Recently, I went after a job on a client that made a huge environmental blunder decades ago which has tarnished their reputation ever since. At first, I was hesitant, but then I did more research and learned the client had donated an incredibly large sum of money to charity and is working to improve their sustainability practices. During the interview, the strategy director mentioned the client knows they need to improve their sustainability practices – not just talk about it for PR’s sake, but actually do good things.
As marketers, we’re faced with this dilemma on a regular basis. We can feel good about working on clients like Nike, Google and Starbucks – knowing we’re pushing not only a superior product but supporting sustainability or even an innovative employer. But the real opportunity is in getting those clients who once put profit first and foremost, to put customers first. It’s getting those organizations who didn’t care about sustainability to become more sustainable. Or those who weren’t innovative to change their organizational structure to support innovation. It’s getting the person who was a total jerk – the guy who said “my way or the highway” to realize that kind of behavior doesn’t get him friends in this day and age. Is it black and white? Are certain organizations not worth helping? Is a culture of greed or lack of values so engrained that as marketers, we’re better off letting them die as brands or can they be saved?
Or in the words of Olivia Pope’s father on Scandal, are we, as cultural strategists, here to bring clients into the light?
This Sunday I spent most of the day inside, doing laundry, cleaning, relaxing and preparing for various interviews. I kind of felt like a lazy bum for not having walked further than my laundromat and back. My exercise was minimal and human contact was relegated to online channels. But then I woke up this morning in freshly cleaned sheets, walked into my kitchen – the counters newly scrubbed, and am sitting at a less cluttered desk with my mind free of having to do annoying errands like laundry. And so my lazy Sunday didn’t seem so lazy anymore.
And that fresh start can be any day that you want. Not the first day of the new year. Or first day of Spring. Just any damn day you choose to put the past behind you and march forward with a new sense of purpose, confidence and energy. It might only take tiny gestures to symbolize this renewal like cleaning and de-cluttering your surroundings to writing your reflections in a journal. So what do you have to lose? You are older and wiser than you were yesterday but have the opportunity to approach each new day with youthful, vibrant energy. Don’t step, but leap into the opportunities of a new week.
I worked with Scott Schmidt while at M&C Saatchi Mobile, developing mobile media strategies for clients and working together to win new business. Scott recently joined the newly created PIVMO, a mobile marketing and analytics company after having worked as a media supervisor and previously a digital strategist planner.
The mobile industry has grown at a staggering pace since you’ve been in the industry. How have you noticed the conversations around mobile shifting and maturing during this growth?
Definitely – things are beginning to take shape but still not where they need to be. You’ve seen new mobile-first brands skyrocket faster than any other platform I’ve ever seen. I’ve also seen consumers just really fall in love with the technology from streaming Netflix on their phone and casting to the TV, or reading articles on the train, or sharing their social status…. it just makes things in life so much more convenient to a person. The largest issue is many clients still don’t grasp this, don’t have mobile ready websites or apps and they’re getting late to the party. Facebook really blew the media eyeballs open in 2013 with over half its ad revenue now coming from mobile. I like to compare it to social media a few years back, when every brand was still deciding if they should have a Facebook page, or Twitter page, but if you were one of the brands that committed to it, then you obviously saw them reap the rewards. As for the actual media side of things, it’s still a small portion vs. digital budgets and the main reason for that is either 1) they don’t have a mobile ready product or 2) they don’t really understand the mobile media landscape to get strong results from it. 2014 is the first year mobile traffic is going to overtake Desktop PC traffic. Consumers have already made their transition – it’s time for brands to start understanding how to connect with their consumers in a mobile first world Consumers have already made their transition – it’s time for brands to start understanding how to connect with their consumers in a mobile first world.
Consumers have already made their transition – it’s time for brands to start understanding how to connect with their consumers in a mobile first world.
What are some of the more surprising ways that advertisers and media buyers are able to target mobile users?
Mobile is a whole new world for targeting, and this is mainly due to apps being the experience consumers are choosing vs. browsers. Apps are just a much richer experiences to consumers, and because of this, cookies are not available. So when you talk about targeting in mobile, you don’t have that cookie trail available on browsers. What do you have in apps? You have something called ‘Device IDs’ or other ‘IDs’ being put into place to track devices anonymously. It’s a really messy space which is why many advertisers don’t get the performance / targeting they’re looking for. The best advertisers are using 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party data based on device ID, registration data or other data that is properly matched to devices. It’s EXTREMELY important to understand how the data is captured and how it’s matched to the way you serve ads to those users.
