Privacy: An Emerging Media Risk

Always on, always connected consumers continue to increase their mobile device usage, and marketers are right there in the act when they do in hopes of communicating with them. O’Malley notes, “With 98% growth in mobile app usage and 111% growth in SMS usage, a majority of marketers are now using these mobile tactics to engage customers.

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Source: Smart Insights.

Marketers are specifically turning to smartphones and tablets to not only push messages to consumers for engagement outreach, but to also track their online behavior. Are you being tracked online? Odds are, indeed you are. A little creepy, right?

Privacy will always be a concern for consumers, myself included. When it comes to mobile apps and opt-ins for text messages, invasion of privacy is the risk consumers take when partaking in these emerging media tactics. While privacy is important to me, and companies should adhere to certain regulations when it comes to emerging media, I’m willing to give up personal information if that means I get tailored messaging that fits my wants and needs. However, that’s not to say I don’t take some necessary steps to ensure my personal data stays protected in general. Here are some tips to do just that with some help from the FTC:

  1. Beware of imitators – be sure you know who is receiving your personal and financial information online. Research companies online before sharing your information with them.
  2. Get rid of personal information safely – if you’re trashing an old computer or mobile device, be sure to wipe them clean. This can be done with wipe utility programs, or you can contact your service provider for insight on how to delete personal information permanently.
  3. When in doubt, encrypt – you can keep your browser secure. Encryption software can be used to scramble up information sent over the Internet.
  4. Passwords are meant to be private – make sure the passwords you choose are strong and unique across different accounts for extra security.
  5. Not everything is meant for social media – especially not all of your phone numbers, address, social security number or account numbers. This just screams identify theft. Share responsibly.

As we live in a digital age, emerging media usage will continue to rise, as will consumers’ concerns about privacy. While all the necessary steps in the world can take place to ensure consumers’ privacy, risk will always be there. What’s your take?

YouTube: A Powerful Search Engine

As the second largest search engine used by consumers after Google, YouTube not only houses a plethora of online videos, but it is also a powerful tool for marketers looking to beef up their social media SEO efforts and rankings. But aside from what YouTube can do for marketers and brands, how consumers are using the platform for search is what really matters.

As consumers constantly seek out information about products and services, video content has steadily grown in popularity to meet their needs. Let’s face it; video content is more engaging these days among consumers than pages of text. In fact, “YouTube’s popularity and reach are also expanded by its inclusion in both Google Web and Video search.” So what exactly are consumers searching for on YouTube that marketers and brands should be aware of?

Simply put, it’s all about how-to videos. According to a Google report, “Searches related to ‘how to’ on YouTube are growing 70% year over year, and more than 100M hours of how-to content have been watched in North America so far this year.” The upswing of mobile technology is the biggest contributor of this consumer shift in behavior, as 91% of smartphone users turn to their device “for ideas while doing a given task,” the Google report notes.

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Source: Google.

And this is actually good news for both consumers and marketers. Why? Because as consumers are constantly connected, this “connected” behavior has trained them to expect relevant and immediate content during moments of intent, or “the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments.” These “micro-moments,” as Google likes to call them, “are the new battlegrounds for people’s hearts, minds, and dollars.” Armed with this information, marketers are better able to fulfill the needs of consumers in these search moments with relevant video content, and consumers are able to find video content they desire and expect. See the micro-moment below.

Source: YouTube.

When it comes down to it, it’s important to think in the mindset of the consumer when strategizing SEO efforts. With regard to utilizing YouTube as a search engine, while it’s important that certain SEO techniques are followed in order to produce results, it’s just as important to create quality video content that adds value for consumers, engages them, solves a problem and ultimately, supplying video content that meets their needs. A great YouTube presence equals great content, and great content “will naturally get shared and get links, which will help increase rankings.”

Don’t Waste that Real Estate Space!

Have you heard of vertical video, let alone the upswing in its use among brands? Well, while having a conversation with a fellow friend/colleague, who’s also in marketing and advertising, she mentioned that she really likes vertical video and plans on utilizing the technique more in her plans. So what is this said “vertical video?” Just that – video taken while holding your device vertically versus horizontally (or tall versus wide). Although this concept seems pretty simple, industry experts are predicting that vertical video just may be the future of video. See for yourself.

