I Am Consumed.

Last Monday, the Ad Club hosted its annual EDGE Conference, an event examining what's happening, what's new and what's next in the world of marketing. More specifically, the conference explored the innovations that are 'changing the way we consume'not only what we consume but also what consumes us.'?

AdClub EDGE Conference

When reading the event description, I thought what 'innovations'? consume me? My iPhone, Facebook, Twitter and g-chat were at the top of the list along with Trader Joe's chocolate covered blueberries (ok, maybe that thought popped in my head because it is what I have been consuming regularly). Regardless, I was thinking of the things that consume me but the speakers at the conference made me view consumption in a completely new light. Consumed is to be completely engrossed in an interest, passion or topic with or without consciously realizing it. The speakers:

This spectacular line-up of speakers shared a wealth of knowledge. In the interest of blogging guidelines and shorter attention spans, I am going to share what I considered the most striking takeaway from each of the speakers (in order of the presentation).

Helen Molesworth

The chic Chief Curator of the ICA provided a fascinating history of the Institute of Contemporary design'touching on the building's architectural significance to the fact that the museum welcomed its 1 millionth visitor just 5 years after opening its doors in seaport.

Consumed Defined: Pictures allow your brain to process contradictory art simultaneously. Perhaps, this phenomenon is the reason why people are consumed by art.


Clad in a purple and white, striped bow tie, @SchneiderMike, the SVP, Digital Incubator for Allen & Gerritsen, opened with a scenario in which a figurative 'floating head of awesome'? provides individuals with insightful suggestions of music to listen to, clothes to wear, restaurants to visit, and events to attend based on data. To make this scene from Smart House a reality, we need data from various graphs'interests (i.e. Carzar), commerce (i.e. Shopsy), aspirations (i.e. Pinterest), well-being (i.e. Fit-Pit) and location  (i.e. FourSquare).

@SchneiderMike commended start-ups for going niche in the best way possible, but recommended that start-ups must send their data to Facebook as the social web currently functions in a 'friend model.'? He hopes for a meta API, which works with Facebook, enabling users to get the content/experiences they want when they want them.

Consumed Defined: Curiosity is the ultimate form of consumption.

Rob Walker 

Contributing writer for the New York Times and former author of a column called 'Consumed,'? Rob Walker discussed the transformative power of stories. Walker believes consumers feel a sense of alienation when they buy products since they don't know the story of where it came from. Walker argued that we give things meaning as opposed to things having universal intrinsic values (i.e. a Hummer elicits different meanings for different individuals) and stories are a powerful driver of emotional value. When stories are applied to objects, it results in increased monetary value. To objectively prove this theory, Walker created a project called 'Significant Object,'? which used stuff to sell stories.

In short, Walker and his colleagues purchased 100 random objects at thrift stores and garage sales for no more than an average of $1.25 each'spending $128.74 in total. Each object was then paired with a different writer of varying notoriety who wrote a fictional story about the object. The object was then auctioned on eBay with the story included in the item's description. The initial bids were set low at the original price of the object, but consumers flocked to the somewhat insignificant objects'selling the 'junk'? for a total of $3,612.51. Walker also shared examples of other projects which showcase the power of storytelling: Made in China, Wants for Sale and Poetry Bombing.

For brands, consumers give things meaning, so make sure to strike that connection early with the consumer to create a powerful, meaningful relationship.

Consumed Defined:  We not only consume stories but we are consumed by stories. A story isn't a means to an end but it is an end.

Marshall Lauck & John Della Volpe

With a Marine-esque stature, Marshall Lauck started the presentation by presenting the U.S. Marine Corps two-fold marketing challenge: How do you connect with young millennials in the various channels they use without being viewed as intrusive and how do you 'cut through the clutter?'? John Della Volpe discussed the research methodologies and key target insight coming out of extensive research: millennials had a strong focus on service but do not necessarily consider the ultimate form of service'the military'as service, but they rather focus on community service.  This insight informed the messaging behind the powerful 'Toward the Sounds of Chaos.'?


