Enhancing the Consumer Experience

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iBeacon Technology at SWSX (Austin, TX)

According to the Pew Research report on Mobile Technology in January 2014, 90% of Americans own a cell phone and 58% of Americans own a smartphone. This equates to be about 285.3 million people who own a cellphone, and 138.6 million people own a smartphone. This number of smartphone will continue to grow in the future as younger generations will be growing up with this technology. Who actually remembers having a brick phone?

As this technology industry sector becomes a big player in the future, Apple is working on bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and online customers. As we all know now, when we want to buy something from a particular store, we do some research and comparison online first. Then, we would have to remember the specific item and drive to the store to purchase it (and sometimes have to ask the sales associate, if there are additional questions). That is old-fashion, outdated, or what your “hip grandma” does. Because my grandma doesn’t even know much about computers. 

Apple has introduced this new technology called iBeacons. These devices are powered by Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology to “talk” to nearby mobile devices (i.e, your smartphone or tablet). iBeacons are able to pinpoint your location, like if you are inside of Macy’s department store and show you items that are on sale or special deals that are relevant to you. When they have located you, the app would send you a push notification with an invitation for you to opt-in to the service. After you ave agreed, there will be special promotions and coupons sent to you.

Additionally, these iBeacons will soon eliminate your contact with a sales associate. Questions will be answered by the app since there will be customer reviews and recommended product for you. This program is also capable for you to check out and make purchases on your own. What would this mean for future sales associates…? Technology is going to replace these jobs.

With this iBeacon technology, Apple is hoping to create a seamless customer experience for future consumers. We are very close to this type of technology and bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping is quite important going into the future. Their recent iOS 7.1 update includes updated iBeacon technology which are capable of detecting the beacons even when an app is not open and not running in the background. Hmm, I am sniffing a potential privacy issue here…

There is a goldmine of data in everyone’s smartphone, so why are advertisers going to let that go to waste? That’s my thought.


Recording Shows with a #Hashtag

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So we all heard about the baby that was named Hashtag? Well, here he is for your viewing pleasure.


Hashtag wasn’t even a word a few years ago, and now a couple decided it was a good idea to name their kid after Twitter lingo and/or symbolize their kid’s name with a number sign “#”.

Another hashtag breakthrough occurred today.

Brazil’s largest satellite provide, Sky, rolled out this service to customers today. Working with their digital agency in Brazil called AgenciaClick Isobar creates a Twitter hashtag that acts as a record button, if you forget to record a show.

Customers link their Twitter accounts to their Sky subscriber numbers. Next , when customers see @skybrasil tweets stating what shows they want to record, they will retweet and add the hashtag #skyrec. This is when the magic happens and Sky connects with the subscriber’s DVR and starts recording.

This sounds too good to be true. Can we really merge TV recordings with just a hashtag? But this is an innovative idea though, despite the marketing team might have a lot of work cut out for them. They would need to expand their small audience base (about 81K followers) and reach out to more people and most importantly prove that this service will work. Sky subscribers will be more active on Twitter if this digital service follows through, which will spark more Twitter buzz in Brazil. Maybe it will be really convenient for people to record shows just by “hashtagging” and not manually setting their DVRs. Oh, the inconvenience.

Yahoo! & Tumblr

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YumblrThe recent marriage of Yahoo! and Tumblr have sparked a few arguments on the Forbes website. People are doubting that this deal was a good one. Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer made this move in hopes of probably attracting more traffic to the Yahoo search website since they have lost a huge share of their online marketing to Google in the past three years.

But why are we doubting that this will be successful?

Tumblr’s founder and CEO, David Karp, sold his company for $1.1 billion to Yahoo! Many people are saying that this was too big of a sales price and that Yahoo! paid more than it should have needed to acquire the blogging website of only about 300 millions users. (Yahoo! has about 700 million users worldwide.)

Tumblr boasts its super-simple, minimalistic and attractive blogging platform which CEO Karp has done his best to not have advertising on his users’ blogs. So it sounds like users enjoy the ad-free environment, which might change after Yahoo! becomes in charge of Tumblr. Tumblr only earn $13 million in revenue last year, and I am assuming that Yahoo will choose to make more profit out of this social media platform.

