advertising second screen

Effectively Leveraging the "Second Screen"

Let’s face it: we spend A LOT of time on our phones these days. Be it commuting to work on the subway, waiting for our food at a restaurant, in the grocery store line. We’re even using them while watching TV!

In fact, recent research from eMarketer found that over 177 million adults (18+) use their phones while watching TV. While that has big implications if you’re running traditional TV ads, it’s also something that brands need to increasingly think more about when it comes to the mobile experience.

According to the same study, an estimated 177.7 million U.S. adults, (or about 70% of the population), regularly use a second screen device while watching TV. Approximately 26% or 46 million of these “second-screeners” are looking for content related to what they’re watching, but the majority (131.5 million) are not.

How do you effectively reach these people, regardless of when and which device they’re using? How do you stand out and break through the noise amidst the choices coming from not just one but two or maybe even three devices?

second screen advertising

The answer could be screen-agnostic strategies and leveraging existing creative across channels and screens, TV’s included. Here’s how it works: instead of customizing different ads for individual platforms, you’d create content that works across platforms to reach audiences wherever their attention happens to be at the time.

This could mean things like increasing the use of six-second spots, the video ad format of choice for social media channels, largely thanks to the “YouTube generation” and its preferences for snackable – or micro – content, for traditional TV advertising, or maybe even experimenting more with traditional 30 or 60 second spots on social media – which social platforms like Snapchat have recently begun trying. 

But, it’s all still a relatively new phenomena, and part of the problem is that marketers still haven’t figured out the best ways to engage these consumers effectively. Even though consumers may be on their smartphones or tablets while watching TV, they do not yet assume that a TV ad will require them to connect via mobile, so marketers need to really educate consumers if they want this to become a reality.

To really begin taking advantage of “second screen”, testing different screen mechanics and platforms should be encouraged, but marketers should also think about how they can start complimenting mobile and tablet use with their TV ad from the start, and activate it regularly so that folks begin to expect to engage with a TV ad, and it becomes a “new norm.”

social media brand twitter

Can Brands be too "Human" on Social Media?

On the night of the most recent Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Rams, the delicious orange-citrus flavored beverage SunnyD tweeted, "I can't do this anymore." This appeared to be in reference to how slow and boring the game was, but responses from all over Twitter and social media, with many from other major companies, immediately started responding back to the drink company.

Other big brands on the platform offered things like hugs and tissues. Little Debbie, in a since-deleted tweet, sent out tips on how to address clinical depression. All because if you took the original sentence out of context, it almost seemed as if the drink was potentially suicidal. So naturally, folks on social media wanted to help!

As you may have assumed, some outrage quickly followed, with many companies and other twitter users publicly questioning the ethical boundary crossed when brands use depression as a social media marketing strategy. By now, this type of outrage is simply a part of the expected cycle; what's harder to figure out is why, and how did we get here? 

Why are real humans searching for, or expecting meaning from a brand's social media presence? What does it mean that a culture, particularly a young one, is so desperate for help and answers that it will actually seek out life information from a brand's social media page?

Plenty of experts will attest that It's become increasingly important for a brand to behave more and more like a real human individual in order to help them stand out in an ever-growing space. It helps them get attention and increase engagement, which is what marketing and advertising is all about, after all. In 2019, we're definitely not running out of examples of brands trying their hardest to stand out in a crowded space by acting this way on social media. Twitter in particular.

social media brand Wendys

We (as consumers) love it, are entertained by it quite a bit (countless lists of the "funniest brands to follow on Twitter"), laugh at it, and complain or critique it. Think about how many people actively look to Wendy's Twitter account as a "role model" for social media snark. It is all absurd, but it's just the way of the world right now. For marketers, it's an increasingly tricky thing to navigate. Twitter is a medium that's held up by so much irony and snarkiness, that sometimes it's hard to distinguish what's sincere from what isn't. But, In order for these sorts of brands to differentiate themselves, they have to be able to stand out and not offend at the same time... which is a tough thing to do - especially these days.

Sure, brands can stand out in other ways. But, short of taking a stand on a big social issue with a major multi-million dollar ad campaign, this is next best way it seems (much cheaper as well). Using Twitter or other social platforms well as so many brands are doing - in order to provoke a dialogue - demands much quicker thinking, or much less thought that the traditional route. Really, it's a type of spontaneous and improvised marketing that's all about timing and wittiness.

A brand has to be able to sound appropriate on the platform they are using, and speed plays a huge role in this. To be seen as cool, brands have to continually straddle the line between not really caring what they say, and avoiding a PR nightmare for their words. Brands that can hit the right balance see an engagement much more personal than the type brands previously had with the public before social media. This is a huge driving factor for it all.

