User Generated Content A Marketers Dream

All hail user-generated content! Are photos of your friends sporting the latest fashion or technology trend flooding your newsfeeds? User-generated content is everywhere and it’s making waves, especially among the millennial demographic. According to a study done by Ipsos MediaCT and Crowdtap in January of 2014, millennials are more likely to trust UGC when it comes to making purchasing decisions or to share their own opinions about a particular brand or product. (( Absorbing and producing content daily, millennials are deeply engaged, finding UGC 50% more trusted and 35% more memorable than other types of media. ((

Ipsos MediaCT/Crowdtap displays the breakdown of media trustworthiness among milennials:

Media Trustworthiness

So what’s the big deal? An endless source of real-time authentic conversations that are occurring around a particular brand or product; sounds like a marketers dream to us! More importantly, these discussions can be utilized for building marketing strategies, generating strong brand loyalty, or simply getting your audience to engage with your product, especially if they are millennials!

One of our favorite examples is Urban Outfitters, who got creative with how they related to their millennial audience by starting an online community of Instagram images, featuring fans, with a campaign called “Show Us Your UO.” (( Consumers were simply asked to share their Instagram or Twitter pictures with the hashtag #UOonYou to have their posts pulled onto to the site. Consumers visiting can browse a collage of real fan pics featuring clothing items, home décor or jewelry and make real-time purchases by clicking on the images that appeal to them. (( The design of the #UOonYou campaign is snack-able, shareable and spotlights influencers by offering brand aficionados a prize of having their snap featured on the website. ((

Another example is Coca-Cola’s digital and social “This is Ahh” campaign that was aimed at engaging their target teen audience by spurring UGC creation. (( Coca-Cola asked their fans to share their “AHH moment” (what they experience when they drink Coke) with the hashtag #ThisisAhh on a social media platform of their choosing with the special prize of being spotlighted in a Coca-Cola ad. (( Gathering some 400 submissions, Coca-Cola created the new commercial with their favorites, which is the first 100% user generated ad they have ever run. (( The brand plans to continue to push out shareable GIFS, photos, videos and games on microsites they have created for the campaign to keep fans coming back for more.

These two innovative examples tell us that UGC should be an integral piece of the whole digital, mobile and broadcast channel mix. More importantly, UGC is giving consumers a powerful voice, but also empowering marketers by offering unbiased and unsolicited data through which they can devise smart strategies. So go ahead and dig into the goldmine of UGC and use it to empower consumers to tell your brand’s story. ((

NorBella Joins Taan Worldwide


I recently took my relationship building to a new level by going to Barcelona with the prospect of getting involved in a global agency-networking group, Taan Worldwide. I met more than 30 agency owners where ideas were shared, group sessions were conducted, and presenters offered insightful learnings, all in a non-competitive environment.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re now officially members of Taan Worldwide and their network of global independent agencies. We’re looking forward to sharing invaluable ideas, experiences and support within the group.  It’s refreshing to have the ears and minds of these agencies, helping each other to be as successful as possible!

In Taan’s recent press release, President Peter Gerritsen had some wonderful words on our induction, “NorBella is not a typical media agency. They clearly demonstrate a strategic approach in developing communications solutions that go beyond just planning and buying media. Stephanie and her team also have developed strong partnerships within the communication profession.  We are looking forward to having the entire NorBella team get involved in the growth of Taan Worldwide.”

Why thank you Peter, we’re as excited as you are!



Relationships Matter

Will Burns INstagram Steph

(photo cred: Will Burns)

When NorBella was in it’s infancy, with four employees and three very brave clients, I developed company goals for growth. This year we are at 18 employees and 20 clients, and I can credit much of this growth to relationship building and creating a strong network.  There are so many “why’s” in relationship building, all of which are very important, overarching themes for me include the following:

  • Friendship
  • Advice giving and getting
  • Sharing lessons learned
  • Idea and resource sharing
  • Constructive feedback (particularly when working together)
  • Support system, aka, FREE THERAPY when things are going tough for either party
  • Extending your network, through theirs

