‘The Walking Dead’ Fans Can Find Solace In AR-Friendly Promo Wine

Hailing the show’s mid-season premiere, The Walking Dead wine—coming to liquor stores in February—brings labels that animate when viewed through a mobile app.

This continues the trend of AR and VR marketing for the popular zombie apocalypse franchise: During last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the brand partnered with Mountain Dew for The Walking Dead Encounter, where users pose or act out scenes with AR walkers. And ahead of the Season 8 premiere, AMC released a free VR app that simulates what it would be like to live as a walker or be eaten by one.

Although this latest pairing of AR and wines doesn’t appear to be a direct TV show promotion, any association wouldn’t hurt. Season 8, episode 8 experienced the lowest mid-season finale ratings in the history of the show.

In an attempt to put the zombie apocalypse drama back on track for its coming season, AMC has changed showrunners. And as favorite characters often get killed on The Walking Dead, fans may also appreciate a bit of promotion—and consolation—of the alcoholic variety.

The wine itself is a partnership between Skybound Entertainment and The Last Wine Company and comes in two types—Blood Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each is sealed with a collectible cork featuring on-brand images, like barbed wire, a walker’s head or a walker’s hand.

And as this promotion comes not from the AMC, but Skybound Entertainment—the company that launched The Walking Dead comic book—the AR labels are drawn in the style of Robert Kirkman’s comics: “Blood Red Blend” features an image of the franchise’s main character, Sheriff Rick Grimes, surrounded by “walkers,” i.e. zombies. And when the label is viewed through the Living Wine Labels app, Rick fights the undead.

This isn’t the first time Rick Grimes has been featured on a wine label. Last fall, AMC and wine brand Lot18 released a limited-edition The Walking Dead wine collection inspired by three of the show’s most popular characters—Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and Negan. Each of the custom blends were intended to mirror the characters’ individual personalities.

TV marketers seem to enjoy pairing wine with shows. Themed wines have previously been released to promote Game of Thrones, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Downton Abbey.

Netflix Takes Top-Earning App Spot; Consumers Prefer Political Brands

2017 Mobile Market Rundown

Sensor Tower has released its annual mobile app spending report, revealing a healthy, growing market. Spending on mobile app stores continued to grow at a brisk pace last year, with revenue from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store increasing by 34.7 and 34.2 percent, respectively. Despite similar growth rates, however, Apple continues to vastly outstrip its mobile competitor, earning $38.5 billion to Google’s more modest $20.1 billion.

According to Sensor Tower’s data, first-time installs increased much more rapidly for Google than for Apple, the figure growing 16.7 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively. This is likely a byproduct of Google’s higher adoption rate in developing markets.

The statistics for mobile games follow a remarkably similar curve: an overall 30 percent growth in revenue across both platforms and an overall 14.6 percent in first-time installs, most of which came from Android phones.

Overall, Netflix took the top spot for individual non-game app revenue, earning $510 million in subscriptions. Tinder held the number two spot, up from position 4 in 2016.

For mobile users, social media still dominates. According to data by eMarketer, 74.7 percent of mobile internet users accessed social media on their phone, and 82.5 percent of social media users accessed their accounts on mobile at least once per month.

Facebook unsurprisingly dominated the mobile social network userbase last year, with 1.54 billion users, or 62.2 percent of all social network users. Instagram had 594 million active accounts last year, making up 24 percent of all social network users.

Consumers Believe Taking A Stand Matters

New research by Sprout Social indicates that, despite the potential for missteps and mistakes, brands have more to gain than lose from maintaining a coherent political stance. Among survey respondents, 66 percent want brands to take a stand on difficult issues, and 58 percent are happy to see brands post about them on social media.

Though this tendency is more prevalent among liberals (78 percent of liberals and 52 percent of conservatives), the majority of consumers on either side of the political spectrum expect brands to weigh in. For those that do, rewards are notable: 44 percent reported a greater purchase intent, and 52 percent reported increased brand loyalty.

The Future Of Martech

Marketers are continuing to bring media buying in-house, according to research by Centro. Among the 153 ad executives surveyed, 81 percent planned to bring at least some aspects of programmatic advertising in-house in the next year, and 59 percent planned to stop outsourcing their programmatic purchases to third parties.

