Brands can play with our emotions…and memories too

BBC StoryWorks study finds links between emotions, memory and brand influence.

We all know great brand campaigns can trigger real emotions. We can probably remember the ones that do. With that in mind, BBC StoryWorks, the content marketing unit of BBC Global News set out to find the scientific basis behind those connections in its latest research study.

Called The Science of Memory, the study tested six of StoryWorks’ branded content videos on BBC.com on 2,179 respondents based in Singapore, Australia, USA and Germany using its own proprietary emotion-tracking tool together with neuroscience techniques from specialist firm Neuro-Insight.

Researchers recorded electrical brain activity and facial coding data and claim to have mapped not just the emotional intensity triggered by the videos, but also the level of long-term memory encoding in the brain. Among the study’s key findings:

– Emotions are a key driver of memory. If you’re watching a brand film, the bigger the emotional spike, the more likely it is to trigger long term memory. When it comes to triggering long term memory, there is no such thing as a bad emotion. The influential factor is the intensity of the emotion being experienced, not the nature of the emotion.

– Emotions can be fine-tuned to maximise and ‘colour’ memory. There are certain strategies to employ emotional spikes like compelling storytelling to make content more memorable.

– Triggering emotions early and often is most memorable. Brand films that triggered their highest emotional intensity in the first third of their duration ultimately delivered stronger memory of the content overall. Also, content that provokes numerous peaks of emotional intensity throughout, rather than slow building to a singular event, delivers a higher memory impact.

– Brands can ‘ride’ memory moments. Emotion often precedes memory. A sudden spike in emotional intensity causes memory encoding to rise shortly afterwards. So content marketers who can seamlessly integrate a brand in the memory window after moments of high emotional intensity allow that brand to ride the wave of the narrative into memory.

– Emotional reactions can vary by region. Shown the same piece of content, viewers in APAC showed surprise while American viewers demonstrated sadness or empathy and European viewers showed happiness. Yet all these emotions, researchers said, still delivered the same level of memory impact.

– Cuing the lights is worth remembering. Cinematic devices like lighting changes, unique camera angles and (more obviously) music changes all play a role in keeping the viewer engaged and creating long-term memories.

Naturally, the goal for BBC StoryWorks is to figure out how to integrate the science of memory into its storytelling techniques to create more last impressions without giving up the art of creative.

“There is real science that underpins effective brand storytelling and helps us drive the way we create content,” said BBC StoryWorks senior vice-president Richard Pattinson in a release. “But there is also an art to great storytelling—an art that has been part of the BBC’s DNA for almost a hundred years and continues to resonate in every innovation in storytelling we embark upon.”

Pattinson went on to say their work will continue to try to strike the right balance between art and science.

Source: campaignasia.com; 13 Oct 2018

Ikea, Nike, BMW, Marriott: Chinese consumers find you less relevant now

Prophet’s 2018 China Brand Relevance Index shows Chinese brands raising their relevance due to innovation, not just pricing.

Local brands constitute the majority of the third edition of the China Brand Relevance Index just released by Prophet.

Two years ago, 32 of the top 50 brands were MNC brands. Today, 30 are from the mainland, including Alipay, Wechat, Huawei, Taobao, and Meituan Dianping, which cracked the top 10 for the first time.

Prophet measures ‘relevance’ via a survey where consumers rate brands across 16 different attributes. The 2018 edition, conducted by ISSI, included views from more than 13,000 Chinese consumers on 249 brands across 30 industries. Prophet does not include brands in the tobacco and firearms categories or brands engaged solely or primarily in B2B selling.

For the first time, the rise of local brands is fuelled by innovation, not basic price/value reassurance, according to Prophet. Several local competitors beat MNCs in being “pervasively innovative”, meaning they “don’t rest on their laurels” in finding new and creative ways to engage with customers in China.

Huawei and Xiaomi represent this shift by outperforming Apple in the smartphone category. The Huawei P20 Pro is the first phone with a triple rear camera. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix, launched back in 2016, showed the world a nearly bezel-free design long before the iPhone X, Prophet notes.

