Category Archives: Advertising

News Flash: social design contest activates fans & followers

BeyerDynamic, a German manufacturer of high quality audio-equipment (wiki entry) has just run a great social design campaign called “My headphone” on a special microsite With over 4000 design entries, Beyerdynamic has run a great campaign, combining both fans and the product, in a smart and as it seems contact cost efficient way.

My Headphone Contest Winner

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silos kill great branding – organisations need to rethink organizational structures

Brand and marketing management is often focused on external image analysis to mirror image to identity gaps to define improvement processes. In most cases, these process definitions happen in a certain degree of isolation from the rest of the organisation and lead to an inevitable image incongruence across multiple brand touch-points, particularly if measured along the entire brand value chain.















Two of the easiest image to identity gaps to uncover are highly public yet often badly integrated organizational functions such as marketing or customer support. In a recent field test of roughly 170 organizations across multiple sectors in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland and the US, all of mid to large size market cap, I was able to identify tremendous image gaps in either of the two mentioned functions. Particularly HR stood out negatively by completely diverting from organizational branding aspects through evidenced actions, behavior and conduct. In some follow up interview, however of non-statistical relevance to the study, interviewed brands revealed a 180 degree diversion from the overall brand promise and even suggested contrary behavioral elements to be of higher importance than explicitly stated values or brand elements in publicly available material (e.g. websites, social media). Whilst I haven’t finished accumulating and analyzing results, preliminary results do not suggest a high integration of brand values throughout organizations, similarly to the often in isolation formulated organizational value statement. For marketers and general managers, it is thus of importance to reflect upon organizational and brand core values to define stringent and coherent organizational processes adhering to set core value statements. At this point it is even argued that a general core brand value audit, as conducted by numerous consultancies, is not going to discover these evidential discrepancies due to their complex and cross-functional differentiation.

Preliminary outcomes:

> brand image and brand identity differs in 9 out of 10 organizations when it comes to assess explicit HR behavior (e.g. reaction on hiring requests, phone support, interview scheduling, reply time etc)

> brand image and brand identity differs in 6 out of 10 organizations when it comes to customer support; in highly competitive and or retail oriented organizations, these numbers even increase!

> employees, particularly in HR, do not seem to understand brand value concepts and what the brand for whom they try to source staff stands for. With that cultural aspects need to be assessed, too.

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how much product choice is too much?

After having listened to Barry Schwartz TED talk (multiple times – if you haven’t CLICK HERE) as well as Dan Gilbert’s TED talk (if you haven’t – CLICK HERE) I couldn’t help it but observe how companies deal with the paradox of choice in a different manner.

From an economic perspective, increasing product choice, assumed costs can be controlled, should make a lot of sense. The economist trained mind thinks of course about a perfect world inhabited by an infinite number of homo oeconomicus, occupying an infinite number of price value points along the price curve, yet for one product class (perfect price discrimination). The marketer on the other hand, will join the discussion and argue that a finite number of heterogeneous target groups exist, displaying however homogeneous needs and wants (the basics of traditional segmentation). The mix of these two worlds is exemplified by Samsung; for the non-trained aspiring mobile phone customer, Samsung offers (at the time of writing) a staggering 145 different mobile phones. Note, this includes various carrier combinations. Switching over to TVs is even more confusing. One has to wonder, particularly after reading Schwarz’s books or listening to his talks, if brands are increasingly hurting themselves by increasing the number of product choices offered to consumers.

just a phone

According to Schwarz, increasing choice for humans lead to several negative effects but most of all a decrease in overall satisfaction which in itself sounds like a paradox, yet manifests itself in the following terms:

Opportunity cost of choice: the higher the number of options, the more attractive the 2nd, 3rd of nth option becomes to the consumer. In other words, with each option the value of opportunity costs increases until, in theory, it reaches a point of paralysed decision making.

Expectations increase: the more choice consumers’ perceive, the higher expectations become. The more unlikely however becomes, that set expectations will or can be met by the current product offering.

Doesn’t it also seem like a paradox to offer double digit product choices in one product category , assuming today’s stressed consumers have both the time and the drive to research product differences. Shouldn’t the smart marketer argue, that in the light of the ROPA effect (read here if you haven’t), diminishing cannibalisation of marketing efforts is hardly achieved with a complex and almost undistinguishable product portfolio? Is it still seen a sign of weakness in our society to reduce offering instead of enlarging the portfolio – after all, who wants to claim product offering declined under his or her reign?! Does it make sense to spread marketing budgets across +100 different product variances instead of focusing efforts to get one product message and positioning right? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to establish one dominant product design and then allow to establish alternative for price discrimination purposes instead of working the other way around: “let’s throw all we have and see what sticks the most – this will be our flagship product”?!

I argue that in the light of big data, marketers should increase their influence on the company’s product portfolio and not only emphasise on social listening post launch but also social rational pre launch.

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Applied gamification – a supermarket in Austria

I have blogged quite a bit about the topic of gamification and its application to drive user behavior. The use of leveling, scoreboards and ranks has been successfully applied, mostly with intrinsic motivators attached, such as status and public profile display. What I came across recently is however a great example of a gamification in a day to day application with amazing effects. An Austrian based supermarket “Billa” applies gamification scoring to induce an increase in spending.

