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Tackling Unexpected Marketing Situations With Everyday Tools

Marketers have many reasons for getting into advertising. Maybe it’s a fascination with brands or love for creativity. For me, it’s my passion for diving into culture and understanding what motivates people. It doesn’t hurt that my job as a Strategist is incredibly variable and fun. On any given day I could be interviewing men about their relationship with their beards or researching snack food super fans. Even when I worked in the more serious pharmaceutical space, I enjoyed tracking patients' journeys and uncovering their concerns when it came to their health.  But in the past few months much of the joy that came with my role had been replaced with worry as my coworkers and I grappled with the heavy impact of a global pandemic and sweeping social justice movements. The COVID outbreak in the US, murder of George Floyd, and call for brands to boycott Facebook advertising in protest of the platform’s unjust practices seemed to come in quick succession. Many brands had been (rightly) spotlighted for being disingenuous or not contributing at all to the dialogue, and we were thrust into the high-wire act of guiding our clients towards the right decision (if there was even a “right” decision to make).  “I did not sign up for this” This was one of my first thoughts and the thought of several of my coworkers who until this point in their careers had never grappled with anything more serious than a customer complaint. I recognize that this comes from a place of extreme privilege - not only am I in an industry that to me had felt removed from these topics, but I myself had never chosen to actively investigate them as a marketer. After sorting through the flurry of questions and news headlines and finally face to face with these issues, I realized that the work required for “this” was not a far cry from the careful research and planning we’ve always done for our clients. It’s with this realization that we were able to come together and create a plan.  Where do we go from here? Go back to basics Understanding that no two brands are alike, AMP created a framework for approaching crises that could be adapted to each of our clients’ needs and values. After quickly pulling any creative that would contradict the tone of the moment (ex: a social post that encouraged consumers to meet up with friends), we leveraged steps and tools that had served us well in the past when faced with a difficult brand problem.  Take a beat With marketing moving as quickly as it does, it’s natural to want to respond as quickly as possible to an event. The problem with this is that you may not have all the proper information to react appropriately, or understand whether or not it’s necessary to react at all. Much like reviewing a client brief to confirm what they’re asking of the team, taking a minute to assess the issue at hand and the impulse to get involved helped us understand the most logical way forward.  Know your brand In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, several brands were called out for quickly responding, despite the fact that their company and product had no connection to social justice and never been vocal about these issues in the past. This dissonance made communications feel disingenuous to consumers. While the messages may have been lighter in the past, the goal of feeling genuine in our communication has always been a high priority. When building a strategy for a campaign or analyzing competitors, we start with our own brand to make sense of their values and where they stand in the category. We looked inward at our own brands to review their values and past history. Once we had a firm grasp of our brands’ histories, voices, and perceptions, it became easy to know how they would react in any given situation.  Listen to your consumers Henry Ford once (supposedly) said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is often used in marketing contexts to demonstrate how consumers don't always know the proper solutions for their problems. While this line of thinking often works for communications for laundry detergent or snacks, it should be thrown out the window when it comes to high-stakes situations. A deep understanding of consumers’ needs and motivations is key for any product, but addressing those needs directly was essential in this moment. During the early stages of the COVID outbreak, our grocery clients became essential businesses overnight, with consumers urgently needing information about product availability and store hours. We helped our clients pivot their social channels to provide consumers with the exact information they needed in an otherwise confusing time.  Observe the cultural climate Once we took a minute to assess the situation, looked inward at our own brands, and outward at our consumers, it was time to take a step back and look at the given category and culture at large to give context to our work. While we didn’t want to copy our competitors, it was important to understand who was contributing to the conversation and how they were sharing. Category and cultural research is a standard part of the job, but instead of gathering creative examples and trending memes, we were gathering public statements and news alerts. These pieces of information were added to personalized live dashboards that clients could monitor.   While I most certainly didn’t sign up for the high-stakes events of the past few months (and the inevitable events come November), I take comfort in the familiar and foundational tools I gained in the “before times”, finding ways to adapt and make sense of the (supposed) chaos. This new normal may not be as light, but I’ve been able to find satisfaction in diving into research, solving problems, and finding a way forward.  

