Sceptical Malaysians don’t believe what they see on social media

Despite high levels of connectivity, brands face a struggle to connect with Malaysians via online channels, according to Kantar TNS’s latest “Connected Life” research.

The findings show that while Malaysians spend 7.2 hours online every day, the opportunity for brands to engage with them there is under threat, as consumers are mistrusting of online content and are sceptical of brand motivations.

The research revealed that sceptical Malaysians do not trust the content they are consuming online, as just 17% of connected consumers consider social media content to be reliable. This contrasts markedly with other Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, where 59% and 61% respectively trust social media content. Almost one in three (31%) also have concerns about how much control the social media networks have over the content that they see on their feeds.

“Malaysians spend a large proportion of their day online. We’re constantly connected to the internet thanks to our mobile devices and ever-improving data costs and speeds,” MC Lai, managing director of Malaysia at Kantar TNS, said.

More importantly, marketers need to realise that Malaysians are not easy targets in this digital world. In comparison to other less developed countries in the region, Lai said:

Malaysian consumers are more mistrusting of what they see online, and are more uncomfortable with brands collecting their personal data.
Therefore, he added, brands need to step up the game and demonstrate the value they can bring to Malaysian consumers’ lives if they want to earn their trust and ensure that they are able to use these channels for meaningful brand conversations.

Trust in brands

The study also showed that trust in brands varies significantly between markets. In Malaysia, consumers are moderately cynical, with only 41% of the connected consumer population trusting global brands. This trust level falls significantly in other markets such as Australia (19%), however in emerging markets such as Vietnam, 54% of consumers remain trusting of these brands.

Circling back to personal data issues, the findings show that despite the benefits that can be delivered through sharing data, Malaysians are cautious of how much of their personal data they share online. About 38% of consumers in Malaysia object to connected devices monitoring their activities even if it makes their lives easier, compared to 15% in Indonesia. Over half (51%) of Malaysians have concerns about the amount of personal data that brands have on them, compared to 33% across the region. Malaysians are also found to become increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.

Trust is fragile, Michael Nicholas, global lead of connected solutions at Kantar TNS, said. Nicholas added, while brands in for emerging countries see higher levels of consumer trust today than those in developed ones, they should not take it for granted.

“To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data. Above all, that means putting the customer first – something that many marketers have forgotten to do,” he added.

Source: adweek.com; 17 Oct 2017

Instagram doubles its advertiser base

Instagram says it has doubled its advertiser base over the last six months as it hits 2 million monthly active advertisers.

And the photo-based social network says its users are also becoming more engaged. It claims users under the age of 25 now spend an average of 32 minutes a day on Instagram.

Meanwhile, last month, an impressive 180 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, called, emailed or direct messaged to learn about a business.

“Now 80% of people choose to follow a business they care about on Instagram, further proving that people are looking actively engage with brands in a meaningful way,” says Jim Squires, head of Instagram business.

“Users are spending more time on the platform than ever before, and we know video is a huge part of that. For businesses, motion is becoming the new filter for advertisers as they embrace Stories to connect with and inspire their customers through an immersive video experience, with 60% of Instagram videos watched with sound-on. We’re excited to see how advertisers continue to use video in creative ways to reach their community.

Source: marketingweek.com; 26 Sep 2017

‘Segment of one’, the future of consumer marketing

Think with Google’s Guest Editor, Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed, shares his perspective on the shift from mass marketing to mass customization and how brands will adapt.

The connected world and the ubiquity of technology have rewritten the rules of building brands, innovation, media, creativity, and retail forever. While the internet served as the enabler for this transformation, the real driver has undoubtedly been the mobile phone.

Mobile is unlocking consumer control, empowerment, and choice to an extent we have never seen before, driving a hyper-segmentation revolution. As we move from mass marketing to massive customization—from focusing on averages to individuals—I believe that in the future we will build brands in segments of one. For marketers who have traditionally created and marketed brands to the dominant majority—the largest segment—this means thinking about marketing very differently than in the past.

Who is today’s consumer?

Today’s hyper-empowered, tech-augmented consumers are increasingly in control of the branded messages they receive and how they shop for brands. As micro-moment behaviour—where people instinctively turn to their device to act upon a need—becomes the norm, consumers’ expectations of value, convenience, and immediacy of response from brands are becoming increasingly demanding.

