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Molly Alderson

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Pin It To Win It

Advertising on social platforms can be a great way to get your message out, but as many of us know, creating compelling content that doesn’t necessarily feel like an ad is a really tough balance to strike. Enter Pinterest’s new Pin Collective, a team of creatives that you can hire to create ads in less than 10 days. Pinterest’s paid adoptions have been around for several years under Promoted Pins. What makes them unique is that they have designed Promoted Pins to flow in with organic content smoothly, making the viewing experience for the consumer much more pleasurable. How many times have you been scrolling through your feed and come across a jarring image that is clearly an ad? I don’t know about you, but I find that really annoying. Pinterest solves that by making the separation between organic and paid content much more subtle. This approach is paying off. According to Pinterest, advertisers who use Promoted Pins receive an average of 20% more clicks in a month after launching a Promoted Pin. And now, with their Pin Collective self-serve platform, marketers can use a team of content creators to make super appealing Pin ad imagery in as little as 10 days. Easy, breezy, lemon squeezy. Let’s take a peek at some pristine pinners who are doing a great job using promoted pins. (Are these puns too much or am I pinning at this pun game?) Target   Not only does Target do a stand-up job at promoting its merchandise, it also showcases its products in a lifestyle setting. 2. Chobani   So, maybe Chobani doesn’t have a catalog of ‘perfectly pinnable products’ like Target, but they do have a cool Pinterest page packed with wellness tips, recipes, general information and inspirational quotes. Chobani is a perfect example of a brand that understands their customer base and plans their pins accordingly. 3. L.L. Bean L.L. Bean’s Pinterest board does a fantastic job highlighting their ‘nature enthusiast’ brand with their outdoor, dog and flannel packed board.  Their paid product ads flow seamlessly into the other lifestyle imagery, inspiring viewers to get into nature wearing L.L. Bean clothes The message is clear: Pinterest paid posts are a great tool for marketers to promote their content in a subtle and effective manner.  

Video Killed More Than the Radio Star

RIP, 'How To' Manual  This Sunday, like many before, I spent the majority of my morning endlessly scrolling through Facebook videos. Among the clutter of makeup tutorials, dogs playing musical instruments and babies eating lemons, I came across a video titled ‘How to do a Backflip in 5 minutes’. ‘Why?’ I thought to myself. Surely, no one wants to learn how to do a backflip from someone on the internet and risk being paralyzed. Turns out, the video had over 7MM views and tons of positive comments. While I’m sure many of these viewers were social content trolls like myself, many of these viewers were actually searching ‘how to do a backflip’ and, creator, Pigmie, apparently delivered. This got me thinking. First, of why so many people want to learn how to do a backflip, and in what situation they would perform such a stunt? Second, how anyone with access to the internet can virtually learn how to anything online. For example, some of YouTube’s all-time favorite ‘How to Videos’ consist of ‘How To: Dance, make a paper airplane, curl your hair, make cake, get six pack abs in 3 minutes, draw, tie a tie, do makeup. (Prepopulated YouTube search on July 17th) Clearly, people are searching for a wide range of videos on how to do virtually everything and anything. According to Cisco, in 2017, 69% of internet traffic will be video. And, it’s no surprise that people are using this video content as a mean to satisfy their information and entertainment needs. Don’t take it from me… check out this nifty infographic created by our friends over at HubSpot - https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/video-marketing-statistics So, let's get down to it. How exactly can businesses benefit from shareable, social videos?  Regardless of product, industry or offering, companies can create impactful, informational and helpful videos to create an engaged audience and generate earned viewership for your company. For example, these ‘how to life hacks’ are great opportunities for brands to create video content or sponsor an influencer to incorporate their product into their videos. Take it from this awesome campaign by Ziplock ‘Life Needs Ziplock’: https://ziploc.com/ Let’s bring it back to our backflipping friend. Unless you have a gymnastics company, this video would likely not impact your company, right? Wrong. Your company has the opportunity to, when the opportunity is right, earn a ton of viewership. Pigmie’s video, for example, could be a great space for a medical or insurance company to engage with consumers or sponsor a ‘follow up video’ on how to file an insurance claim after you injure yourself. People are constantly searching for ‘how to’s’ relating to hundreds of other fields; medical, travel, insurance, automotive and much more. Questions like “how do I get a car insurance quote,” “how do I get a new passport”, “how do I change a tire”… and, you got it, guess who should be showing up in response to these searches with helpful tips? You. Exactly. It is inevitable that video will soon be the main source of information share between companies and consumers. So, don’t get left behind. Let us help you. We are experts in social, social video, influencer marketing, video production and online marketing. To learn more about how we can get you more shares, views and buyer conversion rates, click here.    