Consumed Defined: Reach the target audience in media that consume them.

Chris Soghoian

Soghoian poignantly started the presentation by stating, 'Targeted advertising is based on consumer ignorance.'? He went on to express the extent of consumer's lack of knowledge about tracking and the need for education on internet privacy as we live in a 'tracking arms race.'?

Consumed Defined: A semi-Orwellian message that you are not the only one who knows what you consume.

Christian Meyer & Matt Snyder

Meyer peeled back the covers and revealed what defines a game. Meyer revealed that Game Show Network's target audience is surprisingly women ages 25-54, who are after the thrill of the chase (as humorously depicted in the slide below).

AdClub EDGE Conference

He provided the 3 basic keys to gaming success:

  1. Suspense - Games are containers of repeatable suspense. Suspense is the tactic and repeatability is the objective.
  2. Don't make me think. This rule displayed over a photo of Paris Hilton looking familiarly clueless. Meyer explained that the top three most played games aka 'the Trinity'? are Bingo, Slots and Solitaire as they are simple and only take 15 seconds to get players to play.
  3. Enable Winning.

Consumed defined: Platforms are an irrelevant demarcation point for consumers. Content is still king but mobile is the platform taking off and distribution is the almighty king with content.

Steve Phelps  

While he wasn't clad in sear sucker as I envisioned, Steve Phelps certainly sold his  brand to this southern belle. Phelps gave an overview of NASCAR's business and marketing strategies. Most interestingly, he shared recent restructuring to focus on digital'creating an integrated marketing team. Recently, NASCAR bought back digital and social rights from Turner Broadcasting. Starting in 2013, the integrated marketing team will handle all digital marketing as establishing a dialogue with the audience is an extremely important priority as NASCAR wants to change the perception that it isn't a tech sport. Additionally, the brand is making on-site improvements including better phone service to allow the audience to share the experience in real-time and amplify the event's footprint.

Consumed Defined: Strategically determine how to amplify consuming experiences into all consuming experiences.

Jim Lucchese

Lucchese discussed trends in digital music. He shared the ways in which people share music and how to use that data to discover trends and create more engaging apps in the future. He shared an interesting insight into the predicative power of music. Music predicts gender, age, and political affiliation. For example, System of the Down has the most male fans and Republicans listen to George Strait most.

Consumed Defined: What consumes you is indicative of your passions and interests.

Josh Karpf

Although I come from the land of Coca-Cola (Atlanta), I still liked Karpf immediately given his alma-matter and personable demeanor. To stay ahead of consumer trends and help share future trends to maintain a competitive advantage, Karpf is building from the inside out'creating a 'digitally competent culture.'?  Karpf shared a fascinating project that is a twist on the traditional job exchange program. PepsiCo trades one team member with an employee at another company for a 3-4 week period to truly embed them in a fast-paced culture given the lifetime of a start-up could be as short as 3 weeks. Previously, they have swapped employees with Airbnb, Twitter and Klout.

Consumed Defined: Become consumed with invention to learn adaptability and creative problem solving.  Apply these learnings to your business.

Hopefully this post made you want to learn more. To hear post-presentation interviews, visit the BostInno YouTube page.

