Generation Z is finicky. These young people were born into a world where a digital existence is not only normal, but required and even expected. This generation was raised with the highest number of technological devices ever and a massive amount of personal online presence to boot. This creates an enormous challenge when trying to market to them because it's hard to get Gen Z to focus. These consumers are constantly moving from their computer, to their phone, then their tablet, then back to their phone, then to the TV, etc. They pop in and out of so many online communities on so many different devices that marketers face the obstacle of how to reach them at the right moment. This will be a giant hurdle to overcome.
It shouldn't surprise people that Gen Z is mysterious. Unless you're a teen between the ages eight and fifteen, you're not going to know who Nash Grier is (in case you're wondering, he's a popular Gen Z Vine celebrity). We're only really starting to learn about how this generation operates and how it is different from Millennials and Gen X. Marketers have limited resources in exploring consumers in this life stage because Millennials still make up the majority of the spending power. Once Gen Z emerges as a powerhouse that can compete with current dollar trends, marketers will be pouring money into figuring them out. By that time, it might be too late, so it's best to start thinking about this now.
If there's one thing you can say about this generation, it's that they're honest. Members of Generation Z are not afraid to be truthful and vocal about a terrible advertising experience. This group needs things tailored to each of them, as they were raised in a world of hyper-personalization. Gen Z expects customization in every aspect of life, and advertising is no exception. If you screw up and market in the wrong way, you'll pay for it on social media.
T.J. Marchetti, CMO of AwesomenessTV, speaks to iMedia about the biggest challenge marketers will face when Generation Z becomes a main focus -- and why you should prepare right now.
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Article written by senior media producer David Zaleski.
Video edited by associate media producer Brian Waters.
"Confused businessman with paper head gesturing confuse" image via Shutterstock.
BlueConic introduced self-learning optimization, making it faster and easier for marketers to improve online interactions by automatically delivering the best performing messages.
Datonics added GumGum, TwoPointO, and Vemba to its roster of data distribution partners.
Drawbridge announced the addition of Andy Miller to its board of directors.
IZEA announced the addition of Mike Church to the company's strategic advisory board.
Guardian News & Media (GNM) announced the appointment of Eamonn Store as CEO of Guardian US.
Madison Logic announced that UBM Tech tapped its powerful stream of B2B intent data to inform its email segmentation efforts, leading to a 375 percent lift in CTRs.
MediaMath announced it is expanding its reach to Latin America and has chosen global programmatic media company Headway Digital as its exclusive partner in the region. MediaMath also announced its move to 4 World Trade Center.
Mintz + Hoke promoted Kathy Morelli to senior digital program manager from account executive.
Payoneer appointed Bart Rubin and Jani Gode to the company's leadership team.
PlaceIQ announced that it has hired two new seasoned business executives: Ed Haslam as SVP of marketing and Dr. Phil London as SVP of product and technology.
PulseConnect announced it has rebranded as PostUp. PostUp also announced Joshua Baer, a highly celebrated digital marketing technology innovator, angel investor, and original founder of the company, has returned as a member of the board of directors.
raw engineering announced contentstack.io, a mobile-first content management system (CMS) for the enterprise.
ScribbleLive announced the acquisition of CoveritLive from DemandMedia.
SheKnows named Amy Boshnack as editor in chief, Tara Wacks as VP of ad product and strategy, and Kate Durkin as VP of Experts Among Us.
Simulmedia announced that Mainak Mazumdar has joined the company in the newly-created position of chief science officer.
Sizmek announced the availability of Sizmek Audience Suite, a tool that provides marketers with an integrated view of campaign performance measurements within the Sizmek MDX open ad management platform together with data from either comScore vCE or Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings.
TigerLogic Corporation announced it has added several new creative features to Postano, its flagship social product and leading visual marketing platform. The Postano version 2.5 release includes advanced social filtering options, a style editor for custom visualizations, new dynamic data visualizations, and other platform enhancements.
Trueffect announced Jeff Hassemer has joined the company as chief product officer and E.J. Freni has joined as EVP of sales.
