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Ellis Watts

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Apple Patent Suggests User-Relevant Ad Serving

Recently, Engadget uncovered a very interesting entry from the US Patent and Trademark Office from Apple that would allow 'systems and methods [to seamlessly switch] media playback between a media broadcast'?¦and media from a local media library.'? For example, say you're listening to streaming radio that cuts to a brief video ad and the algorithm determines that this ad isn't something that you would be receptive to (either based on specified preferences or previous usage / engagement), then you would instead be met with a video from your own iTunes library. Remember those puppies you recorded at Bob's house last weekend? SO ADORABLE. Ok, now back to your Creed channel on Pandora. Out of context, it seems as though this is an odd concept. Media networks can target a specific audience and if they happen to miss a few on the fringe, oh well (still nailing those impression numbers!). The idea of not serving an ad at all, not even an alternative ad, seems a bit odd as there could be missed advertising opportunities that the algorithm doesn't pick up on thus money left on the table for the media property. But what if that interpretation of the technology is not necessarily the case? What if this technology is using this algorithm to hyper-target, ultra-customize, uber-personalize the ads down to not only what it knows about the user but also has access to? For example, say in a few years, you're watching a stream of Apple's latest Worldwide Developers Conference and between speakers the player runs an ad for the new iPhone 8. The ad features a bunch of teenage hipsters playing around with the phone with the latest Gotye song playing in the background. But jump over to the cube next to you and your coworker Jim, is seeing that same video but set to a Phil Collins song. Next to him is Mary who has that video set to a song by Adele. Next to her is Frank, the IT Guy, who is yelling at everyone to STOP STREAMING, YOU'RE SLOWING DOWN THE NETWORK. (These problems still exist in the future.) What do they all have in common? Those songs were all on their respective 'recently played'? playlists on iTunes. Of course, this scenario is purely speculative (and totally ignoring copyright laws), but it's always fun way to think about what new and creative ways the advertising experience will be enhanced in the not-too-distant future. Source: Engadget, USPTO

