ESPN Sportscenter App Rebrand Strategy Analysis

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary and analysis about the recently announced efforts by ESPN to rebrand the SportsCenter app and the potential implications and benefits that this type of rebranding may provide.

(Mobile Marketer) Why is ESPN: SportsCenter app to be renamed “ESPN”?

ESPN is looking to unify all of their digital properties into a single brand. They are looking to unify the website, mobile experience and mobile app and allowing for greater personalization by the consumer.

(MM) To what extent is the rebranding across all these properties an effort to reach consumers across the full range of mobile platforms?

ESPN is taking the next step to provide a unified experience that is designed to be frictionless across devices and ultimately allow the consumer the ability to personalize the experience based on interests and affinity to their favorite sports and teams. This approach can be compelling for fans and consumers as the experience is the same across devices and the more contextually relevant the experience, the greater potential to maintain the interest of the consumer.

(MM) What is the implication for mobile marketing?

By providing a more contextually relevant experience that is unified across platforms, ESPN is setting the stage to maximize their reach with consumers and provide an always on solution that is consistent and personalized.

From a mobile marketing perspective, by offering personalization in exchange for a profile of the individual, they can begin to map multi-channel usage behaviors which can provide insights into how to further connect with their consumers and apply greater relevance to their ad products and partnerships.

(MM) Why is it so important to allow users to select the sports content they want?

Self-selected and curated content is the new normal when it comes to consumer behavior and entertainment. Combine that with a fans affinity for content about their favorite teams and it is important for content providers to allow users to control the experience. This freedom and access can lead to increased frequency and retention if the content is compelling and relevant.

ESPN SportsCenter app rebranding boosts mobile consumers’ power to choose content - Mobile Marketer - Media

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Do Snack Brands Need Content?

I was recently asked by Mobile Commerce Daily to provide commentary if Snack brands need meaningful content to drive in-store purchases via social. Below are my full responses to the various topics discussed.

(Mobile Commerce Daily) To what extent are food and snacks CPG brands starting to understand and activate social media within the purchase funnel?

Social media has been an integral part of the marketing mix for CPG brands for some time now. CPG social strategy has evolved with the evolution of social platforms and shifting consumer behaviors. Many platforms such as Facebook are shifting away from engagement as a primary metric and focused on reach, resonance and reaction, which aligns social media activation further down the purchase funnel.

(MCD) What are the challenges CPG companies face in leveraging social media to drive purchases?

The snack category is highly dependent on context and timing. With the convergence of social, mobile and digital and the focus shifting to targeted cross screen engagement, there is a renewed interest in aligning digital, physical and data to impact purchase decisions.

(MCD) Besides motivating purchases, what additional benefits/negatives in terms of consumer engagement does a social campaign bring the CPG company?

Social centric campaigns allow brands to deepen their connection with their consumers, empower them to help drive the brand forward (Doritos Legion of the Bold and Do Us A Flavor), impact brand perception and for a number of brands provide impactful reach through social engagement.

(MCD) What are some examples of top food and snacks CPG companies that have effectively leveraged social to drive consumers deeper into the purchase funnel?

Frito-Lay is a company that is continually looking to leverage social as a means to drive consumers further into the purchase funnel. Whether it is a brand campaign that empowers consumers such as Lay’s Do Us a Flavor, or it is creating a community of brand advocates like Doritos Legion of the bold, or connecting in-store elements seamlessly into socially centric campaigns, Frito-Lay is approaching social in a smart and relevant way that connects with consumers and ultimately impacts purchase.

(MCD) What’s your favorite example of a food and snacks CPG social campaign that drove purchases?

My favorite examples are Lay’s Do Us a Flavor and Doritos Crash the Superbowl programs.

Snacks brands need meaningful content to drive in-store purchases via social - Mobile Marketer - Advertising 2014-11-09 21-34-09

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Wearables & The Quantified Self Movement

I was recently asked by ADWEEK about opportunities for brands and fitness wearables. The discussion focused on utility and the future of the quantified self movement and whether hardware or software is the way to go. The final portion of the conversation was focused on fashion vs. function and the importance of aesthetics for mass adoption. Below is my full commentary.