Vevo and McDonald's will team up for the second annual LIFT Live concert in Chicago on July 30. The event spotlights four of 2014's hottest rising stars: Disclosure, Sam Smith, Phantogram, and Kiesza.
ZeroFOX announced that it will be exhibiting at Black Hat 2014, showcasing its enterprise social risk management platform.
Editor's note: This column publishes twice per month, and we are always looking for industry announcements, so please email them to email@example.com.
While Germany took home the World Cup, it wasn't the only winner. This year's World Cup is the single biggest branded video event to date, reaching 671.6 million views as of the final day of the tournament.
That level of viewership is simply astounding. To put it in perspective, 671.6 million views is equivalent to 8 percent of the total branded video views in 2013. The World Cup has 30 percent more views than the 2014 Super Bowl, which was the most-viewed branded video event, with 516.2 million views, until the end of June.
For the third month running, the iMedia Brands in Video chart shows just how much the World Cup has dominated the branded video universe. Eight of the 10 brands included on the June list created and released tournament themed campaigns. Seven of those brands -- Nike, Samsung, adidas, Beats by Dre, Kia, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola -- were on the Visible Measures list of the top 10 most-viewed World Cup brands.
Nike tops the June chart with 123.7 million views. The apparel brand increased its views 136 percent from May and moved up one spot from the month prior. While Nike had more than 65 campaigns generating views during the month, it was the performance of its World Cup campaigns that made its viewership nearly double that of the next brand on the list.
It was Nike's "The Last Game" that contributed the most to the success of the brand in June. Garnering 83.8 million views, the animated short starring some of the biggest names in soccer accounted for 68 percent of Nike's views for the month.
By the end of the tournament, "The Last Game" had more than 97 million views, which made it the second most-viewed campaign of the World Cup. It was only bested by "Risk Everything," another Nike campaign that generated 20.5 million views in June and more than 124 million overall since its release.
With numbers like that, it shouldn't be a surprise that Nike was also the most-viewed brand of the whole tournament, with 240.6 million views (half of which were garnered in June) across eight campaigns.
Samsung, like Nike, managed to dominate the World Cup video conversation, despite the fact that it was not an official sponsor of the event. The brand was the second most-viewed in June with 62.5 million views. Overall, the electronics maker drew 124.3 million views from its World Cup campaigns, making it the second most-viewed campaign of the tournament, as well.
Samsung's most popular campaign of the month was also the third most-viewed World Cup campaign -- "Galaxy 11: The Training." The campaign sets up a story in which 13 of the world's most popular soccer players must save Earth from an alien invasion. It accumulated more than 25 million views in June and 74.5 million views overall.
The third most-viewed brand in June, adidas, was again the third most-viewed brand of the whole tournament. In June, it brought in 45.4 million views, which is about half of its total World Cup viewership.
The apparel brand, and official sponsor of the World Cup, produced nine campaigns for the tournament, the most of any brand. It's most successful campaign in June was "House Match," starring David Beckham, Zidane, Bale, and Lucas Moura, which drove more than 18 million views for the brand.
Trying to generate buzz around your business? It's natural to think the more exposure you receive, the better. However, knowing how to communicate to your customers will help make your brand sticky and complete. Since you need to focus your communication, tread delicately in these waters.
With Instagram, you post a picture and customers "like" your pictures or follow you. Therefore, they will like your brand and buy your products. Where it gets tricky is in order for customers to see your picture, you need a mix of followers and hashtags. There's no way to deep link your picture to your product unless you put a link in the description. Therefore, direct sales are more difficult.
And, just because your pictures have a lot of hearts, doesn't mean you'll increase in Google searches (similar to Facebook "likes"). You have to work just as hard to end up in more Google search results.
Instagram does not have a "share" function -- whereas with the other platforms, customers can share the company's posts across their networks, spreading that company's brand much farther. Here, Instagram posts almost go "dead" after a few hours of customers seeing them. The choice for the customers sits at "like" or keep scrolling, and there's not a clear call-to-action for a conversion to buy.
