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Hackers Paralyze WPP, the Largest Ad Agency in the World

Posted June 29, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 3:26 am

WPP workers using Windows operating systems were badly affected by the attack while those using Mac systems were unaffected

WPP - Petya attack

Many of the WPP agencies like JWT, Y&R, MediaCom and GroupM among others have been affected by the worldwide cyber attack, called Petya on 27 June 2017. A press release from WPP on the day of the attack said, “We are working with our IT partners and law enforcement agencies to take all appropriate precautionary measures, restore services where they have been disrupted, and keep the impact on clients, partners and our people to a minimum. Having taken steps to contain the attack, the priority now is to return to normal operations as soon as possible while protecting our systems. Our operations have not been uniformly affected, and issues are being addressed on a company-by-company basis. Many of our businesses are experiencing no or minimal disruption. We will provide further updates as the situation develops.”

Interestingly, Petya could not penetrate Mac computers even though it played havoc with PCs running on Windows operating systems. An intra group email alert sent out to all employees of all the WPP group agencies had asked employees to immediately shut down all PC running on Windows, till further notice. An internal memo attributed to WPP chairman, Martin Sorrell, said, “Many of you will have experienced significant disruption to your work. However, contrary to some press reports, WPP and its companies are still very much open for business. We are a group packed full of highly creative, ingenious and dedicated people. I urge you all to put those qualities to use in making sure that what our clients experience in the hours and days ahead is as close to business as usual as we can possibly manage.”

Is this attack a variation on the ‘Wanna cry’ attack that happened last month? Many experts and analysts now believe that the Petya attack is, in fact, a variation of Wanna Cry, which also targeted Windows systems and demanded ransom in bitcoin payment. Although Microsoft developed a series of “patches” in March, both the Wanna Cry attack and Petya cause a lot of damage to numerous businesses and departments of government bodies. “Enterprises are clearly not prioritizing patches effectively. While some organizations may have situations where they are unable to patch, that excuse doesn’t scale when you get a worm causing damage on this level,” says Josh Zelonis, senior analyst at Forrester Researcher.

Filed under: Agencies

Now Ads on Facebook Will Allow Brands to Target Specific People in Households

Posted June 27, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 8:40 pm

The new feature will help reduce waste in ad spend by tailoring ad-targeting based on products that individuals have purchased or not

household audience feature

Facebook has now made it possible for brands to target their ads down to specific households if not individuals. It will soon be introducing a new household audience feature that will allow brands to not just target individual families but even go further by targeting specific individuals in the family. With this new tool brands can now narrow down their targeting to individuals in the family who influence purchase decisions as well as those in the family who make the actual purchases. The tool allows brands to select a source audience uploaded on the social site comprising customers drawn from an email list or any other database. The marketers can then turn on the household audience feature to filter down their ads to specific individuals in the household.

Graham Mudd, product marketing director at Facebook, said, “What we want to do basically is leverage the power of our network to enable that kind of influencing or to support that kind of influencing across the family. Explaining how this might work during the holidays, he gave an example where he purchased products from Brand A, and invariably ends up in the brand’s customer database. Next, if his wife wants to buy him a gift, Brand A would target Mudd’s wife and even their children with ads designed to influence their purchasing decisions even as they’re shopping for their dad.

Traditionally advertising has been all about how you show the same ads to the same household at the same time. Facebook’s new feature will change all that by identifying individual members of the same household based on signals, as well as the relationships among family members and also the frequency of shared check-ins or where they access the internet. This will mean that advertising dollars will begin moving away from television networks toward Facebook in a major way because marketers will now be able to get a lot more ROI (Return on Investment) for the money they spend on advertising. This kind of precise targeting will ensure that brands have a better chance of maximizing their chances of getting their customers to make faster purchase decisions.

Filed under: Digital

A Facebook Messenger Bot That Turns Emotions Into GIFs on a giant LED display

Posted June 26, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 6:38 pm

San Francisco-based agency Heat made this innovative, artificial-intelligence-based program for this year’s for Cannes

Facebook Messenger Bot

San Francisco-based creative agency, Heat, came up with an interesting application – a Facebook Messenger chat bot that reacts to users’ emotions. Stijn Jansen, digital art director at Heat, said the idea for the chat bot began about a couple of months back when about 400 young people were competing, networking and attending classes in connection with Cannes. Jansen recalled his time at this school and wanted to do something to make it more interesting for the attending students. He said, “I think exactly 10 years ago I was an attendee of that school as well and it’s a very overwhelming week. Their cubicles are kind of sad-looking, very white—not the most inspiring space to brainstorm. So, we wanted to be really close to them where they could hang out, escape from all the white light.”

