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Preparing Your Brand For Amazon Prime Day

The details of this year’s Amazon Prime Day still remain a mystery but one thing is for certain, it’s never too early for brands to start preparing for one of the biggest shopping days of the year.  With 75% of Americans relying on Amazon for product and brand discovery, and nearly 60% of shoppers spending time weekly to browse product availability, exposure during this sale can boost revenue and create lasting customer loyalty.  

Many businesses are already selling on Amazon, but being ill prepared for this event can have negative long-term effects. The following steps will help set your brand up for prime success in the countdown for this year’s Amazon Prime Day.

Optimize Your Strategy

The Amazon shopping experience is centered around search. Ranking high in the results will allow more customers to find your products, increasing sales.  Amazon’s search algorithm has more condensed ranking signals than found on Google or Bing. It’s important to understand the differences and refine your campaign structure in advance, including formatting keywords and creating copy that converts.  While this is always true on Amazon, it’s essential on Prime Day when users are searching for the best products and deals in a hurry.

Prepare bid adjustment strategies in advance.  As with the holiday shopping season, the influx in search traffic will influence bid costs. Increase click and daily budgets to offset higher costs ahead of time. Being at the top of the results will result in increased visibility and drive sales.

Focus on all the details of your products. Take time to review product information pages from imagery to copy. Shoppers are visual and rely heavily on photos for decision making. Make sure the main image follows Amazon’s guidelines but also utilize the additional image options to highlight product features and show real life use scenarios. Description copy should be accurate, concise and easily digestible. Consumers want the information readily accessible so they can review and make their purchasing decisions quickly.

While all this sounds good, some brand product catalogs are too large to examine every page and this can seem like a daunting task. In this case, it’s important to make smart decisions to best utilize your time and effort. Focus on best selling and highest revenue products first and work from there. Users are likely leveraging the sale to get those coveted items at a discount. Capitalize on this information and use this as your starting point.

Promote Your Presence

The tight time frame for consumers to find and purchase items makes it paramount your promotional strategies are prepared and tested in advance. Test copy leading up to the sale for the best results and conversion drivers. There isn’t time during the sale to make adjustments. It must be clear, concise and appealing.

Utilize additional coupon options that can be applied at checkout. The additional discount can be the decision maker for shoppers looking for the best deal. This also fosters a better customer experience, which encourages customers to shop your store again.

Don’t limit yourself only to Amazon. Market your presence for Prime Day at all opportunities. In the weeks leading up to the event, engage with loyal customers and new prospects to increase anticipation of sales opportunities and tease discounted products. You should focus your efforts on appealing to your social channel following, emailing your  customer base, and leveraging programmatic ads across platforms.

Prepare Your Operations For Increased Orders

Increased Prime Day sales are great, but if your back-end operations aren’t prepared, it could be a logistical nightmare.  Stock your inventory in preparation for higher than average sales, particularly best selling items. If your business utilizes Fulfillment by Amazon, it’s important to check their stock as well.  With over 100 million products projected to be purchased during the event, you don’t want to be unprepared.

Make sure all systems are ready for order processing and payment at high levels. Delayed orders or inaccessible customer service could impact the shopping experience, leaving a lasting effect and impacting customer loyalty. Double check these areas in advance, so that there are no surprises.

Continue The Message

Once you’ve survived Amazon Prime Day 2019, maximize the increased exposure. Continue the momentum from the sale to nurture shopper’s customer loyalty and brand awareness.  Follow up with shoppers on their experience while also encouraging them to register for additional communication, including sales and promotion emails, product releases or reminders for next year’s sale. This information can then be used to create ongoing personalized messaging and customer profiling.

Use the sales event data to your advantage. You now have a wealth of information about which products are most popular. Continue your marketing efforts, highlighting these items and those that are complementary to boost checkout revenue. If you overstocked for the event, use this information to sell off the additional inventory.

Finally, analyze the results to prepare for next year. Review your approach against the results and adjust accordingly. This will help not only your next Prime Day experience, but also how you go-to-market for the holidays and other big sales events.

As online shoppers continue to gravitate toward Amazon for their retail shopping needs, brand marketers must meet them on their journey. Taking extra steps to prepare your business for Amazon Prime Day can benefit your business all year.  

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Netflix Tests Extras On Its Mobile App

Finding what to watch on Netflix isn’t always so chill and the company is experimenting with ways to help users find something that interests them quicker.  With so many options, from movies to original programming, many viewers can feel overwhelmed with the amount of content available.

To help guide viewers, the company introduced an “Extras” option on the navigation bar of the mobile app. Users are now offered a variety of helpful programming suggestions including New Arrivals, upcoming releases and additional programming suggestions based on previous viewing history.

Delivered in a story format similar to those found on Instagram and Snapchat, video clips and photos of Netflix programming are displayed as you scroll.  Users can then add shows or movies to playlists for viewing or choose the “reminder” option and be notified when upcoming programming becomes available. While most Netflix viewing is still on television, the mobile app provides a unique opportunity to reach and engage a captive video audience.  

Based on the success from other platforms, moving to shareable videos is yet another way Netflix can not only personalize the experience, but also promote their own programming.  It’s also an effort to better connect fans with shows they love and expand viewing options.

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Netflix noted that the feature is still in testing and there’s no official word on a roll-out to the masses. The capability does allow the company to join a larger social discussion about content provided or what’s desirable, providing untapped audience insight and potentially increased time on the platform.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/05/netflix-tests-an-instagram-stories-like-feed-called-extras-in-its-app/

Snapchat Is Changing Its Story To Include Ecommerce

In the wake of Instagram’s recent release of the checkout feature and branded content ads, other social platforms are feeling the heat to close the gap and help influencers better monetize their content. Snapchat, in particular, added a shopping feature this week to boost its ecommerce efforts, increase the competition, and use influencer partnerships as way to more authentically reach audiences.

By partnering with Shopify, the company updated accounts of select high-profile influencers (Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Shay Mitchell, Spencer Pratt and Bhad Bhabie) to test the capabilities. The native checkout will be enabled with the addition of a shop button that lets users purchase products from the influencer’s respective brands.

The enhanced commerce experience distinguishes Snapchat as one of the leaders in the space and creates focus on their ability to increase available user profile data and add monetization. Snapchat has been an industry sleeper, but the addition could help shift the pendulum in their favor, positioning the company to gain more influencer interest which translates into more ecommerce advertising dollars.  As Snapchat continues to build out its shopping capabilities they can more accurately attribute sales dollars to specific ads, increasing platform value.

The partnership further exemplifies the evolution of shopping from brand websites to social media channels. As Snapchat continues to refine its strategy and gain social momentum, the company’s innovation helps establish their growth in the market.