Finally, you run the risk of your products/posts on Instagram being muddled with start-up shops of people looking to use Instagram as a classier eBay. People will "heart" your product, but unless they truly like it, they won't visit your profile and will just keep scrolling.
The mobile phone may be the smallest device we carry, but it has become perhaps the largest daily opportunity to portray your brand to consumers. Its intimate nature is intensely appealing to brand managers and content creators alike, yet continues to be significantly misunderstood. The one common, missing component in mobile strategic planning is often to put the user experience first. And whether we like it or not, consumers consume on their terms. This means that no one flavor will satisfy everyone. But unfortunately, many companies large and small, are serving up 90 percent vanilla, as they turn to the app as their primary savior, and leave their mobile websites as mostly uncultivated gardens.
While a well-developed app is a powerful, interactive asset, the vast majority of mobile consumer discovery and exploration begins with search and direct navigation on the web. A feeble mobile site strips the brand of the consumer image and feel it works so hard to develop across other media -- including its traditional website. Instead, what remains is a weak cover band rendition, with simple menus, minimal graphics, and overall poor experiences. Further, as the PC takes its place as a minority internet-consumption device, why are a disproportionate amount of your internal resources continuing to be devoted to that web experience, leaving your mobile site remaining neglected?
Interestingly, over the past three years, virtually every company has at least tacitly acknowledged the idea that it needs a mobile website. However, the lack of true interest here has led many brands and content publishers to present mobile sites that the average consumer can easily deem as truly awful. The question that many managers continue to not even ask is whether their site, their company's 24-hour face to the mass audience, is in that group of shame. The good news is that you can play the internal hero in correcting the errors that may have been created and exacerbated by others, and quickly.
To start fixing the problems, managers need to understand the factors that continue to work against them in creating strong mobile sites. The first is your digital team members have been unreasonably expected to become mobile experts immediately, as this area was deemed close enough to the more than 20-year-old traditional web. While rooted in the same coding languages, the fact is that mobile is its own animal, with different nuances, data, and consumer behaviors.
The next challenge for the mobile website is that it does not carry the same cachet and pride with executives that an app does. Politically, the app looks to be the safer route. However, that safety is quite short-lived, particularly after the need for a full, real, app program is required to make the simplest of apps successful. Once it becomes truly accepted internally that any app needs revisions (on multiple platforms), advertising budgets, and personnel to manage the app and its data, the app honeymoon comes to a quick ending.
Perhaps the biggest culprit in impeding the growth of strong mobile websites lies with the choice in agency partners and assigned responsibilities. With the explosion of smartphones starting around 2009, each day seemed to further display consumers' ever-increasing content consumption on their mobile devices. Agencies, of all kinds, couldn't help but note this change based on the data coming from the traditional websites they created for clients which showed PC-consumption diving. Coupled with a new flood of requests from the justifiably-un-mobile-knowledgeable clients, seemingly every agency began stating it could "do mobile." While the "could" in that assertion may be true, there were few that could actually do mobile well. Similar to your internal team, it was unrealistic to believe that an agency could offer advanced, embedded understanding of mobile consumer behavior and market experience overnight. Their offering, instead, was born more out of a defensive position to contain client budgets in-house, than to best serve those same clients' interests.
There are a lot of really good blogs out there. There are so many that there are scores of roundups spotlighting the very best blogs in our industry. This isn't one of those roundups. In fact, there's only one criterion: Do marketers follow them? Naturally, that's a rather broad question. After all, we follow some blogs because they're informative, others because they're fun, and still others because they inspire and push us to think in new ways. Blogs, or rather blogging, is the raw material that fuels the way we think about our space.
Some of the blogs are run by agencies, others by individuals, and one is actually a branded blog. There are blogs about business, and blogs about design. There are blogs about technology, and there are blogs that are purely about advertising. If that seems scattershot to you, consider the diverse range of skill sets needed to bring a single campaign to life, from account people and creatives, to media buyers and developers. We work in a diverse space, and reading blogs -- especially a wide range of blogs -- is one of the best tools we have for breaking down silos, or at least thinking outside of them.
