Featured photo above: Panelists at ad:tech San Francisco 2015 (photo by Shefali Sain)
The first day of ad: tech San Francisco 2015 provided compelling insights into the continually growing role of technology and digital media in global marketing and advertising. While several day two sessions also continued on a technical vein, others highlighted two aspects of the digital present and future: Storytelling and content marketing.
New Consumer Journeys >> New Product Roadmaps
Day two at ad:tech kicked off with an all-star morning keynote, as Sridhar Ramaswamy (Google), Chia Chen (Digitas), Michael Menis (InterContinental Hotels Group PLC) and Darren Stoll (Macys.com) took to the stage to talk about the new customer journey.
During the presentation, Ramaswamy pointed out that mobile queries have surpassed desktop searches in 10 countries around the world, including the United States. Further, two out of three people sleep right next to their phones and are much more likely to check for their phones before they leave the house than their wallets or keys. “In this mobile world, even more than before, getting the right message in front of the consumer at the right time is what’s going to win,” Ramaswamy said.
Phone-driven behavior is also important because it has set new standards for what we expect. Ramaswamy stressed that the companies that understand the intent behind micro-moments and that meet the needs of consumers at the moments that matter are the companies that are going to win in today’s world.
Ramaswamy also announced a new ad product for shoppers from Google, called TrueView ads. Wayfair found out that combining shopping information with TrueView ads increased completion rate by close to 20 percent. This is where the future of marketing is headed, according to Ramaswamy.
Marketing Automation in Today’s Multiple-Device Times
Later in the day, Chris Moloney (ARIA), Dave Karel (LinkedIn), Eric Hoppe (Pandora) and Kevin Ryan (Motivity Marketing) lead an informative afternoon panel discussion about marketing automation. Moloney mentioned that during the last year, he has seen digital marketing fuse with marketing automation, and all areas of the customer journey come together. Marketing automation is taking over a lot of the ad tech world, and from a strategic perspective, everyone should be using it, according to Maloney.
At its core, marketing automation is about reaching the right consumer at the right time with the right message. Marketers are most apt to get lost when they focus on automation (the tool) and not what they’re trying to do. Because marketing automation is typically for a brand’s best customers, it’s critical that the messaging to be at par.
Brands and Master Storytellers
Later in the afternoon, panelists James Cockerille (FutureBrand), Rick Spiekermann (Nestle Purina), Sherrie Weitzman (Cadillac), Steve Sommers (Under Armour) and Dan Neely (Networked Insights) discussed how brands are becoming master storytellers. They described how storytelling is “brand as character,” the next step in the evolution of what was once called branded entertainment or content as marketing. Master storytellers from the worlds of television and film are pairing with brands to move beyond campaigns. In this new approach, they are creating series that are compelling as any successful television show.
The Evolution of Under Armour
The panelists cited the effective example set by Under Armour, a brand that tells stories to help athletes improve through passion, design and the relentless pursuit of innovation. In particular, Under Armour has created great videos. By using analytics to learn how people are engaging with the content that they’re creating, Under Armour found that a high volume of conversation revolves around the athletes in the brand’s spots, especially when the athletes are diverse. To capitalize on this knowledge, they created a campaign called Ready For August and a Natural Born Hitters competition, which allowed viewers to remix the track. The winner’s track, featured during a Monday Night Football segment, is shown in this YouTube video:
Sommers discussed Under Armour’s evolution. Initially, the brand wasn’t resonating with women. To address this, they gathered data to find out who “she” is. What was core to her? What would resonate? What could the brand say to attract her interest? The result of their efforts? “I Will What I Want,” which conveyed that women didn’t need permission to do what they wanted. The concept of “willing it to happen” connected with women and the campaign’s popularity exploded. In this case, gathering insights about their audience led Under Armour to take the campaign in a different and much more effective direction—a direction that would not have been taken without the audience data.
Messaging for Luxury Brands
Weitzman and Cockerille discussed how great luxury brands invite their customers to enter a rich and compelling world. That world is animated by a fundamental tension and motivated by a purpose for which that luxury brand is deemed essential. Their process for doing that looks like this: An inspiring point of view leads to a desirable product, which leads to consistent communications, which leads to an exceptional experience.
Weitzman pointed out that brands need to tell the same story consistently through every piece of communication they share, whether it’s a digital piece, a commercial or an event. People need to understand what the brand stands for and the brand must deliver that through every experience. People don’t buy cars every year, but to succeed, automotive brands need to ensure that they remain in mind between purchases.