In those very early days of starting a business, we were identifying new potential partners and resources. I was hungry, scared and simply wanting to seek advice.  I asked many agency and industry influentials to dinner, so I could pick their brains about their biggest lessons learned.  I wanted to know the “what to do’s” and especially the “what not to do’s” from those who had first-hand experience.  Many meetings started with my date telling me to RELAX (my energy level must have been a little overwhelming!), but in all of these meetings I made sure to ask really good questions and to be an even better listener.  Fortunately, I’ve built such a strong network that I’m still in close contact with many of the folks I shared coffee, lunch and dinners with. Four years later, I’m now actually giving my own share of lessons learned on these types of meetings!

Meeting new people, making connections and building relationships has been a pillar in NorBella’s success. One of my weekly goals, which was a nugget of advice given to me during those infancy day dinner dates, meet one new person a week. Whether the outcome of a meeting is helping a friend make a new connection or new business, both outcomes feel good. I encourage you to get out there and start building relationships.







Marketing through Pinterest

Advertising through Pinterest is a combination of two of our favorite things! Pinterest allows users to collect and organize inspirational or lifestyle-oriented photos that pertain to their hobbies or passions. We have been patiently waiting for Pinterest’s big move to begin incorporating paid advertising, which Adweek reported is planned for as early as Q2![1] Paid pins will be targeted to users’ interests and will be marked differently than organic content.

The image provided below by Digiday illustrates how promoted pins will appear, with a clear icon spelling out the promoted content (see within the red outlined box), similar to Facebook and Twitter’s paid content marks:

Pinterest Board

Image from Digiday

In anticipation for the big move towards paid advertising in the platform, we did some digging into the history between marketing and Pinterest to get a better idea of what these changes may mean. What we found was that Pinterest has already been experimenting with the advertising realm since 2012 through a strategy called affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based advertising vehicle in which businesses give compensation to one or more “affiliates” for each new user that is reached from the affiliates own marketing efforts.  Unbeknownst to the average user, Pinterest was automatically swapping out the links behind product pins, using a third-party service called Skimlinks with its own affiliate links. A pin that points to a product on Amazon, for instance, will direct the user through to the product page with a Pinterest affiliate code thrown in for good measure. Should that person actually make a purchase, Pinterest earns a referral fee.[2]  NorBella Digital Buyer and avid Pinterest user, Lindsay Khouri was surprised to learn that Pinterest had been implementing this strategy, and wonders how much they have made off of her!

While we don’t know for sure how Pinterest’s shift to paid advertising will play out for brands, we do know that it will come at a hefty premium of almost $1M-$2M.[3] As we saw with affiliate marketing, we don’t think Pinterest’s switch to paid advertising will turn users off completely because the brands being pinned will (hopefully) relate to the user and the things they have shown interest in on the platform. The visual element of Pinterest offers a multitude of opportunities for brands and businesses to target their audiences in creative ways. We are excited to see what brands Pinterest will target us with!


Image from

The Native Advertising Hype

Native, native, native. It’s a word, dare we say it – over used, in advertising and marketing. A simple Google search for “native advertising” yields 243M+ results, with the latest published within hours of our search. What does it mean? What does it do? Native advertising is the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with your target audience.

With so much swirling around about this new marketing tactic, we attended a panel discussion hosted by BIMA Boston, with moderator and head of Digital Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium. Panelists included Mike Dyer of The Daily Beast, Lindsay Nelson of Slate and fellow media industry folks Sean Corcoran of MediaHub/Mullen and Sonny Kim of PGR Media. Here are our thoughts on what you need to know:

Emphasis on content creation. Creating engaging and high quality content that resonates with your target audience is crucial to native advertising, because in today’s world there is infinite space but not infinite interest.[1] The “best” content incorporates both key business challenges, as well as the target audience’s pre-existing behaviors. We can always create a native experience, but the viewer is ultimately who determines if it is a native ad by engaging.[2] Sonny Kim noted that, “It’s the role of the agency work collaboratively with clients to create the content that they deserve!”