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/snapchats-latest-updates-to-its-commerce-experience-hint-at-things-to-come/

Kid-Tech A Largely Untapped Market

With shrinking attention spans, marketers are under pressure to get their message conveyed fast.  This is even more true with kids who have grown up in an age where information and media are accessible at lightning speed around the clock. To reach this influential younger market, advertisers plan to spend more than $1.2 billion in ads globally by 2021, according to new research released by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The focus is primarily on international audiences across devices and platforms such as social media, search, and video formats.  However, the report magnified the need to market to this captive audience early and often.

“Kids-tech”, particularly social platforms, have been largely ignored by big tech due to the amount of red tape. While companies have released limited kid-friendly offerings such as Facebook’s Messenger Kids, Amazon’s Echo Dot Kid’s Edition and YouTube’s Kids app, advertising outside of these platforms has marketers feeling lost. The lack of attention to the space has since paved the way for innovative startups to create safe environments for both user and advertiser.  Programs are being developed to simulate what’s available for adults, but with stringent online privacy policies that prevent data being collected and used for ad delivery. Instead, ads are being served by site or page context without the use of cookies for personalized targeting. Platform moderation is also not left to chance with automation, but done manually by humans.

For big tech, their responsibility to this audience is great.  They must consider a myriad of factors such as online privacy which includes personal and geo data collection, strict advertising guidelines and ways to enforce policies with minimal for error.  However, with kids making up the fastest growing online audience, they can’t continue to leave this market untapped.

https://www.adweek.com/programmatic/advertisers-will-spend-more-than-1-billion-on-kid-centric-ads-by-2021/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Chipotle Aims For Nothing But Net With Its Burrito Giveaway

The NBA finals are about to start and Chipotle is hoping for a slam dunk with its “Freeting” campaign, giving away $1 million worth of free burritos during final tournament play. The company is placing its bets on second-screen viewing to drive social engagement, online orders, and in-store traffic. With over 45% of US adults saying they use a second screen very often or always while watching television, it’s an opportunity to reach coveted NBA fans who are checking their mobile devices throughout the games.  

So how do you score free grub?  Every time an announcer says “free” on air during the first half of the game, Chipotle will offer up to 500 free burritos. The offer doubles in the second half, keeping viewers engaged for even more chances to win.  Unique codes will be tweeted on Chipotle’s Twitter account following on-air cues and viewers simply need to text the code back to receive a redemption coupon for a free burrito. Code users with orders over $10 will also receive free delivery on Chipotle’s app, website or through DoorDash during the games.

The promotion is powerful team strategy of multiple platforms to drive online and in-store traffic.  The company opted for the “Freeting” campaign in place of a much more costly official sponsorship or commercial during the tournament.  Chipotle is banking on the appeal of friendly competition combined with free food as a creative way to win new fans and a victory with game viewers.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/chipotle-integrates-twitter-with-sms-to-dole-out-free-burritos-to-basketbal/555638/

Facebook Uncovers Record Number of Fraudulent Accounts

In the first quarter of 2019, Facebook removed a record 2.2 billion fraudulent accounts, most disabled within as little as a few minutes of being created.  The number of fake accounts is only slightly less than the reported 2.4 billion valid monthly active users and the majority of the false accounts were never considered active by Facebook’s metrics.  Many of the removed accounts are attributed to spammers who are continuously attempting to circumvent Facebook’s increased privacy security.

The increasing attempts to create large quantities of automated fake accounts simultaneously further exemplifies the magnitude of this ongoing problem.  While Facebook is diligently working to foster a safe user environment, this information shows that the problem has a broad reach. In the report, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed the company’s plans to increase resources and spending for online security including a combination of artificial intelligence and human monitoring, adding to its arsenal of defense.

While Facebook continues to seek ways to create a safe environment for users, it seems they face hurdles at every turn, including its own policies. The pending increased encryption the company plans to implement for additional privacy could make it more difficult to detect fraudulent accounts. Zuckerberg acknowledged the increased encryption security comes with trade-offs, but promises to make online privacy an ongoing focus of the company.

It’s evident that the company is tackling fraud head on with no intention of backing down.  However, this issue is far from resolved and will remain at the forefront of conversation for Facebook for the immediate future.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/the-amount-of-fake-accounts-removed-from-facebook-this-year-nearly-equals-its-number-of-total-active-users/

Google Indexing Gets Mobile Optimized

Google officially announced they will be utilizing mobile-first indexing as default for all new web domains starting July 1, 2019. The switch has been in the works since 2016, with testing since leading up to the announcement this week.  Google will use its webcrawler, Googlebot, which simulates a user on a mobile device, to confirm a site is mobile optimized for its indexing process. Existing sites will be monitored as well but that process will have an extended timeline.

With the number of mobile users worldwide expected to surpass 5 billion this year and over 72% of internet users projected to be solely on smartphones by 2025, enforcing mobile optimization is a natural progression for both Google and websites. To help assist with the transition, Google has dedicated a guide with instructions and resources to better explain the process.

The emphasis of a mobile-friendly experience, both with indexing and mobile site optimization, shows Google’s priority to focus on users. As online behaviors shift, the company continues to remain a leader of change and innovation.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/28/google-makes-mobile-first-indexing-the-default-for-all-new-domains/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Macy’s Pins Its Summer Market

Macy’s is making a splash this summer by combining augmented reality and Pinterest Pincodes to creatively connect users to their products. With soaring growth in e-commerce and mobile, the company hopes to capitalize on its most engaged shoppers while creating a fun social experience centered around summertime activities.  

The campaign will link Pinterest Pincodes, accessible at popular summer hot spots, such as beaches, lakes and parks, with a pinterest board highlighting items from Macy’s summer catalog specific curated to the location. The boards are then shoppable, allowing for an effortless buying experience. The campaign will also feature stories on various social platforms to highlight summer’s best moments.  

With department store catalogs a thing of the past, this is a new spin to bring personalized styles right to user’s mobile devices. It also allows for authentic experiences with the company being shared socially, further propelling the campaign organically.

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/macys-summer-campaign-heads-outside-with-pinterest-pincodes/555124/

Twitter Toys Around With Updated Carousel Ads

Twitter is testing a reformatted version of carousel ads to boost app install and re-engagement campaigns for advertisers. In 2016, Twitter tested a version where several tweets could be used in a series, but had little popularity and was eventually discontinued. The revised format allows for multiple, swipeable images in a single ad unit which can be used for showcasing a series of products or using in a series to convey a story, tapping into the user’s emotions.