2012 CES: Key Themes

We ate entirely too much Sbarro. Hey, it was a quick meal fix in a pinch and there was so much at CES to view / listen to / play / swipe / poke / drool over, that a microwaved pizza slice was often the best option. The three-to-five minutes that it took to inhale a triangular piece of mediocrity was ample time to reflect on the handful of key themes that kept popping up across the miles of exhibitor floorspace, conference track events and flashy keynote speeches. Back at the office, I managed to gather my tomato-sauce-stained notes and expand on the most prominent dynamics from this year's CES. The Year of the ________? In most years at CES, there is typically one product or category that grabs all the media attention and consumer buzz. Last year tablets were the big craze. But there doesn't appear to be a clear winner this year. Some may argue that the emergence of Intel's Ultrabook category won that right with a dizzying number of models released from leading brands, while others may contest that OLED TVs were the next must-have. Aside from those two examples, there weren't really any 'game-changers'?. Maybe it wasn't a product or category at all but a trend known as the 'ecosystem'?'?¦ Owning the Ecosystem If we had a nickel for every time the word 'ecosystem'? was uttered, we'd have a big ol' bag of nickels. But what does this new buzzword mean? Simply put, the ecosystem is the synergy created by a single provider that can offer users hardware (devices), software (an operating system), content for those devices (music, e-books, games, apps, etc.), and an online marketplace to purchase content ' all working together seamlessly. Apple has this structure in place now ' you can download a book from iTunes, read it on your iPhone on the train home from work bookmark your spot when your stop arrives, then resume reading from that point on your iPad while reading from the couch when you get home. Because it took Apple years to build and integrate this model seamlessly, they're in the leadership position and competitors are scrambling to catch up. In most cases, one single company does not have the necessary resources in place to handle an across-the-board solution so they have naturally turned to strategic partnerships or acquisitions to fill-in the gaps. Last year the industry saw these building blocks being put into place. In February, Nokia and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance where that mobile cog helps Microsoft build out their own ecosystem. In April, Dish acquired Blockbuster's assets from bankruptcy auction, giving them more content firepower against a slew of competitors in DirecTV, cable networks and Netflix. Finally in October, Sony bought out Ericsson (you'll see the 'Sony Ericsson'? brand phased out in favor of 'Sony Mobile'? in the next few months) in a move that gave Sony complete control of the device end and allows for future integration opportunities with PlayStation 3 and content from the PlayStation Network. To best understand the marketing implications of this ' first marketers must understand how consumers engage with these devices. Long gone are the days when a consumer sat in front of a TV with undivided attention. Today, that consumer could very well be using multiple devices at the same time. It is the responsibility of the agency/advertiser to understand the best way to reach the audience across multiple screens through a comprehensive brand experience. The benefit of these ecosystems is the ability to provide an integrated, one-stop solution across all touchpoints completely customizable to the assets (physical or digital) available. However, the downside is the device fragmentation, where consumers have multiple devices but not from the same manufacturer / ecosystem ' then that synergy and compatibility is lost. Convergence on Convenience In this ecosystem model, the ability to move from device to device with similar entertainment content is the ideal experience. There is a similar dynamic of interoperability through a 'connected'? home where various 'smart'? devices, appliances and systems work together for a more functional, efficient and cost-friendly residence. Imagine being able to get a text from your fridge to remind you to pick up more eggs because it knows that you're running low and you're close to the grocery store. Or maybe your bathroom shower mirror is voice controlled with the ability to give you today's weather and top news stories as you get ready for work. These experiences are getting closer to reality and as they do the ability to enhance existing behaviors will come with it as well. For example ' your fridge then sends you a coupon on premium free-range eggs (because it syncs with your search/browsing history and recognizes that you're a foodie with a golden heart). Or your bathroom shower mirror gives you headlines from the New York Times that you can bookmark and sync to your phone to read on your drive in ' all included with a single NYT subscription. Such emerging communication channels and opportunities may be a few years off. Fragmentation issues will still remain and there needs to be sufficient consumer demand for market viability but it's interesting to think about how a truly connected home might affect our day to day lives. 3DTV Today and Beyond 3DTVs aren't going anywhere. There's still a battle between active glasses (battery-powered, with a lens shutter) and passive glasses (polarized lenses like the kind you get at the movies). There were only a few autostereoscopic or 'glasses-free'? models on the exhibition floor ' mostly in some beta form from the big CE brands or offered by smaller specialty companies. In past years, the adoption of 3DTV was a 'chicken vs. egg'? scenario ' content was scarce so consumers didn't want to spend for the extra capability that they would use minimally and content creators and distributors didn't want to front the cost against a small universe of capable TVs. This was the same growth pattern that HDTV went through about a decade ago. But now, with most new higher-end sets featuring 3D capability (at a marginal cost), there is less consumer trepidation, especially when considering dedicated 3D television channels (ESPN3D, 3Net, etc.) and an ever-increasing slate of 3D movies released each month. All of this points toward consumers becoming more comfortable with 3D engagements. That doesn't necessarily mean that the format will lose the luster of its impact entirely ' it just needs to be approached with caution. While it's easy to fall into the trap of creating gimmicky content (i.e. a soccer ball flying out of the TV), the approach should be the same as any other advertising medium where the focus is on the message and communication to your target audience first, not the effects. Designers don't say 'holy crap, we HAVE GOT to put a lens flare on this'? then build a concept using that as a starting point. Once that message is crafted, a few ideas to potentially explore are applications that can show size and scale (i.e. various classes of pickup trucks), precise details (i.e. industrial design of a sleek new handset), or use to provide depth to a scene / environment (i.e. panoramic shot of a tourist destination). What's Next? It'll be interesting to see these dynamics shape up over the next twelve months. It's highly unlikely that a game-changing product pops up this year. Any announcements from Apple (traditionally absent at CES) can shake things up as well. Who knows if any of the industry's leading brands will be able to gain traction on Apple's ecosystem, but it's certainly an uphill battle. Smart appliances could become more widely adopted as consumers become increasingly tech savvy leading the way for further growth in that category in coming years. 3DTVs and content will continue to grow but by the end of the year will it remain a fun novelty or will it become a serious way to enjoy the home television experience? As for next year's CES, making predictions for what we'll see is always a crapshoot. I'm guessing 3D-capable mobile devices. And hoverboards. Over the next few weeks, we'll be reporting back on a cross section of our time at CES ' everything from industry trends to brilliant new products to mind-blowing apps. Stay tuned.

So You Want An App?

