Category Archives: Insight

Treat YouTube Bumpers like Print Ads

YouTube Marketing

Me finding something weird under my fingernails during my presentation about Video trends

Yesterday I was speaking in “Digital PR Strategies 2018”-seminar about how to build your brand one video out of time. While rambling about industrial shredders, Finnish midsummer buyers buying cucumbers and condoms, opportunities of Augmented Reality or how we have worse attention span than goldfish, I also talked about YouTube Bumpers (actually connected to our short attention span).

Those 6 second non-skippable ads have been talked about a lot in last year or so. One key drivers for more shorter video ad content is that majority of audience detest most advertising that is pushed to them. Pushed being the operating term; people are consuming content more than ever before and they are fed up with the bad intrusive advertising more than ever before. So if you take a cynical view, using short form content and branding from first second onwards is preparing to fail: “people will skip it anyway so let´s just be fast”.

The truth is naturally more nuanced and there is a role for different lengths of brand content. The important thing is to have distinct roles for the all the different video assets. It is therefore crucial to recognize what YouTube bumpers are and what they are not.

Bumpers are not for brand building or explaining complicated nuances about your product. However, they are useful tool for brand recall and enforcing your unique selling point (if you have any).

Therefore you should not think about 6 seconds as a grand storytelling tool*, but more like a print or OOH. You can communicate one strong message, one strong visual (that is naturally moving because it is video) and your brand. Nothing more, nothing less. Don´t get confused by that is video, think of it as print ad and probably your creative will become much better.

*And yes I have seen the 6 second renditions of literature classics. And they suck balls compared to original material (although some of them are quite funny). But no one in their right mind would even compare YouTube bumper to great literature novel, apples to oranges and so on. 

 

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Aperol Spritz Effect: 5 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Negroni

I am more Negroni than Aperol Spritz guy, so here I am enjoying the poison of my choice in the birthplace of the drink: Florence.

Besides the unprecedented heatwave across the world, there is method to current Aperol Spritz* madness. Recent New York Times article highlights on how Campari (owner of Aperol –brand) has been smartly devising a marketing plan and actions that have made Aperol Spritz the go-to drink of the Summer. Below are five tips on how you can make your brand stand out the same way as Aperol Spritz:

  1. Ride the trends (both big & small)

Bigger trend in US is that people are gravitating towards low-alcoholic (or even non-alcoholic) drinks. Aperol Spritz has alcohol content slightly under 10% (of course depending on your mix) that makes it less that your glass of wine but still gives you nice summer buzz.

That trend towards low-alcohol drinks is already mainstream.

For other important trend, you need to dig deeper to current cocktail culture. Americans are starting to appreciate more bitter tastes in their alcohol. That change is driven by Cocktail bars. Progressive bartenders have been using more Amaros (herbal liqueurs mostly from Italy, but recently more and more also from States) in their cocktails and shots of Fernet-Branca have almost become the secret handshake for bartenders. Elevated taste towards bitters has also increased interest to Negroni (my go-to-cocktail of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) that Campari has been capitalizing as well on smaller scale with strategic partnerships with bars.

  1. Have distinctive look and feel

The strongest asset of Aperol is the distinctive color (only rivaled by Campari from the same parent company). When person is drinking Aperol Spritz, you immediately recognize the drink. It is characteristically Aperol and it serves as cue that simplifies your selection. It also helps that you have the brand name in the drink: beer or wine can be anything but there is only one Aperol Spritz.

You cannot deny Aperol old Italian tradition. Aperol was invented already in 1919, although it became popular only after World War II. That history brings credibility to the product.

  1. Own the occasion

Campari has made deliberate push to make Aperol Spritz the drink of summer. They have partnered with popular summer hangouts and events concentrating their media push and visibility to those occasions as well. It is easier to own one season than all the seasons; one day instead of every day or create your own small moment instead of trying to carve a part of bigger moment. Campari has been successfully doing it this also with Negroni Week,  event in June, where various bars are doing their Negroni variations and part of the sales go to charity.

