Entertainment brands still chasing a mobile blockbuster hit November 25, 2013
While film studios and entertainment brands are successfully leveraging mobile and social for real-time engagement, these marketers are not building effectively on the campaigns to create a solid mobile strategy.
Entertainment brands have been quick to jump on second-screen marketing experiences with companion applications and commerce-enabled mobile advertising, but are lacking in translating these experiences into a wider-reaching mobile strategy. With mobile expected to play a bigger role in how consumers shop this holiday season, savvy entertainment brands can significantly benefit from mobile to promote movie releases and television specials this year.
“Our entertainment brands are very strong at leveraging and creating social media buzz in real time, either leading up to a movie release or during the airing of a TV show,” said Douglas Rozen, chief innovation officer at MXM and senior vice president/general manager at MXM Mobile, New York.
“In fact, because of tight integration between mobile and social, we are able to determine, weeks in advance, the potential success of a movie based on social conversations mostly occurring via mobile,” he said.
“That said, we are working with clients on how to better use mobile as a marketing channel not just a content and engagement channel. In this regard, entertainment brands can learn from verticals like retail, CPG and travel/hospitality in their use of mobile marketing from ads and search to linking the digital world with physical environments.”
As smartphones and tablets replace laptops as a research tool for consumers while watching television, entertainment brands are breaking through with compelling second-screen apps and content.
Take Twitter, for example.
HBO, MTV and NBC all have active Twitter accounts that the brands use to engage with consumers in real-time during TV shows.
To propel its monetization efforts, Twitter rolled out its Amplify ad program this year that lets brands serve a promoted real-time tweet to consumers that are watching a TV program and tweeting about it.
Viacom’s MTV recently inked a deal with Twitter to use Amplify around its award shows and programs (see story).
Last week, Twitter expanded these advertising options with a new product called TV conversation targeting to make the program more readily available to marketers.
While Amplify was more aimed at marketers looking to extend the reach of their TV spots, the new ad tool is available for any marketer to target consumers tweeting about TV shows.
In the entertainment industry, these new tools could be particularly effective for entertainment brands.
For instance, an entertainment brand sponsoring a TV show or sports game could leverage the tool to target consumers that are watching the show in real-time.
“These brands recognize the impact their mobile efforts can have when they are in someone’s hands, one click away from the consumer’s social platforms and the incremental amount of reach that exists if they can ignite an action,” said Brandon Stuart, creative director of Fanscape, Los Angeles.
NBC is also working with Comcast to test a new feature within Twitter’s mobile app and site called "See it" that turns a mobile device into a remote control to drive tune-ins (see story).
The problem with these initiatives is that they tend to be one-off campaigns that have little impact after a TV show ends and the conversations on Twitter die down.
As mobile becomes less experimental for brands, entertainment companies that traditionally dial up end-of-year marketing spend should be investing in developing campaigns that push marketing into 2014.
There is no doubt that consumers are moving towards smartphones and tablets to binge watch their favorite TV shows and movies.
Up until now though, companies including Netflix and HBO have dominated this space with subscription-based services that do not rely on advertising to monetize their efforts.
Additionally, Netflix and Amazon are making a big push into original content that give consumers an incentive to watch online-exclusive video to increase subscriptions.
With more consumers accessing content across multiple screens, broadcast networks and entertainment brands are under increasing pressure to offer more compelling second-screen and online streaming offerings.
Netflix’s iPhone app
“We’ve seen brands like Netflix swoop in and make entertainment content consumption seamless across platforms and void of advertising, so the pressure is now on the big brand networks to advance their offering to compete,” Mr. Stuart said.
However, there are a few interesting examples of how entertainment brands are using apps that dole out exclusive content.
For example, Universal Pictures used an app to promote its “Despicable Me” franchise that translates conversations from the film’s minion characters.
Additionally, Paramount Pictures developed an app in January that used location-based features and audio recognition to let “Star Trek” fans unlock special content (see story).
Increasing mobile spend
Entertainment brands continue to lead as one of the top verticals leveraging mobile advertising.
In fact, entertainment brands are the third-largest vertical on Millennial Media’s platform. These brands also integrate mobile commerce into campaigns twice as much as other verticals to drive quick ticket sales (see story).
Despite the high mobile ad budgets, many entertainment brands are still running basic mobile campaigns that link to Fandango or another ticketing site to drive pre-sale tickets.