Disruptive versus Non-Disruptive Ads. Interruption-based marketing can be an annoyance to the consumer, and not the best choice for marketers as audiences have the ability to fast-forward through commercials or bypass unwanted ads. Using native ads, publishers and advertisers can work to gain the trust of their consumers by integrating content into a platform so that viewers simply feel that the ad belongs.[3] For example, you may see a promoted Tweet from a brand you don’t follow as you scroll through your Twitter feed.

What will happen to CTR? CTR was the topic of much debate among the panelists as they discussed whether or not the usage of native advertising would diminish the value of CTR. Peter Minnium argued that CTR will soon become irrelevant due to the fact that the native experience cannot be properly measured by a click. The panelists did not reach a conclusion on the best way to measure ROI of native ads, but some alternative tools that can be utilized are post impressions, time on site and engagement. NorBella takes post impression activity, time on site and engagement rates, just to name a few, into consideration. (We could go on and on about this, it’s worth its own post!)

Is Going Viral the End-Game? There tends to be the assumption that native advertising only aspires to generate that “next best thing,” especially by leveraging the organic power of social media. We don’t think that content always has to be in real-time, but thinking strategically about your ad placement is certainly important. Native advertising can still be highly successful if it addresses a consumer need or pre-existing problem, and connects to that consumer. Content shouldn’t be created with a goal of going viral. If you do something great enough, consumers will connect with it!

While the native advertising landscape is continually evolving, we completely agree with Sean Corcoran, who noted, “Native advertising is a tool, an innovative solution to a business problem.” We are excited for the collaboration that it will create across the industry and within our own agency as we work in stride to build campaigns and content for our clients.






Mobile Marketing is On the Move

2014 is set to be an exciting year for mobile marketing and advertising. Our dependence on mobile devices has momentously increased alongside our desire for convenience and flexibility in today’s busy world. Phones, tablets and laptops are a vital part of how we communicate, share, and access information every day. According to a recent Forbes article, 87 percent of connected device sales will be smartphones and tablets by 2017.[1] This past Christmas, tablet activation was 10 times greater than 2012![2]

The graphic below, provided by Collective & Nielsen’s The Multi-Screen Dayparting Playbook, displays user preferences for each mobile device:


Luckily for us, the mobile device obsession has produced innovative avenues for marketers and brands to creatively and strategically target consumers. Two of our resident Digital Media Buyers, Lindsay Khouri and Antigone Smith (who both attended a Rocket Fuel lunchtime session on mobile marketing trends this past week) filled us in on trends to keep an eye on this year, along with the challenges and opportunities that will affect marketing strategies:

- Location-based or Geo-targeting Marketing: According to Rocket Fuel, over 52% of budgets spent on mobile marketing will go to location-specific targeting – your devices’ GPS opens you up to being targeted in real time.[3]  A challenge for marketers to stay on top of will be Apple products and the way they limit targeting methods due to cookie blocking.

- Clustering: Lindsay let us in on a creative example. “A sneaker retailer company used ‘path targeting’ to follow users along the route of the NYC marathon. In doing so, they created bigger focuses or ‘clusters’ where there was a higher number of people (mainly the start and finish of the marathon route).  After gathering all the data based on the wireless devices GPS’s, they were able to re-target the users after they had left the area. Rocket Fuel found that these users came from all over the world from the US to China and Australia!” This example shows how the sneaker retailer was able to use clustering to reach folks after the marathon to continue building brand awareness.

- Marketing Across Multiple Devices:  Lindsay has been seeing a shift in multi-screen use growing and notes, “As users acquire many different devices (desktops, mobile, tablet) it’s more important to be able to reach one user across all of their devices in order to match their intent at a specific moment in time.” Mobile consumers do not have the same objectives as consumers browsing online. Looking at Collective and Nielson’s graphic above, it displays that while users are utilizing multiple devices, each serves a different purpose. Mobile is focused on real-time connections and fast, quick information, whereas online users manage life, finances and plan things over time.

