Digital Media

Brands of the future – it’s now about online to offline


A recent Tech Crunch article by Tom Goodwin suggests 2015 is all about the customer interface. The article points out, that Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Goodwin believes, the Internet is the most powerful mechanism we can imagine to match perfectly individuals that need something, and people with something to offer.

And if you keep that in mind, you may find my predictions for Booodl and the future of e-commerce quite interesting. For those who are not yet familiar with the app and platform, Booodl is like an online to offline market place – for people wanting to locate items nearby they need. When you remember that, and consider the following, you start to see that the future for Booodl looks rather bright.

Every marketing success story is based on turning a want into a need. All advertising is centred on this simple premise. And everyday consumers buy items as a result. Materialism is part of our culture, and we are constantly purchasing items, for ourselves, our families, for weddings, housewarmings and just because shopping is fun. And as Goodwin states, the Internet is now the perfect medium to do this, at scale, cost effectively.

According to a 2015, Global retail survey, conducted by PwC, 49% of shoppers preferred doing their research for clothing and footwear purchases in a store, 43% online and 5% via catalogue. What this suggests, it that while online shopping – and therefore websites, digital advertising, search marketing, SEO, social media and e-commerce sites can help with the purchase decision, the in-store experience is still crucial in the retail environment.

Now you may think this is simply stating the obvious, however the key issue with this behaviour, is the disconnect from online research to in-store behaviour and purchase. Therefore, at present, very little in understood about how to influence and assist the consumer in their online to offline journey. For a long time, brands have plunged hundreds of thousands of dollars into digital marketing. Using Search, Performance Media and Social CRM, digital is used to drive the online consumer down the funnel of their purchase cycle. However, at some point the online user stops researching and decides to buy their item. In a new technical era, at this point, many people will decide to buy online. The last 15 years brand have been obsessed with recording, tracking and analysing this process to collect data about their online behaviour, to form insights that help the understand when to target their brand messages at optimum time frames and within environments the consumer trusts. A combination of digital marketing tactics, can be very effective in driving an online user down this purchase funnel and often a conversion pixel can prove that such advertising was instrumental in influencing their decision. But largely once the user goes offline, brands can merely predict what happened next.

Despite the availability of such technology, as the PwC report points out, many people around the world still like to try before they buy; preferring to get out in the real world and experience the items first hand. Especially before spending their hard earned cash. We all understand how in the 2 dimensional, somewhat anonymous online ecosystem, information can often fail to represent the real life situation. Conclusively, most consumers reach a point in their purchase decision, where they log off from their phones and computers, walk in store and buy that product.

Which is great for the retailer, but not so great for the retailer’s marketing department. The marketing department has spent a lot of money on digital advertising and believes that it most likely had an influence in the consumer’s purchase journey. But there is no way to prove it. Once a user goes offline, the purchase journey is disrupted and marketeers can at best correlate total spend vs sales figures to measure success post campaign, but they have no way of knowing how many sales were directly attributed to the digital marketing spend alone.

As yet, there is no permanent software environment that connects the virtual and physical world, to allow the brand to continue mapping the consumers online to offline purchase journey. Many brands use temporary tactics, such as online coupons to drive people in store. This method of advertising is popular, because it delivers strong sales revenue, but also gives the brand key insights in to better understanding the demographics and behaviours of their customers. However, it is also seen as tacky, and sometimes eats in to the brand’s profits unnecessarily. So really, there are few ways to link online and offline behaviour sequentially.

By creating an online platform that tracks in real-time, this infinite loop of online to offline transactions, Booodl is able to suddenly do what very few business platforms have ever done before, directly attribute back an in-store sale, to a person’s previous online activities.

The second point of difference with Booodl, and what in fact relates back to Goodwin’s point about the scramble for the user interface, is that across the globe, the past 15 years have been spent helping traditional, bureaucratic companies move online. First a website, then social media, then mobile, and then the digital marketing planning that came with it. This was such an intensive task, that there was no time to think about one day, when online was commonplace, that people might go back offline, and simply want to do things the old fashioned way. We live in world that is still alive with experiences, but also dominated by technology. Children are brought up with iPads, cameras and smartphones. Future facing companies are beginning to realise the opportunities in connecting the data from the online and offline world. SoLoMo was the pretext. In an age where people carry their smartphones everywhere, and we can now GPS track and pin point people by geo-location every minute of the day, it has now become possible to connect the online and the offline world.