Search is absolutely central here, acting as the filter that enables the empowered consumer to get what they want, when they want, wherever they want. People—myself included—can’t remember what it was like not to be able to do things before their mobile was in their pocket.

This gives rise to two key characteristics of today’s consumer: immediacy and relevance. For example, searches for “open now” have tripled since 2015 and mobile searches related to “same-day shipping” have grown over 120% since 2015. And when it comes to relevance, expectation is accelerating rapidly. Since early this year, the volume for local searches without including the specification “near me” have outgrown comparable searches which did include it.

What does this mean for brands?

For brands to be allowed a part in the hyper-empowered consumer’s life, they have to be able to both anticipate and assist with their needs. This means being relevant, tailored, and personal—a huge shift from when brands (especially CPG businesses like Unilever) tended to be built for the masses. And they need to do it all in real time, in context, in the language.

There is a huge opportunity here for brands to help simplify lives in this complex world—to make massive choice digestible. Just think about how long it takes you to shop in a foreign supermarket where you don’t know the brands. Similarly, brands can help simplify the online world of seemingly never ending content to help organize people’s experiences in a connected world.

So what should marketers be doing?

It can certainly feel daunting and at times overwhelming to face this new world order. But I genuinely believe that there has never been a more exciting time to be in marketing. Still, what does all this mean for marketers in the day to day? In practice, I think it means three things.

Put people first. Leverage data to deeply understand the new and complex consumer journey, and be clear where your brand should be present to add the most value. Keep your consumer as the true north to connect with them on a one-to-one basis.

Cut through the clutter and build brand love by standing for something meaningful. People don’t just want a product to buy, they want an idea to buy into. Millennials and Gen Z show us time and time again that they want brands rooted in purpose and doing good for the world. Once that purpose is clear, it allows brands to create engaging experiences that sustain a far longer and richer consumer conversation than simply talking about a new product variant or a seasonal promotion.

Unlock the magical combination of data-driven consumer understanding and brilliant purpose-led creative to build deep and meaningful one-to-one relationships at scale. Marketing is magic plus logic, art plus science. Never before have we as marketers had the ability for the logic half of the equation that data affords us today. At the same time—as consumer attention is more selective—never before have we had such a need for the magic. At Unilever we have an ambition to have a billion one-to-one relationships—I don’t believe that a focus on the individual has to mean “niche.”

Mobile is rewriting communication and commerce, changing the relationship between brands and people forever. And with half of the world still waiting to join the online world, we are only at the foothills of what is possible. The brands that lead this, providing consumers with a frictionless experience online and off, are the brands that will win in the future.

Source: thinkwithgoogle.com; Oct 2017

Apple’s decision to limit cookie tracking upends targeted mobile advertising

The repercussions of Apple’s recent decision to limit cookie tracking on the new Safari 11 browser will be felt by all advertisers across mobile.

With cookie data restricted after 24 hours and purged after 30 days, Apple’s intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) means marketers’ ability to deliver targeted campaigns is hampered.

In the United States, where Safari accounts for more than half the mobile browser market, ITP has produced a strong reaction, with six trade associations from the digital advertising community having published an open letter objecting to the development.

Cookie crumbles

On the surface this is about advertising, and Apple putting pressure on the advertising ecosystem formed around its rival, Google. But when the trade associations wrote, “The infrastructure of the modern Internet depends on consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies,” they touched on the real war being fought, of which ITP is the latest battle.

The sustainable strategic advantages lie in the widespread use of proprietary unique persistent identifiers. Whoever scales its identifier can lay claim to a large slice of “the infrastructure of the modern Internet” and the benefits that will bring.

But GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – are not the only industry players with access to valuable identifiers.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) – the sleeping giants sitting on a telecoms market worth more than $1 trillion – have their own massively scaled mobile identifiers: billions of them, matched against real customers with real billing relationships at their root.

Apple’s announcement could be just the trigger MNOs need to make use of their own identifiers.

So, what makes identifiers the key currency of the digital advertising world, and, in an era of global data protection regulations, how can wireless carriers take advantage of Apple’s decision?