Related Posts

What DTCs Are Missing As They Open Physical Stores

Benjamin Y. Seldin,  Strategy Director In the years leading up to the current pandemic, Casper, the bedding brand, was in the midst of opening 200 stores across North America. It was among a number of direct-to-consumer companies (“DTCs”) opening physical stores at a rapid pace. While these brands are likely now reconsidering expansion plans, this trend will not disappear. DTCs experience awareness and a surge in online sales in markets where they open a physical location. From the design of their stores to the purposes they serve, I’ve noticed commonalities in how DTCs treat brick and mortar. And I’ve wondered: does their digital origin produce a particular approach toward physical stores? So, right before the pandemic, I journeyed through a bunch of them, most of which are recent additions to Boston, to investigate.  I found most share an emphasis on product demonstration and prime location – as well as a shortage of personality. It’s like they applied their focus on user experience in the digital space to the physical one. But that strategy is fading in digital, and it is in real life too. So in the following, I’ll identify how DTCs are missing personality as they enter brick and mortar and offer suggestions for improvement and greater opportunity.   Let’s look at some examples We’ll begin outside the DTC world with Filson, the heritage clothing brand that started in 1897. In speaking with a sales rep there, I learned that before the company opened a store in Boston’s gleaming new Seaport District, Alex Carleton, its Chief Creative Officer, took time scouring New England for unique antiques to fit Filson’s rugged, hip American aesthetic. The result is a quirky space with a larger-than-life wooden bear at the entrance that both greets and frightens customers, and dressing rooms that could be guest rooms at the Ace Hotel.  When compared to Away, the DTC retailer that later opened next door, Filson’s store contrasts greatly. Away is sparse, efficient, and transactional. It mainly encourages customers to test its flagship product, a well-designed suitcase. Similarly, the shoe brand Allbirds, famous for using wool, features wool swaths to touch and detailed explanations of the material’s benefits. Indochino, a menswear company, displays a wall of fabric swaths to exhibit color and variety. For these DTCs, product demonstration is paramount.   Location, location, location Like the real estate adage says, location is also a big factor. Many of the DTCs I visited are in Boston’s Seaport District. Maggie Smith, head of marketing at the neighborhood’s developer explained, “co-tenancy continues to be a main part of the conversation…there’s a transition going on, from brands wanting to know traditional real estate metrics to those that are more consumer-driven; [before moving in] they want to know the social clout of the place itself.” In normal times, the Seaport District bolsters its social clout with pop-up villages including rows of local retailers. The pop-ups benefit from the legitimacy of the larger players, and the larger stores enjoy the freshness of the pop-ups.    Single products DTC stores are often built around single products. This approach can feel contemporary in the online world but incomplete in the physical one, where even brands using the showroom model (with just a few sizes for each item) still offer a full line. Casper understands the value of a full line and expanded a while back from a single mattress to a spread of sleep-related products that fill its brick-and-mortars. It went even further as it recently prepared for IPO, attempting to become “the Nike of sleep.” It assembled a “sleep advisory board” and instituted internal policies to rally around quality sleep. While it faced an uphill battle in a competitive environment, this was the right play, albeit a bit late in the game.   Advice and opportunities for DTC brands If you’re a DTC using this period to plan brick and mortar expansion, here are some ideas. Pick your moment. If you don’t yet have a full product line, consider a pop-up store in a choice location first. Let personality lead design. Dig into what makes your brand’s personality unique and reflect it in design. If your brand doesn’t have much personality, start by developing one. Connect product to personality. Even functional elements should convey personality. Consider how Apple’s genius bar took what historically was a routine service and made it a branded centerpiece that embodies the brand’s charisma. Think big and small. What makes Filson’s Seaport store impressive isn’t just the things you first see like the big bear. It’s the details like dressing room fixtures and antiques that unveil themselves the more time you spend in the store. If product-first DTC’s aspire to last over a century like Filson has, they should use brick and mortar to help us get to know them and not just their products. Personality signals a company’s identity and purpose. It also helps foster customer relationships, which will be key in weathering this storm and others ahead. To learn more about how personality grows brands, click here.

