The Age of Assistant: The More Personalized and Predictive Internet

starwars

We are entering the age of assistants, they just reside in our mobile phones.

Internet used to be about destinations. Typing in URL. Searching for something you need in Google and then following that search result to the rabbit hole of different sites. Clicking on banner ads and going to the websites from those banners.

That age is soon long gone.

Although majority of firms are still basing their digital strategies on destination approach, we have already moved to the age of assistant. Internet will become more personalized, predictive and the same time it will become more even more centralized. Our communications will start revolving around our messenger app (mainly WhatsApp), our information gathering will happen in Google app (increasingly through voice) and our buying will start to focus (again increasingly more through voice). Every brand needs to become better in predicting user behavior to provide more personal service:

  1. Prediction will trump the destination approach

When I have booked a flight, Google will automatically say to me to check-in, take a taxi and arrive on time. I am not going willingly to websites of either my airline, the airport or taxi company. The whole journey is prompted by the assistance of Google and I am happy for it. Our digital properties must be able to work in conjunction with this new assistant ecosystem. We need to balance between positive surprise (“How did they know that? So cool!”) and slightly creepy  (“How did they know that?” So scary!).

  1. People want the service in their own personal way

Chatbots have just scratched the surface of conversational commerce. We want to order pizza with emojis. Get song recommendations based on the context (“Hey Google, play that new theme from James Bond”). While the world will become more voice and message-driven, the transactions will become more personal and conversational. We must revamp our service process and lingo, so that we are able to serve our consumers in way that is intuitive for them.

The future of your digital business will be revolving around consumer data. The more you can have it, the better you can predict the behavior and more personal service you can give. We are entering the age of assistant and the best butler will rule them all.

Tagged , , , ,

Turning Over a New Leaf

Last week I started a new job.

It is always exciting times. Lots of new faces and names. New processes. Different snacks in pantry. Different slang.

First couple of weeks are also devastating: you are already anxious to make your mark but you should also listen and absorb as much as possible. First weeks are great time to ask those stupid questions that everyone is anxious to ask, but after a while are too afraid to do so. So I have been mainly trying to talk to as many people as possible and to think as much as possible. I know that soon the time to think is of high value.

Many people asked what prompted me to change the job. I gave the following analogy:

The key to continuous progress when you are training with weights is to frequently vary your load or the amount of repetitions. Not too often, because then you lose the focus and just do random things. Not too seldom either because then your muscles get too comfortable to your current exercise. For a while it felt to me that I was doing the right exercises at work, but I did not develop as fast as I desired. Then you start to analyze can you easily vary your load, repetitions or should you change a gym.

After four great years in R/GA, it was time for me to change the gym and also the complete training program.

It is of course early days, but it already looks like the training program is starting to bear a fruit.

Tagged , , ,

Anatomy of An Insight: Don´t Ask The Internet

Cyberchondria is a growing concern among many healthcare practitioners as patients can now research any and all symptoms of a rare disease, illness or condition, and manifest a state of medical anxiety.
-Wikipedia

I seldom get sick, but when occasionally I start to feel under the weather I will enter to full-fledged hypochondria. After entering the rabbit hole of Google searches I will be convinced that I have gotten some weird tropical disease and I am on my way to early grave. Knowledge is power, but quite often knowing too much about potential diseases will just result in increased anxiety. To tackle this common behavior, the healthcare app Babylon has launched a new outdoor campaign “Don´t ask the internet. Ask a real doctor”:

hangover

Insight: People find visiting their doctor cumbersome, so they try to self-diagnose themselves with Google and avoid doctor visits as long as possible. This results in false diagnoses and growing unsubstantiated fear about potential problems.

sorethroat

Good campaign idea combining the humans need of convenience and rising cyberchondria. Babylon health app provides diagnoses from fully qualified GPs (with some AI) to your mobile phone, so you can get authentic info but don´t need to physically visit doctor:

Tagged , , , , , ,

Technics SL-1200: A Story of a Brand Who Deliberately Wants to Lose Its Street Credibility

dj

Me and my SL-1210 ca.2004

I own four turntables: one set back in (OG) home in Finland and one set here in Singapore (naturally as old DJ, I count turntables in pairs). All of these turntables are Technics SL-1200. In 2010 the production for these DJ workhorses ceased, but because of the current vinyl revival Panasonic has started to manufacture them again.

Only catch: they will cost about $2800 (about four times the previous retail price of Technics Sl-1200. To put it in perspective, I have used about $1500 for all my four turntables. I have nothing against companies trying to make more money, but the bigger problem I have with them is how they are alienating the group that made them famous to begin with:

“Our concept is analog records for hi-fi listening. D.J.s are fine, too, but as a marketing target it’s problematic. We don’t want to sell the 1200 as the best tool for D.J.ing. The 1200 is the 1200.”