Yet, despite online e-commerce offering a convenient and direct way to buy products, brands acknowledge that consumers still like to buy in-store, and talk directly to the service provider or product retailer. Worldwide, new shopping malls are constructed every year. People still take taxis and everyday people travel and need accommodation. The main problem is simply knowing where to find what you need. And while a website gives a little bit of assistance, more often than not, you need to speak to the actual person providing the service, before you feel comfortable making that purchase. Hence Goodwin is 100% correct when he says, the interface layer is where all the value and profit is.

And that is exactly the space Booodl operates in. Booodl is a pioneer in understanding how to track this journey, while also offering a product that has great utility for the end user. They are your online personal assistant throughout your purchase journey. Taking you the whole way through from searching, browsing, comparing and then staying with you as you locate your item nearby, and head in to the store to buy it. Or if you are feeling lazy, why not Uber the item to you for a small additional cost? Quite handy when you remember you suddenly need to buy that gift for your friend’s birthday but you ran out of time, and wouldn’t even know where to get it close by. It’s certainly not replacing online purchasing, but rather, removing the lack of control you have once you realise you want to buy something online, but then have to wait for it to arrive. Also, you can’t deny there’s been a time recently where you went to a shop to try an item you saw and they don’t have your size, or they have it, but in a store a few blocks away. With Booodl you can check ahead of time, see exactly which store has your item in stock, in which sizes and confirm via online chat with the store assistant, before even heading outside.

And if you acknowledge the ‘invisible retail hand’ of supply and demand is never ending, and then you remember that Booodl is like an online to offline market place – for people wanting to locate items nearby they need, you start to see the true value of the platform. But its value does not lie only in the B2C transaction between the retailer and consumer. Conversely, the B2B transaction is where the future looks even brighter. Given the platform can really stay with a person throughout their entire online or offline purchase journey, the data collected about these users becomes very useful.

Digital marketing managers no longer have to guess what happened to their online audience, once they clicked away. They can literally follow the person in store and see what they bought and where they bought it. And this is where digital marketing can finally get interesting. Not to mention the insights gleaned that will help make business and investment decisions in the future.

With a valuation around those two transactional points, Booodl will not struggle in the early days, like Facebook and Twitter, which both had trouble monetising their platforms. The Booodl platform is also a natural fit for native advertising opportunities, in a similar way to Pinterest and Instagram ads. Not to mention it will allow brands to better allocate their marketing budgets and offer the ability to directly talk to and reward their consumers who are loyal and turn up to purchase items they have put on hold via the app.

To find out more about Booodl – download the app or check it out here


Connected TV killed the EPG star

iviews sbs on demand yahoo 7

Connected TV branded content on the rise in Australia

It’s no secret that over the last few years, the growth of Connected TV, Internet TV and Video on Demand (VoD) content has led to a decrease in real-time TV viewing. There are now more than half a billion connected TV devices in use around the world, and in the UK alone, connected Sky+ homes watch 33% more catch up TV and x3 more VoD than the unconnected Sky+ homes. In short, brands can no longer rely on live, TV advertising to reach their mass audience.

Conversely, in Australia, real time TV still remains popular, and sadly Netflix has yet to reach our shores, at least for those waiting diligently to obtain it legally. But things are about to change; this week Cricket Australia launched an Apple TV channel, giving fans access to extra content and information beyond the live matches. It is the first Australian sport to launch on the platform, following suit from the US, which has already launched similar channels for the NBA and NFL.

In a similar announcement, Mamamia Women’s Network, a runaway social success story, from Australian Mummy blog, to nationally recognised website that appeals to women 25-45, is soon to launch Mamamia TV. According to their editor-in-chief, Jamila Rizvi, the aim is to produce snackable TV-style content for the web. Rizvi claims that, unlike other media companies, Mamamia isn’t having to shift to understand digital or what women want out of content, as the network is already there. She said the extension of the platform to TV is due to demand; they now receive over 420,000 views a day on their site, compared to 20,000 views, 2 years ago.

On a larger scale, Vice TV is also making a splash globally and showing how brands that are willing to be reactive and involve themselves in topical news are met with likes, shares and mentions of their content across the web. Ultimately tbrands who use this form of advertising ensure their message has a much stronger, more organic impact, when compared to brands that spend high in traditional media and achieve reach with little reward.
Based on the Connected TV penetration globally, and the increasing demand for bite sized content, I predict that 2015 will be a key year for both the Global and Australian Connected TV industry and with it, will change the way brands can reach, engage and share content with their fans. In addition, the low cost nature of content production means integration of social campaigns within the TV content is relatively easy and a low barrier to entry for brands that otherwise cannot spend fortunes on traditional media.