- Getting Creative: Mobile marketing will create a unique challenge for messaging and content as messages will need to be simpler, appealing and tailored to the recipient’s interests. “Advertisers looking to target consumers via mobile will need to be on their creative game and not only keep in mind the difference in consumer behavior, but also the small banner sizes and real-estate to share a message,” stated Antigone.

As mobile marketing continues to grow with popularity, challenges will also evolve, forcing campaigns to become more innovative, personal and competitive. We’re up for the challenge and we can’t wait to see what happens.


Has Social Media Sucked the Romance out of Valentines Day

In today’s digitally connected world, old-fashioned values, lasting relationships and in person expressions of affection have become endangered. The endless digital and social media channels available have downgraded us to impersonal and non-verbal communication when connecting with others. Falling in love only takes a click of button. Finding a date only requires filling out a few lines of personal information and uploading a few Facebook photos to a website like OKC, or an app like Tinder. Expressing interest in someone only takes a friend request or an Instagram follow. Let’s be serious, everyone checks the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google search results of their potential love interest before actually taking the time to get to know them in person…

To catch our full post, visit our friends at MITX’s “What’s Next” blog:


Snapchatjust for fun or your brands next social marketing tool

From its recent security breach, fast growing audience and underlying taboo, Snapchat has been making quite a buzz for itself lately.[1] If you’re unfamiliar, Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send photo and video messages that automatically erase after 10 seconds of being viewed. It’s quick and zippy architecture makes sending photos and videos very easy, an attractive app quality for the high school and college-aged audience.[2] Gaining rapid popularity since its launch in 2011, Snapchat is now being considered by marketers as another platform (like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) that can be used to reach audiences in a new social way. In the graph below, TechCrunch compares the daily number of photos uploaded and shared on select social media platforms, which displays Snapchat’s large presence.[3]


Brands like Taco Bell, Acura and Wet Seal, are already experimenting with Snapchat and have found that it offers the unique ability to produce a personalized connection between consumers and brand for promotional messages and special offers.[4] Wet Seal recently leveraged a 16-year-old blogger’s network, by working with her to send snaps promoting their clothing and sales.[5] According to AdAge her outreach garnered 9,000 new followers and 6,000 views for the teen-centric clothing brand.[6] While this example seems attractive from a marketing perspective, there are still some setbacks that need to be considered before making a larger investment in the current model of the app. 

We sat down with our resident Snapchat experts to pick their brains on the use of Snapchat for brands. One common concern was that the current model does not provide a substantial method of analytics that would display consistent engagement. As Jackie Bonifant, one of our Media Planners, commented, “I wouldn’t recommend Snapchat to a client currently since there aren’t any viable metrics to measure engagement or interest beyond opens and screenshots.” Lindsay Khouri, a member of our digital team, also said that, “As it stands right now, Snapchat works for building brand awareness. I would only recommend it to clients that are invested and engaged in social media already, Snapchat could serve as an additional touch point to reach their audience.” In order to measure engagement with Snapchat, most analytics have to be tracked manually, which can be very consuming for companies, large or small.


While we won’t deny that the future of Snapchat marketing holds great possibilities for brands, we don’t believe that current version of the app provides enough insight into content and target audience to support making a big investment.Therefore, we’ve drawn up a wish list!

Dear Snapchat, our marketing wish list includes an analytics driven back end for brands to measure their content and engagement against. We’d love to know what the post screen grab behavior looks like, and how far the photo traveled. Did the photo convert the snapper into a purchaser? These insights would greatly improve our ability to understand the effectiveness of our outreach and the resulting consumer behavior. Until then, we think Snaps are for fun.


The Current State of TV with Greg Angland a Broadcast Vet

Explain what is happening with the current state of TV?

Today, the television landscape and viewing options available to consumers and marketers are seemingly endless. Apart from traditional broadcast and cable, options include Netflix, DVR, YouTube, Amazon Prime,  Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, Webisodes, VOD, DVR, Slingbox, tablets, smartphones, web streaming, Smart TVs, Aereo, Satellite, WD TV…we could go on! Needless to say, the way viewers consume their content has, and is, constantly evolving.