Brands and Utility

For the right brand there is a significant opportunity to capitalize on the quantified self movement and create new streams of revenue. Market analysts project significant upside for wearable tech over the next few years.

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SOURCE Business Insider

The value for brands comes in the form of ongoing engagement and value to the consumer. By providing active utility the brand is taking something that used to provide a passive function and unlocks behavioral patterns of the consumer, activity and in some cases emotional data and any positive results can be equated with the brand.

que-son-wearables-android-wear-esta-aqui-L-sDN62C

The other point to consider is the quantified self data and utility will ultimately be a part of a larger connected ecosystem. In the near future data from a fitness tracker can coincide with smart grid technology to predict your needs. An example would be you just returned from a long run, your tracker communicates with your smart fridge and it prepares to dispense your favorite after work out beverage while ordering more via a real time delivery service such as Amazon Fresh.

Predictive

Hardware vs. Software

Brands like Nike were at the forefront of the quantified self movement. The Fuel band resonated with innovators and early consumer adopters. With success came competition from device manufacturers that had a longer heritage and provided additional utility. They expanded beyond fitness to include emotional measurement, sleep sensors, etc… which began to move away from the Nike value proposition. The learning from this was the real value was less in the hardware and more in the data collected and the visualization of results.

Nike_Fuel_Band

The industry shift that brands like Nike see on the horizon is the shift from hardware and more around software and data. What this means is that brands like Nike see the day coming soon where it is less about the hardware and more about sharing and visualizing the data that is collected through whatever the device, be it smart clothing, watches, glasses, etc… and making thier API’s available.

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Fashion vs. Function

One of the primary barriers associated with wearables has been tied closely to aesthetics. A rubber bracelet that glows is not always the ideal choice for the fashion conscious. And for the early & late majority of consumer adopters, going beyond simple utility will be important for mass adoption.

wearables

Recent studies have shown that women outnumber men among prospective buyers of wearable technology devices. What I see happening in the short term are a number of partnerships such as the announced Tory Burch and Fitbit partnership or cross-industry hiring, similar to Apple hiring Burberry’s former CEO to bridge the gap between aesthetic form and function.

Tory Burch & Fitbit Partnership
Fitbit & Tory Burch

Here is a link to the ADWEEK commentary

Adweek.jpg

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World Cup Real Time Marketing Win = Snickers

Over the past few years the brands that can seamlessly inject themselves into real-time events in a relevant and often funny way are normally the winners of the never ending PR game. The World Cup is no exception. During yesterday’s Uruguay v Italy match, Uruguay’s star Luis Suarez is believed to have bitten an Italian player and this served as the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with a global moment by injecting a bit of the Snickers brand into the conversation.

Snickers Italian

I am very proud of my TMA/Fanscape social team in NYC. They worked closely with the BBDO & Mars team to inject a little Snickers branded fun into the #LUISSUAREZ conversation. Snickers is all about the fact that you are not you when you are hungry.

This led to pickups in both Mashable & AdWeek (See below). A lot of work goes into the creation of a single real-time message and I am proud of the structure that we have put in place between the TMA/Fanscape team, BBDO and the Mars client.

Mashable

mashable.jpg

Adweek

Big Brands React to Luis Suarez’s World Cup Biting Incident | Adweek 2014-06-24 22-40-09

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What the #SelfieRevolution Means for Brands

Recently, I contributed commentary (pages 8 & 9) to a whitepaper published by The Marketing Arm/Fanscape team. The white paper dives into the psychology of what the #SelfieRevolution means for Brands.

Here is a #Selfie approving the #SelfieRevolution content

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Other topics covered are the nuances that make up a Selfie, exploring the psychology, why brands should care and examples of brands that are capitalizing on the Selfie phenomenon.

Here is the #SelfieRevolution whitepaper via Slideshare.