Jansen calls his innovation Heatbot, which has a 42”by 42” LED matrix panel fitted with more than 1,700 lights where each pixel contains three LED lights making up the display of the chat bot. A user must type a code into Facebook Messenger to verify that he is inside the Cannes installation before starting interaction with Heatbot. The technology that connects the panel to Facebook Messenger is what makes this chat bot interesting as it offers scope for other applications. Heatbot first asks a few questions to the user about how he is feeling. On the backend, Heatbot covers eight basic emotions that are connected to 1,000 responses.

Depending on the answers it gives to the users, Heatbot then produces on the LED display, a series of GIFs and photos that relate to the emotion and are based on color theory. For happy users, it may show goofy GIFs while for those who are sad; it will show GIFs of hugs and smiles. “Heatbot plays a sequence of GIFs for you that make you feel a certain way, “If you’re feeling good, it wants to celebrate with you. If you’re feeling tired, sad, lonely or uninspired, then it will create content that helps you get over that hump,” Jansen said.

Filed under: Digital

Reality Check for Traditional Supermarkets as Amazon Acquires Whole Foods

Posted June 23, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 5:23 am

Amazon will bring in it full range of big data crunching technology to engage customers more intensely than ever before

whole food market

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion on June 16, the food retail world woke up to a new reality – the prospect of relentless competition from the eCommerce giant and its desire to dominate the market for years to come. The fact that Amazon backs it up with amazing efficiency and daring strategies, makes it even more of a worry for its competitors. On the other hand, the supermarkets and grocery businesses are the ones that will have to figure out ways to meet the challenge. Amazon will be unloading its heavy artillery armed with big data and the only way to tackle that will be to match the firepower which most supermarkets and grocery businesses don’t have.

If they try to make peace, Amazon is likely to make them an offer they can’t refuse, and tell them ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ Grocery retail is now increasingly coming into the focus of technology as traditional and relatively old-fashioned businesses gradually come under its ambit. These segments haven’t had any innovation for years even though some outlets offer self-checkout but that is few and far between. In most supermarkets, customers still have to stand in long queues and that’s where technology is going to aim at. It boils down to convenience and most importantly, time.

The use of customer data is unknown to these traditional outlets because most of them are not bothered about their customers’ behavior at the point of purchase. They don’t know that customers’ market movements can be tracked and so can their purchase patterns. Amazon is definitely going to bring all of that into play with Whole Foods, which is good for the market. Of course, Whole Foods had literally dug itself into a hole with its ridiculously high prices for the organic foodstuff to sells. Amazon is surely going to make the necessary corrections because it will aim for scale in quick time. Amazon’s won’t entirely go for ecommerce with Whole Foods but will also spice up the in-store experience with technology that will help eliminate queues. Overall, grocery retail is in for a major shakeup.

Filed under: Digital

Consumers like Brands That Share Their Social Beliefs

Posted June 22, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 1:21 am

Edelman study of consumers from across the world reveal that customers are more likely to ignore brands that ignore social causes

Solid-Marble case

The third Earned Brand report from public relations firm, Edelman reveals some interesting data on the kind of relationships that brands ought to forge with consumers. Brands should note that their position on a social or political issue, is likely to impact the purchase decisions of about 57% of their customers. Edelman surveyed 14,000 people across 14 countries to find out about the relationships that brands had with their customers. Mark Renshaw, global chair of brand at Edelman, said, “People really are buying on belief, and brands have a huge potential to gain if you do share your belief and act out on those beliefs. We really think this is an opportunity for brands, and it’s something that all brands should be looking at proactively versus reactively.”

A brand’s stance on a touchy social issue will influence purchase decisions of 67% of the respondents while 50% of the respondents said they would decide to buy products of a brand because of its beliefs. Brands should beware of keeping silent on specific issues that their customers care about because 65% of respondents say if a brand doesn’t talk about a social issue that they feel it should talk about, they wouldn’t buy products of that brand. As much as brands stand to lose by remaining silent on specific issues, they also stand to get rewarded when they choose to be vocal about a specific issue the customer cares about. Nearly half (48%) of the respondents would defend the brand while 23% said they were willing to pay 25% more for the brand’s products; around 51% said they would buy it exclusively and more frequently.

Edelman’s Renshaw clarified that the survey wasn’t meant to push brands into politics. He said, “We don’t believe it’s about politics. In fact, we would say stay away from politics. But the issues that are being discussed in society are things like the environment, equality and immigration. Obviously, sometimes issues have a political aspect, but the issues themselves are what brands should be focused on—not the political sides of those issues.” Referring to the Hieneken ‘Worlds Apart’ campaign, Renshaw explained, “So it’s not just weighing an issue in society right now but actually putting the product as a core part of bringing people together.”