Although things are always in flux in this space, a few certainties remain and dictate change. First, we are an on-demand society. We want to watch what we want, when it’s convenient for us. Secondly, now more than ever content, especially exclusive content, is king. Lastly, our attention is now being shared between watching TV and our passion for our mobile devices and our digital lives. Can you remember the last time you sat through a TV show without picking up your smartphone or tablet to send a Tweet or update your Facebook status?

IAB takes us through dual screen usage in the diagram below:


Do you think people are still watching traditional TV?

Although we have an ever-expanding ecosystem of TV and video distribution channels, the notion that “no one” is watching traditional TV is completely false. From Q1 ’09 through Q1 ’13 the average time spent per person watching traditional TV is down less than 3%*.[i] Take a look at the below table outlining weekly time spent in hours and minutes by age and demographic. Traditional television continues to be the highest consumption platform; representing 70% A25-49 of time spent, compared with other media/entertainment activities. If you include time-shifted viewing, that number jumps even higher to 78%. Looking at the younger audience of 18 to 24 year olds, traditional TV and time-shifted viewing remains strong at 67%.[ii] 


Consuming video online and through mobile sources continues to increase, especially among those 35 and below. There is no doubt that it will be an important piece of the future for viewer consumption, as well as for marketers and media plans. Today, digital video is absolutely part of the landscape with 7% of 18-24 year olds consuming this way. This trend will only continue, especially with giants like Google and Amazon initiating discussions around distribution of networks and specific content.

What do these changes mean for marketers?

As the television and video landscape continues to evolve and expand, the ability to reach prospective customers utilizing just a few tactics will become increasingly difficult. Now campaigns must be developed to deliver across varying channels in order to achieve maximum reach and impact, incorporating traditional spot as well as digital video.This leads to increased creative development and associated costs. For example, the unit standards, lengths, talent and messaging fees have varying requirements, which will require multiple versions of content to be produced.

The space will continue to evolve as rapidly as consumers adopt new technology and platforms. Effective advertising strategies will need to be equally as fluid and integrated cross-channel to connect and engage with consumers in meaningful ways.

Nielsen says more people opt out of terrestrial TV entirely

In the past we always figured households who can’t be reached by television were unplugged from the grid entirely. Well, according to a new report from Nielsen that number has grown to 4% and most of these homes have TVs… they’re just using Netflix, Play Stations with web access and plugging in their laptops for their programming. Further  validation for a second screen strategy that ensures you are reaching younger, technology savvy consumers.

H/T to AP for the article

Nielsen Shows How People Use TV Differently

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of U.S. homes that don’t get traditional television service continues to increase, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have TVs.

The Nielsen company said in a report issued on Tuesday that three-quarters of the estimated 5 million homes that don’t get TV signals over the airways or through cable, satellite or telecommunications companies have televisions anyway.

Many of these homes are satisfied to use their TVs for games or get programming through DVDs or services like Netflix or Apple TV, said Dounia Turrill, senior vice president for client insights at Nielsen.

The company’s report shows how the nature of TV service is slowly changing. Before the percentage started declining about three years ago, more than 99 percent of TV homes received the traditional TV signals. Now that has dipped just below 96 percent.

Part of the decline is also economic — service deemed expendable by people struggling to make ends meet, Nielsen said.

Because of the changes, Nielsen is considering redefining what it considers a television household to include people who get service through Netflix or similar services instead of the traditional TV signals, Turrill said.

During the first three months of 2012, the average consumer spent about 2 percent less time watching traditional TV than the previous year, Nielsen said. They more than made up for that by spending more time watching material recorded on DVRs or on the Internet through TVs, computers and mobile devices.

The typical consumer spends 14 minutes a day using gaming consoles, although it’s more for owners of Wii, XBox and PlayStation 3, Nielsen said. Many of these devices are also popular sites for accessing video, Turrill said.

“The gaming devices are becoming entertainment hubs,” she said.

People over age 65 spend nearly 48 hours, on average, watching television each week, Nielsen said. At the other end of the spectrum are teenagers aged 12 to 17, who spend an average of 22 hours per week watching TV.