Source: Business Insider.

Vertical video advertising is trending, and it makes great sense given the default way most of us hold our phones – vertically. In fact, according to The New York Times, “we now collectively spend about 30 percent of our screen time with devices that are best held vertically, like smartphones and tablets. That time spent is growing quickly, and on tall screens, vertical videos simply look and work better than those shot ‘correctly.’” See another example of vertical video below. Creative agency, Barton F. Graf produced the video for Little Caesars Pizza to display the amount of space wasted by not using vertical video (and space that creatives are missing out on, as well).

Source: Adweek.

As you can see, there’s a lot of real estate space to take advantage of when it comes to vertical video, and brands that do just might have ads that perform better and be able to see an increase in consumer brand engagement. Brandon Houston, CEO of Switch Video, explains, “The big players like Audi, AT&T and NBC are testing out the waters of vertical video and have noticed an 80% increase in ad completion.”

While vertical video is not necessarily “new” in emerging media, it’s definitely on the rise and here to stay, especially as consumers increase mobile usage to connect with brands.

Data Makes the World Go Round

As we continue our journey through emerging media trends, research, insights and news, it’s only fitting that we address the driving force behind social networking sites, blogs, podcasts, digital videos, mobile applications and the like. That is – Data.

In addition to emerging media, the technology concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Enchanted Objects (although still considered in their infancies) is the way of the future. Coupled with the advancement of these technologies and emerging media is that of collecting and using gathered data provided by connected consumers. Of course, when we think about data collection, a plethora of privacy and security concerns arise for both brands and consumers. However, let’s talk about how data collection doesn’t have to be all negative – rather, how data collection actually benefits consumers greatly.

Using myself as an example, when brands monitor how often I open an email or what I purchase and when (the season, the day, at what time of day, etc.), this gives them the opportunity to connect with me on a deeper level. For me, this means I won’t get wasted marketing messages that don’t speak to me. Instead, I’ll be able to communicate with brands on what matters to me through customized messaging. This is but one of many benefits of data gathering. Others include improved customer service, personalized offers, meaningful content and more.

As consumers demand personalization these days, many marketing professionals are investing in data-driven marketing, strategies and tactics these days. In a global review of data-driven marketing, GlobalDMA and the Winterberry Group surveyed 3,000 marketers. All of them acknowledged “the importance of data in advertising and customer experience efforts, with over 77 percent saying they’re confident in the practice and its prospects for future growth.” The review also revealed “spending on data-driven marketing grew for 63 percent of respondents in 2013, and 74 percent said that growth will continue this year.”

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Source: Adweek.

Adweek states that in a data-driven world, information is “the most valuable currency.” Would you agree? Maybe the infographic below by Domo will help you decide, as it displays “just how fast data proliferates” and “never sleeps.”

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Snapchat Goes Mainstream

Snap what? I admit, I’m not a Snapchat user. However, the platform that was once reserved for younger generations is now being used across the board – from celebrities to moms and the White House (yes, the White House) to American newspapers like The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

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For those that are in the same boat as I am, Snapchat is all about living in the moment. The mobile application lets users chat with friends, create and view live stories, photos and videos (or “snaps”) and explore news through Snapchat Discover. But there’s a catch! You get a one-time view of your friends’ videos or pictures. After that, they’re gone.

With Snapchat going mainstream, more and more brands are also using the emerging media platform. But why should brands snap? According to Adweek’s PRNewser blog, here are some reasons how Snapchat can help your brand:

  1. It helps maintain a brand’s essence and relevance.
  2. It appeals to a younger audience. While Snapchat’s core demographic is geared towards 18-24 year olds, the platform is now reaching older generations. Using Snapchat is yet another way for brands to communicate with consumers they can’t reach elsewhere.
  3. Brands can use separate Snapchat accounts differently. Take MTV for example. The brand uses their main Snapchat account to feature celebrities, while their Snapchat Discover account is representative of a digital magazine with news.
  4. Brands can use the platform to tell stories and share photos and videos in engaging and humorous ways.
  5. Bands can deliver news with a twist via Snapchat. For example, the WSJ Snapchat account goes behind-the-scenes for election coverage.
  6. As with other social media channels, brands can monitor audience feedback with Snapchat.
  7. Snapchat affords brands a competitive edge as it is truly a word-of-mouth platform.
  8. Brands can have their employees participate on Snapchat and offer consumers an in-depth look into the personality of the brand.

