Last week I published a piece in MediaPost asking, is this the end of disposable content? I wanted to expand on the implications for brands with these three points:
1. Native Content Repository: Having easy access to historical Snapchat content means that brands can instantly put a fresh take on a past Snap. This opens up new ways for brands to creatively express themselves my mixing and matching past and current Snaps to tell stories on the platform.
2. Production Investment: The stakes for brands are becoming higher now on a platform that, by design, had discouraged brands from heavily investing when creating original content on Snapchat. Now that brands have the ability to save and reuse Snaps, will they feel compelled to put more effort and dollars into their production approach? And of course this comes with the risk that brands may now overthink, overprocess, and overproduce their Snaps and Stories.
3. Widening Age Demo: Features like Memories are appealing to an older demographic by aligning Snapchat to something coveted in their lives: nostalgia. In addition to its current base that’s already aging, brands now need to consider how their content strategy evolves and diversifies as a result. And while Snapchat has traditionally taken a “mass media” stance on its ads and content, it will need to continue to expand its level of personalization and targeting given a widening age bracket.
Make no mistake, Snapchat Memories is a big shift for the company and its users as the company shifts from ephemeral to forever.
Brands fighting the daily share battle have a better weapon.
Six centuries ago, English soldiers brutally defeated French forces amidst a muddy field in northern France. The Battle of Agincourt was a pivotal victory for Henry V, whose unorthodox deployment of English longbowmen proved superior against Charles VI’s tried and true attack of heavily armored French cavalry. Agincourt was a standout battle in the Hundred Years’ War (which later became a major plotline in Shakespeare’s Henry V) because the English army was severely outnumbered more than five to one. The odds were indisputably stacked against them, yet still they won.
Human instinct coaxes us to think more is always better, until the law of diminishing returns prevails. And so it goes for brands fighting the daily share battle against competitors armed with massive marketing budgets that flood media with louder and more intrusive advertising impressions. Just as the French troops, so high in numbers, became immobile on the battlefield, big brands are no longer properly equipped for today’s marketing conditions.
In fact, serving audiences ads with high frequencies over short flights can negatively affect brand perception and response rates (Millward Brown AdReaction Study). This is one of the reasons why a staggering 40% of 19-25 year olds are using Ad Blocking software. And it’s forecasted that this behavior will increase to half of ALL consumers in the US in less than 2 years (eMarketer, Millward Brown).
Ad avoidance isn’t the only thing causing chinks in big brands’ armor: There’s an abysmal 44.7% viewability rate for digital display ads in the US (Integral Ad Science’s Media Quality Report). This means that audiences who aren’t already using ad-blocking software will never see 55% of display ads served to them. Yet our “more is better” mentality continues to fuel brands and agencies that plan to increase their display ad spending through 2020 (eMarketer).
Just like challenger brands, the English army was forced to do more with less—and this became their greatest competitive advantage. They had to focus their resources on the highest-impact targets. How does this relate to brands? Let’s remind ourselves that three of the top four biggest influences on consumers’ buying decisions are all word-of-mouth-derived: Friends and family, recommendations from within one’s social media circle, and online reviews by other people (Deloitte 2016 Digital Democracy Survey). Given this, brands fighting the daily share battle have a much better weapon that will generate positive word-of-mouth and ultimately sales: Great customer experience.
Forrester Research defines “customer experience” (CX) as one’s perception of their interactions with brands. This not only includes customer service but also things like physical locations, websites, tools, apps, and, yes, even online advertising. Any interaction with a brand is a customer experience—and they’re not only critical to get right but especially important to make delightful. While 3% of consumers will tell 15 or more people if they’re unhappy, 72% of consumers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people (U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs 2015 Survey).
It’s been shown that brands that get CX right outperform their competition through big gains in stock price (Forrester’s Customer Experience Index). This is why within 4 years, more marketers will interact directly with their customers through technology and personalization than interact indirectly with them through media and advertising (The Economist’s Path to 2020 Report).