On the business development front, we've noticed a handful of clients and prospects that have expressed interest in developing a downloadable application for their brands. Who can blame them? I personally get giddy every time I fire up the Urbanspoon app on my iPhone. "Where should I eat tonight?? The possibilities are ENDLESS!" And we've all killed an hour or 70 playing Angry Birds. But is this the right solution for your brand / product / service / Russian mob scam? Let's examine a few questions that you should ask yourself to see if it makes sense. Will it drive sales? First you need to be honest with yourself and ask, 'Is this critical to my business?'? For a brand like REI to develop a mobile app with e-commerce capability that allows users to purchase a new camping tent with a few swipes, a mobile app can be an incredibly powerful way to connect to users. The app delivers a new, convenient purchase channel to drive sales thereby justifying the ROI for building an app in the first place. However, if your brand is Yoplait, you may need to think twice since the same e-commerce opportunity is not there. Instead, you'll likely explore content centered around brand positioning and identity, perhaps exploring more health-specific / promotional content. Which brings us to our next point'?¦ Will it be good? Sounds easy, right? Let's continue to use the Yoplait example. So we can't purchase online (cause that'd be gross) but maybe instead we build an app tied to healthy dieting and exercise. That is a very competitive space and you'll be competing with best-in-class applications that will often be so much more robust with content, support, maintenance and updates. Think about the competition among health (Lose It!, Weight Watchers Mobile, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker) and fitness (Nike+GPS, FitnessBuilder, RunKeeper). Building a mobile app on the cheap to compete against these is like trying to build a bike in your garage on the weekend, then racing it in the Tour de France in July. Although this space is expected to experience tremendous growth (2010: 10.9 billion downloads; 2014 (projected): 76.9 billion downloads!), maintaining user engagement will continue to be a challenge as one in four apps that are downloaded are only used once. Will it be costly? It could be. Very quickly. Alarmingly so. Let's say you wanted to develop an app for iPhones, which only account for a quarter of the total smartphone market. Don

What Marketers can Learn from Livin' the Sheen

AUTHORS' NOTE: AMP Agency does not condone making fun of someone potentially struggling with drug-related issues and/or mental health challenges, the media's irresponsible coverage and promotion of someone who is struggling with drug-related issues and/or mental health challenges, or the movie Major League II. Please, stop me if you've heard this one: 'I am on a drug, and it's called Charlie Sheen!'? This is one of many seemingly-mad rants of Carlos Estevez (d.b.a. 'Charlie Sheen'?), who within the past week has launched a one-man cross-media assault (radio, TV, social, print) on pop culture. He hit one million followers on Twitter within about a day. Since January, Google searches for 'Charlie Sheen'? have increased tenfold. It's safe to say these aren't just Two and a Half Men fans, either. While these Busey-ian quotes may seem completely devoid of any logic, reasoning or mental stability, there are some marketing-relevant applications to them, if you listen closely. After the past week, we've uncovered the following five key lessons for marketers: 1.) Pick One Brand Message, and Stick With It ' Sheen has recently unveiled his one-word personal tag-line, 'winning,'? and he hasn't strayed much off message. When asked if he was bipolar, Sheen promptly quipped back with, 'Wow. What does that even mean? '?¦I'm bi-winning. I win here and I win there, now what?'? Think of brands that you've seen that switch their brand message multiple times per year, or have multiple creative campaigns in market at the same time. It's hard to grow a brand that way. 2.) Think Holistically ' Keeping with the 'win'? theme, Charlie has promised, 'I'm going to win at every moment.'? For shopper marketing folks, this is the golden rule. There are numerous opportunities to influence consumer buying decisions along the 'path to purchase,'? and a holistic mindset helps you win at every consideration point along the way. 3.) A Unique Voice Rises Above All ' Every agency stresses the importance of 'breaking through the clutter'?, but very few brands are able to actually do that. Is it risky? Absolutely. But can it be effective? Yes. Look no further than any one of Sheen's several hundred grandiose quotes from the past few days. They are far more memorable than most PR-vetted answers and statements from an embattled celebrity. You could even argue that Sheen's quotes are so plentiful and so cutting that they have created an entirely new level of Sheen-clutter, where it's actually laborious to sort through the crazy. A few that specifically come to mind are: a. I've got tiger blood and Adonis DNA b. Imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists. c. 'I'm tired of pretending like I'm not bitching, a total freaking rock star from Mars'? d. Touch my children and I will eat your hands off your arms Clearly, we would never recommend that a brand speak about eating human hands off of arms. Though you do have to admit that in the world of celebrity pop culture, you've probably overheard people say 'I am on a drug, and it's called Charlie Sheen!'? more than any other celebrity quote in the past week. 4.) Plan Better ' On Thursday, he unveiled his latest Sheen-ism 'Ready for my next fastball, world? PLAN BETTER Applies to everything where an excuse now sits. Try it. U won't be wrong. Ever. #PlanBetter'? Seems pretty straightforward. Why didn't any of us think of that first? 5.) Be Prepared ' "I'm sorry man, but I've got magic. I've got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time - and this includes naps - I'm an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground." EVEN DURING NAPS, this guy is on fire. Good social media lesson here, that while customer service hours are traditionally some iteration of 9-5, social channels are always on and brands need to be prepared to resolve problems at any time. Don't get caught napping. Unless, like Chuck, you're an F-18 while doing it.