Clutch Identifies Leading Agencies in Boston

AMP Agency was recently named a leading agency in Boston from Clutch. The rankings showcase six Leaders Matrices that map the firms based on their services offered, client reviews, and past experience. Boston's advertising agencies are recognized for their ability to utilize traditional media alongside their efforts in digital and creative services. “These Boston-based firms vary in skill-set and technical expertise, but what unites them is their ability to deliver strong results,” said Ilse Heine, an analyst at Clutch. “They prioritize the needs of their customers, and take the time to understand their business objectives before selecting the appropriate solution.” Using a proprietary research methodology, Clutch analysts evaluated a number of companies in the relevant segments. In addition to market presence, clientele, and work portfolio, central to the ranking process are client reviews. Clients provide insights including the scope of the project, cost-effectiveness, and how skillfully a company handled communication and organization. Clutch’s ongoing research covers IT services, developers, and marketing agencies. Firms that are interested in being featured are encouraged to apply to be included in Clutch’s efforts. Upcoming press releases will highlight industry leaders in New York City, UK, and Canada. Take a look at our profile on Clutch to see all of our full-length reviews.  

The Retail Crusade

As online retailers continue to dominate the retail world, the future for traditional retailers seems bleak. It’s evident that many brick and mortar stores have struggled to stay ahead in the digital age, leaving them to face the inevitable doom of shutting doors and waving the white flag. Sure, the future looks rather dim for many traditional retailers… but we are here to discuss the retail crusaders who have ventured through the rubble and are coming out victorious, the retailers who have faced the digital age with a different approach. Instead of leading their customer to another online store and fight for competitive pricing, they have led their customers in-store, providing an in-person digital experience and one-upping their competition with the power of a simple human touch to keep brick and mortar sales high. Through innovative approaches, they have changed the way that shoppers interact with their products, building things that can only be experienced live. Moving Online to In-line and In-Store Macys iBeacons Macy’s used an innovative approach to bringing their mobile shoppers in-store during Black Friday. With their Walk In & Win campaign, they prompted users to install their app and shop in-store to be eligible to win prizes, including a grand prize of $1,000,000. Using beacon technology, Macy’s knew immediately when app users were in-store and were able to send them notifications of special offers and instant prizes. It was an ingenious way to incentivize their digital shoppers to get a unique in-store experience.          2. Bloomingdales, Ralph Lauren Interactive Shopping Windows Bloomingdales and Ralph Lauren took the difficulty of finding the ‘perfect gift for dad’ on Father’s Day and made it fun through a 4D graphic fashion show. Window shoppers were able to use a touch screen installed on the outside of the store to select various Ralph Lauren Polo items, mixing and matching to create a gift dads would love. They could then buy the items immediately in-store completing their shopping hassle-free.        3. Walgreens- Digital Mapping  Walgreens Pharmacy has made shopping fun again. By creating a game-like application on each shopping cart, they are allowing their customers to find each item with ease while saving some major bucks along the way. Walgreens used a special camera to add a detailed 3D view to their in-store maps. The information was woven together with the store floor plans to show where products were located and where they were on the shelves. Shoppers were also served highly contextual discounts on items as they passed by, incenting them to interact with the maps. So, as you can see, retailers are doing some pretty amazing things within the digital landscape. Are the retail crusaders responsible for reports like ….  https://retail.emarketer.com/article/us-shoppers-still-prefer-make-most-purchases-in-store/58dd8922ebd400061c80f3cf   Possibly. But what we do know for certain is that to continue to compete in the retail space, brick and mortar stores need to continue to play to their strengths, incorporating digital instore. Want to learn more about how AMP can help your business bring digital in-store? Contact us, here.  

Transitional Millennial Shopper Behavior

Check out AMP's newest data visualization on the Transitional Millennial - https://www.ampagency.com/shopping-behaviors-millennials/  

Travel Brand Opportunities

Across the evolving travel landscape, hospitality, airline, and booking brands are looking at a variety of opportunities to better activate their brand voices, use technology for competitive advantages and make investment decisions based on travelers' unmet needs. Our research had uncovered three significant areas of opportunity for travel brands: 1. Prioritize Social Strategy  Social media represents the dominant force for inspiration in their new landscape. There is potential to create greater brand affinity and distinction by operating social channels differently. 2. Behave like a Simplifier  The planning process is time-consuming and overwhelming, but travelers ultimately enjoy it. Booking engines have an opportunity to provide consumers with time-saving experiences and better management of multiple trip components. Niche providers are already effectively replacing data tables with simplified and conversational interfaces. 3. Balanced Tech and the Human Touch  Even in a connected world, travelers have a strong desire to connect in person when they need help at their destinationHotelses, tourists attractions and excursions shouldn't be too quick to replace service personnel with digital kiosks, but should carefully consider the right moments for digital interactions. To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