Value of identity

In an increasingly competitive landscape, brands depend on accurate and current consumer profiles to deliver relevant, personalized messaging.

Continuous consumer interaction with digital technology produces vast amounts of valuable information about who they are, what they are interested in, and how they behave, but to be used for effective targeting, each piece of data must be linked back to the consumer using some form of identifier.

Propriety persistent IDs – which are embedded directly into a device operating system (OS) or formed from registration based log-in data – are a more effective identifier than the traditional cookie in today’s mobile-first world.

The dominant propriety persistent IDs in the market are owned by Google, Facebook and Apple, allowing these companies to offer brands precisely targeted advertising opportunities. Anyone hoping to rival these ad-tech giants must have equally powerful persistent IDs at their disposal.

Publishers are already throwing their hat into the identifier ring.

In France, more than 20 publishers have banded together to challenge the “duopoly” of Facebook and Google, while Germany’s Verimi data platform initiative includes heavyweights Axel Springer, Lufthansa, Deutsche Bank and Allianz.

But it is hard to see how these publisher-driven models are anything more than walled gardens that will find it hard to scale beyond their members.

MNOs hold a wealth of first-party data

Mobile operators are uniquely placed to offer an alternative to the ad-tech giants as they have an abundance of deterministic first-party data that is verified with the customer.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of U.S. citizens now own a smartphone – which are consistently switched on and always to-hand – providing a wealth of granular data relating to location and context, alongside more traditional demographic and behavioural information, all linked back to a persistent device ID.

Verizon’s acquisition of AOL and Yahoo, and the creation of Oath, is a signal of the potential that some MNOs see in the combination of identifiers and data attributes.

By making use of this in-depth, real-time data, brands can be far more creative with their advertising campaigns, reaching the right audience at the right moment with insightful, relevant and personalized messaging that builds enduring consumer relationships.

Challenges of data privacy and control

But making use of this mobile data to offer targeted advertising is not without its challenges, and there are two key obstacles for MNOs to overcome, the first of which is privacy.

While brands and advertisers increasingly understand the power and value of data, so do consumers, and the call for personal information to be protected grows ever louder.

High-profile data breaches – such as the recent Equifax scandal, which exposed the data of up to 143 million U.S. consumers – dramatically illustrate the need for data protection measures, and new privacy laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will have a global impact on data monetization practices.

The second issue faced by MNOs is one of control.

To achieve the scale necessary for effective monetization, their data must be combined with information from other providers and released to advertisers via the open ecosystem. But in taking this path, MNOs risk losing control of their data and diluting its value.

Dynamic de-identification is the answer

To capitalize on the valuable information they hold, without jeopardizing customer privacy, falling foul of data laws or losing control of their data, MNOs need ad-tech solutions that help them make the most of their persistent identifiers.

One possible solution is dynamic de-identification, which takes persistent IDs and converts them into non-persistent tokenized IDs.

Unlike persistent, dynamically changing identifiers make it impossible to identify the data subject, called “unlinkability.” They also allow proportional use of data where only the level of data attributes necessary for a specific task is revealed.

When MNO data is transformed into hyper-accurate verified profiles that are linked to tokenized IDs, it can be used for accurate targeting across multiple channels and devices without the raw customer data attached to a persistent ID ever leaving the MNO’s secure network environment.

As the data cannot be linked to individuals, its use remains compliant with data regulations, and is likely to be more acceptable to customers, providing the process is clearly outlined in conversations with them.

The need for detailed consumer profiles to inform relevant personalized advertising experiences continues to grow – especially now that Apple is effectively making the cookie obsolete – and MNOs are ideally placed to fulfil that need.

By joining forces with ad-tech vendors and moving away from persistent IDs, MNOs could create a mobile identity ecosystem to rival the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook, while remaining compliant with privacy laws, building consumer trust and retaining control of their valuable raw data.

Source: luxurydaily.com; 13 Oct 2017

As Voice Has Its Moment, Amazon, Google and Apple Are Giving Brands a Way Into the Conversation

Few of their devices’ skills or apps are branded, but that’s changing

For decades, listening to ‘the voice of the customer’ has been the Holy Grail for marketers. Now, thanks to technology, they can do it millions of times each day.