When asked for their reasoning, 59 percent of the respondents claimed a wish for more control, 41 percent hoped for an increased revenue stream and 39 percent sought greater transparency.

A forecast by Dentsu Aegis Network predicts that ad spending in the Asia Pacific region will grow by 4.2 percent in the coming year, measurably higher than the expected global growth rate of 3.6 percent. Much of this growth will come from digital media channels, which Dentsu predicts will account for 38.3 percent of total ad spending by the end of 2018. Programmatic spending will increase by 23 percent, as mobile video and social ads continue to eat up more of the digital pie.

“The latest ad spend forecasts show a market in transformation, but not recession. The challenge for brands is to navigate an uneven economic outlook alongside a rapidly evolving tech and innovation landscape. In many markets, disruptive innovation – from mobile, voice activation and new ad tech players – is still providing new sources of growth and we forecast this trend will continue into 2018,” said Jerry Buhlmann, chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network.

Despite expected growth in the digital market, research by Kantar Millward Brown indicates increasing penalties to neglecting more traditional channels. According to its data, there is an increasing divide between marketer expectations and reality when it comes to multichannel marketing—89 percent of marketers believe their campaigns to be integrated, while only 58 percent of consumers share that opinion.

“Consumers feel overwhelmed by advertising from all angles while marketers struggle to make the most of ad formats and channels to best reach consumers, and the latest AdReaction report unveils a disconnect between how marketers and consumers perceive campaign success,” said Duncan Southgate, global brand director for media and digital at Kantar Millward Brown.

According to Kantar Millward Brown, well-integrated and customized campaigns are 57 percent more effective, but just 46 percent of the ad campaigns it tested were sufficiently integrated.

Marketers Think Their Campaigns Are Integrated. They’re Not.

Integrated marketing provides a consistent experience for consumers whenever they encounter a brand’s presence. According to a new study by Kantar Millward Brown, campaigns with both integration and customization perform better across all channels.

AdReaction: The Art of Integration” found that well integrated and customized ad campaigns boosted effectiveness by 57 percent. The data is based on new research across 45 countries, multichannel copy testing of 12 campaigns from eight countries and analysis of Kantar Millward Brown databases.

Customizing content for different platforms is important, the study found, but must also be part of an integrated marketing strategy. Kantar Millward Brown found that 29 percent of the ads tested were integrated but not customized, while 26 percent of the ads were not sufficiently integrated.

While integration is key to brand recognition, marketers and consumers have different views on whether campaigns successfully fit together. Eighty-nine percent of marketers surveyed believe their campaign strategies to be integrated, but only 58 percent of consumers agree.

Integrated campaigns are 31 percent more effective at building brands, even without customization. Basic integration can be achieved with connective elements like the same logo and slogan across channels. If you want consumers to remember your brand, Kantar Millward Brown says, “the more cues used, the better.”

“There is a sweet spot between integration and customization,” Kantar Millward Brown said in a statement. “A strong integrated campaign must be flexible enough to enable novel, complementary content, but familiar enough to link the key campaign elements tightly together.”

The study found that consistent characters or personalities are the individual cues which most help brand impact, often differentiating the best campaigns.

While all channels benefit from integration, the report states, some work even better when combined. For example, the strongest overall synergy combinations are between TV and Facebook, and TV with outdoor campaigns.

Kantar Millward Brown advised that brands only use channels that have a clear role in the campaign and in reaching the target audience. Understanding what each channel can deliver in terms of impact and cost is also important, the company said. Online ads are cost-effective in extending TV reach and building brand metrics from awareness through to purchase intent, for example.

In today’s world, consumers are often painfully aware that advertising exists. Eighty-one percent of global respondents report that advertising has increased versus three years ago, and 69 percent agree that ads are more intrusive now.

“Consumers feel overwhelmed by advertising from all angles,” said the report.

Integration may seem daunting, but Kantar Millward Brown reminds us that every great campaign starts with a strong central idea. Campaigns with a strong central idea performed 64 percent better across all brand KPIs, especially brand image associations at 91 percent. Such an idea acts as “connective tissue” across all content, according to the report.

When asked if campaigns are doing a better job at storytelling and integrating across formats, responses varied by country. Marketers in Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, China and Brazil are making the most progress, according to consumers. Less progress is felt in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France and Czech Republic.