Balancing Tech + Human Touch

While some travelers feel that vacations are time to disconnect from technology, or take a “digital detox,” most people don’t actually unplug. When we asked travelers about their wish list for their hotel stay, the majority of people said “free WiFi.” In fact, millennials will choose a hotel based on “Instagram-worthy” de?cor, pointing to their desire to be connected to social networks while vacationing. This need for connectivity also speaks to continued planning during a trip. Travelers frequently use navigation apps while traversing a new city, or apps like Yelp and OpenTable to figure out where to eat. The dependency of technology has removed spontaneity from travel - open-ended exploration has been replaced by people moving through destinations based on their popularity and share-worthiness. But research and anecdotal stories show that spontaneity is good for us. There is still nothing that quite compares to the thrill of discovering a gem by happenstance. However, travelers have conflicting feelings about spontaneity. We found that 47% of travelers said they wish they were more spontaneous, while 30% said they wish they were more of a planner. Most will accept a nudge to be more impulsive – as 73% of individuals said they would be willing or very willing to receive text messages about unplanned excursions, dinners and other experiences while on vacation. So what kind of useful tips can brands provide travelers? Well, family-friendly activities to start. But surprisingly, travelers ranked food experiences as their second most memorable moments. When it comes to communicating with travelers at a destination, the best medium depends on context. Our research revealed that 84% of travelers are open to receiving text messages from hotels with check out time, WiFi usernames and passwords, menu specials, etc., while 67% are likely or very likely to use chat services or texting with airlines or hotels. For transactional conversations like these, a text, chat or emoji will suffice. However, a whopping 76% of surveyed individuals believe that human interaction throughout travel- provided services is important or very important. While the majority of individuals (55%) have used a concierge when at their destination, the remaining 45% who did not felt they didn’t need one or that they could find the information they needed on the internet. Of those who have used a concierge, most prefer to have conversations in-person, not digitally. When we spoke to travelers, many of them reflected positively on the times they had one-on-one conversations with their Airbnb host and received local – not touristy – recommendations. It’s important for travel brands to understand when they can interject during a trip, when to emphasize in- person conversations, and when a text will be more well- received. Key Takeaways:  Travelers welcome useful suggestions fro brand that prompt them to be more spontaneous. For transactional communication, digital will suffice. However, for personalized concierge servies, most travlers perfer in-person. To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

A New Type of Travel Agency: AI Meets Human Expertise

Over the last two decades, OTAs and direct-supplier ticketing websites have revolutionized the industry and forced many brick-and-mortar travel agencies to reinvent themselves, find their niche, or close their doors altogether. Many of the travel agencies that remain standing serve a wealthy clientele. When Travel + Leisure wrote about the importance of travel agents in May 2015, they cited trips like a 32-person, two week, six city trip across India as an example that highlights a travel agent’s indispensability.2 While one may appreciate the services provided to make this trip possible, it is not a relatable scenario to most travelers. Yet, according to IBIS World, the travel agency industry is growing once again and showing signs of a broad turn to experts to help plan travel.3 We see four trends that will increase demand for travel agents in the near future: OTAs that serve endless choices, not solutions The possibility for better, more personalized recommendations powered by big data and artificial intelligence (AI) A new generation of travelers who have come of age on mobile devices The ongoing premium placed on 'authenticity' When it comes to booking, our study showed 79% of individuals want customization and ease. The majority (56%) of those surveyed have used a travel agent in the past, citing deals, time savings, and expert advice as the best reasons to use a travel agent. Of those who had not used an agent, 30% didn’t do so because they enjoyed the planning process and 25% found it to be too expensive. Another 21% said, “I trust myself more.”   Importantly, frequent travelers value an agent’s expertise and ability to save time, whereas infrequent ones value an agent’s ability to save money and stress. While 85% of individuals are willing to have another party help plan their trip, agencies need to help consumers understand more clearly how they offer personalization that demonstrates desirable ROI. Traditional travel agents should also be warned of new services like Lola, which fuse a chat interface, AI and human expertise to generate trips. Lola offers a glimpse at the future of travel agencies – personal, immediate and delivered through a chat interface. The brand deliberately avoids the data tables that plague almost all other booking experiences. It is the only travel experience we know of that is built for an audience who has come of age conversing through mobile intermediaries. Key Takeaways: A combination of AI and human expertise is about to disrupt the travel agency industry. Travelers are receptive to planning assistance for an agent provided there is demonstrable ROI (time saved, money saved, expertise, or personalization). To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

