the book and appreciate that she used her position to create a space for this conversation. Each of our experiences is different, but the more we share our voice and personal truths, the more these issues and conversations become commonplace and easier for our next generation of leaders--female and male--to participate in. If we can't talk about it, we definitely can't fix it.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I was encouraged by my collegiate mentor to do what I love and never apologize for it. She taught me to pursue my passion and reminded me that you cannot fake enthusiasm. Her advice resonated with me. The hours and demands of any communications role are extensive, and if you are not dedicated to it and sincerely excited by it, then it is time to look for another opportunity.
My first professional mentor came into my career very early on and she shared the wise advice that no one is going to build a career for you, save for your retirement, or plan your health coverage for you. It is up to each of us to save, plan and create for ourselves. It was sage guidance at a critical time in my career and in my life. Throughout my career, I relied on her advice--and in absence of her guidance, often asked myself what choice she would make in my situation--for significant decisions, including moving across states and exploring new verticals that challenged my comfort.
I believe mentorship should begin young--in high school even--to set a strong foundation for personal and professional discovery. This mentorship, or partnership, aids in developing passions and talents that will be carried throughout a lifetime. As a mentor myself, I know what a responsibility and honor it is to offer guidance. I learn more about myself while mentoring than I do in many other aspects of my career, and it is a wonderful reminder of how much opportunity there is to learn from each other.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are many women in every generation who have done so much to push the boundaries of what's possible--Barbara Walters, Ginny Rometty, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Tina Fey, and my mom, to name a few. I believe we encounter teachable moments and people to learn from every day, and we just have to be tuned in enough to know it when we see it and to seize the opportunity. All of these women, and so many others, have seized the opportunity and helped to show each of us the way forward.
Originally posted on Huff Post Business
British Airways has appointed Sapient Nitro as its digital agency of record.
The appointment is understood to have followed a final two-way pitch which saw it win out against incumbent OgilvyOne.
As a result, Sapient will take over running the airline's digital platforms including the main website BA.com and its digital communications including social media.
Nigel Vaz, senior vice president and European managing director of SapientNitro, said: “The appointment of SapientNitro as British Airways’ agency is a game-changer all round. Through a forward-looking approach to the use of multiple digital platforms and creative technology, British Airways has built renewed strength around its brand.
"We are proud to join them on the next leg of that journey and, through our passion to break boundaries at the intersection of technology and story, to give the British Airways brand an ever-greater relevance in the lives of connected consumers.”
Sara Dunham, head of marketing, retail and direct for British Airways, said: "SapientNitro offer us great ideas, good insights, the ability to apply strategy practically, a strong reputation in the industry and a good fit with the British Airways brand. We're really looking forward to working with them.”
Last year Sapient Nitro reached the final two in pitching for the British Airways advertising account, ultimately losing to incumbent BBH.
Read the article on TheDrum
Last weekend Sixense, creator of the STEM controller, came for a visit to digital agency SapientNitro’s NYC office. Armed with VR headsets and STEM controllers, the order of business was to demonstrate the marketing potential of virtual reality technology to clients from SapientNitro’s impressive roster.
With major brand work under their belt from the likes of Activision, Audio, Fiat, Unilever, and others, SapientNitro has the ears of powerful companies, all of which are looking for the next big thing to drive brand engagement. That next big thing, SapientNitro believes, is virtual reality.
That’s why they connected with Sixense, creators of the STEM VR motion controller, who have been experimenting with immersive shopping experiences.
Sixense showed off their early Unity-based ‘vRetail’ prototype back during CES, but they brought the newer and shinier UE4 version with them to NYC to show some of SapientNitro’s clients what VR could mean for marketing.
The vRetail experience puts the player in a virtual shopping space. For now, the company is showing what it might be like to shop for shoes, but it’s easy to see how the system could scale to any number of products or experiences, including the ability to have multiplayer environments where users could shop together. Sixense calls this ‘vCommerce’.
Once the headset is on, players pick up the STEM controllers to allow natural interaction within the space. Sixense has designed a very intuitive experience which allows users to tap easily on virtual touchscreens to select which category of product they’d like to see. In the case of shoe shopping, a huge shelf of shoes appears before the user—but this shelf is not like one you’ve seen before—if you reach out to grab it, you can ‘scroll’ the shelf, infinitely, in any direction. This means you can browse through hundreds of shoes without walking up and down aisles; removing physical design limitations is what VR is all about.
The whole thing is impressively intuitive, thanks in no small part to the STEM controller. Reach out to grab a shoe that catches your eye, let it go in mid air to have it float in front of you with a menu to change color and get more info on the product, turn around and put it on a mannequin to see what it would look like on the foot—and it’s all as easy as reaching out your hand out to grab and tap.
SapientNitro Believes that Virtual Reality is the Way Forward for Brand Engagement
While SapientNitro is still exploring this technology, Valerie Carlson, Executive Creative Director at the company’s LA branch, believes that the agency will deploy a virtual reality marketing experience within the year.
“…what we expect very clearly to do is to work with one retail client this year and put a [VR] prototype of some kind into market,” she told me.
When I asked Carlson where the customer might have these virtual reality brand experiences—whether it be in the home or in-store—she said we’d likely see a combination, starting with in-store experiences first.
“I think eventually we’ll see people owning their own headsets but I think the test-and-learn opportunities in many cases will be in-store. So just in the way that you might interact with a kiosk today in a Home Depot—why not test-and-learn with VR,” she said. “At holiday for instance, you have a lot of families coming and shopping for different items in different places, giving them the opportunity to try VR and experience brands in totally unusual ways I think is a great opportunity for retailers.”
And just as the internet has not eliminated physical shopping stores, Carlson believes that virtual reality will support existing retail channels—a bridge between the web and brick and mortar—not a replacement.
“…we don’t expect virtual reality commerce to supplant all of the other channels that exist today; we expect it to be a complementary channel. So as brands test-and-learn in retail with VR, we expect them to have new learnings that will help them merchandize and will help them develop other experiences in other channels.
SapientNitro didn’t reveal which of their clients had come to see the vCommerce demonstration, but I did see plenty of excited faces popping out of headsets at the end of the experience.
Originally published on RoadToVR.com
BOSTON (WHDH) - For Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston, the sun is finally shining, the grass is green, the snow is gone, and the boys of summer are back.
"Great atmosphere, you got all the Sox fans, everybody's all pumped up, we're ready for the game," said one fan who was first in line for tickets.
The Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park were ready for another season of baseball.
"Beautiful park, great game, two good teams," said one fan.
"After last night, the sky's the limit, mostly for the balls they were hitting out of the park," said Sox fan Mike Columbari.
This year, the organization is catering to kids. Fans 14 and younger can enter the park through gate K, which will lead them to Wally's Clubhouse, a new play area.
The team is also making use of social media.
"You can see that at gates A and C is something called the 'digital baseball card.' It's another way to engage young fans in the game, and you can go to either gate, you can take your picture, you can upload it to the hashtag 'MyFenway,'" said Sapient Marketing Officer Bill Kanarick.
A loyal bunch of excited fans lined up outside the box office for tickets.
"Last year the line was longer, this year it's a little bit shorter, so I'm excited. And it's warmer too," said Jimmy Pietrosanto, who is in his 15th year waiting for tickets.
Maybe it's because the Sox went from worst to first and back to worst, but if the cycle repeats and the team stays hot, fans are already thinking about October baseball.
"This is the season. I say it every year and two years ago I was right, it was the year I got married, and this is a good year and it's going to be our season," said fan Erin Columbari.
Originally published on WHDH.com
When I first attended SXSW two decades ago, the festival was focused on music, attendance was about 4,000, Johnny Cash gave the keynote, and little-known musician Beck was the "must see" act. What once was a cool -- but limited -- music industry event is now a blockbuster showcase across music, film and interactive media.
Today, SXSW Interactive is a convergence point across technology, user experience, marketing, startups and science celebrities, representing a glimpse of the future. As the importance of interactive platforms increases in our daily lives, so it does in Austin, with the interactive portion of the conference now hosting more than 30,000 attendees. But with the sheer volume of events and emerging companies in play, it's hard to know how to get the most out of it.
With that in mind, here's a pocket guide for marketers with our #SXSBest top-10 list:
1. Big data
What better way to kick off SXSW than with a meaty topic -- big data and artificial intelligence -- explored by a rock star panel led by Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer at GE. As mobility is increased through wearables, robotics become the norm and the internet of things moves from a concept to reality, what's required to make them work together and with humanity is the intelligence driven by big data.
3. The next-generation retail experience
If the wearables workshop is full, or if you're more interested in the retail space, this incredible panel will serve you well. Sephora was identified in SapientNitro's Insights publication as 2014's leading omnichannel retailer, so naturally we are interested to hear a conversation led by its CMO Julie Bornstein about how to innovate in the overlapping space between physical and digital worlds.
4. Startup party
As the conference description for the Startup Spotlight says, "Twenty emerging startups. Open bar. Check it out." There's not much more to say. Grab a cocktail and some startup goodness.
5. Internet of things
The internet of things holds a ton of promise, but also a ton of complexity. We'd better take a fundamentally human-centered approach to all of the messages and functionality we put in every "thing," which is why this panel by leaders in the space is so worthwhile. Executives from Disney, Misfit and Sensoria will discuss leading with user experience in the IoT.
By Laurel Wentz.
If there's one way to summarize why La Comunidad is on this list, it's this: The agency is scrapping its name.
Founded 14 years ago as a multicultural specialist by Argentine brothers José and Joaquín Mollá, the shop is swapping La Comunidad for The Community early this year. It's a shocking but prescient move that speaks volumes about the agency's ability to understand and adapt to the evolving industry landscape.
"It's a reflection of what's happening culturally in this country," said José Mollá, co-founder and chief creative officer. "We felt that being called La Comunidad reinforces a division that no longer exists. Language and ethnicity implied a separation that is less culturally relevant every day. In the same way that we're in a post-digital era, where the division between a digital agency and a traditional agency makes less sense, because that's not how people live their lives. We believe that culturally, we're still going through a similar process. And it's having a really interesting effect on American culture."