Take a recent campaign from DreamWorks Pictures to promote the film “Delivery Man” that was released last week.
DreamWorks Pictures ran audio and expandable ads within the Pandora iPhone app to build up hype for the movie.
Dreamworks Pictures’ ad
When consumers clicked on the ads, a landing page from Fandango pulled up show times and ticket prices at nearby theaters.
While the campaign was effective in building awareness and sales for films, the ad lacked compelling content to keep consumers engaged for a longer period of time.
In addition to deep-linking to ticket sales, Mollie Spilman, executive vice president of global sales and operations at Millennial Media, Baltimore, recommends that entertainment brands try adding character bios or mobile-specific content to campaigns.
“Many entertainment brands understand that pulling the consumer into the experience is the best way to drive engagement,” Ms. Spilman said.
“Unfortunately, we’re still seeing some brands put longer, made-for-TV trailers onto mobile,” she said. “This is a total creative/device mismatch. Instead, brands should create shorter, mobile-specific trailers.”
Mobile privacy debate moves in-store as retailers mull Wi-Fi investments October 24, 2013
New privacy guidelines introduced this week address the tracking of mobile users’ in-store activities while also laying the groundwork for protecting consumers as retailers look for ways to engage with smartphone-wielding shoppers.
Concern over how best to protect their customers’ privacy is one of the stumbling blocks holding retailers back from wider adoption of in-store mobile services leveraging Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. While the new code of conduct from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and the Forum for the Future of Privacy only addresses one specific area of concern, it envisions a broader framework encompassing other mobile-enabled in-store experiences.
“Retailers are very interested in [mobile-enabled in-store experiences],” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director at Yankee Group, Boston. “The only thing stalling them right now is price and data privacy.
“Most of the retailers I speak to are very concerned about insuring that they are thinking about their consumers because they don’t want backlash from their consumers,” she said. “So, yes it is a cost structure, but it is also, what do we do about data privacy issues.
“In order to move it forward, it could help having more regulations and having consumers being opted in because then maybe, the retailers will step up and say, ‘Ok, this has been approved, this is the policy we have to follow, let’s go do it.’ Right now, they have no guiding principles.”
The code of conduct provides a way for shoppers with smartphones to opt-out of tracking performed by location analytics companies across multiple stores.
Right now, the guidelines focus on the location analytics companies that are providing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology to retailers to track shoppers across multiple stores and provide data back to retailers, such as how long their wait times are and how many customers visit more than one of their stores.
The code of conduct covers data collected using the unique MAC address identifiers for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
This kind of tracking is reportedly in thousands of stores.
Some of the companies that have agreed to update their policies and contracts to provide for an opt-out that works with the code are Euclid, iInside, Mexia Interactive, SOLOMO, Radius Networks, Brickstream and Turnstyle Solutions.
The Future of Privacy Forum will also create a central opt-out that any consumer can go to and make sure their phone is on the opt-out list for this tracking.
The privacy group is also working with retailers to put up signage explaining about the tracking and how to opt-out.
One of the promises of having smartphones in the pockets of so many consumers is being able to deliver hyperlocal, personalized offers.
Approximately half of smartphone owners would be willing to share their personal data with retailers in exchange for personalized offers, according to recent research from Yankee Group.
However, in order to deliver personalized offers, retailers need some sort of in-store technology that can recognize a phone as well as receive and transmit data.
The most widely-used solution for this type of activity to date has been Wi-Fi, with some retailers setting up their own networks so they can communicate with their branded applications on shoppers’ smartphones.
From the retailer’s perspective, Wi-Fi has several limitations that has held-back them widely installing it on their own. By some accounts, less than 10 percent of retailers currently have Wi-Fi installed in their stores.
In most cases, the technology is only in a flagship store or small pilot.
The problems with Wi-Fi include that it is expensive to install and there are concerns that it can degrade smartphone batteries.
The concern over how to handle data privacy issues is one of the reasons why retailers are moving slowly to embrace mobile technology for enhancing the in-store experience.
Bluetooth Low Energy is a newer technology that has a lot of buzz around because it is much less expensive to install than Wi-Fi.
Also, BLE enables even closer proximity data collection, meaning it could conceivably be used to deliver an offer for a pair of jeans to a shopper in the jeans aisle.