The weakest MNC brands fell hard from grace. For example, Ikea went from fourth last year to 37th this year, Nike from sixth to 44th, BMW from eighth to 46th, and Marriott from ninth to nowhere (though Marriott-owned W Hotels took 18th place).

“It’s not that these MNC brands are falling behind, but domestic brands are making progress too quickly,” clarified Leon Zhang, Prophet’s co-author of the report.

The drop in Nike’s ranking was simply because “Adidas is moving faster in establishing relevance and a sense of community across a broad swathe of sports in China,” pointed out Tom Doctoroff, the chief cultural officer at Prophet, at a launch event in Shanghai where Nike reps were present. Adidas has been working closely with China’s education ministry, providing training for Chinese sports teachers who will then teach soccer skills in schools. So did Nike in 2016, but apparently, Adidas’ efforts have been more well-received.

Chinese consumers are actively seeking products and services that provide substance, innovative experience and belongingness, Doctoroff added. However, innovation is something easy to claim yet difficult to deliver. Home-grown brands have demonstrated a “strong ability to create continuous, tangible innovation”, often outpacing that of their international peers, said Zhang.

Top dog Alipay (in first position for the third year in a row) goes beyond a payment channel, offering functions for travel, insurance, tax refunds, shopping loans and WiFi/internet packages. Arguable competitor Visa has dropped from third in 2016 to 36th in 2017 and is not even on the 2018 list. Outside of China, Alipay’s collaboration with location-based service providers such as Koubei and Yelp enables it to recommend the best places to eat / shop / play for spoiled Chinese outbound tourists.

Source: campaignasia.com; 17 Sep 2018

Malaysia heads for high-income status

Solid GDP growth is moving Malaysians up the spending-power ladder.

According to the World Bank, Malaysia is one of the most open economies in the world, with a trade- to GDP ratio averaging over 140 percent since 2010. It’s openness to trade and investment has been instrumental in creating employment opportunities and income growth. In 2017, Malaysia proudly increased its ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness report to rank 25th out of 138 economies, leading the region of emerging economies. Malaysia aspires to achieve status as a high-income economy by 2020 as classified by the World Bank and as a result has been focusing on efforts to attract investments and drive productivity and innovation through political, economic and regulatory reforms.

In Q4 2017, the Malaysian economy expanded by 4.9%, continuing the strong momentum shown throughout the year. Headline inflation moderated to 3.5% in Q4 2017, mainly due to lower inflation in the housing, water, electricity and gas as well as transport categories. The central bank expects GDP growth to remain favourable in 2018, with moderate inflation coming from domestic demand, continued export growth from encouraging global demand conditions and the stronger Ringgit.

While the economy expanded in Q4 2017, consumer confidence has remained stable throughout the year. The economy continued to be the top concern for Malaysian consumers during this period, reflected by subdued consumer spending. On the FMCG front, the market hit an all-time high for the year in Q4 2017 after subdued performance over the festive periods in Q1 and Q2 2017. Modern Trade growth has come via Super/ Minimarket and Convenience store format expansion in line with the growing propensity for Malaysian consumers to shop at stores that are ‘convenient to get to’ and shops that offer low prices for most items. It is these attributes that appeal most to consumers’ changing lifestyle needs, which are driving the expansion of smaller store formats.

The digital landscape is changing the way Malaysians interact with each other, how they form their opinions and how they make purchase decisions. It is an exciting time for Malaysian media, as digital media continues to grow and traditional media innovates to keep pace and stay relevant. Increased internet usage has also positively impacted Malaysia’s e-commerce industry. Among the 17.4 million Malaysians aged 15 and above, 10% have shopped for products or services online past month. Online shoppers tend to be younger (the majority are under the age of 39), and among the most affluent (with a household income of more than RM8000) online shopping rises to a healthy 25%.

The rise of digital media, however, does not mean that traditional media is no longer relevant in Malaysia. Nielsen Consumer and Media View shows that in 2017, daily newspapers, television, radio, outdoor advertising and in-store media continued to enjoy more than 70% reach across the board.