According to Google and Bing, one in four searches is conducted by talking, not typing, a figure comScore predicts will reach 50 percent by 2020. That same year Echo alone will account for $7 billion in voice transactions—or vcommerce—per investment firm Mizuho Bank.

Voice is having its moment. People are talking, devices are listening and brands are attempting to insert themselves into the conversation, using Amazon Alexa voice skills and Google Home apps.

With a few choice phrases, consumers can order an Uber or Domino’s pizza on either device. Echo fans can also ask Patrón to help them make a margarita, consult Tide on how to remove stubborn stains, or get Campbell’s or Nestlé to serve up dinner recipes, among other skills.

Currently, only a small percentage of Alexa’s 25,000 voice skills are branded (Amazon won’t reveal how many). You’ll find even fewer in Google’s few hundred voice apps.

But that’s changing. Over the next few years, brand voices are about to get a lot louder.

Shots in the dark

Admittedly, many of those 25,000-odd voice apps are gimmicky—good for getting attention but not much else, noted Layne Harris, head of innovation technology for digital marketing agency 360i. But forward-thinking brands are embracing the technology now, he added, making voice skills a key element of their marketing strategy. Just last week, 360i launched a new practice solely focused on Amazon to help brands navigate the world of voice marketing.

When Patrón launched its voice skill in July 2016, it was part of a broader marketing initiative called the Cocktail Lab, involving 50 bartenders around the globe crafting new tequila-infused drinks, said Adrian Parker, vp of marketing for Patrón Spirits. (The distiller also just debuted an augmented reality app called the Patrón Experience for Apple’s iOS 11.)

Some 350,000 consumers have participated in the Cocktail Lab, said Parker, with more than 10 percent coming via the Alexa Skill. Since launching the lab, traffic to Patrón’s website has increased by 43 percent, thanks in part to Alexa users who spend more time on site and download more recipes.

“Voice was the first platform that allowed us to take what would traditionally be a face-to-face experience in a bar and make that virtually accessible,” Parker said. “Alexa is not only giving us the capability to engage with customers on their terms, it’s also preparing us for the voice-led future.”

Utility is key, said Greg Hedges, vp of emerging experiences at Rain, a digital consultancy that helped create Alexa apps for Campbell’s and Tide. The voice skill can’t merely be memorable; it must also be useful.

“The skills that see the most engagement are not just advertising,” he explained. “They take a step further towards connecting with consumers. They give people a reason to come back, because consumers know they can get the answers they’re looking for.”

For brands like Patrón and Campbell’s, getting consumers to drink more tequila and consume more chicken soup isn’t the only goal, said Charles Golvin, a research director for Gartner.

“They’re also trying to establish themselves as the voice of authority or curator across the broader product category that they serve,” he said. “It’s not just about selling Patrón tequila, it’s about being your mixologist expert. It’s not about selling Campbell’s soup, it’s about being your epicurean guide.”

A focus group of one

With the emergence of Alexa touchscreen devices like Echo Show and the new Echo Spot, brands also need to prepare for a voice+ world where results can be seen as well as heard, said Jonathan Patrizio, head of technical advisory at Mobiquity, a digital agency that developed Nestlé’s GoodNes recipe skill.

Using GoodNes on the Echo Show, home chefs can not only hear step-by-step instructions on how to make Baked Pesto Chicken or Korean Beef Bulgogi, but also see them displayed alongside images. Recipe users can also view the images via a GoodNes visual guide on their laptop’s or tablet’s browser.

“It’s a much more frictionless and natural way of interacting,” Patrizio said. “And if a brand can understand how to play in that domain, they’ve gained a great advantage over their competitors.”

But perhaps the most valuable thing brands glean from voice skills is data. Smart brands are building analytics into their skills and using the data to help drive new products and revenue streams.

“You can learn a lot from the things customers say,” said Hedges. “If Tide learns someone is asking about a specific stain and fabric combination, and it’s not one they’ve encountered before, maybe a new product comes out of that. With voice, it’s almost like a focus group of one.”

A key reason for building a voice skill is to gather data on customer usage and intent, said Patrizio.