Mayer has already mentioned putting ads on Tumblr’s dashboards and on popular blogs and integrating Tumblr data into search. A problem that they might run into if they incorporate ads into Tumblr is the mobile app that is not compatible to include ads.

This acquisition has left a lot of people and users a bit skeptical because with Tumblr in Yahoo!’s hands, there will definitely need to be changes in order to catch up to Google and Facebook’s market share. WordPress’s co-founder, Matt Mullenweg, had reported last night that “WordPress imported over 72,000 blogs from Tumblr in a single hour”, once users knew of this deal.

Mothers and the Olympics

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Proctor & Gamble’s “Team Mom” ads have gone viral – if you haven’t seen it yourself, watch it below:

So we’ve all seen Michael Phelp’s mom on the sideline watching her son swim anxiously down the swimming pool, right? Heck, she’s even been in a commercial. I am very glad that P&G decided to use this angle for their new commercials. From what I have seen, people have enjoyed this ad immensely – maybe it doesn’t sell their products, but it creates the awareness of their large corporation.

Let me tell you a little bit about P&G. According to Ogilvy’s book, “they spend $700,000,000 a year on advertising, more than any other company, and their sales are $12,000,000,000 a year.” (Ogilvy 155) That is a lot of zeros. Most importantly, they use market research to identify consumer needs. Also, they typically have more than one brand in a category and “allow each brand to compete with its sibling.” (Ogilvy 155)

This multinational manufacturer of household products produce their ads with consistency – and that’s the reason why they sell so many products. But this ad, especially targeting the Olympic audience, was made especially for emotional appeal. Even if it doesn’t make their products fly off the shelves, people have already been talking about it on the web. Generating talk means bringing awareness. Bring awareness leads to building that oh-so-great brand loyalty.

So who buys the P&G products in the household? Ten bucks on the mother. And who do we target in household product advertisements? Mothers. The equation is simple. Thus, who do we add in the commercials to grab the mothers’ attention and provoke the emotional appeal? Kids.

Kids make the woman we call mom, “mother”. Without the kids, she’d only be the woman who lives with you. “To their moms, they’ll always be kids.” – Simple message, gets to the heart. I applaud P&G. Very well done.


It’s Not All About the Brawn, but the Brains

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During the Olympics, we think about our nation’s best athletes competing in different sports. The athletes are living under their own (and their coaches’) pressure to perform well in their various events. That is the brawn. But what are the brains doing in the Olympics? The advertising research behind your domestic sponsors’ commercials you watch in between Olympic history-making spectacles.

If you haven’t caught the Olympic fever yet from watch the U.S. trials on television last week, the Olympics are fast approaching. With the opening ceremony set for July 27th, Americans and other people in their respective countries will be glued to their TVs for about 16 days. What better time to advertise subliminally while supporting your nation’s team?

Big corporations are viewing the Olympics as an international advertising platform since there are approximately 214 countries represented in the London Games this summer.

For Team USA, there are 11 official worldwide sponsors:

  • McDonalds
  • Acer
  • General Electric (GE)
  • Panasonic
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Samsung
  • Atos
  • Visa
  • Coca=Cola Company
  • Omega
  • Dow

These companies are the big giants, which are recognized by people overseas. With the 5-ring circle emblem on their websites, consumers automatically know that these companies support Team USA. Furthermore, there are 22 domestic sponsorships on the U.S. part. Some include Budweiser, AT&T (as shown above), Kelloggs, Citi Mortgage, United Airlines, etc. The official Outfitter for Team USA are Nike (for performance wear) and Ralph Lauren (for the official Team USA uniforms).

You should have recognized about 90% of the brands that were mentioned previously. With this many sponsorships for Team USA, you wonder about what the other countries are doing. With the reach and frequency of advertising so high, there is no room for error. The cost of Olympic commercials vary depending on the event and the television station, but it is not uncommon that a 30-sec commercial could be priced in the millions.

Logos play a big part in designing your advertising campaigns. In the next post, I will discuss what makes a memorable logo and why some of the logos you recognize today have worked for years.