What makes it even a larger issue in mobile today is you have to buy from Publishers directly, Ad Networks, and also Demand Side Platforms to get the scale and performance you need. I expect this to consolidate over the next few years. On the bright side – consumers are sharing their data at astounding rates through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other apps which help advertisers truly understand their audience. Imagine that: users are telling you what they like, how they’re engaging – and brands just need to listen and provide that experience. It’s a lot easier than it sounds!!!
What is an average click rate and how does that compare to other forms of media?
This is a loaded question, but Click rates are much higher on mobile vs. desktop, many say this is due to ‘fat finger’ syndrome but in reality if you have a great ad, and a great user experience the results outweigh desktop without question. I’ve seen click rates range anywhere from 0.3% to 20%. Either way, click rates should rarely be the measurement for your brand, you should be looking at other things like app installs, in-app events, engagement, brand lifts, social chatter, etc…
How much do organic installs (i.e. installs from customer interest vs. influenced by ads) play in an app’s install success rate?
Organic installs are huge, but you can’t get those installs without awareness. Whether you’re using TV, social, mobile, or desktop you need to create awareness. The tricky side is on iOS where the volume of downloads effects your ranking. And with a higher ranking, you are maintaining more visibility and ultimately organic downloads. It’s important to build a loyal base which can be done through ads with the right targeting, creative and measurement.
Through mobile, brands have the opportunity to specifically reference a variety of factors in their messaging based on their mobile data – from the time of day, current temperature, location, etc. How often are these tactics used and are they more successful?
These tactics are used by the brands that are ahead of the curve and they’re definitely more successful. It really all depends on the clients’ goals and KPI’s they’re trying to achieve. Retailers are jumping on the horn for location data to drive brick and mortar sales, but in reality I see a lot of brands do this just to say they’re doing mobile. This is why understanding the data is the biggest factor when buying media in mobile. Other elements you’ll see is dynamic creative – saying you’re a block away from the nearest store, or a countdown to an upcoming sale. I’ve seen entertainment networks leveraging countdowns for upcoming shows and adding it to your calendar, and some brands incorporating real-time social data such as tweets during big events like the Superbowl. If the data you’re using for these ads aren’t accurate, imagine the issues you face. You could be in Los Angeles getting an ad for a nearby store in NYC.
What are some of the more innovative mobile media campaigns you’ve seen more recently?
One of the coolest campaigns I’ve seen recently was by Toys R Us in which they promoted gift buying to parents utilizing a voice recognition advertisement. Once you opened the ad, you had to speak and tell them about the child you’re shopping for, what you think they liked and then it recommended an item that you could buy instantly. Also received an ad last week, saying ‘Hey you at the agency’ in which they geo-fenced and audience targeted me explaining how they targeted the ad in a video. That’s hardcore stuff, but it really catches your eye and leaves a lasting impression on your audience. Then you have the larger brands running ads that are fully immersive such as Virgin Atlantic where you could walk into the plane, view its seats, and have a 360 view. iPad ads are some of the most beautiful ads you’ll see on any channel.
What goes into planning a mobile media campaign? How much of it is understanding target behaviors vs. understanding what kind of spend will lead to conversions? Vs. having the knowledge of various ad networks?
A LOT goes into planning, and this all depends on what the client is trying to achieve. Planning includes the media placements you’re buying, the type of ad units you’re buying (banners, native, video, rich media, audio, etc…), creative, the data you’re leveraging and the tracking available. Since data is a huge thing in mobile, it’s important to understand where each network, publisher or demand side platform is getting that data and how they’re matching it to the targeting. Let’s say for example you want to geo-fence an area for a retail store, you want to ensure all the location data you’re receiving is accurate, and in real-time. On the flip side if you’re a new brand that wants to understand who your consumer is in mobile, you can still run broad and measure / optimize against different devices, operating systems, device models, geo, connection speed, gender, age, etc… the list is really endless. As for spend leading to conversions, in the past it was always a better choice not to spend a premium for data since it was not really there yet in mobile, this is changing rapidly - BUT still not for everyone.