Filed under: Brand Marketing

Has Instagram Stories Caused Snapchat Growth Slowdown by Over 80%?

Posted June 21, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 5:09 am

With 250 million active users daily who get to replay live videos, Instagram Stories is now powering ahead of Snapchat at great speed

Solid-Marble case

Most reports stop short of saying that but a number of analytics by several providers as well as social media talent managers agree that there has been a huge decline in preference for Snapchat ever since Instagram Stories was launched. Snapchat was doing really well in early 2016, but began experiencing a massive drop in growth after the launch of Instagram Stories, a direct competitor which now appears to be running away with the largest part of the market. In fact the drop in Snapchat’s growth is over 80% which is very close to complete stagnation and these stats seem to be hurting Snapchat even as its IPO (Initial Public Offering) hits the market.

Using the technological leverage of parent company, Facebook, Instagram will now allow users to replay live videos on the site, which will not disappear immediately after the livestream. This follows the strategy of Facebook where users are allowed to tune in even after the broadcaster has tuned out. Instagram had first announced Live Stories way back in the beginning of the year and by March, began allowing users to save their own live videos. However, Snapchat is not done and dusted yet and far from that, might want to bypass the negative perception around its inability to scale up as it was doing when it had a monopoly.

Snapchat still has some remarkable analytics to show that this decline in the number of its users is not really the end of the story. In fact, it’s already talking about the deep engagement it enjoys with its users in the stats it shared in its IPO filing which focused on just how much its users liked to open the Snapchat app. The stats mention that the average daily user opens the app around 18 times every day and stays on for up to 30 minutes. Snapchat also informed that 60% of the users create Snaps and use the chat feature every day. This kind of engagement along with vibrant full-screen ads is where all the monetization opportunities lay although Snapchat would have to work harder to convince Wall Street about it.

Filed under: Digital

Big Data Can Become Bad Data When Marketing Analytics Are Inappropriately Used

Posted June 20, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 5:10 am

Integrated analytics and data quality can help marketers tackle the massive challenge of tracking consumers’ purchase journey

Solid-Marble case

Left to itself, big data isn’t of much use to anyone because it’s like an iceberg full of fresh water. These days with so much available on the internet, collecting and aggregating data is easy but that doesn’t mean most people are able to utilize the data and extract the right amount of value from it. The other issue which is gaining in importance with every passing day is ensuring the safety of the data. Marketers are among the biggest and most effective users of big data as they have to keep pace with the changing preferences and priorities of today’s consumers.

The consumers may engage businesses across multiple touchpoints, devices and marketing channels, from digital and social sites to the ecommerce sites where the real transactions take place. A marketer needs to be with the consumer for the most part of this journey if not the entire journey although it’s very difficult to stay connected with consumers who are interacting with multiple businesses across multiple devices and channels at speeds not known before. It’s a massive challenge for the marketer to understand what drives and influences the consumers’ behavior. The marketer must track the cross channel journey to be able to account for the impact of traditional media in a customer’s movements. Was it a TV ad that influenced a customer to visit a particular website or was it a radio jingle?

Leaving the cross channel movement aside, it’s a huge challenge to get an accurate picture of how customers are moving from device to device or app to app. A critical part of understanding the consumers’ purchase journey is to know how they connect mobile app to mobile web environments. With the astronomical number of apps in operation it’s almost impossible to track whether customers clicking on in-app ads, are frequently sent to the browser for the brand’s website. That’s because such transition alters that phone’s external identifier from a device ID to a cookie. Tracking such transitions from app to web and back again, at scale, is one of the biggest challenges that marketers face today.

Filed under: E-commerce

The New Fanta Bottle Looks Like it has Been Squeezed and Twirled

Posted June 19, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 10:11 am

It took Coca Cola, Fanta’s parent company, five years to give shape to the idea and formulate the bottle

Solid-Marble case

Fanta bottles in Britain, Italy, Poland, Finland, Romania, Serbia and Malta have a new look which make the bottles appear as if they have been freshly squeezed. The design element that gives the Fanta bottles this new look is a neatly executed spiral in the lower part of the bottle. At first glance it appears like a simple twirl on the bottle but PET (polyethelene terephthalate) bottle packaging professionals will tell you that it is far from simple. The idea was first bounced by London-based Ad agency, DrinkWorks to Coke UK who liked it and took it up. Little did Coke UK know that this cute and simple-looking design innovation would take over five years to materialize. They didn’t back out and pursued the idea to its logical end, and finally came up with the cute-looking squeezed and twirled shape on the Fanta bottle.