As other platforms such as Facebook have proven, the carousel ad is very visually appealing and engaging for users, thus increasing campaign performance for advertisers. In many cases, it also results in significant decreases in cost per conversion, upward of 30-50%.  As Twitter works to entice advertisers with its innovative ad units, it remains uncertain if the carousel ad will be heavily utilized by advertisers or well received by users.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/twitters-testing-a-new-carousel-ad-format-for-app-install-campaigns/555064/

YouTube’s Bumper Machine Uses AI to Automate 6-Second Video Creation

In an effort to minimize mobile viewing interruptions, YouTube released a new tool for advertisers that transforms their current video ads into “bumper” six-second video format.  With the help of artificial intelligence, “Bumper Machine” condenses videos by identifying elements such as human characters, motions, branding and quality of focus and framing to consolidate the messaging in the shorter format, concluding with the final call-to-action in the last few seconds. The limited time frame makes it more imperative that messages are visually appealing and easily consumed for viewers. Marketers that use the tool are not limited to the first result but instead, it’s meant to be a process allowing for human review to create the final product.

With mobile ad spend growing exponentially and accounting for 65% of all digital ad spend, the Bumper Machine tool will help advertisers tap into that market in a new way.  While some will simply condense current longer-form ads, others may use the tool to create short teasers for a longer ad or create a series of bumper ads that can tie together. The addition of the free tool is yet another way YouTube is continuing to evolve to accommodate the market.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/13/youtube-bumper-machine/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Changing How People See Search

Online shopping typically begins with a search bar and a product description.  Despite increased ease, it still poses its challenges. You can find yourself scrolling through pages of results if your description isn’t quite right or worse, the item is no longer in stock.  To alleviate the frustration, Google has a new vision for internet shoppers.

The company highlighted its visual search capabilities this week with Google Lens, an app that allows users to search what they see, which leverages augmented reality to find products online.  While in the works for a few years, Google is placing its bets on the evolving technology to provide a more personal shopping experience.

So how does this differ?  Google brings the products to you based on scanned image through the app.  Your picture can provide details such as color, brand, model, etc. with just one image, cutting down on filtering search results.  Once you find the desired product, you get a virtual view from multiple angles, highlighting the detail. If you really want to make sure it’s a fit, you can even place the image next to items you already own through the app to complete a look.

For marketers, the shift could change search campaign implementation and structure.  While visual search gives consumers a more detailed view of products, resulting in more satisfied customers, it only works if image assets for products are available and mobile optimized.  With products changing so frequently, it could pose significant challenges, particularly for smaller brands.

While improved shopping is only the start of Google Lens capabilities, it’s clear AI and augmented reality are shaping the future and are bringing digital window shopping to your living room.  

https://adage.com/article/digital/heres-what-googles-bet-visual-search-means-advertisers/2170861

Burger King’s “Traffic Jam Whopper” Delivers

Endless traffic is not fun for anyone, but if you’re like most, a hot meal delivered to your window would make the time a little more bearable.  Seems crazy, but Burger King is making it happen with their new campaign “the Traffic Jam Whopper” that delivers orders via motorcycle right to your car.  

With a little ingenuity, Burger King seized the opportunity to feed hungry commuters while also driving brand awareness and burger sales. The promotion is highly calculated for flawless execution to deliver orders quickly and accurately.  By partnering with Waze, Burger King is able to use real time traffic data to identify highly congested areas and dynamically adjust messaging with banner ads and push notifications on the Waze app once drivers enter delivery zones. Ads then lead users to utilize voice commands on the Burger King app to place their orders. Once ready for delivery, drivers rely on Google Maps API to pinpoint and locate drivers.

While the promotion was tested in Mexico City to gauge market interest, the results spoke for themselves. In just one week, the company saw app downloads increase by 44x and delivery orders spiked 63%, making the Burger King app the number one fast food app in Mexico.  

With undeniable success, Burger King plans to replicate the service in other large cities including Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Shanghai with the potential to expand. With a little luck, the “Traffic Jam Whopper” could be coming to a commute near you.

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/burger-king-wants-to-deliver-whoppers-right-to-your-car-during-nightmarish-traffic-jams/

Facebook’s “Clear History” Causes Uncertainty for Advertisers

If you’ve ever wanted to erase your past, at least on social media, Facebook is giving you the opportunity.  The company announced this week they would be rolling out a new “Clear History” feature in response to their commitment to protecting personal information. Users will now be able to disconnect browsing history that is used for targeting and advertising purposes.  While this is an effort to foster online privacy, it could have a substantial impact the user experience based on limited knowledge of user behavior and interests.

As for advertisers, this creates concerns with targeting capabilities and campaign set-up strategies.  Data utilized from Facebook Pixels and Custom Audiences could become severely limited as their targeting ability is primarily based on user’s activity outside on other sites then leveraged once users return to Facebook.  Uncertainty remains as to how this will effect advertising opportunities, reporting metrics and site analytics. It’s also difficult to gauge how many users will take this action to protect their privacy versus the number that have become comfortable with the fact that very little is private in the digital space.

https://marketingland.com/facebook-warns-advertisers-clear-history-tool-may-impact-ad-targeting-260995

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Verizon Media Amps Up The Need For 5G

Rumblings about 5G mobile internet speed have been ramping up over the past month with Verizon Media at the forefront of the conversation.  During its Newsfronts presentation this week, the mobile provider emphasized the benefits of the faster speed combined with its first party user data to help improve technology.  Areas most benefited would be ad and media products as well as a series of programs they hope to release that revolve around the faster connectivity.

With an array of uses, Verizon plans to utilize the technology to fuel its endeavours such as its newly unveiled video series “Hypezilla” which will include augmented reality technology and “shoppable” content.  In addition, the increased speed will improve viewing for the Yahoo Fantasy Football mobile app (also owned by the company) that includes NFL streaming rights for live game coverage.

There’s no doubt the increased speed will raise the bar both for media capabilities and for user expectations.  However, there are still many unanswered questions about current devices being able to withstand the upgrade and how 5G will impact the overall market.  

https://adage.com/article/special-report-newfronts/verizon-feels-need-5g-speed-rev-ad-business/2168021?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook

Walmart Announces Original Content with Shoppable Ads

Vudu, the streaming service owned by Walmart, is reportedly expanding its programming to become more competitive and amplify available advertising opportunities. With Walmart selling over 50% of all US televisions, growing their streaming service is a natural growth progression. Currently Vudu provides movie, video game, and TV series rentals.   However, Walmart plans to invest in original programming, which will include at least 6 family friendly shows that will be available for free on the app with the intention of attracting new users who will then make additional purchases.

