Category Archives: Technology

How to create immersive B2B customer – brand experiences

B2B purchasing decision making processes are far from being completely rational or purely fact driven. In fact, various studies confirm that even the most critical B2B decision making processes rely on personal value attribution or emotional value components. Some studies find that up to 70% of B2B decision making processes are emotionally influenced, even in commodity type pricing situations.  
With up to 50% or more of the decision making process being completed before the average B2B buyer engages with you sales representative (= wake up call to revise your content marketing strategy), it seems invaluable for B2B brands to create highly personal and or emotionally powered customer experiences.
Apart from many great examples of emotional branding, such as GE’s Ecomagination or even Maersk’s entire social media presence humanizing the brand, one widely under-deployed method is to excite your customers. That’s right, don’t put them to sleep with endless whitepapers or an automated triggered email for every click they do on your website but excite your customer base with either highly engaging content or even experiences that leave a mark and position you clearly in the mind of your customer base.

Some of the later are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications. With the earlier I have been playing around since 2010 / 2011 augmenting various products or otherwise hidden processes for customers. With both enhancement on the hardware and also software (creative) side of things, it is now possible to create stunning and life-like augmented reality applications that allow the visualization of your product in completely new ways. There are by now almost infinite examples from the B2C, lead by the IKEA augmented reality catalogue or Lego’s augmented toy boxes. In the B2B world, you will however also find examples of industry giants like Bosch employing AR to their automotive product palette. For ingredient branding type products, AR concepts can help to showcase product on a system and functional level, thus greatly enhancing your sales argumentation by visualizing complex product features. This does not only allow your sales team and customer to engage on a completely different level, it also engages your customers’ inner curiosity to explore more.

The heart of engaging technology today is however, in my opinion, Virtual Reality. VR concepts allow a new level of customer immersion that has seldom been the case for B2B companies with somewhat limited budgets compared to their B2C colleagues. VR enables to transport distance (e.g. our latest example: a factory tour), experiences (e.g. product demonstrations or walk throughs) or size (well, how would you want to exhibit your newest excavation digger in expo hall 2?) with relative ease. More importantly however, it can almost be guaranteed that your customers will experience your products or services in a completely new and innovative light, often combined with a big smile on their face (yes, your initial success measure and great customer generated content if you ask for a few testimonials right after the VR experience).

The experience I have made with both technologies has been outstanding and very positive. Production costs for both are steadily decreasing with more knowhow on the agency side and an increasing number of providers for both technologies. Thus your MROI will also not be penalized (if you are among the 25% of B2B’s measuring your MROI at all). Both applications can be greatly developed within your live event budget but instead of being one off stunts, costs can be activated for continuous use over multiple quarters, thus creating a sustainable, up-dateable and very exciting customer facing application.

If you have any good, exciting B2B examples of this sort, please share below.

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What marketers can learn from 80 billion watched adult clips on one site

Pornhub, a streaming portal for porn has just recently publicised its 2014 site statistics. Despite the fact, that almost nobody on this planet would openly admit watching porn; almost 80 billion viewed clips (which statistically sums up to roughly 11 clips per human being on this planet) suggest something quite different. Before you run off now to delete your browser history, I am more amazed about what these statistics reveal about user behaviour overall and on a country level. On a side note, one has to give the Pornhub team credit for not only having established a major site in global porn consumption but for running the site and all its adjacent media on a high level of professionalism, e.g. the usage of social media, blogs and other features, that deliver funny, relevant and actually interesting content.

Here my key learnings:

1. Behaviour reveals the truth: when it comes to defining customer centric messaging, positioning strategies or product placements, observing displayed customer preferences through hard actions (no pun intended) allows marketers to not only assure high relevancy of marketing actions for the assumed target group but also an increase marketing effectiveness. Surveys, no matter how great, expensive and professional, do never reveal real underlying drivers. Digital data is thus of great help to penetrate the customers mind, understand root causes and determine action triggers. #Pornhub relevant fact: despite the steady global increase in online porn access, it is noteworthy to have a closer look at national key search terms. Despite the US, almost every country revealed a high national focus in search terms.