Blacks spend an average of 210 hours per month watching TV, more than whites (nearly 153 hours), Latinos (131 hours) and Asians (100 hours), Nielsen said

Nielsen to evolve local TV ratings

As how we consume television keeps changing it is encouraging to see Neilsen update their studies to account for more second screen opportunities. It will be very interesting to see how the new data compares to the current surveys… and if the stations agree to this new currency

H/T to Mediapost for the article

Nielsen To Overhaul Local Metrics In 4Q

Nielsen’s overhaul of its local measurement service with set-top-box (STB) data and a new code reader will begin rolling out late this year in the Charlotte, Dallas and St. Louis markets. The new data will be available alongside the current ratings in early 2013, allowing stations an opportunity to evaluate it before a switchover.

Station groups with a presence in the three initial markets — including NBCUniversal, Belo, Cox and Gannett — will be able to both explore the data’s reliability and ways to integrate it into their workflow systems over a period that could run six months. The three launch markets currently get ratings via local people meters (LPMs). Contine reading

Apps are helping smartphones become digital wallets

Smartphone apps will soon let you pay for just about anything, whether you’re online or at the register. Banks and credit card firms are partnering with wireless carriers and others to push the device further into global commerce.

Wouldn’t it be nice to forget your wallet — permanently?

That day is coming sooner than you think. In the walletless future there will be no credit cards to lose, no cash to carry and no concert tickets to leave at home. Already, with a few taps on the screen of your smartphone, you can order a meal at a restaurant, loan your friend 20 bucks or even unlock the door to your house (so you can lose the keys too).

Nearly half of U.S. consumers own smartphones, and as they have gained popularity the devices have grown to resemble pocket mini-malls, with rows of virtual storefronts where consumers can buy video games, music, books and TV shows. Contine reading

Why Mobile Will Dominate the Future of Media and Advertising

We’re about to enter a world where there are more tablets and smart phones than PCs. If you’re in the mobile advertising business, your rocket ship takes off in five, four, three …

This is the dawn of the smartphone age. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at mobile advertising spend. Last week in this space, Derek Thompson showed that consumers are spending 10% of their media attention on their mobile devices while the medium only commands a mere 1% of total ad-spend. Comparatively, the quickly “dying” print medium attracts only about 7% of media-time, but still captures an astonishing 25% of the total U.S. ad-spend, with print receiving 25-times more ad money than mobile.

The disparity between the two mediums gives a strong indication as to how much room mobile still has to grow. Contine reading

You Can Change the Channel, but Local News Is the Same

Call a reporter at the CBS television station here, and it might be an anchor for the NBC station who calls back. Or it might be the news director who runs both stations’ news operations.

The stations here compete for viewers, but they cooperate in gathering the news — maintaining technically separate ownership, but sharing office space, news video and even the scripts written for their nightly news anchors. That is why viewers see the same segments on car accidents, the same interviews with local politicians, the same high school sports highlights. Contine reading

Political TV Ad Rates Complicate Election Season

Controversial new FCC rule requires TV stations to post political ad rates

Along with the headache of making sure TV ads that get bumped by politicals are quickly rescheduled, advertising agencies also will have to cope with the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial new rule requiring TV stations to post online the rates charged for each political ad.

“Rates for the political season could show up in databases and on buyers’ desktops, and other buys would be measured by this,” said John Shelton, the CEO of Strata, a provider of software-based buying tools. “This is more likely to impact the business outside politics rather than the business inside politics.” Contine reading

Cable TV Ads All But Catch Broadcast for the First Time

Nielsen Data Says Cable Grew Ad Take During Recession

Ad spending on cable is now on par with that allocated to broadcast TV, according to data from Nielsen.

Ad spending on English-language cable-TV networks came to about $21 billion in 2011, roughly even with ad spending on English-language broadcast networks’ $21.1 billion, according to Nielsen.

The figures mark the first time, according to the market-research company, that cable has achieved parity of a sort with its longtime rival. Spending on cable TV has increased steadily over the last few years, up 42% since 2007.