YouTube will still be a cost effective way to upload and share videos, however partnering with smaller media brands, to introduce social campaigns via Connected TV platforms, where audiences already go to access short form content they love to watch, could present brands with new opportunities to engage in a social manner.

The Future of Design

These days, it is not enough to simply create a product with a sleek design that masks the fact it’s not entirely fit for purpose. Most consumers expect quality and any product considered sub-standard has a short shelf life, or competes in a low end market arena and hence can only charge a pithy price.

Furniture is a perfect example where this holds true. IKEA proved that if you get the balance between design, quality and price correct that the whole world is your potential target audience.

It took many years, but slowly new entrants are coming to the market. While it took Wayfair years to develop an Online presence and consolidate their audience, it appears they have managed to corner the Online shopping market for furniture. For anyone who has been to IKEA and been forced to navigate through their entire showroom in order to buy a chopping board, I imagine for time strapped, yet wealthy consumers, it’s a welcome entrant in to the world of furniture.

However, Resource Furniture, an Italian owned company, has looked further in to the relationship consumers have with their furniture and realised that due to the growing world population, the average consumer now lacks the housing space to buy the furniture they perhaps wish to own. So while Wayfair and IKEA are churning out new sofas and living room furniture, their target audience is diminishing or simply those that like their furniture don’t have anywhere to put most of it.

In response to this insight, Resource Furniture have created space saving furniture. Not only do their designs help people maximise their living quarters, they are also competing in both quality and sleek design.

Check it out for yourself:



How will Facebook get their 16 billion back from WhatsApp?

FB and WhatsAppHot off the press and the cause of endless Tweets and press coverage in the digital world this week is Facebook’s $16/19 billion acquisition of Facebook. But where the conversation fell short was in understanding exactly how Facebook intend to reclaim their investment. While WhatsApp had grown to become the instant messaging medium of choice for most people around the world – WhatsApp has over 450 million MAUs, with 70 percent of those active each day –  the rather raw, bug free and no questions asked sign up procedure is more or less what fans love about the product.

WhatsApp user growth compared to Skype and Facebook

WhatsApp user growth compared to Skype, Twitter and Facebook

No doubt Facebook bought WhatsApp not only to ensure its own platform will live longer  – it seems very few people have even installed the new Facebook Messenger app – if I use the fact I continually get asked if I should invite my friends to do so when using it myself – but to also exploit their user base for yet to be mined, advertising revenue. However, in recent months we have seen what Facebook’s own monetisation strategy has done to the platform. Not only have teens become sick of Sponsored News posts from brands they have no interest in – let’s face it, does anyone want to see a promotion post for washing powder or yet another run of the mill car brand?! – based on recent first hand media experience, Facebook itself is realising clients are starting to see that true engagement is not necessarily paid for.

If you ask me, Facebook has no interest in WhatsApp, or its fans. They have bought the platform to exploit it, indulge agencies and clients in media rich strategies without caring if they ultimately alienate WhatsApp users as a result. Will it work? Yes. It will be at least a few years before WhatsApp users jump ship to something better. Would I recommend advertising on WhatsApp to a client? Sure – strike while the iron is hot! But, as with all social media, it will run it’s course, but I have no doubt the end won’t come before Facebook has made double its investment in advertising revenue.

Enhancing Media Channels: Campaign activity should no longer happen in isolation

Second Screen

I think, all too often, we’ve seen advertising ideas that are brilliant, but never taken to the next level. I have noticed countless examples of a great OOH execution, or clever Mobile advertising, a wonderful HPTO Online, that gets people talking but for some reason the actual audience reach remains limited to its media channel, because no-one is thinking about how they could connect the dots and create a true, cross platform campaign.

I know why it happens. It’s because different departments are often responsible for each activation, and work in a silo, until their part is perfect and ready to go live. But along the way, they never stop to think about how, with a few small tweaks, the idea itself could be adapted for a different channel, thereby increasing the overall reach for a small, additional cost.

This post and the next aim to explore how this can be done for various media channels – whether it is an example of how to extend Online direct response campaigns to mobile even if your client doesn’t have a mobile optimised site, how to make a full page print ad jump off the page by extending the experience on tablet, how to harness a TV audience’s enthusiasm for a show and turn that in to live, Online conversation or how to immerse a passer-by in to an OOH placement that would otherwise blend in to a cluttered background . Many of these techniques are already being used, but not consistently, and it seems traditional Communications are still largely planned in isolation with only a small amount of thought given to how the experience could be enhanced using the digital technology, that is already being used by the target audience.