The amazingness of this example is its easiness, customers spend 100 EUR and get a 10% discount, 200 EUR lead to 15% discount and 400 EUR to 20% discount. Tracking couldn’t be easier, to participate one is asked to use a store savings card and thus plays nicely into the see through customer concept, which makes any ROI calculation a relatively easy task.

Makes me wonder why this hasn’t been applied on a wider scale, particularly in this setting as it seems to heavily affect repurchase behavior and short term loyalty.

applied gamification - receipt


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If the sky isn’t the limit anymore… what is?

Redbull’s Stratos campaign has set a new dimension of campaign and social engagement with consumers around the world. It also sparked discussion about the terms paid, owned, earned and shared media, however seldom has somebody questioned if the reach for the stars and current campaign scopes are still in line with resource theories of the firm. I argue they are not, excess capital holdings allow certain organizations to device campaign stunts, driven by eager agencies to score the next big thing, without establishing a full campaign to business objective link.

Watch somebody jump from space vs. going to space yourself (Axe Apollo):

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Questions that should be raised by marketers and budget holders:

> Is the race for the most extreme campaign to gain a healthy and sustainable race?

> Is it just too easy to spend money on paid media to get audience attention through extreme campaigns vs. meaningful content stimulation throughout the customer journey?

> Are campaigns like Stratos and Axe Apollo really justifiable beyond the hype of press and bloggers? Shouldn’t we as marketers not look beyond total reach and claim target audience reach in meaningful numbers? What is it that we achieve with campaigns? Can we create meaningful links towards the bottom line? I argue big media allows us to do so but at the same time introduces campaign limits.

> As most marketing organisations are setup as cost-centres, don’t we have an obligation towards stakeholders and the firm to justify our spending even more so these days?

> Are we just making use of aggregated fluffy terms like earned or shared media to hide behind walls of agency influence and ego stipulation to have the biggest campaign? Does size really matter in that sense?

Paid, earned, owned and shared isn’t what is seems like – we need to dig deeper:

If we spend $20m on a campaign and estimate to reach x number of people on the premise of paid media, y number of people on the premise of owned and z number of people on the premise of earned and zz number of people on the premise of shared; do we really measure what is meaningful to the brand, to the bottom line and to our budget responsibility? Shouldn’t we segregate reach into current customer reach and potential customer reach, furthermore increase in sustainable purchase effects and short term campaign spikes? Furthermore, I argue that smart data allows us to construct a media model which assigns values to each theoretical nod, we can start to differentiate between dead-end reach, multiplication reach and bottom line effective reach.

Dead-end reach: non current and non-potential customers, low network degrees

Multiplication reach: non-current or non-potential customer with a value generation network degree, e.g. one or more nods are either customers or potential customers

Bottom line effect reach: the total of current and potential customers reached through the conglomeration of paid, owned and shared. This number should be in a healthy relation to both substitute media spendings (e.g. $ effort) and also the total number of people reached. If we assume our target reach is equal to a sample population, the sample to total population ratio becomes a statistical ratio and the marketer’s task is to find the sweet spot instead of trying to cover the entire population to also reach the target group by intersection effects.

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6 reasons why… forget it, this is just a funny ad from Adobe

Adobe claims a top spot in online advertising with their funny Super Bowl commercial (see below) and well, their “You can measure Social Media ROI ad”. In times of smart data (I still refrain from using the word big data to specify the use of data for decision making advantages), this should come as no surprise, yet as it seems, business schools (as I currently experience the no 1 ranked business school in Europe), marketers and organisations still avoid the ROI discussion and shift to the topic of online brand building. I particularly like how Adobe uses current stereotypical personas to play in their ads – which in my opinion should put 85% of today’s marketers (see their Super Bowl ad), advertising agencies and “consultants” to shame.


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Adobe’s Super Bowl commercial… wondering who the “winner” is now:

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As always, if you made it this far, check out the Adobe blog for more – worth a visit.

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People spend 9 billion hours on Windows Solitaire… what about your employees?

Some fun theory to start with:

Below’s clip dates back to 2009 proving that with adding fun to dull daily tasks, people’s behaviour can be influenced by introducing play aspects. Whilst this study is inconclusive in nature due to timing and selection bias, the shown increase of people using stairs by 66% vs the escalator suggests still valuable points to take away.

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Critique on the “study” / stunt:

The introduction of the game element fun lead people to change short term behaviour on both an experimental and non-trivial level. The question however remains if the human condition to recognise patterns will lower the fun element in the long term and thus dis-validate the spike in stairs vs. escalator selection. In other words, when will it become boring to take the stairs vs. going back to the elevator? The discount of other external influences, such as presence of cameras, crowd effects and word of mouth add further to the question of validity of said experiment.