What Marketers can Learn from Livin' the Sheen

AUTHORS' NOTE: AMP Agency does not condone making fun of someone potentially struggling with drug-related issues and/or mental health challenges, the media's irresponsible coverage and promotion of someone who is struggling with drug-related issues and/or mental health challenges, or the movie Major League II. Please, stop me if you've heard this one: 'I am on a drug, and it's called Charlie Sheen!'? This is one of many seemingly-mad rants of Carlos Estevez (d.b.a. 'Charlie Sheen'?), who within the past week has launched a one-man cross-media assault (radio, TV, social, print) on pop culture. He hit one million followers on Twitter within about a day. Since January, Google searches for 'Charlie Sheen'? have increased tenfold. It's safe to say these aren't just Two and a Half Men fans, either. While these Busey-ian quotes may seem completely devoid of any logic, reasoning or mental stability, there are some marketing-relevant applications to them, if you listen closely. After the past week, we've uncovered the following five key lessons for marketers: 1.) Pick One Brand Message, and Stick With It ' Sheen has recently unveiled his one-word personal tag-line, 'winning,'? and he hasn't strayed much off message. When asked if he was bipolar, Sheen promptly quipped back with, 'Wow. What does that even mean? '?¦I'm bi-winning. I win here and I win there, now what?'? Think of brands that you've seen that switch their brand message multiple times per year, or have multiple creative campaigns in market at the same time. It's hard to grow a brand that way. 2.) Think Holistically ' Keeping with the 'win'? theme, Charlie has promised, 'I'm going to win at every moment.'? For shopper marketing folks, this is the golden rule. There are numerous opportunities to influence consumer buying decisions along the 'path to purchase,'? and a holistic mindset helps you win at every consideration point along the way. 3.) A Unique Voice Rises Above All ' Every agency stresses the importance of 'breaking through the clutter'?, but very few brands are able to actually do that. Is it risky? Absolutely. But can it be effective? Yes. Look no further than any one of Sheen's several hundred grandiose quotes from the past few days. They are far more memorable than most PR-vetted answers and statements from an embattled celebrity. You could even argue that Sheen's quotes are so plentiful and so cutting that they have created an entirely new level of Sheen-clutter, where it's actually laborious to sort through the crazy. A few that specifically come to mind are: a. I've got tiger blood and Adonis DNA b. Imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists. c. 'I'm tired of pretending like I'm not bitching, a total freaking rock star from Mars'? d. Touch my children and I will eat your hands off your arms Clearly, we would never recommend that a brand speak about eating human hands off of arms. Though you do have to admit that in the world of celebrity pop culture, you've probably overheard people say 'I am on a drug, and it's called Charlie Sheen!'? more than any other celebrity quote in the past week. 4.) Plan Better ' On Thursday, he unveiled his latest Sheen-ism 'Ready for my next fastball, world? PLAN BETTER Applies to everything where an excuse now sits. Try it. U won't be wrong. Ever. #PlanBetter'? Seems pretty straightforward. Why didn't any of us think of that first? 5.) Be Prepared ' "I'm sorry man, but I've got magic. I've got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time - and this includes naps - I'm an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground." EVEN DURING NAPS, this guy is on fire. Good social media lesson here, that while customer service hours are traditionally some iteration of 9-5, social channels are always on and brands need to be prepared to resolve problems at any time. Don't get caught napping. Unless, like Chuck, you're an F-18 while doing it.

