Monthly Archives: November 2013

Retargeting: The Thin Line Between Hyper-Effective & Hyper-Creepy

During the last year the amount of behavioral retargeting has exploded. In layman´s terms retargeting means:

1) You visit brand site for the reason X.
2) They attach cookie to you, which enables them to detect you when you are surfing on other sites.
3) The brand starts stalking you and populates majority of the sites you are visiting with their ads (as majority of sites sell at least part of their ad inventory through ad networks).
4) Retargeting has usually quite high ROI as it usually employs RTB (another media buzzword). Real-time bidding is explained in the video below:

How Real-Time Bidding (RTB) Works (in 30 Seconds) from Dr. SiteScout on Vimeo.

5) Eventually you break and buy something from the brand.
6) Or you are just super annoyed and block all the ads.

Don´t get me wrong. I think retargeting is a great asset in your digital toolbox like programmatic marketing in general. However, it is not the silver bullet that some vendors make it out to be. The hype around programmatic buying resembles little bit the over-excitement around SEO/SEM few years back. Too often retargeting is done too sloppily and you are harassed by irrelevant brand message because you almost accidentally happened to visit brand site. Visit is quite often too weak metric for retargeting especially if combined with a generic message.

Recently I visited these two retail websites (Dodocase, Mutewatch) and got served these retargeted ads:

Dodocase Retargeted AD


Guess which one I clicked and also bought from?

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Anatomy of An Insight: For Goodness Shakes

The best thing that can happen to your product ad is to get banned. Good example of this is the protein shake ad below:

Advertising Standards Authority in UK banned the ad because “it would cause serious or widespread offence.”

Yeah, right.

I think the problem with all these institutions is that they regard themselves as the target audience and assume everyone else is as humorless and dull as they are. That is typical problem for planners as well.

Well, whatever.

The ad itself is classic example of building the story around the dramatization of product feature (or lack of it).

Insight: Shaking protein drinks is a habit. This ad showcases that it looks stupid and there is better alternative: protein shake you do not need to shake.

Otherwise really basic, simple and functional product ad spiced with quite mild sexual innuendo resulted in the ban. Probably the ban proves to be goldmine for
“For Goodness Shakes” because of all the free publicity (like this blog post you are reading).

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Moment of Truth for Your Brand is Always

I have had great experience every time I have flown TigerAir. I like the new look and the booking process  has been pleasant on their site. When I was booking a flight to Kuala Lumpur, my user experience was this:

Tigerair Missed Opportunity
Did I try again later?

Hell no, I booked my flight elsewhere. Planning the holiday is fun and you can spend hours and hours for that dreaming phase. After that dreamy planning, the actual booking of the holiday (especially from budget airline) is just a fast transaction. You want to those chores as fast as possible.

All the nice branding and positive experiences won´t help you if you fail in the basics. It is totally ridiculous that airlines (Tigerair is not the only one) seem to buy their most business-critical functions from wholesale. There should never be a situation of heavy traffic in airline site, if you really think about it. You should not be cheapskate in all the things, even though you are budget brand. Because in that category being effective always trumps brand loyalty.

In certain categories, your moment-of-truth is always.

Tiger failed when they should have performed and also missed sure sale as well. Actually I had to buy the flights from other airline, which has less friendly UI and far more ugly logo as well. Their site just was not down when it was the moment-of-truth for my transaction.

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What Can You Learn Just By Buying Yoghurt?

I find working with supermarket retail clients really interesting. The fast pace and the sheer amount of consumers visiting single store is mind-boggling. Actually one of my first projects when I started to work in Singapore was around retail clients (having done my share of retail clients back in Finland). Although I do not currently work with retail client, I am still learning every time I go to my near store. You learn from the actual store, the products and especially how people go berserk in the queues.

Last Saturday I started to count my lessons during one (not brief, not pleasant) trip to my nearest hypermarket, Giant. There were five major ones:

1. Your habits change only when you are forced to it
As we know shopping habits are hard to break. Usually it requires quite drastic change for person to change his everyday shopping habits. One of those drastic changes is moving to another country.
In Helsinki my shopping habits was probably best described as wanna-be hipster yuppie being extreme hurry. Weekday groceries were done in the fast and convenient nearby store. On weekends I was mostly shopping in overpriced organic artisanal specialty shops spending my hard-earned pennies in hyper-expensive bread, beers, charcuterie and probably some superfoods (although I do not even know what that means).
After moving to Singapore, I took a drastic time travel and suddenly became middle-aged suburbanite who goes to hypermarket every week. What the hell happened to me? Suddenly I also became super price-conscious and am currently comparing the price development of guavas weekly. I am ashamed of myself, but there is practical reason for this change.

2.Identify the key products that drive the shopping decisions
Behavioral psychologist would probably find different traumas attached to my moving, but actually the sudden shift of my shopping habits was tied to one single product: yoghurt. Although I appreciate my hokkien mee as the next man, I still need my western breakfast (yoghurt+muesli) every morning. Smaller convenience stores do not stock bigger yoghurt packages, so the closest option was the nearby hypermarket. It is always truly educating experience to get lost in there.