Is this a Social Led Campaign, a Digital Led Campaign, or ATL?

The answer is – it’s everything. Social is no longer about Online amplification; a truly effective ATL message, effectively integrated with print and TVC will easily spread the word far and wide for you. Especially if you have a great creative agency and a brand name with a strong heritage behind it.

Back4theFuture is a perfect example of when a ‘social’ campaign works. A slick digital design, a user experience that even my Mum could navigate and plenty of ways to ‘share’ with your friends Online. Sure, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links sit in the corner.
But in case you missed the hidden message, Social Media is not about ‘how’ will we get people to use and share the content we created, social MUST be worked in to every element of the execution, whether it’s traditional, Online or bought media. Clearly that was understood from the outset, when planning this campaign.

And this time there’s a good feeling attached, because every time you share it’s for charity. I’m sure Wieden and Kennedy are already counting the award nominations that will roll in next year. Check out the video below to understand the full vision of the Back4theFuture campaign.

The QR Code Divide. To Stay or Not to Stay?

In the past week I have seen conflicting discussions about QR codes. On the 1st of September, DigitalBuzzBlog referenced an infographic which visualised the ‘rise’ of QR codes. According to the article, QR code uptake has increased 4589% from early 2010 to early 2011. In other Marketing led innovations, an increase in demand such as this would signify a positive future for the stakeholders and investors involved. But the question posed by tech enthusiasts and the digital media industry looms overhead: will Near Field Communication (NFC) kill the QR code rather quickly? High profile gadget lover and Mobile Tech Blogger, Clinton Jeff seems to think so in a post he uploaded to ZOMGITSCJ today – although he does also argue the cost of embedding a NFC chip to respond to a NFC enabled device may prevent the uptake of NFC spreading too fast.

So I’ve thought about it. I’ve specifically been asked what I think about QR codes by other media industry professionals and my answer was – they’re outdated. Yet I continued to work them in to several creative campaign strategies with the aim to redirect Offline conversation back Online, where activity could be tracked and measured. So why, if I didn’t like them, did I continue to use them? I now see that is in fact a false dilemma – for at least 2 more years I expect QR codes and NFC to exist in tandem, until eventually the product life cycle ends and NFC takes over.

Why 2 years? This comes down to the target audience. If you want to correctly identify a market segment you have to start with the world’s entire population and discount those of whom you feel the campaign, product or service does not apply. For QR codes, we could easily say that tech savvy, media led individuals will naturally have lost interest.

But that still leaves the rest of the world. What about the late adopters? I’m talking about the people who have just purchased their first smartphone, adults whom only now have had their first experience with an iPad. The world of Apps and digital interaction rests at their anxious fingertips and QR codes are that perfect medium to bridge their technical gap– and show them – there’s a reason to use your smartphone beyond phonecalls, texting and email. I imagine those that download a QR reader App and scan a QR code for the first time, will marvel at the wonder of how a barcode can give you an exclusive offer, or open a hidden world of yet to be discovered content and do so time and again, before the novelty wears off. Not to mention they are easily created, cost effective and can be integrated with traditional media such as print, packaging and outdoor advertising, so I don’t think Brand and Marketing departments will veto them any time soon.

Even those already with smartphones often need to be walked through what is the difference between Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth and HDMI – having failed to realise most products they currently own can be synced, connected or activated to other household appliances. Yet, a QR code is something that makes relative sense – it’s like a supermarket barcode, but instead of scanning and outputting a price to a check-out computer, it produces a link to a URL (or for our target market, what they commonly refer to, as a website). I’m sure this target market will understand the idea of NFC. But will they care that a QR code is now a little dated? Will they rush out to get an NFC enabled mobile device, or for now, will they think – what’s the value in having a NFC reader- and be content with spotting a QR code, scanning it with their smartphone and seeing where it takes them?

‘11 out of 50 Fortune companies are incorporating QR codes into their marketing strategy’. Clearly, the market is far from penetrated. And once it is common knowledge that QR codes unlock special offers or take you to exclusive Online places, I believe we’ll see a lot more products using them before the fad truly expires. Sure NFC is amazing technology with a new realm of digital possibilities for the media industry and tech lovers alike, but in terms of an existing, viable target market – let’s talk about NFC in one or two years, because right now I believe the average consumer doesn’t really care.