Panera’s AR Campaign Drives 34,000 Store Visits

Panera has become one of the earliest adopters of augmented reality (AR) in the fast casual space and its first major foray into AR has paid off big time. In November, last year, the company launched an AR ad campaign for mobile devices that animated one of its breakfast wraps, revealing details about the item’s nutritional information and ingredients. The ad, which required no app download, let users experience the wrap then share the assets to Snapchat and Facebook. The campaign reached 9.3 million users, received 47,000 shares in total and 171,000 users clicked through or swiped up across both Facebook and Snapchat.  

The AR campaign cost Panera $50,000 on Facebook and Snapchat, respectively. That was a small price to pay given the return: 25 percent of users who clicked through and engaged with the ad on Facebook went to a Panera location for a total of 34,000 store visits. On Facebook, the ad unit amassed 135,703 link clicks and the average view time totaled nearly eight seconds. 

Equally successful on Snapchat, Panera’s AR campaign received 4.5 million impressions and about three percent of users, or 1,019 customers, who swiped up made a digital Panera purchase after experiencing the ad. 

To first gauge its customers’ response to AR, Panera eased into things with its “YouMix2” campaign, which included a Snapchat lens that let users visually customize and view menu mash-up items. Data from the “YouMix2” informed the interactive AR campaign, which ultimately enabled Panera to create a more meaningful experience and play into a larger transparency story.  

“I don’t want to do AR just for the sake of AR. For us it’s about continuing to obsess over what our customer wants and then figuring out how we can deliver it. We’re thinking deeply about how AR can impact the lives of our guests in a positive manner and how to build out a meaningful value-add experience for them. The ad unit gave us a huge opportunity to maintain our transparency as a brand as it identified the wrap’s nutritional facts, the ingredients and where they were sourced,” Scott Nelson, Panera’s VP of marketing, tells AList.

Panera has been laying the groundwork for improved customer experiences via various technology investments over the last few years. In 2018, the company introduced self-service digital kiosks and rolled out nationwide delivery. Through orders placed online, the app and kiosks, Panera’s digital sales represent over 35 percent of total company sales. Last year it expanded delivery through DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. Plus the company’s loyalty program currently has a whopping 37 million members.

Beyond supporting food brands’ digital touchpoints, AR is helping drive craveability, which recent data on AR cuisine show.

“Our partners QReal completed a study on augmented reality with Oxford University, Newcastle University and The University of New South Wales. We now have statistical data to prove that people are more likely to crave a dish when viewing it in full photogrammetry (a photo-realistic 3D model) in front of them,” Matt Maher, founder of M7 Innovations, the company behind Panera’s AR-enabled mobile ad unit, tells us.

Last year, in its ongoing effort to be transparent about its offerings, Panera enlisted Maher’s team to fly drones over Panera Farms in Arizona. The result was a 45-second video spot for the brand’s “Behind-The-Counter” series and television spot showcasing the clean ingredients used in the brand’s dishes. 

“If you look at the spectrum of the Panera business and all the different digital touchpoints, it absolutely makes sense for us to further integrate [AR] where we can and when we can. We’re learning to test and experience the phases quickly and the data speaks for itself, so we do have plans to further develop AR capabilities throughout the Panera ecosystem,” Nelson said.

Marketing Stories To Read This Week–January 20, 2020

We’ve searched for the latest must-read marketing stories so you don’t have to. Here’s what’s happening in the industry for the week of January 20th.

How 9 Brands Without Super Bowl Ads Are Activating For The Big Game

A look at how brands without game day ads are activating around the Super Bowl leading up to the game, including AT&T, Jack in the Box and Volvo.

Why it matters: Advertising around the Big Game isn’t just relegated to ads on Super Bowl Sunday.

52 Percent Of Retailers Will Boost 2020 Social Media Ad Budgets, Study Says
Mobile Marketer’s study on social media ads indicates ad budget growth for 2020.

Why it matters: Despite concerns over campaign optimization on the platform, “almost all (96 percent) of survey respondents plan to increase their spending on Facebook in particular, making the social network the biggest priority for these marketing executives.”

Why Marketers Must Look Beyond Cookies And Rethink Data In The 2020s
The Drum

Google’s plan to render cookies obsolete poses a significant challenge to marketers.

Why it matters: “Marketers must stop prioritising strategies built around cookie data if they’re to succeed in the 2020s,” according to The Drum.

Google’s Latest Search Results Change Further Blurs What’s An Ad

Google has changed its SERP (search engine results page) again, introducing more subtlety between ads and organic results.

Why it matters: According to Ethan Hulbert, RPA’s SEO lead: “I think this trend is worth paying attention to, and expect it to have a muted effect over time.”

How Marketers Should Engage With Generation Alpha

Laura Macdonald, head of consumer at Hotwire, shares study results on the best ways to connect to the increasingly influential “Generation Alpha,” or those born after 2010.

Why it matters: According to Macdonald’s research, she anticipates the important role in purchasing decision-making that this generational group will play. “For example, almost two out of three parents (65 percent) tell us that their children’s needs influence the tech purchases they make, while one in four (25 percent) actually ask their kids’ opinions before buying.”

Women Held Back By Marketing’s Gender Pay Gap
Marketing Week

“Marketing Week’s 2020 Career and Salary Survey reveals the marketing profession has an overall mean gender pay gap for full-time workers of 28 percent.”