Facebook’s New Algorithm Requires A Hands-On Marketing Approach

Facebook’s big News Feed algorithm update rolls out this week, forcing many businesses to re-think their marketing strategies. While some marketers may panic, rising to the challenge offers advantages to those who nurture audiences on the social network.

In response to user complaints, Facebook is changing the algorithm for its News Feed—the sprawling list of updates seen by 1.37 billion users each day. Posts by friends and family are prioritized above those by brands, and further prioritized by the number of interactions. According to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the change is intended to foster more meaningful interactions between its users.

Marketers are all too familiar with Facebook algorithm changes that have whittled away at brands’ organic reach over the years. One solution has been to purchase more Facebook ads to stand out from the crowd, but Zuckerberg warned that users may spend less time scrolling the News Feed altogether. Competing for smaller groups of eyeballs may drive up the price of advertising, industry insiders told The Wall Street Journal.

The good news is Facebook’s new algorithm will favor marketers who build meaningful relationships with their audience. Historically, driving conversations have better long-term effects than bombarding users with sales pitches. Brands that only promote their products will suffer from this update the most, as will those who rely on third-parties or bots to interact with posts.

Perhaps in an effort to help, Facebook announced efforts to help businesses use the platform right after releasing news of its algorithm change: “Look for investment in rich messaging experiences not only from global brands, but small businesses who need to be creative and nimble to stay competitive,” Facebook head of Messenger David Marcus said in a blog post.

What will actually be effective for brands? Watch—Facebook’s new video platform—and Messenger may be alternative outlets for them to reach audiences. But mass posting and attempting to trick the algorithm through engagement bait will come up short on results. Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm last month to demote posts soliciting engagements and penalize brands that produce them.

Ultimately, building a funnel through engaging content may be the key to reaching Facebook’s users. “I think we’re going to see a move toward how businesses can get their arms around audiences and the creation of owned media experiences,” Robert Rose, chief content advisor for Content Marketing Institute, said in a recent AListDaily interview. “Whether they be blogs or television networks or shows or publishing magazines, [businesses need] to be able to reach those audiences that they’re struggling to reach through traditional advertising.”

Mobile Gaming ‘Whales’ Are Fitting New Descriptors

Whales—a.k.a. players who spend a great deal on in-app purchases—bring in the majority of revenue for the free-to-play (F2P) mobile game market, despite there being fewer of them to support a game. As mobile games evolve, so does the definition of  “whale.”

“Most game developers think of whales as their top spenders, but depending on the genre or objective of the game, this could be defined differently,” said Ben Chen, SVP and GM of developer relations at Tapjoy.

Chen referred to casual games that primarily monetize through ads instead of in-app purchases, so they focus their marketing efforts on driving user engagement. These games place higher value on user retention, defining ‘whales’ by the number of sessions and time in-app than overall spend.

DeltaDNA CEO Mark Robinson also sees the term evolving. He says the standard definition of a whale is someone who has a lifetime spend of more than $100, but that number is probably too low nowadays, and maintaining spend has become more important. A better definition for 2018 is someone who spends more than $100 per month on a game.

“Most publishers these days care about month-on-month spend rather than a flat amount in a lifetime,” said Robinson. “That is why so many older games release very niche content in a bid to keep their highest-level players playing longer.”

Robinson added that by playing longer and spending small amounts per session, rather than dropping a large amount all at once, lower spenders can eventually become whales. But not all paying players want the same things from their games.

“Some will spend for a competitive edge while others will do more for cosmetic reasons,” Robinson explained. “However, the spending patterns of these are different—players only spending to win or progress faster will burn out quickly while those that are engrossed in the game and want to customise the experience are more sustainable.”

Whales can also be divided into subcategories. In December, DeltaDNA released a study on how gender impacts gameplay and found that on average, women spend 44 percent more on than men on mobile games, specifically puzzle and casino games, suggesting that women are more invested in the platform.

Robinson said that women tend to be attracted to aesthetics, preferring games with gender-neutral art and design across all genres, rather than ones that are very masculine-oriented, such as those that only have male characters to embody or feature scantily clad women.

He also said that older gamers also make up a large fraction of the mobile gaming community, but this audience seems almost exclusively interested in very casual puzzle games and social casino apps.

