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  • What’s Hot and What’s Not in 2017

    Mar 20 2017
    A Long Engagement

    What's Hot: Vinyl
    The vinyl record industry is hotter than ever, predicted to reach $1 billion globally for the first time in this millennium. 2017 will be the seventh consecutive year of double-digit growth. For many buyers, records have become not only a collectible or memento of days past, but a physical format that represents an expression of individuality in an increasingly digital world.

    What's Tepid: TV Advertising
    Global digital advertising is expected to surpass TV spends for the first time this year, with a majority of this growth being generated by mobile impressions. Digital-based ad sales are expected to top the category this year, reaching a market share of 40% ($202 billion worldwide). But TV advertising isn’t throwing in the towel yet. In 2016, TV ad sales increased 4% to $186 billion. Experts predict that while TV advertising revenue may fall behind global digital advertising, it will still remain relatively flat, proving it is still an important medium for reaching customers.

    What's Not: Digital Tablet Sales
    Have tablet sales finally reached their peak? It appears so. The tablet market has been on the decline for the past two years (10% in 2015 and 16% in 2015) and is predicted to continue to shrink to less than 160 million units (9%) in 2017. Consumers and enterprises want more productive form factors and operating systems, which explains the growth of the detachable or 2-in-1 market. While Android-based systems are dominant in the tablet space (65% saturation in 2016), it has had difficulty competing with iOS or Windows detachable products. Keep an eye on Google though, for the launch of a new version of Android later this year with better multi-tasking support.


    Randy Brodeur - Team Leader
  • A Long Engagement

    Mar 20 2017
    A Long Engagement

    When I tell people I work for an integrated marketing communications company, they say, "like an ad agency," to which I respond, "Yes, but so much more."

    Then they often ask, "Do you come up with the ads?" I respond that our agency values everyone's opinion and ideas but creating messaging is not my primary role. Then, "Do you deal with the clients?" I say yes, frequently, but I'm required to do so much more. And THEN, the inevitable, "So what, exactly, do you do?"

    Engagement or "paid media strategists" help brands market products and services by defining target audiences and recommending ways to reach and engage them. We answer questions such as:

    "Who has a need for this product or service?" "What engagement channels – digital, TV, radio, print, outdoor, social media, experiential - will deliver the marketing messages in the most compelling fashion to inspire action?"

    So, what goes into a great engagement strategy? Analyzing every scrap of research available – first, second and third party data. Adding in a thorough understanding of the potential customers' "journey to purchase" and developing testing and campaign tracking strategies. All of which get refined and optimized as the campaign progresses and we learn more about the engagement performance.

    We work with a variety of personalities, learn about many different industries and tackle client challenges. Engagement options and habits are always changing which keeps the role dynamic and exciting. Being good with numbers, a desire and ability to "poke holes" and uncover the truth while evaluating engagement opportunities, being a bit of a people person and an ability to work in a team environment are all helpful, too. And, having a sense of humor pretty much gets everyone through the day!

    Is engagement planning as exciting as developing a messaging strategy – crafting a positioning, concepting visuals or writing a headline? It's certainly not considered as sexy!

    But remember, no brand communication has ever been seen, heard or experienced by a target audience without a strong engagement strategy and execution plan behind it. As a huge contributor to any campaign's success, I'm proud of what our team of strategists and planners do, even if nobody really understands the nuances of the vocation.

    When my parents last went on vacation and my Mom called to say, "Honey, can you suspend your father's subscription to the Wall Street Journal while we're away – you deal with newspapers and "stuff," don't you?" I answered, "Yes, that's the type of stuff I do, and so much more!"


    Mary Jo Sobotka - Chief Integrated Engagement Officer
  • Is Your YouTube Channel a MeTube Channel?

    Mar 20 2017
    Youtube or MeTube

    Babies. Cats. Gangnam Style. Those videos where people react to things. And blend other things. And fail miserably or succeed epically at... everything. Ask any human with an internet connection what's most popular on YouTube and you'll get some pretty savvy answers. So why are brands still engaging in boring acts of self-promotion (you know, those ads people can't wait to skip)?