In this environment, it is critical to embrace both traditional and new channels and formats to ensure consumers receive a consistent brand proposition across both physical and digital mediums. Authenticity and transparency are central in this highly connected world, where consumers can quickly verify claims and check price comparisons at the click of a button.

Source: campaignasia.com; 27 Aug 2018

Amazon to merge its ad businesses into one platform

Amazon is quietly streamlining its ad business so that advertisers will be able to buy campaigns from the same place, whether they sell their products directly to the site or directly to its shoppers as third-party sellers.

The retailer has tried to remove the differences between how first- and third-party sellers manage campaigns for some time, but it’s now going a step further. Four media executives said Amazon is working on a consolidated platform that will fold all campaign reporting and advertising products from the Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Advertising Platform divisions into one place.

Amazon’s ad business is hard for newcomers to navigate with different divisions for businesses that sell to Amazon and for those that sell their own products on the site.

“Reps from Amazon have told me a consolidated version of its ad platform is on the way,” said one of the executives, on condition of anonymity. “Amazon’s business is manageable once you know how the platform works, but there are more brands who sit on both sides now, which makes having such a disparate offering harder for them to manage.”

During the company’s earnings last month, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky referred to barriers to growing media spending when he hinted at changes to make the ad buying process more “usable” and “automated.” Advertising helped deliver Amazon’s second consecutive high-profit quarter in the first quarter after years of unprofitable or low-profit quarters — despite many big brands still having reservations about how much of its inventory they should buy. We’ve asked Amazon for comment; we’ll update this article if they respond.

Those hybrid sellers could feel the biggest impact from the change. They often run paid search programs on both sides of Amazon’s marketplaces but have to be careful because the two platforms can compete to artificially increase bids, according to media buyers. A unified data set will help those brands avoid this issue.

Long term, Amazon centralizing its branding, content, product creation, merchandising and advertising should make it easier for brands to see the total traffic to their products and where it’s coming from, said Tod Harrick, vp of products at Marketplace Ignition.

“We believe Amazon’s primary goal is really to unify two different software tools that were built separately to create efficiencies,” Harrick said. “This happens at Amazon all the time. Amazon experiments so much that sometimes it ends up with multiple solutions for the same need and eventually will try to resolve those duplications.”

Source: digiday.com; 6 Aug 2018

Largest worldwide auto market gains interest in luxury vehicles

Female and urban drivers are growing segments in China’s luxury vehicle market, which are pushing the industry to grow 5.4 percent in the next eight years.

Frost & Sullivan’s “China Luxury Car Market, Forecast to 2025” found that 10 percent of 24 million passenger vehicles sold in China last year were luxury models. In China, compact SUVs and C-compact sedans were the most popular models of luxury automobiles.

“Compact SUV and C-Compact sedan are the most preferred luxury car segments in China. Increasing adoption by female and urban drivers, as well as the price conscious, will drive the demand for luxury cars from individual customers over the long term,” said Ming Lin Chan, senior research analyst of APAC mobility practice at Frost & Sullivan.

Automotive advancement

Chinese women are now looking for investments and vehicles that reflect their success within their careers, which is pushing the luxury segment forward.

Drivers born in the 1990s and 2000s in China are also likely to drive the luxury auto sector as well. As they all come of age and are allowed to operate a vehicle, they are likely to look for one that will elevate their social status.

Frost & Sullivan encourages luxury automakers to reposition their branding to include China and cater to affluent individuals who are likely to respond to a positive custom experience.

Augmented reality and holographic projections are two of many strategies and themes brands can use to integrate themselves into the Chinese market.

The report predicts that the luxury segment will dominate more than 60 percent of market share by the year 2025.

This is extremely important, as China is by far the largest auto segment worldwide.

Mercedes, Audi and BMW are the most popular luxury passenger vehicles in China, with a combined 68.8 percent of market share across SUVs and sedans last year. European automotive original equipment manufacturers lead the luxury car market in China.

