International Business Times, Alphabet & Google

I was recently asked by the International Business Times for my thoughts about Alphabet and Google’s Q3 Earnings and it’s potential impact on future advertising revenue.

(IBT) Has Google finally made mobile work?

Google is benefiting from consumer behavior shifts and accessibility to mobile and capitalizing by constantly refining their offerings tied to mobile search, programmatic and YouTube.

(IBT) What spurred this change?

Behavioral shifts highlighting mobile search now surpassing desktop is now a key driver for capitalizing on Google’s micro-moment strategy to align contextual relevance across devices.

(IBT) Can Google keep this up even as Facebook continues to keep getting better at killing the mobile display ad business? 

By clearly defining the boundaries of Google vs. the other entities housed in Alphabet, Google has aligned the core revenue generating advertising products and simplified the value proposition of what Google is.

Moving forward as advertising dollars continue to shift from search into other advertising product lines, Google can further integrate their offerings into a comprehensive ecosystem that can flex to better meet the needs of advertisers and continue to be a core revenue driver to further compete with Facebook.

International Business times

Also, Here is my original commentary outlining thoughts on the potential for Google’s advertising products based on the formation of Alphabet.

Google’s decision to streamline their organization into a house of brands vs. a branded house will ultimately have a positive impact on their advertising business. 

By clearly defining the boundaries of Google vs. the other entities housed in Alphabet, Google has aligned the core revenue generating advertising products and simplified the value proposition of what Google is. 

By elevating the former SVP of Products Sundar Pichai as CEO of the newly restructured Google, they show a strong emphasis on pushing the boundaries of enhancing advertising product lines. 

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Digital Hollywood 2015

I recently had an opportunity to speak at Digital Hollywood and discussed viral and social media experiences in entertainment, media and advertising creativity.

digital hollywood2

It was a great discussion and the panel touched on topics from social media, smart data usage, social creativity and monetization.

Digital Hollywood

Below is a recap of my key discussion points and additional commentary:

1) You’ve been in the industry a while, what excites you most about the opportunities in viral and social now?

Epsilon is a part of Alliance Data so for me as a marketer having proprietary data assets to support our creative process is incredibly valuable.

The amount of behavioral, attitudinal and transactional data that is available is incredibly exciting and having the ability to combine our structured data assets with the unstructured consumer data and signals via social is key to creating highly contextual connections.

2) What concerns you about the state of social marketing?

One of the core elements that sometimes gets lost in today’s social world that is driven by reach and frequency is the role of community.

Some of the most successful brands today not only have great visual storytelling and entertaining content, they are also empowering their community to carry the brand.

under armour

3) How are social experiences different than traditional media/content?

For me it’s the flexibility. There is an opportunity to create deeply immersive linear and non-linear experiences or extremely lightweight micro-moments. Social experiences should put the consumer in the center and have an opportunity to be highly contextual.

4) One thing that has been said is that viral and social content can enhance the core creative… what are some examples? Any examples where they missed?

You also look at brands like Dove. They are focused on the overarching theme of real beauty and they are proud to have started the femvertising movement.

Last year for the Oscars the inter agency team created a social campaign around #speakbeautiful with the goal of impacting sentiment about the event, specifically the red carpet from negative to positive and it drove a significant impact on positive conversation.

What about examples where it missed?  

We have all seen examples where a brand over reaches trying to capitalize on a real time moment and the context is lost. It should be less about witty brand personification and more about empowering fans.

5) How do you approach creative different in a viral/social environment?

It all starts with understanding the behaviors and attitudes of the individuals to ensure that what we are creating will resonate.

The goal is to then create thumbstopping creative. This means in a mobile first world we want you to stop scrolling.

Example from Mini Cooper of Thumbstopping Creative

mini-cooper-box-02-480x316

It has to be authentic, entertaining and ultimately meaningful to the consumer. Content needs to be atomized but consistent with the overarching theme and highly consumer centric.

It’s also important to develop a strategy that aligns the essence of the brand with the core behaviors of the consumer and finally understanding the role of content, be it brand created, co-created with 3rd parties, integrated with existing programs or curated from fans.

6) What, if any, concerns does the talent have with this new environment? How do you manage these concerns?

Balancing reputation management and authenticity is key. Understanding the role and goal of each platform is key to maximizing reach while mitigating risk.

7) What concerns do advertisers have with creativity in a viral/social environment?

Form factors are highly dependent by platform. Ability to amplify messaging varies greatly. Targeting capabilities can be a core area of focus such as Facebook and Twitter.

Others such as Buzzfeed, Snapchat and Reddit are fully reliant on contextual opt-in. Ensuring that the right creative is being deployed in a way that will resonate is always a concern via social.

Buzzfeed does not target it’s sponsored content (see Subway below) it is all based on contextual opt-in. 

Buzzfeed contextual opt-in

Another point of consideration is maintaining authenticity is key.

8) How does the platform impact the ability to integrate content or immerse the audience?

The platforms play a major role. Some are optimized for reach others are focusing on sequential storytelling like Twitter Moments, others are embracing visual language tools to further connect with millienials.

The key is to understand the form factor and approach that is right for the user and the brand.

9) What are the different considerations between direct and indirect monetization?

It is highly dependent on the goals of the organization. Certain categories such as retail and CPG are highly focused on the Impact of social on trip missions, the role of location and direct conversion.

You see platforms like Facebook renewing their focus on commerce, adding shopping into the native mobile user experience and the focus on messenger as a commerce vehicle.

Screenshot 2015-10-23 16.23.44

The key is to map the goals to a strategic framework that define the role monetization will play in the campaign.

10) Are the “traditional” ad impressions dying? Pre-roll, interstitial, etc.

From an industry perspective they are not dying because too many organizations have measurement models built around impressions.

I do see shifts in what is creating connections. We focus a lot on dynamically optimized creative that is built with different behavioral models to ensure the timing and context of the message across devices creates impact.

11) What are the key metrics that your clients care about?

Impressions, incremental reach to television, engagement, share of voice, sentiment, conversions are just a few.  Also, brands are focused on efficiency of media, viewability of video advertising and for some the impact of location on in-store messaging.

There is always the balance to consider between attribution and causality.

12) What will it take to be successful in the next 18 months? (experimentation, risk, etc.)

1) SMART DATA  – Enhanced focus on smart data and having the ability to create predictive models that can pick up on key signals via social.

2) BRAND ECOSYSTEMS – Moving beyond brand partnerships to create brand ecosystems as co-creation and integration are incredibly important.

3) SOCIAL MESSAGING – It will also be important to focus on strategies for social messaging platforms. Face books messenger already supports 3rd party apps, integrating payment and will become their primary commerce enabler.

Monitoring the Asian paradigm around the role of messaging is a key predictor of the potential here in the U.S.

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5 Ways Ad Agencies Are Behind The Times

My new article 5 Ways Ad Agencies Are Behind The Times was the cover story for iMedia Connection.