Everyone knows that behind every brand's social account is a person doing the posting (or sometimes an automated bot - lame!). But, part of the problem with brands becoming more and more human on Twitter, and on social media in general, is that it can sometimes be unclear if it's the individual's voice or the brand's voice sitting behind the keyboard.

Before social media, there was never such a "human-like" interaction between brands and consumers — where things like an orange drink accidentally hinting at its deep depression were not even heard of. Now, there's becoming an increasingly visible blurriness between whose tweets we're reading—the brand or the people behind the brand—and this is surely not the last time, intentional or not, a brand will commodify our sadness, or we as consumers will jump to conclusions about the emotions of the people running a brand's account. These lines are still being drawn, and it's anyone's guess as to how much they'll be moved in the coming years. But, in the mean time, it will probably get worse before we're able to finally find the perfect balance. Until then, we will continue checking in on out favorite brand social media feeds to see the latest "beef" and witty "clap backs" being thrown out on the web.


reviving a stale brand Diet Coke

7 Strategies for Reviving a Stale Brand

The idea of commoditization transposed to brand is, in reality, what commoditization is: the (slow) death of relevant value. But, don't fret. There are strategies you can put in place to reverse the speed of that effect. Here are seven ways to "decommoditize" your stale brand and reassert its value:

1. Think of the brand/product in new ways – when you redefine what something is or could be, you reframe its context making it much easier to redefine what it can be used for. For example: when you stop thinking of milk as a drink, and start thinking of it as a food, you change the scope of what you’re working with in so many new ways.

2. Redefine who you want the brand to appeal to – if the current target audience starts valuing it less, think about other groups who might be able to use it in new ways that enable you to regain value. A good example is Starbucks. They redefined the value of coffee over time by making coffee hip, urban and tailored to the individual. In a world that believes it’s seen it all, discovery is a powerful consumer motive!

3. Change what the brand/product looks like – sometimes changing the value of a commodity can be as simple as changing how it appears to others. Think about the difference in pricing and perception between bottled beer and beer on tap. But, be careful - new packaging alone won’t make up for a product that doesn’t add value. What it can do is signal the unrealized value that you want consumers to realize.

4. Name it in different ways  – If you’re selling copper and everyone else is selling copper, what can you call your copper to distinguish it from what people can source anywhere? Remember - renaming alone won’t be enough. In the case of cervena (a free meet brand in New Zealand), the change in name spoke to an idea that consumers were interested in, and eliminated the concern, especially among American consumers, that they were eating Bambi.

5. Distribute it differently – changing the distribution channel can be an effective way to transform your product into something valued by a different, more specific audience. iTunes rebuilt the music industry by reinventing the concept of the single into a single digital track and allowing people to buy the music they wanted in a new way, at a new price.

6. Experiment with different price points – This is a particularly effective approach when combined with segmentation. Go after various parts of the market with products that demonstrate various levels of added value and are priced accordingly – e.g. a bulk product at a bulk price, a high end or specialized product priced at a top-end price, and a consumer focused product that may even operate at flexible price points.

7. Wrap a different story around itNew storylines can change how people perceive or view a brand or product. Increasingly, there are opportunities to link undifferentiated products to differentiating stories around environment, conduct, purpose, and cause. Once integrated of course, that storied brand has new value for different buyers because now it’s personal.

stale brand grave

While, there are many different ways to stave off "brand decline" and restore value to goods whose value has decayed, there is no denying that the product or brand you make has a "best-before" date. You need to assume commoditization, and continually look for ways to slow its advance or reverse its influence, or it will usually always get your brand in the end.

The key to successfully staging a brand resurgence is to think of each of these tactics as a multiplier. The more multipliers you can employ at the same time, the greater the chances that you can successfully rejuvenate your brand.

make a difference brands

Consumers Want Brands to Help Them Make a Difference

It turns out consumers want more from a brand than just the brand using cause related marketing to take a stance on a social cause. In fact, they want brands to help them make a difference.

That’s right! According to a new survey done by Futerra of over 1,000 consumers in the US and UK, they found that a very high number (96%) of people feel their own actions, like donating, recycling, or buying ethically sourced goods can make a difference. And over half of those folks believe that they personally can make a big difference in the world. So, why does that matter to your company?

cause related marketing brandsThe answer:

brands have a key role to play! Although people think they can make a difference, they want more help doing it. That’s where brands step in (maybe yours?). This same survey found an overwhelming demand for brands to step up on sustainable lifestyles. If your brand isn’t helping your consumers improve their environmental footprint and social causes they care about, you’re pretty much in danger of disappointing almost all (88%) of them. That would definitely not be good.