Why it matters: The marketing profession’s 28 percent gender pay gap is nearly four times that of the UK’s national average.

More Consumers Are Turning To Digital Payment Plans, Even For Low-Cost Items

A new study from CivicScience shows gradual growth in the usage of digital payment programs.

Why it matters: It’s not just the current growth of programs like Affirm that’s worth noting; consumers are using these apps for low-priced items, showing that usage is similar to credit cards and could be a disruptive payment solution as they gain wider adoption by retailers.

These Are The Most Sustainable Corporations In The World
Fast Company

The latest annual ranking from Canadian research firm Corporate Knights was revealed yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Why it matters: The ranking’s KPIs aren’t limited to environmental initiatives but cover “everything from energy and water use […] to the percentage of taxes paid, and women in executive management.”

P&G, Google, Lego & More Unveil Plan To Suffocate ‘Harmful’ Content
The Drum

More from Davos: Major brands unveiled the “first big initiative from the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM): the cross-industry working group founded by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in 2019.”

Why it matters: Household brands as well as ad networks like Facebook and Google convened at Davos to unveil how they’ll attempt to identify “harmful content” while equipping media companies with tools for diverting funds from such content, as well as developing industry standards for combatting it.

Why Frito-Lay Is Saying ‘Super Bowl’ Nonstop: Marketer’s Brief
Ad Age

You won’t be hearing about “The Big Game” from PepsiCo brands, who reserve the right to say “Super Bowl” as an official NFL sponsor.

Why it matters: PepsiCo brands get a boost over the competition by having the unique ability to leverage the Super Bowl’s name equity in their ads.

How To Unify A Global Brand
Business Of Fashion

“More luxury brands are […] attempting to ensure that every collaboration, retail experience and social media post feel like part of one cohesive whole.”

Why it matters: When it comes to brand integrity, consistency and coherence are key. Here’s a look at how the world of luxury fashion unifies global brand messaging.

DTCs Must Mind The Mid-Funnel Gap As They Look To New Channels For Growth

As the main channels that DTC brands historically used for acquisition become crowded with competition, direct-to-consumer brands are investing in linear and addressable TV to achieve broad awareness.

Why it matters: “Not only are [multichannel, mid-funnel strategies] a next phase extension, but cross-channel strategies appear to be an imperative alternative to rising costs and scale challenges.”

Radio Advertising Revenue Down By 6% In 2019

Deloitte has released data indicating a slip in advertising revenue for metropolitan radio of 6.1 percent.

Why it matters:
“The figures follow a trend across all media of weak revenue figures, with the last Standard Media Index (SMI) figures showing the 15th consecutive month of negative growth for the advertising market.”

TikTok Had A Banner Year In 2019, But Growth In 2020 Isn’t A Sure Bet


Exploring the factors at play when forecasting TikTok’s 2020 growth.

Why it matters: TikTok became a short-form video darkhorse in 2019. Debra Aho Williamson discusses how privacy concerns and competition could impact this growth in 2020.

Olympics, Election Power 7.2% Lift In 2020 US Ad Spending, Study Predicts

Marketing Dive

Two factors are driving the growth in U.S. advertising spend, according to Winterberry’s media spending forecast.

Why it matters: Understanding the U.S. ad spend forecast can help frame the broader shift we are witnessing as consumers switch their viewership from traditional media channels to digital channels.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly reading list is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, January 24. Have a tip? We’re looking for must-read articles related to trends and insights in marketing and media. Let us know at

TikTok Announces Opening Of Permanent US Office In Los Angeles

This week in social media, TikTok announced the opening of a permanent Los Angeles office amid news that it grossed about $177 million globally in 2019 and Instagram is testing an option that lets users easily find and share stories mentions.

TikTok Scales US Operations With New Los Angeles Office

TikTok just set up shop in Culver City to accommodate its growing US team.

Why it matters: A permanent office in Los Angeles reflects TikTok’s commitment to scaling its US presence. As Bloomberg reported, the platform is also looking for a US-based CEO, a potential solution to resolving lawmakers’ security concerns.

The details: In a blog post, TikTok says the new five-story office will help accommodate its 400-plus US team. This summer, the office will also house a content creation studio.

Instagram Tests Option To Find And Share Story Mentions

The option highlights any stories that mention your profile and enables you to re-share them on your own stories.

Why it matters: A few months ago, Instagram launched a feature called “Stories About You” that shows a list of your story mentions in the mentions feed only. This new option provides Stories mentions within Stories, which could help brand accounts engage better with user-generated content (UGC).

The details: First spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, Instagram’s new Stories addition appears as an option under the “@“ symbol in create mode. Selecting this mode lets you see how many Stories mentions you have while still in Stories. Then you have the option of choosing any of the frames and reposting them to your Stories. It’s still unclear how many users have access to the option.

TikTok Revenue Increases Fivefold to $177 Million

Sensor Tower found that TikTok’s downloads surged 13 percent to 738 million, making it the second-most downloaded app after WhatsApp.

Why it matters: TikTok’s $176.9 million gross revenue in 2019 could help the app build out its targeted advertising capabilities which it has yet to establish.

The details: According to Sensor Tower, TikTok has 1.65 million lifetime downloads, making it one of the most popular apps worldwide. In India, users downloaded TikTok 323 million times, 44 percent of the app’s global total. China is the app’s second largest market with 52 million downloads followed by the US with 46 million.