3. When you learn the floor plan, you do not want to change your store
It took me last weekend almost 20 minutes to find light bulbs!
You think that the floor plans of the hypermarkets are logical, but they are not. They are deceptive mazes, where you get lost and end up buying candy and dental floss even though you do not need either one. Messy floor plans are good way to increase the loyalty. You do not want to search another 20 minutes of light bulbs in a strange store. Once you learn the floor plan of your designated store, you shop there forever. Even if the store would close down.

4. Not every promotion is an effective one
Back to the yoghurt: my main brand Marigold has the creepiest promotions and promoters. Last Saturday they handed me this:
Creepy Marigold Promotion
What the hell is this? Turtle with udders? Also it was super odd situation in general. I was stacking the yoghurt when promoter suddenly came and handed me this item (+coasters as well, which I could understand). How weird is that? You have promoters stalking the dairy shelves and attacking the person who is buying certain brand. Truly disturbing, but on the other hand I got a Christmas present for some lucky bastard.

5.Do smart innovations
I am all for innovative solutions, but sometimes too much innovation does not make sense. I tested out first time the self-service check out in Giant and it was a complete fiasco.
Majority of the products I was buying were. Fruits do not have barcodes. Barcodes are quite essential for self-scanning. I was not the only one messing up the fancy new technology.  I actually took certain pride of being the only customer who did not double scan any of the items.
Because of this design flaw, every self-service check out kiosk actually had one person to help people to go through the tedious process. How in the hell that makes business sense? How can you even call those kiosks self-serve?
Eventually the self-checking of the products took way longer than the normal route. Sometimes it is better to innovate more modestly. Good way to start in Singapore would be to introduce self-packing and start charging for the plastic bags. Nevertheless what I buy I always end with over 20+ plastic bags and every single item in different bags. In environment like this self-service is just too big step for an average consumer like me!

I learned so much last week during my hypermarket visit that I can´t just wait to skip the whole process this week. I rather live without my yoghurt.

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Anatomy of An Insight: The Streets Sound Different by Volksvagen

Sound is important part of your brand. Harley-Davidson views its V-twin engine sound so crucial aspect of it brand, that it filed a sound trademark application for it in 1994. But what do you do if your product does not make a sound? This is how Volkswagen approached the challenge with its campaign for it electronic vehicle solution e-mobility:

Insight: Electric car is just as good as normal car, expect that it does not make a sound. So it is only natural to hire beatboxer to do those traditional car sounds.

Again a brilliant simple idea I wished I had done myself.

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Fart with Confidence and How There Is Demand for Pretty Much Anything

When you market is the whole world you can pretty much sell anything and there is demand for what you do. I think it is a question of point-of-view whether this thought is comforting or disturbing. I was reminded about this when colleague, whose identity I want to protect, because he was probably buying them for himself, put me up on this:

Fart with Confidence

So basically it is underwear, which neutralizes your farts, so they do not smell. Apparently it uses high-technology carbon cloth “Zorflex”, which dissolves the odor.  It was originally used in chemical warfare suits, but now everyone can use that technology when releasing their own private “chemical warfare”.

Chemical Warfare

I understand that severe flatulence is no laughing matter (or it should not be), but I still it hard to not found this a little bit amusing. Especially because their tagline is “Fart With Confidence”.

This odd product raise couple of questions:
– If flatulence causes you uncomfortable social situations, why do you want to use underwear product with such as a prominent branding?
– Who are those perverts who smell each other when they are farting (referring to the picture)?
And if you have decided to practice those weird activities, what is the point of smelling the fart if you cannot smell it (referring to the picture as well)? Is it some kind of vibration thing? 
On the philosophical tip, if you fart and no one smells it, did you really fart?
Will they next upgrade the product to remove the noise as well?
Have they considered using this chap as their spokeperson? Or sponsor this event?

Shreddies have big potential target audience, as normal person farts approximately 14 times a day. Also if you would fart consistently for 6 years and 9 months, you would produce enough gas to produce atom bomb. I found this in the Internet, so it must be true.

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Is SEO Finally Dead?

SEO is dead.
I have never been specialized in search. I have many times worked with search specialists in various projects and I appreciate the work they do. Understanding the meaning of Google in consumer life is crucial, but SEO (or SEM for that matter) is just a part of a bigger picture. Remembering the time when clients believed that SEO is a silver bullet, I have always had my firm principals on how I approach the search:

1)   SEO is competitiveness, not competitive advantage.
Making your website search engine optimized is easy for your competitors to do as well. How do you differ from them when they have are optimizing same way as you do as well? This is apparent in highly competed fields of traffic. Tabloids or online travel portals compete head-to-head and the number one search position changes hourly. Of course if you have not made sure of the basic hygiene issues, you have most likely lost the game already. Doing search well is something that is not enough to differentiate anymore.