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Risks and Rewards of User Generated Content Sound Bite

Recently, I participated in a webinar discussing the risks and rewards of user generated content. Below are a few of the sound bites covering topics such as:

1) What role does user generated content (UGC) play in your client’s content strategy?
2) What advice would you give a marketer starting out with UGC?
3) How do you get audiences to submit quality UGC?
4) How has UGC been more successful than brand content?

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Apple + Beats = Smart Headphones?

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary on the acquisition of Beats Electronics by Apple. The discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges that Apple may face as well as addressing if the Beats acquisition is the next step to bring Apple’s recent Smart Headphone patent to life through an existing and established brand. One other point of discussion is tied to Apple potentially integrating the Beats curated playlist model to further build out their streaming capabilities.

Apple & Beats

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Rewards and Risks of UGC Webinar Video

On April 30th I participated in a webinar with the head of global social for Levi’s as well as the legal counsel for Thismoment. We discussed the rewards and risks of UGC and our view on best practices for getting started with UGC. My commentary starts around the 14:29 and continues throughout the remainder of the webinar.

UGC Webinar 2014-05-01 21-12-04

Here is the Full Rewards and Risks of User Generated Content Webinar

 

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SXSW 2014: Grumpy Cat & Thismoment

Yet another SXSW has come and gone. From meeting Grumpy Cat to key meetings with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc… The days in Austin are fast paced and full of inspiration, innovation and solidifying partnerships.

Grumpy Cat #HolyShrimp

Reviewing pre-release technology is another benefit of SXSW and I had the opportunity to review key updates to the Mass Relevance platform as well as a preview of Thismoment’s Content Cloud solution.

As part of the process I was also interviewed by the Thismoment team discussing content distribution and my initial reactions to their Content Cloud solution.

Here is the video:

Screenshot 2014-03-19 16.13.57

Definitely looking forward to another return to Austin in 2015.

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6 Latest Trends In Marketing Technology

This morning my new article the 6 latest trends in marketing technology is the cover story for iMedia Connection.

The article reviews 6 key industry trends such as collaborative commerce, curation, second screen & social TV, rich social media, crowdsourcing & social + CRM as well as partners and products that bring it all together.

Tom Edwards

A quick follow-up… I wanted to thank everyone for the great support of this article as it just hit #1.

Screenshot 2013-10-31 14.50.33
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Instagram Video Best Practices

On June 20th Instagram announced the addition of videos to its popular photo-sharing app.  Besides being an obvious response to the growing popularity of Twitter’s Vine app, this is another confirmation that short form content creation is on the rise.

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I was recently asked by DM Confidential to share some tips for marketers to create visually compelling content and test another content distribution channel. Article highlights are at the bottom of this post.

What are some best practices or tips for how marketers and brands should use videos on Instagram?

A couple come to mind right away: Brands can share unique branded experiences, highlight brand advocates, co-create content with audiences, preview products, highlight a specific cause, extend the brands persona via video, preview upcoming events by adding visual context, share important news, drive promotional awareness, leverage Instagram video for promotion, and create videos that show fan appreciation.  The key is to create content that is a natural extension of the brand.

How is it different from Vine, from a marketing perspective?

The first key difference is simply tied to reach potential. By embedding Instagram video within the existing application for both iOS and Android simultaneously, Facebook is providing access to a large and very active user base.

From a marketing perspective, the greater length of the video — 15 seconds vs. 6 — the ability to stabilize the shot, 13 filters and the ability to tap to focus allows for greater flexibility and complexity of a shot. This can provide greater depth in terms of the type of content that can be created and better represent the brand.

Examples of Instagram Video Filters

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My assumption is also that at some point Instagram Video will support the ability to create custom filters, similar to how brand applications can incorporate custom Instagram filters to further create associations with the brand.

Do you like this addition to Instagram?

I do like the addition of video to Instagram. Facebook is still the ideal storytelling and amplification platform. With so much attention given to Vine, this was the natural next step for Instagram. This combined with Facebook’s ability to support hashtags as well as photos in comments are all signs that the platform’s future is tied to visual content both static and active.