Let’s pretend you work for a digital ad agency. A big brand comes to you and says they want to develop an app. What are some questions you ask them related to media?
First question is what took you so long? Lol, no but seriously it’s important for the brand to understand the app’s usage:
Based on this we can build a plan and measurement to execute against so it aligns with their brand, but also aligns to mobile consumer expectations.
What kind of data can you get about people and their mobile habits from media campaigns? Is this information even fully utilized by clients to better understand their customer?
I think this is the MOST important aspect of mobile media campaigns. The value of the data is priceless (maybe not truly priceless but you get the point) vs. any other channel. Mobile is truly the consumer, it gives information on the type of content they consume, the locations they visit, their social habits, transactions they make and other devices they connect with. It’s a device that encompasses everything about a person. Mobile is truly the consumer, it gives information on the type of content they consume, the locations they visit, their social habits, transactions they make and other devices they connect with. It’s a device that encompasses everything about a person.
Mobile is truly the consumer, it gives information on the type of content they consume, the locations they visit, their social habits, transactions they make and other devices they connect with. It’s a device that encompasses everything about a person.
How can creative agencies and mobile media agencies better work together to create more effective ads to customers? Which creative agencies do you feel are leading the charge on mobile?
Creative is really the key to mobile. Digital somewhat hurt themselves over the years by just spamming impressions and measuring backend analytics to the point where we forgot about the consumer experience. Most consumers are blind from seeing an ad 50 times on desktop before making a purchase, vs. seeing a TV commercial or even a video commercial online that created the awareness. Mobile is a groundbreaking technology that should be thought of as a place to engage users in an intimate way. You literally don’t need to send the consumer anywhere to make an impact, I’ve seen campaigns where users will open an ad and interact with it for over 5 minutes. You’re talking about a consumer interacting with a brand on their most personal device and spending a penny to the dollar vs. say a TV campaign. There’s so many creative agencies out there that do great work, but I’ll say actual providers are leading the charge since they pioneer the technology, them being Celtra, Phluant and some of the other rich media guys out there.
How is PIVMO different from other mobile media agencies? What need are they filling that other mobile media agencies haven’t?
I think where PIVMO excels at is allowing seamless integration to a brands business and what they’re doing in other media channels and being able to simplify the process for them. Since we’re still quite a new company, we have a fresh perspective on things as our founders are not only coming from mobile, but also digital, out-of-home and TV. We’re also not tied to any large overhead structure, which allows for great service, innovative ideas and the ability to react to trends much, much, faster. Mobile media is still extremely complicated, which requires dedicated experts, multiple media tactics, tracking and optimization techniques to achieve success. We actually have built an internal solution to streamline all the reporting from our partners called PIVTrax, which I will say is probably the biggest differentiator vs. our competitors. Lastly, we understand that media is only one side of the coin, we’ve partnered with some amazing companies to offer UX design / enhancements that will ensure your brand is ready for a mobile first world!
Publishing my essay for ADMAP’s 2013 Prize that answers the question:
“Can brands maximize profits and be a force for social good?”
Before the invention of traditional advertising, companies lived and died by their reputation. A good reputation depended on having both quality products and customer service. There was an emotional connection between ones neighbor, the shopkeeper, the products and even the manufacturing process itself. But with Henry Ford’s invention of the assembly line, we have lost that connection with the manufacturing process, the earth and even each other. Fortunately technology has brought that connection back. Companies have discovered that considering the environment and labor force in the supply chain has delivered measurable cost savings. Research has shown that consumers seek brands that give back to society. And business case studies have been made that show how businesses can enter new markets from sustainability efforts. The question we should be asking brands as marketing and business professionals is not, can brands maximize profits and be a force for social good, but why are they ignoring this proven path towards sustainability and continued profitability.