Doug Grumet Featured In Retail Digital Ad Spending Report

AMP Agency’s SVP of Media & Analytics, Doug Grumet participated in providing insights for eMarketer’s recently published Retail Services Digital Ad Spending 2020 report. The report looks at trends in Digital Ad spend in the financial service industry.  The report found that US retail digital ad spending will increase by 3.1% this year, to $28.23 billion. This is slightly faster growth than US digital ad spending overall, which will shrink to just 1.7% amid the coronavirus disruption. Retail will remain the largest digital ad spending vertical. Check out the report summary to learn more about why this matters for your brand:  https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-retail-digital-ad-spending-2020

Doug Grumet Featured In Financial Services Digital Ad Spending Report

AMP Agency’s SVP of Media & Analytics, Doug Grumet participated in providing insights for eMarketer’s recently published Financial Services Digital Ad Spending 2020 report. The report looks at trends in Digital Ad spend in the financial service industry.  According to the report, digital ad spending in the US financial services industry will increase 9.7% this year to $19.62 billion. It will be the second-largest spender on digital advertising  behind retail, with a particular emphasis on performance and brand marketing due to the pandemic.  Check out the report summary to learn more about why this matters for your brand:  https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-financial-services-digital-ad-spending-2020

MITX FutureX Summit - Summer 2020 Recap

Recapping MITX’s FutureX Summit 2020 continues to be a year unlike any other, forcing brands and companies to reexamine their own values and make sharp pivots in the face of public demands. To help make sense of it all, we joined the FutureX Summit to hear marketers, including AMP Agency’s VP of Strategy Greer Pearce, share how they are fostering creativity within remote teams, discuss how advertisers can improve their diversity efforts and cover what trends are on the horizon.   ​Keeping The Creativity At The Kitchen Table Panel Participants: -    Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy at AMP Agency -    Liz Paqette, Director of Brand at Drizly -    Dustin Devlin, Co-Founder/Creative Director at VAGRANTS As advertisers, creativity is the foundation of great work. Many of us were drawn to the profession with the promise of a creative environment, impassioned and starry-eyed at the thought of brainstorm sessions backdropped by exposed brick and whiteboard illustrations. Those things are now a distant memory, but the demand for impactful campaigns is as pressing as ever. So how do we cultivate creativity in working environments that are so vastly different from the spaces that we signed up for? Here is what we heard: Lean into Tech To start, each speaker agreed that they are now leaning more heavily into tools like Slack, Google docs and video meetings to help foster connectivity between teammates. Greer noted, though, that it’s important to switch things up once video fatigue kicks in. For a change of scenery, she recommends picking up your cell, leaving your home and going on a “walking meeting”.  Step Away In fact, getting out of the house is one of the primary ways that Greer finds inspiration. “My space is utilitarian,” she explains, so her creativity is sparked by getting out of the workspace versus attempting to turn it into a creative hub. In the old world, we could happen upon inspiration unexpectedly: on the bus, grabbing lunch down the street, bumping into someone we haven’t seen in a while. Now, we have to be more deliberate about making those moments happen. Set time aside to step away from your working environment, Greer suggests. Your creative side will thank you for it. Implement Workflow Optimizations   Thinking positively, Greer also discussed the ways in which working remotely can benefit a company’s workflow. AMP has offices nationwide, and previously, each office held all-staff meetings for that region only. Now, those meetings have merged into one nationwide sync that creates a sense of unity across each region. In Greer’s words, going virtual serves as an “equalizer” across locations, departments and individuals because we’re all experiencing it together. Reexamine Your Strategy There are also examples of this “new normal” playing a beneficial role in strategic thinking. For an AMP client in the home storage industry, a marketing campaign was nearly ready to launch when the pandemic hit the mainstream. As countless other brands also experienced, this disruption rendered the original campaign obsolete and the approach needed to be reevaluated through the lens of this “new normal”. The final result was something even more impactful, featuring “real people” in their homes (one of the only ways to safely film content) and leaning into the deeply relatable desire to declutter one’s space during quarantine.  Strategic thinking demands creativity, which Greer believes everyone should hone. “Just because your title doesn’t say ‘Creative’ doesn’t mean that you’re not creative,” she explains. Everyone in advertising, from producers to designers to strategists, needs to exercise their creative muscles in order to solve complex problems for brands. That said, with inspiration playing hard-to-get these days, we might just need to look a little more closely for it.   