Screenshot 2015-10-20 23.35.07

This article dives into the topics:

  1. How “tactical digital” has not evolved
  2. Embracing the role of the marketing technologist
  3. The importance of strategic partnerships and exclusive access
  4. The true role that innovation plays within an agency
  5. How critical “smart” data is to winning

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Ad Age Data Conference 2015

Recently, I participated in a discussion about Data + Creativity = ? at the 2015 Ad Age Data Conference.

Tom Edwards Ad Age Data 2

Here is a recap of the various topics that I discussed as well as additional commentary.

AdAge – Give us an example of a smart use of data to inform creative?

Epsilon’s Conversant partners with Cabela’s to generate and optimize 1 million versions of dynamically optimized creative based on targeting, offers and segments.

We harness transactional and online click stream data to drive actionable insights across campaign initiatives that ultimately informs our creative process.

Cabelas

Data and dynamic creative drive a digitally centric approach to support brand awareness, new product lines, new customer acquisition, geo-targeted retail support and personalized ads.

AdAge – What kind of data do you now have access to that you didn’t have access to a year+ ago?

One of the main reasons I chose to join Epsilon’s agency team are the proprietary data assets. Having access to behavioral, attitudinal, transactional, demographic and contextual data as well as proprietary technology that maps to devices and the individual consumer were important factors in my decision process.

Having the capability to create customer centric approaches to plan, create and distribute contextual content powered by smart data makes my job of mapping the art + science of what we do on the agency side even easier.

AdAge – How are you actually using that data in new ways? How has it been a game-changer, if at all?

Having access to this type of data has changed my approach to consumer engagement planning. There is now a heavier emphasis on consumer need states as well as crafting data driven narratives.

Screenshot 2015-10-09 08.05.43

From an agency standpoint we have realigned our approach to consumer engagement through the lens of behavioral economics focused on aligning data with planning that informs creative territories and strategic themes.

In addition to using previous data, past transaction, behavior, etc. we also focus on predicting future need states through propensity (predictive) models.

Another great data driven asset is our ability to map to individuals across devices. This makes it easier to deliver highly personalized programmatic media and dynamic creative by mapping high level themes through to relevant and constantly optimizing micro-moments.

This allows us to connect with consumers regardless of where they are in a heavily fragmented media landscape.

Ad Age – What’s the danger in over-listening to data/insights?

It is important to balance data driven decisions, originality and innovation.

It is important to ensure that the data being leveraged is “smart data” and is actually applicable to the current goals of the program.

It is important to be flexible, especially with signals from unstructured data and have a process to adapt as necessary.

Tom Edwards Data

Also, it is important to not be over reliant on the past and look for opportunities to create predictive models.

Ad Age – Do advanced tech and data present any other challenges? What are the shortcomings?

Integration, portability, privacy, security and real time access are always at the forefront of my mind when aggregating and integrating multiple inputs to execute a campaign.

Ad Age – Are traditional focus groups (two-way mirror) still a thing?

It depends on the client, campaign and the type of insights that we are looking to glean. There are times when we leverage traditional and digital focus groups, but we more frequently commission mobile ethnography studies as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms to explore natural conversation and domain discussions vs traditional focus groups.

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Location As A Context Filter

I recently participated in a panel for Mobile Media Summit in NYC as a part of advertising week. The discussion was primarily focused on all facets of geo-location as well as a deep dive into the role beacons can play to connect with consumers in real-time.

Tom Edwards Mobile Media Summit

Below are a few territories that I touched on during the session as well as a few additional thoughts. 

ROLE OF LOCATION:  Location is a great filter to align consumer behavior against. My goal is to seamlessly connect physical to digital while maintaining a highly consistent message architecture that is highly relevant to the consumer.

BEACONS: One of the issues with beacon programs to date is how to achieve scale. Media organizations are looking for opportunities to drive scale while marketing agencies are focused on the ideal message structure.

There are many use cases to consider depending on the behavior you are looking to impact. If the goal is to drive pre-shop behaviors, it may be beneficial to leverage a 3rd party solution like shop kick to motivate a pre-shop mission that can lead to a retail visit.

Shopkick Macys

If a retailer has a robust CRM and loyalty program and wants to connect online behaviors with in-store visits it may be advisable to install a comprehensive beacon network.

I recently worked with a major consumer electronics retailer to test proprietary beacons that were fully integrated across multiple touchpoints. The program aligned with the existing CRM platform, leveraged it’s loyalty program to modify in-store behavior and the test led to full integration into the the retailers app.

gamestop-beacon-zones

This approach provided more flexibility to leverage loyalty points as a currency as well as reduce latency of the passive beacons as app activation is set upon entry. 

This program has allowed for mapping of data and interactions and has also lead to the ability to further refine the approach to regionally specific personalized content based on store visit, online behaviors and loyalty interactions.

FACEBOOK PLACE TIPS: Another interesting development is Facebook’s official roll out of place tips for small to mid size businesses. This program has definitely peaked my interest as Facebook is providing the beacon hardware. It’s a very low barrier of entry for the business owner and they have the ability to append location specific details to the Place Tip.

Photo Sep 23, 6 06 32 AM

A consumer would see a notification in their newsfeed if they are near a Place Tip enabled spot similar to what I received recently at the DFW Airport.

Tom Edwards Place Tips

After a user clicks on the notification they are delivered into a location specific experience that allows them to engage with the location, message the business through Facebook Messenger, rate the business and interact with contextually relevant content.

Photo Sep 23, 6 01 14 AMPhoto Sep 23, 6 01 59 AM

The business owner has the ability to modify content such as menu’s and I see this as Facebook’s play at ultimately delivering location specific messaging outside of the traditional geo-targeted ad units.

Facebook Place Tips

Location is a key point to consider when aligning a contextually relevant message. The key is to remember there needs to be a value exchange for location access.

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Mashable Apple News App Commentary

I was recently asked by Mashable to provide commentary about the pros and cons of Apple News and the rest of the publisher news ecosystem such as Facebook’s Instant Articles, Snapchat’s Discover, etc…

Mashable: How do you see Apple News (and by extension iAds) competing with Facebook Instant Articles or Snapchat Discover? What does it offer that they don’t? What are its shortcomings as far as what marketers are looking for?

Tom Edwards: The cache of Apple and the relevance of the content will create momentum upon launch. Publishers interested in reaching the iOS user, especially with the pending iOS9 ad blocking, will be open to testing on Apple News and looking to maximize the 3 iAD ad types to their fullest. Depending on the audience, brands do like the flexibility of the larger iAD format, which is essentially a blank canvas and Apple is continuing to evolve their targeting/retargeting capabilities.

One of the key adoption challenges for Apple News is that it is a stand alone application vs. integrated into the existing platforms such as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Snapchat’s Discover. It will require additional shifts in behavior to move eyes from the applications they are already engaged within.