Vudu plans to steer clear of subscription fees in favor of adding “shoppable” content for viewers to drive ad revenue.  Users will be able to purchase products seen in programs, likely similar to Amazon’s x-ray technology, where options will appear on the left hand side of the screen and will change based on what’s presented in each scene.  Viewers can then order items, such as household products, electronics, etc., directly through Walmart for home delivery or in-store pick-up. Advertisers will have the option to sponsor product placement to reach audiences and drive sales.  Walmart sees the approach of “shoppable” content as a lucrative way to avoid additional fees but the theory is still being tested and will be contingent on view reception.

Walmart is taking a gamble using the new programming to grow its users.  However, if it works, it will be a great way to use their own resources to continue to feed their various marketing funnels and drive business on all fronts.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2019/04/29/walmart-is-finally-ready-to-dip-into-the-original-streaming-content-market/#7fca121c4942

User Behavior Dictates Social Media Shift to Mobile

It comes as no surprise that eMarketer confirmed the continued shift of social media users accessing their accounts strictly through mobile devices.  Reports indicate 51% of 2019 users will be mobile only with continued growth in the coming years. As smartphones capabilities grow, use of laptops/desktops in American are on the decline, with many homes strictly relying on mobile device(s).  As this trend continues, smartphone users will surpass desktop/laptop internet users for the first time and will expand the gap in the coming years.

What does this mean for marketers?  Social platforms will continue to invest in ad opportunities that are “mobilized.”  Facebook in particular has already started testing a more mobile-friendly swipe interface to meet the demand.  It is also continuing to leverage Stories in Instagram, which are primarily for mobile use based on the content dimensions as well as the recent addition of Checkout on Instagram for easier in-app purchasing.

The shift isn’t slowing and in response, marketers are investing ad dollars in mobile-first social media content.  It will be interesting to see how users continue to drive technological advances and advertising opportunities in the space.

https://www.emarketer.com/content/more-than-half-of-social-network-users-will-be-mobile-only-in-2019?ecid=NL1001

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Develops Its Own Mobile Network

Snapchat made a big announcement on Thursday about plans for a Snap Audience Network, its own mobile ad platform with targeting across various apps.  The initial launch will be strictly for iOS devices and will extend to Android at a later date.

There are still questions surrounding how this will operate as compared to similar networks.  However it’s projected to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google with the added unique ability for app developers to utilize Snapchat’s same full-screen, vertical video ad format.

The announcement didn’t come with much detail, but it appears to be an effort by the company to help boost it’s own advertising agenda to partner with more agencies and businesses. While there are still a number of unknowns with this new platform, it will be interesting to see Snapchat competes with other social networks and what differentiates them in the space.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/snap-announces-plans-to-build-its-own-mobile-ad-network-to-connect-with-its-audience/

Facebook Exposed for Storing User Data on Public Amazon Cloud Servers

Cybersecurity firm, Upguard, uncovered more than 540 million Facebook user files stored on a public Amazon cloud server this week. Information included user actions on the site, comments and Facebook IDs, all of which were accessible on the server for public download despite profile settings.  Once alerted, Facebook immediately worked with Amazon to take down the database, but cannot verify how this may impact users.

While Facebook policies prohibit user data being stored on unsecure servers, this news adds to the growing data privacy concerns with the platform. After last year’s news that millions of user’s data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook audited thousands of third-party data apps and suspended those who were mishandling. Despite continued efforts to protect user data, it appears the extent of the problem may not be fully known at this point.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/millions-of-facebook-records-found-on-amazon-cloud-servers

Amazon Alexa Advances Healthcare Services

Amazon Alexa users can now utilize the smart speaker for healthcare information with its recently released HIPAA compliant skills.  Users can leverage the technology to manage healthcare needs such as booking appointments, checking a prescription status or accessing stored medical information such as ongoing glucose readings.  The skills are currently only accessible through select partnerships but will expand based on user adoption.

With the launch, some entities are unveiling HIPAA-compliant skills specific to their own recently discharged patients.  Boston Children’s released a skill known as “ERAS” which allows patients and caregivers to ask questions specific to recent patient care records and allows doctors the ability to follow up with patients remotely.

While data privacy remains a huge concern for patients, Amazon confirms data is encrypted and securely stored in addition to the strict guidelines HIPAA puts in place for patient protection.  This announcement is a major advancement in the evolution of remote patient care.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-launches-its-first-hipaa-compliant-medical-skills/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Streaming Video Exceeds Cable Subscriptions

For the first time, video streaming service subscriptions surpassed cable, jumping up 27% to 613 million subscribers last year. The shift is attributed to the consumers being drawn to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for the 24/7 accessibility across devices and original programming.   This trend further is likely to continue as more cable subscribers “cut the cord” and rely on digital video for programming.

ttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-21/netflix-s-growth-helps-streaming-eclipse-cable-subscriptions

McDonalds Uses AI to Drive Personalization

In an aggressive move to integrate a more tailored dining experience, McDonalds acquired the personalization company, Dynamic Yield.  This technology will be used to create a dynamic menu that will adjust to variables such as weather, time of day or trending menu items.  It will also aid in upselling, or suggesting additional items that compliment your selections. They will begin leveraging the technology for drive-thru customers and plan to expand to self-serve kiosks and the mobile app.  McDonalds plans to roll out the new technology in the US throughout 2019 to increase customer service and clearly distinguish the company from competitors.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/25/mcdonalds-acquires-dynamic-yield/

Big News From Apple

On March 25th, Apple introduced its streaming service, Apple News+ to the public.  While some industry insiders remain skeptical about the announcement, publishers are hoping to use the service to expand their audience and drive digital subscriptions.  Apple News+ includes over 300 magazines and select newspapers for a monthly fee. Publishers view this as an opportunity to reach and engage a news centric audience, driving their own revenue through advertisements.  While the audience is shared across multiple publishers, this approach offers the chance to reach readers who may never interact with some publications and gain loyalty. Publishers are not expecting this to be a magic solution but an added layer to in their efforts to increase readership and expand audiences.

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/publishers-view-apple-news-as-an-experiment-not-a-solution-to-the-industrys-woes/


Facebook Amends Targeting to Fight Discrimination

Facebook is refining it’s targeting options as they pertain to employment, housing and credit advertisements as prompted by a recent settlement agreement with leading civil rights organizations.  Brands promoting these items can no longer target users based on demographic information such as ethnicity, age, gender, religious affiliation or family status. Based on the previous set-up, targeting could include or exclude these criteria or create look-a-like audiences to target similar users.  While Facebook continues to be under right scrutiny for it’s policies, this is just another step they are taking to earn user’s trust and continue focus on data privacy concerns.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-revamping-its-targeting-for-housing-employment-and-credit-ads/

Your Guide to Keeping Consumer Data Secure While Personalizing Campaigns

Customers expect personalization. A well-crafted email with a customer's first name and a product suggestion related to a past purchase, for example, has become the norm.  Research shows 98 percent of marketers believe personalization advances the customer relationship, with 74 percent claiming it has a "strong" or "extreme" impact on the relationship, according to Evergage.