Losing a Customer for Life After Death

Here at AMP, we talk at length about ways to drive brand awareness and advocacy but what about the other end of the marketing spectrum? What about those instances where a company has screwed up so epically, that it has actually caused a consumer to swear off the brand forever (and no, it's not a tobacco brand)? In 1987, when I was just a little tyke in short-pants, my family signed up for cable TV service. This ground-breaking entertainment option gave us a seemingly endless supply of TV channels. Never again would I have to play with an oversized antenna to watch the Fall Guy (epic show, BTW) and I was free to practice all my at-home, amateur stunts off the arm of the couch in the crystal-clear glow of our RCA television. In 1989, my father suddenly passed, forcing my mother to deal with a burden of responsibilities. Chiefly among them was raising the nightmare that morphed into the blog author before you, along with taking over all of the family's finances. She dutifully paid her cable bill, every month for the past 21+ years. Our local cable company happily took her money. As I grew over the years, so did her entertainment options with the advent of digital cable, Internet service, HDTV, DVR and the occasional dabbling in movie channels. Never Cinemax though, my teenage years lamented. Her bill had inflated over time along with a separate phone bill until ultimately it made sense to consolidate all these services under one provider. There was a great deal running with a competitor, so she decided to make the jump. Once the new service had been installed, she called our old provider to discontinue service and cancel the account. That's when things took an unfortunate turn. When she spoke to a customer service rep, he asked to speak to "Robert". My mother explained that she has been managing the family account that's been in her late husband's name for the past twenty-something years. Apparently, my mother's name was not on the account and the account holder was my father (it was the 80s! THAT'S HOW THINGS WERE BACK THEN). The customer service rep, unsure of what to do, again stressed that he needed to speak with my late father. My mother, sense of humor intact, wished him luck then explained that she has been managing the finances for all utilities in his absence. Then the customer service rep insisted to see a death certificate. Or a newspaper clipping announcing his death. I'm going to pause here so you can let that sink in for a minute. It is this company's policy that only the account holder (and approved persons) can make changes to an account, whether it's adding more service or cancelling. This is especially interesting since DVR wasn't available in 1987. Clearly they had revised the rules over the years, but why not grandfather her in on the former policy / agreement? Oh right, because the agreement is subject to change. It'd be nice if the other party in said agreement had that type of power. "I've actually revised my terms and conditions and I'll only be paying 80% of the bill, effective immediately." Man, that'd be awesome. I learned from a personal follow-up call to the company that my mother could have simply produced any document that lists her as an executor of the estate or owner of the property (i.e. a copy of her mortgage). Wouldn't that have been a lot easier to ask for? Way less dramatic, though. The above experience lies at the intersection of bad policy and poor customer service. I understand that in these economic times people have resorted to desperate measures, faking one's death notwithstanding. But there are a number of other utility companies out there that do not employ that policy. Best practices be damned, I suppose. The result of that experience is a customer who has switched to a competitor solely based on a better offer but now has vowed never to return.

Event Recap: Buy Buy To Shopping As You Know It: Hello To The Future of Consumerism