Plug-in hybrids and battery-operated electric vehicles are expected to gain greater traction in the market thanks to Tesla and government encouragement. However, gas powertrain cars are expected to remain strong in China’s luxury segment over the long-term.

Technologies such as automation and smartphone connectivity are big drivers for the Chinese segment. Apple CarPlay is the most popular form of infotainment-connected service, while Android Auto is prohibited in China.

Additional insight

Luxury automakers should be leading the way in innovation, especially with digital, but a report from L2 shows that mass-market auto brands are driving laps around high-end manufacturers.

L2’s Digital IQ Index for the auto industry revealed that Rolls-Royce, Land Rover and Aston Martin are among the few automakers whose mobile sites lack any investment, with load times more than five seconds long. Mercedes was the only luxury brand listed within the top five rankings for digital offerings.

Almost half of the automotive sales growth in China this year has come from luxury brands, driven by consumers’ increasing household wealth and consumer confidence.

According to a report from Scotiabank, in March global automotive sales were up 1.2 percent over the previous year, with China one of the key forces behind this growth. As the Asian market becomes increasingly important to luxury auto brands, OEMs are set to benefit from newly eased regulations in China.

“Luxury automotive brands are adopting cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality and holographic projections to ensure high brand engagement,” Mr. Chan said.

Source: luxurydaily.com; 5 June 2018

Brands in non-EU countries should adopt GDPR rules, study finds

Publishers are being too slow to adopt consent management platforms, which will cause growing pains for programmatic advertising when the new regulation comes into force.

The majority of consumers in non-EU countries would like at least one of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules to be in effect in their country, a study has revealed.

Research carried out by video ad tech company Unruly, which spoke with 4,000 people across eight markets about the incoming changes to the way data is handled by firms, also found that 63% of consumers worldwide trust brands more when they are clear about how and where their data is used.

“There’s a lot of trust that needs to be built between brands and consumers globally, not just in the EU,” said Kenneth Suh, chief operating officer at Unruly. “They really need to be providing some clarity around the data and the purposes it’s being used for.

“This is all really great news for users. It’s an opportunity to get a much clearer picture and understanding of who’s collecting your data and how it’s being used.”

The new law kicks in on May 25 and applies to all EU citizens, but even companies in the US or China have to follow the rules if dealing with EU citizens.

Among the changes include that future requests for consent of data sharing can’t be hidden under reams of Ts and Cs — they have to be clearly distinguished. Pre-ticked boxes can no longer be used to indicate consent, and making people hand over more personal information in exchange for extra features is also not allowed.

Only 58% of those surveyed in the UK had heard of GDPR, and 26% in the US

But when asked, 93% of all consumers in non-EU countries said they would like at least one rule brought about by GDPR effective in their country.

Among the top areas of importance, people agreed with the three following statements: I should have the right to see a copy of my personal data at any time; I should have the right to ask how my data is being used at any time and; I should have the right to delete the data companies have collected about me.

The research found that people are most comfortable sharing biometric data for services like fitness apps because the rewards for exchange of data are clear and obvious — you get to learn about your health.

In an age of fake news, brands and advertisers must strive to voice a message of trust and transparency, stressed Suh.

However, using social media to project this message may hinder the goal. The study found that 43% of people worldwide say their trust in advertising on social media has dropped significantly in the last few months — 43% in the US, 51% in the UK

“You can think about the conundrum brands have around social media platforms as a way to reach audiences,” said Suh. “We know that reach is on the social media side, but if more than half of the information you’re reading from that place isn’t considered real, then your brand being associated that information.”

The findings come as the programmatic world braces for extreme turbulence. Research by PageFair found that just 3% of brands surveyed believe users will opt-in for third party tracking on websites.

Suh said it isn’t clear how much havoc GDPR will wreak on programmatic advertising, but there will definitely be “growing pains.”

“In GDPR world, [publishers] are going to be adopting a consent management platform to ensure that the user knows what data is being collected on the website,” he said.