While marketers see the value of personalizing messages, creating them requires customer data. To market effectively, you have to know a lot about a customer. That can range from basic information (such as a customer's name and hometown) to more intrusive information like buying history and spending limits.

Having this kind of coveted data provides amazing targeting applications, but it also comes with great responsibility. Customers are concerned about privacy. One survey shows 91 percent of Americans believe customers have lost control over how their personal data is collected and used, according to Pew Research.

So how can brands provide personalized marketing and protect customer data at the same time? Here are some tips:

Get Consent to Contact

Before reaching any customer digitally, make sure you have permission to do so. Aside from being a best practice, it's also mandated by new privacy legislation. The European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for example, requires businesses to get consent from digital customers before collecting, storing, and using personal data.  Although this legislation was passed in Europe, experts say more laws aimed at protecting personal data elsewhere in the world are likely in the future.

How do you get consent? Ask customers to voluntarily join your email list, or run a promotion on social media that asks for permission to contact the participant with future offers. Whatever the tactic, get permission to make contact.

Don't Assume You Know What Customers Want

Many marketers make assumptions on behalf of customers, and that is starting to bother those customers. What kind of assumptions? Marketers sometimes use pre-checked boxes on forms that automatically sign up subscribers for promotional emails. These pre-checked boxes assume every customer wants to get coupons or a weekly email digest, when customers might not want that at all.

Or, let's say you're at a trade show and you exchange business cards with dozens of people. When you get back to your office, you add everyone to your email list. Why? You assume everyone wants to stay in touch after the show. But they didn't give consent to join your email list at all. That's another assumption.

One of the best ways to respect customers and their privacy is to avoid making decisions for them.

Explain How Information Is Used

One of the best practices pushed in laws like the GDPR is transparency. GDPR requires brands to tell customers how their personal information is collected, tracked, and used.  Many brands use cookies to track a customer's online activities. Since GDPR was enacted, brands must explain how their sites' cookies collect, track, and store data. As a result, you've probably seen "cookie consent" messages pop up on your favorite websites, like this one:

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In this case, customers can accept the data tracking policy, select how much data they want collected, and see how their information is used by the company.

Whether you use cookies or not, one of the best ways to show customers that privacy matters is to explain exactly how you gather and use their personal information.

Be Honest About Data Breaches

Data breaches happen, and some of the biggest companies have experienced them. While they're embarrassing, it's important to tell your customers about it, and quickly.  

In the U.S., Uber was forced to pay a $148 million settlement when a 2016 data breach was found to have been covered up by the transportation company's then-CEO, Travis Kalanick. The breach wasn't made public for a year, according to USA Today.

Customers want transparency. In Europe, the GDPR sets strict requirements that companies notify customers of any stolen data within 72 hours.

Personalization and privacy have become a balancing act for brands across the globe. Customers want personalized experiences, but they want to trust their data is safe and being used in ways that they approve of.

Insta-Game Changer

Today Instagram announced the long awaited confirmation of the beta rollout of Checkout on Instagram. There’s been rumbling in the industry for months about Instagram’s desire to push in-app ecommerce sales and it’s finally becoming a reality.  A select list of top brand partners will now allow users to shop right in the app. This tactic is a win for everyone involved and has been much sought after.  Providing in-app checkout is a great way for brands to encourage shopping with the ability to customize content based on user profiles. It also allows Instagram users to keep scrolling longer, eliminating the need to leave the platform for additional product information or purchases.  But most importantly, it provides a more personalized experience for the users while simplifying the shopping experience.

So how does it work?  The new checkout option will be an extension of the existing shopping tags already in place and will now include a “Checkout on Instagram” button in the post,  allowing for purchase completion within the platform. User information will be securely stored on Instagram to make future purchases for any participating brands that much easier.  Although this is only being extended to select brands while in beta, it’s definitely a play to become more competitive in the ecommerce space while leveraging the growing audience already in place.

The continued push for social ecommerce has the potential to be a big revenue driver for both Instagram and businesses.  With Instagram users expected to reach 113.3 million US users in 2019, according to eMarketer, it only makes sense to provide in-app conveniences to users which keep them engaged.  Since Instagram is personalized according to your interests, retailers have access to detailed user data that gives them significant advantages in what products or services they promote and to which audiences turning casual viewers into loyal brand shoppers.

Integrating social and ecommerce is the match we’ve been longing for.  In a market where consumers expect personalization at every interaction and have been conditioned for immediate gratification in their online experience, this pairing is sure to resonate with users.  

The Power of the Hashtag

Hastags are now a normal part of social media activity but you may be wondering how you can leverage them for business.  When used strategically, hashtags hold an amazing power to reach large audiences and there's little doubt they can serve as effective tools for marketers when properly implemented.

One of the major benefits to marketers are the countless ways to measure hashtag campaign performance. Engagement, for example, could include metrics about retweets, replies and comments. Awareness might be measured with reach, exposure and volume. Traffic to your website could be measured in clicks, conversions and shares.

Hastags can create opportunity and increase visibility.  Here are some examples of successful hashtag campaigns at work.

• #TweetFromTheSeat

After launching its #TweetFromTheSeat hashtag campaign, Charmin earned "Time Magazine's" vote for the "Sassiest Brand on Twitter."

RESULTS: Approximately 80,000 new followers

• #WeAccept

This Airbnb campaign used images of people of various ethnicities with the hashtag #WeAccept to demonstrate the founders' commitment to welcoming groups such as refugees.

RESULTS: 1,954,277 YouTube views, 109,000 Instagram views, 14,022,922 Facebook views

• #LikeAGirl

The Always brand used the #LikeAGirl hashtag as a call to action, inviting women to tweet about the positive things they do "like a girl" to remove the stigma from the phrase. They complimented it with a #LikeAGirl page hosted on Always.com..

RESULTS: Twitter followers tripled in the first months; 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months, including celebrities

Ready to get started on your next hashtag campaign? Consider these guidelines:

1. Research existing hashtags.

You want to create a hashtag unique to your company, so do your homework to ensure you're not diluting your messaging by distinguishing yourself from competitors. Incorporate trending hashtags into your campaign to complement your main hashtag.

2. Create a tag that's unique to the brand.

Generic hashtags are fine as supplemental pieces, but your primary hashtag should be unique to the brand. Good examples include Lay's #DoUsAFlavor, Ryu's #WhatsInYourBag and the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization's #KnowYourLemons.

3. Create unique tags for different promotions.

Be creative and use different hashtags for different campaigns, products, etc. Oreo, for example, has used #MyOreoCreation, #OreoHorrorStories, and #PlayWithOreo.

