In the spirit of staying “connected” to what’s trending, we being you a roundup of industry news centered around this month’s theme.
Have you come across any interesting “connected” content lately? Leave us a comment, or tweet the link to us @22squared using #connected.
In the spirit of competition, we started our conversation disagreeing on whether Super Bowl ads should be shown before the big game. But after considering some key takeaways from the past few years, in context with today’s media landscape, we can both agree that not taking the opportunity to build consumer engagement leading up to the game would be a big mistake.
There is no audience as large or as “tuned in” as Super Bowl viewers. Audiences have grown +25% from 2002 to 2011.
In an era of skyrocketing costs and risk-taking, brands are tasked with the dilemma of whether or not pre-seeding a Super Bowl spot is worthwhile in calculating the overall success of the investment.
Super Bowl Surprise:
Back in the day, it was the big reveal. Commercials were first shown during the Super Bowl and the measure of success was TV ratings. Interestingly enough, Monday morning talk was about the commercials; we just didn’t realize this was social. There was no internet, and conversations did not go “viral” in the same way they do today. Those first memorable spots for me are still talked about today: Coke and “Mean” Joe Greene or Pepsi and Cindy Crawford.
Super Bowl Spoiler:
But today, key performance indicators reach far beyond TV ratings and unmeasured “water cooler” talk for brands. Video views, social engagement and many other factors now fuse together to create a “check-list” for Super Bowl success. With the proliferation of technology in the past decade, users are now given tools to seek out content they want to receive on demand, rather than sitting down through game breaks to ensure they won’t miss everyone’s favorite commercial. And let’s face it, are you really going to get up during the game to refill your drink and snack plate?
It used to be that Super Bowl commercials were like the “secret ingredient,” safeguarded until the big game. Now, brands are realizing that showcasing teasers or even entire spots before the game doesn’t detract, but actually provides a forum for engaged consumers. Whether the teasers/spots or conversation occur on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, brands are now afforded an additional layer of consumption to benchmark themselves for success.
And the numbers show a compelling argument that there’s an advantage to gain by pre-launching your Super Bowl campaign. In 2011, Volkswagen broke through with their “The Force” spot, debuting it on YouTube before the game. In 2012, 34 of 54 national advertisers previewed their spots or teasers before the Super Bowl. In that same year, YouTube pre-game videos of advertisers who chose to showcase their content before the game averaged 9.1MM views each, as compared with 1.3MM for those who waited until the Sunday launch. And in 2013, all advertisers were doing pre-game support. In addition, content aggregators YouTube and Adweek have partnered to provide a comprehensive Super Bowl hub for commercials before the game even happens.
At the end of the day, content remains king when word-of-mouth and social sharing are your benchmark for success. However, a spot still needs creative quality and brand relevance to inspire engagement and increase positive ROI.
Not everyone can be a winner under the new conditions. Pre-launching a spot that does not receive any traffic can spell doom for the brand. After pre-launching their spot earlier in the week, Century 21’s “Wedding” commercial had garnered only 35,000 views on their dedicated YouTube channel. In juxtaposition, the Kate Upton Mercedes commercial generated over 6 million views even before the spot was showcased in the game.
Perhaps the most compelling argument in response to this inquiry is the fact that the user still owns the right to choose. Isn’t the breadth of media options all about choice? Whether you are a proponent of the “Super Bowl Surprise” or the “Super Bowl Spoiler,” each can have its way. Users can choose to engage with a brand prior to the Super Bowl, or wait for the “big reveal” on game day.
In the end, we both agreed that Super Bowl experiences would always be different for everyone. Leveraging the hugeness of the game, the conversations and coverage that happen before, during and after the event are beneficial to brands that fully take advantage of the opportunities that exist.
This year being my sophomore return to SXSW, I had a little insight into what the experience is like and how being there tends toward being intense and even a little chaotic. So true to form, I decided to complicate matters.