Time for Action: How the Digital Marketing Community Can Work Together to Build a Diverse Workforce Panel Participants: -    Corean Canty, COO at Goodway Group -    Melanie Liu, Video Producer at Digitas -    Noor Naseer, Host/Producer, Adtech Unfiltered and Senior Director of Media Innovations + Technology at Centro -    Jayme Washington, Founder & CEO at Washtone Advertising is rooted in an acute understanding of the people that make up our society and creating campaigns that reflect their values. Because of this, advertisers play a crucial role in shaping the way society thinks and behaves. One major problem, though, is that the advertising industry has historically suffered from a lack of diversity in its workforce, with diverse candidates brushed off under the guise of limited talent in those spaces. So how do we break the cycle of non-diverse thinking in advertising? The first step is education. Before diving in and standing for something you don’t fully understand, Noor explains that brands and individuals need to take a step back and map out their approach. Here are three steps that she recommends taking to foster diversity in the workplace: Set Intentions  At the risk of jumping on a bandwagon when diversity is mainstream in conversation, advertisers need to examine why they are interested in championing diversity in the first place. You’ll be better equipped to make an impact once you have a firm understanding of what you want to contribute to the diversity and inclusion conversation. Turn to Existing Resources A lot of work has already been done to promote diversity and inclusion, so in many cases, advertisers should turn to the experts instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, Melanie explains that “It’s a marathon not a sprint”, and people who are new to the conversation should be okay with the fact that they won’t have an advanced vocabulary compared to those who have been involved in the conversation for years. To make a bigger impact, seek out experts and industry-specific resources. Be Proactive In terms of hiring diverse talent, the work doesn’t start with existing applicants. Companies should reach out to individuals as early as high school to spark interest in advertising. In doing so, they will help foster diverse talent from the start so that companies don’t get to the point where they are rejecting diverse applicants because they don’t have the right skills. Furthermore, Melanie explains that if you are telling yourself that there isn’t enough diverse talent out there, you aren’t looking hard enough. There are numerous organizations dedicated to fostering diversity in advertising, such as Bid Black and Free the Bid to name a few. It’s easy to think about diversity as a pie chart, but companies “have to understand all of the variables”, Corean explains. The most important part of diversity in the workforce is diverse thought rather than just numbers, so companies need diversity in every department rather than just the organization as a whole. Finally, once diverse talent has been placed, leaders need to create an inclusive environment that encourages them to stay. The first step is here is awareness and ensuring that you can identify your own bias as well as bias within your team.   Brands and Social Justice Panel Participant: Dipanjan Chatterjee, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Historically, brands weren’t playing a public role in social justice and most would intentionally shy away from the topic. Clearly things have shifted dramatically, but what’s so different about 2020? Dipanjan Chatterjee tackles this question by examining the “three agents of change”: A Different Type of Brand  In the early 2000s, transactional brands like ExxonMobil and Citigroup were king. Now, relationship-driven brands like Apple and Facebook have taken the lead with campaigns and products that evoke emotion. As brands became more humanistic, consumers began to expect something greater than just function. A Different Type of Consumer In decades past, brands wouldn’t touch social justice with a ten-foot pole. Now, 60% of consumers expect brands to take a stance on racial justice – a percentage that increases when looking specifically at younger consumers. Based on this, brands will be under increased pressure to champion social justice as the younger generation assumes more buying power.   A Different Type of Employee It might not seem this way at first, but employees are more of a stakeholder than customers. That’s because as a brand, virtue signaling might fool your consumer, but it will not fool your employee. Individuals identify themselves with their employer more so than the type of soda they drink or credit card they use, so if an employer doesn't do the right thing those individuals are likely to move on. In fact, 39% of all job seekers have chosen not to pursue a job because of perceived lack of inclusion. So, how should companies champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Dipanjan’s first piece of advice is to be honest. Most brands have skeletons in the closet, but if they don’t clear them out the brand cannot be credible. Clear the air, get involved, establish values and be true to them moving forward.