2)   You should create your content for people not for the search engines. 
I have blogged for almost 10 years in various instances. Sometimes I have done tests and wrote the content more with the keyword-glasses on. What I have noticed is that good content will always become popular no matter what words you use. Some of my most read posts have had actually really mundane titles and go against all the rules of the traditional “write for search engines” –rule. Of course I know that I am not Perez Hilton or Seth Godin (or do I?), and my blog post is only a tiny-tiny-tiny fraction of what is happening in Internet in general. But so is majority of the web content. Companies should first concentrate on how they can be useful & interesting, and then think about keywords. Not the other way around. Being useful & interesting is hard and there are not short cuts to it.

3)   Real Popularity is the most important optimization
Google likes content, which is popular and which is shared. After Google Panda-algorithm change two years ago, the traffic to news sites and social media sites surged whereas “content farms” really slumped (and majorly have not been able to come back). We also now that Google has increased the weight to social sharing with its search algorithm. Social media shares are harder to fake. You really have to be useful & interesting to get those shares, because they are done by real people.

These principles are still valid, and with the recent algorithm changes (like above-mentioned Panda) more accurate than ever. Google is aiming to eventually stop gaming the system and also make search to emulate more human way of searching the information. With latest Google Hummingbird there has been maybe the biggest leap in search, and the following changes will change the search game totally:

1.  Security Search is now the Default: Less visibility on why your visitors are visiting your site
In conjunction with Hummingbird-algorithm change, there was also other major change in September. All the Google searches are now secure by default. Basically this means that you do not know what keywords your site visitors have used when they arrive on your site. This change was eventually inevitable, but still makes traditional SEO harder. There are also certain workarounds to try to capture the traffic.

2. Enter the Semantic Search: Forget the keywords, give answers
More and more searches are currently made by mobile and in the future increasingly with your voice (Siri & Google Glass). Traditional “googling” is not a normal way for people to find what they are looking for. We have taught ourselves to use keywords, but what we really are trying to find is answers.
Giving right answers tailored to you is the direction where Google is going. It takes account your device, previous search history and location and gives tailored search results based on your existing and expected future behavior. Some of these developments we have already seen. Google corrects your misspelled words and proposes alternatives to what you are trying to search. Knowledge graph tries to guess what you are searching on the right side under the search bar.

The search game is totally different than it was couple of years ago.
Do we still need specialized SEO-agencies or is search business nowadays mainly SEM?

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How Shopping Bags Revolutionized Retail

Have you heard about Walter H. Deubner?
If you have not, you should be ashamed. By simple observation and great insight, he was able to create good business for himself and the same time changed the way we shop.
He invented shopping bag.
Small business grocer Deubner noticed in 1912 that his customers always bought as much they could carry. Not more and sometimes less. He designed the way for customers to buy more items on one go. He patented the idea and in just three years he was already selling over million shopping bags a year.
That invention revolutionized shopping, as we know it.
Quite often our consumers would actually buy more, but they do not realize the opportunity or have barriers for doing it. Too often we are too fixed to the traditional way of selling our product that we do not recognize the barriers that prevent current consumers to buy more, or new consumers to enter our category. Coming back to the post I wrote earlier this week about subscription model, there is huge potential in rethinking the way we sell:
Could you sell single item in bulk?
Or bulk item as a single?
Physical product online?
Online product in retail?
Supersize it?
Minimize it?
Walter H. Deubner essentially created post-purchase service. Consumer journey seldom starts or end in the transaction.

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Anatomy of An Insight: ESPN New York Marathon Nipple Protectors

Marathon is insane both mentally and physically. That is the main reason I love it. Although I have already run 13 marathons, I am still scared shitless when I step to the finish line (next time is way too soon).

You also face lots of physical obstacles during the run. Knee pains, blisters, running to the bathroom with acute stomache, sore achilles tendon, having a heatstroke, getting a backache…And this is just a small recap of my trials and tribulations. One of the most annoying ones is shirt friction, which might cause bleeding nipples, if you forget to tape or put Vaseline to your nipples. Actually there is relatively big business built around that prevention.  Sometimes you might still forget your tape, and then you are in trouble. Therefore this ESPN activation from New York Marathon resonated well with me:

ESPN Nipple Protectors
Insight: Nipples bleed when you run marathon. We give you tape to prevent it.

Approach: You differentiate when you are not fighting with every other marketer from top-of-mind. Marathon swag bag is already overtly competed place. ESPN found a place, which was not populated by other marketing messages and provided also something useful at the same time.

This approach reminds me about our most successful festival promotion, when I was heading MySpace in Finland. Instead of trying to compete for attention in the actual festival area, we concentrated all our activities in camping area (where the real party happens in any case). As there were no other marketers or no real entertainment, people did not view our promotion as marketing communications but more of entertainment or service.

Good learning to keep in mind: go where the others are not going. You might win big. (Or the others know something you don´t and understand to keep away from it.) This example proves that you should not stay away from nipples.

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