Social media may get all the attention these days, but more marketers are gravitating back toward that original form of digital marketing: email.
There's good reason: According to research from McKinsey and Company, email outperforms Facebook and Twitter in terms of conversion rates by 40X.
So what's driving the move back toward email? That's the topic of a recent appearance on the Jim Blasingame Show. While Jim's show is mostly targeted to small- to medium-size companies, this conversation applies to any marketer looking to boost performance—even if it means revisiting one of the oldest of our newfangled digital channels.
Check out this spoof video from Project GramGram, which comes with some great tips for connecting with your dear old grandma—including using a fictitious new service that lets you send social media posts via snail mail, so you can update her instantly, "in three to five days."
My favorite: Alternative options like, "the phone app, available on most mobile devices."
Apparently it's all the work of some Brigham Young University students. Which means their muse was, most likely, a certain somebody who wasn't going to hear any more about their excuses for not staying connected.
If this is the result, we hope they tell her thank you for us.
IIf Augmented Reality holds so much more promise than Virtual Reality, are investments in developing VR-specific devices like Oculus Rift just a waste of time and money—especially when mobile phones can be used for both AR and VR?
In the conclusion of my recent conversation with content delivery network (CDN) provider Limelight Networks' Charlie Kraus, we'll get answers to that question—and learn why when it comes to both AR and VR, it's voice that's the killer app.
It turns out the promise of virtual reality bites when compared to long-term prospects for augmented reality.
At least that’s according to research from Manatt Digital Media that estimates the market for VR-based solutions will account for only $30 billion of a total $150 billion combined AR/VR market by 2020.
But there’s always a “but,” right?
In this case, that “but” is followed by a question: How are we supposed to square Manatt’s research with seemingly contradictory estimates like those from Gartner, whose ever-popular Hype Cycle chart shows AR far behind VR—indeed, far behind even autonomous vehicles—in its advance toward true market traction?
Short answer: You can’t. And in my view, it’s VR’s fault.
A Virtual Conundrum
To get to what I mean, I went to Charlie Kraus, senior product marketing manager for Limelight Networks, which is a leading content delivery network (CDN) provider.
CDNs, of course, are used by carriers and others to deliver all that content you consume online—text, graphics, videos, games, music, etc.—with a high level of availability and performance.
As you might imagine, AR (content superimposed on the user's view of the physical world) and VR (content that immerses the user in a simulated world) can only be as good as the networks through which that content is delivered.
After all, if you think buffering at a key moment on “House of Cards” is innervating, just wait until you miss a critical turn as you make your way around an unfamiliar city using AR-based navigation, or find yourself frozen and subsequently fragged by opponents within VR gaming worlds, due to network congestion.
So while most of the focus is on manufacturers producing devices like Oculus Rift and app developers for more common devices such as iPhones, I figured content networks may have actual usage patterns from which to base projections.
In part one of this Q & A, I ask Kraus to spell out the differences between VR and AR for listeners who may be confused by the terms (and no wonder—look at this article out today that seems to equate the two), and why Limelight is especially bullish on AR.
Then I ask about what I see as a key problem with reconciling contradictory projections about adoption rates for both AR and VR.
Sure, AR seems pretty well defined. But VR is an entirely different matter.
Which is why there’s no way I could resist asking Rich Silverstein and other people central to its creation to appear on-camera to share insights on "The Seagate Living Logo"—the world’s first patent-pending corporate brand identity.
(See video at bottom)
NEVER THE SAME LOGO TWICE
Yes, it’s true that brand identities rendered in real time through data visualization have been around for a while now.
But the Seagate Living Logo—launched at CES last January—is the first to have a patent in play for literally taking its shape using live data feeds flowing from public data sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LastFM, Amazon, Getty Images and more.
The idea? To represent the integral role Seagate storage solutions play in storing 40% of the world’s data, and in enabling the data-centric business models of today’s most innovative companies.
INNOVATION IN MOTION
Throughout the last 12 months, new variants have included interactive Living Logos that respond to physical movements through Microsoft Kinect-based technology—allowing you to essentially swim amid social media posts and images.
A standalone Facebook version lets you personalize the experience using your own online images.