There isn't a conversation between a marketer, agency, or retailer that doesn't include the word "beacon" in it. Beacon providers are trying to map out business use cases to push adoption, retailers are creating their "beacon strategies," and agencies are tasked with figuring out how to use them.
There's no doubt beacon technology and proximity marketing will have a dramatic impact on advertising and retail. However, we're very early in the game. The required infrastructure must be in place, and consumer expectations aligned, before proximity marketing goes mainstream.
Here are some practical tips for how to approach and test beacon technology right now -- so you are ready when proximity marketing begins to scale.
To set the stage, let's do a quick "beacons for dummies." Beacons are not new. A beacon is simply a transmitter of signals, often used in navigation. However, for our purpose they can be placed in locations where marketers might want to communicate with consumers -- for example, in the entry point of a store or on a city street with high foot traffic. They are available from several manufacturers for about $10 per unit and easy enough to install.
The beacon hardware is only half the equation. You need a receiver to actually use those signals in a meaningful way. Today's beacons transmit Bluetooth low energy (BLE) signals. So it is only when a smartphone is actively Bluetooth enabled (location is turned on) and there is an app installed that is listening for that BLE signal that any type of interaction begins. And more importantly, that's when there is real value for marketers.
According to Forrester, about 30 percent of smartphones are enabled to connect to beacons using BLE today. That number is expected to grow to 80 percent in the next 15 months. So now you understand why we're early in the adoption cycle, yet there is a real urgency to be the first to figure this out.
While there is great potential for beacons, there are immediate (and quite challenging) issues to be resolved. Ask yourself this question -- what is valuable enough to you as a consumer that you would not only keep your smartphone location turned on at all times, but you would also happily download and install (with certain permissions) at least one app that listens for BLE signals?
My company ShopAdvisor recently conducted a survey using female shoppers to answer this very question. We asked them to respond to a series of scenarios to determine which would get them to "cooperate" in the context of proximity marketing -- turn location on their smartphone and download a specific app. Their answers were consistent. The value received in exchange for action had to be personally and contextually relevant. The deal had to be for something they intended to shop for, or for a nearby store they liked to shop in. They were not about to change their shopping desires or preferences. Simply providing a discount for a nearby store -- or even the one they were walking into -- was not perceived as enough value in exchange for the required actions.
To sum it up in the words of one respondent: "Allow me to find items that I love, with a price point I also love."
Taking this information into consideration, here are four intuitive rules for approaching the use of beacons for a proximity marketing pilot the right way.
These marketers have a different view of what context is. While most of us think about context as related to content, for proximity marketing the context has to be a combination of location and moment in time.
That means mobile-first design. Remember that smartphones are great for a quick scan -- swipe or text -- but frustrating when typing many characters or numbers (e.g., an address and credit card number).
Find a way to start capturing what your audience wants now. According to a recent L2 Digital Report, 67 percent of department store apps feature a registry. That seems to me to be a treasure trove of intent data.
Remember that you are bringing virtual and physical worlds together. In the physical world, phones are used as a communication device and as a way to gain on-the-spot information. In the virtual world, consumers have been trained to look for information from a QR code scan and relate "check-in" to receiving an incentive or reward. Use this natural and learned behavior to your advantage.
Now that you understand how to approach this, the challenge is not how to secure or install the hardware -- it is the back-end infrastructure required to translate beacon signals into meaningful customer interactions. The following are three resources for launching a proximity marketing or advertising attribution test:
In closing, rest assured you are not late to the party. We're just getting started. But if Forrester is right in its predictions, anything you can do today to pilot a proximity marketing program using beacons will put you way ahead of your competition when these programs are ready to scale. And that looks to be in the not-so-distant future.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
It seems that every generation has a few shining stars who are able to create amazing things early in life and define their future. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are all examples of entrepreneurs who broke the mold and turned their hobbies into careers. They were able to do this because they grew up at a time where digital was still fairly young. Generation Z will be the first generation raised when digital is the norm. This generation lives its life in all things digital, and its online footprint is often its most important hallmark. Because of this, a staple of Gen Z has become wanting to turn hobbies into jobs and use the internet as a vehicle to make this happen. Vloggers, artists, writers, and young computer experts are all empowered by the internet to gain followings, fans, and make money off the things they love to do. This generation is highly independent and ambitious. If they think they can make their own mark on the world, they are going to try.