  1. Get the product to the people

In the previously mentioned events and hangouts Aperol spritz has also been handed for free. The biggest hurdle with any product is to get it to the hands of the consumers and sometimes it might be worthwhile investment to give the first pop for free. When your product is distinctive and instantly recognizable, the social validation of people using the product starts to spread like wildfire. You can recognize that someone is drinking Aperol Spritz compared to standard glass of wine.

  1. Make it Instagram-worthy

Not only you need to have drink that tastes nice, it also needs to look nice in your Instagram-stores. Campari has been creating different Aperol-branded swag (wine glasses, straws, umbrellas, sunglasses, orange fans) that serve as good props for social media posts and encourage you to share. Photo with you and Aperol Spritz portrays classy but care-free attitude; perfect for Instagram.

Although there is a speculation that Aperol Spritz might be the gateway to Campari Spritz, I don´t see the current popularity of Aperol Spritz as a fad. It is build on solid product with rich history, understanding of the trends affecting category and smart focused marketing campaign.

*And for those who don´t know, Aperol Spritz is a drink with aperol, sparkling wine and dash of soda.

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Why Kanye West is the ultimate Modern Marketer?

kids see ghosts

Even the cover art is causing hype. Superflat art piece by Takashi Murakami

As I am writing this, I am listening to “Kids See Ghosts”. It is a collaborative effort by Kanye West and Kid Cudi and in its short 7 song glory one of the best albums of the year. Before that Kanye West´s G.O.O.D. Music label released Pusha-T´s Daytona, album that is even better. Kanye West also has released his own solo (not too big of a fan) and there are additional two albums (from Nas and Teyana Taylor) coming in next two weeks.

We are seeing unleash of new music quite unprecedented in music history with combination of scandalous headlines. No matter what are your views about Kanye, it is very hard to dispute his mastery in creating art and also making people talk about that art.

  1. Understand the new economy

The age of traditional record industry with physical sales is over and now it is all about streaming. Kanye West´s Ye has had 180 million streams and Kanye West ties with Eminem and Beatles as an artist with eight consecutive Bilboard Number 1s. The hype machine around the five week flurry of G.O.O.D Music has been massive and they are constantly topping streaming charts. The mechanics of being popular in streaming  are fundamentally different than in physical world. You need to get people hooked immediately.

  1. Polarizing is better than boring

Supporting Trump? Using Whitney Houston´s bathroom as a cover art? Saying “slavery is a choice?” Using naked look-a-like of your wife to promote an album?

It is hard to agree or approve some of the latest moves by Kanye, but that is besides the point. He is creating news and regardless of your views about him, it is hard to not notice. For majority brands the problem is not that people are talking negative things about you. It is that no one is talking about the brand. We live in attention economy and Kanye West is the master of attention.

  1. Always-in-beta

Starting from Life of Pablo, Kanye West has reinvented the album form. Ye-album was still being tweaked right before the last minute of record listening party. Before the new album, he teased (or trolled) the audience with song “Lift Yourself” consisting of following lyrical mastery:

Poopy-di scoop

Scoop-diddy-whoop

 Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop

Poop-di-scoopty

Scoopty-whoop

 Whoopity-scoop, whoop-poop

Poop-diddy, whoop-scoop

Poop, poop Scoop-diddy-whoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop, poop

Internet was baffled and the song was not in the actual album. With the current timespan of pop songs and Internet full of memes and weird content, Kanye is essentially acid testing different ideas that might be genius or insane. They all contribute to this attention economy that drives streams, concert ticket sales and shares. With the five albums with set release dates, they need to also be released. Art does not live in isolation without connection to the audience. Kanye and his crew are breathing “done is better than perfect” mantra of successful start-ups.