The fast growth of mobile gaming not only redefines what a whale is, but brings into question whether a system where the vast majority of revenues are brought in by a minority of players is sustainable.

Robinson believes that the current monetization systems are sustainable, but they may not be the best ways forward.

“Games are under a lot of scrutiny for exploiting gambling mechanics which have sustained the casino industry for years,” he explained. “There is no reason why these would stop working, since casinos have been around and profitable for a long time. But in the long run, this may give F2P a stigma it can’t shake.”

Chen says as casual games grow in popularity, more developers are turning more toward ad-based monetization to drive revenue. While there will always be successful core titles that are sustained primarily through purchases, the model doesn’t work as well for very extremely casual games.

“For these kinds of titles, user engagement matters more than anything,” said Chen. “Each time you get your users to open the app and watch a single video, you drive incremental revenue. Plus, developers are becoming more sophisticated about where and when to promote video ads, and the ad products themselves are becoming more engaging, like with playables (streaming demos) or videos with interactive end cards. All of this helps developers more broadly monetize their audience and drive incremental revenue from every user.”

Facebook News Feed Update Creates More Challenges For Brands

Facebook has announced more News Feed algorithm changes that will prioritize posts from friends and family over brands. These updates, rolling out over the next few months, attempt to solve growing trust issues, mental health concerns and user complaints regarding the platform.

Last year, the social network announced that it would rank posts from personal connections over those by publishers or businesses, forcing marketers to re-think their engagement strategies. This latest update will rank personal connection posts by interactions—so it’s not enough for Mom to share your brand’s latest video.

According to a blog post on Thursday, Facebook will continue to rank personal posts and show even less “public” posts from brands. Facebook warns that brand pages may see their reach, watch time and referral traffic decrease, especially for posts without a lot of comments and likes.

For marketers, creating content worth sharing and building an audience may help Facebook News Feed ranking efforts. Influencer marketing may help as well due to higher engagement, although official pages, in general, will be ranked lower on the News Feed. Facebook encourages the use of Facebook Live video, citing six times as many interactions as regular videos.

The platform already prioritizes content based on how much users engage with a post, which can be exploited using what Facebook calls “engagement bait.” Beginning in December, the company began demoting posts that elicit a response such as “Like if you love puppies” or “tag a friend for a chance to win.”

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content—posts from businesses, brands and media—is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Thursday.

Zuckerberg likely refers to posts like this one about how important messages such as a friend’s death are often buried by Facebook’s algorithms. He may also be eluding to the site’s ongoing battle with fake news that may have swayed the 2016 US Presidential Election. Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been called to a Congressional hearing next week to explain how they will combat the spread of extremist propaganda.

A number of studies have shown that frequent Facebook use can increase depression and social comparison. Zuckerberg didn’t acknowledge any particular studies in his update, but cites passive activities on Facebook as “not so good” for a user’s wellbeing. That, he claimed, is why the company’s goal is to help Facebook users have more meaningful interactions.

In the long term, happier Facebook users could mean more time spent on the platform and more chances to create meaningful interactions with brands. An October Verge survey found that Facebook had the lowest percentage of people who liked its products and services compared to Amazon, Google, Apple or Microsoft.

In the short term, this update means marketers may find less organic interaction with the Facebook News Feed and turn to ads or other social networks to reach audiences. EMarketer expects Facebook to dominate US social network ad spend, generating $21.57 billion in US ad revenues this year, accounting for almost 83 percent of total social media ad spending in the country.


With Cleveland Cavaliers Virtual Jersey Sponsorship, Hot Pockets Explores Esports

As the Cleveland Cavaliers releases one of the first NBA 2K League virtual jersey sponsorships—a Hot Pockets patch on the upper right chest—it could provide a case study for non-endemic brands looking to make esports headway.

Cleveland Cavaliers senior director of digital partnership Jonathan Sumers says this sponsorship strategy isn’t a hard one for companies to understand, as it replicates the actual NBA experience.

“It’s a much easier sell-through to show companies how their brand will be incorporated into the game itself,” Sumers explained. “Everyone understands how courtside signage works in the NBA and it’s the same in the NBA 2K game. It’s an organic and natural way to integrate brands than other esports games—like a Dota 2, where companies don’t understand exactly where their brand appears on screen.”