What I like about Facebook instant articles is the ability to create interactive experiences that are contextual for users and provide publishers with a custom experience backed by Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities. Facebook is now extending the best practices of instant articles to their advertising product by testing mobile ad units to compete with iAds blank canvas.  

 

mashable - Tom

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Twitter’s New Visual Tools Debuted at the VMA’s

I was recently asked by ClickZ about the recent debut of Twitter’s Visual Editing Tool the debuted during MTV’s Video Music Awards.

Clickz: Twitter is testing new editing tools to give its users a lot more creativity in the photo and video department soon. According to numerous images posted by Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams and other popstars at MTV’s VMA awards show this weekend, it looks like users might soon be able to add stickers, doodles, text and more to photos and short video clips. What does this mean for Twitter?

Tom Edwards: This move by Twitter makes a lot of sense, especially for millennial users who have grown accustomed to customizing their messages with ephemeral social platforms like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The evolution from text speak to visual language is key for Twitter to capitalize upon to remain relevant especially considering that globally, messaging applications are the primary engagement drivers. 

Twitter has taken steps to amp up their approach to visually contextual content with custom emoji and hashflags. By incorporating more options for it’s users to extend their personalities through stickers and doodles they are providing additional options for users to expand their ability to tell a visual story and continue to expand context beyond 140 characters. 

 

ClickZ - Tom Edwards

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Digiday Video Platform Commentary

I recently provided commentary to Digiday outlining which video platform is ideal for brands.

Digiday - Tom Edwards - 2

From my perspective it really comes down to the individual use case. Instead of saying one platform is the best overall, marketers should identify their specific audiences, how they’re looking to deliver the message and then determine the video platform that best meets their needs.  For example, Snapchat is a great platform to connect with millennial audiences tied to events while Instagram offers marketers a way to extend visual storytelling.  Meanwhile, Vine can be used for very specific uses cases like a do-it-yourself video in six seconds or less.  
 
The more traditional platforms like YouTube have their positives as well.  For YouTube, it’s all about organic discovery as it’s the second largest search engine.  The recent addition of Cards is a key addition to the platform.  These Cards provide marketers with the ability to deliver sequential storytelling through interactivity – which makes videos more dynamic. 
 
Tom Edwards, Chief Digital Officer, Agency, Epsilon

 

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UTA Guest Lecture and Career Advice

Academia has played an important role for me over the past 13 years. During that time I have been an adjunct faculty member and had the pleasure to instruct thousands of students across many disciplines of marketing.

This week I had an opportunity to guest lecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. The course was focused on social media/digital strategy and the students were attentive and sharp.

Tom Edwards Guest Lecture

I enjoy courses that focus on current best practices and push students to develop skills that can assist them immediately upon graduation.

Some of the key areas of focus and advice were:

  1. Focus on developing your network through Linkedin – It really is about who you know. I have seen this come to fruition throughout my career. It is important for new grads to start growing their network early in order to fully leverage it in the future.
  2. Have a point of view and develop original content – In order to stand out it is important to have a definitive point of view that is expressed through original content. This can be perspective on a given topic or simply industry commentary. The point is to showcase how you think to prospective employers. I strongly consider this when hiring against various strategy positions.
  3. It is important to find a mentor and a sponsor – In order to fully maximize your potential, it is important to have both a mentor who will invest in your personal and professional growth, as well as an internal sponsor, someone who will champion your progression within an organization.

It is always a pleasure speaking to individuals about to embark on their careers. 

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SXSW 2016 Voting Has Begun!

Now through September 4th, 2015 is the time to vote on panels & presentations for SXSW Interactive 2016. This time around I have submitted two presentations.

Vote-PanelPicker-Idea-2016-FB

The first panel is Unleashing Innovation. This will be a fire side chat format with Jeff Donaldson of the GameStop Technology Institute as we discuss how to integrate innovation into an existing organization.

SXSW 2016 - Innovation

The second is a solo topic discussing the Uselessness of Data which dives into how data without the right context is essentially useless. By itself data doesn’t move the customer engagement needle. People search out and connect with compelling stories, solutions or insights – that create friction along the path-to-purchase – not raw data or numbers.

data

 

I would greatly appreciate your support with a vote.  The first step to vote is to create an account at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com

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

Epsilon

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

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Hero 6 Final

Momentology – Loyalty Marketing Strategy

I was recently asked by Momentology to provide commentary about why loyalty marketing is enjoying renewed focus and how companies can benefit now.

Momentology - Tom Edwards - cropped

Retention is a key component to maximizing the lifetime value of a consumer. Loyalty programs focused on retention can reduce customer churn and strengthen the preference for the brand.

From a brand marketing perspective, there is a significant amount of time and energy spent on acquisition and awareness based initiatives. This is represented by the recent shift toward consumer-centric content marketing.

Digital businesses that understand the role that content plays at all phases of the customer journey can create value and loyalty while maximizing retention. The key is to enable the consumer to highlight memorable interactions and provide a platform for sharing or by leveraging social interactions to create social currency. These interactions then become a part of the awareness and discovery cycle decreasing the cost of customer acquisition and increasing the probability of customer retention.

There are five qualities that should be considered when creating advocacy programs to sustain loyalty:

  • Authenticity is critical in a highly transparent digital world.
  • Creating excellent customer experiences creates opportunities for advocacy.
  • Reciprocity with consumers is key and can come in the form of surprise and delight triggers to show appreciation.
  • Empowering the consumer to truly carry and own the brand identity digitally is essential to building strong brand loyalty.
  • Finally, recognition is a powerful tool that can quickly transform a loyal consumer into a vocal brand advocate.

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Media Post IOT Shopping Panel

I had the opportunity to speak on a MediaPost panel this morning discussing end-to-end beacon solutions and how to leverage the data gathered to create authentic and relevant connections with consumers.

Tom Edwards

It was a lively discussion touching on a number topics. The panel kicked off with a discussion about  what the low hanging fruit is for organizations to capitalize on beacon based initiatives. Then we discussed the type of data collected and how to append value. We then outlined challenges around gathering IOT data and more importantly create actionable insights in real time.

We also explored who will own the central repository of data in an IOT world. I outlined that an arms race is currently underway with the likes of Apple, IBM, Facebook and Google vying to convince partners of the value of their platforms.  

Finally, we spent a lot of time diving into our approaches to privacy and the role that data scientists will play in the near future.
I will post the stream of the panel once it’s live.

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Brand Innovators Content Marketing Summit

This morning I had the pleasure of co-chairing/hosting the Brand Innovators Content Marketing event in Dallas, Texas. It was a great turn out and it was good to hear the personalized stories, trials and successes of the various brand marketers in attendance.

Brand Innovators

Many points were addressed including the impact consumer centric content marketing can have on a brand to the role of user generated content, employee advocacy, brands as editors and generational content strategies.

My perspective is that relevant content can be the connector to modify or impact behavior. Understanding how to leverage the content continuum (created, co-created, integrated and curated) with a highly contextual and timely message while also ensuring that your message architecture is consistent across channels is the key to executing a successful strategy.