And another can be customized in real time using Twitter and Instagram keywords and handles, as well as your own uploaded images, for live business meetings and events.
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG (DATA)
As is typical in social media these days, reaction to the Living Logo there and elsewhere has ranged from the snarky to the sublime.
Yet regardless of where you fall on that score, the Living Logo represents a notable new entry into the annals of corporate branding.
And it seems to have sparked a trend.
Last July, Brazilian telco FS Company launched a dynamic logo that uses code and generative design to reflect the real-time activity on the company’s servers.
And a UK-based design firm called Amaze is now tracking employees’ physical movements and digital activities to drive a “human-powered” living logo using a framework that sounds a lot like Seagate’s.
Which makes sense. Given the fact that Gartner reports nearly 75% of companies plan to invest in big data solutions in the next two years, the Seagate Living Logo surely stands on the cutting edge of what is likely to become a crowded field in the years ahead.
This short video, edited by Seagate’s George Shubin, will give you the inside scoop on the Seagate Living Logo and how it came to be.
(Full disclosure: I've had creative input on the development of the Living Logo, and have worked closely with these and other people working on the project at Seagate, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Pet Gorilla and elsewhere.)
DATA IS BEAUTIFUL: THE STORY BEHIND THE SEAGATE LIVING LOGO
As the marketing world obsesses over Coca-Cola's decision to trade out its hugely popular "Open Happiness" tagline to "Taste the Feeling"(see one of 25 new spots, above), it's been fun revisiting the commotion created over some of its previous slogan changes.
Check out reaction (including my own) to "The Coke Side of Life" in Ad Age a decade ago.
Indeed, whenever Coca-Cola makes marketing changes of this magnitude, it can be a hoot to take stock of its taglines from times past. You usually find some surprises along the way.
A SIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Despite being one of the world's most successful brands, there have certainly been some oddballs in Coca-Cola's advertising oeuvre—who can resist "Enjoy a Glass of Liquid Laughter" (1911), or "Proves a Big Help to Tired Housewives" (1909)?
And then there's that golden oldie: "Coca-Cola: The Great National Temperance Beverage" (1907)—which, we're told, "has none of the ill effects or 'let down' qualities of alcoholic stimulants." Yum.
Some old taglines are just inscrutable—"Same to You" (1940) sounds as if the feeling you're tasting is indignation.
And present-day regulators might have a field day with any tagline that proclaims Coke is "Pure and Healthful" (1904), and "Adds a Refreshing Relish to Every Form of Exercise" (1906), with "The Perfect Blend of Pure Products from Nature" (1923).
To modern audiences, other tags charitably might seem like aspirational positioning in the extreme—such as, "The Ideal Beverage for Discriminating People" (1906), "The Sign of Good Taste" (1957), and "The Best Drink Anyone Can Buy" (1913).
After all, everyone knows the best drink you can buy isn't Coca-Cola. It's Coke Zero.
PAST AS PROLOGUE?
Despite so many antiquated curios from campaigns past, many Coke taglines of yesteryear would be completely at home in the digital age.
Think about it:
In an era of virtual reality, 3D printing and social media poseurs, Coke promises to bring you "The Real Thing" (1948)
Ad skipping technology? "Relax with the Pause that Refreshes" (1947)
The age of Uber and Airbnb? "Share a Coke" (2011)
Group texting, geo-fencing and flash mobs? "Meet Me at the Soda Fountain" (1930)
Personal aerial drones? "Look Up, America!" (1975)
Even online activism and crowd funding fit that all-time favorite, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" (1971).
Yet perhaps it's that texting-and-flash-mob example that hits home most. As it happens, Coke classics seem especially well suited for the mobile revolution—including (among a surprising number of others):
Whether this is all a sign of soda-pop prescience, promotional predestination or pure chance, Coca-Cola remains a venerable brand whose slogans will provide plenty for (pop-) cultural anthropologists to ponder in decades to come.
Will future advertising aficionados still find it as amusing as we do?
This is one game that's easier to play than avoid.
We're all guilty of overusing tech industry buzzwords. And why not? They play a useful role as common shorthand that (conveniently) confers an aura of "cool" to those fluent in the lingua franca of 21st century business.