Hot Pockets will also be promoted inside the Cavs home NBA 2K virtual arena as part of a marketing partnership with the local Cleveland Nestle brand in a campaign that will include digital and social media content.

Mohini Joshi, marketing director for Hot Pockets, endorses the campaign for the high correlation between his brand’s consumers and NBA fans and gamers, and for the chance the partnership provides to become more relevant in that gaming space.

Hot Pockets parent company Nestle kicked off its esports collaboration by incorporating gaming influencers into its branded content, and then evolved into influencer brand integrated content.

“One of the most significant aspects of the Cavs Legion opportunity is the way it’s being approached as a partnership instead of a corporate sponsorship,” Joshi explained. “This partnership will involve working together with the Cavs Legion Game Club to create meaningful content.”

Anthony Muraco, director of gaming operations for the Cavs, told AListDaily that the challenge traditional esports games have in connecting with mainstream spectators is that if you’re not a League of Legends or CS:GO player or enthusiast, it’s hard to grasp what’s going on.

“If you understand basketball, you understand NBA 2K,” Muraco said. “This will allow NBA 2K League to cater to a wider audience and a more traditional basketball audience. It’s also a great introduction to esports for new fans. And the ability to root for your hometown team is a concept that will also connect with NBA fans.”

Hot Pockets works with former esports pro and current influencer Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, who is the CEO of the Cavaliers’ new League of Legends team 100 Thieves.

“We’re talking to corporate partners who are new to this space,” Sumers said. “And it’s not the hardest to sell through when you tell them the audience and manner and authenticity of the NBA 2K brand. It’s unique to esports and you don’t find that in other spaces.”

The gaming and esports audiences are young and digital first: 56 percent of gamers are 34 or younger. Primarily online and on social media, they’re avid ad blockers that do not watch traditional TV or respond to conventional advertising. Like with any food company’s campaign, effective engagement in this realm will be a challenging priority.

“Brand integrated content must be transparent and communicate the product benefit– and where, and from whom, consumers get this information is critical,” Joshi said. “Consumers have a high trust level with influencers like Nadeshot that puts credibility in the products they include in their content.”

In Joshi’s experience, the more closely the brand targets its consumer, the higher the ROI.

“We see up to three times as much engagement on influencer brand integrated content compared to non-influencer branded content on our owned channels,” Joshi explained. “The closely linked relationship between gaming and the Hot Pockets brand is an area we’ve been activating against for years and continues to be a strategic priority for us.”

Looking ahead, Hot Pockets plans to work with the Cavs to develop a streaming video strategy.

Surprise Nintendo Direct Leaves Audiences Puzzled

Nintendo surprised fans Thursday morning when it dropped a Nintendo Direct Mini unannounced. It’s uncharacteristic of the brand: no advanced notice was given aside from two cryptic social media posts—leaving thousands of fans to speculate.

On Wednesday, the company’s North American Twitter account posted a picture of Chibi-Robo—a character from a Nintendo-published video game—on fire. The post was offered without explanation, inspiring thousands of replies, retweets and fan theories ranging from a new game to hopes that a Nintendo Direct would be announced soon. To fuel the “fire” of theories spreading around the internet, the Nintendo New York account tweeted a Mii (Nintendo avatar) dancing in a Snapchat hot dog costume, again without comment.

Brands were speculating, too: Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Doom responded to Nintendo with their own flaming images.

Nintendo Direct Minis are traditionally announced ahead of time—like last fall’s Direct for Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, which earned 544,000 views. Thursday morning’s sudden Direct earned over 1.5 million views in a matter of hours.

“Nintendo seems to have realized that by not announcing Direct in the same way each time, it usually does creates a lot more speculation and buzz,” SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen told AListDaily. “Nintendo’s massive following on social media and the fans that closely monitor the Directs does the PR for them instead and allows Nintendo to point at it and say: ‘Look at how much online discussion we created.'”

The tradition of Nintendo Direct began in 2011, when the company provided updates and announcements for Nintendo 3DS and Wii platforms. The first Nintendo Direct Mini—a shorter version of its normal announcement videos—aired in 2012 to announce Brain Age: Concentration Training in Japan.

Full-length Nintendo Direct announcements typically feature one or more presidents of the company engaging in some mild-mannered hijinks, such as wearing Cappy, the hat from Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo Direct Minis, meanwhile, get straight to the point with back-to-back trailers accompanied by a narrator.