“We built analytics into the GoodNes skill, and this lets Nestlé monitor Skill usage in aggregate since the developer doesn’t have access to the actual spoken recording,” he said. “For example, ‘Alexa, ask GoodNes to browse recipes’ is mapped to an intent, and we can track how many people used that intent, or how many times a single user requested this specific intent.”

Analytics can also reveal if the skill is working as the brand hoped it would. At this early stage, that’s not always the case.

Adam Marchick, CEO and co-founder of analytics company VoiceLabs, says that only 30 to 50 percent of conversational interactions are successful.

“It’s like we’re in year two of building web pages,” noted Marchick. “But right now, just giving brands conversational understanding—where they can actually see different voice paths and what’s working and what’s not—is a big step forward.”

The conversation is just beginning

Brands have been forced to react to similar technological upheavals before—notably with the shift to web and then to mobile. This time, though, they’re being more deliberate about it, said Joel Evans, co-founder and vp, digital transformation at Mobiquity.

“In the dot-com days websites were more like glorified brochures. We saw something similar happen when companies started doing mobile apps—they were just a check-off item,” he said. “Thankfully we’re not seeing that in the skills universe. Brands have realized it’s got to be the right experience when it actually gets out there.”

The next few years will see a huge acceleration of the technologies driving computer-human interaction—like artificial intelligence, natural language processing, chatbots and augmented reality. The voice apps we hear (and sometimes see) today may be nothing like the ones we encounter tomorrow. Smart brands are preparing for that now.

“Right now we’re creating the horse and carriage of voice technology,” said Patrón’s Parker. “Give it another 18 to 24 months, and we’ll be building Maseratis.”

Source: adweek.com; 10 Oct 2017

‘Arrogance’ around brand purpose making consumers distrust ads

Almost 70% of consumers don’t trust advertising and 42% distrust brands, seeing them as part of the establishment and therefore ‘remote, unreachable, abstract and self-serving’, according to a new study.

Consumers are increasingly cynical of brands and advertising, with ‘big business’ scandals and “arrogance” around brand purpose to blame, according to a study by Trinity Mirror.

The research, done in collaboration with Ipsos Connect, looked at consumers’ trust in advertising. It was done using a three-stage methodology, including a week-long in depth “online community”, three-hour workshops and face-to-face interviews with 1,000 people.

The results are not good news for advertisers; the study concludes consumers trust “almost nothing”. While almost half of consumers (42%) distrust brands, 69% distrust advertising.

Meanwhile, 37% of consumers trust brands less than they used to compared to only 7% who trust brands more than they used to. Some 43% of respondents trust advertising less than they used to, compared to only 8% who trust it more than before.

A big part of the problem, according to Trinity Mirror, is the “arrogance” of brands adopting an ill-fitting purpose, leading to increased cynicism among consumers. The research says 58% of adults don’t trust a brand until they have seen ‘real world proof’ that it has kept its promises.

“There can be huge exaggeration around purpose for some brands, to the point it is incredibly far-fetched,” Zoe Harris, group marketing director at Trinity Mirror, tells Marketing Week.

“It started off with a few brands having a genuine purpose, but it’s now gone to such an extent where it’s a one-off ad campaign or we see it on the side of packaging. It’s ridiculous.”

Harris adds brands are now often seen as part of ‘the establishment’ or “part of a small elite”. The research shows that the establishment is generally considered to be “remote, unreachable, abstract and self-serving”.

Headlines around bad behaviour such as tax evasion have also negatively affected perceptions of the ad industry, making consumers believe that advertising “only serves big business” with an expectation to “lie and manipulate to make profit”.

“The fact brands are seen as part of the establishment definitely surprised us. This impacts us all, whether you’re guilty of [bad behaviour] or not,” she added. “Brands have underlying consumer cynicism as a starting point. And if brands haven’t lived up to that purpose, then we all get lumped together and tarred with the same brush.”

Bad digital behaviour

Digital is also to blame for the decline in trust. Due to the relative newness of the advertising channel, brands have fallen into “budget brand” behaviours that they wouldn’t implement on other more traditional channels such as aggressive retargeting. Some 40% of consumers associate brands with being ‘pushy’ and 57% of adults agree that brands should be more careful where they place their advertising.