Major brands are using Snapchat and leaving an impressionable footprint with consumers. What about you? Do you personally use Snapchat, or does the company you work for use Snapchat? I just downloaded the app, so I guess I should start snapping (Did I say that right?)!

But Did You Cry, Though?

Storytelling. We hear, read and speak this term a lot when it comes to marketing and advertising, and not just in the digital world, but offline as well. Narrative is, of course, one of the most powerful forms of communication, as stories have been used to teach, lead, and persuade us ever since we’ve been born. In marketing, stories are constructed to motivate, compel and empower consumers, which then causes them to interact and connect with brands – ultimately, storytelling is used to maximize engagement and the bottom line. But what is it about storytelling that truly captures our attention so much that we just can’t resist the urge to share with others? Emotions.

Before we get into all the mushy stuff, here are some interesting stats on why video increases sales:

  • The lifespan of a video is four years – talk about a good investment.
  • Web visitors are five times more likely to click a post with a video.
  • Google ranks videos higher because they give the most information in the shortest amount of time.
  • Video attracts two to three times more web traffic, doubles time on site and increases organic traffic to your site by 157%.
  • Video boosts conversion rates as visitors stay on your site two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to buy.
  • However, 43% of site visitors say they would switch to a competitor if the video quality was poor.

When it comes to digital storytelling via videos, consumers love emotion-packed content that’s relayed to them story-style. We see it more often than not these days, too – consumers purchase products based on how they feel about a brand and its offerings. Simply put, content that stirs up emotions gets more attention. In fact, compelling evidence suggests that emotions play a significant role in consumer buying journeys. Research reveals:

  • fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
  • Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments which are based on a brand’s attributes.

Aside from all the facts and figures, see the Skype ad below. You tell me if that doesn’t make your eyes water. Happy (emotional) viewing!

2016: The Year of VR, AR and MR

The 23rd annual SXSW Interactive Festival is back! Kicking off tomorrow, Friday, March 11 through Tuesday, March 15, in Austin, TX, the festival houses some of the most ground-breaking technologies and digital innovation. The festival includes presentations and panels covering emerging technologies, networking events and special programs displaying new video games, websites, fresh ideas and more. As SXSW states, “From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of the future, SXSW Interactive has become the place to discover the technology of tomorrow today.”

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As the festival is truly a discovery destination, it got me thinking of emerging media trends. A hot topic/trend of 2016 is virtual reality (VR). There’s so much buzz in the industry right now about VR, but also surrounding augmented reality (AR). SXSW Interactive will highlight these technologies at the festival, specifically with their VR/AR Experience. The hands-on exhibition gives attendees a chance to use “a selection of the best new Virtual and Augmented reality technologies.”

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So, what is VR/AR? Consider VR the catch-all name for experiences utilizing any device attached to your face. This includes first-person video games to watching 3D videos on YouTube. With VR, sensors are actually tracking your eye and hand movements so that you can “interact with and navigate through different environments as if you were actually in them.” VR allows you to be a participant rather than a spectator.

Here’s an example of VR.

When it comes to AR, you’re still an interactive participant, however, the difference is that this technology “blends your real-world environment with virtual objects that are perfectly inserted into your field of view.” In detail, AR includes overlaying virtual objects and digital information over the real world and is delivered to users through hardware such as smartphones and tablets. Google Glass is a good example of AR technology. Moreover, another term you might hear these days is mixed reality (MR). This technology “is used to specifically describe experiences with real-time comingling of virtual and physical objects achieved by products like Microsoft’s HoloLens.”

Here’s an example of AR.

Dubbed “immersive media,” VR/AR/MR gives marketers and brands the opportunity to tell and share engaging stories. Consumer interest in these technologies is on the rise as well (as the graph below displays). I think it’s safe to say that marketers will be adding these digital tools to their emerging media list sooner rather than later.

What’s your take? Will 2016 be the year of VR/AR/MR?

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Source: eMarketer