La Comunidad has always been an agency with few boundaries, bouncing back and forth between work for the multicultural market, Latin America and, increasingly, the U.S. general market. (Mr. Mollá himself is so much a part of the U.S. and international creative community that he was named chairman of the One Club in June -- and, in fact, plays a talking pencil in the current call-for-entries campaign for the One Club's annual festival, the One Show.)
In 2014, revenue grew 19%, and headcount was also up 19% to 130 staffers, who sometimes brainstorm by the pool at the agency's Miami headquarters. La Comunidad worked with Google on its first major Hispanic initiative, developing a new domain for the U.S. Hispanic market, using .soy (Spanish for "I am") in place of .com. (Check out Holagoogle.soy.)
In fact, almost half of La Comunidad's new revenue last year came from digital, and the shop did social and digital work for 84% of its clients, up from just 16% a year earlier. That's partly thanks to support from SapientNitro, which acquired La Comunidad in January 2014.
Among its successes during the year was Modelo Especial, which overtook Heineken as the No. 2 imported beer in the U.S. by revenue and volume. (The No. 1 import, Corona, is also at La Comunidad.)
"Each year the campaign gets better and more relevant and tests better and better," said Jim Sabia, CMO of Constellation Brands, which owns Corona and Modelo. He also values the founders' hands-on approach. "José and Joaquín Mollá are the creatives who work on our business."
La Comunidad grew new work for the general market by one-third in 2014, taking the agency's business split to 65% multicultural and 35% general market. All the agency's work for Beam Suntory, for example, is for the general market or total market, including the digital business won in 2014 for its tequila brands.
"Being acquired by Sapient is bringing great digital and social thinking into the fold," said Jared Fix, VP-general manager, mixables, Beam Suntory. He singled out La Comunidad's work reviving slightly "dusty" tequila brand Hornitos as well as a dazzling all-digital launch for Justin Timberlake's premium tequila Sauza 901.
For Converse, the agency wins praise from the company's global headquarters in Boston for creative initiatives pairing the brand with art and local culture in Latin America. In Sao Paulo, where a ban on outdoor advertising has made that giant city even more colorless, La Comunidad and Converse rallied Paulistas, as residents are called, to "Fight the Gray" by donating (outlines of) their shadows, which street artists turned into colorful pieces of graffiti-like art that were plastered across Sao Paulo and spread on Twitter and Instagram.
La Comunidad enjoys a well-deserved reputation for fun. Picture the 2014 holiday party, which began at a mermaid bar in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and ended on a disco pirate ship in Miami's bay.
And the agency responded to persistent questions about why and for how much the brothers sold the agency with a hilarious two-minute video in February in which José and Joaquín give sensible reasons, such as "our commitment to digital and emerging technologies," against the backdrop of their new lifestyle including a lavish yacht called Jose's, a helicopter, private airplane, vintage car, mansion and even new gold teeth.
After the Sapient linkup, La Comunidad deliberately focused on growing its existing business by integrating social and digital capabilities -- even hiring Sapient's global director of social, Nathaniel Perez -- rather than seeking new clients from the agency, said Managing Director Luis Montero. "We said, 'Let's keep the faucet closed so we're not overwhelmed.'"
Toward the end of 2014, the time came to open the faucet, with more meetings and capability presentations with Sapient leadership to prepare for future clients. This year, as The Community, it plans to deliver "culturally driven ideas for visionary brands," Mr. Mollá said.
Existing clients, however, know the shop is about much more than multicultural, no matter what it is called. "La Comunidad has the best understanding of the [multicultural] demographic we're targeting, excellent creative for the total market and an ability to manage digital and social channels," said Beam Suntory's Mr. Fix. "It's all best of breed."
Read the full article.
Lack of Women in Leadership Roles Is a Business Challenge, Not a Women's Problem
By Scott Karambis, VP of marketing and brand strategy at SapientNitro.
I recently returned from the 3% Conference in San Francisco, a gathering dedicated to advocating for women in creative leadership positions. I was one of only two dozen or so men in attendance, and I couldn't help wondering why the lack of women leaders is still seen as a women's problem -- not a business challenge -- when the benefits of women's leadership are so obvious and so uncontestable.
Women control roughly 85% of consumer purchases, yet 91% of women say advertisers don't understand them. As advertisers, we attend many meetings where the clients are women, but we often scramble to put together a gender-balanced team ourselves.
Where women aren't in charge yet, men in leadership positionsshould take responsibility and lead the way.
Ad agencies have long realized they need at least a few women around, and many have sponsored studies or women's support networks. But as Joan Williams points out in the Harvard Business Review, too many of these efforts get stuck "admiring the problem," rather than executing programs that change the game.
Watch the video on AdAge Creativity Online
Whole Foods makes an impressive effort to bring food retail into the digital age with a series of innovative interactive experiences that have launched in its newest Atlanta store. Created by SapientNitro's Second Story, they include an interactive wall of window panes in the store's cafe (seen above) offering shoppers a glimpse into the lives of the local providers who cultivate and grow the food. There's also a "magic mirror" that assigns your body movements one of three different auras -- refresh, energize, relieve -- and suggests appropriate products from the Whole Body range, and "Pefect Pairings" touchscreens that recommend pairings of wine or beer for particular foods.
By Bill Kanarick
The World Series now reaching its climax closes out a 2014 season that is expected to deliver record revenue to Major League Baseball, in part driven by record broadcast rights deals from national and regional sports networks.
Yet all is not healthy with America's pastime. In particular, baseball fans tend to be older than other sports fans and are getting older with each passing year. Roughly half the viewers during the 2013 World Series were over 55 and only 6% were under18.
Baseball's challenges are not limited to viewership. Baseball youth participation is also declining by around 7% per year, which is faster than the 4% per year decline in all youth sports participation.
In short, it's clear that baseball has work to do to ensure it remains relevant to the next generation. While this must include changes to the game itself, such as speeding up the pace of play, digital innovation will be critical to strengthening the connection between baseball and younger fans. Sports compete with all forms of entertainment, and consumers increasingly expect these experiences to be digitally enabled. Younger fans are much more likely to watch sports in digital channels than other sports fans.
Just one week after launching its first national branding campaign, Whole Foods is promoting its sustainability cred in its stores.
The upscale grocer—with the help of SapientNitro's Second Story—has loaded up its new flagship store in Alpharetta, Ga., with digital experiences that show shoppers where their food comes from. This isn't exactly the store of tomorrow, though. "We wanted to bring in some cool digital elements, but we didn't want that to detract from the shopping experience," said Matt Courtoy, Whole Foods' social and digital media specialist.
The most eye-catching activation is in the store's café. A digital screen on a wall runs an Instagram feed showing produce still growing in the fields of six local farmers that supply the store. Elsewhere in the store, a digital mirror encourages shoppers to strike three different poses, which trigger images of recommended health products like vitamins and protein shakes.
Finally, touchscreens are built into display crates in the specialty section of the store where beer, cheese and wine are sold.
Whole Foods' tech-savvy spin on shopping is the latest effort by a grocer to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive market. Earlier this month, AmazonFresh launched in New York, and Walmart is starting to offer more organic products.
"Educating you on the people that are bringing you the food is a huge differentiator--[that's] not easily replicated by the big-box grocers or Amazon," said Donald Chesnut, SapientNitro's chief experience officer.
By Nigel Vaz
It isn’t enough to simply respond to a brief, says SapientNitro’s Nigel Vaz. In this perpetually connected digital world, you have to make a brand more relevant to consumers through innovation
As marketing agencies, we spend a lot of time with our clients addressing challenges in the here-and-now. As critical as that is for our clients’ businesses, it’s rarely a route to the kind of innovation that puts clear water between them and the competition.
We know that perpetual connectivity has transformed consumers’ daily lives, and that what was once a linear brand relationship with them has evolved into a complicated landscape that melds channels, technologies and experiences.
In our clients’ organisations, this has brought about a dismantling of distinct functions such that brand communications, product and service design are interlinked and require a new approach – or even a new model – from partner agencies.
In 2012, RBS unveiled a new brand promise, Here For You, with the aim of making the brand more relevant to customers. As well as the TV campaign to communicate the promise, RBS set in motion a programme to deliver customer benefits that were tangible, helpful and differentiating.
Get Cash, a mobile app that allows customers to withdraw emergency cash from ATMs using a time-sensitive, six-digit passcode, was a market-first for RBS and, crucially, demonstrated to customers that the bank was doing as well as saying. The app was one of a host of ideas developed by Royal Bank of Scotland Group in partnership with SapientNitro – all of which tied to the brand promises Here For You (RBS) and Helpful Banking (NatWest).
For instance, Intention to Lend is a digital mortgage tool that gives real-time proof of NatWest’s intent to lend against a specific property and gives customers a head start in the house-buying process. Another tool, Auto ID, shortcuts the process of opening a NatWest bank account by allowing customers to photograph and submit proof of identification, rather than have to provide physical documents during banking hours.
Different agencies, differently resourced, will have their own way of coming at the innovation challenge, be it through R&D labs, investments, external networks, account-centric innovation or, as SapientNitro does, through a combination of these.
It’s for no one agency to prescribe how it is done, but it is beholden on us as an industry to face the innovation challenge, explore best practice and recognise that we need to be able to see around corners, understand what’s next and create the products, experiences and stories that brands and consumers expect and deserve.
Nigel Vaz is Senior Vice President and European Managing Director of SapientNitro
Read the story on TheGuardian.com.
The prominence of marketing technologists and the chief marketing technologist (or CMTO) role has greatly expanded over the past six years. Just in the past year, the topic has been featured in an article in the July-August 2014 edition of the Harvard Business Review, and the first MarTech conference completely sold out. There is no denying marketing technology is hot right now.
But few studies have been done to understand this group’s education, skills, gaps, and areas of expertise. How similar are marketing technologists to each other? How different?
To help us shed more light on the emerging profession of marketing technologists, Sheldon Monteiro — the marketing technologist CTO of SapientNitro — took the initiative to design a survey with Decision Analyst, a market research firm. SapientNitro sponsored this effort — and provided 3 iPad Minis for the drawing.
We asked the chiefmartec.com community to participate — readers like you and attendees at the recent MarTech conference — and ultimately had 280 respondents. (For more details, see “About the Survey” at the end of the article.)
We’re excited to share the initial results. Here are the eight most interesting findings we’ve identified so far.