 2. Mobile is the king, yet privacy demands tablets: globally, particularly in less developed countries with holes in its telecommunication infrastructure, the spike in mobile usage demands an undeniable rethinking of media channels to target customers. Whilst the desktop driven Internet access was the preferred 24/7 channel a few years ago, it`s important to note how consumers change channels, screens and devices throughout the day. To reach consumers effectively, a continuous channel switch might be necessary to stay in the consumer`s mind and assure high message relevancy at the point of purchase. #Pornhub relevant fact: both mobile and tablets see an increase, which is inline with the overall global rise of mobile / tablet driven computing or media consumption. Yet, I hypothesis, that due to the nature of the consumed media (porn), tablets show a higher increase which is probably in line with their location of use (in-house), vs. on the go mobile media consumption. I am contrasting these statistics with the latest Comscore data on mobile marketing statistics.

3. Relevant content is king: Pornsites have probably the highest relevancy to its access groups, if one excludes personal preferences within the broader definition of porn, in the WWW. Why you ask? Well, they promise porn, deliver porn and people accessing them, are probably looking for… right: porn! The level of surprise is fairly low, the promise to the consumer is most likely kept and to top it off, most user probably leave the site with a positive experience. Marketers need to ask themselves, if broad content spanning sites which are created for multiple target groups can still be relevant in a generalist way. Investing in SEO and thus reducing bounce rates by increasing relevancy of the first point of contact might be one amongst many solutions. After all, one of the major access point to the web, particularly in the B2B environment are search engines. Instead of shoving traffic to your “about me” page or an index error message, linking to relevant content site on a search pattern basis is highly recommended. This becomes particularly interesting when investigating large B2B web profiles. #Pornhub relevant fact: user expectancy = site delivery = porn

4. Statistics are cool: Most companies I have yet had the chance to interact with base a lot of their actions on assumptions or the fallacy of experience. B2B, particularly industrials, are prone to assume that 20 years of industry experience make up for not having or not understanding the use of data. If it weren’t for privacy reasons, pornhub could probably go down on an IP basis to reveal all sorts of data. Thus recurring visits, duration between visits and average site duration, correlations with search terms and and and… which B2B business has access to that sort of data? Well, almost all, but data collection is still not seen as a top priority in many firms, particularly not if business practices involve a high percentage of relationship building tactics. Just ask about your web demographics and or connecting the dots from the web to your CRM… #Pornhub relevant fact: Pornhub serves not as a silo platform but links to full scale porn content on other pages, thus the more pornhub can learn about visitors, the more relevant the site can become, the higher its conversion rate for partners, the more $ it makes.

5. Glocalisation rules: We live in a globalised world, yet national interest, cultural heritage and other factors do still play a role in purchasing decision making. It is for a reason that supermarkets increasingly advertise local produce to consumers. B2B`s do yet again mostly discount this fact. Thus a costumer in China has to view the same or similar content to a customer in Europe or even North America. Although one can assume a more professional purchasing decision making process, underlying drivers, particularly non-rationals to make up for missing data in the decision making process, are being subconsciously influenced by cultural factors. #Pornhub relevant fact: Despite the US, all major countries by access numbers reveal a high level of national search terms.

6. Don`t scare customers with insights but be brave enough to make use of them: if you have continued to read this article after your cache cleanup, you will have probably noticed or thought about that Pornhub could have gone in much further detail on a country level, probably down to individual IP`s. Don`t worry, it would be a fatal error for Pornhub to go that far, as the key point of their statistical review is not to scare users away but to provide them and the general public with the confidence to access a highly professional site while having social affirmation. As the saying goes “a million flies can`t be wrong – eat shit”, social affirmation works in porn as well as in other business. Thus the key is not to tell your customer that you were surprised about his Sunday night reading habits of your email but to build necessary conclusions and work with statistical data to your advantage. Did you know, that 75% readers of this blog seem to have a very high level of education? Charming, ha? #Pornhub relevant fact: the use of both movie ranking and viewer statistics is a smart move to give other users an easy selection of good content based on social rating schemes. Every B2B should have enough data to highlight its no 1 product in 2014, Q1 or of all times – the only difference to Pornhub however is, that Pornhub is already working in porn, it has crossed the boundary of society, which I assume does also lead to quite some freedom for its marketing team in the content creation space. You won’t have that freedom in your company as product managers, sales mangers, general managers and the rest of your team will state their biased opinion, which are most likely entered around reducing risk.


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big is great but smart is better – a big data discussion

I have recently had the chance to listen to a presentation by Phil Winters at the CRM Expo in Stuttgart. Phil is an active advocate of big data theories and a very lively presenter (can only recommend to sit in if you have the chance). Anyway, one of Phil’s slides caught my attention particularly.  A slide about a very basic but yet, as it seems, mostly ignored principle about big data.


In other words, BIG DATA – NON-IDENTIFIABLE DATA SOURCES = SMART DATA. The grid used to present this is about as easy as it gets but holds all the value a smart marketer needs to step into the big data discussion.

1) Visualise your customers purchasing decision making process (or the funnel if you want)

2) Identify touchpoints (this alone is a great exercise for most marketers and even more for internal service providers – customer centricity is the key – not what you want)

3) Assess data availability per touchpoint (is data readily available, in which form, when, from whom etc)

4) Assess smart data options (can you make sense of the data or identify user groups or even single users out of a specific data set)

5) Identify the data creator (is it a customer, potential customer, noise etc)

6) Smart Data entry (can you make sense of underlying values, behaviours or motives – in other words, can you interpret the data gathered at this level)

More from Phil Winters here – enjoy the read and happy smart data mining (I am a big advocate of logical naming conventions and from that point of view, big data is a misleading term, we don’t need big data but smart data; think about it!)

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35% of offline researchers purchase offline – resulting in negative channel conversions

Multichannel marketing has been a buzz word for quite some while yet as it seems, for most stationary retailers, it still turns to the ugly side with negative channel conversions. According to a recent study by GFK and Accenture, about 35% of all online purchases made result in a prior stationary retail research (research offline, to take up Google) before a purchase is finally made online. With that, a stunning of 5.4 B EUR resulted in these negative channel conversions in 2009. In other words, 5.4 B EUR are most likely lost transactions for stationary retailers, as chances are that the online purchase is not done via their online shop (should they have one).

Think cross channel and not multichannel!

Cross channel marketing could be one solutions for retailers to look at. Instead of relying on multichannel marketing perspectives, which often result in channel centric marketing models and thus quite some linear conversion, cross-channel marketing aims to put the user in the centre of all action while using channels as supporting instruments to assist the user in the web 2.0 buying funnel. E.g. a retailer should not rely upon stationary offline (even offline rich media) initiatives but a dynamic channel conversion alongside the customers progression in the buying funnel. This is not a revolutionary idea but amazingly only a few large retailers have jumped upon that bandwagon.




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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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A thought on the revival of the Trojan Horse of advertising: advergaming…

Nostalgia has caught up with modern marketing:

Over the last years, with the steep increase in casual gaming, heavily enforced through mobile and tablet technology diffusion, companies have started to increase marketing spending on contextual marketing. One of the most valuable contextual marketing instruments, which however still struggles to find its way into many industries is advergaming.

At marketing conventions and conferences, many marketers seem to treat advergaming as a new concept, but fail to acknowledge the early work from marketers at McDonalds or at Coca-Cola in 1980 and 1983 respectively to create the first company sponsored game and the first advergame ever.


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Over the years, with increasing computing power, Commodore has further been a platform or early advergames, such as Painterboy in 1986 which lead players to paint a house for a Finnish paint company called Tikkurila.

Modern home and mobile computing enabled new immersive customer experiences:

Years later, Volkswagen, RedBull, General Mills or Frito-Lay (a PepsiCo. division) have come out with advergames based on visually stunning graphics or a very intense customer experience. Success rates speak for selected forms of advertising; Volkswagen has generated over 5 million visitors to its GTI project with players being on the site for an average of 8 minutes. Frito-Lay’s hotel626, a Dorito revival of 2 flavors has even elevated this number to 13 minutes on average per player. No other form of advertising allows a more intense customer immersion. Granted, production costs for these advergames are likely to exceed a basic CPC campaign but visitor numbers and duration times suggest a much lower cost on a customer level.