Instagram Removes IGTV Button From Home Page

According to TechCrunch, only about 7 million of Instagram’s 1 billion-plus users have downloaded the standalone IGTV app since it launched 18 months ago, compared to 1.15 billion TikTok downloads in the same period. 

Why it matters: The unpopularity of the IGTV button on the home page indicates it hasn’t become a staple for users like previous features have been like augmented reality filters, stories and close friends. Plus, without the ability to monetize their IGTV videos, influencers were hesitant to dedicate time to creating IGTV content.

The details: A Facebook company spokesperson said that most people are discovering IGTV content through the IGTV channel on the explore page, previews on the feed and creators’ profiles. To simplify user functionality, Instagram has removed the icon based on these learnings and community feedback.

Pinterest Highlights Inclusion Efforts In Sixth Annual Report 

Pinterest has released its annual report, which shows the platform exceeded three of its external hiring goals with respect to diversity.

Why it matters: In 2015, Pinterest set annual public hiring goals and has since made moves to ingrain inclusivity into its culture. In 2019, the platform launched a skin tone ranges search feature, an employee gender transition guide and set out to limit content that would make users feel unsafe or unwelcome. For example, it limited the distribution of wedding venues that were former slave plantations.

The details: Pinterest’s report shows it surpassed its goal to increase hiring rates for full-time women engineers from 25 percent to 27 percent. Additionally, its goal to increase hiring rates to eight percent underrepresented minority engineers was exceeded at nine percent. Hiring more underrepresented minority employees across the company was also one of its goals, which it surpassed by two percent from 12 to 14 percent. Other milestones include the fact that women at Pinterest are now 25 percent of engineers overall, up from 19 percent in 2014.

Spotify Launches Stories-Like Shareable Playlists 

The music streaming platform is giving users the ability to incorporate video elements into their public Spotify playlists.

Why it matters: Spotify has been testing video products for a while now. Last year, it tested a feature called “Storyline” that let artists share their insights and inspiration. Now it’s giving select users a stories-like platform to share playlists for the purpose of music discovery. 

The details: Spotify stories, which can be accessed via a circular icon above a playlist’s title, includes short video clips that users can tap on. Also similar to Instagram stories, Spotify stories shows song snippets and album art. Meant for influencers, not artists, the feature was first tested by makeup and fashion YouTuber Summer Mckeen, who has 126,455 Spotify followers.

Octi Creates Augmented Reality (AR) Social Network

The startup launched an AR-enabled social platform that connects the act of seeing friends in real life with viewing digital content like their favorite YouTube videos.

Why it matters: According to TechCrunch, Octi’s co-founder and CEO Justin Fuisz says his goal is to turn the AR platform into a WeChat-style platform for outside developers to build social tools and content. The app’s facial recognition feature could mean competition for Snapchat.

The details: Octi’s facial recognition experience lets you point your phone at a friend and identify them in as little as 20 milliseconds. Once your friend accepts, you can view your friend’s profile remotely and see a belt of virtual items hover around them via videos, songs and photos. Though it’s powered by AR, the app’s core experience is meant to be in-person. 

Twitter Updates Television Show Reminder Buttons

Social media expert Matt Navarra found that the new format will let users set reminders for when television shows and events will air.

Why it matters: This update could help improve engagement and create more live-tweeting content around trending television shows.

The details: Users will notice a dedicated button called “Set Reminder” at the bottom of tweets about television shows and events on Twitter’s explore page.

Instagram’s Hidden Likes Test Meant To Remove Pressure From Users

Instagram’s VP of product Vishal Shah shed light on the hidden likes test in an interview on “The Social Media Geekout” podcast.

Why it matters: Since the announcement of the hidden likes test in April last year, brands and users alike are still waiting on word from Instagram about how the test will impact measurement. Shah says, “We know going into this that we would likely have to trade-off some amount of engagement to do this work,” indicating that Instagram has likely seen a decrease in engagement in areas where likes have been removed. 

The details: Shah said the idea behind removing likes stemmed from the team that works on interactions and feeds, who found that public like count was a “very high area of pressure for them when they produce content on Instagram.” Shah says another reason they’re testing the removal of likes is to give users an even playing field among public figures and celebrities who have follower counts well into the millions.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, January 24. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at

Chase Names New Chief Marketing Officer

This week in marketing leadership moves: Chase hires a new CMO, Gap’s chief marketing officer exits, Uber hires ex-Google marketing head David Mogensen to lead its European marketing and more.

JPMorgan Chase Names New CMO

JPMorgan Chase has selected a new CMO to succeed Kristin Lemkau, who was named CEO of Chase’s new wealth management division last month. 

Leslie Gillin, who was most recently the president of Chase’s co-brand credit cards business, will oversee Chase, JPMorgan and corporate brands. Prior to joining Chase, she was CMO of Citi’s Global Consumer Bank.

Gap CMO Exits

The Drum reports that embattled clothing retailer Gap has announced the redefinition of their CMO position amid the exit of Alegra O’Hare, who served in the role since last September.

Uber Hires New Lead Marketer For European Region

Uber has found a replacement to lead its European marketing after the departure of Patrick Stal earlier this month, reports The Drum.

Stal has been succeeded by David Mogensen, who most recently served as lead marketer for Google in Northern Europe. Prior to Google, Mogensen oversaw US advertising for BMW in North America.