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Hero 6 Final

 

Lloyd’s Twitter Stock After the World Cup

After a performance for the ages by Carli Lloyd and the US Women’s team during the recent Women’s World Cup, I was asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about how Lloyd’s recent spike in followers could translate into endorsement deals.

world cup

(Mobile Marketer) Is a jump in Twitter followers like Carli Lloyd received enough for brands to jump on board with a sports star, or not enough?

A jump in followers after an event such as the World Cup can be a signal to brands that an individual may be a viable endorsement candidate. There are other factors such as consumer perception tied to awareness, appeal and relevance to the brands image and potential influence on the brands consumer. For Lloyd, the timing is right as awareness is at a high point over the next few months.

(Mobile Marketer) What mobile marketing opportunities could her following be turned into? Before yesterday, when she scored three goals in the USA’s demolition of Japan in the Women’s World Cup final, she didn’t have many marketing deals other than a PR deal last fall with Usana Health Sciences and a deal to represent Visa through the 2016 Olympics.

Depending on the needs and demographic make up for a brand, LLoyd will most likely receive multiple endorsement opportunities as she now has a number of key factors working in her favor, awareness, aspiration and influence.

(Mobile Marketer) Is there a precedent for this type of phenomenon that is worth keeping in mind for marketers on mobile?

The Olympics provide a good frame of reference for non-traditional athletes that are tied to a moment in time vs. consistent year over year endorsement. The key is to ensure that the athlete aligns with the objectives and persona of the brand and attention needs to be paid to the key demographics and resonance of the sports celebrity.

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PepsiCo’s 50th Anniversary Milestone Strategy

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about PepsiCo’s 50th anniversary milestone strategy as well as discuss best practices for celebrating milestones both from a corporate and brand perspective.

PepsiCo50

(Mobile Marketer) Is PepsiCo’s approach to celebrating their 50th anniversary a good way to mark a milestone like this given the potential mobile audience?

Pepsico is using it’s 50th anniversary as a content thematic to further tell the brand story and engage with partners (Omnicom, Oracle, Bristol Motor Speedway, etc…) to create relevant content and conversation (#Pepsico50) around the milestone event.

The key point to consider is since this is a PepsiCo corporate vs. Pepsi brand initiative, the conversation is more closely aligned between partners and employees vs. celebrating directly with consumers and rewarding them. With product milestones, you see a number of brands leveraging the milestone to activate their consumer base.   

(Mobile Marketer) What is the right mobile marketing strategy when you commemorate a milestone like this?

Depending if the milestone is tied to the company vs. a product will impact what the end objective may be. Pepsico’s approach is ideal for a corporately led celebration of a milestone.

They were able to create short form content that spoke to different audiences and gained additional earned media equity through partner created content and conversation.

For products celebrating milestones it is an opportunity to activate a consumer base to share in and be a part of a celebration. This can come in many forms, but the ideal is when a brand consumer can convey what the product means to them through user created content that is curated and celebrated by the brand.

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PRWeek Twitter Commentary

I was recently asked by PRWeek to provide commentary about the current state of Twitter.

PRWeek3

PRWeek: What if Twitter didn’t exist?
Tom Edwards: If Twitter did not exist, other platforms would fill the void. Mobile devices created accessibility and creators and those that consume their content would still find a way to connect. What would not be as apparent is the impact to real time earned media as there are limitations, based on privacy settings and limited organic reach on other platforms
PRWeek: What would PR pros use instead?
Tom Edwards: PR pros and marketers would turn to other platforms and influencers that can facilitate earned reach. You look at platforms such as Tumblr, instagram and YouTube as well as socially charged ephemeral communication platforms such as SnapChat, WeChat and Cyberdust. Essentially any platform that supports user created content and garners engagement can be leveraged to meet various communication objectives.
PRWeek: How has Twitter’s role changed over the years?
Tom Edwards: Twitter has been a mobile first platform since it’s inception. It has evolved from a simple SMS-based offering to a discovery platform centered on topics and trends to one that supports multiple media types as well as an incremental driver of tune-in. Currently it is the ideal real-time marketing and reputation management platform. From a marketing and PR perspective, the versatility of the platform combined with a family of apps strategy (Vine & Periscope) provides additional opportunities to create influence and foster advocacy.
PRWeek: How different would social campaigns look?
Tom Edwards: Social campaigns would still focus on various levels of engagement and content creation but hashtag centric campaigns would need to adjust as Twitter’s ability to combine commentary, hashtags and a call to action natively in the tweet that can in turn drive discovery is an ideal experience to facilitate many types of social campaigns.
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Google and Twitter Alliance = Mobile Relevance

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about the recent Google and Twitter alliance that now integrates certain Twitter updates directly into Google mobile search results.

auto retailers final

(Mobile Marketer) What have been the implications of this program for marketers, especially auto dealers ad other retailers with similar consumer-buying experiences when a customer is in-store and receives a tweet in search results?

The goal with integrating twitter cards into the mobile search experience is to add additional context to the consumers search results thus making the experience more dynamic for the in-store consumer.

This can be a positive if a brand has closely aligned their social communication strategy to deliver a highly relevant message through the reach of Google that has local context.

(Mobile Marketer) Could you please describe cases where the tweet could have negative impact? Positive impact?

The key to consider for brands is that mobile search results that are directly tied to the brand will most likely pull their recent tweets. The other use case is having consumer search based topics beyond the brand show as well. These tweets are tied to popularity of a tweet vs. a firehouse of all tweets.

This provides some level of built in protection for direct brand queries, but the potential negative can be associated with trending topics that may be loosely tied to the brand and lean negative. This is where monitoring and having a real-time response strategy can play a key role in mitigating negative sentiment.

(Mobile Marketer) What are the general implications of the Twitter-Google tie-up for reputation management on mobile social?

It is important for brands to have a consistent content strategy that aligns the essence of the brand as well as the behavior of the consumer to deliver a very clear, concise and relevant message. By integrating and extending tweets beyond the Twitter ecosystem, context will be key as now it is not enough to just consider conversations on the platform, but those conversations will also become relevant in the consumer discovery process.

This is not new, as brands that created communication plans on Google+ experienced a similar experience with content mapping to search results. The key will be to closely monitor topics that may also align with real-time consumer search behavior and add mobile twitter card monitoring to the list of areas to keep a watchful eye on what content is being associated with the brand.

(Mobile Marketer) To what extent could a bad tweet spoil the buying experience for consumers? How far reaching could the damage be?

It is difficult to quantify the impact of a negative tweet with a broad statement, but if a consumer is moving from intent to purchase and their is evidence of a negative experience that is gaining velocity through engagement and shows as a popular tweet tied to the brand, this can have an adverse impact. That’s why it is important to align your communication strategy and customer support to closely align the real-time reputation of the brand with the consumer discovery process through Google.