But as CES 2016 reaches its climax, many of us are finding ourselves facing buzzword burnout over what feels like an egregious level of noise pollution emanating from Las Vegas over the last few days.
“Disruptive.” “Influencer.”“(Anything)-Hacking.” “Unicorn.” I'm sure we've heard them all this week, many times over.
Never mind that some of this lingo could be headed for limbo faster than Kim (or any other) Kardashian can “Break the Internet.”
“Unicorn,” for instance, is quickly morphing into “unicorpse,” as concerns grow that companies like Gilt,Tango and SFX Entertainment may prove emblematic of some of these hard-to-find beasts with billion-dollar valuations may ultimately fare.
In the meantime, GEN WOW found some catharsis in a piece this week by Shawn Paul Wood in PR Newser, lamenting some of the most irksome buzzwords found in news stories and press releases.
When we mentioned the article in our GEN WOW LinkedIn Group, member Rick Wootten, senior director of global marketing for Seagate, mused about having some fun with it all—in the form of a game of "Buzzword Bingo."
That sparked an in-group and subsequent email conversation about developing a mobile app for facilitating a decidedly tech industry-centric version of the game at events such as, well, CES.
"It's natural for industry buzzwords to come and go in cycles, but sometimes enough of them peak at the same time to create Lingo Overload," Wootten says. "We're experiencing one of those times right now—and I think we should make the most of it!"
It's a great idea—and one that might prompt us all (myself included) to be a little more judicious about how often (and how accurately) we use these phrases.
Best of all, while it could take even the most agile development team (another buzzword) days or weeks to produce a full-blown app, we figured we'd just mock up a bare bones Buzzword Bingo card so you can start playing today.
How to Play
Each time a news story or press release using one of these painfully overused words or phrases hits your inbox or browser window, mark off a square.
Capture the link to the story or release for validation.
Mark off a solid horizontal, vertical or diagonal line of lingo—and BINGO!
If the mood strikes us, we'll try a formal round this coming Post-CES news week. Who knows, there might even be a prize involved.
That is, if the game doesn't go too fast. A three-minute audit of my inbox and news feeds this morning produced plentiful junk jargon, including:
A particular pet peeve. Not merely because it’s so overused, but because there’s no such thing.
So far as I can tell, the total number of so-called “sharing economy” companies that are “sharing” anything comes to zero.
That Uber driver isn’t “sharing” her car. You have used an app to request a ride that you will pay a fee for using. The only thing that may get "shared" is polite conversation on the way to your destination. The far more accurate term is “the on-demand economy,” since that’s truly the distinction separating many of these new services from what has come before. Then again, I'm biased.
Perp: Business Insider (quoting a car company executive). Again, I am including links not to call out the pub or its sources—we're all guilty of geekspeak—but rather to document buzzword use so I can claim my square.
"IoT" & "IoE'
Ah, "The Internet of Things" or "The Internet of Everything." Whatever variant you want to use, it’s surely vying to be #1 biggest buzzword at CES this year. Perps just today include EE Times, ZDNet and EWeek.
What do you want the world to be like when you retire? This Swedish pension firm created this interactive experience that enables you to toggle two versions of life 30 years from now to show how sustainability pays off—for the planet and your financial picture.
These intelligent digital billboards pull in data gathered from social media, traffic updates and weather information to provide tips on getting the best photos to New York City tourists and amateur photographers.
Digital signs developed with DreamWorks Animation enables shoppers at Piccadilly Circus to use their mobile phones to personalize and visualize custom scarves, and display them on a giant screen for all to see before placing a purchase.
Online media planning and optimization solutions provider Marketing Evolution developed this robot that was able to identify attendees at this year’s Association of National Advertisers conference on sight – and engage in conversation about their media plans based on their past spend.
Cult '80s film 'Never-ending Story' inspires this site, which is “powered' by dream data” from five sleeping volunteers in a very abstract effort to highlight this non-profit organization’s efforts to improve the lives of children.
Five different living billboards featured encasements with live bacteria on affixed strips to keep them in place. Over time, the bacteria fed off the environment inside the encasements, and started go grow, forming one of five unique statements to educate consumers about how to avoid becoming ill due to household bacteria. So creepy, it’s (literally) infectious.