Example of Facebook Hashtag Support

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.21.51 PM

What does it say about the importance of visual content, and short-form videos specifically?

Compelling and relevant visual content has been a key element of driving engagement. An overwhelming majority of content shared is still tied to images. With that said, Vine and Instagram Video now offer quick and easy solutions for consumers to create short-form content. As brands become even more comfortable with their guidelines tied to user generated content, short-form videos will be another viable alternative to support their existing content strategies.

Here is the full DM Confidential Article

DM Confidential - Tom Edwards-Final

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National Sports Marketing Network

I will soon be speaking at the National Sports Marketing Network event in Dallas on June 25, 2013. The topic will be leveraging social media as an integral part of your branding strategy: Why marketers no longer have a choice to embrace social media. Hope to see you there!

National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN) - North Texas Chapter

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Sports Social TV Summit

I had a great time speaking on a panel this morning at the Sports Social TV Summit. I was a part of a panel discussion with members from the NFL, Turner Sports, Time Warner Cable, the Pac 12 and the Los Angeles Dodgers discussing various topics associated with Social TV.

Tom Speaking 1

Below are three clips tied to various questions that I was asked as well as an overview of our recently executed Way2Saturday program.

Way2Saturday & Social TV

Brand Question… Are brands asking for Social TV & second screen solutions?

The final response was from the Q&A session tied to Facebook Targeting

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Sports Social TV Summit

I will be speaking at the Sports Social TV Summit on May 29, 2013 at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, CA.

Bel-Air-Country-Club

I will be a part of the 9:15 am- 10:15 am time slot discussing the power of live sports programming and how Social TV is engaging viewers and driving new revenues at home and in arenas & stadiums. Here is the full list of speakers.

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Creating Effective Mobile Landing Pages

Recently, I was asked by DM Confidential to provide insights on best practices for creating mobile landing pages that work well on smartphones. Some of my commentary was included in the article that recently posted. Below is a recap of my thoughts on the topic beyond what was published.

Having a streamlined user experience across both desktop and mobile are absolutely critical with today’s users. Just as visual storytelling has taken over how brands leverage social platforms, having a clean, clear and concise mobile entry point into a branded experience is key to driving engagement & action by the user.

Cross

Whether it’s driving brand awareness, showcasing products or benefits, or simply trying to drive leads, having a mobile landing experience that focuses on a very clear call to action, with clear and concise copy along with imagery or video that is core to driving the user through a pre-determined path is the key to maximizing the initial mobile experience.

Another core element to consider is the impact that responsive design can have for a brand vs. having a separate desktop and mobile experience, by leveraging responsive design during the build out of both desktop and mobile, you can maximize the user experience across platforms.

Here is a breakdown of simple Do’s & Dont’s to consider.

Do’s:

  • Incorporate visual elements while maximizing opportunities for engagement
  • Keep copy clear and concise
  • Be very specific as to the call to action and make sure that the it is incorporated into the design and kept above the fold
  • Do consider optimizing the content for load time
  • Do consider responsive design for both web & mobile to keep the experience consistent yet relevant across both desktop and mobile

Dont’s:

  • Do not just have your website as the default without mobile consideration (bad ux, too much content, difficult to navigate)
  • Avoid too much content
  • Avoid too many fields
  • Don’t just have a list of categories as the primary experience
  • Don’t overload the mobile experience to weigh down load times

Examples:

Good: Crowdsworth | Responsive Design

Here is the Responsive Design Desktop Version of the Crowdsworth site

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 11.15.11 AM

Here is the mobile version highlighting the sites responsive design

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Good: Nike | Clean UX & Clear Call to Action

Nike Mobile

Good: Red Bull | Strong use of visual and call to action that leads to deeper engagement as you scroll

RedBull Mobile

Bad: Chivas Whiskey | There is no mobile optimization present, essentially the site is the mobile landing page. At a minimum create a unique entry experience for the mobile user

Chivas Mobile

Some of my commentary was included in the article that recently posted.

How to Create Effective Mobile Landing Pages

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