“What we’ve seen is, widely, publishers are still trying to figure out what platform they want to use. That’s important, because those are signals that are going to be passed through the bid request to programmatic buyers. So, without that platform adoption happening at the publisher side, those signals won’t be coming along as readily available to buyers, and then as a buyer you would say, ‘if I don’t see those signals I won’t bid on that,’ or it may be a less valuable piece of inventory.”

Suh believes advertisers will have to jump through multiple hoops before programmatic is brought up to speed.

At a glance: GDPR around the world
– 58% of people in the UK and Germany have heard of GDPR, 63% in Sweden

– 93% of consumers in non-EU countries would like at least one of the rules brought about by GDPR to be in effect in their country

– Worldwide, consumers are most comfortable sharing biometric data (fitness trackers as best practice examples for brands)

– Less than one-third of consumers in the UK, Germany and Sweden trust brands to ask their permission before sharing data with third parties

– But 63% of consumers worldwide trust brands more when they are clear about how and where there data is used

– 60% of people worldwide believe that more than half the news they read on social media is fake — this number is highest in India where it rises to 71%

– 43% of people worldwide say their trust in advertising on social media has dropped significantly in the last few months — 43% in the US, 51% in the UK

The most requested changes in data policy
– Australia: 67% want the right to delete data collected at any time
– Singapore: 67% want the right to delete data collected at any time
– Japan: 54% want the right to delete data collected at any time
– India: 63% want the right to ask how their data is being used at any time

Source: campaignasia.com; 24 May 2018

6 ways Xi Jinping’s power grab will impact foreign brands

Xi’s personal Chinese Dream is expected to dominate every aspect of Chinese development, and will have a profound impact on the business environment of foreign companies working in the country.

Recently China announced a proposed constitutional amendment to end presidential term limits in China. Despite widespread discontent expressed online, the Communist Party now claims that the amendment is the will of the people.

If there were any doubt before, this statement make it all but certain that the amendment will pass before the conclusion of the “Two Sessions”, the annual meetings of the national legislature and the top political advisory body in Beijing.

The move, which received praise from U.S. President Donald Trump, is a significant shift toward a more autocratic regime. It also represents a formidable consolidation of power by Xi, who has just completed his first five-year term as President. In the past five years, Xi has developed a more nativist, nationalist ideology that aims to increase China’s strength in the world and the party’s lock on political power.

Xi’s personal Chinese Dream is expected to dominate every aspect of Chinese development, and will have a profound impact on the business environment of foreign companies working in the country. In a time of considerable uncertainty, here are Jing Daily‘s six predictions for how Xi’s power grab will impact the luxury industry in China.

1. More surveillance and censorship

Surveillance and censorship are widespread in China, and that will only increase. More and more foreign brands have been penalized for “misbehaviours” in their communications in China and abroad.

Cases from Victoria’s Secret, Estée Lauder, and Harper’s Bazaar illustrate the risks of working with celebrities (both international and domestic), referencing foreign subcultures (such as hip-hop and anime), and having a global digital presence, where comments in other countries and other languages are increasingly scrutinized.

Furthermore, the Chinese government is likely to demand access to all website data, online customer information, personal communications, and more.

Attempts to circumnavigate surveillance and censorship will slowly be snuffed out. Since October 2017, domestic VPN providers have been required to register with government agencies in order to provide their services legally in the country. Foreign VPNs are likely next. (See “What if China closes the VPN window in its ‘great firewall’?”)

2. More emphasis on Chinese heritage

The ongoing clampdown on foreign cultural influence will give rise to more foreign brands referencing or co-opting traditional Chinese culture in their communications. As a matter of fact, a great number of brands are already doing so. RTG Consulting Group found that adopting traditional Chinese cultural elements is one of the politically safest and most effective ways to engage with a diverse Chinese.

Selected aspects of traditional Chinese culture have been nurtured by the state in recent years, helping them to resonate more with the younger Chinese generation, especially Generation-Z.