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NFL and Yahoo Partner for Global Live Stream

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about the new partnership between the NFL & Yahoo and their attempt to deliver the first-ever live streamed NFL game this fall.

NFL + Yahoo Edit

(Mobile Marketer) What does this partnership say about the importance of reaching sports fans on mobile?


The NFL understands that mobile is the first screen, especially for younger fans, and they are creating new partnerships that will extend the reach of their product and deliver entertainment across all device types.

(Mobile Marketer) What impact could this move have on the number of folks who now just watch Internet-based TV, rather than cable?

We are seeing a fundamental shift in behavior. Cord cutting over-indexes among millennials yet sports programming is still a key interest area. Having an option to experience NFL programming live in real-time as well as free is a compelling value proposition.

(Mobile Marketer) Given that until now, most streaming TV activity has focused on special events, how might it affect the future of mobile and sports broadcasts?

This is a great opportunity for the NFL and Yahoo to test and optimize future experiences to gauge the interest and consumption across device types. This can help inform the media strategy for future events and where to invest dollars that will drive the most impact.

(Mobile Marketer) If fans take to the idea of watching football on mobile both at home and abroad, what could the implications be for traditional broadcasters, whose advertising revenue has already taken a dive thanks to the rise of streaming video?

The consumer is now in control of their entertainment choices and are not as locked in to traditional broadcasts as they once were. Organizations such as the NFL that create and test new partnerships and distribution points capitalizing on where consumers are and they will have the ability to further align contextual online behaviors to further enhance and personalize the experience of gameday and have a better opportunity to create additional streams of revenue.

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Hunting Monsters with Google Maps API

I was recently a guest blogger on the Google Geo Developers blog, outlining GameStop’s use of Google Maps APIs in building an immersive experience to promote the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Google Geo Developers Blog- copy

Here is a repost of the content:

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

Witcher3-5.20.15-A

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

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

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

Witcher3-5.20.15-B
Google Maps made it easy to combine the real world of Street View with imaginary creatures from the game. Our goal went beyond just our users having fun — we wanted to build a site that would create genuine excitement around the game and give people a taste of monster hunting in the real world.

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Maytag Embraces Mobile Visualization

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about Maytag and Mondelez leveraging mobile to create a tighter connection to direct sales by branded manufacturers.

Maytag Commentary

(Mobile Marketer) To what extent has mobile accelerated companies’ strategies, such as these Maytag and Mondelez moves, to embrace direct sales, going against history as branded manufacturers who typically do not sell to consumers?

(Tom) For many consumers mobile is the first screen. Maytag is mapping utility through visualizing the MayTag experience in the home. This non-app based experience provides a seamless way to aspirational to practical. 

Maytag 2

Traditionally social owned, earned and paid strategies were focused at the top of the funnel, primarily driving awareness and occasionally intent. With the shift away from organic reach for brands by many of the larger publishers, it has essentially created more opportunity for direct response tactics that may lead to conversion.

Combined with targeting and mobile centric inventory, Mondelez is looking to create a more direct call to action and create value for their retail partners. 

(Mobile Marketer) What challenges might these moves bring?

Driving awareness and clearly articulating the consumer value proposition should always be a key consideration when introducing new mobile centric tools that are designed to add value. Having a simple user experience that also maps to a clear call to action is key. 

One point to consider is how receptive consumers will be to predetermining occasion based consumables such as a snack which can be a more spontaneous purchase. I assume these programs are test and learn to prove the viability of the approach. 

(Mobile Marketer) What are the opportunities?

(Tom Edwards) For Mondelez, the opportunity is to create more value for the consumer and their retail partners, by focusing on a definitive “buy now” call to action, they may increase their probability of conversion. 

For Maytag, understanding the amount of research time that goes into a major appliance purchase combined with creating relevance for the consumer opens up additional possibilities to create intent towards their offering.

(Mobile Marketer) What are the implications for mobile marketers?

(Tom Edwards) The key takeaway for marketers is to align mobile strategy with the objectives of the business. For Mondelez it is focusing on conversion and mapping a stronger call to action to their social strategies that pull through to retail. For Maytag, it is about creating intent through visualization and utility through a frictionless consumer experience.

Bring Maytag Home

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How To Remain Agile In the Face of Change

I was recently a member of the opening keynote panel for the iMedia Agency Summit discussing the topic “How to Remain Agile in the Face of Change”.

Key Commentary from 15:08 – 19:00

Photo May 04, 10 08 57 AM

We discussed many topics including what the agency of the future will look like, mergers and acquisitions and I went into detail outlining cross-company collaboration and innovation.

imedia agency summit - Tom Edwards - agile change

Here is an excerpt from an iMedia panel recap and my additional commentary:

Tom Edwards, EVP of digital strategy and innovation at The Marketing Arm, stressed looking to develop subject matter expertise horizontally as well as vertically within your agency, and what he viewed as the three most important elements of success:

Curation, Creation, and Education.

“I’m a big believer in content creation, especially at the junior level, and developing their own personal brand,”

The agency of the near future will be highly consultative. “There needs to be a shift in strategy from transactional to transformational”

iMedia Summit - Tom Edwards

“Our role is to be the digital navigator and strategic partner with our clients. This includes mapping against a non-linear path to purchase that aligns with data, content, channels and value.”

RE: Innovation, “Ultimately we are focused on aligning the art + science as well as develop future models to enable brand partners with new methodologies to integrating emerging technology that provides business value”

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Hero 6 Final

iMedia Agency Summit May 2015 Keynote Panel

Next week, I will be attending the 2015 iMedia Agency Summit and will participate in the Keynote Panel discussing the topic of how to remain agile in the face of change.

iMedia Agency Summit, May 2015 Tom

Definitely looking forward to discussing shifts in the industry, agency models of the future, cross company collaboration and finding a common vernacular internally between teams and externally from agency to client.

Let me know if you will be in attendance!

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BlackFin360

 

Apple Watch Arrives Today What Marketers Should Know

Today is the day many of us have been waiting for. Today the Apple Watch will arrive. I was on a flight from NYC yesterday when I received the news that I would in fact receive my Apple Watch on launch day.

Apple Watch Shipping

After weeks of diving into the WatchKit SDK and watching each new update description and how brands were creating new Apple Watch experiences I went to my local Apple Store for a personal fitting.

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This was my first exposure to the hardware

I get very excited on Apple launch days. When an Apple white box arrives on my doorstep I take great care in the unboxing of the product.

Apple Watch Unboxing

Today was no different as it was a very smooth setup process. A review will be forthcoming.

Tom Edwards Apple Watch

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to outline the opportunity for marketers and the Apple Watch.

Mobile Marketer Apple Watch

(Mobile Marketer) How big is the opportunity for marketers in apps for the Apple Watch?

(Tom) “The Apple Watch provides a great opportunity to extend unique app use cases by leveraging the capabilities of the Apple Watch hardware and the WatchKit SDK.  The key to fully unlocking it’s potential will be driven by marketers ability to create optimal user experiences built on relevant behavioral touch points and value connections with consumers.