How did cable achieve its growth? The medium has matured, developing more original, quality programming, and winning greater share of audience. As marketers winnowed down their spend on English-language broadcast TV during the recession of 2008 and 2009, cable continued to increase its ad revenue — a testament, perhaps, to the fact that its programming aimed at niche audiences is typically significantly cheaper than what airs on broadcast. Contine reading

ClickThrough Rates May Matter Even Less Than We Thought

Metrics Like ‘Hover’ and ‘View’ Found Better Indicators of Intent to Buy

We already know that click-through rates on online display ads are abysmal. Now a study from the startup Pretarget and ComScore revealed that even when a user clicks on an ad, the correlation between that click and a conversion is virtually nonexistent.

Over nine months, Pretarget analyzed more than 260 million ad impressions across the campaigns of 18 advertisers, the company said, and tracked conversions ranging from filling out an online form to downloading software. In the analysis, Pretarget found that the Pearson correlation (a common correlation methodology) between clicks and a conversion was 0.01, the lowest correlation rate among metrics tracked in the study (a 0 result would mean there is absolutely no correlation, while 1.0 would signify the strongest possible correlation.) Contine reading

8 Hot Media Trends You Need to Know

When a week’s vacation can leave us behind on social media trends, early adoption becomes more about pattern recognition than bandwagon jumping.

Mediaphiles dismissed Foursquare as a toy, until it suddenly owned the geo layer. Internet junkies took afternoon naps and missed Pinterest’s leap to #3 in social networking. Mom couldn’t log into Hotmail; now she owns Farmville. All of these trends were forecast well before their big breaks, largely due to the astute eyes of early adopters who are ready to add new and fresh tools to their media-consuming arsenal.

Here are eight media trends we’re tracking right now. Some are right on the cusp of becoming mainstream and others still have a bit to cook before breaking the surface. What patterns are you observing in the media world and what do you think will be the next big thing?

1. Targeted, Geo-Mobile Coupons

When Foursquare started garnering press coverage in 2009, co-founder Dennis Crowley confessed his dream was to one day know users well enough to target smart coupons on the fly. He wanted to send push notifications that essentially said, “We know you like pizza, and it’s dinner time right now. Pizza Place X, two blocks away, has a special.”

That day has finally come. With 1.5 billion check-ins, 750 thousand merchants, 20 million users and millions of geo-tagged tips, Foursquare now has the ability to deliver hyper-relevant coupons to its users. I just started getting them and they’ve been surprisingly accurate.

LevelUp and other mobile services are digifying the in-person coupon space as well. We expect this field to mature rapidly now that geodata infrastructure is in place and half of all U.S. mobile phones are smartphones.

2. Audio Watermarking

Technology for embedding subliminal signals in audio — digital sound waves humans cannot consciously detect — is being used to track data and connect digital devices in increasingly clever ways. New York-based startup Sonic Notify, for example, built technology that allows television shows such as Bravo’s Top Chef to invisibly activate a viewer’s smartphone or tablet with related content while watching.

As audio watermarking becomes more mainstream (and consumers acclimate to the idea), opportunities for mobile content integration at events and retail stores will arise faster than you can play a Beatles record backwards.

3. Passive Location-Based Networking



According to social media data collected by Tracx, the top 3 buzziest startups at SXSW 2012 were all in-person networking apps: HighlightGlancee, and Sonar.

Highlight was the most popular by far, gaining 300% more buzz than any of its peers. Its hook is that it’s completely passive: Users allow the app to track their locations throughout the day, then when other Highlight users (friends, potential connections) are nearby, it shows both parties the nearby user’s info.

Though buzz was high, the big question around this trend is whether the utility of such apps will outweigh the privacy concerns (and battery drain). There’s certainly competition in the space, so we’re likely to see a lot of movement around this concept this year.

4. Motion Tracking and Facial Recognition for Intention Data

CBS‘s hit series Person of Interest called this one last September. As facial recognition and motion tracking tech becomes more accurate and less expensive, the ability to digitally divine real-world intent is coming into our grasp.