    Turns out, marketers are humans, too. And humans are creatures of habit. So we go on posting videos about products and features that urge everyone to Buy Now! and Click Here! even though we know there's no way we'll ever come close to achieving the glorious view counts that some father in Florida got for posting a home video of his son after dental surgery.

    Okay, so boring = bad, we get it. And we all have some bad video habits to break in 2017. But there's this little voice in our head that says, "But my brand is different. We sell shoelaces. Or metal electronic connector thingies. Or something else equally conservative that will never be fun so we are destined to make boring videos forever."

    Not so fast, Mr. Boring pants.

    If you truly want to earn epic view counts (and the SEO and conversions that come with them), you must get comfortable with this idea: your YouTube channel isn't for you (or your brand). It's for the millions of viewers out there who are hungry for entertainment. Make relevant content for them and you will be rewarded generously.

    Instead of making a video about how your shoelaces are made from reinforced heavy-duty cotton (snooze)... why not tie a bunch of them together and use them to climb out of a window? Or take your metal electronic connector thingies and put them in a microwave for 30 seconds. Or donate them to a shelter where they will reinforce a solar collector that powers a soup kitchen. Awww!

    The point is, this year, let's stop talking about ourselves. Let's make YouTube videos for the "You" we're talking to. Are you with me?


    Maria Brenner - Writer/Producer/Editor
  • Future-friendly Content

    Mar 20 2017
    Is your content future-proof?

    As brands scramble to adapt to each new device and platform — watches, refrigerators, Snapchat — countless hours are spent rewriting and redesigning content to meet new requirements and realities. In addition to the money spent adapting content, each new database has to be managed for consistency and accuracy, creating new brand governance challenges and pitfalls.

    So how do you avoid the cost of creating and managing content for the growing universe of channels? Future-friendly content!

    1. Be Device and Channel Agnostic
    Future-friendly content isn't created for a specific device, channel app or website. It's created under the assumption that it'll be reused, remixed and repurposed for any platform - even those that haven't been created yet. This can be as simple as creating three different versions of a product description (short, medium and long) to be used as needed.

    2. Structure Semantically
    Future-friendly content isn't organized into "web pages." It's broken up into component parts (e.g. author, publish date, teaser description, hero image, etc.) and stored as separate entities in an intelligent content management system. It's semantically labeled so it can be read and interpreted by both humans and machines.

    3. Separate from Presentation
    Future-friendly content isn't created in a WYSIWYG editor (Google it, Millennials). It doesn't live in a static webpage wrapped in inline styling. To be truly 'free,' your content needs to live independently of design and user interface elements. When content lives as independent data, instead of embedded as 'pages,' you have flexibility to design content experiences for different users in different contexts without having to reinvent the wheel every time.

    4. Free Your Content
    It's time to merge content for your mobile site, app, and website. With media queries and cloud-based 'headless' content management systems, you don't need to waste time managing multiple content databases. Since it isn't linked to a specific design or platform, the same data can be used to populate multiple interfaces.

    Is your content ready for the future?


    Andy Kaufmann - Content Specialist
  • Consumer Trends 2017

    Feb 14 2017


    As the New Year progresses, clients and agencies alike are scrambling to predict which course consumer habits will follow. Lucky for us here at Phelps, our Research and Strategy team has put together a list of the top 5 consumer trends they predict will take shape in 2017. Check back every Tuesday for our #StrategySquad's trend forecast for the coming year!


    Maya says… 'Experience 4.0 Will Dominate"

    • What does this mean? Consumers are seeking enhanced experiences that blur the lines between the real and artificial environments more than ever before. Recent advancements in computer software have made technology such as virtual and augmented reality more popular because they don't subscribe to traditional technological constructs.
    • An example of this is… Coca-Cola 12 pack included a cutout VR headset holder where you can insert your smart phone to have a virtual experience.

    What this suggests for your brand: Experiences are intangible but usually evoke emotions within a person. Think of ways you can put your consumer within your brand's narrative. This will allow your consumer to feel like a part of your brand which, in turn, will build loyalty and affinity.


    Laura says… "Waste will be completely redefined."