ViacomCBS Reshuffles Leadership Responsibilities

With the departure of Amy Doyle, former GM for ViacomCBS Music Group (MTV, VH1. CMT and Logo), several management shifts are taking place. Notably, Jacqueline Parkes has been made chief marketing officer in addition to her role as EVP of Digital Studios. 

Additionally, Josh Line, EVP of marketing and creative at Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land is departing to another role within ViacomCBS.

ANA’s SeeHer Names New President

SeeHer, an initiative by ANA to increase accurate portrayals of women in advertising, has named marketing executive Nadine Karp McHugh president, according to Campaign US.

Karp McHugh’s most recent role saw her in the position of SVP of omnimedia strategy, data-driven media and creative solutions at L’Oréal. She previously held the position of VP of global integrated media communications at Colgate-Palmolive.

Camus Cognac Loses CMO After Two Years

Jean-Dominique Andreu will be leaving his role as CMO at Camus Cognac at the end of January. 

Andreu will continue to act as an adviser to the company, where he has been for two years. Global brand manager Pier Paolo Catucci will take over branding responsibilities.

Former PepsiCo Marketing Leader To Replace Retiring Kruger NA CMO

Nancy Marcus is set to retire from her role as North American chief marketing officer at Kruger Products. 

Susan Irving, formerly of PepsiCo, will replace Marcus as CMO. Irving, who spent 15 years with the brand, most recently served as senior marketing director for the Quaker Nutrition portfolio.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, January 24. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Vice President, Global MarketingShiseido Americas CorporationNew York, NY
Vice President, Creative MarketingFOX CorporationNew York, NY
Chief Marketing OfficerForresterCambridge, UK 
Senior Vice President Of MarketingClear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
SVP–Creative MarketingWalt Disney TelevisionBurbank, CA
Vice President, Marketing StrategyParamount PicturesHollywood, CA

Make sure to check out select job vacancies on our Careers page.

Why Influencer Marketing Is More Challenging For Carmakers

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

Consumers were on track to spend $44 billion on new vehicles in December 2019, down $2.2 billion from December 2018. With global car sales also expected to decline by about 3.1 million in 2019 and companies like GM, Ford and Mercedes-Benz cutting thousands of jobs and restructuring operations, there’s never been a better time for carmakers to embrace influencer marketing. And that they are. Ahead we’re exploring why auto brands have it harder than most verticals when it comes to leveraging influencers and the best practices they follow to make these partnerships effective. 

Automakers have a long history of collaborating with fashion brands and influencers to sell consumers on the idea that a car can enhance their daily lives. In 2017, Volvo teamed up with fashion and lifestyle influencer Aimee Song, who has 5.5 million followers, for an Instagram ad campaign. The deliverables included three in-feed posts featuring Aimee and her Volvo, and a story, all of which together created over $5 million worth of exposure for Volvo, according to AdWeek.

In 2018, Maserati took a similar approach when it tapped fashion designer Jenny Walton. With 232,000 followers, the microinfluencer created content while at Maserati’s activation in Italian ski resort town Courmayeur.

Outdoor influencers and car lovers are also important players in a carmaker’s strategy. Honda, for example, has seen great success leveraging microinfluencers in the consideration phase of vehicle shopping and driving audiences to for more information. To create awareness around its new Passport SUV in 2019, Honda launched an activation called the #300ftChallenge. The collaboration tapped multiple outdoor influencers, challenging each to complete an adventure equivalent to 300 feet— climbing a 300-foot rock face or mountain biking an extreme 300-foot trail. Adventure photographer and mega influencer Chris Burkard generated the campaign launch creative and additional adventure microinfluencers including pro climber Sasha Digiulian and kayaking pro Rafa Ortiz created in-feed and Instagram story videos for the challenge. 

Inviting influencers to experience a car first-hand is another piece of the pie. In 2018, Honda invited microinfluencer Troy Sowers, a car detailing and motorsports aficionado on YouTube, to the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. There, Sowers rode in the two-seat Indy car, which he posted about both on his Instagram and his YouTube with the hashtag #HondaPartner. Sowers’ channel has 114,000 subscribers and nearly 7 million views.

Although traditional auto influencer activations, like sponsored social media content and attending interactive events, can be executed easily, when it comes to asking influencers to review a car, auto brands may have it harder than most consumer verticals. 

“Utilizing influencers in the automotive space can be a bit more challenging at times because the product being marketed has a longer purchase cycle than in beauty or quick service restaurant (QSR) verticals. Providing a vehicle to an influencer can also be more challenging in getting into the hands of influencers versus some beauty or QSR products. Not only do we have less product that we launch in a calendar year, but it can be very difficult to ship a car or light truck to an influencer, where a beauty product can be sent in a small package. There is also a significant price point differential between auto, beauty and QSR products,” said Jessica Fini, social media manager, American Honda. 

What’s more, carmakers have a limited pool of influencers to choose from, because they’re required to work with influencers who are old enough to drive and have a driver’s license. To get the most out of an auto influencer partnership, Fini says marketers should study and pinpoint the skills of their prospective influencers. Knowing if they’re strong in video or photography is important as vehicles can be a difficult product to capture content around.

How Retail CMOs Aren’t Meeting Their Highest Marketing Priorities

Over two-thirds of retailers think they aren’t meeting the demands of hyper-adoptive consumers, according to a new report from retail tech company Bluecore and Forrester Consulting, “Align Technology, Data And Your Organization To Deliver Consumer Value.” With 39 percent of all offline sales influenced by digital channels, the report explores retailers’ current marketing obstacles, solutions to which we’re addressing with insight from Sherene Hilal, VP, product marketing and business operations at Bluecore. 