  1. Let your team shine

As one of the most well-known artists in the planet, Kanye West did not just release his own album. He orchestrated 5 weeks of the most talked about musical releases. The sequencing of the albums was brilliant. Insanely strong Pusha-T Daytona started this music unleash. He had not released album in three years so there was lots of hype and the strong quality made it talked about. Ye-album by Kanye would have been hit in any case and in fine way it set the way for Kids See Ghosts (that is objectively listening the better album). Next we will have Nas, who naturally has strong own following and huge interest with his collaboration with Kanye. Teyana Taylor is probably the least well-known of the artists so it makes sense to end with her album as everyone has been raving about the different albums for five weeks.

Kanye lends his star aura to his protégés, but at least in Pusha-T album does not take over. Good leaders are not hogging the limelight to themselves but they use their clout to put their star team members on pedestal.

  1. Reinvent the form

Lately many new albums have been too long and too boring. Culture II by Migos was 1 h 45 minutes. While it had good songs, also plenty of fillers. All of the new G.O.O.D. Music releases are only seven songs and about 20 minutes, that is less songs than in the latest magnum opus (in length, not in quality) from Chris Brown. When competitors are doing things certain way, it might sense to go opposite route. The short and condensed form is also perfect for streaming. Sometimes constraints also help to create the best art.

There are not many artists that are not only creating popular culture, but are truly shaping it. Kanye West is one of them.

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5 Lessons from Leonardo da Vinci to Every Marketing Professional

“Talent hits a target that no one else can hit. Genius hits target no one else can see”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

vitruvian man

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. You don´t get to this level of of anatomic excellence unless you have opened up couple of bodies.

I recently read the autobiography of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. The book was magnificient read and made me appreciate Leonardo even more (as a painter and as an inventor). He was able to achieve so much (majority of it not truly understood and appreciated when he was alive) in many different fields despite leaving quite a lot of things unfinished. Although it is unlikely that none of us reading (or writing) this blog will paint the most heralded painting in the world, there are still plenty of lessons we can take from Leonardo da Vinci and instil in our professional and everyday life:

  1. Have childlike sense of wonder

Why sky is blue?

How are clouds formed?

What is yawning?

These were just a few questions on Leonardo´s notebook. If you keep on questioning on things that others might take for granted you will get closer to the truth.

So as a marketing professionals, we need to always challenge the preconceived notions. We cannot be afraid to ask questions that everyone is thinking but no one dares to ask.

  1. Observe the world around you

As part of his curiosity, Leonardo spent hours and hours observing the world around him. This was connected to his maniacal list taking and notebooks filled from top to bottom and left to right with scribbling about his observations. He had his intense observation skills from his childhood to his last days. It was probably connected that he was not school educated but instead learned by observing and analysing those observations.

Working in marketing means being customer-centric. We need to obsessively observe our consumers and how they act and make decisions in this world.

  1. Experiment with open mind

“Vision without execution is hallucination. Skill without imagination is barren”

-Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci opened up over 30 bodies to learn more about anatomy. He tested rigorously his hypotheses about different subjects and was also willing to change his preconceived notions when he had different test results or received new information.

Marketing is not science that you can only theorize. It is about active doing and eventually you need to get your hands dirty and start shipping. We need to be also ready to change our approach if results shows so. We should be in state of constant experimentation and improvement.

  1. Find analogies and patterns among different disciplines

Leonard da Vinci was self-learned and despite being a true renaissance man, he was not particularly good in all fields. He struggled with algebra and languages. To learn and understand better different fields, he used analogies to make them more easily understandable for other people and to himself as well. He was brilliant at discerning patterns and abstracting from them a framework that could be applied across disciplines.

As marketing professionals we have to rise above jargon and find easily understandable ways to explain what we are doing and connect it to things that audience cares about (working hypothesis being here that majority of people are not caring about what we do). As marketing communications has become highly fragmented and specialized, we need to force ourselves to actively learn from other fields and keep our renaissance mentality. Different disciplines feed and support each other. Leonardo excelled at painting, but his detours to maths, physics, biology and weapon design made him a better painter.