3. More competition from home-grown brands

With the Chinese government calling for domestic innovation and design to meet the growing needs of consumers, the spring of the domestic Chinese fashion brands is coming. However, with the ideological restrictions placed upon Chinese fashion designers, fashions may begin to diverge away from global trends.

Nevertheless, we believe it will be more and more easy for domestic fashion brands to achieve commercial success inside China in the current social and political context. The success will belong to brands who comply with contemporary nationalist values, such as sportswear brand Li Ning, whose triumphant debut at New York Fashion Week captured the attention of Chinese millennials and was praised widely on the country’s major social media sites.

4. More limits on conspicuous consumption

The anti-corruption campaign that President Xi initiated back in 2013 will continue to affect the consumption behaviours of an estimated 112 million government personnel, including officials, civil servants and the so-called ‘in-staff’ personnel who enjoy the same wages, social welfare and healthcare standards, a group that constitutes the core of China’s rising middle class. This will have a profound impact on certain industries, including the travel and tourism sector, as officials must seek permission to travel abroad, and the luxury goods sector, as officials are discouraged from flaunting their wealth.

5. More ambiguity for Chinese brands abroad

Aside from rejuvenating national pride, Xi also has a grand vision of China’s role on the international stage. In recent years, a slew of Chinese companies have ventured abroad, enjoying significant freedom to operate globally, unless of course they fall foul of the regime. Wanda Group, HNA, and Anbang Insurance Group are three prime examples whose falls have had great repercussions for their foreign partners. Foreign brands will have to carefully evaluate the risks and rewards of working with big Chinese companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, and Fosun.

6. Less interest in foreign intellectual property rights

In the proposal to get rid of the presidential term limit, the Party also suggests abandoning “rule of law” to fully embrace “rule by law”. This has profound legal implications for foreign brands that have long suffered from IP infringement in China. The change is likely to make it harder for brands to protect themselves from Chinese copycats.

Source: Jing Daily/campaignasia.com; 9 Mar 2018

Why the GDPR Is Actually a Good Thing for Brands

Putting an end to data gossip

In less than four months, the European Union data regulator will begin enforcing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to strengthen the security and protection of EU residents’ personal data. Companies that don’t comply with the GDPR not only risk losing their customers’ trust, but they could also face fines of €20 million or 4 percent of global annual revenue.

Like many regulations, the GDPR is not an easy to understand or practical manual for how brands should go about protecting their customers’ data. Therefore, figuring out how to interpret it and making changes across your organization to adhere to the regulation will be an expensive undertaking on its own. The IAPP and EY predict that Fortune’s Global 500 companies will spend a combined $7.8 billion working to achieve GDPR compliance.

With more questions than answers, I’ve found that the complexities and costs associated with the GDPR tend to overshadow the many benefits for businesses across the globe.

Here’s why I think the GDPR is a good thing for brands:

It will cut the ‘data gossip’

Consumers expect the brands they buy from to adhere to strict standards around protecting personal data. They also expect brands to obtain consent for collecting their data in the first place. According to a recent study from Accenture, “87 percent of consumers believe it is important for companies to safeguard the privacy of their information.”

The GDPR will promote responsible use of data that aligns the law with customer expectations. Specifically, the GDPR requires that businesses be more transparent about how they collect and use data. This means the standard for valid consent will be far higher, and it will be difficult to rely on third-party consent.

As a consequence, marketing departments will likely need to reduce their reliance on third-party data. Third-party data is user or behavioural information that companies purchase rather than collect themselves. It is often aggregated from multiple websites and segmented based on user interests, demographics, shopping behaviours and more.

This data is often collected with questionable consent and shared across companies without explicit consumer permission. That’s why I call the act of companies sharing third-party data with each other “data gossip.”

If you’ve ever received an email promotion from a company you never shared your email address with, you’ve experienced data gossip. Your customers wouldn’t tolerate their grocer telling their banker what they just purchased, and data gossip is no different. Moving away from third-party data will improve customer trust, which in turn will boost your brand’s reputation.