-Hiro Morishita, Creative Director at Technics

Because of the DJ´s, sl-1200 has become one of the most well-known turntables in the world.  Now they are essentially disowning that group and trying to attract old and wealthy audiophiles. They have German classical pianist Alice Sara Ott as their global brand ambassador. They used to sponsor DJ championships before.

I have nothing personally against Alice, but I have seldom seen brands so totally disowning their heritage. Also it seems counterintuitive that when brands are struggling to target millennials and younger audience you have a company that has a great opportunity with that tricky target audience and totally neglecting to take advantage of it.

Vinyl sales are growing among millennials, hip-hop is worldwide phenomenon and DJs are biggest music superstars. You have a product that is naturally ingrained to all these trends. Many brands don´t have street credibility and try to borrow it. Technics Sl-1200 would need to borrow it, but instead they have pivoted to weird direction.

Not to mention, they don´t also have credibility in audiophile audience.

Technics SL-1200 has never been known for being the best hi-fi turntable and with their current price tag you can get turntables with better sound quality. The cultural cache that Technics Sl-1200 has does not really expand to hi-fi enthusiasts. If you are listening to Alice Sara Ott, you don´t really care who is Grandmaster Flash or that he used to use exact same turntable. Only people I know that have modified tonearm or power supply in SL-1200 (well-known not particularly good sound quality items in Technics Sl-1200) are old DJ´s. Would not seem that of a stretch for them to acknowledge the DJ heritage but do an improved version for the nostalgic old DJ´s and the DJ-minded audience. I would assume the sales would be better than with the new version.

I am loyal to my Technics Sl-1200 as long as I listen to vinyl, but I would never buy the new SL-1200G. Luckily the thing why DJ´s loved these turntables are that they are almost unbreakable so I don´t really need to acquire new ones.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Blocking The Ad-Blocking

Ad Blocking is nothing more than someone saying your advertising sucks.

Sharon Napier, Partners & Napier

NBA: New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans

Ad-blockers are changing the digital advertising landscape drastically. Already quarter of Internet users in US are using ad-blockers and about 50% more is considering to start using them.  If digital advertisers are left with audience who is just incapable of using the ad-blockers, it does not sound like particularly lucrative target audience. We already know that people who are clicking banner ads are not necessarily the sharpest pencils on the drawer. Already in 2011, it was 279.64 more likely that you would climb Mt. Everest and reach the summit than to click a banner ad.

Facebook has started to force ads even if you are using ad blockers in desktop. Publishers are testing different ways to battle ad-blocking. But essentially it will a game of cat and mouse. People have already made their statement: majority of them don´t want to see your spammy ads.

So if you can´t beat em, join em:

  1. Brands should do their own ad-blockers

Maybe Amazon could this. Instead of getting non-relevant harasment, you would get personalized recommendations based on the content you are watching. Essentially Google ad network could already provide some of this level, but many of the advertisers are still quite lazy to utilize all the possibilities. New cognitive ads from Watson could provide interesting alternatives to changing the adspace from intrusion to utility.

It could be also strong statement from brands doing constantly good advertising. For example I would rather see Nike ads all the time than majority of other brands (see D&AD Ad Browser filter)

There are already some ad-blockers who are selling ad space (which sounds a little contradicting, but what the heck). The logic is that you replace the annoying and ugly ads with acceptable and beautiful ads.

  1. Reverse ad-blocker

This could be an interesting art project.

When we are flooded with fake news, actually the ads are only thing we can rely on. So I don´t actually want to block the ads, I want to block the horrible content I waste my time on. Think about it if you could block all the Facebook updates, irrelevant Whatsapp messages and biased online commentary. You would only see the good old marketing communications aimed to make you buy more instead of fake news messing with your head.

Blocking is a part of good defense, but great blockers keep the ball on court.

Tagged , , , , ,

Power of Negative Thinking

marathon

I have run 16 marathons and now going for my 17th this Sunday. Couple of weeks before the run I am still overconfident and raving about my upcoming new record.  Week before marathon I start to be more quiet. It feels that my condition is horrible. I envision all the possible injuries I will get and the bad weather upon me. Then I usually just run it.

Although people always talk about positive thinking, actually it might be more beneficial to defensive pessimist:

“When people are being defensively pessimistic, they set low expectations, but then they take the next step which is to think through in concrete and vivid ways what exactly might go wrong. What we’ve seen in the research is if they do this in a specific, vivid way, it helps them plan to avoid the disaster. They end up performing better than if they didn’t use the strategy. It helps them direct their anxiety toward productive activity.”

-Julie Norem

Whether it is running the marathon or doing a big presentation, I generally advocate the following pattern:

1. Be generally strategic optimist: Believe in yourself and be confident

When something is still far away, envision the best possible outcome and eagerly plan to make it happen. Make public promises and be overconfident. This usually also inspires me to work more and ensure that I don´t fail.