    • What does this mean? The definition of waste has expanded to not only include food, but also time and resources. To capitalize off this, brands will have to optimize their processes and inefficiencies, while thinking of creative and beneficial ways to maximize sustainability.
    • An example of this is… In Brazil, an NGO called Banco de Alimentos utilizes various food delivery services to allow consumers to both receive their food orders and give back donations to the delivery driver, saving time, money and additional wasted food resources while engaging their customers to participate in a greater communal cause.

    What this suggests for your brand: Think of how your brand can become more resourceful whether in process, materials or time. Resourcefulness will show your consumer that you are aware of America's wastefulness and that you will not be part of the problem.


    Desiree says… "People will seek to break their barrier of interests, demographics, and experiences."

    • What does this mean? Consumers will be looking to obtain new knowledge and new perspectives about the world around them. This will lead to an increase in consumer empathy, as well as a more holistic view of society and a broadening of horizons.
    • An example of this is… Google Chrome developed a web browser extension called Escape Your Bubble This extension replaces the repetitive, one-sided content that clutters users' Facebook feeds with reliable, newsworthy articles that provides users a more diverse and balanced perspective. Its main goal is to challenge users to change their worldview and be more considerate of the other demographics and conflicting opinions that provides users a more diverse and balanced perspective.

    What this suggests for your brand: With this trend, think of ways your brand can disrupt your consumers' silos and offer new perspectives. The underlying theme of this trend is empathy so show your consumers you are empathetic to their needs/wants or facilitate a dialogue among unlikely people.


    Tori says… "Convenience will be regarded as the ultimate luxury."

    • What does this mean? Consumers are seeking seamless and time saving endeavors, with the main goal of achieving the same results in a more efficient and cost effective manner. The desire for automation and a hassle-free lifestyle will be first and foremost in consumers' mindsets when making those all-too-important decisions at the register.
    • An example of this is… The Snoo Smart Sleeper is a smart crib designed to automatically respond to a distressed baby through soothing rocking movements and white noise sounds. It is designed to ease the struggles and stress of sleep for both the baby and their parents.

    What this suggests for your brand: The definition of luxury has changed in the everyday world. So anticipate your consumers' needs and wants. Your consumers are looking for quick solutions so if your brand doesn't provide one, they will seek a brand that will.

     

    Sources:

    Mintel North America 17 Consumer Trends

    Trendwatching 2017 Trend Report

    CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights

  • Programmatic TV

    Jan 31 2017

    Programmatic TV is gaining ground as data and automation advertising technologies advance. Programmatic TV provides the ability to finally be able to use television advertising to target specific audiences in a manner similar to digital programmatic advertising. What this essentially means is that media buying targeting the biggest screen in the house will ultimately move away from spots sold on a gross rating point (GRP) basis to an environment where ads seek targeted impressions bought on a CPM basis. Similar to data-driven digital media buying today, television advertising won’t be identical from screen to screen, but will vary based on hundreds of granular household or viewer data attributes.

    Challenges still exist on the journey to programmatic TV including the pace of household technology adoption. Devices such as over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV lend themselves quite well to the new programmatic ecosystem. As such, programmatic TV buying is far ahead on platforms like Roku and Hulu than can be found on national and local cable networks. Other challenges include measurement as both Nielsen and comScore are talking about implementing measurement capabilities but are not entirely there, yet.

    Bottom line, it pays to begin to become familiar with programmatic TV advertising and its potential applications for your business. It’s the wave of the future in advertising.

  • Is Influencer Marketing Right for My Brand?

    Oct 12 2016
    is-influencer-marketing-right-for-my-brand-alexis-antoniadis

    Did you know that brands increased their influencer marketing budgets by 59 percent in 2015? But before trying to get Kim Kardashian to rave about you, first ask: "Do I know the purpose of influencer marketing and how it can work for my brand?" Believe it or not, it doesn’t need to involve Kim K. tweeting how much she loves you. (But if she reaches your target, by all means, carry on.)

    Influencer marketing amplifies your brand by distributing content through people who already have an "in" with your core target. In return, brands get user-generated content and more brand loyalists after the activation is complete.