NBA Finals 2012

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NBA finals started tonight with the Oklahoma City Thunder taking the win. (I wasn’t aware that Durant played for Texas…) But on another note, I was noticing the advertising spots during the commercial break. There are plenty of sponsorships when it comes to sport championships because there is a certain target audience marketers are trying to reach out to through the television set. The television still remains the most important medium for a wide range of people. That kind of resource needs to be exploited to its maximum potential.

So how much does a commercial spot cost during the NBA finals?

Answer: 1-minute spots run for $1 million; 30-second run for about $500,000 (Well that seems fair enough.)

Opposed to Super Bowl commercials (30-second) that run for $3.5 million, NBA Final commercials seem like a bargain. Another reason why there is a natural spike in prices is probably because there is always hype around the Super Bowl, that one epic night of football. The basketball finals run for about 5 nights, and the promotion of the product wears off if it is shown for all those 5 games. But then again, it might be subconsciously engrained into your brain because you’ve seen it 5 times.

That is probably the reason why advertisers opt for sponsorships during the game. For instance, during the halftime show, we see the Statefarm logo in front of the desk where the commentators talk about the first half of the game. Not to mention, the orange Gatorade logos at the sideline benches during the post-season games.

Brand recognition and product placement are integrated everywhere we go, and that’s the beauty of advertising/marketing.

So who will win the NBA Finals this season? Is it finally the redemption time for the Heat or is it going to be a clean sweep for the Thunder?

AD news: The Apple Legacy to be Continued?

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First off, Apple has been a marketed brand since their 1984 SuperBowl commercial. They have done such a fantastic job at integrating their brand in the world that many people recognize the Apple logo without difficulty. That half-bitten fruit is everywhere, could be some type of allusion.

Today, at the WWDC summit, Apple reveal what they have been working on for the past year. The new upgrades include an iOS6 mobile operation system, FaceTime activity without using Wifi, and its new Maps application which will replace the Google Maps app we have on our phones now. The Google Map feature is “among the iPhone’s most popular features since its debut in 2007” (Sarno & Rodriguez, LA Times).  This important feature allowed Google to own a valuable part of Apple’s bestselling phone.

But not anymore. “In iOS 6 we have built an entire new mapping system from the ground up. And it looks beautiful,” said Senior VP for iOS Scott Forstall. “We’re covering the world.” Certainly the iPhone’s new Map application is going to improve its brand image because it’s virtually a GPS system  in the palm of your hand. The application will work with Siri to “offer voice-controlled, turn-by-turn navigation, letting motorists use it to guide them through unfamiliar neighborhoods” (Sarno & Rodriguez, LA Times). With this app, there will be advertising opportunities for local businesses to put themselves on the map.

Google and Apple have been fierce competitors with each other. Although the iPhone remains the best-selling single smartphone in the U.S., most major phone manufacturers are producing devices using Google Inc.’s Android software. “Taken together, Android devices made by Google-owned Motorola Mobility, HTC Corp., LG Corp. and Samsung are far outselling the iPhone” (Sarno & Rodriguez, LA Times). To keep the Apple audience happy, they must be coming up with more fresh, interesting ideas than Google. Apple has built their brand by driving innovation into their products, and they must keep that legacy.

To ensure that legacy, they are going to market their products with more expensive price tags. The new MacBook Pro with high-def retina display (as seen on the new iPads) will run you at least $2,199 for a model with 8GB of memory. Well, there goes my bank account.

Siri is going international – not only will she be able to speak English, she will know how to respond in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and Mandarin/Cantonese, tapping into that Chinese market and the growing popularity of Apple products from across the sea. Siri will be able to keep you updated with sport game scores and stats; no more looking it up on your phone. Also, you will be able to ask Siri to update your Facebook status and tweet or launch an app. The world of IMC is growing by the sound of a human voice and very rapidly.

Some people have said that their announcement today was a flop. People were expecting news about Apple TV and newer releases of Apple products. People are speculating that a new iPhone 5 will be released in October of this year, we’ll see. Were you disappointed by the “new upgrades” the Apple executives shared this morning in San Francisco?

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