This is backed up by other research, which found that social media is the least trusted media channel, with 63% of consumers claiming they would respond more positively to a social media ad if it appeared on a more traditional advertising channel.

So how can advertisers help build trust? Harris believes it’s about brands demonstrating that they “really believe” in what they say they stand for.

She concludes: “It’s important to remember that we’re all lumped together and seen as out of touch, which is why brands need to think about how they can connect with people in their day to day lives and whether their proof points are actually resonating. Is your message actually getting across?”

Source: marketingweek.com; 29 Jun 2017

India’s Mobile Ad Spending to Grow 85% This Year

A growing demand for smartphones will fuel mobile ad expenditures

Traditional media still takes the majority of ad spend in India, but mobile platforms are becoming increasingly popular with advertisers. This year, mobile ad spending in India is expected to increase by 85.0%, which will help boost overall digital ad spend to $1.21 billion, according to eMarketer’s latest media ad spend forecast.

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Further double-digit growth for mobile is predicted over the next few years; by 2021, mobile will account for just under 62.0% of digital ad spending’s $2.80 billion.

The growing demand for smartphones—which are becoming more affordable in India—coupled with strong social network usage has led advertisers to increase their ad budgets on mobile alongside traditional media options. In 2017, smartphones will make up 36.6% of all mobile phone users; come 2021, this share will rise to 47.4%, eMarketer estimates.

Additionally, mobile social networking has also been booming in popularity in India. This year, it is expected to rise 24.3% to reach more than a quarter (26.8%) of all mobile phone users and three-quarters (74.9%) of social network users.

Despite this, traditional media still continues to hold its own in India, with TV taking the majority of ad budgets. eMarketer forecasts that TV will take $3.13 billion of media ad dollars in 2017, equating to 39.3% of media ad spend.

“While television continues to be the most popular advertising medium, digital is the fastest growing, with ad spending recording double-digit growth rates up to 2021,” said Shelleen Shum, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

“Driven by increasing mobile internet penetration, falling data prices and the availability of low-cost handsets, mobile will be a major contributor to the growth of digital advertising in the years to come as marketers embrace this channel to reach a new generation of young and digitally savvy consumers,” she said.

Source: emarketer.com; 5 Oct 2017

On Twitter, optimise for engagement, not output

In the Engagement Meter column, Unmetric, a social-media intelligence firm focused on brands, presents trends in social media and recent top-performing brand posts from around APAC. This edition looks specifically at trends, content and hashtags on Twitter.

This edition’s insight

1,507% more interactions on Twitter in 2016 when compared to 2013.

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In a recent study on the American Auto industry, even though the amount of content published by auto companies on Twitter fell to levels seen in 2013, the number of interactions on each tweet has grown significantly. This growth has been primarily driven by more ‘Likes’ (formerly known as favourites) on the content and, to a lesser degree, more retweets. This means even with lesser content, brands are able to get more interaction. This might be a good opportunity for companies to recalibrate efforts and optimize for better engagement.

Top Tweets (Sept 1 through 24)

1. Acer Japan
Engagement – 1,000*

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2. Vivo Malaysia
Engagement – 1,000

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3. Garnier Philippines
Engagement – 1,000

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4. KFC Malaysia
Engagement – 1,000

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5. AIS Thailand
Engagement – 1,000

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Top hashtags (Sept 1 through 24)

1. Oppo India
Hashtag: #oppof3
Number of User Tweets – 15,495

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2. Audi India
Hashtag: #AudiQuattroCup
Number of User Tweets – 10,645

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3. Bajaj Allianz India
Hashtag: #knowyourinsurance
Number of User Tweets – 5,800

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4. Godrej India
Hashtag: #WorldOzoneDay
Number of User Tweets – 5,048

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5. ShaadiDotCom
Hashtag: #realpeoplerealstories
Number of User Tweets – 5,033

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* Unmetric’s Engagement score rates each piece of content from 0 to 1000 depending on the amount of user interactions, which allows easy comparison of content regardless of the number of fans or followers a brand has.