2. Be defensive pessimist close to your performance: Make the mental image of things going really bad

When the actual event is approaching you start to freak out. That is a good thing because your defensive pessimism starts to kick in. By visualizing all the major things that go wrong you are not affected by the minor things that go wrong.

3. On gameday: Don´t think, just do it

When it is the race day or big presentation, you just let it go. You usually realize that it is not as bad as you envisioned and keep on going. After you jumped from the cliff, it is also too late to climb back.

“I would visualize the best- and the worst-case scenarios. Whether I get disqualified or my goggles fill up with water or I loser my goggle or I come in last, I´m ready for anything.

-Michael Phelps

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Why You Should Not Read This Post

Did I catch your attention?

I thought so.

In his great book ”Originals”*, Adam Grant shares story of how Babble (online parenting magazine and blog network) pitched to Disney. Rufus Griscom started his presentation by listing five reasons why Disney should not buy them. Surprisingly (or not) Disney bought Babble with 40M.

Why this counterintuitive sales tactic is actually really smart?

  1. You don´t do hard sell

Too many times when I listen to pitches, the people sound like used car salesman and are bombarding you with too many reasons to buy. That makes you sound insecure. There is a thin line between passionate and desperate. Confident salesman does not need to push.

Often times entrepreneurs who get the most investment are actually the ones who are the least enthusiastic.
– Adam Grant

  1. You anticipate their biggest concerns.

Investors are always thinking about potential challenges with their investment. When you address the concerns in the beginning you don´t need to sell your best parts so hard.

If he’s confident enough that the company is high quality that he’s willing to talk about its weaknesses, it must have some strength.

– Adam Grant

  1. You catch the attention immediately.

How many time you have been in sales pitch that follows the usual format? By flipping the script, you immediately catch the attention and you are talking to an audience that is awake.

It’s grabbing attention, it’s different, you don’t expect it.

– Adam Grant

This method does not necessarily always work, but it makes sense to shake up the status quo of your pitches from time to time.   

Assuming that the idea has some merit, when people have to work hard to generate their own objections, they will be more aware of its virtues.

– Adam Grant 

*One of the better business books of later years. It does not really have unified narrative or answer what makes people original, but it has useful anecdotes on almost every page that defy the traditional views. With majority of business books I just recommend reading executive summary, but this book is definitely worthwhile to read as a whole.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Anatomy of An Insight: Jet.com Careculator

They say that it is better to give than to receive. Those people are wrong. Best thing is minimize the amount you are spending in others so that you can spend more on yourself:

Insight: The more you love someone, the more you feel like you have to spend on them. But it is actually hard to estimate how much you should spend for presents. Especially during christmas you feel stressed on buying the presents to your loved ones. and ensuring that you do not go overboard but also don´t lowball. What if there would be an easy way to calculate friend or family member has to you?

careculator

e-Commerce site Jet.com Careculator calculates the “value” of your friends and family based on how much they have interacted with you in Facebook. Then naturally it will recommend products from Jet.com that fit to that particular price range.

It will be interesting Christmas, as algorithm said that my present to my wife needs to only be 0.66 dollars.

Disclaimer: This campaign has been done by R/GA New York

Tagged , , , ,

New Social Order: Why Everything You Learned About Social Media is Wrong?

nwo

“Messaging is the new web browser. Everyone has a phone. Everyone has a favourite messaging app on their phone. If your new thing can message people via those apps, then anyone can engage with you.”

Matt McAlister (Guardian) 

Social media has been good to me. I used to work in MySpace in its heyday. I mostly made my name after that doing many succesful Facebook campaigns. I have exploited all the useful social media channels in promoting my books, parties and whatever else I have been doing. Majority of readers to this blog come from Twitter and LinkedIn.

That being said, social media is not what it used to be. It has become big business. It has become boring. It has become predictable. Essentially social media has reached the adulthood.

Marketers took a while to learn the ropes of social media. Now we have to unlearn everything we knew about social media if we want to succeed in the new marketplace:

  1. Social media listening is becoming meaningless

70% of the social discussions cannot be tracked because they happen in ”dark social” e.g. in messenger platforms and to lesser extend e-mail and SMS (older demographics). All the social media listening tools are focusing heavily on Twitter with some Instagram and Facebook mixed in. That is hardly a representative of almost any audience. Social media listening tools focus on Twitter because it is easy to monitor. That is like only doing biceps at the gym, because it is the most convenient movement to do. The reality is that you don´t know what your audience is talking about in digital and most likely will not be able to know in the near future.

Regard social media listening as a pulse (or weak signal) of what is happening, but not the full accurate picture of your audience and what they are talking about. Unless your audience are ”social media gurus” and celebrities.