We identified clusters of skills (“rank your strongest/weakest skill…”), and attitudes (“I think of myself as…”) to define six archetypes of marketing technologists.
These archetypes are quite different. The largest, the Marketing Maven, focuses on strategic marketing management, while the second, the Infrastructure Architect, focuses on technology infrastructure and IT.
The development of unique areas of expertise within the marketing technologist role is clearly seen in these data. For example, there is a group highly focused on cutting-edge, emerging technology (the Experience Engineers). But there is also a group with big data chops (the Data Divas).
Is this a sign that the marketing technology field is maturing and growing more specialized? Is that a good or bad development, given that a large part of the marketing technologist role should be about bridging silos?
…and just 19% had a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) graduate degree.
Instead, business majors dominated at the graduate level, while undergraduate majors varied greatly: 31% of respondents majored in social science, liberal arts, or actual art — including drama and theater — in their undergrad studies.
Marketing managers are the #1 job leading to a marketing technologist. But as a category, a technical or programming background is the most common.
In other words, they’re doing things with technology they never expected.
And they’re learning on the job. While they might not have had a technology education, most of them have recently held a job accountable for technology — they’ve learned on their own the technical skills they need.
And speaking of their job, most of them don’t report into the CIO. Instead, most report into the CMO (31.4%) or CEO (23.9%). In sum, 64% reported into the CMO, CEO, CIO or similar SVP roles.
While 78.9% of companies have an individual or a team to manage marketing technologists in our study, most of them don’t have “marketing technologist” in their title. Instead, marketing, business, or technology titles dominate.
Our respondents ranked 44 job skills by importance for the future of marketing; the top five are listed below.
This is a group with an integrated view of digital and marketing. They seem like they’d agree with the CMO of Kimberly Clark when he says, “We don’t believe in digital marketing. We believe in marketing in a digital world.”
In fact, later in the survey, 94% of respondents said they believed that marketing skills and IT skills could be combined into a single person.
The marketing technologist of today may not be trained in traditional technology, but they’re increasingly being asked to provide expertise on these areas.
Marketing technologists identified significant gaps in the hard technology skills they ranked as most important — big data and customer relationship management.
But they also noted gaps in marketing fundamentals: target market identification, for example, was the #2 most important skill, yet most respondents felt it wasn’t a particularly strong skill of theirs (22nd out of 44). Market segmentation and psychographics also emerged as key gaps.
The role of the marketing technologist is a hybrid, but there seems to be significant gaps on both the marketing and the technology side.
To close out the study, we asked how excited and stressed marketing technologists are.
The good news — they are much more excited than stressed. 62.3% reported being extremely or very excited, but just 32.3% reported being extremely or very stressed.
And stress didn’t increase significantly as income increased — but excitement did.
About the Survey
The survey was an online questionnaire and survey link distributed through two primary channels — chiefmartec.com and the 2014 Boston MarTech conference (August 18-20). No maximum sample quotes or screening criteria were set. Survey responses were collected from August 15 to September 8.
A total of 280 surveys were completed. The distribution of the sample appears to be representative of the marketing technology community, as defined by this blog and attendees from the 2014 Boston MarTech conference. SapientNitro sponsored the study, working with Decision Analyst, a market research firm, to design and execute the study.
These are the preliminary findings — look for the full results coming out in end of October.
Note: This was a guest article written by Hilding Anderson, Director of Research & Insights at SapientNitro. Special thanks to Sheldon Monteiro and Scott Tang.
SapientNitro named Mondelez lead digital agency
Read it on AdNews. Full editorial as follows:
Mondelez, parent company of brands including Cadbury and Vegemite, has named SapientNitro as its lead digital strategic agency across its entire portfolio.
As part of a long running review of how it markets its suite of brands, Mondelez has also named two tactical agencies to its roster.
Online Circle and ChannelT have been added to its roster with each charged as being a tactical/support agency.
The move comes as the FMCG giant continues to focus on digital communications as well as tapping into new innovations to drive its brands and consumer engagement.
Mondelez head of marketing services, Anthony Ho, said the move was part of a bid to create deeper
relationships with its agencies.
"The key thing for us was to get a dedicated account team and ways of working that could be translated across the brands for us and so we have been through over the past four momnths quite an extensive roster pitch process," Ho told AdNews.
"We have landed on Sapient as the lead agency and ultimately the rationale behind selecting Sapient really is they did an amazing job for us in in terms of just showing the connection between strategic thinking right through to creative and then also having a really good strategy around content and social."
A spokesman at SapientNitro said the win was an opportunity to combine story-telling with digital.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to work with a great company with leading brands to create immersive, connected experiences that allow consumers to make stronger brand connections in their always-on world,” The agency said.
“With digital as a central part of how people experience the world today, we are thrilled to leverage our unique ability to bring together the combined power of storytelling and systems thinking to help Mondelez connect with consumers in powerful and meaningful ways. We are very much looking forward to our partnership.”
AdNews is Australia's leading trade brand serving the advertising, marketing and media industries. Founded in 1928, it is published fortnightly in print with a daily email newsletter and a comprehensive, resource-based website. Its online archives contain more than 60,000 articles dating back to 1998. AdNews also runs a number of award programs including the AdNews Agency of the Year Awards,Australian Magazine Awards, Glossy Awards, Locus Awards and Rising Star Awards. AdNews events include the Media Sales Summit and the AdNews Challenge. AdNews is published by Yaffa Publishing Group Pty Ltd, one of Australia's largest specialist publishers.
Chief Marketing Officer, Bill Kanarick, made his second appearance this year on Bloomberg television’s morning news program, “Surveillance,” which aired on September 18, 2014. As guest host, Bill provided insight on world events that made headlines that day including, how technology is shaping the cadence and patterns in which content is consumed and Alibaba’s forthcoming IPO implications.
Bill also brought with him a special guest, COO of the Boston Red Sox, Sam Kennedy, who touted the multi-year partnership between Sapient and the Red Sox. Sam discussed the impact digital will have on baseball moving forward and the importance of engaging fans starting at a young age.
By Scott Brinker: August 14, 2014 - Sheldon Monteiro, CTO of SapientNitro, is one of the sharpest people I have met in the marketing technology space. We were introduced by Mayur Gupta, the global head of marketing technology at Kimberly-Clark — and also a SapientNitro alum.
Taking Mayur and Sheldon as two points on a line, you have to extrapolate that SapientNitro is kind of “stellar nursery” for producing amazing marketing technologists.
Pretty much every conversation I’ve had with Sheldon has set my mind on fire. And the following Q&A with him is no exception. It started as a chance to discuss his upcoming keynote talk at MarTech this month, Growing Unicorns: SapientNitro’s Chief Marketing Technology Officer University — indeed, SapientNitro is quite deliberately birthing hybrid marketing technology stars.
But we expanded into a broad swath of strategic issues that every marketing leader can appreciate with technology management: opportunities in volatility, build vs. buy decisions, in-house vs. outsourcing decisions, the remaking of agencies, what’s missing from the marketing technology landscape, the collision of creativity and technology, and more.
Tell us a little about your background and your career path that led you to become the CTO of SapientNitro.
I had a nomadic childhood. Ours was a close-knit family, but my parents moved around a lot — I attended 6 different schools and 4 colleges. Sadly, I don’t have a single grade school friend I’m in touch with today. But for what I lost in roots, I gained in perspective: different cultures, types of people, value systems, and educational experiences. It had a huge impact on how I think, and on my attitude towards change. It doesn’t mean I like disruptive change more or less than anybody else, but I have the benefit of many years of learning to accept radical change as part of everyday life.
My first paid job was in marketing, at 14, conducting door-to-door market research surveys for consumer products. After 3 months, I figured that it would be much easier to make money in technology as an entrepreneur. I was obsessed with electronics as a teenager, and tapped that passion for commercial gain by assembling and repairing home computers. I suppose I was a maker long before making became the cultural phenomenon it is today. That hobby turned into a successful business that helped pay for college and a motorcycle, among other toys. What more could a teenager want?
Immediately after college, where I majored in physics and computer science, I found myself in Thailand, where a vacation turned into a two-year stint building systems for the financial industry — more specifically, graphical trading systems for brokers at the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Working with brokers was another phenomenal experience. These folks live on volatility. They don’t just accept it — more volatility literally means more opportunities to make money, and they need the information and technology to exploit that volatility. Little did I know, thriving in volatility would serve me well years later in marketing technology.
Working with brokers was another phenomenal experience. These folks live on volatility. They don’t just accept it — more volatility literally means more opportunities to make money.
Immediately after grad school, I was fortunate to have a number of job opportunities. One of those was with a fast growing technology services company in Boston, promising a focus on culture, teamwork, and cool technology to solve customer problems. On my first visit to their offices, I was blown away by the people, open spaces, and design centers where they conducted customer workshops. Two weeks later, I signed up with Sapient as an entry-level engineer as employee 196.
Sapient has changed a lot over the past 19 years. Today, we are over 12,000 people and well north of a billion in revenues. Here, I’ve had incredible opportunities to be an entrepreneur, to do amazing work, and to break new boundaries with innovative technology. Like my childhood, Sapient is close-knit, but we prosper on — and even instigate — change as a way of life.
I was elevated to the newly created role as SapientNitro’s Global CTO two years ago. We realized that though we were doing so much groundbreaking work with technology, we were often taking it for granted. I was running our Quality, Methodology and Tools efforts prior, in addition to client service, and this new role expanded my influence canvas significantly. Because it was a new role, I’ve been able to define it without a prior benchmark.
How would you describe SapientNitro? Are you a digital agency? Or something different?
The world has no shortage of advertising and communications as well as technology service firms. But much of the massive effort and expense in advertising and customer technology doesn’t translate to positive consumer experiences.
In today’s world, although consumers are in control, they have a fleeting attention span. Compound this with sensory and media overload. Brands have realized that consumers make no distinction between brand communications and experience. Brands are changing because consumers are. But are their agencies? I don’t know that the categories of digital agency or traditional agency are even relevant anymore.
What’s needed is a new breed of agency, architected for today’s consumer, that’s not in the business of creating ads or websites or apps, but rather envisioning and creating worlds that come alive through consumer touchpoints that attract, engage, transact, and retain. That make technology seamless, where the brand becomes part of the consumer’s life, not just a media impression or a channel of interaction.