  1. Procrastinate with peace of mind

“Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work the least”

– Leonardo da Vinci 

For majority of us, this comes quite naturally. However procrastination is not synonym for being lazy. When you’re not actively working on that difficult/daunting task, your mind is actually subconsciously collecting ideas and processing things to prepare you for it.

The most astounding revelation in Isaacson´s book is how much Leonardo left loose ends and unfinished projects behind. One part of it was that his curiosity led him to rabbit holes and as a true renaissance man, he suddenly might be interested in totally different subject. Other part of procrastination was his perfectionism. He carried Mona Lisa with him over 16 years and improved it slowly. He might look at this paintings for hours and then add one brush stroke.

If world´s most greatest artist and scientist was prone to procrastinate, we should not feel bad if we are delaying the start of our latest presentation.

Trust me, it will be better for it.

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The Future of WeChat

It is not secret that I am fascinated with WeChat. It showcases the promise of conversational commerce in action. Yesterday I was talking about the opportunities in WeChat in Lead Conference. The different features we all know, but I find the small portion in the end of my presentation about the future of WeChat truly intriguing. We all know that WeChat has made huge leap from communication platform to payment platform.

wechat

WeChat: Messaging platform evolved to payment platform

It is currently the digital lifeline of the whole China, but what they are planning in the future. Below are couple of key points about WeChat future:

What about the global expansion?

WeChat tried to become a global messenger app. They hired Messi in 2013 with big money to be the face of WeChat. And apparently they got downloads but not engagement. Messaging apps lives and dies based on do you have anyone to message with. Techinasia dubbed WeChat´s global expansion “a disaster”. What makes WeChat unique in China is hard to replicate in other markets because of different digital ecosystem, legislation and other monopolies ruling the roost.

Now WeChat has pretty much abandoned these global aspirations as consumer product, but don´t be fooled they are still eyeing for global expansion but less as B2C product but more as B2B offering. There are two main ways how WeChat is creating its global footprint:

1.Being the gateway to China for western brands

WeChat wants to work with International brands to enable them to sell their products through its Chinese online retail platform. The benefit is that companies can then avoid some of the bureaucracy in China when setting up their own retail operations in the country.

“Almost 95 per cent of global [luxury] brands are on WeChat now — in the UK, there is Burberry and Mulberry, in Italy, Valentino, Zegna, Prada, all the big brands. Two years ago, the number was 50 per cent and last year 75 per cent, so the growth has picked up recently.”

-Andrea Ghizzoni (Europe Director, Tencent)

2. Conquering Europe and other markets through payment

Majority of Chinese tourists prefer to pay with Alipay or WeChat Pay, and only 10% would opt for cash or credit cards. This consumer sentiment has not left unnoticed by the western retailers. Chinese tourists are extremely lucrative target audience and if offering familiar paying option can ease the buying process I would be really surprised of not seeing WePay more present especially in western luxury retailers:

“Chinese customers tend to close the sale more quickly when they know that they can pay with mobile. Those transaction times are extremely quick, at under a minute.”

– Candice Koo, the Managing Director of CANCAN

All roads lead to AI

Like other big Internet monopolies, Tencent is making big strides with AI. This year they opened research facility in Seattle solely focusing on artificial intelligence and last year they established AI lab in Shenzen. AI is build around robust data so WeChat has clear advantage as they have vast amount of conversation and connections data. More importantly they also have payment data through its WePay platform. So essentially WeChat is sitting on the most valuable data sources: how people are spending their money? Where people are? And what they are talking about?

“Shopping and search engine data show one type of data, which is purchasing or shopping intent, which is valuable, but different. For example, if you were to build out an Natural Language Understanding engine, you would not use search engine data, because no one searches based on complete conversational phrases.”