Forty-five percent of respondents cited customer acquisition as one of their highest marketing priorities for 2020, followed by 39 percent who said customer experience. Despite this, only 20 percent and 21 percent of respondents believe they’re effective at their two top-priority objectives—customer acquisition and customer experience—respectively. Why? Because 50 percent of respondents are only spending 30 percent or less of their time on these high-priority objectives.

“We’ve seen major roadblocks in winning new customers, improving personalized and omni-channel experiences due to legacy technology that is unable to deliver 1:1 communications and operational gaps between CMO/CIO teams, so honing in on alleviated pressure on those two fronts will help CMOs to deliver on their top objective,” says Hilal.

To become effective at winning new customers, Hilal suggests that retail CMOs re-evaluate their tech stack annually to take stock of the capabilities that they have, but also the overlap that may be producing workflow bottlenecks, data fragmentation and organizational silos. By doing so, Hilal says, CMOs can continuously see speed to return on investment (ROI) and continued competitive business goals. CMOs should also work closely with their CIO partners to determine shared goals around key business metrics (i.e. lowering acquisition costs, driving repeat purchases) because the tech and marketing sides of house need to work together in order to drive those metrics.

The report also found that retailers are struggling to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences—just 30 percent say they’re effective at this. Hilal notes that CMOs must define personalization for their organization and focus on outcomes versus features—Request for Proposals (RFP) are a one-size-fits-all approach versus a Proof of Concept (POC) tailored to the outcome you are looking for from personalization.

On the other hand, a Gartner study released in 2019 found that 80 percent of marketers will ditch personalization efforts by 2025 due to a lack of ROI and negative consumer perceptions surrounding data privacy.

Access to real-time data may also be affecting retailers’ ability to keep up with consumers’ increased rate of product adoption and demand for experience as 42 percent of respondents say it takes a few days to receive campaign or audience data requests. Whereas only 10 percent claim to have access to data in real-time or near real-time.

Says Hilal, “Many retail CMOs think that gathering all their data into one system, like a CDP, is the answer to receiving campaign and audience data in real-time, however, there is no activation layer to be able to execute so not only are you not getting ‘real-time,’ you are creating choke points between your audience layer and campaign layer.”

According to Hilal, CMOs must demand a set of minimum required capabilities from their tech that innately supports real-time access and execution of audience data for campaigns. Modern tech that natively unifies customer, behavior, and product data to provide affinity, trend and engagement insights, along with AI-driven recommendations and workflows that directly support retail business objectives, is the solution, she says.

The findings are based on surveys given to 307 marketing technology decision makers in the US and Europe between July-November 2019. Sixty-two percent of respondents represent apparel and footwear, 50 percent home goods, 43 percent health and beauty and 34 percent luxury goods, with many overlapping categories.

The Power Of Music With Genius CRO Rob Elder

During this 191st episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Rob Elder, the chief revenue officer at Genius. Genius is the world’s largest encyclopedia of lyrics and music. It’s a leading brand in music producing popular video series’ like “Verified,” “Deconstructed,” “Genius News” and “Open Mic,” reaching over 100 million people monthly across the globe. 

Elder started his career at agency Grey Direct as an assistant media planner, then moved into the “sales” side of the business with Sony. He’s been with Genius for a little over two years and had the opportunity to drive growth and focus on developing processes to help the startup be successful.

Elder shares his unique journey and the importance of mentors in that journey. He discusses what Genius brings to the music industry and bringing back the “deeper connection and message that the artist is trying to convey.” He shares about the power of music, branding and marketing legitimacy. “Brands are starting to recognize […] that if they want something fun, intimate, cool and that moves the needle with the younger consumer, Genius is the place to do that.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Rob’s background and the path to becoming CRO of Genius. (01:23) 
  • Key mentors that helped Rob along the way and how. (02:10) 
  • The offering “Genius” provides to the music industry. (04:46) 
  • Highlights for Genius over the last two years. (06:50) 
  • The power of music for brand partnerships. (08:58) 
  • A breakdown of Genius’ brand and artist relationships. (10:41) 
  • Examples of brand/artist relationships. (12:16) 
  • The future of Genius going forward. (14:43) 
  • Specific partnerships that will “move the needle” for Genius. (16:48) 
  • How data drives the strategy for Genius. (17:26) 
  • The experience of Rob’s past that defines who he is today. (18:51)  
  • Advice for the “younger” Rob. (19:40) 
  • Brands, Companies, or Causes to take notice of. (20:44) 
  • Most significant opportunity or threat to marketers. (22:37)

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

Three Areas Our Industry Needs To Address To Stay Relevant In 2020

Originally published at AW360.

Article Takeaways: 

  • Some thoughts on regaining consumer trust
  • We need to move toward more human-centric design processes
  • Cognitive diversity does not mean inclusivity

So, the days are shorter, we’re now less than a year until the presidential election, and the holidays are fast approaching.

As we reflect upon the year behind us and plan for the year ahead, it’s worth thinking about where our industry will evolve in 2020 and beyond. “The best way to predict the future is to study the past,” said Robert Kiyosaki, bestselling author, and businessman. So, in order to address our historical ills and navigate a path for our industry’s future, here are three areas we need to move towards:

Move towards regaining trust. The last few years have been brutal for digital advertising’s reputation; we’ve seen multiple major data breaches and apathy toward consumer privacy from some of the biggest technology giants.

