The Future of Story Telling Will Be VR

Marketers continue to seek greater connection with consumers and viewers. Often this connection involves storytelling where the brand crafts a personality or enhanced presence in the consumer’s mind. Now, with the advancements of VR, there is the ability to accelerate this personalization, not just for products, but also for programming and public service efforts.

For the curious soul who dreams of flying without a plane or crafting a highly personalized perfume scent from an algorithm applied to a psychographic questionnaire, there is FoST (the Future of Story Telling). FoST has launched the Story Arcade, which runs through April 21 in the Starrett-Lehigh Building on the far west side of Manhattan, and promises a range of VR storytelling experiences. Leveraging the “most innovative in new tech from around the world,” explained Audrey Barrie, Assistant Producer, FoST, each exhibit offers multi-sense ways of telling stories, “with ground-breaking new technologies.”

What drew me to the Story Arcade was Ben’s Chili Bowl, which I visited while in Washington DC. Participants wearing the Oculus VR equipment found themselves immersed in a 360 degree video experience titled Traveling While Black, directed by Roger Ross Williams, the first African American director to win an Academy Award. You rode in the back of the bus through Alabama in the 1960s. You sat in a booth in Ben’s listening to first-hand accounts of the dangers and indignities of everyday life and historical events. You are in the moment and it is impactful.

Documentary material like Traveling While Black and Munduruku: The Fight to Defend the Heart of the Amazon, which takes you into the heart of the Amazon to see the impact of deforestation on indigenous tribes, brings the viewer to a new level of understanding. Children’s books are brought to life with Wolves in the Walls, where the participant not only helps eight-year old Lucy find the wolves lurking in her attic walls, but also photographs them. All of the exhibits have a common purpose which is to find, “a different way of telling a story and discover how we can use media to activate a story and tell it differently,” noted Luis Pena, Director Product, Monir, which is a media tech startup that uses AI to generate personalized content at scale for brands and publishers.

For brands, the value in placing the consumer in the center of the action cannot be underestimated. For programmers, there are no limits on the variety of ways to connect the viewer to the content. The only question for both brands and programmers is how to scale this new technology so that it reaches mass adoption. For now this highly personal experience is one-on-one, but the technology is advancing quickly.

Get ready.

This article first appeared in Cynopsis.


Kantar’s 5 Operating Principles for Understanding Consumer Behavior

J. Walker Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer, Kantar, has seen the media ecosystem shift as overall transformations and changing consumer behaviors place different challenges to brands. “The largest companies in the world are experiencing no topline growth,” he said. But while “the macro forces have changed, lifestyle and needs have changed,” companies for the most part, he noted, haven’t moved out of their comfort zones.

Through recent research at Kantar, Walker Smith recommends five new operating principles to better understand consumer behaviors. They all begin with a number:
  • 679 which is the number of unique foundation colors available at cosmetics counters in stores. This is 25% more choice than was available a few years ago and demonstrates the increasing fragmentation of consumer tastes in the market. Products and services are becoming more personalized and customized, and not just in consumer products. The number of most popular music genres increased from 35 in the 1960s to 99 today. The takeaway from all of this? Opportunities will be found in niche markets not mass markets. Bigger business at smaller scale.

  • 286% which is the return to shareholders on the value of trust, demonstrating the actual economic value of trust. Sadly, this valuable attribute has seen a decline among consumers over the past decade. Big brand messaging is not working any longer as consumers rely on those they know for recommendations. Trust does not come from authority today. It comes from more personal recommendations. We are moving from institutional to intimate.

  • Magical number 7, give or take two. This represents our short term memory; the average number of things we can remember at one time. Knowing that the human brain can retain only so much at one time, why do we push more and more ads? The average number of ads pushed today are double what it was in 2008, outpacing consumers capacity to retain the message. So the lesson here is that we should be enabling opt in to retain brand clarity.

  • 500k likes refers to the transition to recommendations by algorithms. Humans are seeking more down time from tech, as evidenced by the resurgence of many analogue goods such as books, vinyl LPs and instant photography. Seeking the human touch will only accelerate with the advancements in voice technology.

  • 90% of consumers value experiences over material possessions. Since the fastest growing part of the consumer economy is experiences, it’s the savvy marketer who increases the experience over the possession. An example is CapOne bank creating a coffee shop in its branches. This has proved so popular that the bank is rolling this out nationally.

Following these five principles will help companies better navigate the ever changing terrain by allowing for a greater understanding of consumer behaviors, says Smith. Sometimes it’s just simple arithmetic.


Nielsen’s Media Pulse Study Looks at Women and Multicultural Consumers’ Media Behaviors

Nielsen has just released the results of a Media Pulse study that examines women and multicultural consumers’ mobile media behaviors – how they’re using technology and how it compares to the country at large.