The foundation for life, water has also been recognized as a critical component to manufacturing and the supply chain. A recent report by The Carbon Disclosure Project, a group that monitors corporations’ greenhouse gas emissions, stated that “analysis indicates that current “business as usual” water management practices and levels of water productivity will put at risk approximately US$63 trillion, or 45 percent of the projected 2050 global GDP (at 2000 prices), equivalent to 1.5 times the size of today’s entire global economy.” The effects of climate change are clearly evident in challenges companies have had to face from water risk. More than half of Global 500 respondents, from a 2012 CDP study, experienced detrimental water-related business impacts from flood and associated financial costs as high as US$200 million, up 38% from last year. While the science around climate change is still being debated, the predicted effects of frequent extreme weather such as floods and droughts can affect many aspects of the manufacturing process from cotton crops to equipment damage from flooding. It is not a huge leap to assume that this number may increase after the final costs of Hurricane Sandy are all accounted for.
Fortunately, for every alarming statistic, there are companies that are leading the practice in water conservation. Both General Motors and H&M have significantly reduced the amount of water used in their manufacturing process. Companies are even reporting that water-based initiatives have offered new opportunities from increased brand value (40%) to entirely new business opportunities. Levi Strauss has been a pioneer in water reduction during their manufacturing process, introducing Water<Less jeans in 2011. While sales figures on the jeans have not been released, they have increased their manufacturing of the product from 1.5 million in 2011 to 29 million in 2012. Levi’s has recognized that the initiative is in line with both their business goals and consumer values. They continue to evolve their sustainable product offerings. Like Levi’s, Unilever has pioneered water-related sustainability efforts to appeal to their current consumers and enter entirely new markets. A few years ago, they developed a fabric conditioner that only requires one bucket of water for rinsing instead of three, gaining a 60% increase in usage from 2010.
Half the cost of business is in the supply chain. The supply chain is also responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions from manufacturing companies. While most members of the United Nations Global Compact of Sustainability surveyed by Accenture agreed that sustainability should be integrated into all aspects of operations, just over half, actually achieved sustainability. The path to reducing emissions has already been paved; 40 percent of CDP members have reported financial savings from their emissions reduction activities. Companies have even benefited from developing smarter transportation routes or partnering with other companies to reduce fuel costs from deliveries.
No sellable good can be harvested, created or transported without the touch of a human hand or at least one to guide the machinery. And yet, many companies treat their workers like machines, with no feelings, human needs or compassion. But for a moment, let us put our humanity aside and pretend that labor is just a line item in the manufacturing process. Most machines would have a short lifespan if they were kept running without proper maintenance. The cost of replacing them would far out weigh the cost of fixing them. But workers are not machines. While they require more “maintenance” and time off than the average machine, they also have the capacity to do so much more. BSR, a corporate responsibilities consultancy, published the results of several case studies where they helped improve the working conditions in factory and agricultural settings in Central American and the Dominican Republic. By helping to improve the lives of the workers, they also helped improve the business. Productivity increased while operating costs and turnover decreased.
Look no further than your local Whole Foods, Starbucks or trendy café to understand how consumers feel about fair labor practices. The sale of Fair Trade products has grown globally about 30% every year, even during a recession. Apple came famously under fire after The New York Times created a shocking expose of Foxconn’s working conditions. Faced with consumer pressure, investigations by NGOs and continued NYT articles about the factory, Apple eventually worked with Foxconn to improve labor conditions. If Foxconn does not serve as enough of a lesson, economics will. Over the next decade, it will be absolutely imperative for companies to learn how to develop more sustainable labor practices, especially in the China. The IMF predicts in a 2013 paper that between 2020 and 2025, China will experience a labor shortage economy. This shift could even signal the end of cheap goods.
What is supply without demand? A critical component to profitability is revenue. The Guardian conducted a study in 2010 on consumer attitudes and perceptions on sustainability. “…79% indicated that a company offering products and services with low environmental impacts would be more likely to win their loyalty” and felt the same factors would help them develop loyalty. Over 70% thought that energy, manufacturing and transport companies are not environmentally friendly or have little concern for the environment. No follow up papers have been published but one can guess that sentiments would be similar given the man-made and climate change-related disasters that have occurred since it was published in June 2010.