Stuff to think about:

Without going further into issues of this experiment, it should trigger thoughts on how a behavioural change can be prolonged (e.g. Skinner’s theorem on operant conditioning) and how, when and or if fun elements as game elements hit a ceiling. In above’s experiment, it is bluntly obvious as any element to prolong sustainable change and induce behavioural change is missing. Once you have walked the stairs 2,3,4 or 5 times, the fun part of doing so and the associated engagement level starts to decrease.

Current application of game elements on real world problems:

A lot can be learned far from the scientific side of behavioural psychology. The application of game elements to non-game environments to induce behavioural change effects has already found wide application in both business models and marketing techniques. On the business model side, Linkedin with its profile progression bar and contribution graphs in groups as premiered the application of game elements, namely progression and levelling. Newer applications include FitBit, Nike+ and many other behavioural change inducing products. Very creative application of game elements can be found in Jay Z’s decoded experience on bing which levered upon virality, social sharing and explorer type behaviour.

The list of applied gamification to market problems is almost endless, yet many industries, such as B2B in general lag fairly behind to acknowledge the advantages of utilising game elements in both internal and external setting. Whoever is better to cite than Kevin Werbach, Wharton School of Business, who taught one of the first courses ever on gamification.

Kevin Werbach on Gamification:

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Current issues in research:

I could probably go on about various game mechanics, their application to reduce intrusive messaging to players and and and but this serves little to no point for one very serious reason. Besides studies on game behaviour online and some Gartner studies predicting a fail of large junks of gamification applications due to design elements, the scientific foundation and relevant research to build a solid foundation on a larger scale is missing. I wonder why research hasn’t caught up with a growing industry and managers acknowledging the application of game elements to real world problems. Question to be answered and researched:

> When will we hit a gamification ceiling and how can this be overcome (e.g. the Zynga fall of FarmVille reveals cycles in game elements)?

> Marketers like advergaming and gamification for external applications, mainly to induce marketing messages on an less intrusive level to consumers. Yet when and how does message aversion develop to the increase in gamified elements in the real world. The same applies to advergames and in-game advertising?

> How can we apply design elements to create sustainable fun elements for prolonged engagement or is the concept of iteration to be internalised?

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Algorithmic location modelling to enhance customer behaviour profiling for marketers


Location based services (LBS) or location based marketing (LBM) has seen an increase in adoption based on ongoing technology diffusion amongst consumers (e.g. GPS enabled smartphones  as well as service enablers such as Foursquare or Facebook places).

Gartner estimates about 800 Million active LBS users by the end of 2012, a figure to grow to 1.4 Billion by 2015, resulting in over $13.5 Billion LBS consumer induced spending. With overall mobile advertising to be expected to account for $20.6 Billion by 2015, consumer induced spending on LBS provides a strong indicator of future growth driven by navigation, social networks and location search. The increase of smartphone penetration in third world countries will most likely result in a 2nd growth phase for mobile marketing and with it, LBS.

Growth of LBS will be enabled by further mobile and and tablet adoption rates and thus placing location based targeting devices into the hand of consumers. LBS revenue is assumed to grow mainly on its main form of current revenue generation, advertising.

LBS development

While customer privacy remains an issue, current adoption rates of LBS suggests users starting to neglect privacy concerns and even access fully passive LBS services such as placeme. Current studies confirm this trend with 58% of consumers valuing benefits over privacy concerns.

Advantages of LBS / LBM for marketers:

> Enhanced listening features to gain access to consumer behavioural data
> Enhanced targeting features to create more relevant POS offerings
> Enhanced interaction features to elevate customer brand interaction with social, contextual and location relevant content
Emerging opportunities for higher level data mining:
> Behavioural mapping. This is something which should see strong developments. Similarly to the Google Page Rank, a location rank should gain access to algorithmic modelling of consumer journeys. E.g. with increasing data, patters are likely to emerge to attribute value to. A consumer coming from location a to location b might suddenly seem more valuable based on prior exhibited behaviour than a consumer from location c to location b.
Some examples:
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Who really won the Super Bowl ad frenzy

With millions spent on Super Bowl advertisements, agencies usually go crazy pre and post Super Bowl about who had the best creative, the funniest story, the most Youtube Clicks.

With the 4 million Dollar per ad on the big day, one could have done quite a bit online… see Digiday’s analysis.

1. Twitter Promoted Trending Topic (every day for a month): $4 million / $120,000 = 33 days

2. 8-day YouTube Ad Buy: $4 million / $500,000 = 8 days

3. 6+ Million impressions on Tumblr’s Radar: $4 million / $120,000 = 33 days

4. 50 million first-page interstitial ads: $4 million / $80 CPM = 50 million impressions 

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Direct Fan Engagement – what brands can learn from the music industry

The music industry and many artists are undergoing a vivid transformation from top down content producers and mass entertainers to connecting on individual levels with fans. Some artists, such as Chamillionaire capitalize on digital marketing and gamification effects for a higher level of brand engagement, which is impressively shown in the following clip (extract from the 2012 gamification summit). Worth watching & very entertaining.

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learnings from the clip:

> Authenticity counts

> Engage on personal levels

> Make the brand matter

> Budget isn’t the driver – creativity is

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