Thursday’s Nintendo Direct Mini announced new titles coming to Nintendo Switch:

  • The World Ends With You (a game previously released for Nintendo DS)
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
  • Hyrule Warriors Ultimate Edition
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

Also announced: DLC for existing games, like Pokken Tournament DX, Mario + Rabbids and Super Mario Odyssey.

Ports coming to Nintendo Switch have also been given release dates, giving fans something to chew on until the brand decides to keep them guessing again.

Despite Expected Games Industry Growth, Employee Diversity Stagnates

Employment Diversity Still Lags

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has released its annual survey on diversity in the advertising business, revealing only marginal progress toward a more diverse workforce.

Despite a general gender balance across all agencies and roles (50.5 percent female and 49.5 percent male), diversity among C-suite positions is the same as it was a year ago. Just 30.9 percent of executive roles are filled by women, compared to 30.3 percent in 2016.

Ethnic diversity in the C-suite is lagging even more, actually dropping from its levels last year. In 2016, 5.2 percent of executive positions were held by ethnic minorities, but in 2017, that figure was 4.7 percent.

“While the rise in diversity doesn’t appear extreme enough or fast enough, and we have yet to achieve parity at all levels, there is an inevitable time lag from implementing change to seeing results, and we mustn’t lose heart,” writes Sarah Golding, IPA president and CEO, for Campaign.

The advertising industry isn’t alone in its diversity woes: game developers are currently facing stagnation in the area as well. According to the International Game Developers Association’s 2017 Developer Satisfaction Survey, just 42 percent of respondents thought the industry has increased diversity in the past two years, down from 47 percent in 2016. Seventy-four percent of the survey respondents identified as male, 81 percent as heterosexual and 61 percent as white.

Tech, Games Industries Expect 2018 Growth

This year is set to bring healthy growth to the consumer tech sector, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) semi-annual forecast. According to the CTA’s research, emerging technologies and resilient categories will drive $351 billion in retail revenue this year, up 3.9 percent from 2017.

“Our forecast incorporates several key economic factors including a strong stock market, continued job growth and stable rules for international trade to forecast these record-setting sales for breakthrough technologies and longtime market leaders alike,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA.

Connected devices are expected to experience the largest share of growth, increasing 6.6 percent from last year, pushed largely by the meteoric growth of smart speakers.

The new year is expected to be a healthy one for the UK games industry as well, per TIGA’s Business Opinion Survey. Of the game studios surveyed, 68 percent plan to hire additional workers and just 2 percent plan to shrink their staff. Opinions on company performance are likewise optimistic, with 62 percent reporting that their business is performing either “very well” or “well.”

Super Bowl Advertising Worth The Hype

A new study conducted jointly between Stanford and Humboldt Universities on Super Bowl ads has revealed that advertisers can expect to reap benefits long after the event ends, with increased sales persisting well into the year.

“For some type of ads, there is a large social media multiplier by provoking interest and subsequent conversations on social media and mass media, that could be independent of Super Bowl viewership,” Daniel Klapper, one of the study’s authors, said in a release. “That is good news for advertisers as it suggests that our estimates are only a lower bound of the benefits of Super Bowl advertising.”

This boost is especially noticeable for sole advertisers in a product category, with AB InBev, the exclusive alcohol advertising rights holder, enjoying a 4.7 percent increase in revenue as late as March Madness.

Spending Habits Of Smart Speaker Adopters

A new study by Consumer Intelligence Research has garnered some insight into the purchase habits of Amazon Echo users, revealing significantly higher spending than non-owners. Echo owners spend $700 more per year than the average Amazon customer and $400 more per year than Amazon Prime members.

Fashion Influencers Drive Millennial Women To Buy

According to research by Dealspotr, millennial women are more affected by lifestyle influencers than their own family when making fashion purchase decisions. Forty-one percent claimed that influencers and bloggers were their primary inspiration for fashion ideas, compared to 37 percent for friends and family. However, this figure may change in the near future: 52 percent of millennial women claim to trust fashion influencers less than they used to.

Unsurprisingly, Instagram is far and away the most popular medium, with 59 percent saying they enjoy viewing fashion content on the platform. Additionally, physical retail proves the most popular destination for completing purchases, with 65 percent claiming they most often buy clothes in store rather than online.