(Mobile Marketer) What do marketers need to keep in mind in considering or having apps for the Apple Watch?

(Tom) “One key area to consider are actionable notifications. The Apple watch will support short term and long term notifications. Long term notifications support app-defined actions, so it is feasible to leverage functionality from the app directly from the notification bypassing another step for the consumer.”

(Mobile Marketer) Is an Apple Watch app something every marketer should have?

(Tom) “I would not say that every marketer needs an apple watch, but any marketer that focuses on content creation or distribution should take note of user behavior after launch and fully understand how to create an ideal experience on the platform. 

(Mobile Marketer) What are the hottest topics or category of apps you have seen for the Apple Watch?

(Tom) “Content delivery apps such as Buzzfeed and Flipboard as well as retail apps such as Target and Starbucks are all prepping for the release on the 24th. Buzzfeed is focused on delivering daily polls which may work well as they are short form. Flipboard is focusing on providing summaries of news stories and using the handoff feature to allow for consumption of long form content. Starbucks is porting many of the iPhone app features into the Apple Watch such as store locators and paying with passbook.”

(Mobile Marketer) Are there any examples of Apple Watch apps that seem especially noteworthy?

(Tom) “The Target Apple Watch App looks interesting as not only will it provide list building within the application, it will also provide value while in-store by mapping the location of the items on your list and the glance option will provide simple utility by seeing if the store is open, how many items are on your list, and how many may have deals associated with them.”

I am truly excited to dive into the various use cases that are being deployed today and how we can create new ones for our marketing partners.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

Going Beyond the App with Actionable Notifications

One incredibly useful iOS feature has flown under the radar for most branded applications. With a recent flurry of adoption from brands such as Walgreens, actionable notifications are quickly gaining traction as a mechanism to drive action through iOS notifications without the need to open an app.

The actionable notification API was originally announced at the 2014 Apple world wide developer conference (WWDC) and officially became available with the arrival of iOS8 last September.

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Actionable notifications essentially allow a user to take an action directly from a notification. By simply interacting with the notification, the user is then prompted with unique app based actions that can be performed without the need to open an app.

actionable notifications

Repost of actionable notification animated example from Nick Jensen

I was recently asked by Mobile Commerce Daily to provide commentary around Walgreens recent deployment of Actionable Notifications. Walgreens is leveraging actionable notifications to provide utility for existing consumers by allowing them to directly refill an Rx directly from the notification.

mobile commerce intro

Walgreens’ leveraging one of the newer features of iOS8 tied to actionable notifications is a great example of a brand maximizing the impact and flexibility of the operating system to create a seamless experience that does not require the user to open the application,” said Tom Edwards, executive vice president of digital strategy and innovation with The Marketing Arm, Dallas.

By providing tools that reduce friction and extend beyond simple engagement they are demonstrating the power of mobile to enhance the customers experience.”

Actionable notifications will also be available as a part of the upcoming release of the Apple Watch. After going through one of the “personal fittings” I was impressed by the potential of how notifications can extend through various notification use cases.

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After trying on the 42mm pictured above, I was impressed by the size and responsiveness of the interface.

Apple WatchKit will offer two types of notifications short-look & custom long-look notifications. Short look gives attribution to the app, title and app name and is visible only briefly.

With custom long-look we can incorporate up to 4 custom action buttons and custom graphics. Long-look is activated when a user either taps on a short look notification or if their wrist is raised.

Example of Short Term Apple Watch Notification

Short Look

With custom long-look we can incorporate up to 4 custom action buttons and custom graphics. Long-look is activated when a user either taps on a short look notification or if their wrist is raised.

Example of Long Term Apple Watch Notification

Custom Long-Look Notifications

One of the key points to consider is that just because the API exists does not mean that it is ideal for all scenarios. It is important to test the notification threshold of your user base and focus on extending value to existing behaviors vs. simply pushing messaging.

If there is a viable use case to create custom notifications that are simple extensions of your branded application then this API could be a great way to drive a certain behavior without the friction of forcing a user to open the full application.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

MLB At Bat App Hits Big With Fans

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about the early success of the MLB At Bat App as it has already hit 5 million downloads.

(Mobile Marketer) To what degree is the app a way for MLB to connect with younger audiences via mobile given baseball fans tend to be older on average than for some other sports?

(Tom Edwards) The key for MLB’s At Bat strategy is the portability and access to content. By providing a personalized approach to content consumption as well as live look-in’s the MLB app provides flexibility regardless of market. This is especially appealing to younger fans who may want instant access to content.

(Mobile Marketer) What do these downloads say about the power of mobile to enhance consumption not just of one game but of the whole universe of the Major League Baseball season for highly engaged fans?

(Tom Edwards) The MLB approach to accessibility and cross-device support is key to early success and success will be sustained throughout the season as MLB has struck the ideal balance between portability and personalization.

MLB - BlackFin360

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ESPN Gets Personal with Fans Through New Site

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about the 20th anniversary re-launch of ESPN.com. The re-launch features the ability to further personalize the experience as well as provide a mobile first approach to cross screen experiences.

(Mobile Marketer) To what extent does this move reflect ESPN’s efforts to reach consumers on mobile?

(Tom Edwards) ESPN is focused on creating a mobile first experience that is tailored to it’s readers. By creating a responsive experience that also incorporates highly relevant content they are focused on delivering a contextually relevant and consistent content experience regardless of the device type.

(Mobile Marketer) What does the move to integrate ads into the site reflect about the needs/behavior of the mobile consumer?

(Tom Edwards) Initial signals of the ad offerings point to a more contextual ad experience that will be optimized based on the device type. This means that ads will be more of an extension of the experience which coincides more with how consumers are already interacting with the content.

ESPN - BlackFin360

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TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series

TA Expert Interview Series featuring Tom Edwards of The Marketing Arm

Tom Edwards, the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation here at The Marketing Arm, was recently invited to be a guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his insight on the digital marketing landscape. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology verticals through conversations with industry leaders.

Edwards joined Buckner to discuss modern day digital, social, and mobile innovations, the importance of bridging technology and marketing, and the four core elements that bring a campaign to life.

Below are a few of the highlights from our conversation:

TA: Tell us about what life is like at TMA and some of the projects you work on everyday.

Tom: At The Marketing Arm, we’re really a consumer engagement agency, so that touches a wide range of project types. Everything from digital, to promotional, to talent, to production, to just a number of different types of projects that come across my desk on any given day.

I’m a part of the digital engagement division and we service about 16 core clients, everything from Exxonmobil, to GameStop, to name just a few organizations. So over the last 15 years, my role within the industry has really shifted from starting more on the technology side, and really kind of incorporated being that bridge between technology and marketing.

As digital continues to progress, we’ve seen it all: the end of the dotcom boom, massive portals, the rise of consumer social. All of these different types of trends we’ve seen definitely had a hand in touching and guiding different project types across multiple platforms and different routes of sale. It’s been a fun, interesting ride and it continues to get better.