We’ve built SapientNitro as that new breed of agency. We’ve assembled our talent, our culture, and how we work to value creativity and technology as equals — where technology instigates the creative process as much as it brings ideas to life.
We’ve assembled our talent, our culture, and how we work tovalue creativity and technology as equals — where technology instigates the creative process as much as it brings ideas to life.
I’m very proud that in 2013, we were acknowledged as OMMA’s Creative Agency of the Year and named a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies published late last year. Receiving one recognition or the other is a major accomplishment — but only a new breed of agency is recognized for both. And, we also have maintained our strong heritage and recognition from Forrester as a leader in Experience Design and Technology services.
You’ve created a very unique executive development program at SapientNitro to “grow” hybrid marketing technology leaders, your Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO) University. What led you to create this program? How does it work? Any successes so far?
As the world has shifted from analog to digital, from communications to experience, from story yelling to storyscaping, companies are left with a gaping hole: they need a new breed of technologist. They need someone who sees around corners and “gets” marketers and advertising. This new breed of technologist thinks at the intersection of marketing, technology, and story — and they aren’t afraid of charting new territory.
But technologists who understand the business of marketing — and can advise across the breadth of marketing technologies — are rare. It may seem strange to say this to you, given the stellar work and thought leadership you provide on the marketing technology space, but very few companies have taken the challenge to develop the talent capable of achieving success in this role. Many of our competitors have begun to talk about the intersection of marketing and technology, but few have made real strides to drive that convergence.
We created the CMTO University last year — an internal, yearlong leadership development program to grow some of our best technologists from across the globe.
To address this, we created the CMTO University last year — an internal, yearlong leadership development program to grow some of our best technologists from across the globe, focused on expanding their technology skills, equipping them with a mix of marketing fundamentals, and helping them increase influence through the power of persuasion and storytelling.
We combine theory with practice to ensure the class is applying what they learn, while they learn. We bring in diverse perspectives, from different disciplines — business strategy, brand strategy, creative design, analytics — leveraging famous talent from around our agency, our learning partners, and industry icons. Assignments include teaching others to master the material and “pay it forward.”
This program also imparts the tools to ensure the graduates continue to stay on top of what’s next — a critical skill in the digital world, as many marketing technologies become obsolete before many competitors even begin to master them. Our clients reap the benefits through the work we produce, and our participants see the impact of their collective transformation throughout the program, both in the curriculum and on project work.
In terms of success, our inaugural Class of 2014 just met in India for the final program intensive last weekend. It was an amazing, inspiring day, with an engaged audience, riveted to their seats from start to the finish. They presented the culmination of their work in the program to over 300 attendees in Bangalore, including their peers and our community of technologists, at WHAT’S NEXT IS NOW, a full-day conference event. Using the storytelling skills learned in the curriculum, the students discussed how brands can build and maintain strong connections with customers by breaking boundaries at the intersection of technology and story.
Our CMTO University program resulted in changes big and small — from helping imagine new possibilities during our ideation and pitch process, to changing the narrative during our project acceptance phases.
Our students are already making a very different kind of impact in their work with our clients. It’s resulted in changes big and small — from helping imagine new possibilities during our ideation and pitch process, to changing the narrative during our project acceptance phases. Perhaps the biggest change for our participants is the change they report in perspective. They report they are more fearless and unconstrained in how they think about the future, and most importantly, their role and responsibility in creating and shaping it.
From your perspective, what’s happening in the broader agency world? To me, it often seems that agencies are somewhere between a state of massive disruption (“advertising is dead!”) and total denial (“long live the 30-second spot, where the media dollars still flow like water”). What’s your take? What’s the future look like?
For over two centuries, agencies made their bread and butter through media commissions. Media formats have evolved, but the reality is that the business model of most agencies is still heavily dependent on those commissions. If you are in one of those agencies, you are going to try very hard to maintain that equilibrium and to force fit the new networked economy into the old broadcast paradigm.
The business model of most agencies is still heavily dependent on media commissions. They try very hard to force fit the new networked economy into the old broadcast paradigm.
We’re trending towards addressability and interaction across every channel, including television, out-of-home, and even physical computing in immersive spaces. With that comes the opportunity for brands to target and provide contextual relevance in every interaction and with every communication, no matter where the consumer is. This presents a massive opportunity for agencies that can get comfortable with accountability for every dollar spent — whether that money is spent on communications or experience.
We believe that connected “omnichannel” experiences are more than just responsive versions of websites, but are actual immersive media spaces and canvases that transcend devices and advertising. We are able to engage the consumer via emotional connections, physical connections, as well as virtual connections, in a continuous story that increases brand engagement.
How do you look at the landscape of a thousand marketing technology vendors? Are they your raw materials? Your partners? Your competitors? It seems increasingly complicated as technology vendors — for instance, IBM — are also selling services and agency-like offerings to CMOs.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to marketing technology. But as exciting as marketing and marketing technology is, I want to underscore the potential to use all of this fantastic technology to innovate the business. Peter Drucker famously said, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two — and only two — basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”
If you are, say, the CEO of a taxi company, you could apply a great amount of marketing technology to better connect with your customers, and you would still be disrupted by Uber. Uber fundamentally re-imagined the taxi and limousine business by creating a service for the networked world we live in — and there is no arguing that their business is powered by software, the cloud, and mobility.
If you are the CEO of a taxi company, you could apply a great amount of marketing technology to better connect with your customers, and you would still be disrupted by Uber.
Against this backdrop, the question for us as marketers is: do we do old things with the new tools, or fundamentally disrupt ourselves — creating new value, in new ways, with the new tools we have at our disposal? The answer to me seems obvious. The latter can yield step change, while the former yields incremental change. We need to do both. This is where the galactic choices we have with marketing technology can be a benefit or a distraction.
Technology can fuel innovation and re-imagine business — Uber would not have been practical a decade ago because the technology and deployed mobile infrastructure simply did not exist. Yet all that choice can be a huge distraction — I’ve seen large organizations make multiple competing investments in the same functional categories. That’s not just waste. It fragments the customer experience.
We help our clients create experiences and tell their stories by marrying imagination with systems thinking. Brands can move beyond making ads and into creating worlds where their story becomes part of the consumer’s story. This new reality requires that legacy agency, business, and marketing paradigms be eliminated. The silos that divide creativity and technology — and any lines between the physical and virtual — no longer exist in the real world, and they don’t exist in ours.
We help our clients create experiences and tell their stories bymarrying imagination with systems thinking.
How do you manage the complexity of a 1,000+ vendors? Old notions of enterprise architecture and standards governance often break down at the velocity with which marketing technology is advancing. It’s often seen as an impediment to progress. At the same time, without conscious choice, you have duplication, or the specter of a thousand flowers blooming.
With systems thinking, we take a disciplined approach to applying the right mix of speculative and proven technology to support the brand-consumer story. We combine hacking and engineering skillsets with the methodology and culture to support that marriage. We continue to invest in new capability building and keep a pulse on emerging technologies, platforms, and development techniques around industry verticals. We incubate new talent to ensure we don’t stagnate, as many agencies and integrators often do when they scale.
The space we are in is hotly contested by agencies, systems integrators, and even product vendors. Product companies, in an attempt to protect their software and hardware revenues, are offering agency services. Agencies, in an attempt to protect their media business, are offering systems integration. And systems integrators are moving into the interactive space.
In reality, it’s incredibly difficult to create a company that values creativity as much as it values technology. How do you systematically foster and celebrate “weird” in a product or systems integration business? How do you value process and scale in a creative culture? These are basic questions, but they are fundamental to delivering value with the problems our clients bring us.
It’s incredibly difficult to create a company that values creativity as much as it values technology. How do you systematically foster and celebrate “weird” in a product or systems integration business? How do you value process and scale in a creative culture?
Finally, you observed — and I agree — that there is no shortage of choice in marketing technology. Yet there remain vast swaths of marketing and experience problems that have immature solutions. For instance, the digitization of physical spaces and commerce logistics and fulfillment are still at very early stages. There are very bright minds working on these problems, and we are constantly on “hunts” to explore these areas in response to customer needs or known whitespace.
Drafting on that, how do you make the decision for what to build with your team or buy from a vendor? Are there certain kinds of capabilities — perhaps particular layers of marketing technology — that you think are better built custom for brands?
There is no silver bullet answer to this question. Innovation and marketing inherently thrive on disruption, so that would appear to be a good argument for choosing niche vendors or building custom, differentiated solutions. At the same time, you would be hard-pressed to build from scratch when there are proven solutions that solve for known problem sets, like web content management or digital commerce. Open source options are now available in most every space from core infrastructure to experience management.
How do you make choices?
The moment you decide to build custom software — and that software is directly impacting your customer’s experience —you are now a software company.
The first thing to note is that the moment you decide to build custom software — and that software is directly impacting your customer’s experience — you are now a software company. With internal applications, you can defer enhancements and upgrades by process or training interventions. Unless you are a monopoly, or your customers are willing to accept a poorer experience because you offer lower pricing, for example, you can’t do that with software that your customers experience directly.
Packaged software somewhat mitigates this problem by shifting the onus of enhancements to the vendor. Yet, if your customer experience demands change at a rate faster than your vendor can deliver, you face the specter of having to build enhancements yourself — or switch vendors.
All this said, a brand would be hard-pressed to justify building core infrastructure technologies, middleware, or databases. There are just too many great options to not choose from one of the commercial or open source options. The answer as you move up the stack is nuanced — and sits at the intersection or function, form, differentiation and cost.
If you are a small or midsize business, chances are you don’t want to be a software company, and you should seek to use off-the-shelf software to the extent you can, building differentiation with how you use the tools, rather than re-inventing the tools themselves. On the other hand, if your competition is outsmarting you with software, you would be ill-advised to sit still while waiting for your vendor ecosystem to catch up and provide you with the weapons to compete.
If your competition is outsmarting you with software, you would be ill-advised to sit still while waiting for your vendor ecosystem to catch up.
At the other end of the spectrum lies experience technology — the mobile, web, responsive and in-venue applications that your customers actually experience as your brand presence. I’d be reluctant to have this layer look at all similar to my competitors, and this would be one area where custom builds can be more the norm than the exception.