“People’s willingness to buy, recommend, work for and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company, and only 40% by their perceptions of their products.” Kasper Ulf Nielsen, an executive partner at the Reputation Institute
Businesses have lost valuable consumer trust over the last decade. Trust in business fell from 53% in 2011 to 47% in 2012 and customers cited that businesses did not meet their expectations due to their practices. Trust for business is slowly rising to 58% according to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer. In fact, business is trusted more than government in more than half the 26 markets surveyed. The Edelman Trust Barometer also found that societal factors like treating employees well, has “ethical business practices” and “addresses society’s needs” are attributes associated with future trust. The most telling finding as it relates to the general public’s interest in social good is that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) remain the most trusted institution.
The increase of concern for the environment and societal ills is due to the historically high levels of information that the average person has access to. In 2011, Google published a pivotal free eBook called ZMOT, Winning the Zero Moment of Truth. The book describes a shift in how consumers make purchasing decisions. Once influenced by branding, advertising and public relations, consumers can now have access to detailed product information, company policies and even customer reviews before purchasing an item. While the book is mainly focused on a behavioral shift in purchasing, it also signals a cultural shift. We can no longer cite ignorance as an excuse for our behavior. We have an increasing proliferation of tools like the GoodGuide to tell us at the point of purchase how sustainable a company’s policies are. If we cannot find it on Google, our social network can act as a resource for influencing our purchasing decisions.
Consumers have a growing appetite for finding more meaning in their purchases. Inn the United States, we find a growing interest in hand crafted goods, fueled by Etsy, eBay and other peer to peer ecommerce sites. Customers are also experiencing a greater connection to their farmer with the proliferation of local farmer’s markets across the country.
Global viral campaigns like KONY reveal that there is a cultural pressure to align oneself with social initiatives. Non-profits like Charity Water allows us to see the benefits of our philanthropy, showing us that we do not have to be wealthy to make a positive societal impact. The one-to-one model of Tom’s and Warby Parker has made it cool to identify with a label, as long as that label gives back to society. And indulging in Ben & Jerry’s makes eating ice cream a little less gluttonous when one considers all their CSR initiatives. Finally, countless personal care brands have worked to match their manufacturing process to their newly created “natural” image.
While the debate over being a force for good and making a profit is still being debated, a few companies have taken off in developing their sustainability practices, paving the way for others. Patagonia has become a thought leader in creating sustainability practices, especially for clothing brands, publishing The Responsible Company in 2012 as a guide for businesses. They have strived to greatly increase the quality of their products and promote thoughtful consumption over disposable goods. In 2011, on the most famous American shopping day of the year, Patagonia urged their customers not to buy their products. Their program, Common Threads, urges consumers to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle their clothing. Their initiatives are working, both for creating sustainability and a profitable business model. Despite the extreme economic woes over the last five years, their revenue is set to nearly double.
Another pioneer of sustainability is Unilever. During the keynote speech given at The Marketing Society Conference in November 2011, CMO Keith Weed cites population growth as a strong driver for Unilever’s sustainability efforts. In addition to their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint by modifying their supply process, they have also spearheaded non-profit initiatives. For example, their disinfectant soap, Lifebuoy founded the first ever Global Handwashing Day in 2008 with the United Nations and other partners. In addition to improving hygiene and preventing disease, the initiative promoted usage of the product, gaining sales and growing market share.
Starbucks is another global example of companies promoting sustainability. While their impact on the environment is debatable given the proliferation of used Starbucks coffee cups, their commitment to labor is not. They have worked to make their supply chain sustainable, including a commitment to farmer labor practices. Starbucks rallied their customers through Create Jobs for U.S.A., offering customers a braided wristband in exchange for their $5 donation towards the Community Development Financial Institutions. Howard Schultz is a businessman and while it is clear that he may care more about sustainability than other CEOs, he is still interested in long-term profitability. A study done by UCLA in 2012 found that “adopting green practices isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your employees and it’s good for your bottom line. Employees in such green firms are more motivated, receive more training, and benefit from better interpersonal relationships. The employees at green companies are therefore more productive than employees in more conventional firms.”
When one looks at the overwhelming evidence, it is clear that maximizing profits and being a source for social good are synergistic goals for companies. Creating a more sustainable supply chain reduces costs. The knowledge that the company is being a source for good both motivates employees and consumers, increasing productivity and revenue. Companies have adjusted their business models to succeed in dramatic market shifts from introducing ecommerce to developing a social media presence and offering their customers utilities through mobile. Why should adjusting to sustainable business practices be any different? The health of society and business depend on it.