Over the last few years, brands have become much more confident in trying to change the world themselves. But,  just talking about your own values isn’t enough. Consumers want you to help them live theirs, too! Too much of the cause related marketing or CSR activities of brands promote what they are doing, rather than reaching out and helping the consumer to make their own difference. Therein lies the difference.

So how, exactly, do brands do this?

The good news is there is no right or wrong way, and there are literally thousands of ways to do it, you’ve just got to make sure you’re engaging in these conversations with your consumers. Straight up ask them how you can help them make a difference. They will let you know. Whatever you do, ask yourself the right question… Your brand’s consumer has the right to change the world for the better – how are you going to help them?

brand positioning important

Brand Positioning & Why it's Important

Brand positioning (sometimes referred to as a positioning strategy or brand strategy) is the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a special place in the mind of the target market, and it’s a big deal!

In fact, proper brand positioning is one of most important things you can do when it comes to your brand management.  A brand that’s positioned correctly addresses important consumer benefits in unique, often compelling ways. It also helps to create an emotional connection to your consumers, and provides flexibility and a framework for future growth of your business.

The first step in brand positioning is in-depth research.  With this research, you’re looking to learn:

  • Consumer insight(s)
  • An in-depth knowledge of your competitors and what they’re up to
  • An understanding of benefits to you consumer.

After you’ve found the above, dig deeper into the benefits your brand offers consumers. How are the different from other similar brands/companies? You’ll want to single out the ideal benefit, which is the key benefit that has the following three qualities: (1) it is extremely important to the target audience, (2) your organization is uniquely suited to delivering it and (3) your competitors are not really addressing it in the proper way.

There are four key components to brand positioning:

  • Target customer – the primary audience your brand is trying to appeal to.
  • Brand essence – the “heart and soul” of your brand.
  • Brand promise – a promise of differentiating benefits relevant to your target customer.
  • Brand personality – adjectives that describe your brand like if it were a person.

It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together! All of these individual components define your brand. When put together, they form your brands positioning statement which provides direction not only for marketing and the brand identity standards, but also for all of your organization’s activities and future endeavors.

marketing & advertising

Marketing & Advertising are Subjective

Marketing & advertising are subjective in nature, and your audience probably doesn’t care about how great and awesome your product is. So how do you connect with them? You might have the biggest touchscreen in the world. The best technology. The most luxurious vehicle. That’s awesome! But the consumer doesn’t really care about these objective factors. They don't stand out in the 'noise' and cut through the clutter.

The truth is we’re not entirely rational beings (which you probably already knew) – and there have been many books and gigabytes worth of the internet devoted to trying to prove this point. In fact, if you want to get technical about it, our brains actually light up differently when exposed to the emotional vs rational... Science!

Research shows us that “qualities like pleasure and belonging” are heavily linked to people’s brand choices. Here are eight factors that influence more than 80% of consumer purchases (in order of their impact on buying decisions):

Pleasure, responsibility, status, saving, individuality, effectiveness, belonging, and confidence. Notice: all of these factors are subjective.

subjective advertising & marketing

Even effectiveness is subject to user experience – take two near identical vacuum cleaners from two different brands and one is actually more effective than the other in cleaning a house, despite virtually identical (rational) specifications. invariably, someone will have the opposite experience and think the other vacuum is better. See – subjective.

While your company or brand might objectively have the best product or service available on the market, the longest-lasting battery, the most reliable engine, or the most qualified professionals – if you can’t or don't communicate these benefits to the audience in a way which answers the question “How will this help me to express and live who I am?”, the majority of customers will never catch on to what you have to offer.

Writer Tom Denari once wrote a great article for Ad Age that brilliantly drove home this point. in it, he wrote:

"No matter what you buy — diapers, clothing, electronics or a can of tomatoes — the brands you select affect how you feel about yourself. The car you drive makes a statement about who you think you are. So does the cup of coffee you pick up in the morning and the mobile phone you carry, even though you’re not consciously aware of it. And while this seemingly selfish, indulgent behavior might seem the sorry reflection of a hypercapitalistic culture, it’s really how we’re hard-wired.

A brand helps people fall in love with themselves by reinforcing or affirming self-image. (e.g. I’m the kind of person that uses that kind of __________.)"

Thankfully, more and more brands are starting to catch onto this idea and applying it to their marketing & advertising work. For some, it will be too little too late. For others, it could be the start of a complete repositioning or a brand revival... Which will it be for your brand?