-Tak Lo, Zeroth AI

There are already couple of prominent accounts utilizing AI within WeChat. Chumen WenWen is voice assistant that connects to third party APIs and answers questions around what you should do (e.g. restaurants, movies, services and more). Alibaba got headstart with facial recognition with its widely covered “Smile to pay” collaboration with KFC but it will be sure that WeChat will be launching tools based on facial recognition technologies. WeChat has also been improving its search function going head-to-head against Baidu by incorporating more social and connection information to its search results.

On a lighter note, what has become tradition with Microsoft AI Chatbots, their WeChat Chatbot Xiaobing and other chatbot BabyQ also went rogue and started slandering communist party.

“My China dream is to go to America.”

Xiaobing (WeChat Chatbot)

Do you think that such a corrupt and incompetent political regime can live forever?”

BabyQ (to the question about Chinese Communist Party)

If you want to know where Western conversational commerce is tomorrow, you only need to analyze what WeChat is already today.

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Video Killed The Digital Star: 6 Key Online Video Trends

Last Monday I was speaking about the latest Video marketing trends. Visual storytelling will be more and more important and naturally video is the most important way to tell visual stories. Video is growing rapidly and currently there does not seem to anything stopping this rapid growth:

  1. Video just keeps growing

We are living in visual age. Picture tells more than thousand words and video tells more than thousand pictures. In next three years video will account 79% of all Internet traffic. Businesses are expected to spend nearly $13 billion on video marketing in 2018. Lots of the discussions about video is focused on entertainment, but we tend to forget that YouTube is the world´s second largest search engine. 75% of consumers believe that a video describing a service is important and 25% will lose interest if your company is not explaining through video.

  1. Catching the attention is more difficult than ever

1/3 of of all YouTube videos have less than 10 views. That is quite pathetic and showcases the wide gap between hits and misses. Within top 10 most watched videos in 2016, there was only one ad (Nike The Switch). Of all the top 10 most watched ads, half were actually Superbowl ads. You are not only competing with other brands, you are competing of the time of your audience.

  1. It is not mobile-first, it is mobile-only

Mobile video is growing 25%, whereas desktop video consumption is declining for the first time ever. People are already consuming video 36 minutes on their mobile devices compared to 18.5 minutes on non-mobile devices. This mobile shift will affect your video production: Have you thought about vertical videos?

  1. Consumers are craving for instant gratification

Unfortunately average human attention span has fallen below the one of goldfish, so not surprisingly 75% of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds. YouTube is aggressively pushing their 6 second videos, which is enough time to tell even world´s greatest stories (below is Hamlet):

  1. Video platforms are eying for the prime time

YouTube are evolving from dubious quality user-generated snackable content to full-blown entertainment powerhouses. YouTube has couple of interesting offerings: YouTubeTV (cable-free LiveTV) and YouTube Red (ad-free offering focused on music and content creators). Facebook has not exactly resting on its laurels and Facebook Watch provides original video shows.

  1. Video is getting more interactive and immersive

This quarter there were over 2 million VR devices shipped (ranging from no-frill Google Cartboard to top-tier Oculus Rift), but VR has not yet hit mainstream. It currently works well with events and gaming, but we have not yet seen the killer app (or device) that would break VR to become a household name.

Augmented reality is already more mainstream (with Pokemon Go last year and popularity of face filters in Snapchat and Instagram). New Apple ARkit will just keep on making Augmented reality more popular.

Based on the calculations by Credit Suisse, VR/AR market could become as big as the current smartphone market:

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 4.01.47 pm

Source: Credit Suisse

So in the future, you do not only need to consider what is your content angle with your video. You have to also consider the depth of interactivity and immersion you want to obtain.

In many ways digital marketing is becoming more simple. It is all about two things: performance and content creation. The latter is all about video creation and to succeed in the market place, you have to be master of video production as well.