Google Search Trends Insights June 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for June 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. June 2020 Overview June 2020 was another month where keywords related to a current event news story. Of the 90 phrases we captured over the month, a third of them were news-related. Before the pandemic, the most popular keyword category was “sports”. In June, there were a few sports-related terms that we will examine later on in the article. Beyond news keywords, we saw a few holidays drive users to search as well as a few gaming-related phrases specifically related to PlayStation 5 or PS5. Here are our takes on the keywords driving the most queries in June 2020. Google Doodle The keyword that drove the most queries last month was connected to a Google Doodle. Marsha P. Johnson - 6/29/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Quoting from the Doodle Page, the illustration featured “LGBTQ+ rights activist, performer, and self-identified drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, who is widely credited as one of the pioneers of the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States.” The timing of the Doodle was to commemorate the one year anniversary of Marsha being posthumously honored as a grand marshal of the New York City Pride March.  Google publishing this Doodle during Pride Month inspired us to view the 5-year trend for this phrase. Based on this graph, the search interest is continuing to grow for Pride Month, although the biggest jump occurred between 2018 and 2019. We believe that marketers should be aware of the increasing interest and align campaigns accordingly and authentically. June Holidays  Last month had a few holidays that drove users to Google to search for more information. There were three on our list that we wanted to analyze further to understand the year-over-year trends: National Best Friends Day - 6/8/2020 - 500,000+ queries Juneteenth - 6/18/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Happy Father's Day - 6/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries The first holiday that cracked the top 3 most queried terms of the day was National Best Friends Day that brands like Starbucks and ProFlowers have used in ad campaigns. This year, the search interest for this lighthearted, social-media-friendly holiday hit a new peak. The volume isn’t large for this holiday as compared to other, more established holidays but it has been trending up over the past three years. It could be considered for content calendar planning for 2021. With the protests for racial equality and justice being in the forefront of peoples’ minds over the past six weeks, it makes sense there would be a very large increase in search volume around the holiday of Juneteenth: Looking at Google search trends data from 2004 to present, you can see that this year may have been a watershed moment for this holiday – and we may see more governments recognize it as an official holiday.   Lastly, Father’s Day had its top query day on the 21st. Father’s Day-related keywords also made the top 3 for the days of June 19 (Happy Father's Day - 1,000,000+ queries) and June 20 (Father’s Day message - 500,000+ queries). This year appeared to be a down year for queries related to this holiday as the peak occurred in 2017. Just remember, if there is any debate about which parent is more popular, check the data before you take a position. A Few Keywords Related To Sports In pre-pandemic days, most of the searches we collected were sports related but now they are a minor category of keywords. Here are the most queried phrases related to sports in June 2020: Drew Brees - 6/3/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Bubba Wallace - 6/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Cam Newton - 6/28/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Searchers were interested in what Drew Brees had to say in terms of other players kneeling during the National Anthem before games.  Bubba Wallace, who is a NASCAR driver, may have been the victim of a hate crime. Lastly, Cam Newton became a top searched sports-related query when he signed with the New England Patriots. It’s telling that without live games, sports queries have decreased over the past three months. With the major professional leagues set to resume play in July and August, it will be interesting to see if sports-related terms drive users to search like they did earlier in the year. Marketers should keep a close eye on sports keyword volume if live games resume. PlayStation 5 Is a Big Deal Sony revealed many details about their new gaming console and many people choose to learn more about it. PS5 - 6/10/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries PS5 Price - 6/11/2020 -2,000,000+ queries We have seen gaming become more popular as a keyword category over the months we have collected data. It seems the pandemic has driven more interest in gaming topics.  Marketers should be aware of this growing trend and see if it continues to grow at the same rate in 2021. Thanks for reading. Until next month.  