Brands will have to personalize without compromising trust

Reducing third-party data usage doesn’t come without its challenges, however. Third-party data is often used to personalize customer experiences, and customers increasingly expect this. The Accenture study mentioned above found that “58 percent of consumers would switch half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalizing experiences without compromising trust.”

Many companies purchase third-party data to personalize their websites or show ads to a specific audience based on previous behaviour. The problem for these companies is the last part: “without compromising trust.”

How can your company deliver on respectful, private and personalized experiences? The answer is by activating your own first-party data. First-party data is data on how your customers use your products or services. This includes information on which products a customer views or purchases from you, how often they visit your website or mobile app and even your CRM data.

First-party data is valuable for showing customers that you’re attentive to their needs, showcasing products that fit their interests, or removing irrelevant content. It also has many advantages over third-party data.

First-party data is not usually shared with other brands, which is beneficial for both your customers and your business. It’s typically more accurate than third-party data, as well, because it reflects actual customer behaviour from your own channels (web, mobile, in-store, etc.).

Companies must ensure they always use first-party data in line with the principles of the GDPR: transparency, accuracy, fairness, minimization, purpose limitation and security. I believe the GDPR will accelerate trends leading away from third-party data and toward the ethical use of first-party data to deliver helpful, respectful customer experiences.

As a result, I think the GDPR is good for brands—even with its complexities.

Peter Reinhardt is an aerospace engineer turned CEO and co-founder of Segment, a customer data platform.

Source: adweek.com; 22 Feb 2018

The Next Great Media Channel Is the Self-Driving Car. Will Brands Be Ready?

The average driver spends 48 minutes behind the wheel

GM has increased production of self-driving Chevy Bolts. Volvo is partnering with self-driving car chipmaker Nvidia. Volkswagen is working to power its cars with A.I.

The conversation has fully shifted from “if” driverless cars will become the new normal to “when.” While the general public is eager for improved productivity, better safety and hopes for reduced traffic, marketers should be looking at the autonomous vehicle from a different angle: as the next great media channel.

As technology continues its advance, the car will become a hot spot for interaction, entertainment and information. It will also be a treasure trove of data.

While the exact time frame is hard to predict, the advent of 5G–with 100 times the data transfer speeds of 4G, plus better connectivity between devices and internet-enabled objects—will unlock huge opportunity for both the auto industry and marketers who could exploit the new media experiences.

This opportunity will open up in two ways: first, as a precision marketing tool, using all the data the car will soon produce; secondly, as mass-reaching vehicle (pardon the pun), as self-driving cars become mini entertainment centres.

In the near future, autonomous cars will process staggering amounts of data: current and past destinations, speed of travel, demographics and biometrics of the riders, present and future weather, traffic conditions, and nearby landmarks and commercial locations—all of which marketers could access to achieve an unprecedented level of precision in consumer messaging.

Let’s consider what might soon be possible from a marketing perspective in this new channel for say, a coffee chain.

A passenger in a smart car passes a chain coffee shop on the way to work every morning. They have the coffee brand’s app. When they’re close, we programmatically target the rider, asking if they’d like to stop to pick up a medium soy latte—their preferred order at this time of day. If the rider says yes, their car is directed to the store, where their coffee is ready to be picked up at the counter, since payment has already been processed through the app.

In this example, you can see the confluence of benefits: Time of day meets exact location meets buyer-behaviour meets real-time messaging.

On the other side of our consumer’s day, recognizing the route and time stamp from work to home, a supermarket could serve up cooking content and then share an offer on ingredients. Or if passenger biometric data recognizes that the passenger is generally too hungry to wait, he or she could be served with ads and offers for nearby restaurants. Still on the way home but moving out of the food category, a network, premium channel or streaming service marketer could serve tune-in messages for that evening based on the driver’s historical preferences.

The opportunity doesn’t only lie within in-car targeting. Consider also that a car that drives itself gives users, who used to be drivers, time back in their day (an average of 48 minutes per day according to AAA). More time means more chance to consume ad-funded or branded content, turning the car into another “opportunity to see,” either on mobile or in-car screens.