What marketing technology capabilities — both technical infrastructure and human resources — should a brand have in-house? What should they turn to agencies like yours to provide? Obviously, you’re biased here, and it probably varies a lot from company to company, but how would you frame those choices?
As you observed, the answer varies. IT departments have been moving up the outsourcing continuum for decades. They have been doing so for a variety of reasons — specialized expertise, temporary or project specific needs, and economies of scale, to name a few. On the other hand, companies hired agencies because the agency is independent and provided an outside point-of-view to the effort of selling the company’s products or services.
The truth is, for the foreseeable future, the sheer amount of innovation in the marketing technology space will create more opportunity — and hence more work — than can be delivered by the available talent, in-house or at agencies.
With marketing and marketing technology outsourcing, you need to do some introspection and honestly answer some basic questions, such as:
One additional point — the decision to outsource must go hand-in-hand with the incentives and tooling to integrate the provider’s teams deeply with your in-house business, development, and operations teams. The traditional model of outsourcing discrete projects and throwing deliverables over the wall is a recipe for suboptimal results and barely meeting consumer desires.
The decision to outsource must go hand-in-hand with theincentives and tooling to integrate the provider’s teamsdeeply with your in-house teams.
Old-style procurement models for both systems integration and agency services are under pressure, as they often put the client’s and service provider’s interests at odds — and often don’t value enough the potential for innovating and driving massive disruption in the competitive space or consumer engagement with the brand. There is much work to be done in this area. I’ve seen tremendous success with shared incentives that are focused on the greatness of work.
Wow, Sheldon — this was terrific. Thank you!
By Denise Lu
This year's annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which wrapped up on Saturday, commemorated the 60th anniversary of the most prestigious awards in creative communications. Ninety-two countries submitted a record 35,765 entries.
SapientNitro created a series of infographics spanning the festival's six decades, featuring statistics, notable participants, industry breakdowns and trends.
Ever wonder what it would be like to hang out at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity? Alex Martineau, art director at SapientNitro and part of Cannes Young Lions Team USA Print, talks about his experience in this year’s print challenge. Here’s what he had to say:
The basement floor of the Palais des Festival is where all of the shortlisted work is exhibited. It’s built like a maze, with row after row of incredible print ads, digital concepts and consumer outreach efforts. Each entry has the agency name next to it but no individual name. Maybe I’ve met the guy who made that ad; maybe I haven’t. Maybe he bought me a beer last night. Maybe I spilled it all over the sand when a dancing Dutchman in a Mario costume bumped into me. Is that Dutch Mario a Grand Prix-winning art director? Maybe. That’s the beauty of Cannes.
I was selected to represent Team USA in the Young Lions print competition. It’s an amazing sight, as every talented member of the competing teams is under 30 years old. And while getting there was no easy feat, the actual competition during the festival was even harder. There were 40 teams from all over the world hungry for the same recognition and prestige. Ultimately, we were all hoping to get our hands on a highly coveted Young Lions award.
We had 24 hours to craft our work. The brief was for Macmillan Cancer Support, a U.K.-based charity focused on providing specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer. Our challenge was to drive cancer patients to Macmillans’ online community, where they could receive support from a vast, global community. Once receiving the brief, we spent all day and night frantically trying to make the best work we could. And we did. We were proud of it. Typographic and a strong idea based on initial reactions of a diagnosis, the concept connected seamlessly with the help of the community to guide patients through treatment. It was up to the judges, who unfortunately, did not pick our work. But with all of the teams being exceptionally talented, it was easy enough to swallow our pride.
Through this experience, I learned that living in different parts of the world gives you a truly different perspective on thinking creatively. At the end of the day, simplicity is still king. Words of wisdom to future Young Lions: Win or lose, this is an experience to be treasured and remembered with pride. And after all, you’re still in Cannes with plenty of ballyhoo to be had.
The Macmillan Online Community project was one example of design as activism. Get your feet wet in this socially conscious creative specialty by picking up “The Design Activist’s Handbook” ebook at My Design Shop.
“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Serge Del Grosso, Media Director of SapientNitro.
Digital-media planners are facing increasing pressure, and not just from their usual heavy workloads. There’s also all the pressure from the new challenges and opportunities available in the dynamically evolving marketplace.
One challenge creating new tension in the system is reconciling top-of-funnel reach building with the high-volume and efficiencies generated through algorithmic buying. For example, eMarketer predicts that U.S. real-time programmatic buys will increase by more than 72% in 2013. Yet, in contrast, according to the Online Publisher’s Association’s Branding on Display survey of 250 marketers, 47% of decision makers believe premium content publishers are the best media for brand-focused advertising campaigns, compared to 16% preferring social media, 13% favoring video ad networks and 11% preferring portals.
Of course, the relative prioritization of brand-building vs. programmatic-buying tactics will reflect the objective of the digital campaign. Building reach, filling the funnel, and driving customer engagement will point toward premium-display publishers; maximizing efficiencies, optimizing conversion rates, and closing the sale through display retargeting will favor programmatic buying.
“Digital co-branding” offers a way to reconcile these two approaches.
Most marketers are already familiar with the concept of co-branding, a time-tested strategy in which two brands unite their selling proposition behind a common goal that leverages the heritage and the distinct characteristics of both of their brands. Examples are plentiful: Think Ford Explorer/Eddie Bauer, Nike/iPod Sport Kit, TGI Fridays’ Jack Daniel’s menu and many more. Digital co-branding borrows this fundamental approach. It aligns the advertiser’s brand and messaging content with a digital publisher that is targeting the same audience with similarly aligned editorial content.
The foundation of the digital co-branding is a shared brief about the objectives of the campaign. Unlike a simple sponsorship, co-branding requires the publishing partner to give up some editorial control and the advertiser to divert resources to activate content. In return, both parties get more responsive and engaged users.
The New York Times recently published a good article noting the acceleration of the digital co-branding trend. One of the examples it used was an article posted in BuzzFeed’s Life section, “10 Lifechanging Ways To Make Your Day More Efficient,” which clearly identified GE as the contributor and BuzzFeed’s partner. In return, BuzzFeed showcased links to GE’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
This approach can work equally well to drive traffic to display ad placements associated with content sponsorship. In my experience, publishers in the travel category are particularly receptive to building co-branding programs sourcing content from destination marketers. These publishers typically use such content to engage their audience throughout the travel-planning and -buying cycle, from pre-planning to active consideration through booking.
Take the example of a display ad that features dynamic updates on snow conditions. Placed on a site that covers ski resorts, that ad will almost always drive higher response rates than a static banner placement. Yes, rich media typically outperforms static creative; but linking the dynamic placement with contextually relevant content enables the advertiser to start a conversation with more connected consumers. This has the effect of “filling the funnel” with a more engaged pool of prospective visitors, thus increasing opportunities for sales -- either direct conversions or latent conversions activated by display retargeting.
Digital co-branding is by no means a panacea. The planner will still need to evaluate the mix between premium placements and algorithmic buying across digital platforms. However, instead of looking at brand building and programmatic buying as disparate activities, I believe the proper equation is co-branding plusprogrammatic buying, which together equals greater returns on investments. Co-branding can increase reach and engagement and activate brand consideration, while programmatic buying brings the user through the purchase cycle. Viewing these as complementary digital strategies -- used in conjunction with test-and-learn media analysis and ongoing optimization -- enhances media planners’ ability to maximize both the effectiveness and efficiency of their overall digital media campaigns.
In today’s ever-evolving, RTB-driven digital-media landscape, sometimes “healthy tension” can be a good thing.
“TKTBKS” from Smart Communications wins the Grand Prix in the Mobile category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
By Rae Annfera
When it comes to technology, there is a distinct fascination with faster, better, newer. The best mobile marketing effort of the last year, however--as declared at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity--is decidedly low tech. “TKTBKS” from Smart Communications and agency DM9 Jayme Syfu in Manilla, the festival Grand Prix in the Mobile category was awarded to a campaign that turned those ubiquitous but unsmart feature phones into mobile textbooks for students in need in the Philippines.
Recognizing that many in the developing world don’t have regular access to educational materials, Smart Communications condensed the information of traditional textbooks into SIM cards that could then be loaded onto feature phones, many of which were discarded by owners who’d moved on to newer models. The work demonstrated that mobile technology, when applied well to a real-world problem, is a means to an end rather than and end in itself, and was lauded by the jury members for being clear, smart, and useful. “You don’t have to use flashy tech to execute a great idea,” says Rei Inamoto, the Mobile jury president and chief creative officer of AKQA.
Determining which mobile ideas were world-leading was a point of great debate, but Inamoto suggested the criteria in determining winning ideas were about portability, connectivity, and pervasiveness. Juror Justin Baird suggested that the winning piece needed to be a combination of “creativity, idea, execution, and mobile relevance” in a way that could only be achieved through the mobile platform.
Gold winners included Google’s World Wide Maze, which incorporated Google’s Web GL, Web Sockets, and Tap Sync technology to turn a website into a 3-D game space and a mobile phone into a gaming controller.
As well, Reborn’s “Second Life Apps,” from Duval Guillaume Modem in Belgium, received Gold for turning disused, single-use event apps into a vehicle to promote people to sign up for organ donation. Other Golds included “Scrabble Wi-Fi,” which turned the point of Wi-Fi registration into a game, and “Missing Children” for Baobeihuijia.com in which facial recognition technology was used to identify lost or stolen children.
For the Lions, the world’s largest celebration of innovative ad ideas, the Mobile category is still being defined. As juror Gaston Legorburu, worldwide chief creative officer of SapientNitro, says, work stood out when “you saw something that was a creative use of mobile tech to solve a problem or create a business opportunity.” The best mobile work, he says, was “a creative use of technology to solve a problem.”
By Chantal Tode
While mobile native advertising is growing quickly, there are some potential pitfalls for marketers if they do not take the proper steps to ensure users understand when the content they are engaging with is sponsored.
In response to the quick expansion of native ads, Google executive Matt Cutts recently expressed concern in a YouTube video that some marketers are not adequately disclosing that content has been sponsored by a brand. The issue for Google is that if the sponsored content is not properly optimized, it can contribute to a Web pages search ranking.