    So, what influencer campaign is right for you? Here are three of our go-to campaigns:

    • Social Awareness: Your brand has been dormant, but you're finally back online. Launch a third-party campaign, and create a brand hashtag to be circulated through your chosen influencers and their social platforms. Leveraging a third party your audience already trusts will help your brand gain qualified followers.
    • Product Placement Here's where Kim K. fits in. When launching a new product that needs to be seen by a certain audience, celebrities are the way to go. If that's not in your budget, consider micro-influencers. Micro-influencers may be lesser known, but they'll have a heavy following that speaks to your target. More brands are finding micro-influencer activations more successful than higher-tier celebrity campaigns.
    • Creative Influencer: Does your brand have a seasonal sales goal, perhaps tied to a specific holiday or event? Implement an influencer activation that will create content tying your product or service to that specific time period — like back to school, holidays or sports finals — making it even more relevant to your audience.

    No matter what type of brand you are, there is likely an influencer campaign that will work with your overall marketing goals. And remember, 47 percent of online consumers are using ad-blocking technology, so endorsements from trusted influencers will only become more vital.


    Alexis Antoniadis - Public Relations Coordinator
  • When Virtual Reality (VR) Disturbs Instead of Disrupts

    Oct 12 2016
    when-virtual-reality-disturbs-instead-of-disrupts-david-tibbets

    Samsung Gear VR. Oculus Rift. Google Cardboard. Maybe you own one or all of these products. At the very least, you've probably heard virtual reality early adopters swear there's a coming revolution in video storytelling. But VR won't disrupt every medium right away.

    Deloitte Global has predicted VR will have "its first billion-dollar year in 2016" — $700 million in hardware sales and $300 million in content. We'll know soon whether the market meets this prediction, but most important, Deloitte believes the trend will be driven by video games, not film or TV.

    Why won't the VR revolution make as many waves in film or TV? Because for a century, film and TV viewers have been trained where to look. VR's 360-degree video places viewers directly in an environment and gives them the power of perspective, which is a perfect match with first- and third-person content. A film's perspective, on the other hand, is determined by camera placement, shot composition, and the relative placement of characters and objects. These things are done deliberately to move the story forward, leaving the viewer powerless of the perspective. VR cannot operate within the constraints of forced subjectivity.

    VR has and will continue to change things in gaming and content on social media. It's already making a splash for our Tahiti Tourisme client, with 360 videos of surfing and the beautiful islands. This is a perfect way to use VR: by placing viewers in an environment wildly unlike their own, make it exotic and tempt them to go explore. Or at the very least, stay on their couch to consume your beautiful content.


    David Tibbets - Editor
  • Creating Content That Helps

    Oct 12 2016
    creating-content-that-helps-susan-shimotsu

    Content marketing is most effective when brands understand self-interest has to take a backseat. This doesn't mean ignoring sales goals; it means investing in the customer relationship so when the time is right, the customer wouldn't choose anyone else.

    The most obvious touchpoints of content marketing are owned media — blog, email, Facebook, YouTube, etc. While there's no hard rule against publishing "Why You Need Us" content, those messages aren't going to resonate with someone at the top of the customer funnel. Instead, we encourage brands to consistently publish "helpful content."

    We define helpful as "tools people can use." While a comparison chart that shows how you're infinitely superior to your competitors might work when trying to close a deal, it's not going to help anyone casually looking at your site for more information. So, rather than a hard sell, produce something that explains new trends in your industry or offers tips to save time or money.

    Helping customers should continue after they convert, too. A solid resource center on your website can help reduce customer service costs, and thoughtful content can power customer relationship management (CRM). This can increase lifetime customer value by giving your brand a reputation for taking care of customers throughout their life cycle.

    Customer relationships are built on trust and service, and content that is less self-serving can help you create loyalty whether the potential customer is shopping or not.


    Susan Shimotsu - Content Specialist
  • Making Insights Insightful

    Oct 12 2016
    making-insights-insightful-laura-bernier

    Whether as a seasoned marketer or a student of people watching, I’ve found that one thing remains true across the board: Humans have trouble distinguishing between an insight and an observation (or fact). Every time I think I’ve landed on a strong insight, I run it through the following filters to make sure that it fits the bill.