Google Search Trends Insights July 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 July 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. July 2020 Overview Last month, as we predicted, we saw an increase in sports-related terms making the daily top 3 queries across the month.  As the major sports leagues resumed live games, search interest grew around general phrases about the leagues and players in the leagues. The Fourth of July drew people to search for information about the holiday along with the name of a competitive eater, which over the past two years has been a top searched keyword phrase on July 4th. Lastly, there was an uptick in technology terms, driven wholly by news related to TikTok. Top Keyword Searches  Here’s a rundown of the top searched keywords in July 2020. There were 6 phrases that drove over 10 million queries as reported by Google Trends: Fourth of July - 7/3/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Naya Rivera - 7/8/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries John Travolta - 7/12/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Naya Rivera - 7/13/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Dilhan Eryurt - 7/19/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Pacita Abad - 7/30/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Three of the phrases (Fourth of July, Dilhan Eryurt, and Pacita Abad) were driven by clicks on a Google Doodle. The remaining queries are associated with celebrity deaths (although it is curious that “John Travolta” was reported as the top query on July 12th even though it was news of Kelly Preston’s death that drove the query volume). While we don’t typically report on keywords related to celebrity deaths, we saw an uptick in 10 million+ queried keywords last month, with six in July 2020 and just one in June 2020. July Holidays  Outside of the big Fourth of July holiday, there were other holidays that cracked the daily top 3 last month: 4th of July - 7/4/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries National Tequila Day - 7/24/2020 - 200,000+ queries National Girlfriends Day - 7/31/2020 - 500,000+ queries With many Fourth of July events cancelled because of the pandemic, we theorized the search volume would not be as high on the holiday name this year. We pulled this chart to learn more: The data backed up our notion – the search volume for this phrase was at its lowest volume when compared to the last 5 years. One traditional brand event that is connected to the Fourth is Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. The event’s name may not drive top 3 keyword level queries for the day, but for the last 2 years, one of the contestants has. Joey Chestnut - 7/4/2020 - 500,000+ queries Joey Chestnut won the contest in 2019 and 2020, and looking at the chart for the last 5 years, the query volume peak occurred in 2018. Will future generations refer to things being “as American as baseball, apple pie, and Joey Chestnut”? Potentially. Another holiday we have been tracking trends over the past two years for is National Tequila Day. With alcohol sales up over the past few months, we thought that we would see a big jump in query volume this year. Coincidentally, like Joey Chestnut, the query volume peak occurred in July 2018. We theorize that the popularity of these lesser known holidays are dependent on brand promotions. It does show there is opportunity for brands to own relevant, lesser-known holidays with the proper strategy. The final holiday of our July collection is National Girlfriends Day. Although Google Trends reported the phrase in its top 3 on July 31st, the actual holiday happens on August 1st. The holiday did not make the top 3 in 2019, but it appears the popularity of the phrase has hit a peak in 2020. Sometimes when we look at the charts, we will see “echos” that are attached to a different date. When we look into the data further, in the case of holidays, it may be that another English speaking country celebrates the same holiday on a different date. For instance, the UK celebrates Mother’s Day in March rather than in May like the USA. In this instance, the echoes we see in the chart above are related to National Boyfriends Day (October 3rd). It appears that on Oct. 3rd, there is a spike in queries related to “National Girlfriends Day”. Let’s take a look at the trends from last year. As you can see in 2019, there was more search volume for the phrase “National Girlfriends Day” during the week of National Boyfriends Day than during the week of National Girlfriends Day. You can draw your own conclusions, but we think there are some users who are wondering if there is a corresponding holiday to the Boyfriend one.  Live Sports Are Back and So Are The Queries Of the 93 queries we recorded for July 2020, 17 of them were related to sports (18 if you count Joey Chestnut - competitive eating is a sport). Here’s the rundown of the most popular ones: NBA - 7/30/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Joe Kelly - 7/28/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Patrick Mahomes - 7/6/2020 -1,000,000+ queries Washington Redskins - 7/12/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Seattle Kraken -7/23/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Washington Redskins - 7/16/2020 - 500,000+ queries MLB - 7/27/2020 -500,000+ queries The NBA resumed play on the 30th and people want to know more. Joe Kelly, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, may have thrown at some Astros hitters intentionally. The NFL had a couple of top keywords: Patrick Mahomes signed a big contract and the Washington Redskins announced they are going to think about – and then later confirmed – they were changing their name. Seattle has a new hockey team – the Kraken – and will join the NHL in the 2021-2022 season. Lastly, MLB started their season, but looking at the numbers, it’s clear there wasn’t as much interest as the NBA.  With live games resuming, sports-related queries are up. What we haven’t seen yet, which was common before the pandemic, were game-related queries; i.e. ‘team vs. team” queries. We may see those as the leagues continue to play. TikTok TikTok hit the headlines a number of times in July. There was a glitch that happened on the 8th where TikToks were shown without likes or views in the U.S. and the U.K for a time that drove queries. The other top keywords were driven by users seeking information about the platform’s ban in the USA.  TikTok ban - 7/31/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries TikTok - 7/7/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries TikTok - 7/8/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries TikTok Banned in US - 7/8/2020 - 500,000+ queries Beyond being a short video social media platform, it’s also an advertising platform that AMP Agency’s clients are using for their media buys. Our media team is keeping a close eye on the developments with TikTok and have started plans for media budget reinvestment options for the clients live on platform right now. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services,  Until next month.