“Traditional desktop advertising often tried to best, compete or draw attention away from the core content, but with the clear positioning that it was from an advertiser,” said David Hewitt, Atlanta-based vice president and global mobile practice lead for SapientNitro.
“Now we have advertisers that are interested in being a more integrated component of the primary content which can increase engagement, but also blur the lines between who is the content provider and who is the advertiser,” he said.
“In the native advertising model, once the ad is clicked/touched on, the publisher loses control of what content the consumer is presented with, but in essence needs to consider more accountability in referring the consumer to that destination.”
Better user experiences
Marketers are looking for ways to create stronger user experiences in mobile that go beyond the standard banner ad – which can be easily overlooked on a small mobile screen – as well as interstitials and other formats that take users away from the content they are interested in.
This is one of the reasons why native ads are on the upswing in mobile, because the ads are placed seamlessly within the flow of content.
Given the perceived potential for native advertising to provide a better user experience, it has been growing very quickly over the past few months.
Publishers are embracing native advertising because it appeals to brands and can be an important tool for monetizing their mobile strategy.
Facebook’s Sponsored Stories are a good example of native advertising, but others are also quickly jumping on board.
Hearst recently introduced a native advertising program that will run across digital platforms, including mobile. It entails several new ad units, including one that displays contextual content from an advertiser within a specific developing story.
The New York Time is also embracing native mobile advertising.
The publisher recently launched a new mobile guide app The Scoop, which includes sponsored content from Citi Bike, New York City’s new bike share program. The Citi Bike content includes a map showing Citi Bike stations and Scoop picks throughout the city (see story).
"The mobile landscape today has some native ad products that are driving dramatic market growth, like Facebook and Twitter’s ad units integrated into their core user experiences," said Clark Fredricksen, vice president of communications at eMarketer, New York. "These ads make a great deal of sense for marketers, as they’re relatively uniform and effective across platforms and devices.
"The small mobile screen size makes it imperative for marketers and publishers to develop ads that fit within the core user experience or content of a page, natively or otherwise," he said. "Some types of native custom executions (e.g. sponsored pages on Buzzfeed) may not yet ready for mainstream adoption, especially on mobile, because of high development costs.
"Ultimately we’re more likely to see large industry-wide increases in the native plays that can scale like native ads in Facebook newsfeed rather than mass adoption of one-off, customized native executions like those in Buzzfeed."
The key here for advertisers is that the content is placed inline so it is a part of the overall experience for users.
The danger is that inline advertising content can easily be mistaken for editorial content.
Editorial and branded content have been becoming more blended for some time, with native ads labeled by some as simply another type of the advertorial.
Some publishers have expressed concern that sponsored content may be confusing to readers, who may not know where the content is coming from as some ads do not clearly state that they are sponsored content.
If not handled correctly with the proper disclosures, native advertising can reflect negatively on both a publisher and the brand.
“Being clear it is an advertisement is the number one priority in keeping the integrity for both the publisher and the advertiser,” Mr. Hewitt said. “Also, if the ads become too obtrusive consumers will simply leave and may not even come back to the originating experience.
“At the end of the day it is up to an increasingly savvy consumer whether that partnership builds content scale and credibility or deflates it.”
Much of the discussion around native advertising is focused on placement.
However, marketers also need to be sure they are not overlooking the quality of the content.
“I'm a big believer in the power of native advertising and content marketing to create better mobile advertising experiences,” said Tom Foran, general manager of North America for Outbrain, New York. “In fact, I think mobile is the most fitting medium for native advertising as the smaller screen and mobile environment makes it easy for users to be turned off by banners and pre-rolls.
“However, I believe content is the real movement empowering brands to engage with consumers on their own terms,” he said. “Regardless of the mobile amplification tactic you choose, it is the interesting, trustworthy content that is going to create the positive, engaging mobile experience users want.”
Marketers recognize that as ads that feel more like narratives, this can help drive intimate engagements.
However, brands run the risk of losing consumers’ trust if they improperly take advantage of the access they have.
"The key to a well-crafted mobile strategy is creating an authentic conversation between the brand and the consumer,” said David Wachs, senior vice president of mobile at ePrize, Pleasant Ridge, MI.
“Whether you're leveraging branded social media sites, email campaigns or SMS promotions, you want the consumer to interact with your brand,” he said. “But that interaction cannot be facilitated without brand trust, which is where the pitfalls of native advertising come in.
“If native advertising does not include quality content and appropriate placement, your customers may feel deceived and inundated with irrelevant ads.”
By Rachel King
SAN FRANCISCO — Target Corp. on Friday officially opened a new technology innovation center in San Francisco, joining a growing number of companies, including General Electric Co. and rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which have opened new software development operations in the Bay Area over the last two years.
Established companies are turning to Silicon Valley real estate for a lot more than the weather. Access to talent, a more entrepreneurial approach to technology, and a less risk-averse approach to application development are among the reasons many companies are locating so-called centers of innovation in the area. Integrating the fruits of those centers with the company’s traditional IT, and meshing with a different corporate culture could pose problems, but the need to stimulate growth and infuse new thinking into IT are of paramount concern.
“Retail is undergoing a major revolution, and technology is more strategic than ever,” said Beth Jacob, executive vice president and chief information officer at Target. Ms. Jacob spoke at the opening of the office in the historic Folgers Coffee Company Building. But innovations concocted by employees working at this new innovation center will need to get final approval from executives at corporate headquarters in Minneapolis before they get implemented, illustrating the challenge faced by established companies looking to inject some Silicon Valley mojo into their operations.
Nearly 20 employees work here, in an open, light-filled office with walls that double as dry-erase boards. The team has been quietly operating here for 7 months, but moved out of the office so it could be renovated. This is the team’s first week back in the office.
The company plans to look at a variety of technology innovations that impact its core commerce, such as the search experience on its e-commerce site, and the use of social networking sites. Target will also look at emerging technologies that integrate or overlay data with smartphones and wearable computing devices. Ms. Jacob said the company hopes to personalize the shopping experience both online and in stores for a range of customers. For instance, it could allow tech-savvy hipsters to use an augmented reality smartphone app to see which foods in a particular aisle are gluten free. Other applications could be developed for less sophisticated shoppers as well.
Executives hope that the innovation center will not only introduce the company to new technologies, but also help accelerate the rate of the company’s technology adoption. Target wants to adopt the Silicon Valley model of becoming more agile — of writing and delivering code iteratively rather than waiting for one big rollout, of failing fast and often, in order to get positive results more quickly — and Ms. Jacob says the company is willing to risk making mistakes along the way. “Risk-taking is a part of the Target culture from a design standpoint,” Ms. Jacob said. “From a tech perspective, we are [also] willing to do that.”
Much like Target partners with fashion designers to create branded goods inside its stores, the company plans to use that same model for technology innovation. Target’s innovation center was built in partnership with SapientNitro, an interactive marketing, creative design and technology services agency, which has an office located next to Target’s. SapientNitro has helped Target in a number of technology initiatives over the past four years, including reengineering Target.com and moving it from Amazon Web Services in 2011 to servers managed by the retailer. Target also has partnerships with hundreds of technology companies, including Google Inc. and eBay Inc., with which it works to offer same-day delivery in select stores.
Target says its ability to work effectively with partners both large and small will be particularly helpful in Silicon Valley, as it works with early-stage technology startups. That capability will be put to the test, as some of the most advanced innovation comes from early-stage companies.
The bigger challenge for Target will be to incorporate innovations spawned at its innovation center into stores and across the larger IT organization. Ms. Jacob says that the team staffing the new San Francisco office will be given freedom to seek out new ideas. Yet, the last word will come from Ms. Jacob, who works in Minneapolis and oversees all technology at Target, both internal and customer-facing. “The ideas that are generated here are going to get integrated back into the larger organization very quickly,” she told CIO Journal in an interview following the event.
From Professional Wrestler to Weatherman to Broadway Dancer, Adland is Ambitious
By Ad Age Staff
Working in advertising, media and PR isn't sunshine and roses every day. It's hard work -- and that's a large part of what prominent players in the business thrive on.
But being creative and outgoing personalities means that they've got broad interests. They're the kind of folks you'd want at a dinner party, who know how to tell a good story. And, they know how to dream. We asked them to dream a little with us, and tell us about their alternative-career fantasies.
On those days that are rough, they imagine themselves doing all manner of different jobs, from being on tour with Radiohead to being a sports announcer or a Broadway dancer or a wrestler or even a shaman.
15. Donald Chesnut, chief experience officer at SapientNitro: I didn't work in Advertising I would probably be pursuing work as theatre director (one of the things I studied in undergrad). Live theatre is one of the reasons I love living in NY, and traveling to places like London, Chicago, and LA. And to be honest, the advertising pitch has a lot in common with live theatre: casting, storytelling, drama, and presentation.
Actors played the role of slaves in campaign by SapientNitro
To draw attention to slavery and people trafficking, anti-slavery movement End It drove a "mobile billboard" through the crowded streets of Atlanta, featuring real women acting out the role of slaves.
The "billboard", created by SapientNitro, involved a transparent Plexiglas semi-truck trailer containing "slaves" and a "guard" (played by actresses/actors). The truck drove through Atlanta traffic on Saturday, April 6, the day of the NCAA Final Four event. To reinforce the message, a sign alongside the trailer read: "The Civil War didn't end slavery. Every year women are trafficked to major sporting events to be sold as sex slaves."
END IT is a coalition of seven non-profit organizations aiming to highlight modern-day slavery. The event was timed to coincide with its "Shine A Light on Slavery" day on April 9.
By Jack Marshall
Agencies have flocked to Brazil in recent years, snapping up any digital firms they could get their hands on ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Brand marketers will spend big bucks around both of those events, and agencies want a piece of the action.
SapientNitro is the latest to get in on the act, with the majority stake in 60-person Sao Paolo-based shop iThink, it announced this week. iThink is one of the few independent digital agencies of any size left in the market, after a land-grab by the big four communications groups that have taken place in the past three years. Since 2010, WPP picked up Gringo, F.biz, Foster, Midia Digital, and I-Cherry; Publicis went for AG2; and Interpublic bought Cubocc. Dentsu followed suit with its purchase of Lov Interactive early last year.