The major players including Facebook have taken steps toward regaining the trust of consumers, brands, and Congress. For the most part, I believe them. However, much more needs to be done by the industry as a whole. We’ve been conditioned to viewing consumer data as a commodity to be exploited. It’s critical that we change our mindset and put consumer empathy at the center of our worldview.

Move towards consumer-centric innovation. Remember when QR codes came out? Agencies and brands jumped into action. We witnessed QR codes on the subway where there was no cell reception or simply directing people to a Facebook page. What was the point?

We need to move towards a human-centered design mindset; ensuring that we understand our consumers’ needs/wants/pains/gains to create an experience that truly meets their needs. Otherwise, we’ll keep whittling away resources, time, and trust on tactical technology-led applications that add zero value. Or worse, find more ways to interrupt our consumers’ lives in ways that will annoy them even more.

Move towards cognitive diversity. I want to make a distinct point between hiring for cognitive diversity and simply hiring people from different gender, ethnicity and age groups. The former prioritizes building a workplace based on diversity of thought by attempting to understand different ways people approach problems. The latter makes the lazily incorrect assumption that distinct demographics think uniformly.

A few months ago, I visited the campus of a big tech company and heard from their Chief Diversity Officer. I was initially impressed by her efforts at spouting research indicating that teams with diversity of thought perform better than homogenous teams. Toward the end of the presentation, I was dismayed by the declaration that the company defined “Hiring for Diversity of Thought” based solely on veteran status, disability status, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. As a person of color, I find the assumption narrow-minded that my ethnicity determines the way I think.

For our industry to stay relevant and thrive over the next quarter-century, we have a lot of work to do. Providing a true value exchange to consumers, taking data privacy seriously, and respecting their rights will regain consumer and societal trust. Developing a cognitively diverse industry will ensure not only an inclusive environment for all but more effective communication outcomes for brands.

It’s critical that we adopt a reflective mindset, analyzing the errors of the past in order to improve our future. Here’s to the holidays and 2020!

Marketing Stories To Read This Week–January 13, 2020

We’ve searched for the latest must-read marketing stories so you don’t have to. Here’s what’s happening in the industry this week, from taking another look at generational stereotypes to 2020 marketing challenges.

3 Key Factors Of Brand Partnerships That Boosts Creativity

Planning a brand partnership? Keep these three factors in mind. They’ll help ensure your partnership is worthwhile for all parties involved.

Why it matters: Brand partnerships may seem rote but there’s a number⁠—in this case, three⁠—of factors that separate killer brand partnerships from partnerships that should have been killed.

The Voice Of Blind People Hasn’t Been Heard’: Inside The Fight For Audio-Described Ads
The Drum

Advertising has largely ignored the blind. P&G wants to change that with audio descriptions.

Why it matters: There’s an untapped audience not being adequately served by marketers. As the article notes, “if a company produced an audio description of its next ad for British TV, it would immediately reach an extra 2.2 million people.”

What’s Top Of Mind For CMOs Right Now?

Six chief marketing officers share their priorities for 2020, including digital transformation and channel growth.

Why it matters: Here’s what your competition is planning for 2020. Aren’t you a little curious?

Your Data-Driven Marketing Is Harmful. I Should Know: I Ran Marketing At Google And Instagram

The map is not the territory: marketers run the risk of relying too heavily on data that they forget the human represented by it, including their emotions and needs.

Why it matters: “The reality is that marketers have long understood the need to build and foster meaningful emotional connections between businesses and customers. The quality of these connections helps to define the world’s most iconic brands.” What we know is that quality suffers when taking human activity in abstraction.

The CMO Role Is Evolving Rather Than Going The Way Of The Dinosaur
Chief Marketer

The death of the CMO has been greatly exaggerated, being borne out of creative roles that typically diverge from left-brained, analytical data-crunching. But the tide may be turning and one needs only to point to the fact that Coca-Cola recently revived the CMO role after two years without, a bellwether for smaller brands that are wrestling with the changing nature of the position.

Why it matters: The increasing influence of data-fueled technologies has been blamed for the untimely demise of the chief marketing officer, but the case can be made that more data is empowering CMOs, and is not an existential threat. By changing mindsets around data, the CMO can incorporate new technologies and “not only […] survive but thrive.”

Hulu To Debut New Ad Formats In 2020 Focused On Letting Users Make Choices, Transact With Advertisers
Tech Crunch

Hulu is unveiling new ad experiences that would allow viewers to engage with brands and have more input in determining which ads they are served.

Why it matters: Hulu’s new ad formats are a direct response to confronting the problem of disruptive ad experiences. The hope is that these ads are “less disruptive, more engaging, and more functional.”

The Story Of Casper Shows There Is No DTC ‘Revolution’
Marketing Week

The DTC revolution will not be televised. In fact, it may not have happened at all. DTC brands entered the fray touting a “different model for marketing,” but the distinction dissipated once the startup-phase ended, finding many DTC brands shifting from their direct distro models to traditional retail channels.

Why it matters: The very premise of DTC has been gut-checked for some time, as we covered during SXSW last year. Mark Ritson’s latest piece is a no holds barred missive to marketers that “most of [DTC brands’] touted disruption and success was bullshit.”

How To Market Taboo Products

Marketing taboo products can be a tricky business. You run the risk of offending consumers or making light of serious social issues. At the same time, the “friction”
from discussing taboo topics can be a major advantage.