Unfortunately, we’ve got a ways to go. While 90% of marketers agree that personalizing the customer experience is critical to their success, nearly 80% of consumers stated that the average brand doesn’t understand them as an individual (IBM Econsultancy Study). This is what’s called the “experience gap”—and a much greater focus on narrowing this gap is how challenger brands will win the daily share battle.
How? Here are some starting points:
In the Battle of Agincourt, the English army didn’t choose to be outnumbered—neither do challenger brands. The muddy battlefield (thanks to an overnight rainstorm) tired out French soldiers wearing heavy armor as they tried to maneuver. Like many big brands getting suppressed in today’s landscape of ad avoidance, the French were ill equipped and too dense to mobilize. In contrast, the English used light footman who adapted quickly to their environment in order to flex their bows. Today’s challenger brands must also aim for the heart—not to kill their competition but to win the love of their customers.
Not all that long ago the it didn't seem any other social platform could dent the armor of Facebook or Twitter. But in the great words of Game of Thrones, "Winter is coming." In 2016, the darling social networks will be (if not already) Instagram and Snapchat.
Although Facebook-owned, Instagram is one of the top social media platforms for Millennials and has gotten very serious about ads (having just hired Twitter's former head of product who was responsible for Twitter's ad solutions).
And Snapchat is amidst a giant leap into the mainstream. Have you noticed more and more of your friends and colleagues joining it over the past month or so? (Even The Whitehouse). With an update that's rumored to make Snapchat even easier to use, the social platform will break away from its "kids only" stigma this year.
It'll no longer be Facebook and Twitter that we're all talking about. It's going to be Instagram and Snapchat where marketers become enamored with.
I got the original iPad when it came out in 2010. Its portability married with a large screen instantly made it my favorite connected device. Throughout the years, I've steadily upgraded my iPads and most recently had the iPad Air--that is until the iPad Pro was announced.
Yes, I was one of those people who woke up at 3am sharp to pre-order it. I've been using the iPad Pro for about 2 weeks. There's a lot to love about it. (And only a few things to hate). Let's start with things to love:
iPad Pro ❤️
The screen is a lot bigger than the iPad Air and it transforms the tablet reading experience into more of a true magazine feel as so much more content fits on the page at once without the need to scroll or zoom as frequently.
With a bigger screen comes the ability to have two windows open without a negative effect on the user experience. I'm finding that when doing research, I can keep a notes window on one side of the screen and a browswer on the other.
Switching back and forth is natural and fast. The pencil is, as advertised, almost like writing with a pen on a piece of paper. The responsiveness is pretty remarkable. I'm thinking this could end up replacing my reliance on paper to sketch things out (but we'll see in time).
The integrated keyboard is my favorite part of the iPad Pro. (In fact, I'm using it now to type this post.) It's built right into the smart cover and is as good as typing on a laptop. The way in which the screen snaps into the keyboard (using magnets) makes it incredibly sturdy and super easy to move around w/o it coming apart.
Will it replace my laptop?
In a two week period, I would have used my Macbook Air laptop at home at least twice a day. So far, I've only used it about 3 times. So my reliance on my laptop (which usually revolves around having to type out more than a few sentences) has been reduced. I'm not ready to give it up to do harder core content creation (presentations, etc.) just yet.
iPad Pro #fail
There are three things I don't like about the iPad Pro.
1. Weight: It's heavy--Quite heavy in fact, especially moving from an iPad Air. It's taking some getting used to and I'm not quite sure I've accepted it yet.
2. Holding/Typing: The large screen is a doubled edged sword. I talked about the benefits of it. The negatives are that it's awkward to hold and very difficult to type without the smart keyboard--using only the on-screen keypad. In fact, It's incredibly awkward and unnatural to type while holding it (and I have pretty long fingers).
3. Pencil Storage: There's no place to put the pencil when you're not using it--which means it's going to get lost sooner than later. I've already seen some third party solutions to address this but I'm surprised Apple hadn't thought of this out of the gate.