“How people interact with a product is where we start a project. We got young people in a room, gave them fruit, carving kits, plasticine, play-do, pens, paper, told them to just play—make a mess! Observing people do what comes naturally when they’re thinking of a drink and oranges like this was incredibly insightful,” says Leyton Hardwick, creative director at DrinkWorks. The only problem was, the youngsters aren’t expected to know that there is more pressure in a bottle that holds a carbonated beverage than there is in a car tire. Chances of the bottle deforming with certain sections popping out are high if the shape goes even slightly off kilter; that will render the bottle useless. Symmetry in design is critical here.

The kids had done their job; it was upto Coke UK’s packaging innovator, Gregory Bentley and his team to figure out a way to do it. He says, “The process of designing a bottle like this is very, very restrictive. We have multimillion-pound bottling production lines to think about. You’re working within a pre-agreed tube shape—if you pull capacity from one point, you need to add it in to another. You can’t take it out, without adding it in elsewhere. And of course, with a carbonated drink, the bottle has to be symmetrical, or it’ll bend.” Greg and his team deserves all the appreciation for achieving something incredible.

Filed under: Marketing Innovation

TrustX Promises Advertisers a Higher Level of Safety and Transparency

Posted June 16, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 10:31 am

This digital advertising marketplace and programmatic platform is gradually attracting advertisers and media buyers

Solid-Marble case

The major internet platforms Google and Facebook have not been able to offer a lot of things that users of these platforms would have liked. For instance, Google’s video platform, YouTube, hasn’t really been able to provide brand safety while Facebook is still in damage control mode after it made a mess of its measurement methods last year. This is where TrustX, a digital advertising marketplace or programmatic platform, steps in with a promise of total viewability and transparency on what’s being bought and sold, complete with proper reporting and billing. However, TrustX is yet to take off or ride a wave of customer confidence for what it is offering.

Digital Content Next (DCN), the only trade association dedicated to trusted, high-quality digital content brands, created TrustX as a cooperative digital advertising marketplace, designed to address the industry’s trust, transparency and accountability challenges. This unique marketplace will function as a public benefit corporation (B Corp) whose main objective is to create a sustainable environment for trustworthy advertising. Companies that founded TrustX include DCN members like CBS Interactive, Condé Nast, ESPN, Hearst and News Corp among 33 other publishers.

Billions of marketer dollars are lost to unethical publishing practices and digital ad fraud each year. As a result, ad blocking among a growing number of consumers have increased even as lack of transparency in the advertising supply chain along with poor user experience motivated DCN to launch TrustX with the stated goal of winning the trust marketers, consumers and publishers with a high level of transparency. Troy Young, president, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, said there “is huge demand for this type of programmatic experience.” Hearst Digital is one of the five TrustX founders, which also include Conde Nast, CBSi, News Corp and ESPN.

Filed under: Marketing Innovation

Now iPhone Cases Made of Solid-Marble Add a New Dimension to Smartphone Accessories

Posted June 14, 2017 by Rashmi D @ 3:42 am

The iPhone accessories industry is expected to grow to $107 billion in 5 years time and a large part of that comprise phone cases

Solid-Marble case

A search for ‘iPhone case’ in Amazon will produce around 6.5 million results including covers that are simple and functional to those that are amazing and extravagant. There are also those that are somewhat bizarre e.g. cases shaped like perfume bottles or those that are made of fake fur or even made of Swarovski crystals. Then there are cases that can hold prescription pills and those that offer other minor conveniences. Finally, there are cases that are more expensive than the phones themselves such as those that are made exotic material like crocodile hide or ones that feature 24-carat gold trim.

There is one particular material that iPhone case-makers hadn’t tried till now and that is – stone. Maybe it is because of the perception that nobody would want to walk around with a slab of rock in his pocket, making the phone a lot heavier. However, iPhone users have been using covers that are imitations of stone textures mostly made of plastic. That is no longer the case. A San Francisco based iPhone case maker, Mikol, has crossed this frontier and is now selling iPhone cases made from genuine Italian Carrera marble. That’s not all; they’ll even make a phone case from other kinds of rocks, including amethyst, rose quartz and sodalite, although they are more expensive.

Mikey Wu, founder of Mikol, said, “There were a lot of marble prints. Everybody buys prints of marble, (but) I figured, I’d want the real thing instead of plastic.” Over the last couple of years, he noticed a growing number of iPhone cases on the market that imitated stone. Wu is a construction industry entrepreneur and knew how to make the real thing. He had been working on ways to use lasers to cut the marble to its thinnest possible slice and finally managed to get it down to 0.7 millimeters, which was equivalent in thickness to a stick of chewing gum. Presently, Mikol makes around 10,000 such phone cases in a year and sells them for $99 each.

Filed under: Brand Marketing
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