Remember when you were a kid and wanted nothing to do with your mom and dad? OK, so Generation Z certainly has some of this, but overall this is a generation that actually wants to be connected with parents. Gen Z perceives family as a support group and personal advocates for success. This is quite the difference from not only Millennials, but from Generation Y and X, which largely saw independence and a separation from authority figures. All indications are that Gen Z will be very close to family.
Generation Z is a very liberal generation and overall, highly progressive. One of the hallmarks of this is their desire to volunteer, advocate, and give back to their community. They want to be a part of something greater than themselves. Gen Z relishes in the opportunity to belong to a group that represents its viewpoints, and has the instinct to congregate and be heard. This generation will be very vocal about a variety of political and social issues. Few know more about Generation Z than T.J. Marchetti, CMO of AwesomenessTV, a YouTube network and sketch show aimed at that hard-to-reach demographic. Here's what he says are the three biggest ways Gen Z will change the way you'll need to market.
Article written by senior media producer David Zaleski.
Video edited by associate media producer Brian Waters.
"Conceptual Generation z concept ad on black chalkboard" image via Shutterstock.
Brands seem to (finally) be getting their social media marketing campaigns right. 2014 has already proven to be a good year for many brands to flex their savviness and bring innovative approaches to the social marketing table.
Of course, new social initiatives are touted across industry publications every day, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In this article, I'll present just a few of my favorite social campaigns of 2014 so far, with the hope of avoiding some of the ones you've probably seen beaten into the ground already (Ellen's selfie, anyone?).
What would you add to the ongoing 2014 best list?
Markets change. Consumers age. Children grow, gain purchasing power, and develop their own brand preferences. Trends emerge and evolve. Cultures intermingle.
To stay relevant, most brands need to change along with markets. And the most effective way to do that is to discover the shared values that motivate customers and make the brand itself a medium for sharing these values. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to consider a couple of iconic brands that have continued to grow over a long history -- succeeding precisely insofar as they developed and shared values in harmony with the changing times.
For hundreds of years, gelatin was made by laboriously boiling animal bones, straining the liquid, skimming off the fat and allowing it to cool and settle for at least a day. The result was a moldable delicacy that only the wealthy could afford. With the invention of powdered gelatin, the addition of flavors and the spread of refrigeration, gelatin desserts finally became accessible to the middle class. But it wasn't until the Jell-O brand began creating its identity around shared cultural values that the product finally took off in a big way.
In the early 20th century, ads appeared in Ladies' Home Journal showing fashionable young women serving Jell-O and declaring it "America's Favorite Dessert." Salesmen distributed free recipe books -- one of the earliest examples of content marketing. Jell-O molds were even given to immigrants at Ellis Island, establishing a uniquely American appeal that would be passed down for generations.
Since then, Jell-O has repositioned itself repeatedly -- as the essential ingredient in a fad for congealed salads and layered desserts. As a dieting staple. As a convenient line of pre-packaged snacks. And most notably, as a fun food that brings kids and adults together -- from Bill Cosby's 30 years as Jell-O's kid-friendly, adult-smart spokesman to today's "Fun Things Up" campaign, positioning Jell-O snacks as a pleasure families can count on from the innocence of childhood through the challenges of adult life.
Dove began its remarkable rise to brand success in the 1950s. Early messaging positioned Dove as a "beauty bar" that moisturized skin by incorporating "1/4 cleansing cream," unlike from ordinary soap. Taking on the era's zeitgeist of science and progress, ads encouraged women to test the product for themselves, washing one side of their face with soap and the other with Dove.