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.

AMP Agency’s Commitments To Anti-Racism, Within Our Walls and Beyond

We want to acknowledge our silence on social media these last few weeks. Like many in the industry, we took time to listen to BIPOC voices and discuss our role in systemic racism as an agency, but also to make concrete, action-oriented commitments to anti-racism at AMP. We’d like to share those commitments today—as a start, not a final solution. To our friends in advertising, we call on you to join us. Let’s continue to listen, but more importantly, to act, continuously and with purpose, to make our industry a better place to work for everyone.  As advertisers, we’re in a unique position to reach wide audiences, to tell stories and uplift voices, to help shape culture. That’s a lot of power. It’s time we used that power to implement policies and practices that are actively anti-racist and work to make advertising an equitable industry. At AMP, our internal conversations have focused around our BIPOC  teammates and how we can better support them, and also our role in the wider advertising ecosystem. We’ve brainstormed around how we can update recruiting to bring more BIPOC into advertising, and how we can be better citizens in the communities where we do business. These are the initial commitments we’ve made as an agency to help put our reflection and conversation into action: Evolve Our Operating Plan Moving forward, we will dedicate 10% of our agency billable time to do work for Black and Latinx owned businesses, at no cost and as an evolution of our existing pro-bono work. By putting tangible resources back into the local communities where we live and work, we can help these businesses grow and thrive—and contribute to long term change.  Change How We Recruit Our internship program will become an apprenticeship program. To help bring more Black talent to the industry at large, we will partner with established nonprofits to develop an apprenticeship program and offer hands-on, paid training to young talent who may not otherwise have access to launch their career in digital advertising. Furthermore, we fully acknowledge that BIPOC are under-represented in director and above positions at AMP. Our HR & Talent team is developing new recruiting practices to bring in more diverse talent across all seniority levels, not just at the entry level, so that diverse perspectives are represented in our leadership, too. Establish an Internal DE&I Team We’re creating a formalized diversity, equity, and inclusion team to establish workflows for diversity- and inclusion-centered projects, develop concrete timelines, lead future initiatives, and keep AMP accountable. We’ve already accepted internal applications for a leader to help build out this committee and will make a formal selection in the coming weeks. Join ANA’s Commitment to Equality, Inclusion, & Systemic Change We co-signed and joined in with ANA’s industry-wide initiative, pledging to achieve stronger diverse representation in our industry, increase spending in multicultural marketing, demand accuracy of multicultural and inclusive data, and work to achieve an equitable creative supply chain.  Invest in Implicit Bias and Anti-Racist Training We’ll be providing extensive bias training to Human Resources leadership and AMP executives/management to understand implicit bias and promote anti-racist values from the top down. Our HR leadership has already compiled and assigned informal anti-bias training for AMP employees at all levels—we invite you to take the Harvard Implicit Association Test along with us. Do the Work for the Long Term There’s so much more that must be done, so there must be more to come. We’ll dedicate more of our social feeds to talking about anti-racism in advertising, and keep everyone posted on our progress on increasing diverse and inclusive representation at AMP. This may be the first time you’re hearing from us on the subject of anti-racism, but we can promise it will not be the last.