You either love the voice that comes out of your GPS navigation device, or hate it. Either way, this app automatically switches to a child’s voice when providing turn-by-turn instructions through areas where there are likely to be kids around, in an effort to cue drivers to drive more cautiously.
It’s (almost) enough to make you love retargeting: This year, online display ads for 3M's Post-It brand sticky notes have proven just that—sticky—by enabling consumers to write themselves notes, reminders and to-do lists right inside the ad units. Through the magic of retargeting—technologies that deliver that same ad to you wherever you go around the Internets, usually to your chagrin—your virtual Post-Its re-appear everywhere you go.
This summer, Netflix came up with an innovative way to promote its 'Sense8' online series, which about eight random people who find themselves connected telepathically. It’s approach? Using brainwaves from eight viewers to create a musical symphony.
Out to demonstrate how quick and transparent its auto price evaluations are, Taiwan-based used car dealer Kagulu rolled out a truck outfitted with cameras and databases to scans cars on the streets and display its value instantly.
Call it "23AndThee": This past Earth Day, Hong Kong-based NGO Cleanup launched a billboard and bus signage campaign in an effort to get people to clean up after themselves in city known for more than its share of litter. DNA evidence on discarded chewing gum, cigarette butts and even a condom was used to by forensic scientists to predict the eye, hair and skin color, as well as the face shape, of litters – and a total of 27 different profiles were established, and then displayed for all to see. Nothing like shame—and the fear of it—to shape behavior!
While many people believe it’s a matter of simply posting a video and waiting for it to take off, success comes from share-worthy content backed by promotion—and plenty of it.
The problem with our 2015 list of favorites is that there was so much video that fit the description above that it’s hard to zero in on just 10 favorites. So out of easily two dozen brand videos that hit and stayed on our radar this year, here is an unusually imperfect breakdown of 10 that rose to the top.
(Though our annual list captures videos that generated massive numbers of online views, it reflects personal appeal, not literal rankings).
As in year’s past, a large number of our selections pull at the heartstrings. Others also made some of our other awards lists, most notably this year’s of Top 10 Prankvertisements. And a few won’t be appropriate for every person (or every setting).
But every one of them is worth at least one last look.
Yes, we’re suckers for patriotic branding. And yes, this Super Bowl spot from Jeep was not without some sniggering (Adweek was quick to point out similarities with the North Face spot that ran during the Super Bowl last year—right down to the soundtrack). It still works for us.
Maybe we should call the Nazca Lines the NASCAR Lines. No, Hyundai’s not exactly going for racing glory here. But in an effort to highlight and humanize its innovative thinking, the brand is using synchronized driving to create markings that can only make sense from space. Nearly 70 million earthlings got the message.
It’s the “stool for better stools” – and it’s the latest potty humor-infused brand video from the team behind Poo Pourri’s mega hit “Girls Don’t Poop.” Over 50 million views later, this little brand that could has seen sales rise from $3 million last year to $15 million in 2015 (an appearance on NBC’s Shark Tank late last year didn't stink, either).
On the flipside of the “Girl Power” ethos of #LikeAGirl, this public service spot from Fan Page spot addresses male attitudes toward domestic violence in Italy on the heels of a UN report calling it “the most pervasive form of violence” in that country, and after Prime Minster Enrico Letta referred to the problem as “femicide.” Put on the spot, some young men school some other members of their gender on basic human decency.
Is it ironic or fitting that Barbie—a dichotomous figure that has always aspired to empower even while being seen by many to objectify—also made our list? In a year when an artificial intelligence-enabled "Hello Barbie" creeped out some parents (and child psychiatrists), it’s hard not to love this prank video that gets to the brand’s ambitions perfectly.
Though it’s not exclusively about any one segment of the population, this video captures the spirit of summer 2015, when the US Supreme Court caught up with the rest of America in its collective declaration that love wins. It always does, even if it takes a very long time.
Who knew a gum commercial could pack as much narrative emotion as any of the year’s top movies into a two-minute video (at top)? Now that’s something to chew on. And in the spirit of giving a little extra, check out this BTS video of Haley Reinhart doing the Elvis cover. (You're welcome.)