Later campaigns pivoted from science to emotion. In 1960s ads, Dove products kept homemakers beautiful. By the 1990s, the ads were enacting a sensuous ideal of thin-waisted, dewy-skinned beauty. For three decades, the best reason to use Dove was to please someone else. By the turn of the century, women simply weren't having any more of that. Aging customers didn't want to be reminded of discarded beauty ideals, and potential new customers were raised to believe in themselves rather than the need to please others. Self-esteem and empowerment became part of everyone's personal story of growth. And that insight became Dove's brilliant vision for completely remaking the values at the core of the brand. You already know the results: notable, provocative, viral engagements like Real Curves, Evolution, Onslaught, Pro-Age, Real Beauty Sketches and Selfies. It was all about finding values to share -- not impose -- and creating meaningful stories to lead the values conversation. It may be the best move Dove ever made.
It's easy to see successful re-creation of brand values in hindsight, but the challenge for brands is how to create meaning around the values that will resonate with consumers going forward. There's often an element of risk.
For example, look at the criticism that came from some quarters when Cheerios first portrayed a mixed-race family. Or when McDonald's France portrayed a young gay man, possibly about to come out to his dad, with the tagline "venez comme vous êtes" (come as you are). Can a backlash of Twitter storms and threatened boycotts ultimately hurt these brands? We suspect not because they're tapping into a broad-based cultural shift and sharing values the vast majority of consumers want to believe in -- inclusivity and respect. Plus, major brands like these can afford some risk. Nabisco took a risk with its Honey Maid brand, portraying a variety of families not usually seen in ads -- including a young boy and a newborn baby with two dads -- with the tagline "This is Wholesome." When inevitable backlash came, Honey Maid turned the risk taken to an advantage. In a second ad, a pair of artists created the word "Love" out of printed copies of hundreds of offended emails and tweets the brand had received. They then surrounded the word "Love" with ten times as many messages that had been received in support of the "This is Wholesome" campaign.
Honey Maid proved that taking a big risk can work in a brand's favor by tapping into an emerging sense that very disparate groups can still hold closely shared values. It's also possible to anticipate where the audience's values are headed without taking much of a risk at all.
Today's consumers will inevitably be older tomorrow. Brands that want to hold onto their loyalty across the decades need to speak to the changing ways they look at the world. That might mean honoring the aging process itself -- a big part of the Dove story we've already told.
Or it might mean turning from an innocent to a nostalgic view of youth, as Hello Kitty has done. Hello Kitty's earliest fans are now in their 40s. Children are still the main target audience, but over the past 25 years, Hello Kitty has learned to follow its devotees well into adulthood with tea sets, toasters, cellphone and laptop cases, pajamas, spectacles, bedsheets, automotive accessories and many other products for adults with a Hello Kitty theme. It's an approach that keeps adults connected to their youth and also closes the circle with their own kids. Sanrio Co. adds about 600 new products a month to the approximately 15,000 Hello Kitty items already available and has become a familiar brand worldwide. Much of that success has to do with learning to understand not only how children think, but also how adults inevitably come to think back on childhood.
There's risk in not adapting. Many brands that originally entered Asian markets with a promise of Western style luxury are losing their appeal. They're increasingly being dismissed as "tu" -- a Chinese word often used to describe a country bumpkin or someone who is behind the times. Hip, urban youth who regard the image of foreign luxury as backwards are instead turning to time-honored brands that evoke the craftsmanship and tradition of their own Chinese culture.
Those 100+ year-old brands, in turn, are at risk not because of a shortage of customers but because the younger generation interested in buying these traditional products has little interest in learning the traditions that go into making them.
That's the kind of conundrum that any brand -- if it expects to last -- will face repeatedly through its history. But it's also a huge opportunity for brands that can learn to express the cultural values their customers are looking for without being hobbled by old values that no longer serve a practical purpose. It's about listening to customers and learning their values. But the goal can't just be to convert them. You have to be willing to convert yourself -- to make the brand stand for something -- to stand apart from the competition and together with the people you want to reach.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
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