All that M&A activity means there are very few, if any, appealing acquisition targets in digital, according to SapientNitro’s chief creative officer Gaston Legorburu. “There’s not much left,” he said. “There are maybe one or two shops slightly smaller than iThink, but after that, you’re getting to really small boutiques.”
In that respect, Sapient was late to the game. Holding companies have been spending millions in Brazil for years, but Sapient held off. That’s not because it wasn’t looking; it’s because it hadn’t found the right target, Legorburu said. In fact, it passed up opportunities with some of the companies listed above for that very reason. “We’re not a holding company, so we were looking for something that shared the culture and ethos of SapientNitro; not just a dot on the map,” he explained, suggesting holding companies have been making investments with little strategic forethought.
From an agency perspective, Brazil itself is also an extremely hospitable place to do business. Sure, there are differences in culture and etiquette when it comes to things like pitching for new business, but the practice of advertising is viewed with reverence. Agency folk are treated like rock stars, and advertising itself is a major part of popular culture. That in itself makes it an attractive place to set up shop.
Strategic or not, the demand for digital assets in Brazil clearly demonstrates the potential of the market there. The Brazilian economy is booming, and it’s a perfect hub from which to branch out to other South American markets. What’s more, global brands and marketers are investing more aggressively there ahead of the Olympics and the World Cup, but also more generally.
Legorburu himself admitted that it was client demand that finally prompted Sapient to get its check book out. As marketers begin to think more about their marketing as a centralized, global practice, their agency partners must be able to follow suit. That’s why holding companies have felt the need to invest there.
With that in mind, the appeal of the Latin-American market for agencies is broader than just capitalizing on major sporting events. They’re a bonus, of course, but Sapient and the holding companies that have invested there are looking to the region for long-term gains, as digital continues to grow rapidly from its currently small base.
As a result, interest in any and all-digital-focused shops there will no doubt continue. “If you strip away the bubble around those events, the market is still pretty damn attractive,” Legorburu said. “And when you factor in the ability to support more global relationships, that’s when things get really interesting. They’re fruitful and stable, so for us, it’s about positioning ourselves to capture more of those.”
By Susan Kuchinskas
Activision wanted to make as big a splat with the content refresh for Black Ops II as it could for a complete game launch. The solution: The Replacer, a digital proxie who offers to take over a fan's life, allowing him more time to play the game.
Last week, Activision released Call of Duty: Black Ops II Uprising, the second downloadable map pack for the Black Ops II game. Map packs include new environments in which gamers can play, to help keep the game fresh between new versions. A multi-channel interactive campaign from SapientNitro, 72andSunny and Edelman hits home the message that this game is too good to stop.
Noting that Call of Duty: Black Ops has tens of millions of active players each month, Jonathan Anastas, vice president, digital marketing at Activision, says there is a continual need for new content, answered by releasing map packs regularly. The message of the campaign, he says, is, "Everybody is going to play Call of Duty, everybody wants to spend all their time playing Call of Duty, but nobody can play the amount they'd like to or spend as much time with the new content as they'd like to.
At GetReplaced.net, fans can choose to get replaced in four life situations: at home, at work, on campus and with their "so-called friends." Clicking one of them presents more options for help. For example, in the Home Situation, fans can change their social media status with a variety of video status messages by the Replacer. They can also "save the relationship" by connecting to Yelp services in their area.
For example, if a gamer wants a sub at home, he can choose between finding a service to mow the lawn, one to clean the house, or sending flowers. In addition to fueling excitement about the game, the Replacer is sending significant traffic to such local service providers, according to Anastas, who said thousands of people have already booked housekeeping services through the site, which plugs into Yelp's APIs.
The ability to connect to social media and Yelp instead of having to go the business development route helped speed development, Anastas says. "We run very lean and fast, so the idea of doing deals seemed daunting relative to the upside," he says. "The ability to use these preexisting Web 2.0 functions and plug into their APIs was the best way to deal with it."
After getting replaced, site visitors are invited to visit the Call of Duty website, landing on a page specific to the content pack. They can also watch a "making of" trailer, download assets including wallpapers and printable "do not disturb" door hangers, and share the experience via Facebook or Twitter.
The Replacer expands on an earlier, web-only iteration. Chris Szadkowski, creative director at SapientNitro says, "There was a lot of excitement with the original Replacer trailer. We wanted to take that experience to the next level and create an interactive extension of the Replacer to strengthen the relationship with fans." His agency drove the strategy, concept development, design and implementation, while 72andSunny, the agency of record, created the trailer. Edelman is handling social posts.
Anastas called the interagency collaboration "the gold standard of integration. 72andSunny gets huge credit for crating the voice. SapientNitro's addition to the voice was, what are things people actually do on the web and how does play out in web environment? And how does it actually work? Edelman said, in what executions will this gain the greatest virality?"
Webster Bank, Waterbury, Conn., expanded its relationship with SapientNitro, Boston, part of Sapient, by naming SapientNitro as its marketing agency of record. Billings were not disclosed. The assignment had previously been handled by Kelliher Samets Volk. Webster Bank already works with SapientNitro on tasks that include integrated interactive marketing and digital strategy.
By Tricia Carr
Menswear label Ermenegildo Zegna is overhauling its digital strategy to combine content and commerce and offer a seamless Web experience to consumers in all global markets.
The brand reformatted its Web site to act as a hub for all brand happenings where consumers can access collections, ecommerce, company news and style guides. Zegna is launching the new site with a giveaway of a black satin bow tie accompanied by a video tutorial to the first 100 customers.
“[Zegna’s strategy] was to be bold and to create a more upscale ecommerce site,” said Chris Cobb, Atlanta-based creative director at SapientNitro. “It is a place where they can tell their story, connect with their consumer and merchandise and sell product.”
Mr. Cobb is not affiliated with Zegna, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Zegna could not comment directly on this matter. The new Web site was designed by Bitmama and is powered by Yoox Group.
The new Zegna.com features a vertical scrolling toolbar to the left of the page for navigation to the site’s sections, which include Ermenegildo Zegna, Couture, Made to Measure, Zegna Sport, Z Zegna, Highlights, Fragrances and Corporate.
The left toolbar also contains a pop-out shopping menu, e-newsletter registration, social media buttons and links to download the label’s iOS mobile applications.
The majority of the page is taken up by the right scrolling pane where consumers are welcomed to the site with a collage of rectangular promotional images.
Currently above the fold are rotating images from the latest Ermenegildo Zegna campaign that link to the collection’s part of the site.
Other homepage promotions include a complete look from the Zegna Sport collection, a link to download the Zegna In_Store iPad application and links to each collection’s page on the site.
Sections of the site that are dedicated to collections contain content such as ad campaigns, fashion shows, product and trend showcases, online-exclusive items and a “shop by look” tool.
Consumers can also browse the Highlights section to find trends and the Fragrance section to find Zegna’s complete fragrance offerings.
The Corporate section houses history and news including a timeline dating back to the brand’s founding in 1910 and information on company programs such as those dedicated to art, archives, corporate social responsibility and values.
Meanwhile, ecommerce is accessible through the pop-out menu on the left toolbar or on the site’s style features.
Product pages feature new images with zoom and detailed product information.
The design of the new site will likely draw in savvy consumers.
“Responsive grids of content can be challenging to design with a clear hierarchy and flow for the visitor, but the new Zegna site handles that in a way that feels very natural on both desktop and tablet,” said Matt Garrity, director of business development at Canvas, New York.
“The multiple columns in the interface provide an extremely clear delineation between commerce and promotional content in a way that really supports intuitive navigation across their full catalog, while exposing customers to a very broad range of content,” he said.
Zegna is looking to assert its style savvy while targeting affluent consumers at a global level, per the label.
The brand previously had two platforms – Zegna.com and the Zegna Online Store – which could have diluted the online experience since customers were not engulfed in both content and commerce at the same time.
To achieve its goals, the label combined the two digital platforms, optimized its site for the iPad and will offer consumers the chance to purchase items from online-exclusive capsule collections.
The new site is available in 10 languages while ecommerce is available for consumers located in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.
Zegna plans to enhance the site regularly with weekly cover stories, brand highlights, red-carpet looks, seasonal style tips, behind-the-scenes content, exclusive event videos and links to new content that is exclusive to specific mobile and social channels.
The site redesign is part of Zegna’s strategy to create “quality connections” with its customers and online fans through digital, mobile and social media.
Zegna seems to be raising the bar for its online approach to boost the 360-degree brand experience.
“They understand user experience as well, organizing and putting hierarchies around navigation with content that scales, though not truly responsive,” SapientNitro’s Mr. Cobb said. “This approach should take mobile into consideration, unless their insights pointed to more Web use.
“They also present product in an elegant way, both in category and in detail,” he said. “This is helpful when merchandising and providing relevant content.”
By Alan Schulman
There's a reason why creative people in advertising get out of bed in the morning. It's about making someone feel something — an emotion — in order to get them to act later. As we ponder a future of advertising bathed in delivering customized messages to each person, in their precise place on their every device at precisely the right moment, a word of caution: the medium is not the message. The message is still the message. Which means advertising is still very much about the brand messaging business, not just the reaching the consumer on any device business.
As a 30-year advertising practitioner, and a Chief Creative Officer of North America's now largest digital agency, I'm truly amazed at the sophistication of the technologies and platforms for delivering ads to virtually every device, from the smallest hand held screen to Walgreen's massive canvas in Times Square.
Vast amounts of Silicon Valley capital have accelerated our ability to deliver behaviorally targeted messages and videos that follow you from destination to destination and device to device. Publishers have even begun offering "in app" custom ad units specifically designed to match consumers' touchscreen desires. As an industry, we have an amazing set of providers and tools at our disposal that connects the consumer with the brand.
But as any smart advertising person will tell you, the creative message itself plays at least half the role in determining the effectiveness of any advertising component. It's the creative that will always tell an intriguing story, involve and hopefully, leave you inspired to act. This balance between medium and message has largely been lost, as we seem more seduced by the algorithms — the containers and software solutions for delivering messages to devices — than the evolution or effectiveness of them.
We are still very much in the ideas business. Despite how much more sophisticated the algorithms get at search, contextual and behavioral ad serving, advertising still has to move you. And that comes down to the kind of creative that makes you feel an emotion... not just "think" or push you into "lower funnel" activation as many marketers are so anxious to do.