4. Use the hashtag across multiple social media platforms.

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter. Use them on all social media updates.

5. Test varying amounts of hashtags per post to find your sweet spot.

As a general rule, use two hashtags on Twitter and seven or fewer on other platforms.

6. Choose niche hashtags.

Stay away from generic hashtags and get more specific, such as using #BigAndTallTuxedos over a broad term like #Tuxedos.

7. Follow your hashtag on social media.

Keep an eye on what others are saying by following common hashtags you use.

Using these tips, you'll find hashtags can make an impact on your marketing strategy and increase your reach.

Tips for Marketing to Spring Break Travelers

No matter your target audience, spring break is an excellent time for brands to get in front of their consumers.  With college students spending an estimated $1 billion on spring break every year added to the amount spent by families who take advantage of the time off school for travel, spring break has become a huge marketing opportunity.

For business, you can use this time to boost your brand, attract more followers and promote sales. Here are four tips to get started.

Hold a Spring Break Sale

Regardless of your business, running travel-themed marketing campaigns can entice consumers to try your product or service. Spring break is the ideal time to clear out inventory or offer promotional items to drive more traffic to your website or physical locations. One example of success was a direct marketing campaign by Great Wolf Lodge.  They offered a promotional discount to travelers who booked rooms during spring break to increase reservations and attract repeat customers.

Leverage Social Media

Spring break is a great time to host contests, giveaways and live events for your followers. It's also an opportunity to create a campaign centered around themed stories and invite your followers to contribute. This could include videos, photos or written content detailing their adventures with your product, letting everyone in on the fun they're having. Users with the best stories or photos could then win products or services.  The authenticity of showing products in use resonates with consumers and creates the feeling that your brand is part of the spring break experience.

Deliver an Experience

Experiential marketing tactics are all about becoming another factor in the fun surrounding spring break. They aren't about making revenue as much as they are geared toward exposing travelers to your brand and letting them interact with it, creating a positive impression to share with friends, coworkers and families. In a recent example, Axe took a two-pronged approach by setting up a tent and games on a popular beach to attract spring breakers, in addition to sponsoring toiletries at popular hotels.

Stamping your presence on a hot spot is not the only way to take advantage of experiential marketing. You could have brand ambassadors hand out samples and free gifts or use your social media strategies to drive traffic to your website with interactive games or events.

Sponsor Events

Whether it's a party geared toward college kids or a families, sponsoring spring break events can increase brand awareness, provide an opportunity for engagement and help your brand gain traction. Many times this doesn’t require you to be on the site to reap the benefits, but attendees will likely take note of your name on the promotional materials or sponsored activities.


Spring break is a tradition where people of all ages are ready to celebrate the end of winter with some fun in the sun.  Use this time to your advantage to get in front of consumers and be part of the action.


Leveraging Platforms for March Basketball Hysteria

Basketball viewing during the March tournaments used to be restricted to only the game(s) that were playing on cable at the time. Now, fans have the ability to watch multiple games on various devices while staying up-to-date with bracket-busting news via social media.

Social platforms alone have become a hot spot for hoops hysteria.  During the 2015 tournament, there were 350 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, according to Koeppel Direct. In 2017, March Madness Live (MML) brought in 69.1 million live streams. All the excitement is prime opportunity for brands to leverage the influx of users streaming the live action and catching up on the day’s wins and losses. To help your brand slam dunk its campaign, we’ve provided some strategy tips.

Facebook

Facebook profiles are full of customer-specific data, including a user's college history and location, which provides ready-made segments for your ads. This presents a variety of strategic campaign options to appeal to various audiences.

A company selling sports gear, for example, can create Syracuse Orangemen ads for Syracuse alum, or a travel agency can create an ad for a Final Four trip aimed at fans vying for the chance to see the games in person.

Instagram

Instagram has access to Facebook data allowing for similar segmenting of users.  It also presents the opportunity to leverage trending hashtags around game excitement.  Adding a relevant hashtag to your message can tie basketball and your brand together. The searchability increases your brand presence when used correctly.  For example, Acme Footwear asked users to pick the game winner by combining the predicted winning team name with its company name for responses like #dukeacme. Fans love to show their team fandom and get excited to be a part of the celebration.

YouTube

To get the most bang for your buck, consider launching a campaign via YouTube during the tourney.  With audience-specific targeting available, you can show ads to users who have watched a specific video or tournament related content.  You can also leverage remarketing capabilities to further your reach.

Digital Video Ads

With people now watching sports via live-streaming channels at all hours, digital video ads are a great way to stay in front of consumers.  This spans platforms, increasing opportunity for exposure. Facebook, for example, will interrupt a live stream with breaks for ads. Since viewers are already engaged in the game and ads are limited, you have a captive audience who are more likely to remember your brand and product.

The hype surrounding bracket success, or the sleeper team that’s sure to be a bracket buster, presents a great opportunity to reach consumers with fun and memorable ad experience.  Fans are engaged and playing into the excitement is sure to be a marketing win.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2019

To kick off 2019, we’ve identified the top trends you can leverage to improve your marketing strategy, reach a growing audience and boost branding and sales. We cover the advancement of voice search, the increased adoption of streaming video and the implications of artificial intelligence on how chatbots can improve your business to name a few.


Watch the webinar for a full breakdown of the 2019 trends worth noting for your marketing strategy.

Leverage First-Party Data to Boost Personalization

To succeed in today's marketing world, personalization is crucial. Research shows 84 percent of customers say being treated like an individual and not a number is important to winning their business, according to Salesforce.

To treat customers like real people, you need to know who they are. But this isn't always easy. Sure, you might remember a few customers who frequent your business, but it's impossible to know everyone, let alone create marketing messages tailored to each person.

Personalized messages rely on customer data. You need to collect data in every category possible. From collecting email addresses at checkout and tracking order histories to asking customers to fill out forms and surveys, your data collection strategy should be diverse and continuous.

Any data you collect is considered first-party data. Thus, the emails you collect on your website form, the information shared when customers join your social media contest, and the data collected as customers browse your site are all first-party data. You collected it.

To help marketers take personalization to the next level, we'll dive into the data world and explain what first-party data is and how to utilize it.

  • Tips for Using First-Party Data Effectively

Once you have first-party data, it's time to put it to work for you. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a Deep Data Dive

At the beginning, you probably focused on collecting the basics from customers, such as their names, email addresses, and ages. Now, it's time to go deeper. You need behavioral data like past purchases and browsing history to create more detailed messages.

  • Refined, Smaller Segments

As you collect more data, you can create more defined segments. Essentially, you should segment your segments. For instance, if you segmented your customers by sex, take it one step further and segment based on past purchases. So rather than just sending an email to all female customers, you can send an email to all female customers who made two shoe purchases in the last month.