At the newly launched AMP Insights Lab, our team of doctors, scientists and doctor-scientists* have been diligently working behind the scenes to uncover the latest trends in technology and consumer behavior. Recently, they've been working on a proprietary quantitative/qualitative study titled Behind the Buy, which explores the path to purchase within the digital space, across 500 consumers. The full study will be available in the coming weeks so check back on AMPAgency.com and our blog to learn more. For this event, Allison Marsh (VP, Consumer Insights) and Jason Rivera (Director, Consumer Insights) took us through some topline findings of the study. Today's average U.S. consumer will take in 12 hours of information, (not counting personal conversations) every day. 12 hours! Think about that for a second. It seems like the only time we're not consuming media is during bathroom breaks and while we're sleeping. No, wait, scratch that. And after watching Inception this summer, I bet we're probably on borrowed time there, too. Our study explores five key product categories (fashion, consumer electronics, food and beverage, health and beauty and baby). What we've noticed is that a large number of consumers are doing research across the board, even for seemingly low-impact categories (food and beverage: 36%; health and beauty: 31%). This dynamic has made us think carefully about consumer influences and data resources while reevaluating the flow of the traditional purchase cycle. CONSUMER INFLUENCES There are many influences that weigh-in on purchase decisions, the importance of which, are usually category-specific. There are some interesting qualitative data-points that are worth noting. For example, In food and beverage, 'taste'? is more of a priority than 'natural / organic'?. Sorry, organic-Spam, maybe try again in a few years. It also depends on where consumers are in the purchase cycle. In the fashion category, 'trends'? may inform consumers' decisions but 'cost'? and 'fit'? will ultimately close the sale (each influence outweighs 'trends'? by nearly a 2:1 margin). It's no huge surprise that to learn that these influences are refined through many different sources of information (blogs, expert reviews, in-store representatives, brand websites, competitor websites, magazines, consumer reviews, and opinions of friends and family, among others). What our research has confirmed is the thought that there's no single source of information and the majority of consumers are overwhelmingly taking into account several information sources before making the purchase. The good news for brands is that there are many detours on the path to purchase and each one represents an opportunity to influence consumers' decisions along the way. THE NEW PATH TO PURCHASE Traditionally we've thought of the path to consumer evangelism as the following: Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase -> Loyalty -> Evangelism. But today, the first couple of steps have become much more complex as more information and data has empowered consumer decision-making. At the Consideration phase, consumers are identifying a 'need state'? (ex. 'I need a new digital camera'?). Once that need state has been identified, that consumer then engages in 'passive consideration'? where many brands are considered. As that consumer does research, they may refine their need state further (ex. 'well, I don't need something that is going to take 25MP photos, I just want something small to take candid family photos'?). Once their need state is refined and more research is uncovered, the consumer enters the 'active awareness'? phase, where very few brands are considered. Once the consumer identifies the best match from the various aforementioned influences, the purchase is ultimately made. According to McKinsey's The Consumer Decision Journey, after the purchase is made, the consumer follows a 'loyalty loop'? based on expectations from the previous purchasing cycle. Therefore, additional brands are still considered during the next purchase cycle with brand loyalty tied to how positive/negative the previous experience was. Somewhere, a Product Manager for Cheeseburger-in-a-Can weeps. EMERGING CONSUMER ENGAGEMENTS Our team shares a few interesting examples of emerging consumer engagements. Our first example was 'haul videos'? (or the male, tech-equivalent called 'unboxing'?, way manlier). You may remember our take on haul videos from a piece we did with FOX25 last month. Current TV also has a great take on this fad as well. Yes, people are actually doing this. Author's Note: I bought an iPhone case last month and sifted through a handful of unboxing videos before realizing that the sounds of overgrown teenagers breathing heavily while they futilely fumble with vacuum-sealed packaging is a hell that I wish upon no man (or woman). Another interesting consumer engagement is the cartoonishly-named Stickybits. Stickybits is a platform that joins barcodes with social media behavior allowing users to attach messages through both new and existing barcodes. Just imagine being at the grocery store and scanning a new flavor of Pretzel Crisps to find out what other consumers had to say about it. Or better yet, scanning the barcode to find a BOGO offer for use at checkout. Or BOTH! The mass adoption isn't quite there yet, but these are all very-possible applications of this new technology. Not futurey-enough for you? Let's take a look at what the wunderkinds at MIT are up to'?¦nothing big, just a hugely-ambitious, environment-aware, interactive, projection-based user interface. The technology is called Sixth Sense and it aims to seamlessly integrate the digital and physical world. Crazy stuff. Oh and it's open source too, FTW. Finally, is there anything more entertaining than old videos from yesteryear that tried to predict the future? Always a good source of unintentional comedy. Our team showed a video from the 60's that dreamed up wacky consumer engagements with retailers and peer-to-peer communication. Actually, it's not as far off base as you may think. Check out what Don Draper and friends thought the future would be like. Thanks to all who attended our event earlier this week. Stay tuned for our upcoming study Behind the Buy, slated to be released at the end of the month. * Job titles have not been verified.

Event Recap: Buy Buy To Shopping As You Know It: Hello To The Future of Consumerism