For me, the benefits outweight the costs and I'm glad I upgraded. I will miss the greater portability of my iPad Air (I already do) but I suspect that I'll continue to adjust to the heavier tablet and it'll end up just fine.
I recently realized I didn’t have one spot (outside of LinkedIN) that aggregated things that have happened/are happening in my professional life. Consider this post a work-in-progress…
A modern marketer & digital leader.
I’ve been at the bleeding edge of marketing & tech innovation my whole career. In 1996, I launched EBSCO’s first web-based product amidst a business booming on CD-ROMs. In 2000, I started up the Boston office of Thoughtbubble and produced some of the first rich-media experiences for the entertainment industry. In 2003, I transformed Keane’s app development team into a global department adding talent in Hyderabad, India. In 2007, I helped clients at Digital Influence Group navigate the nascent social media marketing waters before they heard of a thing called Twitter.
And today, at Hill Holliday, I’m proud to lead a 50-person department of incredibly savvy digital natives and technologists who focus on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in advertising - including LG #MomConfessions and Dunkin’ Donuts #DunkinReplay. I've been recognized as an AdClub Media All Star (2012), and as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business (2014).
In 2012, I published Social TV – a book about the convergence of social media + mobile + television.
Media Coverage (select):
Press Quotes (select):
I’ve always risen to lead during times of major shifts in the marketing landscape—on the side of innovation—in the face of uncertainty. I’m simply someone who can’t not lead. I care deeply about mentorship having had strong mentors along the way, especially during my time in UNH's Student Senate.
I’m tech-passionate + business-savvy with strong POVs. I love connecting dots. I’m capital T-shaped doing whatever it takes to get stuff done. I believe in building bridges vs. moats. I’m forever a student; both right + left brained. I’m a gregarious introvert. And I tenaciously make things happen—always enthusiastically.
You can get a real-time sense of the stuff that piques my interest by following me on Twitter.
I was quoted in today's Adweek article about Facebook's autoplay ads.
Here are my full thoughts:
Facebook has become a place where people share content in all kinds of formats. Bandwidth and streaming technology is finally at a place that makes video extremely accessible and easy to consume across devices in various conditions. With its emphasis on native video, Facebook is beginning to contend with YouTube—especially for ad dollars.
However, just because it’s an autoplay video ad, doesn’t mean it’ll perform well. Relevance through targeting is an important factor of success and most of all, the actual creative is key. The power of autoplay is in its potential to break through the clutter and grab people’s attention. The first few seconds of the video is crucial to doing that.
Content matters big time both to draw audiences in and to sustain them long enough to make a brand linkage. Taking a brand’s 15 second TV spot and force fitting into a Facebook autoplay ad isn’t going to cut it. The creative must be tailored to the native format and consumption behaviors of the specific platform it’s running on. Facebook, Snapchat, Vine, etc. are all different in format, storytelling, and audience norms but they all must ladder up to a larger video strategy.
Twitter recently launched their autoplay ad solution and just last month CNN’s getting in on their own autoplay game. Publishers are going to chase the ripest revenue streams and build out their ad tech accordingly. It’ll continue to evolve as tech capabilities advance with consumer behavior. But one thing is absolutely certain: Video has been a central part of people’s lives since the dawn of motion pictures in the early 1900s. How we experience video will continue to evolve. And you can bet that advertisers will find ways to be part of it, as publishers need to monetize.
It’s ironic to think that regular TV commercials have always been inherently “auto play” but in a world of ad skipping, they have to work so much harder to grab viewers’ attention. That’s why brands are now creatively embedding themselves into actual TV programming with less singular reliance on the standard commercial pod.
But the bigger question is what’s “television” today, anyway? The lines between TV and video content have blurred. Gone are the days of TV campaigns. Brands today need a comprehensive video strategy that transcends media channels while creatively respecting their uniquely native opportunities. It’s time we’re all coloring outside of the lines.
You can read the resulting Adweek article.