Why it matters: Some of the most lauded campaigns from the past year push the boundaries of what’s socially addressable in public. Danielle Sabrina’s tips for marketing taboo products ‘the right way’ can help you position your brand to take advantage of the taboo nature of difficult-to-discuss products.

Opinion: Under The Influence—The Dishonest And Wasteful Practice Of Influencer Marketing
Ad Age

Should marketers say ‘farewell’ to influencers and get back to the brass tacks of marketing? Has the drive for word-of-mouth authenticity once promised by influencers run out of gas? Kevin Twomey makes the case against influencer marketing.

Why it matters:
Due to the difficulty of proving the ROI of influencer marketing, coupled with a swell of dishonest behavior from influencers and the prospect that by 2022, $15 billion will be spent by brands on marketing with influencers, marketers should take a long, hard look at their marketing mix.

The Great Sucking Sound: Automation Has Made Media Harder


Turns out, automation when it comes to media buying has not necessarily cut down on the number of humans it takes to manage it. In fact, in myriad ways, media buying has perhaps gotten harder.

Why it matters: Marketing automation has long been sold as a way to reduce costs and simplify processes for marketers, but is that really the reality? Clearly, not with media buying—but how many other processes are facing similar fates?

Only 28% Of Marketers Focus On Data Quality Reports: Nielsen

MarTech Advisor

More data, more actionable insights? According to a new report from Nielsen, perhaps only 28 percent of marketers may actually be concerned with the quality and accuracy of the data they use.

Why it matters: This can be summed up in one sentence of Nielsen’s global head of analytics, Matt Krepsik: “Marketers are seeking greater accountability in today’s increasingly omnichannel landscape, yet we learned through this study that their investments in media are often driven by perception versus reality.”

Micro-Influencers Trends: Platform, Format And Compensation Practices


Some highlights from MarketingProf’s micro-influencer trend report, which may be of no surprise to anyone: micro-influencers largely prefer Instagram to activate their brand collaborations, they want compensation in the form of actual payment (not swag, exclusivity, etc.) and Instagram Stories—with their ability to direct action toward a brand—are the format of choice.

Why it matters: The trend has shifted from focusing on macro-level influencers, to engaging “micro” influencers, which have a more engaged following—that is, until they are overleveraged by brands, too.

How Brands Like Unilever, McDonald’s And WPP Are Responding To Australia’s Bushfire Crisis

The Drum

The Australian bushfire crisis has triggered numerous responses from brands, many well-intentioned of course, but also many that appear to be a little opportunistic as well. It is not a good look to leverage tragedy to try to sell more product. On that note, this article offers insights on why and how brands can get involved on issues like this in real, authentic ways.

Why it matters: With brand activism on the rise and younger consumers looking for social responsibility from the brands they buy from, it is imperative brands get this right.

How To Grow A Brand Beyond A Buzz Moment

Business Of Fashion

Brands, big or small, can do with some advice on how to capitalize on a time when your brand is accidentally or purposefully of the moment. Buzz is great and all, but how can you turn it into longevity?

Why it matters: Lightning strikes. Look at Eggo and Stranger Things. Gigi Hadid and 40-year-old sunglasses brand Le Specs. It’s worth entertaining how you would respond if your brand was unexpectedly thrust into the conversation.

Google Chrome Will Drop Third-Party Cookies In 2 Years


“We are confident … mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete,” said Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering.

Why it matters: “These changes will affect Google’s business buying ads across the open web, often known as its DoubleClick business, a Google spokesperson confirmed.”

Fuelling The Influencer Machine: The Hidden Network Turning People Into Stars

Business Of Fashion

Exploring the impact of the influencer marketing machine.

Why it matters: The state of influencer marketing shows strong growth. In-depth knowledge of how influencers operate is imperative for marketers who may run these campaigns in the future.

5 Steps To Secure Your Customer Data


Blake Morgan makes the case for continually revising and re-evaluating your company’s data privacy policies and strategies.

Why it matters: Stats show that consumers expect responsible data handling and clear communication around how companies comply with data regulations.

The Timing Is Right For Brands, Streaming And The New Heartland


Get to know the “New Heartland.”

Why it matters: Brands and media buyers have misconceptions about a new subset of viewers, and overlooking this important segment will cost them.

3 Ways VR/AR Became A Reality For Brands At CES

Ad Age

A special report from Ad Age covering the VR/AR technology at play at CES, as well as implications for marketers.

Why it matters: While still an industry in its infancy, VR/AR is set to hit the mainstream. Learn how 5G will affect how marketers use the technology as its adoption becomes more widespread.

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: Subverting The Stereotypes

The Drum

Research director Wex Eathorne breaks down five trends based on Opinium Research’s Most Connected Brand study which indicates that “[generational] differences are driven by fundamental social, cultural and technological changes.”

Why it matters: Understanding the influences behind generational attitudes toward brands goes a long way to unseat stereotypes based on how consumers view their relationships toward them.

Marketers Ignore True Brand Impact At Their Peril


“Just because a commercial garners views does not mean there is brand impact.” Dig in to learn what really drives brand impact.

Why it matters: Learn why and how captured impressions are distinct from how people are impacted by your brand.

It’s Time For Brands To Stop Climate Grandstanding And Listen To Consumer Needs


Is a preponderance of “purpose” throwing marketers off the trail of what really matters?