Source: campaignasia.com; 3 Oct 2017

The risks and rewards of placing social purpose at a brand’s core

A new breed of brands is entering the market with one thing in common – a very clear social purpose at their core from the outset. But when it comes to marketing, simply pulling on consumers’ heartstrings won’t cut it.

In 2017, the idea of exchanging money for a product and then just moving on feels outdated, with modern consumers equally expecting to have supported a measurable social cause with their hard earned cash.

In fact, major players such as Unilever are reshaping their entire business around this sentiment, with promising results. The FMCG giant’s latest figures show its ‘Sustainable Living’ brands, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, grew 50% faster than the rest of the business in 2016. These brands now account for 60% of total sales growth, up from 46% in 2015.

And this growth looks to have inspired everybody from Tesco to M&S to shape new advertising campaigns around initiatives such as reducing food waste.

This sentiment is also filtering down to start-ups, with new brands eager to link their profits with a strong social purpose from the outset.

How to get started

Entrepreneur Jak Haines is the founder of Vavven, an online Australian sex toy business, which boasts the memorable slogan ‘Creating philanthropists through orgasms’. Although it sells internationally, it is currently looking for more partners to expand its distribution.

Vavven, one of Marketing Week’s 100 Disruptive Brands 2017, donates one-third of its profits to non-government organisations (NGOs), such as charity The Unmentionables, which champions sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for female refugees. The brand also screens all of its manufacturers to ensure they provide their employees with the living wage and adhere to strict quality and safety standards.

Haines says the key to getting a social purpose brand off the ground is to ensure you’re doing something that will generate passionate conversation and debate.

“Facebook allows a condom company to advertise but they won’t let me advertise a pleasure toy for exercising the pelvic floor, even though 50% of women suffer pelvic prolapse after pregnancy. Sex is still such a taboo in society and I saw an opportunity to really break that barrier down and get people talking,” she explains.

“I really did my research and analysed what made the major players – such as Ann Summers – profitable then thought how I could apply something truly original to that model. The sex toy industry is still completely unregulated so selling only ethically manufactured toys felt like the right thing to do.”

Communicating a clear message and story

High-end watch brand Vitae London also saw an opportunity to drive change for its respective industry. Founder Will Adoasi was inspired by the story of his father, who grew up in Ghana and became the first in the family line to learn how to read and write.

“He broke a cycle of poverty that stretched back for decades,” Adoasi says. “I thought, the global luxury watch industry is worth something like $35bn (£28bn) so why hasn’t anyone started to give some of those profits back to poorer communities?”

Rather than just “tagging on” a social purpose message and then quoting numbers to consumers, Adoasi claims his research shows Brits are more receptive to tangible and measurable evidence of the causes they are donating to.

Subsequently, each watch purchased from Vitae’s classic range of watches supplies a child in South Africa with two sets of a school uniform, a bag and footwear to see them through the year.

“Just pulling on someone’s heart strings and saying some of the money will go to a good cause is not enough,” he explains. “You need your own niche and clarity of what that is is super important. We’ve had endorsements from Sir Richard Branson and we’re looking to launch an exclusive line with pop singer Emeli Sandé. Without a clear message I’m not sure either would have happened.”

Fighting against pitfalls

However, launching businesses that donates income to worthy causes, while admirable, can also be costly given profitability often takes a considerable time to achieve.

Jennifer Georgeson is the founder of So Just Shop, which supports women-led artisan fashion businesses in undeveloped countries and gives them a platform to sell through. Her ambition is to have over 1,500 independent sellers on her books, which she believes can potentially drive up to 250,000 women out of poverty.

Yet, she concedes: “We’ve only been properly selling for one year so our profits are lower than £50,000 at the moment. If you get into this line of work, you’re not going to make the big bucks straight away though.

“You have to really believe in your idea and believe it will pay off in the long run, these aren’t short-term business models. I’m confident I can make this a £100m business but that won’t happen overnight.”

Vitae’s Adoasi has ambitions to generate £200m in turnover, but admits he’s had to sacrifice personal wealth by launching the company. “I used to live a life where I made loads of money in the city, but there was no social cause. I’d rather make less money knowing I can transform people’s lives. That isn’t to say our sales aren’t good, because they are, but you have to be able to understand it’s deeper than that. The consumers will figure you out if your sole underlying mission is to make money.”