Interpublic Group, for example, has a laboratory in Manhattan where Xbox Kinects, flatscreens and fake grocery aisles come together for some serious spying. When you pick up a box of Pop Tarts, the motion sensors track your face to see if you’re smiling or frowning about what you see. Screens then output data on how long you’ve lingered in front of a particular product, and ads trigger based on your gender (which cameras infer) and what objects you’re touching.

All this will help product marketers deliver better experiences. Once we get past the “creep-out phase,” consumers will likely start expecting — and appreciating — such personalization in their everyday shopping ventures.

5. Automatic Social Media-Activated Discounts

Handing a coupon to the waiter after a meal can be embarrassing for customers and time-consuming for employees. American Express has figured out how to bypass both challenges using social media.

The credit card company recently launched Twitter and Foursquare integrations that allow cardholders to sync their plastic with a social account, then take advantage of in-store coupons with no more effort than a tweet or check-in.

For example, many Foursquare locations have “$5 Off” AmEx specials. If a user checks into a location with the special and uses an AmEx card, the store’s credit card machine pings AmEx, which verifies check-in with Foursquare and then credits $5 to the user’s card.

6. Brands Building Publications and Entertainment Channels

“We’re all publishers” is a trite phrase by now, but big brands are starting to take the mantra seriously. With budgets behind them and no advertising to worry about, companies are building media properties meant to compete with TV stations and magazines.

Red Bull’s homepage, for example, looks like an action-sports news site. The company pumps out professional-grade news articles, feature stories and videos each day, pushing them to social marketing channels such as Facebook and Twitter. This fuels the company’s social media accounts with content and points followers back to Red Bull’s site, rather than elsewhere on the Internet.

Fashion companies are especially keen on building publications to compete with traditional media. Several have even reported that building entire publications is no more expensive than advertising. A look at the sites ofTory Burch and Kate Spade show where these brands are investing their efforts.

7. TV on the Internet

The Thursday Night TV lineup’s days are numbered.

Barry Diller, the media mogul who greenlit The Simpsons while running Fox in the ’80s, thinks broadcast television is the next big disruption in media. As we’ve seen with music, Internet users want to consume individual pieces of content — tracks, not albums; episodes, not box sets. They want to pick and choose, and they want their content online, not attached to a cable TV plan.

Diller’s latest project, Aereo, puts live broadcast TV on the Internet. It’s the next step to cutting the coaxial cable entirely.

8. Mobile, Immersive Reality

Digital technology allows us to be in one place while experiencing another. Skype and FaceTime connect people across the world, in person. The next evolution of this is immersive video and augmented reality.

Google is developing augmented reality glasses, which would enable wearers to view data layered over real life. A startup called Condition One makes iPad video apps that let the tablet holder move around a faraway scene, like a battlefield. There’s even R&D happening to create video-enabled contact lenses.

TronThe Terminator and The Matrix, here we come.

As reported by Mashable

Marketers Find a Friend in Pinterest

In an age of fat data plans and broadband access, Pinterest has a message for the media: a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s about seven Twitter posts.

Magazines like Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens and marketers like Whole Foods and West Elm have been quick to embrace Pinterest, the social media start-up firm that allows its users to share images by “pinning” them.

Andrew Lipsman, the vice president for industry analysis at the research firm comScore, called the site’s popularity among brands one more example of “the rise of the visual Web,” along with Instagram (which was recently acquired by Facebook) and Facebook’s timeline feature, which is heavily driven by images instead of text.

“Pinterest is creating sort of a meritocracy of what’s visually appealing,” Mr. Lipsman said. “Brands are scrambling and trying to figure it out. They know it’s going to be big, but they don’t necessarily know the best way to use it.”

Better Homes and Gardens, published by Meredith, has 73 pin boards, where images can be posted, including “Lovely Laundry Rooms,” “Smart Storage Solutions” and “We Love Baking.” It has 47,854 people who follow all of the brand’s boards and about 350,000 who follow individual boards. The laundry room board alone has just over 58,000 followers. Material from the Better Homes boards was “re-pinned” (another feature of the site) on other boards 448,022 times in January. Contine reading