The further you define your segments, the more personal the messages become. An email aimed at your female customers isn't as targeted as an email sent to shoe-loving female customers who have recently made purchases

  • Use Data for Targeting

You can leverage first party data to improve your advertising strategy. Platforms like Facebook, for example, allow you to input data to customize audiences that see your ads. The more data you have, the more likely you are to attract interested customers.  

  • Deploy Retargeting Messages

By monitoring customers' online actions, you can deploy retargeting campaigns that are specific to each user. Let's say a customer comes to your site, searches for shoes, and spends considerable time looking at a pair of black heels, but never makes the purchase. They can then be retargeted via a variety of platforms (social, mobile, desktop, etc) with a tailored message that includes that same pair of shoes.  Retargeting gives you the ability to deliver personalized content to customers who have actually shown interest.

With these tips, you can up your personalization game and start connecting with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Here's How to Get Better Data With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to tool to monitor customer behavior online. This free tool is used to track metrics on more than 27 million websites, but the power of the tool rests with the user. You can glean all sorts of information from Google Analytics, but to gather advanced data beyond clicks and conversions, you have to know a thing or two about the platform.

To help marketers get more from Google Analytics, we'll explain how to use filters to refine data and get a better look at your online activity.


Use Filters

One of the easiest ways to get more from your data, is to apply filters. Google Analytics gives you the power to add the following filters:

Exclude data

  • Include data

  • Change data

  • Search and replace data

  • Set up advanced filter

Filters give you a different perspective and help you get more detailed metrics. For instance, you might filter your traffic to exclude any internal hits. In other words, any employee who visits your website from inside the building doesn't count in your traffic stats.

To add a filter, log into your Google Analytics account, go to Admin, and click filters under the Account column. Then simply add any of these pre-made filters to your data.

Strategies to Filter Data

You can collect and sort data in hundreds of different ways, but here are a few common ways that marketers apply filters:

Measure Traffic From Local Audiences

Set a filter to see what kind of traffic your site gets from people who are in a specific location. If you know where people are located, you can create personalized campaigns that cater to them. For example, if you’re opening a new store in Phoenix, you can create a campaign that’s especially for Phoenix-based customers that announces the new store.

  • Exclude Traffic From Company Employees

We mentioned this example above but the idea is to remove any traffic data that stems from people inside the company. The idea here is to a more accurate traffic reading. If the company website loads automatically on every computer when it’s started, for example, that’s not customer-based traffic so you wouldn’t want it included in your stats.

  • Eliminate 'Fake Hits'

Spammers are constantly trolling sites looking for a way in. As they conduct their searches, their visits are counted as traffic. You can exclude these ''fake hits'' from your metrics for more accurate readings.

  • Tips to Create Effective Filters

Before you log into Google Analytics and add filters, you should know a few things:

  • Create an Unfiltered View

You need one view that's untouched, or unfiltered. That way, should other data get rearranged or deleted, you'll always have this view as a fail-safe. Name it something obvious such as ''Unfiltered View,'' and make it clear to everyone this view shouldn't be touched.

  • Filters Work After the Fact

In other words, you can't apply filters to data you already have. Filters are only applied to data collected after settings are in place.

  • Filters Are Applied in Order

The order in which you apply filters matters. Google Analytics applies filters in the order that you set them, so take some time to think through the process.

  • Work With Pre-set Filters First

To start, use pre-set filters like ''exclude data'' and ''include data'' before you move on to creating an advanced filter. Advanced filters give you the power to customize your metrics, but it's aimed at savvy users.

Google Analytics gives businesses great insights, but getting pertinent data that are specific to your company takes some work. By applying filters to your data sets, you can refine your results and get a better understanding of your audience.

Getting Started With Marketing Personalization

To reach customers, a generic email, text, or Facebook ad won't cut it. Today's customers have high expectations. They expect personalized advertising that's relevant to their lives, and they are willing to help make that happen.

As many as 57 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data, as long as it results in personalized content and offers. At the same time, the majority of consumers (88 percent) aren't happy with the level of personalization they receive from brands they like, according to research presented by Econsultancy.

To help marketers better meet consumers' expectations, we'll explore what personalization is and why it's important, and provide a few tips to get started.

Personalization Defined

Personalization is more than just adding a customer's first name to an email subject line. Personalization is the act of knowing your customers and creating customized content and messages that resonate with each one. Customized content can take many forms. From sending a personalized promotion to customers based on their purchase history, to targeting a specific audience for a Facebook ad.

Why Personalization Is Important

Personalization helps brands attract and retain customers. By crafting messages and ads that are relevant to customers, you’ll draw more people in and keep the customers you have delighted with your efforts.

In time, you’ll build a relationship with your customers. It's similar to building a relationship with a friend. The closer you get and the more experiences you share, the more trust you develop.

As we've mentioned, customers want personalization. In fact, 58 percent of customers are willing to switch half of their spending to brands that excel at personalization, according to a recent report.

Tips to Achieve Personalized Marketing

To put your new personalization strategy into place, here are a few tips to get started:

●       Collect the Right Data

Get to know your customers. In today's modern age, that means collecting personal data. You'll likely need a tool or platform to collect, store, and utilize the data. Ideally, you'll get both demographic information (like name, age, and sex) and behavioral information that tracks things like past purchases and visit frequency.

●       Segment Audiences

Your customers are likely a diverse bunch. To pull off personalization on a large scale, you'll need to segment your customers, or break them into smaller, like-minded groups. Doing so gives you the power to create content for each niche.

●       Start Small

Create a small list of ways you can personalize your next marketing campaign. Don't try to do it all at once. For example, segment customers by location and send a promotion that's specific to a store in that area.

●       Test, Test, Test

As with any marketing campaign, you should test to see what's working and what's not. You can test many different personalization tactics. For instance, you can send an email that includes a customer's name and test it against a generic message that doesn't include the name.

Personalization is an important marketing and advertising tactic, but it takes some time and effort to perfect. You need to collect data and leverage it in a way that customers will respond to. Doing so will help you build a strong relationship with your customers.

How to Use Instagram to Grow Ecommerce Sales

Instagram sees engagement from over one billion active users every month, offering brands a unique opportunity to interact with potential customers right where they are. Instagram's visual-heavy platform can be harnessed to boost ecommerce sales driven by social engagement. These five methods can help your business develop an Instagram strategy that increases conversions, drives sales and creates loyal customers. 

Create a Business Account

If your business is still relying on a personal Instagram account to drive ecommerce, it's your first priority to make the switch to a business account. Instagram's business accounts have access to advanced features such as Instagram Insights, promoted posts, and the ability to include contact information.