Google Search Trends Insights May 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for May 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Before We Begin This month’s article is difficult to write. When we started this project, we were trying to mine the top searched terms for marketing insights to share on our blog. April 2020 had some light moments, and the holidays that occurred in May 2020 did drive many search terms that we will outline below. But before we discuss Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, we’d like to acknowledge that this month is different. Important topics related to racial injustice and inequality predominantly drove queries in May. So along with those keywords, we’re going to share a resource that Google put together to continue to provide users with information on these topics.  May Holiday Trends The first keyword phrase on our list that fell in the Holiday category is “Teacher Appreciation Week.” Teacher Appreciation Week - 5/3/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Looking at the 5 year trend for this phrase, you can see that search interest surged in 2020. We think this year’s spike was powered by two main factors:  1) Google changed their logo to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week on May 3rd as a part of their Google Doodle program. 2) The pandemic has taught us all how important our teachers are, especially the parents who have been helping their kids learn from home.  While we may not see as much of a jump next year, marketers can add the week of May 3 - 7, 2021 to their calendars as a prime gift-giving time period.  The second holiday phrase from our list is “Cinco de Mayo.” Cinco de Mayo - May 4th - 2,000,000+ queries Looking at the chart, the query volume is up from last year, but lower than a peak in 2017. The holiday has been criticized in recent years, as the promotion of the date started as an earnest show of patriotism but has transitioned to be a chiefly corporate celebration. Even without a pandemic, we wonder if the popularity of this holiday will continue to dwindle as the public’s attitude on the true nature of the celebration changes. The next holiday on our list is “Mother’s Day”, which appeared many times on our list. Mother's Day 2020 - 5/2/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries  Happy Mother's Day - 5/8/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day - 5/9/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day Images - 5/9/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Mother's Day - 5/10/2020 - 500,000+ queries This year, Mother’s Day was a multiple-day event with many queries occurring on the days that led up to the holiday. We do appreciate that there was a spike in queries the week before the holiday. We’re pretty sure people were checking to make sure they didn’t miss celebrating with the moms in their lives. Beyond that, the “images” query on the 9th is intriguing, as it appears that people were looking for visuals to wish someone a Happy Mother’s Day in lieu of a traditional printed card.  We thought that this query was driven by our new behavior due to the pandemic. When you may not want to go to a traditional store to browse cards, the solution could be to make your own at home. From the chart above, this phrase has had enough volume to be measured from May 2012 now. With its highest volume this year, this trend could be an indication that pandemic-driven behavior shifts may affect sales in the printed card industry for future holidays. Lastly, “Memorial Day” was a popular holiday phrase on our list. Memorial Day - 5/24/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries 2020 saw the biggest query volume for this holiday not only over the past 5 years, but also... ...the last 16 years. This slight boost over last year and 2016 could be driven by COVID-19, as people were searching for information related to the holiday. Marketers should note that this holiday has been gaining query volume since 2004 and should be a factor they consider in their plans for the year. Protests for Racial Equality and Justice‬‬ In May 2020, there were many queries that were related to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, as well as the protests that followed.   Ahmaud Arbery - 5/5/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Ahmaud Arbery - 5/6/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Ahmaud Arbery - 5/7/2020 - 200,000+ queries George Floyd - 5/26/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Minneapolis - 5/27/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Minneapolis news - 5/27/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Minneapolis riots - 5/27/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Tim Walz - 5/28/2020 - 500,000+ queries Derek Chauvin - 5/29/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Protests - 5/30/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries From a purely analytical standpoint, the query volumes of these searches indicate that the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, as well as the world’s reactions to them, held great importance among the general public in May 2020. In the past, that’s the only takeaway we would share, as our primary goal of this blog was to merely report phrases, dates and query volumes as a record of how searches progressed over time.  But the queries on this list cannot – and should not – be viewed or discussed solely through an analytic lens. Because not only do these queries represent the murders of two men, but the systemic racism, oppression and racial violence against Black people that remains prevalent in our country today.  We at AMP Agency have been deeply affected by these events and stand in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As we continue to listen, to examine ourselves and our actions, and to do the work we need to do, we want to make it clear that any tool that helps us learn more about how we can end racial inequality is one we wholeheartedly support.  That being said, Google itself has understood the importance of this subject and has provided this helpful resource to bring greater focus to the queries related to these society-changing topics. Along with compiling keyword queries related to protests for racial equity and justice‬‬, this resource includes many different insightful visualizations and data segments that provide information as users search for answers on Google.  Thanks for reading. Until next month.