"We work with a number of retail and CPG clients on the mobile shopper experience, including in-store," said Douglas Rozen, senior vice president and general manager at MXM Mobile. "Whenever personal data is collected, we ensure users provide explicit permission, so the code wouldn’t change our existing practices.
"Most importantly, we make sure prior to seeking a user’s permission that the value exchange of the user to provide their location is equal if not greater in terms of the content and offers we provide back," he said.
"After all, location allows us to ensure our content has the context. With younger shoppers in particular, we’ve found that they are more likely to opt-in in exchange for rewards, offers and a more relevant shopping experience."
The Future of Privacy Forum wants the code to be inclusive of a broader array of data exchanges, including any new technologies or services that may come down the road in the still quickly evolving mobile retail space.
“We recognize that these things will converge so we have an opt in for offers or personal information if somebody does have an app and has a sign up for offers and if they were going to link this information in there, that has to be done with somebody’s express permission,” said Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, Washington. “We are anticipating that.”
Per Mr. Polonetsky, the idea is to get privacy guidelines in play early on so that companies can incorporate them during the building stage.
At the same time, the guidelines need to be flexible enough to accommodate how the mobile retail space will evolve.
“If you wait until the different models are all clear and final, it is really hard, you are telling companies that are earning millions of dollars in the way that they do things that they have to change practice or technology,” Mr. Polonetsky said.
“If you come in early, it is easy enough to say, can you build this the right way with respect to consumer privacy,” he said. “But the challenge is that you have a moving target and you need to understand the direction that the technology in the different models go.
“We are very focused on understanding that new smart technologies are coming down the road and we need to make sure that this is compatible with the things that are happening, such as offers.”
Inside Meredith’s Quiet Collection of Agencies July 23, 2013
In recent years, Meredith Corporation, which publishes the magazines Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, and Fitness, among others, has been aggressively snatching up agencies to create content for advertisers.
In the past several months, however, with a shift in executives and strategy, these agencies, each with its own area of focus, have been brought under one roof called Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, or MXM. Meredith is no longer just a magazine company; it’s a marketing company, too.
“We retired all the brand names,” said Doug Rozen, MXM’s chief innovation officer. “Over the last year, we created new a leadership team to drive this forward, setting it up to be integrated as a single structure versus eight different independent [agencies].”
MXM’s emphasis on high-quality content and the effective distribution of that content through social, digital and mobile. It works with Fortune 500 brands, like Chrysler, NBC and Kraft Foods, to create custom publications or websites, manage social feeds, or develop video for brands to post online or in a store. MXM then distributes content wherever a brand feels it’s best suited: print, Web, email, mobile, offline or social media.
For example, MXM comes up with all the social content for NBC’s primetime shows, as well as manages the shows’ social communities. When the power went out at the Super Bowl, Oreo wasn’t the only one thinking on its feet. MXM delivered this tweet for NBC’s new show, “Revolution.”
Mainstream media companies that also offer creative marketing services have existed for years. Hearst has iCrossing, a digital marketing agency; Time Inc. has Content Solutions, a content advertising and marketing division of the media company.
But according to Rozen, MXM is trying to differentiate itself from those other publisher in-house agencies by putting the focus on taking an editorial view to marketing, by placing the emphasis on the content rather the distribution and targeting. So instead of focusing on the medium, the emphasis is on the message.
“Our editorial view and content-driven perspective makes us different, coupled with the ability to have delivery and targeting,” Rozen said. “Especially as consumers are bombarded by messages, how do we create stronger more lasting impressions versus bombarding people?”
The publisher-as-agency trend has been fueled by a perfect storm of lowered ad rates, diminishing revenues, fragmented audiences and brands wanting to create content in their own right.
Rozen said that MXM is the result of Meredith’s reading of the industry tea leaves. The company is putting forth an aggressive diversification plan to hedge against the decline of print media. Nothing motivates a company like fear.
“We’re building ways to prove this works, because clients wouldn’t spend money if we couldn’t prove it’s working,” Rozen said. “Otherwise, they’d sink it back to TV, which we know is so effective.”
One of MXM’s selling points is that the work it does on behalf of brands doesn’t just run on Meredith properties. Much of the work runs on various types of customer-relationship management systems.
“We’re trying to focus on the notion of putting the content in the right context and the importance of content in marketing,” Rozen said.
“Everyone’s focused on tech and delivery and distribution, as well as audience segmentation, but, really, the missing component is not who or how but what. What are we going to say to these people? It comes down to unbelievably good content.”