Why it matters: Even purposeful pedestals can be cloying to consumers and miss the point of connecting, rather than preaching, to people over shared environmental concerns.

Your Challenge For The 2020s: Make Marketing More Accessible

Marketing Week

A challenge to every marketer for the new decade: “do what [you] can to ensure marketing feels possible, accessible and full of potential.”

Why it matters: We all need a challenge in 2020.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly reading list is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, January 17. Have a tip? We’re looking for must-read articles related to trends and insights in marketing and media. Let us know at

The Rise Of Anti-Luxury Luxury

Originally published at AW360.

Article Takeaways:

  • Consumers increasingly value memories and experiences over things. Affluence has a new definition.
  • The old definition of exclusivity is less enticing than it once was. Inclusivity is increasingly becoming everything. 
  • Quality and craft still command price and denote upscale, but they’re not limited to haute couture and fine dining.

Brands Must Appeal To The Next Wave Of Big Spenders Turning Upscale Upside Down

Luxury is a loaded word. It conjures images of showy opulence and status symbols. That aesthetic still appeals to many–sales of traditional luxury goods are headed toward $1.5 Trillion in the next few years.

But to a new (especially younger) wave of affluents, it’s the opposite of what they want. For them, the idea of luxury is not captured by one external standard by a small (and consolidating, as LVMH’s recent purchase of Tiffany shows) group of accepted luxury brands. The whole point of having money to spend is that you get to define things (and yourself) on your own terms.

Perhaps the most shared recent photo of Bill Gates is a shot of him in line at a taco truck. It shows that today, tacos and tee-shirts can entice today’s big spenders as much as 5-star hotels and fine timepieces if brands understand a few key things about the changing mindset.

It’s All Experience

To the next wave, life’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do. The old distinction between “personal luxury” and “experiential luxury” is less meaningful as everything merges around a new consumer intent.

A colleague of mine puts it perfectly, “the age of the Michelin starred food cart has already arrived.”

Experience is an over-used word for a simpler truth–there is no more valuable a commodity than spending truly memorable, inspiring time and emerging more connected to people, places, and yourself.

2019 BCG Study noted the move toward single-brand digital and offline retail environments that reinforce the power of traditional brands like Gucci to control context, reinvent and connect with younger audiences that are driving their growth. Also, notably, the growing importance of influencers, across both traditional fashion-focused and paid celebrities and micro-influencers that connect around interests in travel, food, veganism, biohacking, tech, fitness.

Everywhere, experience is the star, and luxury goods serve more as souvenirs and keepsakes that accompany your journey. While affluence used to mean white glove, penthouse exclusivity; the next wave might cluster in street-level lobbies, wearing street style and eating street food.

Buy Less, Mean More

The scarcity of supply still drives value. But more than ever, scarcity of demand does, too. That means making purchases that feel uniquely yours —transformative, not just additive. For instance, the BCG study also revealed the perceived value of sustainability is growing fast. Nowadays, you might not think twice when even the most upscale hotel invites you to re-use linens. Because that which used to be decadently non-essential now needs to feel somehow meaningfully imperative.

Some may still be decked out head to toe in Chanel. But if you’re expressing appreciation for craft and artistry, you may be modeling the type of mix and match, casualwear luxury mindset that shows up in studies of younger affluents. Think John Mayer, whose appreciation for the mechanics and nuances of his multi-million-dollar watch collection is featured on Hodinkee, while the rest of his vibe is on display for Grateful Dead aficionados.

You Define It; It Defines You

More and more, the exclusivity defeats the purpose. Inclusivity makes you part of the richness of what the world offers. Above all, according to a 2019 YouGov Study, the value people seek most with their money is freedom. If old luxury was about showing you belong in an upscale strata, now luxury shows you transcend it. Your people are everywhere, and everything is available to you.

This mindset drives the importance of partnerships unconventional collaborations for the younger luxury buyer. For instance, sneakers that pair premium streetwear brands like Off-White with Nike result in something rare, exclusive and priced up to $3,000. It’s why Chanel partnering with Pharrell Williams, Rolex with National Geographic, Supreme and Stone Island, A Bathing Ape and Heineken. These brand collaborations are showing people how to mix and match to create a new vision of what’s possible for you.

Democratization By Design

A high-end personal trainer and financial planner are a tap away on the phone in your pocket. So are an entire economy of fancy cars and homes for the sharing. To the new wave, vintage and 2nd hand have become highly desirable treasures to hunt. Quality and craft still command price and denote upscale, but they’re not limited to haute couture and fine dining. Any non-essential, from taco trucks to jetshares, can feel luxurious, provided the service and delivery is executed exceptionally for just what it is. It’s what allows the people who buy it to be just who they are.

The big shift in luxury is a shift in expectations. As Kenn Fine puts it, “it used to be that consumers used luxury goods to signify they’d joined the club. Now, it’s about how these brands revolve around you, joining your life and meeting your intent. The value in buying something is you opt into a story, and it becomes part of your journey.”

The term luxury is still relevant. But even when qualified as casual, approachable, new or even anti, it no longer correlates to a single standard and segment. While you still can’t walk a block in Hong Kong without seeing a $25,000 watch in the window, most of the top 10 richest people in the world wear t-shirts and jeans. And those of us who help to build luxury brands are excited to see the aesthetic of Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, surfers and skaters, and global citizens is on the rise. And brands that rise with it, will need to perfect a version of luxury that feels more essential.