Hey Travel Brands, Here's How to Stand Out in the Planning Phase

Anticipation and Information Overload  Consumers are spending more time planning and researching their vacations, and they’re using multiple devices to do so. Online research typically starts 45 days before booking, with most individuals devoting 2-3 hours to research. Our study showed that 16% claim to spend 6 or more hours planning. While travelers still rely primarily on their laptops, millennials are increasingly using their smartphones to conduct research. The number of websites visited by travelers while planning a trip is on the rise. Hotel websites and apps are the most frequently used, followed by airline websites and apps. Our survey showed that 38% of respondents claim to spend at least one-hour reading travel reviews, while another 30% spends two hours. Still, most of travelers’ time planning is spent looking for the best deal - especially when it comes to flights and hotels. Consumers will check multiple sites on multiple days to ensure they are getting the best price, yet even then fear they are overspending. However, with so much information available, travelers feel confident in planning their own itinerary, with 78% claiming to enjoy the research and planning process. Despite the depth of research, many consumers still suffer from FOMO - fear of missing out - if they skip a particular activity, restaurant, or attraction at their destination. In fact, even though they profess to enjoy the process, 72% of individuals said they feel overwhelmed or sometimes feel overwhelmed when planning a trip. Once travelers arrive at their destination, many continue their research process. However, at the end of the day, most individuals (79%) said they felt they had spent the right amount of time planning their trip once they’ve arrived. While consumers overall seem relatively happy with the planning process, there is ample opportunity for travel brands to better serve them. We found that 39% of travelers felt personalized recommendations would make trip-planning more enjoyable, while another 31% stated they would want recommendations that come from a real person (i.e., not automated). The most frequently requested service for which travelers turn to booking engines is the ability to book multiple travel elements (flight, lodging, excursions), followed by the ability to see all of their itinerary details in one place. Very few existing booking experiences perform either of these tasks well. Existing online travel agents (OTAs) face threats by new services that can better aggregate and bundle multiple trip components – services that behave like a simplifier, not just an aggregator of data. Meanwhile, brands are also atomized in this planning process. They live as micro-moments across myriad devices and touchpoints. Brands that uphold strong and consistent behavioral guidelines will have an easier time building meaning across so many small interactions. Key Takeaways: Hotels and airlines should invest in their websites and apps as they are the most used resources for travelers during the planning phase. Start acting as a simplifier to meet the needs of travelers who are overwhelmed when planning a trip. To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

How to Improve Your Look-To-Book Ratio: Converting Selfies Into Sales

Advocacy + Inspiration in the New Travel Landscape  When tourists aim to compose the perfect vacation selfie, they’re creating more than just travel envy – they’re creating copycats. Our research revealed that 84% of millennials and 73% of non-millennials are likely or very likely to plan a trip based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates. And, while traditional word-of-mouth is still the most prominent source of travel inspiration, Facebook follows a close second, especially among millennials. In fact, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube each beat out traditional sources of travel inspiration like TV, movies, and magazines. Travel destination brands should consider ways to make their experiences “share-worthy” – incorporating wit, unique visuals, and selfie opportunities, as well as rewarding brand engagement. "84% of millennials and 73% of non-millennials are likely to plan a trip based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates." 1 Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers' Rising Expectations, Lithium, June 2015.  We found that 59% of individuals and almost 70% of millennials follow travel brands on social media. Uber and Airbnb, both of which are categorically closer to tech, are the most-mentioned brands that travelers follow. Although each has struggled with corporate optics, they both stand out for their ability to use shared media to their competitive advantage. While Uber is promotion and stunt-driven, Airbnb uses social tools to highlight destinations that are purposely unlike any hotel. Each has its own clearly defined voice and deliberately ignores its category’s previously defined “swim lane.” Both offer lessons about the possibilities to inspire consumers by earning engagement with a larger audience in ways that traditional travel brands have not. Key Takeaways:  Since advocacy is the biggest driver of inspiration for travelers, align advertising strategy accordingly. Use a unique brand voice and be aware that the standards for engagement are being set by technology brands. To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, 'Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape' - here.

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