At the newly launched AMP Insights Lab, our team of doctors, scientists and doctor-scientists* have been diligently working behind the scenes to uncover the latest trends in technology and consumer behavior. Recently, they've been working on a proprietary quantitative/qualitative study titled Behind the Buy, which explores the path to purchase within the digital space, across 500 consumers. The full study will be available in the coming weeks so check back on AMPAgency.com and our blog to learn more. For this event, Allison Marsh (VP, Consumer Insights) and Jason Rivera (Director, Consumer Insights) took us through some topline findings of the study. Today's average U.S. consumer will take in 12 hours of information, (not counting personal conversations) every day. 12 hours! Think about that for a second. It seems like the only time we're not consuming media is during bathroom breaks and while we're sleeping. No, wait, scratch that. And after watching Inception this summer, I bet we're probably on borrowed time there, too. Our study explores five key product categories (fashion, consumer electronics, food and beverage, health and beauty and baby). What we've noticed is that a large number of consumers are doing research across the board, even for seemingly low-impact categories (food and beverage: 36%; health and beauty: 31%). This dynamic has made us think carefully about consumer influences and data resources while reevaluating the flow of the traditional purchase cycle. CONSUMER INFLUENCES There are many influences that weigh-in on purchase decisions, the importance of which, are usually category-specific. There are some interesting qualitative data-points that are worth noting. For example, In food and beverage, 'taste'? is more of a priority than 'natural / organic'?. Sorry, organic-Spam, maybe try again in a few years. It also depends on where consumers are in the purchase cycle. In the fashion category, 'trends'? may inform consumers' decisions but 'cost'? and 'fit'? will ultimately close the sale (each influence outweighs 'trends'? by nearly a 2:1 margin). It's no huge surprise that to learn that these influences are refined through many different sources of information (blogs, expert reviews, in-store representatives, brand websites, competitor websites, magazines, consumer reviews, and opinions of friends and family, among others). What our research has confirmed is the thought that there's no single source of information and the majority of consumers are overwhelmingly taking into account several information sources before making the purchase. The good news for brands is that there are many detours on the path to purchase and each one represents an opportunity to influence consumers' decisions along the way. THE NEW PATH TO PURCHASE Traditionally we've thought of the path to consumer evangelism as the following: Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase -> Loyalty -> Evangelism. But today, the first couple of steps have become much more complex as more information and data has empowered consumer decision-making. At the Consideration phase, consumers are identifying a 'need state'? (ex. 'I need a new digital camera'?). Once that need state has been identified, that consumer then engages in 'passive consideration'? where many brands are considered. As that consumer does research, they may refine their need state further (ex. 'well, I don't need something that is going to take 25MP photos, I just want something small to take candid family photos'?). Once their need state is refined and more research is uncovered, the consumer enters the 'active awareness'? phase, where very few brands are considered. Once the consumer identifies the best match from the various aforementioned influences, the purchase is ultimately made. According to McKinsey's The Consumer Decision Journey, after the purchase is made, the consumer follows a 'loyalty loop'? based on expectations from the previous purchasing cycle. Therefore, additional brands are still considered during the next purchase cycle with brand loyalty tied to how positive/negative the previous experience was. Somewhere, a Product Manager for Cheeseburger-in-a-Can weeps. EMERGING CONSUMER ENGAGEMENTS Our team shares a few interesting examples of emerging consumer engagements. Our first example was 'haul videos'? (or the male, tech-equivalent called 'unboxing'?, way manlier). You may remember our take on haul videos from a piece we did with FOX25 last month. Current TV also has a great take on this fad as well. Yes, people are actually doing this. Author's Note: I bought an iPhone case last month and sifted through a handful of unboxing videos before realizing that the sounds of overgrown teenagers breathing heavily while they futilely fumble with vacuum-sealed packaging is a hell that I wish upon no man (or woman). Another interesting consumer engagement is the cartoonishly-named Stickybits. Stickybits is a platform that joins barcodes with social media behavior allowing users to attach messages through both new and existing barcodes. Just imagine being at the grocery store and scanning a new flavor of Pretzel Crisps to find out what other consumers had to say about it. Or better yet, scanning the barcode to find a BOGO offer for use at checkout. Or BOTH! The mass adoption isn't quite there yet, but these are all very-possible applications of this new technology. Not futurey-enough for you? Let's take a look at what the wunderkinds at MIT are up to'?¦nothing big, just a hugely-ambitious, environment-aware, interactive, projection-based user interface. The technology is called Sixth Sense and it aims to seamlessly integrate the digital and physical world. Crazy stuff. Oh and it's open source too, FTW. Finally, is there anything more entertaining than old videos from yesteryear that tried to predict the future? Always a good source of unintentional comedy. Our team showed a video from the 60's that dreamed up wacky consumer engagements with retailers and peer-to-peer communication. Actually, it's not as far off base as you may think. Check out what Don Draper and friends thought the future would be like. Thanks to all who attended our event earlier this week. Stay tuned for our upcoming study Behind the Buy, slated to be released at the end of the month. * Job titles have not been verified.

Rockstars Can Teach Us a Thing or Two About 'Going Viral'?