  1. Engagement with your audience is a myth

Facebook is not social media; it is paid media. There is no organic reach for the brands anymore. You have to approach Facebook with same tools and methods as TV (expect with slightly better targeting opportunities). The most interesting bit about Facebook is the whole ecosystem with WhatsApp, FB Messenger and Instagram. Referring to previous point, we might not know what people are talking on WhatsApp but soon we can target ads based on what they are talking.

Forget always-on, approach Facebook through campaigns. Do less, but bigger things. For smaller things, automate as much as possible.

  1. Chatbots are the magic bullet to bring utility to social and make brands meaningful

The whole digital experience will start to revolve around messengers. The real value brands can bring is not in human relationships, but in human-machine relationships. Community manager –model is not sustainable as it requires actual people running it. Seeing a social post of pizza will not improve your life, but ability to order pizza from the messenger will (or make it worse depending on how many pizzas you eat a week). Conversational commerce will be the biggest opportunity for the brands in the short run to become meaningful in digital sphere.

Define how you can bring value to your audience through messenger with chatbots. Move fast because your competitors are most likely thinking about the same things as well.

  1. Influencers and partnerships are the key to borrow relevance

Ad-blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. Whether your ad is in Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the default setting for your audience will be to block it. Only way to overcome ad-blocking is Again brands should not play in human-human relationships, but as an enhancer and enabler of star-human relationship. You have to start working with relevant influencers and start creating native content with the relevant media entitities. The answer to ad-blocking is not making better ads, because once you have blocked your ads you will not unblock them just because quality of interruptions has improved.

Go where your audience is and play with their rules.

  1. Forget social media

Like said earlier, the digital behavior will start (has already started) to revolve around messengers. That will be a melting pot of social, mobile and eCommerce and you have to understand that whole melting pot to succeed in the new marketplace. Our audience is not slicing and dicing their life. Messengers are lifeline of their whole existence and there is no boundaries between real-life and digital.

Your audience does not live in silos. You should not select your vendors to specialize in silos either. 

New social order has been here for already quite a while. Is your company ready for it?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Why Donald Trump Won The Election? Three Lessons for Marketers

Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment.
– David Remnick (New Yorker)

Yesterday was a shocking day.

trump
During the presidential race Donald Trump has showcased racism, hatred for women and downright lack of manners that should not be tolerable for leader of any organisation, not to mention the most powerful country of the world. I hope that some of the comments were just smart strategy (cynical adman in me) and there will be wiser Trump in the office.

Time will tell.

There have been lots of good articles of the reasons why Donald Trump won (both scientific and emotional), but there are three main reasons for the win that every marketer should take into account with their own marketing strategy:

1. Filter bubble

He (Trump) took advantage of a media landscape that has never been more broken, more fragmented and more open to misinformation, disinformation, and even outright hoaxes and lies.

– Matthew Ingram (Fortune)

I don´t have many Trump supporters in my Facebook friends. I don´t have lots of friends living in rural areas. My peer group is mostly comprised by knowledge workers, who have not gotten the short end of stick with globalization. Not to mention that I am Finn living in Singapore who does not really know anything about day-to-day life in USA. That is my digital world, but not the digital world for majority.

Not only in USA, the nations are divided. Is Super Bowl the last thing that brings all the people together in USA? And where digital has improved our life in many aspects, it has not brought us together. Media has lost its role as unifying force and you can nowadays ignore all the opinions that are against your worldview. Social media is not a conversation, it is a shouting match.

Never assume that your digital world is similar as your audience.

2. Top-of-mind is more important than positive sentiment

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

– Oscar Wilde

Many politicians and brands make the mistake of trying to please everyone. For majority, that is a huge mistake. Donald Trump is living proof of this. There were more people who were against him (Hillary got more votes) and he still won. The more people talk about you, the more you will gain followers. Sometimes angering 10 to gain 1 loyalist is worth it.

Find your audience. Only focus on that audience. Don´t try to please everyone.

3. Surveys are the most unreliable method of research

Hispanics won’t vote for Trump. Well, no, it turns out that Hispanics won’t tell pollsters – not even those automated telephone polls that they use in the States – that they will vote for Trump. Many of them just go out and quietly vote for Trump in larger numbers than they voted for Mitt Romney last time.

– John Rentoul (Independent)

If we would believe in surveys, everyone would be eating healthily, recycling and not voting for Trump. People lie in surveys. They want to portray certain image and are bad at self-reflecting. Words are cheap, behavior is the only thing that truly matters. Surveys and digital pre-testing are waste of money at their best and harmful at their worst. 

Don´t believe what people say. Follow how they move (location), how they spend their money (consumption patterns) and with whom they are in contact (social). 

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

-Winston Churchill

Tagged , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: