How digital hype can damage your marketing & branding fundamentals:
I’ve seen too many examples of companies disregarding marketing fundamentals and their brand identity in order to launch innovative and creative digital marketing campaigns. “Content Marketing” is all the buzz now, but how this content relates to your brand and how you “pull” your target audience to this content can make or break your campaign. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t create appropriate content; for example, their content can be based on a poorly designed branding campaign or simply not targeted enough. Additionally, there are campaigns that “push” this content onto their target audience in an invasive manner, instead of eloquently stimulating them to consume it.
Here, in my opinion, is a case in point: the Lexus / Microsoft multi-screen “Ride with the other me” campaign
Let’s assume that Microsoft has done a great job of profiling Lexus’ target customer – Understanding the consumer’s media consumption partners, their location, which devices they use to consume what content, and related trends. Although this is difficult to do and currently not an exact science, let’s just assume it is spot-on. Do you invasively “push” content that has little to do with a brand’s identity, and which is already linked to a competitor’s brand, to profiles such as “Seth”? Any sensible marketer wouldn’t, at least not in today’s market. Here are the two areas where I believe Lexus and Microsoft did not execute well on:
Synergy with brand identity is everything – Does a logical link exist between the content and the brand for the consumer?
Every brand and marketer wants to create that emotional & heart pounding piece of creative content. The challenge is doing so in a way that is in sync with the brand’s identity and with the target customer’s perception of the brand. If there is a mismatch, the brand’s marketing efforts can easily back-fire and be actually damaging. Now Lexus’ “Ride with the other me” campaign may not be brand damaging, but seriously, what do extreme sports have to do with Lexus? Lexus’ flaw here is in the concept behind their campaign, believing that their target customer “Seth” will make the logical or emotional link between extreme sports and Lexus, when that link has already been well established by Red Bull through rigorous sponsorship and years of marketing investment. And guess what? Red Bull has also sponsored a winning F1 racing team together with Infinity (one of Lexus’ key competitors), which uses Renault engines…so the extreme sports space is a little crowed at the moment. The “Ride with the other me” campaign would have made sense for Infinity, but Lexus?…Lexus didn’t think this concept through well enough, before investing in it.
Digital “push” marketing has become a very dangerous animal – USE with extreme CAUTION
Assuming that a consumer is interested in viewing a type of content just because they had previously consumed it is one thing, which Youtube manages well (for example), but serving-up & streaming content under the assumption that a consumer wants to consume it then and there is another. What Microsoft is showcasing in its Lexus example is a text-book case of “invasive” marketing. The kind of marketing that can immediately aggravate your target segment, instantly losing them as a fan or promoter of your brand. Facebook’s issues with newsfeed marketing and overwhelming advertising posts backfired on them to the point at which they quickly redesigned their strategy and significantly reduced their initially invasive approach – Apps and algorithms faced numerous updates to fix the problem in 2012 & 2013. Today, if you want to experience examples of invasive marketing, simply visit Italian websites and Italian versions of sites such as Yahoo! For some reason Italian marketers believe that by launching animated pop-up ads that invade the screen, when a visitor’s pointer simply passes over an advert, they will achieve good results…wrong. Here, Microsoft is guilty of trying to anticipate content consumption habits. Does Seth really want to continue watching a video that he perhaps got bored of after 15 seconds? It is dangerous to make such assumptions.
What is interesting is how Microsoft seems to promote their work with Lexus’ campaign. Sure, it uses a multi-screen strategy and shows how intelligent the Microsoft ecosystem can be; however, from a pure marketing and branding perspective there are flaws that may not have been evident to them.
If people are complaining about Facebook’s social “experiment”, which was actually a waste of time since the main result is a no-brainer (you don’t need an experiment to conclude the obvious), then they will be crying over the invasive consequences as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to develop.
Fact (source: IDC 5/14): A significant portion (34%) of IDC Digital Universe Data is “Useful” (considered as intelligent data), but only 7% is currently “tagged”, which means that it can be associated to an individual’s location, habits, behaviour, etc. Now, if only 1% of Digital Universe Data is analyzed (current stat), think about the potential for growth in businesses that will offer technology and services in the “tagged data analysis” market segment?! And think about the implications on personal data privacy and security.
Internet, software and digital hardware giants such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Google, have already invested hundreds of millions in the development of IoT. Such investments will continue to grow exponentially until these companies have gained significant market share in the new horizon of the digital economy. Entertainment, Healthcare, Lifestyle Management, the Automotive industry, Home Management, Financial Services, you name it; it has to gain from continuous tracking of personal data via specialized sensors that are constantly connected to the net. Although the implications on improving cost management and the general quality of life are there, personal data privacy and security are at serious risk due to the simple fact that effective 3rd party managed norms and standards for the protection of individuals will not be put in place before new technologies are. A great example is a current and real problem facing the US, where millions of images, collected by the NSA, have been centrally stored and profiled. Currently, there is no federal law that protects US citizens under constitutional rights against the collection of such data because “images” are not included as a category under current definitions of personal data. The implications of this issue moving forward are clear.
Impressive content marketing from A1 “Steak” Sauce
A1 does a great job of using social media & video to communicate an important brand identity change. A1 has traditionally been labeled as a condiment for steak and has had difficulty in communicating the fact that it is a sauce that “goes with many different foods”, not just steak. Using common Facebook jargon and behaviour, that many know too well, A1 has both created a sense of intimacy with its brand (almost making it seem human), and created an engaging storyline that beautifully communicates the fact that A1 is not just a steak sauce.
I recently came across this piece of content being shared on LinkedIn:
I immediately thought that it was created and posted by the company behind Java code, Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), as recently as this month - But, in fact, it has been on YouTube since 2010 and it (together with other instances of the same video) was posted by someone random with no affiliation to Oracle. The quality and creative thinking behind the video is impressive so I did some digging around and found this additional great piece of content marketing for Java:
This video was posted in 2012 (two years later), by what seems to be an official Java promoting YouTube channel, JavaZoneNorway. If you visit this channel there is only this single video posted…?!
But, other videos began popping up on YouTube’s related videos section.
These were all under a different, but very similarly named account, JavaZone Norway. Here, there are videos from 2011 (so before “The Java Heist” video) and from 2013, all additional great examples of engaging content. On the JavaZone Norway channel a website url is finally provided - And it then becomes clear what JavaZone actually is: It’s a conference organized by independent Norwegian volunteers that support Java as the language of choice for software development.
Great content, but what a mess…What if JavaZone had done it right from the very beginning?
By creating and managing a coherent online presence (a single profile, well managed posts, clarity in presence, etc.) as early as 2010, and planning effective support campaigns each year, JavaZone could have become one of the pioneers of excellent content marketing - A text book example of what engaging content can do for promoting something. They would have been able to generate much more awareness of JavaZone’s annual conference in Norway and drive much more traffic to its main website. JavaZone has probably botched a golden opportunity to leverage its content to its full potential, and given the quality of the production of these videos, this content was expensive to develop making overall ROI unattractive. In fact, I can’t seem to find any content for their 2014 conference. It’s a pity.
This example underlines the importance of proper planning and execution of any marketing strategy - Having good ideas and engaging content is simply not enough.
How giving away your content can maximize your ROI:
Ever pay to visit an exhibit at a museum to then be told that you cannot take photos of the art work? In today’s world of easily accessible digital content with no price tag, such a situation has become unacceptable to the typical consumer. Although this can be viewed as a problem specific to museums and art galleries, there is much that can be learned from how this change in consumer behaviour is impacting the success of art businesses, which should be applied to other content & IP rich industries.
The point, which has been beautifully proven by the Rijksmuseum, is that in order for companies to remain successful in the business of distributing IP protected content, they need to not only evolve according to changing consumer behaviour, but to also provide innovative ways to consume their content without charging a hefty price.
The Rijhsmuseum understood this and launched the Rijks Studio initiative, making their IP (works of the artists they exhibit) available digitally to the general public via a format allowing the public to design their interpretations of the masterpieces and related consumer products. With this studio concept came a contest for the best and most innovative result, which would then be developed and commercialized by the museum.
By providing maximum flexibility with and access to its IP, in combination with an incentive to use this gift, the Rijksmuseum has successfully achieved numerous things (not exhaustive):
And all it took was providing free and liberal access to its content…
Pepsi Max launches a social media campaign driven by innovative content marketing
And with over 5.5m views of their youtube video in less than a month, it can be called a success.
This was part of Pepsi’s #LiveForNow campaign, Pepsi Max built a bus shelter ad in central London that made it appear as if unbelievable events were taking place in the street. The booth used in the video used a camera to film an exact view of the background, which was then overlaid with additional images of unbelievable events
Great way to promote a horror flick! - Devil’s Due
The “smart” startup that identifies and monetizes #video #content #online
This is an excellent example of how a company has combined the digital revolution & the fear of content owners losing-out on revenue streams from social platforms, to build a business that works not only to help keep premium content “shareable”, but to also help content owners monetize that content. Thanks to #ZEFR, content owners need to do less policing of their #IP on the internet since they can #monetize #content that is shared by their fans on sites such as #Youtube. ZEFR has taken their unique algorithm even further by selling the concept of leveraging free-to-view content to brands - ZEFR help brand owners maximize the business benefit of people who believe in their #brands. See how in this video.