Earlier this summer, my esteemed colleague Matt Rainone shared his thoughts on ways that content can go viral online. The content he specifically referred to was related to memes ' organic user-generated content that happens to catch on and gets rapidly spread across users online. On the other end of the viral video spectrum is manufactured content, created by brands with the specific goal of 'going viral'?. One such example of this is something that we all grew up with ' the music video. As the music industry has been turned on its head over the past decade and a half, the music video has become even more of a critical element to an artist's promotional repertoire. While music videos have moved largely from TV rotation to online, the dynamic for how we watch music videos has changed as well. We no longer have to endure brutal cable countdown shows (remember TRL? guuhh) for the hottest videos; instead, we can watch virtually anything on-demand. Therefore, the need to create unique, buzz-worthy music videos is as important as ever. Many brands today share a similar goal with their own unique content (and often, what sounds appealing to a brand manager does not nearly sound as appealing to a consumer). What can we learn from music videos that will allow marketers to create better content? Now of course Lady Gaga is going to get a ton of traffic for any video that she releases, regardless of what the actual video contains. I'm fully expecting the next video to be her dressed as an overgrown baby, covered in cows' blood and dancing in a midnight graveyard surrounded by eunuchs. Seriously, I swear some of her videos are filmed inside my night terrors. But other videos have been hugely successful that haven't been driven by that same caliber of star power. Here are three examples of great videos that have become big hits on the tubes: 1.) Cee-Lo ' F*** You Oh! Profanity! Is it the catchy retro hook? The easy-to-follow typography? The use of the f-bomb? Probably all three. This video is a great mix of an amazingly simple but effective creative direction paired with an incredibly catchy song and a chorus that is decidedly radio unfriendly. The video was posted August 19th and within one week had nearly 3 million views. Key Takeaway: Simpler can be better. Shock-content does have talk value. 2.) Bed Intruder Song ' Antione Dodson and The Gregory Brothers Clearly, sexual assault is a not a laughing matter and luckily nobody was hurt during this incident. When Antoine Dodson was interviewed by WAFF in Huntsville, AL after an assault on his sister, he was naturally upset and provided a very animated response to the reporter. That first video, in and of itself, was hugely popular and made its way around the Internet. But when Autotune the News got a hold of it, they turned it into Internet gold. The result has been a single that is currently ranked #44 on iTunes. Mr. Dodson has also enjoyed microcelebrity status and is currently selling merchandise and fundraising to move his family to a better neighborhood. Preferably one where kids, wives and husbands don't need to be hidden. Some may recognize that the Bed Intruder video was similar to DJ Steve Porter's Press Hop videos (Press Hop 1, Press Hop 2 that took classic moments from sports press conferences, chopped and remixed them together in a similar fashion. Key Takeaway: Quality ingredients make a quality product. Both instances of remixes reused content that was already very popular with audiences (copyright infringements notwithstanding). 3.) OK Go ' This Too Shall Pass This may have taken the better part of a long afternoon to build'?¦ The thought of building a four-minute-long Rube Goldberg is enough to give me a slight migraine (luckily we have an in-house production team!). Now imagine filming it in a single take. Sheesh. Obviously, the appeal here is the astonishment of the scope of planning and execution that is involved. I'm willing to bet that 16,261,591 viewers probably agree. This isn't OK Go's first trip to the rodeo either, you may remember they had another killer video with Here It Goes Again, another great single-take video from 2006 which has net over 52.3 million views. Key Takeaway: Creating compelling content is not an easy task. Sometimes it's the most difficult road (both in time and cost) that will yield the best results.

How I Became a Brand Evangelist

In an attempt to make my life even more sedentary, I recently bought a new HDTV. At the moment, my TV is on a stand precariously sitting atop a cheap IKEA dresser. I've had a few visions of me overzealously opening my sock drawer only to have my new Samsung come crashing down. This is not good. Inspired by one of those empowering and uplifting Home Depot commercials, I decided to wall mount my new HDTV. Armed with a mounting kit for my new TV, I immediately ran into a problem when my stud scanner failed to find any studs in the wall. Interesting. I figured my best resource would be asking for advice from the experts at my local do-it-yourself megastore. The employee that I spoke with wasn't as helpful as I had hoped but did point me in the right direction to the appropriate hardware for the job. Moments later, I found myself standing in front of a pegboard of anchors, toggles and fasteners, carefully reading the packaging of each. While I didn't have a definitive product that I was sold on, I had a few frontrunners in mind and figured I'd do a little more research and come back later. After scanning the web for a while, I eventually came across Toggler.com, which provided a detailed overview of their products along with how-to videos for common installation projects. So far, so good. But since I was in a unique position of not being able to identify the wall type (and not wanting to hack into it to find out / too lazy to ask my landlord directly), I still needed some additional consultation. I noticed they had an 'Ask an Expert'? section. After reviewing a few dated posts, I figured there was a slim chance I'd actually get a response. I sent my question via a submission form into what I thought would be a black hole. A few days later I get an email from an Executive Vice President (!) at Toggler asking me to call him at my earliest convenience to discuss my problem. And that is how Toggler got a customer for life. The point of my story is not just that I'm an incompetent 'do-it-myselfer'?, but rather that there are many steps throughout the shopper marketing process where a brand or retailer can affect purchase and gain traction and affinity. There were several opportunities throughout my own personal buying experience ' from employees at retail, to product packaging, to website content ' all fresh opportunities for me to become a buyer. It just so happened, that one brand delivered so far above and beyond my expectations that I have now become a lifer and will recommend them to friends and family (and loyal blog readers!) for years to come.

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