This means drawing you in, getting you involved, and making you react emotionally, which is just as important on a hand-held device as it is in a 30-second TV spot. Creatively, this has been the challenge for the web banner, the video pre-roll, and even the next in-app-native touch-screen rich-media ad. These units may drive our impression-based ad-supported model, but they've yet to adequately prove the ability to make the consumer feel.
This emotional requisite often referred to as the "The Big Ideal" or "Higher Order Benefit" was once the holy grail of real advertising currency. These days, it seems emotional ideas have been replaced by sophisticated algorithms that can deliver near-real-time metrics and drive dynamic optimization of creative ad messages. These algorithms allow us to churn out countless versions of copy and banner executions for one campaign — changing layouts on the fly and cramming the call to action into an ad from beginning to end — in many cases before we've even gotten the consumer's attention.
Is this the future of advertising we are destined to produce? Turning the craft of brand storytelling into algorithm-driven copy factories?
The task we face as advertising practitioners is how to combine our efforts with media brethren to create seamless brand experiences and cascade them through new technologies and media platforms. In doing so, we serve a more involved, emotional system of messages on behalf of brands to the right people over time.
We have the technology. We have the talent. We have the ability to redefine the story to make one feel. We just need to remember that the medium isn't the message and no matter how seduced we are by the science of advertising, we must remember that algorithms don't feel, people do.
By Lauren Drell
AUSTIN — There are a lot of brands at SXSW fighting hard to grab attention, from GroupMe's grilled cheese tent to Spotify's green house to Chevy's test drive activation. But do these campaigns actually drive consumer engagement and purchasing?
We met up with Nathaniel Perez, global head of social experience at SapientNitro, to talk about current marketing trends. In his role, Perez works to leverage social at all consumer touchpoints, and his team focuses on motivating behavior, building relationships and bridging the digital and physical worlds.
"I think the next year will be about behavior and data, and driving behavior in quantified ways," says Perez. Check out the video for the full interview.
By Jon Swartz
AUSTIN, Texas -- Like a living, breathing creature, SXSWi is evolving into a different beast.
Once a haven for geek chic, the 5-day intersection of technology, music and film is taking on aspects of larger, more mainstream tech conferences like the Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile World Congress.
"There is an interesting blur between CES and SXSW," says Donald Chesnut, chief experience officer at SapientNitro, an interactive-marketing agency. "You're seeing sensors, cheap hardware, 3-D printers. SXSW will look more like CES next year and the year after that."
The hardware invasion, on top of a sea of apps, has created an overwhelming amount of product noise and marketing buzz that makes it even harder to stand out, says Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley.
"There's really no theme this year, as there has been with group-messaging and geolocation services the past few years," says Crowley, whose company is one of the few breakout stars during SXSW's 20-year run.
"A lot of what I see are attempts to replace existing apps," Crowley says. "There has been no standout yet."
In the case of SapientNitro, the show has shifted from a platform to attend sessions and recruit employees to building relationships with clients and spotting trends, according to Gaston Legorburu, who oversees Sapient's creative vision.
"In some sense, SXSW jumped the shark a year or two ago," Chesnut says. "This year, you see a blend of the physical and digital worlds."
By Laurel Wentz
SapientNitro is buying iThink, one of Brazil's last digital agencies to remain independent after several years of rampaging through Brazil's digital market by the world's biggest ad holding companies.
Coming late to that party, SapientNitro is taking an 81% stake in Sao Paulo shop iThink, founded by CEO Marcelo Tripoli a decade ago. Separately, SapientNitro bought data-centric company mPhasize last week in the U.S.
"We don't do a lot of M&A," said Gaston Legorburu, SapientNitro's Miami-based chief creative officer. "If we do, it's smaller, strategic things and the cultural fit was really important for us. A lot of our competitors were here earlier."
By Megan Haynes
Alison Garnett joins Toronto’s SapientNitro creative team as a creative director, reporting directly to CCO Gaston Legorburu.
She most recently held the position of CD at Toronto-based Critical Mass and creative brand lead at Taxi. According to LinkedIn, she joined the agency in November 2012.
The 20+ year ad veteran specializes in identity, design and advertising across channels, according to a release, and will work with other creative directors Elliott Smith and James Wilkinson.
Garnett’s hire caps off a busy hiring year for SapientNitro, which named its creative team as its fastest growing office, which added recent hires Wilkinson, formerly of Saatchi, strategy director Scott Weisbrod, formerly of Blast Radius and director of brand strategy Dean Foerter, formerly from BBDO.
By Kate Kaye
On the heels of snapping up two firms, Iota Partners and Second Story, Sapient has acquired data-centric company mPhasize.
With offices in Connecticut and a data team in Bangalore, India, the 4-year-old mPhasize promises to help Sapient's increasingly metric-hungry clients pinpoint how much of their money to spend across a growing variety of channels and what they can expect to get out of it in real purchases.
Marketing-mix modeling -- where brands should spend and how to meet particular goals -- is "at the very top of the list of the most strategic questions," asked by Sapient clients, according to Bill Kanarick, the company's CMO.
By Donald Chesnut, Chief Experience Officer, SapientNitro
In 2012, the lines between the digital and physical world blurred like never before, and we saw how technology transformed from a standalone asset to a supplement developed to enhance the consumer experience. We watched as stores went from developing mobile web apps to producing fully integrated digital tools to help shoppers plan their shopping strategy in advance, keeping consumers connected before, during and after their shopping experience. The annual technology mecca that is CES focuses on the technology, electronics and gadgets that merely represent capability. That capability is then applied to consumers' wants and needs, which is where innovation truly begins.
At this year's CES, we will see accelerated developments in some of the arenas that have been popular in the last few years, such as Smart TVs, mobile technology, automotive technology and the cloud. These products continue to be of interest to the consumer. But the real promise of these new technologies is the way in which they will improve consumer experiences, both inside and outside the physical store. Here are four different ways technology is transforming the way consumers live, shop and connect:
Invisible Interfaces -- New ways for users and devices to interact.
This year's show will continue to highlight improvements in voice recognition, gesture recognition and device-to-device interaction (example: Apple's iOS 6). This is great for in-store associate communications or even customer-to-associate communications. Consumers do not have time to wait or get impatient while waiting; these types of devices will give them a chance to do things at their own speed.
Intelligent Interactions -- Interactions between consumers and devices are becoming smarter and more subtle.
This year's show promises to highlight devices that can sense a user's mood, as well as context. New sensors can detect subtleties in pressure, which will represent a new dimension for user interactivity.
Media Innovations -- New types of screens will take digital media to new heights.
In particular, I am excited to see developments in OLED Screens. OLED screens will not just take HDTV to all new heights (fantastic resolution, brightness, thickness and weight), but can also be applied to curved surfaces. Think of having a HD resolution screen curving around your wrist. Or around a device package, highlight the contents of a package. This may provide a whole new dimension of media for brands to engage consumers.
Connected Experiences -- Remote controls for everything in your life.
I think we will see a proliferation of devices that work in conjunction with other devices: smartphones that control your car, home, and appliances. Second-screen media experiences that become the "primary screen," where the TV fades into the background as a passive experience.
CES will prove that the tides are changing for consumer electronics -- where it's no longer paramount to offer a mind-blowing technology, but rather a technology that will change the way consumers interact with that technology and how it ultimately affects their life experiences.
By Chantal Tode
NASCAR is turbo-charging its mobile strategy for 2013 with a revamped Web site that leverages responsive design and a new application to enhance the viewing experience for fans.
The car-racing organization is looking to mobile to help it attract new, younger consumers to the sport while also strengthening its ties with existing enthusiasts. These moves complement NASCAR’s existing mobile effort, which SMS and video.
“We went with a friendly, more educational feel for the Web site design, which naturally translated into tablet and mobile,” said John McHale, creative director at SapientNitro, Boston.
“We wanted to reach casual fans wherever they are,” he said.
“The goal was to bring NASCAR anywhere and to bring it into this new age of ‘I can get it now.’ If I can’t get what I am looking for, I may go someplace else to get it.”
NASCAR collaborated with agency SapientNitro on both the new site and app.
Storytelling a focus
With NASCAR’s fan base aging, the organization is looking to engage with a new, younger audience that active on mobile. The new site was designed with this goal in mind and uses responsive design to provide a consistent, seamless experience across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
Content on the site includes information about NASCAR drivers and tracks, articles and educational videos.
Because the site is designed to reach casual fans, the focus is more on storytelling and less on stats.
To make the site tablet and smartphone friendly, it was designed with bigger buttons, a long scrolling page and the ability to share almost all of the content.
Content is filtered and presented slightly differently depending upon which device a user accesses it from.
For the smartphone experience, while not a lot of content has been filtered out, the orientation of content has been changed so users are viewing one thing at a time and can use slide gestures to easily move between content.
One of the biggest challenges from a mobile perspective was the navigation and how to make it easy to move around with just a few clicks.
SapientNItro decided to use responsive design instead of creating separate tablet and smartphone sites because it required less work than three sites and because the experience is more consistent.
“The experience on all platforms is so consistent – that was really important for us,” said Scott Petry, vice president at SapientNitro. “That kind of consistency is hard to do with multiple templates.
Keeping fans engaged
The new NASCAR Mobile ’13 second-screen app is intended to complement the live race day and will be available for tablet and mobile devices beginning mid-January.
While some other sports have strong in-stadium mobile experiences, this is not as much of a focus right now for NASCAR since so many of the tracks are in rural areas where connecting to a network can be challenging. So, instead the focus is on engaging fans who are not at the tracks via the second-screen app.
App features include the ability to view a virtualized version of drivers to users can watch them as they race. There is the ability to zoom out and watch race from above. Additionally, users can listen to audio feeds of radio channels for each of the drivers.
“The Web site content has to be everything we want content to be whereas, when you are talking about an app, you are thinking about a very specific purpose,” Mr. Petry said. “We intend for them to be sitting in front of the TV and having the tablet as a companion to the broadcast.”
“The second screen app is good for avid fans, it helps keep them engaged,” he said. “We had to make sure the avid fans were also engaged – that is important to overall fan development."