Here are the key highlights for Women:
  • Women spend 6% more time using apps and the web on tablets and more time using handheld platforms for app/web usage than their male counterparts.
  • They are also more likely to utilize mobile devices for social networking than users overall.
  • Because of their mobile usage, they also tend to place more importance on the features and performance of their handheld devices than men.
  • Women spend 16% more time with video-focused apps/websites and 17% more time with streaming audio on tablets than all tablet users. In contrast, adult men spend far less time using tablets than the same overall base.
Highlights for Multicultural Consumers include:
  • Black, Hispanic and Asian American adults each spend more time per day using apps/the web on their smartphones than the general U.S. population. African Americans in particular are heavier users of smartphones and spend nearly half an hour more per day using them than the total U.S. (and more than any other group).
  • The three measured groups have comparable tablet usage and app/web tablet behaviors with all three involved in over half an hour of usage per day.
  • Well known for their early adoption of newer tech, Asian Americans represent a growing consumer bloc with their own unique audience behaviors. They spend at least 45 minutes per day using a tablet, outpacing all other groups as well as the total U.S.
As the U.S. increasing becomes more diverse and multi-cultural, advertisers and programmers need to keep on top of the emerging trends with these groups. While women drive content consumption on smartphones and tablets, Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans spend more time per day using apps/the web on their smartphones than the general U.S. population. Understanding the unique user preferences is important to connecting with these audiences.

This article first appeared in Cynopsis.


A Focus on Linear Media Today and Tomorrow: MediaPost’s Forecasts for 2019 and 2024

Today in linear media, we are going through the Fourth Industrial Revolution where advanced technology is disrupting several industries, according to Forbes. MediaPost’s Media Forecast 2019-2024 conference had experts peer into their crystal balls to see where our industry is headed in the next five years.

2019: Smooth Sailing
Since US ad spending growth at 3.7 percent is expected to lag behind national GDP growth, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable, are we beginning to see a seismic shift this year in ad spend and linear media?

Most panelists at the conference generally agreed that there will not be any dramatic change in 2019, even with GDPR. But for David Campanelli, EVP, co-chief investment officer at Horizon Media, agencies will see significant operational change to prove that ad campaigns drive sales results. Geoffrey Sanders, SVP of Growth at Casper, believed that there will be greater emphasis on attribution so as to better understand “which partners help us get incremental value.” This push towards attribution incrementality could bode well for local TV. The medium benefits from the addressability of ATSC 3.0 and programmatic, which has always been focused on targeting and accountability.

TV is projected to remain a dominant medium as it pivots....

Read the full article on the Videa blog.

The Impact of Mobile on Marketing and Branding. Insights From the Impact Conference.

The second annual Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Impact conference, held this past week in New York, offered marketers new perspectives on how to leverage mobile in their branding and campaigns. New technological advances such as VR, AR and AI can be creatively used to help consumers better engage and interact with products and services.

The Power of the Consumer
Mobile in particular is a very powerful tool for the consumer since they have all of the control. Kristi Argyilan, Senior Vice President Marketing, Target, stated that, “We can no longer simply buy their attention. We have to earn it every day.” To that end, she explained that, “We engineer relevance for true one-to-one.” Relevance is pivotal in a time of fragmented attention and a flood of messaging. Add to this the fear of brand safety and fraud means that ads and campaigns are under more scrutiny than ever before.

Overcoming Brand Damage
What do you do when a brand is damaged? Jonathan Beamer, CMO, Monster, admitted that his company, “Hasn't rocked it for a decade.” Monster was founded 25 years ago and offers a cautionary tale to others. “We were disruptors and then we were disrupted.” Today, there is a shorter life span for Fortune 500 companies with fewer and fewer maintaining their size and power over a decade. Beamer blamed bad management for losing sight of the original purpose and squeezing profits when they should have been re-invested in the business. “We missed how mobile and other technology could also be used to serve our mission.” Data and insights gleaned from research have helped Monster re-establish itself with a firm mobile presence that speaks to an invigorated target consumer – the job seeker rather than the recruiter. “We dig deep into consumer research’” and found that, “consumers want a champion. They want a company that will do right by society,” he concluded.

Enhancing Brand Position
Ophelia Ceradini, Vice President Digital Innovation and Technology, Estee Lauder, is charged with the task of enhancing an already strong brand through the use of new mobile technology to better match products to consumers. She focuses on, “The power of the human touch and emotions underpins the high touch approach.” Estee Lauder has advanced a myriad of AR elements to their site including ways that women and men can personalize their experiences online using facial recognition on skincare needs. The site then recommends which products each individual should use. Voice assistants are now enabled to recommend store locations as well as offer meditation so the application of products is hands free.

The Next Steps for Mobile
In this fast paced competitive environment, how can mobile continue to grow its marketing prowess? Dr Neil Morgan of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is spearheading the MARS (Mobile Analytics Realtime Social) project that asks what marketing capabilities do we need to be good at to survive today? His project interviewed over one hundred executives at over 80 companies over a range of performance metrics and levels of digital adaptation.