TA:  What suggestions do you have for a team trying to compare and find the right marketing automation vendors? What should they be looking for?

Tom: Portability. So if I’m able to either leverage a tool that can aggregate content, redistribute, visualize things that can basically whether it’s a seamless flow, whether that’s your API through an SDK or whatever it may be, like that’s what I’m ultimately looking for now.

I’m looking for how can this one piece fit into the larger strategy that I’m trying to deploy and continue to add value without adding additional barriers or additional layers, that’s really the key piece. Because we’re touching so many different channels, everything from top line awareness via digital all the way down to shopper and point of sale.

So making sure that we can have programs that can work in scale. Scale is another key piece for us too and the data considerations depending upon local versus global so there are a lot of different pieces that we look at when we’re evaluating but for me, it’s how can whatever tool that you’re leveraging best provide value for everything as a whole versus just one specific piece or one specific function.

To learn more about The Marketing Arm, visit www.themarketingarm.com. Connect with Tom on Twitter @BlackFin360 and follow his blog at BlackFin360.com/blog. Be sure also follow @TheMarketingArm.

BlackFin360

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.

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This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

NCAA March Madness & Snapchat

TMA EVP, Strategy & Innovation Tom Edwards recently talked to Mobile Marketer about the big players for social media and brands during NCAA March Madness.

Q: What role could Snapchat and other social media platforms play in March Madness marketing?
TE: “Snapchat is actively looking to connect and extend physical experiences digitally. With their our story product, they are looking to provide brands with an opportunity to authentically connect their brand with content being created by event goers.

In addition to Snapchat, platforms such and Twitter and Instagram will see heavy usage for brands trying to capitalize on real-time opportunities as well as visual storytelling. Facebook will see usage, especially their video products to further extend the reach of television and create incremental value for their brand partners.”

Q: What makes social a good fit with this tournament?
TE: “The enthusiasm that individuals share for their participating schools, combined with the water cooler nature of brackets creates a lot of conversation, especially as the tournament draws to completion. Social is a great enabler of word of mouth, that combined with the passion for sports makes the platform ideal for large sporting events.”

Q: What brands are likely to be big players in social in March Madness?
TE: “A number of brands will try to create real-time moments associated with the tournament. Brands such as AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola will play a big part in March Madness once again. What will be interesting is to see the creativity of brands that are not official sponsors and how they align with the events that transpire on the court and how they try to relate it in some way to their brands social persona. We have seen a sharp rise in brand-to-brand conversation around marquee events over the past year. I am assuming we will see more of the same when the tournament starts.”

Q: What sorts of campaigns could we see these brands launch during the tournament? What campaigns have worked well in the past?
TE: “With an event such as March Madness you will see everything from on-site activations to digital sweeps. Brands that can create an authentic connection with the fan and provide fun and engaging creative that moves the viewer from consumption to creation behaviors will have a leg up.”

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Aligning Employee Passions to Relevant Programs

This is the third and final post taken from my recent interviews with iMedia. This post & video discuss aligning employee passions to relevant programs.

Agencies know that turnover is high industry wide. They are learning that one way to keep good employees, accomplish creative marketing, and boost morale is to learn the passion points of each of their people and put them on projects that best align with them. Employees who are passionate about their campaigns and clients do better work, and are more positive in the workplace. These small shifts and adjustments sometimes make all the difference.

Tom Edwards is the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation

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Mobile Marketer: Facebook TV Spots

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about the recently released Facebook TV ads.

Mobile Marketer How unprecedented is it for Facebook to do a strict branding campaign like this? Why is this symbol of the social media/mobile age going to television ads, a traditional tool generally used for branding?

Tom Edwards – The brand campaign aligns with recent shift towards a reach and frequency approach vs. social engagement. Facebook is now positioning itself to drive incremental revenue from television while also focusing on discovery and video as key drivers moving forward. By using traditional media, it can create a bridge and further align itself as a mass media entity in it’s own right.

Mobile Marketer What opportunities or challenges can this campaign open for FB?

Tom Edwards – Facebook does not have an awareness problem, however the usage behavior, especially within the younger demographics are shifting. By positioning the brand and the core promise of what Facebook delivers, connections with the people that matter the most and share your life, they are reinforcing the core value of the platform.

Mobile Marketer- What do these ads say about how Facebook is positioning itself for consumers?

Tom Edwards – The campaign reinforces some of the core behaviors associated with why consumers engaged with the brand in the first place and it carefully highlights multiple audience segments while reinforcing the value of connection. 

Mobile Marketer- What does the ad say about the internal challenges Facebook is facing?

Tom Edwards – Facebook has reinvented itself multiple times over the past few years. In order to maintain it’s massive user base Facebook will need to continue to evolve. You see this in the acquisitions of Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Live Rail as well as the parsing out of messenger from the native app. Creating relevant points of connection and value across physical and digital while creating value and scale for advertisers will be key areas of focus moving forward.

Facebook TV ads.jpg

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Integrating Celebrities and Online Influencers

This is the second of three posts taken from my recent interviews with iMedia. This post & video discuss integrating celebrity talent and online influencers.

Millennials love online celebrities, and with the ascendance of the Pluralist generation the importance of integrating influencers will only continue. Both of these groups live and breathe online, and agencies have a huge opportunity to work with social media stars, Vine talent, and popular bloggers to accomplish viral marketing. Brands and publishers don’t have these connections. Agencies are the creative places where online influencers will thrive. The dialogue is more open and the people are more willing to take risks. Smart agencies are remaining relevant by turning into mini-production houses

Tom Edwards is the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation

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Mobile Marketer: Are Selfies Still Relevant???

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary tied to if selfies are still relevant for brands.

Mobile Marketer Are results for selfie campaigns being negatively impacted by the lack of innovation and the over-use of this strategy?

Tom Edwards – User generated content is still a viable mechanism if the campaign is relevant and creates an authentic connection with an existing behavior. Where “selfie” campaigns can go astray is when brands ask consumers to create content that are not natural extensions of their existing behavior. 

Mobile Marketer Is brand interest in selfie campaigns still high?

Tom Edwards – We are still seeing creative briefs that are focused on creating authentic connections with consumers, fostering advocacy as well as connecting physical to digital. All of which are potentially ideal for leveraging user generated content.

Mobile Marketer- What is the most creative selfie campaign you’ve seen?

Tom Edwards – The recently launched Who are you when you’re hungry? Campaign by Snickers is an interesting take where the brand shifts directions from consumption to creation by turning over the You’re not you when you’re hungry campaign to consumers to tell their story with the winning content taking over Snickers YouTube channel for a day.

Snickers satisfies need for authenticity with new selfie-driven effort - Mobile Marketer - Content 2015-02-26 15-04-11

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Aligning Social & Mobile Strategy

This is the first of three posts taken from my recent interviews with iMedia. This post & video discuss aligning social and mobile strategy.