CMOs Prioritizing Diversity, Data And Voice Marketing At CES

By the time C-suite marketers hit CES, they know their agenda—and we follow along with their schedule each year. In 2018, we heard CMOs talking about diversity, data and voice marketing as three strategies to hone in on soon after the show closes.

Marketers Make Diversity, Female-First Messaging Priority

After the #MeToo movement, brands will increase marketing and messaging toward a future that is meaningfully empowering females.

“It is time for change,” said Pamela Drucker Mann, CRO and CMO for Conde Nast. “As a marketer, we need to think about how we address the community in a new way. How do we first and foremost think about women in our own organizations? And how do we market to them, and have them think differently?”

Consumers have expectations from brands to champion the kinds of changes that governments might not. According to Meredith Verdone, CMO for Bank of America, that will mean challenging authority.

“We’re not going to represent anything that is not aligned with our values,” said Verdone. “As a brand, we need to recognize the power shift that’s happening. The [marketing] industry has a lot of work to do.”

One way for brands to curate impactful marketing is to look in the mirror, hinted Google CMO Lorraine Twohill, and work with female creative directors to craft the particular messaging that is needed to ignite change.

“How many creative directors are women? We have to look at our own work as well,” said Twohill. “The marketing industry has a long way to go.”

Data Needs To Be Complemented With Creativity

The availability of new martech and democratized, quantified data is allowing marketers to deploy strategies in a relevant, economic and compelling fashion to drive growth.

CMOs from Deloitte, MasterCard and Turner agreed that data will remain paramount in order for their respective brands—and fellow marketers—to own relationships with consumers and deliver deeper experiences. But since data can sometimes be misleading, marketers need to spend more time in trusting their creative instincts.

“It’s the greatest time to be a marketer, because it’s not just about big data. We still have creativity, and everyone values that,” said Diana O’Brien, global CMO for Deloitte. “You still have to ask the broad questions so that you don’t fall into just data telling you something.”

For entertainment marketers who are trying to reach cord cutters and mobile-first users, they’ve only been exposed to data in the last handful of years, so using data for constant iteration to craft messaging will continue to be key.

“We now have the visibility that we never had before with viewing data that was not available to us before,” said Molly Battin, Turner’s EVP and global chief communications and corporate marketing officer. “Data helps us understand how [viewers] want to consume the content, and I can deliver more targeted, relevant messages that mean more to them.”

Battin said she’s increasingly depending on the in-house Turner Data Cloud to marry art, science and storytelling to determine which consumers are converting and tuning into their slate of programming across different networks. In addition to making new material, she and the teams at Turner are leveraging the data insights for the ad sales and internal media teams to use at their disposal.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer for MasterCard, said that although quantitatively driven decision making is important, at the end of the day, you still need to rely on the human element and realize that data can’t track a potential smile you bring to the face of your target audience. He was quick to point out that the brand’s now famous “Priceless” campaign did not perform as well as the alternative idea when originally tested with data years ago.

“The key thing is to not ignore judgmental and creative decisions,” said Rajamannar. “Unless you are successful in the short term, there is no long term. Use data, but still trust your gut feel.”

Voice-Assistant Devices Emerge As New Purchase Channel

An overwhelming popular consensus from marketing executives is that voice-assistant devices, a darling of CES last year and now a little bit more mature in 2018 and ready to grow even further, is positioning itself to be the fourth purchase channel for consumers.

Marketers who are late to the ballgame in crafting strategies that are native to the platform and deliver valuable, frictionless smart home experiences will potentially put their brand at risk of being on the outside looking in as the battle for the voice ecosystem heats up.

“Voice marketing is an interesting journey—it’s about delivering value in a more intuitive way for people to access content,” said Yin Woon Rani, vice president of integrated marketing at Campbell Soup Company. “We believe that voice will have an important use case in the future, but we do not have it completely cracked yet.”

Once consumers yearn for more than just music streaming, alarm reminders and weather reports, marketers will have to walk the tightrope of delivering valuable information with the occasional deal, sale and promotion from the newfound artificial friend and cloud-based brain.

“The jury is still out as to whether or not these platforms will continue to reach as many horizontal use cases as possible,” said Ryan McInnis, director of marketing for Voysis.