That means those tune-in messages on the drive home can actually be trailers and behind-the-scenes extras. On the weekends, travel brands could leverage past purchase data to predict preferred vacation times and locations to send targeted destination content ideally timed to when the consumer is in consideration mode, and more receptive to leisure-oriented messages.

Car companies will need to decide what role they wish to play as the producer of this new media “device.” Will they follow the model the video game consoles have already hewn, licensing their tech to various content providers while fighting for valuable exclusive titles? How much control can and should they exert over the “pipes” of their cars?

Regardless of where those chips fall, they will be in the position to collect an amazing amount of data from the cars and those who ride in them. In a category in which the traditional ownership and profitability dynamics are shifting, licensing APIs and selling data will become an increasingly bigger aspect of how car brands make money.

Source: adweek.com; 31 Oct 2017

How to deliver personalised messages at scale

Procter & Gamble says it will seek to strike a balance between personalisation and mass targeting by not compromising on its brands’ purpose.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is pivoting its digital marketing to deliver more personalised messages on a mass scale. To lead this transformation, it is also looking to champion an increasingly diverse set of marketing skills.

The consumer goods giant, which claims to reach five billion consumers every day, has set its sights on building brands digitally that “meet and exceed consumer expectations”. It looks to do this by using ‘big data’ to determine what people really want, according to Sophie Blum, P&G’s vice-president of marketing for Europe and IMEA (India, the Middle East and Africa), speaking at the Festival of Marketing last week.

“This depth and intimacy of understanding every single consumer is very new. That is what’s transforming the profession. You either get overwhelmed, or you embrace it with tools to be able to interact with and answer [consumers] in a way that is better than your competitors,” she tells Marketing Week.

What follows this focus on big data is mass one-on-one marketing – something the company’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard briefly referenced in a speech at Dmexco last month.

One example is Pampers. The moment mums-to-be start searching for pregnancy-related information on Google, P&G gets a signal that someone is starting their “journey” and will target them accordingly. During a woman’s third trimester of pregnancy, for example, it might offer advice on what to put into nappy bags, or once the baby is born it will show consumers different nappies to buy as the baby grows.

“At P&G we have this ongoing understanding of one-to-one [messaging]. It’s a day-to-day journey. We are there to accompany consumers by having the right message at the right time,” she says.

When asked how P&G ensures it gets the right balance between personalisation and mass messaging, Blum says staying true to a brand’s purpose is key – and points to feminine hygiene brand Always.

“Always is about female empowerment, no matter what age you are. What will change are consumer expectations. I have different expectations of Always compared to my 14-year-old daughter. The moment I’m in touch with Always, the product [on show] is going to be different. But there are things we don’t compromise on; the brand is the brand,” she says.

P&G has also had a focus on cleaning up the “murky” digital ecosystem after Pritchard’s now seminal speech in January. But when asked if these issues impact the company’s ability to use digital as a brand building tool, Blum instantly refutes this.

“No – it just forces us to be extremely rigorous and disciplined in what we do and how we measure things. We are serving our consumers, it’s not about the channels or tools that are transforming. For us it’s important [to focus] on the way we go about it,” she explains.

The marketing team of the future

Overhauling the company’s culture to become more digitally-focused hasn’t been easy, however. Blum claims one of the biggest challenges has been to create “talent for tomorrow”, where marketing leaders are expected to be able to work across multiple disciplines, understand mathematics and algorithms, while also being able to empathise with people.

“You have a base and then a unique human understanding of what is behind data that is telling the consumer story. You need both the human and tech-savvy side. That’s the new level of recruitment, and a whole new ballgame of leadership,” she says.

As a result, Blum’s plea to young people in the profession is to adopt a diverse set of skills, and to think of brands as a “force of good and growth”.

She concludes: “That’s the role of big brands. The weight on the shoulders of marketers today has never been so heavy; not only to change behaviours and change the conversation, but to be a force for good.”

Source: marketingweek.com; 10 Oct 2017