    An insight is:

    • Psychological: "Now that her kids are on their own, she enjoys having the time to concentrate on the things she likes. She enjoys her family, but now that she doesn’t have to please five people all the time; she just has to please herself."
    • Empathetic: "He finds pleasure in the simple things in life."
    • Explanatory: "She wants to look good so that she can continue to feel young for as long as she can."
    • Leverageable: "His job is to make sure the sandwiches he makes get eaten, so that his family stays fueled all day."

    An insight is NOT:

    • Behavioral: "Baby boomers cook less than they used to."
    • Judgmental: "He is the most boring person alive."
    • Descriptive: "She wears bright red lipstick."
    • Exclusive or proprietary to a brand: "Toyotas are more comfortable to drive than Hondas."
    • Temporary: "She’s really into science fiction right now."

    The next time you tease out an insight, try going through this exercise to determine whether you have a true insight or if you need to go back to the drawing board.


    Laura Bernier - VP, Account Planning
  • A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics

    May 18 2016
    a-beginners-guide-to-google-analytics-brandon-ballew

    The Google Analytics (GA) dashboard is quite intuitive, and it's easy to collect basic information (number of users on the site, average time spent on site, etc.) without having a deep background in analytics. But what about specifics? Inexperienced users may derive misleading insights from powerful yet raw data.

    Here are three ways beginners can take advantage of Google Analytics for better data analysis:

    • Know your terms. New users can be confused by the terms used by GA — they all seem to mesh together. Sessions, pageviews and unique visits can be difficult to decipher for a beginner (That is, a group of interactions that takes place on your website within a given time frame; an instance of a page being loaded; and an individual user).
    • Custom reports. These are absolutely essential for digital marketers to hone in and present the metrics that are most important to them. Monthly custom reports that focus on a certain set of data provide valuable insight into trends over time. Segments allow marketers to assess data based on specific lenses — e.g., how do user location and device change your website reporting? This slicing of data is a simple tool for marketers to focus on the data that's most important to their goals and campaigns.
    • Google Tag Manager. The simplicity and flexibility of Google Tag Manager makes it a must-have for digital marketers. Google Tag Manager allows you to quickly and efficiently tag events or insert pixels into pages without changing the code on a website. The tagged event data is then sent back into Google Analytics to amplify your reports (e.g., how many people from this campaign clicked on this button).

    If you find yourself flummoxed, take advantage of GA community forums. It's rare that a new user will come across an issue that hasn't been resolved and shared online by a GA enthusiast.


    Brandon Ballew - Marketing Data Analyst

  • How Well Do You Know Gen Z?

    May 18 2016

    Generation Z (Gen Z) — sometimes called iGen — are those born in the mid-'90s to about 2010 (ages 6-20), currently making up 25 percent of the total U.S. population. They're NOT Millennials and marketers can't speak to both audiences identically. With a spending power of $44 billion annually, here's what you need to know about Gen Z.

    Gen Z learned to swipe a device before they could speak, making them more connected and tech savvy — usually with five devices. Technology allows them to proactively create solutions on their own. They're willing to work for their success and create new jobs rather than to wait to be discovered like Millennials.

    Since coming of age, they have known a war on terror, multiple economic crashes, frequent school shootings and a fear of global warming — simply put, chaos. Their reality has made them hardworking realists, unlike the optimistic Millennial generation. The diverse Gen Z kids are self-educators, do-gooders, entrepreneurs and extremely open minded.

    Unlike Millennials, they do not want all their personal business online and they're extremely selective about what they post to social media. They're choosing Snapchat over Facebook for a higher degree of privacy and visual communication.

    Here are three things marketers should know before speaking to Gen Z:

    1. Be open-minded. Gen Z is growing up in a culture hypersensitive to racial, gender and marriage equality conversations. Don't assume Gen Z will fit into a concrete (or immovable) set of beliefs.
    2. Understand snackable, private media. The sharing economy stops at Gen Z, whose eight-second attention span reflects self-reliance. Content will get shorter and one-on-one engagement will outpace shares.
    3. Visuals > text. Gen Z prefer emojis and imagery to text. They're on Snapchat, Whisper and Instagram for heavy visuals, but also private messaging and anonymity.