COVID-Driven Habit Shifts Provide Marketing Opportunities

The entire US market is going through a routine-shifting life event due to COVID-19, creating space for smart marketers to meet new consumer needs in unexpected industries. Research has long told us that old habits die hard. This is an evolutionary benefit - when we internalize actions into habit we go on auto-pilot, saving valuable brain space for greater cognitive tasks. Doing the same daily routines, buying the same brands over and over frees us from constant analysis paralysis. It’s also a huge challenge for marketers trying to nudge people towards new behaviors like, say, buying their product.  But there are some circumstances in a person’s life when a confluence of events rock old routines so radically that, for a short window, they’re susceptible to change. These moments are rare, and require major shifts in circumstances or environment usually driven by the upheaval of a major life event. Think: Moving. Marriage. Having a baby. A pandemic with widespread national quarantine.  Over the last 70+ days, Americans have been plunged into this kind of major life event all at once. The majority of us have had to drastically shift our routines as we’ve sheltered in place, no longer commuting, doing school pick-up, going to social gatherings. As the country begins to loosen restrictions, some will revert back into old comfortable routines. But after over 66 days in quarantine - the average time it takes to form a new habit - some of these new routines will have stuck.  This mass habit shift has huge cultural implications as many of our societal norms are morphing at warp speed. And while the economy has been hit hard, it also opens up a unique window for some brands and businesses to thrive. We’ve already seen this with streaming services, online gaming, grocery delivery, telehealth, and personal protective equipment - industries that have seen growth and will be poised for more post-pandemic. But there are some less obvious behavior shifts taking place that brands can act on now.   MORNING ROUTINES The habit: At-Home Coffee and Breakfast Before the pandemic, 41% of consumers bought coffee at least once a week at a coffee shop, with 15% going daily, according to Statista. On-the-go breakfast options reigned supreme as people rushed out of the house in the morning - according to the NPD Group, Consumer spending on QSR breakfast items in 2019 was up 31% from five years previously, driven largely by convenience, with a third of consumers ages 18-34 eating weekday breakfasts en route to another location. But with stay-at-home orders in place across the country, these habits are being completely re-written. Just one look at Instagram or TikTok will show how many are experimenting with new at-home coffee routines - posts featuring #QuarantineCoffee and #CoffeeAtHome have gained traction, along with users trying new recipes and formats (Raise your hand if you tried #WhippedCoffee, the trend driving over 1.9B - yes, billion - views on TikTok.) While elaborate recipes like Dalgona may not become everyone’s long-term routine, as more people settle in to working remotely the daily coffee shop run may be a habit of the past.Brands that can meet the need:  Coffee and breakfast CPG brands that reach consumers now can become part of long term morning routines. QSR brands that lean into at-home product innovation and promotion now will be ahead of the game post-pandemic.    WORK ROUTINES The Habit: Working from a home office According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, before the pandemic about 7% of people worked from home some or all of the time. Now, everyone who can work remotely is - an estimated 56% of the population according to Global Workplace Analytics. Of course, “working from home” is not just one habit - routines ranging from your morning commute, wake-up time, and what you’re eating for lunch are all dictated by where you work. Work location in general is a major routine driver, but let’s think about it through the lens of the small physical place you inhabit while working. At first consumers were experimenting with working from different places around the house, but as time goes on workers are finding their go-to spot and looking to optimize their space - a place they spend 8+ hours sitting while trying to concentrate and collaborate each day. Businesses that can meet the need: Brands that can help people support new work habits and create productive, comfortable work spaces will win. Yes, Staples should be excited right now. But brands with products like noise-cancelling headsets, home office furniture, video conferencing hardware, or even architects and contracting services can find opportunity in this new consumer behavior. By leaning into advertising and targeting those with remote-friendly jobs, these brands can build momentum as people settle into their new home offices.    EXERCISING +  SOCIAL ROUTINES The Habit: Daily Outdoor Recreation  In the market for a bicycle this summer? Good luck! If you thought the toilet paper shortage was bad, just try to buy a bike. In March, nationwide sales of bicycles, equipment and repair services nearly doubled compared with the same period last year, according to the NPD Group, with big spikes in leisure, fitness, and children’s bikes. But this isn’t just about biking -  cities across the country have seen a surge in the number of people out walking and running, too. With gyms closed, some people have turned to online workouts - a new habit shift in itself. But many have rediscovered outdoor activities as both a fitness and social ritual. Each evening at 5:30pm in my own town, the once deserted streets are now packed with families on their nightly loop around the block.  Businesses that can meet the need: The outdoor industry, which was already seeing growth heading into the pandemic, has a huge opportunity to encourage and shape these new outdoor habits. Bike brands have already seen boosts, but smart outdoor travel operators and outdoor gear and apparel brands across the board can reap the benefits too. Positioning products as ideal for social distancing activities and leveraging tactics like influencers can help put products to the test, generate creative without studio shoots, and gain traction during the pandemic and beyond.  Check out the article on Little Black Book Online here: https://www.lbbonline.com/news/the-habit-opportunity-how-brands-can-adapt-to-consumers-shifting-routines

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