Communicating a social message can also be difficult, with the aims and objectives of giving back to communities or incorporating complex sustainable supply chains often complex and hard to explain.

For Alex Wright, the co-founder of Dash Water, which uses ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste in its flavoured waters, packaging can be the key to solving this issue.

“On our front of pack we try to hero the word wonky. We make it an unusual word for consumers to pick up on opposed to something like ‘made using surplus fruit and veg’ which would be boring. It’s also made obvious we work with food waste charities such as Feedback,” adds Wright.

“You have to educate consumers in a clear way about what is going on and hope they will do something about it. It’s challenging to make them pick up on the message straight away, but achieving good branding is never going to be easy whatever sector you are in. It’s a nice challenge.”

In the latest ranking of the top 100 brands for social purpose by consultancy Radley Yeldar, 28 brands from the 2015 list have lost their places. Four of 2015’s top 10 also saw significant drops.

Many of these were high-profile businesses, with Johnson & Johnson, Volkswagen, Orange, Apple, Samsung, WPP, JPMorgan, Diageo and Carrefour among the casualties.

But despite these disappointing numbers, So Just Shop’s Georgeson insists there has been a “permanent shift” in what consumers now expect from brands. She says any brands that don’t consider social purpose “for the long-term” will ultimately fail. It effect, it isn’t something you can dip in and out of.

She concludes: “Let’s take fashion; the way it works right now just isn’t sustainable. It is too polluting, it is appalling how little the workforce is being paid to produce such a high volume of products and human trafficking exists within the supply chains of major high-street brands.

“We exist because consumers want something to be done about this. I don’t think there is any blip in that need for action. This new mentality is a permanent shift.”

Source: marketingweek.com; 13 Jun 2017

YouTube courts advertisers with promise of better targeting

YouTube wants to make it easier for brands to serve up more relevant and personalised ads and measure their offline impact.

YouTube is launching a range of new tools for advertisers as it looks to convince more marketers to spend their budgets on the video platform and put the brand safety controversy behind it.  It is courting brands with updates that it claims will make advertising on the platform more relevant and personalised, and make it easier to measure their offline impact.

“This is going to make it easier for brands to have even more relevant and personalised campaigns that really match the intentions of users. That will continue to grow the impact of the advertising on their platform because it gives people a better experience,” Tara Walpert Levy, vice president of agency and media solutions at Google, tells Marketing Week.

The first update brings ‘Custom Affinity Audiences’ to YouTube, meaning brands can use intent signals from search or the types of apps users have downloaded to make their video ads more effective. So, for example, a consumer that searches for local ski resorts could see an ad for ski clothes on YouTube. It claims that in tests the change drove 20% higher ad recall and 50% higher brand awareness.

Two of the launches relate to making it easier to develop creative for YouTube. The ‘Director Mix’ tool aims to make it simpler for brands to create hundreds of different pieces of creative that can be personalised to a particular consumer or the content they are watching.

It lets marketers upload multiple aspects of an ad – for example different footage, copy or voiceovers – and the tool will then create the ads.

The second tool enables video ad sequencing, so a brand can show a viewer three different ads in a particular order to build a story over time and increase the frequency they might see a brand without “annoying people”.

And lastly, YouTube is hoping to make it easier for brands to measure the offline impact of advertising on the video platform using Nielsen MPA (matched panel analysis).

Walpert Levy adds: “We want to focus people on the fact that it is intention and understanding that intention, and delivering a message against intention, that drives attention and results.”

YouTube has had a difficult year, with its standing among advertisers taking a hit following the brand safety scandal and the decision by a number of brands to pull advertising. However, Walpert Levy says most marketers have been “really happy” with the “proactive” steps YouTube has taken to address their concerns.

Yet she admits there is “always more to do”. She thinks that while YouTube is “leading the market” in areas such as viewability, there is still more it can do to ensure advertising is not shown next to egregious content.

“The question of how you ensure every brand is on exactly the content that they want to be on is a continuous process, because every brand has a different version of that and the amount of content out there is more than ever before. We’ve made huge progress and had great feedback on that progress but we know there’s a lot more room to go,” she says.

Source: marketingweek.com; 25 Sep 2017