    Danni Johnson - Research & Strategy Coordinator

  • Surprise and Delight Your Users

    May 18 2016
    surprise-and-delight-your-users-jonathan-orosco

    Whenever a new website, app or digital product launches, it's expected that the development team did research, defined the requirements and mapped out user needs. However, many product managers don't fully understand which of their features narrowly meet their customers' expectations versus those that truly differentiate them from the competition.

    Noriaki Kano, a professor in quality management, developed a model in the 1980s to help distinguish and rank essential attributes related to customer satisfaction. He believed that products with particular attributes could correlate to a user's happiness. While there have been several interpretations of the methodology, here are three key pillars to gauge your own applications' features and functionality:

    • Basic Features. These are absolute must-haves — users depend on them. Usability expert Jared Spool likened this to having hot water available in a hotel room. It's something a user expects to exist, and basic features often take great effort to build and maintain.
    • Linear Features. Users expect these, too — think heating or air conditioning in a hotel room. Where you can help differentiate your product or service here is by providing more quality, as this typically translates to greater end-user satisfaction.
    • Delightful Features. These are attributes that customers would love, but don't necessarily expect from you. If that same hotel room came with complimentary Uber service, most people would be delighted. These types of features do not necessarily have to be complex or significant time investments — small moments of delight can have large impacts on customer satisfaction.

    Use the Kano model to help prioritize features you should invest in, which will help create your digital road map and align your team on where to focus next. While this can help guide your digital product evolution, make sure to continually assess your customers and the market, as one day what was once a delightful surprise, will ultimately become a required expectation.


    Jonathan Orosco - Interactive Producer

  • Getting Unstuck: Brainstorming Techniques for Resonant Communication

    May 18 2016
    brainstorming-techniques-for-resonant-communication-laura-bernier

    So you're launching a new campaign to accomplish a specific marketing objective. You start by outlining strategic direction, communication mandatories and the key consumer target. But then you're stuck. How do you get your agency the quality information they need to create brilliant work?

    Here are some fun and easy brainstorming ideas to help you get unstuck:

    • Analogies. Sometimes it's helpful to step out of our own categories to identify ways in. Imagine your company is up against stiff competition and new entrants into the marketplace. Step outside of this situation and take a look at a business case such as Apple's declining revenue with iPhone. If you were a marketer at Apple, what types of tactics might you employ to get the business back on track?
    • Get inside your target's head. Create a story about your target. Who is he/she? What are their values and pain points, activities and habits, lifestyles, goals, attitudes, needs, etc.? Map out a day in the life of your target(s) on a timeline. Indicate where he/she goes, what they do, activities they enjoy, etc. Get granular!
    • Identify touchpoints. On that day-in-the-life timeline, indicate all media touchpoints the consumer interacts with over 24 hours. For instance, if he/she commutes to work on the bus in the morning, he/she will likely encounter bus shelter signage, bus wraps, billboards, ads inside the bus, etc.

    It's important to remember that you aren't alone in this. Pull your agency in early to help you work through these exercises. Involving more brains from the beginning will not only help brainstorming for campaigns, but will cultivate true integration.


    Laura Bernier - VP, Account Planning

  • Retargeting: They Love Me. They Really Love Me.

    Mar 11 2016
    retargeting-they-love-me-they-really-love-me-howie-cohen

    It's one of the great sales conversion tools of our social age.

    Retargeting. You visit a website and it sneakily drops a "cookie" on your computer that tracks you across the Internet; only to follow up later with helpful reminders to buy, buy, buy.

    Some people think it's creepy.

    I think of it as helpful suggestions from people who really care about me.

    Last month, a pair of Donald J Pliner shoes popped up (again) on Facebook. Trendy orange soles aren't exactly my style, but I grabbed them up for only $200.

    iTunes loves my taste in music. When I buy one song, they tell me about twenty others they're sure I'll enjoy.

    I'm now spending $100 a month on music I never listen to.

    Just today, a $2,000 trail bike appeared on my Facebook page. The only trail I ever ride is the sidewalk to Starbucks. But if they're so sure I'll love the dirt, who am I to argue?

    They love me, they really love me.


    Howie Cohen - Chief Creative Officer

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