To switch, log in to your Instagram account and go to settings. Tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Here, Instagram will prompt you to connect to your business Facebook page, choose a category for your business, and fill in your contact details. You'll be able to start running ads and obtaining audience insights immediately.

Curate Your Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium, and it's important that each image or video shared is artfully crafted individually and displays a cohesive visual theme for your business account.

Drive ecommerce sales by portraying your products in their best light, in ways that appeal to your customers. Curate an artistic vision for your brand by including posts and images that aren't quite so promotional as well. An aspirational photo or conversational post can encourage customer engagement with the brand.

Tag Products Within the Instagram Post

The ability to tag products within an Instagram post is a major benefit of converting to a business account. With product tagging enabled, your customers have a direct path to purchasing the featured product on your own website or via Facebook's Catalog.

 To use Instagram Shopping, you must first connect your business profile to a Facebook Catalog. Products that have been added to the Catalog can then be tagged in an Instagram post, up to five per single image or video.

 Research and Target Hashtags

 Similar to keyword targeting for search engine optimization, Instagram hashtags allow your content to appear in searches by potential customers on the platform. Researching these keywords takes a familiar path towards identifying the topics your customers are searching for and targeting trending social media hashtags.

Utilize Instagram Advertising

Instagram offers its business accounts a number of ways to advertise to potential customers. Within the Ads Manager, your business profile can set up, run, and track campaigns using the same targeting tools offered on Facebook.

Instagram ads appear directly in user feeds, either as an Instagram Story, a photo, or a video up to 60 seconds in length. A highly integrated Collection Ad can combine video and images to allow potential customers to browse your product catalog from within their Instagram feeds.

Whether your business invests in Instagram advertising or takes an organic approach to driving traffic, it's clear consumers enjoy being inspired by brands within their Instagram feeds. You can help your customers complete their purchases by using Instagram's business account tools for driving ecommerce sales.

Brand Perception: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Measure It

When was the last time you really thought about your perception of a product brand or service? Sure, we might use online brands every day in our work or at play, but do you think about how you perceive a brand? You should.

Brand perception is important. It's the sum of our feelings, attitudes, and experiences with a product or service. Brand perception is what moves the needle for companies, taking a common product and giving it elements that evoke emotional feelings. Every car ad during football season is appealing to a viewer's emotions about the brand. Every skincare ad seeks to sway a consumer's emotions into creating a favorable brand perception.

Ultimately, the customer is the one who decides their perception of your brand. Whether you're marketing a consumer commodity like clothing, or a high-level B2B web application, how consumers view the brand can make or break a product.

Let's break down exactly what brand perception is, why it matters and how you can measure its impact in your daily work.

What Is Brand Perception?

Put simply, brand perception is the sum of feelings a consumer has about a brand. These thoughts and feelings happen when a consumer is aware of the brand, and what follows when that consumer hears, sees, or interacts with the brand and its product.

Brand perception incorporates a multitude of areas that touch upon the brand's customer interactions. From product development and packaging to public relations and social engagement, brand perception is a top-level measuring stick of a product's visual presence, goodwill, and emotional character. All of these can play into the product's success.

Think about Facebook, for example. Last year Facebook's brand perception fell out of favor with many because of privacy issues and the platform being found to be the conduit of false or misleading news stories. Brand perceptions of Facebook were significantly changed in 2018, which is why the company is now making moves to make public opinion of its brand more positive.

Even for small companies, brand perception is one part of a larger marketing equation. How does your product or service resonate with its target audience, why does it matter, how do consumers feel about your brand, and how can you measure this?

Why It Matters

Brand perception is important because it reflects what consumers think about a company's culture. We've mentioned Facebook, but this affects even emerging online brands such as Fashion Nova and Everlane.

You might see a branded TV spot, read a review, or catch a pre-roll YouTube ad. These brief interactions can quickly change a consumer's perception of a company from negative to neutral, or from neutral to positive. That's the power of brand perception, and that's why it matters.

Once consumers formulate a perception in their minds, whether positive, negative, or neutral, it's hard to change their beliefs. That's why companies are trying hard to measure brand perception on their own.

Measuring Brand Perception

How can companies measure brand perception? There are agencies that would be glad to charge $5,000 to $25,000 a month for the privilege, but your own team can scout the web to get a fairly reliable reflection of consumers' perceptions of your brand. Some ways your research and marketing teams can do this might include:

●       Setting up Google alerts to track online mentions.

●       Reading online reviews. (This is critical for all brands. Efficient customer response can also help with brand reception.)

●       Social listening, which means monitoring social media comments, hashtags, and other mentions.

●       Measuring metrics for pay-per-click brand search and dwell time.

Overall, companies need to work hard to measure brand perception. A brand owner must measure the brand from the outside to truly understand how people view it. To do so, companies can try a variety of methods to gauge brand perception:

●       Track metrics in your target audience around your brand.

●       Use custom research among primary and secondary target audiences.

●       Conduct a brand audit on your company's brand perception against that of your leading competitors'.

●       Track customer sentiment through each stage of the purchase cycle, including information search, product evaluation, comparison research, buying decision, and post-buying feelings.

Brand perception is a critical part of your company’s marketing effectiveness. Getting a handle on it and putting your resources into knowing how to use it will help your company better plan its marketing campaigns.

Driving Your Digital Presence with Video

We live in a world of convenience at every turn. Information and entertainment is available on demand. Thanks to streaming video and Connected TV, you can view the content you want when it fits in your schedule with the click a button or voice command.  The landscape for viewing has changed immensely having not only an enormous effect on traditional television advertising, but also how marketers are adjusting their budget to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape.

With Connected TV users expected to exceed 190 million in 2019, the need to adapt to this growing platform as another vehicle to tell your story is becoming more imminent by the day.  Digital video now accounts for an average of 25% of a daily video viewing for the average person, which is only projected to increase. However, many marketers are not adjusting their budget distribution accordingly and are missing a valuable opportunity to get in front of their target audience.  Auto dealerships specifically have been one of the slowest adapters to this increase in video consumption, many of which are still spending 100% of their video advertising budget on traditional television versus digital video.

So what makes it different and why should dealerships care?  Unlike cable ads, Connected TV (CTV) and video campaigns can be measured and optimized as part of your overall digital strategy.  Ad effectiveness can be tracked by views, clicks and video completion rates (VCRs). This data enables more insight into the customer journey and car buying experience.  In addition, the power of view-through data can help you attribute users who saw your ad and later took action to get more information or contact the dealership, furthering your ability to measure your return on investment.

Interested but don’t know where to start?  We have broken down the basics to help you better understand how video and Connected TV can help your dealership accelerate past traditional television and begin transforming your market presence.

Download our white paper on Digital Video and The Rise of Connected TV