To think that your social strategies and mobile campaigns can continue to exist in silos is an antiquated idea. Consumers are as attached to their devices as they are to their social networks and followings. Agencies know that these two worlds must collide for client campaigns to really take off. A campaign on mobile has a lot to compete with on its own, but if you integrate ways to make it easily sharable, likeable, and give it social legs, your chances for engagement are much higher.

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Internet of Things: Beacons Panel

On February 10th I was a part of a Media Post panel discussing the Internet of Things and how beacons can be leveraged by brands to create value.

The discussion focused on going beyond the beacon trigger and creating new models of in-store creative advertising that connect physical to digital. We touched on strategy, creative, technology and best practices.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Here is a quick breakdown of topics I address:

  • Introduction – The Marketing Arm – 1:22-1:53
  • Dealing with complexity of omnichannel – 2:36-3:58
  • Deeper dive into beacon deployment – 3:58-6:24
  • Creating something new – 11:07-13:00
  • Program Case Study – 14:47-17:43
  • Internal Agency Relationships – 25:38-27:12
  • Database of You – 32:32-33:25
  • Content – 36:24-38:22
  • Future State – 41:14-42:16
  • Leveraging Data – 49:02-49:41

Here is the formal description of the panel.

Advertising on the relatively small smartphone screen has hardly been a hit to date. Once initiated by a beacon signal, what creative will work best? What is the role of post-beaconing, such as sending ad messaging well after leaving a store? What about using past beaconing knowledge to drive foot traffic back to a store? What are consumer expectations from in-store engagements? What future creative options might be used to catch the shopper’s eye? Three creative minds discuss the best beacon-triggered creative approaches for in-store mobile marketing and mobile advertising.

The panel consisted of:

Ian Beacraft (Moderator), Manager, New and Emerging Technologies, Leo Burnett @ianbcraft

Ben Murphy, Director of Technology, FCB Chicago

Scott Varland, Creative Director, IPG Media Lab @scottiev

Tom Edwards, EVP Digital Strategy & Innovation, The Marketing Arm

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BlackFin360

5 Reasons for Brands to Try Snapchat in 2015

This is a full repost of my recent iMedia Connection Cover Story.

Each year I like to dive into a specific platform that will make an impact for brands in the coming year. 2014 was the year of Tumblr. This prediction came true as TechCrunch recently released data that shows that Tumblr just overtook Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform.

Tumblr growth

Heading into 2015, Snapchat is the fastest growing social app. I have received numerous client requests for POV’s on the platform and I was recently briefed by the Snapchat team. What they unveiled takes the platform to the next level for brands interested in reaching the 14-28 year old demo in 2015.

Snapchat is already the fastest growing social app heading into 2015

snapchat growth

According to Business Insider, Nearly Half of Americans aged 12 to 24 have used Snapchat

biisnapchatedisonresearch

OVERVIEW & STATS

Snapchat launched in 2011 with a heavy emphasis on teen and 20-something users and has quickly gained traction over the past few years. Snapchat’s sweet spot is between 14-28 with a slight female lean. The numbers are impressive, including the fact that almost 50% of US users aged 12-24 have tried Snapchat. They now sit at 100 million active users with 50 million in the US.

Snapchat-logo

When it comes to frequency of use, the platform is even more impressive as 60% of the active users are on the app daily with frequency numbers as high as 22x per day.

For those not familiar with Snapchat, one of the unique elements of the platform is that content “disappears” after a short period of time that is set by the content creator. Users also have the ability to “doodle” directly on the content to quickly personalize the content.

Users can set a timer for when their content will vanish

snapchat timer

Users can doodle, add filters and comment on top of content

dogsnapchat

Here is a Snapchat infographic that our team developed in 2013. You can see the explosive growth since then.

final_infographici

If that was not enough, there are over 700 million snaps sent everyday. One of the key behavioral factors is tied to the fact that there is a sense of urgency with the content as it will eventually disappear.

HOW CAN BRANDS USE SNAPCHAT?

When it comes to the various use cases of Snapchat, users can chat with one-to-one messaging and live video chat, they can consume a feed of directly sent snaps and messages from friends, capture photo and video (filter, doodle, caption) and they can interact with the story feed.

While some brands go the route of directly sending and feeding snaps and messages, one of the key areas of focus recently has been tied to the “story” feed.

Here is an example from Taco Bell showcasing new products directly to their followers.

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The My Stories feature was introduced in 2013 and has become one of the most popular features within the app.  My Stories allows users to link multiple snaps together over a 24 hour period. This feature alone is driving over 1 billion views a day and has become the go to for brands emphasizing a 1 to many strategy on the platform vs. 1:1 messaging.

Here is an example of McDonald’s using multiple snaps to reveal a new product.

3033793-inline-i-1-snapchat-mcdonalds-lebron

Snapchat and Advertising

When it comes to an approach to advertising, Snapchat is more like buzzfeed than Facebook. They focus on contextual relevance of the content to drive impressions vs. a highly targeted approach. Both have their pros and cons, but Snapchat recommends relevance and authenticity are the keys to success when it comes to advertising within their platform. They have recently introduced the ability to position sponsored content in the friend feed. From a viewability standpoint, they count a view as 2 seconds of consumption.

Here is an example of sponsored content from the recent Ouija movie.

Snapchat_FirstAdLong

WHAT’S NEW HEADING INTO 2015?

Our Story | One of the latest additions and one of the bigger brand opportunities is tied to the new Our Story offering. Our Story is a location based collaborative story that leverages content from the event and allows others not attending to directly experience the event. A user attending the event has ability to upload a photo or video snap and Snapchat drops a wi-fi geofence around the event. Content is then aggregated and The Our Story content prompt is located in the story feed and is next to friend content.

There is also an opportunity for brands to “sponsor” Our Story events. This comes to life in the form of interstitial content that wraps the user generated content and clearly identifies the sponsor. One key point to consider with this type of offering is to leverage authentic event content vs. pre-produced content. This better aligns the message and makes it more contextually relevant.

Here is an example from Samsung tied to the recent American Music Awards Show

ama-our-story

What’s New?

Peer-to-Peer Payments | Recently, Snapchat partnered with Square to release a prototype that allowed users to store their debit card via square and the users could quickly process a payment and send cash to a friend’s bank account simply through the chat feature. Users could type the dollar sign, an amount and hit the green button. It is available in the US to those with a debit care and are 18 or older.

Screenshot 2014-12-02 14.21.01

Snapchat Discover | It was recently reported by multiple media outlets that Snapchat is in negotiations with Comedy Central, Spotify, Vice and other media publishers for the upcoming launch of Discover. Discover will most likely serve users articles, music and videos produced by media companies. This will create an additional avenue to drive contextually relevant native advertising to further monetize the platform.

Snapchat discover

With it’s diversity of use cases, easy of use, sense of urgency and focus on enabling brands and partnerships, Snapchat is primed to have a very big 2015.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360