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The MAYA Principle: The Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable

“Making the strange familiar and making the familiar strange, again”

– David Foster Wallace (about realistic novels)

Reading the book “Hit Makers” reminded me about Raymond Loewy´s MAYA –principle. Raymond Loewy was one of the most iconic industrial designers of the last century. Among his works are Lucky Strike package (logo on both sides to maximize the visibility), Coke vending machines, Air Force One livery and Skylab space station (with window to look back to Earth) to name a few. MAYA-principle means:

“The Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable”

To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar. This is one of the most important things to understand about human beings. The battle between familiarity and discovery shapes our whole lives. We want to feel safe, but at the same time we enjoy the thrill of challenge. The conflicting forces of safety and excitement explains why we resonate and like things that are familiar enough but also have something new in them. Loewy´s theory (which worked in practice) was also later proved in academic research.

Humans don´t want the same old thing all over again, but they also don´t want totally new thing. They want the same thing with slight twist. That is why Spotify´s weekly playlist works so well, it exposes you to new music but at the same time plays songs you are already familiar with. “Let It Be”, “Don´t Stop Believin”, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “No Woman, No Cry” are built on the same chord progression. However, it would be ludicrous to say that these songs sound the same. There is lot of innovation in these songs, but it is innovation with boundaries. Innovation is not about thinking outside the box, it is about rethinking the box.

The secret to create things that resonate with popular audience is to embrace the conflict in the humans. It is not choice between neophilia (curiosity about new things) and neophobia (fear of anything too new), it is about finding the balance. This dualism is crucial in our industry as we quite often fall into the trap of going after whatever is new and shiny. Or we are too lazy and just do something that has been done before without adding any of the magic. Both are equally bad approaches to talk to the masses (which is the main goal for advertising). You have to find the balance between typicality and novelty.

The secret to popularity is to add slight hint of danger but still maintain the feeling of safety in your audience.

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Three Secrets of Apple´s Social Media Strategy

Apple does not have particular social media strategy.

By being quiet, they are one of the most talked about brands in social media. It naturally helps that you make iconic products with almost religious following. They have social media channels though, because they have realized the importance of social media as a reach driver. Apple does a lot of social media advertising to help to sell more of their products. What they are not doing is “joining the conversation”. Social media is eyeballs, not likes or tweets.

applehasnttweeted

Therefore Apple´s Instagram account is refreshing detour for their muted social media presence. They are actually posting things!

appleinstagram.png

But again, it is not about Apple starting a conversation or begging for engagement. They are highlighting photos that iPhone users have taken. They are tapping to existing behavior (#shotoniphone-hashtag has nearly million photos in Instagram). They are not telling about themselves, instead they are showcasing people using their products. Instead of talking about popular culture, they are popular culture.

The odds are that you are not working with iconic brand, so you might need to approach your social media strategy differently. Still, these rules might serve as the golden standard to which you should aim for:

  1. Make products people want to talk about.
  2. Use Social media mainly as a channel for reach, secondly to engagement.
  3. Showcase your users, not your brand or products.
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No Moment too Early for Machine-created Creatives

Good copy stops you to read. Bad copy as well (so in that way mediocrity is something you should avoid):

I like to read paper newspaper as it keeps me in touch of the current decline of print advertising (not to mention Straits Times gives interesting viewpoint to the society, mostly by what it omits to tell). This ad is a good example on why we should already move to machine-generated creatives for majority of advertisers.

Of course AI will eventually be able to do even better, more touching and innovative creatives than we do at the moment. Meanwhile we should at least try to differentiate a little, show what humans are better: emotions, insight, feelings. If we cannot add even a little bit of magic to whatever we do, AI will overcome us faster than we have predicted.

 

 

 

 

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UX is Everything

There are too many passwords to remember.

Therefore the user experience of “forgot your password”-button is essential. Not surprisingly when I had to reset my password for Skype, I was not particularly happy with this captcha:

captcha

How you should write this up? First the rows or columns? Funnily (or annoyingly) enough the audio did not make any sense.

Eventually it took 15 minutes for me to reset my password and even then I am not exactly sure of the logic of captcha. Not surprisingly I generally prefer Hangouts over Skype.

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