He found there are four areas of concentration that impact a consumer’s expectations across categories: Individuality, Immediacy, Integration and Information. “We should be in the golden era of marketing with accuracy, accountability and agility,” he stated. “But instead we find entropy, barely concealed chaos, like a roller coaster creeping up before they drop you down.”
There is a lot of data available out there but what is the next step? Marketing is divided, tech is eating strategy, which bell and whistle should I choose, adding but not changing and the potential errors that can occur when we mix third party data into our first party data.

He advises that companies need to first choose a strategy and decide how they will compete. Develop growth stacks based on exchange, experience (eliminating pain points) and engagement (to drive enhanced functionality) and then join, build and manage communities. Finally, marketers need to integrate all learnings into the fabric of the organization, creating an environment of trust where people are willing to share.

Next Steps
As we all grapple with the continuing refraction of industry, a greater understanding of the potential of mobile will enable marketers to successfully leverage their consumer outreach. From damaged brands that can come back from the dead to successful brands who strive to maintain their brand position, the promise and perils of mobile need to be understood and fully integrated into a company’s mission. 

This article first appeared in

Tracking the Consumer Through Location Data

The availability of location data through mobile has become a boon to marketers who are interested in tracking the consumer journey to purchase. Verve, a programmatic mobile display firm located in NYC, recently released their latest findings on the state of location data.

The Value of Location Data
In a world that is increasing headed towards audience segmentations, location data adds a bit more nuance to our understanding of consumer behavior. The ability to map movement patterns, store visits, time of visits, the quality of a visit (whether the dwell time is too long for a convenience store or too short for a car dealership, for example) and the relative value of the visit applied to the budget, all form a view of the consumer that goes beyond demographics, psychographics and segments.

According to eMarketer, 74% of North American marketers polled said that location information is a key element in understanding why and how customers interact with businesses. Further, 65% agreed that mapping the offline customer journey provides actionable insights on consumer behavior, intent and brand affinity.

How to Use Location Data
From a marketers’ perspective, location data can be used in real time or as a post-campaign assessment. For those who create several versions of an ad, push notifications at the point of sale have seen some positive results. According to eMarketer, 36% of mobile app users said they’ve made an in-store purchase after receiving a location-based push notification. For those who use location data as a post- assessment, 91% of marketers say that it has increased their understanding of their audiences.

The Verve report suggests that marketers follow these steps in using location data:
  • Investigate the data quality. Make sure it’s verified.
  • Use the data only when it adds relevance. Not all campaigns require location data.
  • Know what you want to achieve by using this data.
  • Map out the true trade areas and how consumers reach the point of sale. Trade areas rarely resemble a circle.
  • Think about the best moment to send the message. Sometimes it’s not while in the store.

Cautions in Using Location Data
In a time of increased focus on consumer privacy, the gathering and use of location data must be approached carefully and with transparency. Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is gathered and used. Only 13% of consumers polled in an eMarketer survey feel that they have control of their data, are asked for permission and can make a conscious choice about how their information is being used.

Ultimately though, marketers are positive. “Location data will continue to grow and be adopted in more of a business intelligence way,” concluded, Michael Liu, Director of Mobile and Innovation Strategy, Carat USA.

This article first appeared in Cynopsis.


The Future Belongs to Mobile, But Ad Spend Growth is Slow

Now, with more and more data coming from digital sources, mobile is emerging as a must have for marketers. Not only is it capturing individual behaviors, it also helps marketers map the consumer journey through location data, app usage and purchasing behavior. One would think that ad spend would follow but while there has been progress, the growth has been steady but slow, according to Joel Rubinson, President and Founder, Rubinson Partners, Inc. speaking at the recent MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) Impact conference.

Currently, ad spend on mobile is 40% of budgets, up from 34% in 2014 or $31.4 billion in total U.S. ad spend, representing 34% of total U.S. ad spend.  “Data is the new oil,” noted Rubenstein, “But there is an oil embargo.”

This embargo is caused by a variety of challenges: Walled gardens of data are causing data gaps. Data is available on some platforms but not on others. User ID sharing has gotten tighter in a GDPR environment. MTA (Multi-touch Attribution) providers vary in their permission to access certain data. All of these missing variables require the need to ascribe and in doing so, “we may not get the comparisons right,” stated Rubenstein, “and the whole predictive value of the model breaks down.”
To avoid the problems in attribution of marketing effects caused by publishers not offering data access, Rubinson suggests considering four possible workarounds:
  • Go all in with a publisher
  • Switch ad servers that don’t restrict IPs
  • Use an MTA provider with approved tagging systems
  • Create an uber-model combining characteristics of Mixed Marketing Models and MTA (with possible A/B testing)
It will take a while for the ad spend to truly represent the full promise and value of mobile but, through the work of such organizations as the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and their Marketing Attribution Think Tank (MATT), the world of marketing measurement and attribution  will gain better measurements, tools and predictive connections to the consumer journey.

This article first appeared in Cynopsis