How much messaging is however healthy and sustainable in advergames?

To me, this is the key question to be answered and reflected upon. Pumping out an advergame is a relatively easy task with enough budget and thus advertising and coding partners to come up with experience rich or graphically rich games to spend (or “waste”) a few minutes with.

But marketers have to think about how deep their advertising message will be engrained into the game. One option is of course to sponsor a game as premiered by McDonalds in 1980. Hotel626 from Frito-Lay followed this early trend with a very subtle message placement for its more adult target group. Another option is to create a full-blown product and messaging centric game such as Honey Defender by General Mills or the GTI project by Volkswagen.

2 factors seem to stand out to decide upon level advertising message placement to the consumer:

1) Contextually translatable brand or product attributes

2) Advertising aversion of the target group

The first one determines how subtle and contextually meaningful brand attributes can be transformed into the gaming experience. The GTI Project for example did a great job utilizing Volkswagen notion of German engineering, paired with the nostalgic racing character of the Golf GTI to create its miniature racer. Looking at Volkswagen’s most likely target groups, prior Golf or GTI owners and thus brand affiliates, the message aversion of the target group can be likely considered as being low (in relation to the chosen medium). In contrast, how many adults would have played a Dorito game for 13 minutes in which you chase Doritos or create Doritos? Most likely not that many as contextual attribute translation and advertising aversion would have shown an inverse relation. General Mills Honey Defender however is faced with similar translation issues as the Dorito brand, despite it having a slightly easier stand to translate to honey and bees. The main point of contrast is however the target group and thus the target group’s message aversion. General Mills targets mainly kids with its game; who granted are not going to buy the sugary cereal but most likely nag their parents during the next shopping trip to get a new box to unlock in-game specials.

Below a first go to cluster some examples into a likely grid.

messaging in advergaming

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Channel segmentation is the past – Cross Screen advertising the future

The past:

For the last couple of years, online marketing and online advertising has evolved into a race for better CPM, conversion and high pitched segmentation efforts on both mobile, social and web based advertising platforms such as Google and Yahoo. The problem with most platforms however is, that marketers tend to ignore platform switches of consumers. E.g. a person being targeted and reached via SEM on a web client might moments later be using his mobile, playing on a console or chatting with friends on his tablet. Instead of being channeled into platform specific segmentation and either under or over-targeting parts of the target audience in various channels, it serves a point to rethink segmentation and targeting with the means of modern day technology.


Technology is an enabler for a new set of questions to be asked:

Companies like drawbridge have started to use algorithmic modelling to pair a user’s devices, which allows to target one user on all his devices. More information on drawbridge’s technology can be read in their current whitepaper.


Without disappointment, you cannot appreciate victory:

The major drawback to date of technology side providers like drawbridge is the exclusion of another major hub of screen time: consoles! Consoles do still allow great advertising possibilities by, like other in game advertising formats, capitalising on the deep player immersion during gameplay. Although Sony has earlier this year patented a new form of in-game advertising by interrupting gameplay for on screen advertising, it is questionable if this format will capture the in-game advertising potential and thus leave the door open to alternate technologies to emerge and capture a major foothold.


What marketers should start asking themselves:

Is it more effectively to spread advertising budget cross channel based on channel specific segmentation / targeting data or is it more beneficial to follow a specific user cross screen / channel with dynamic messaging efforts. You decide!

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Be ready for what is next…

In this year’s Nielsen Consumer 360 Conference, one topic hit the mark in terms of futuristic outlook. Whilst many organisations and marketers are focusing on adopting the latest (some the earliest) web technology or even mobile technology; one must begin to ask what is next? How will customer centricity be shaped in the months or even years ahead and start building the organisation to be able to cater to these new game elements.

What does this mean for us marketers? Engage in strategic conversation, work today on tomorrow’s value chain setup, enhance customer centricity today to be able to set the tone tomorrow.

The clip below is a short excerpt from the conference and gives great food for thought.

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