A few years ago there was a wager made among a few pals in a pub. The dare went something like this… hire a charter bus, cram it with 20-30 people who want to head out to SXSW, and en route attempt to concept, execute and launch a small business. StartupBus was born. That year, they formed six teams who, in 72 hours, were able to assemble a functional prototype, a business model and their pitch. Once in Austin, they put all that hard work in front of a panel of high-profile investors. The standout was offered funding to make its idea come to life.
Fast forward two years. This year’s event consisted of 12 buses from across the US and Mexico, comprised of over 50 teams and nearly 400 people. I was one of them.
I’ve always fancied myself a bit of the entrepreneurial type. Always thought that my ideas, skills and talents might, one day, bring me around to business ownership. Charting my own course, adding to the empire and legacy, etc., etc. Well let’s just say that I found out real quick mine was just a touch of the entrepreneurial spirit compared to some of these guys. To roll with these guys, you have to speak the language. You have to walk that walk, and it takes no time for them to spot a fake. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. You have to fit their lifestyle and you have to be a part of their culture.
During the few months prior to hopping on the bus, I’d seen a slew of articles and white papers that talk about infusing the entrepreneurial culture into agency life. They talk about the tenets of start-up culture, the mindset it requires and the benefits of those elements to our creative work. It’s been my experience that many of these articles ponder the successes of a few select examples where this has worked, while others simply romanticize the idea of a start-up. What they lack is a real exploration of what infusing that culture into our organizations really means. So for those who are daydreaming of VC funding or their IPO (like me), you’ve already compromised the process and should likely finish up your latte and get back to your cubicle. For those who understand the value of starvation, sleep deprivation and passionate work that requires relentless effort… read on, brotha’, read on.
Think of the start-up process as similar to that of climbing Everest (maybe without the fear of hypothermia). And you don’t enter into that sort of endeavor without a team of experts who individually possess the right skills, intensity and commitment. Sticking with the Everest analogy, we need to be sure we have the right people before we put on our snow shoes. So if we aim to create this culture in our organizations, we must begin with recruitment.
There are a few common traits that I noticed in these folks, and we should be vetting our talent for these traits specifically. The good news is that there are more of these people than you might think. They can be found in any number of ways and may be as close as your local Starbucks, university library or anywhere you might find hipsters. However, we need more than a pair of art school glasses, too-tight corduroy and a bit of snobbishness.
We need to identify candidates who are inquisitive and love to tinker. Generally, curious people are not only great for innovation but also pretty infectious.
“Don’t be afraid to fail” is a common mantra these days. And while it’s a little overplayed and annoying at times, it’s exactly what we need. We need people who not only are unafraid of failure, but have failed and have not quit pioneering. Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting the same results is insanity. Doing it while varying your approach based on previous results is perseverance. We can all do with a little more of that around.
Side-projects, freelance or even just dabbling here and there; these are signs of good people who act. They are involved in challenging and diverse work outside the office. These people are more than self-starters, they’re driven and will drive others.
Finally, we should be undeterred by the fact that start-up types may leave us behind for fame and fortune one day. Identify their talent, invest in their growth and groom them for leadership. If they do leave, they’ll likely do so having added something to our organization, and we’ll be proud to tell others they were part of our team.
The people I met on the StartpBus were an insanely different breed. They were focused and were able to tap into skills, experience and reserve energy that kept the ideas flowing and the work cranking long after most of us would have stopped to rest. And then they did it again, and again, and again.
Start-up culture is about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is about ideas, resourcefulness and making something your own; and I don’t think there is an agency out there that should shy away from those qualities when looking to hire the next employee.
Hispanics have always been identified as heavy consumers of online, mobile and social media. Digital technology plays an important role in the lives of Hispanics, as it’s primarily linked to two of their most important pillars: family connections and culture. The Internet makes their lives easier by providing quick access to information, products, and news from their countries of origin. As a result, the Hispanic digital landscape is evolving, and we’re starting to see how media consumption has been influenced by it.
When it comes to adopting new technology, Hispanics outshine their non-Hispanic counterparts in device ownership. A recent eMarketer study showed that 18% of Hispanics own a tablet, versus 8% of non-Hispanics, with similar patterns for Internet-enabled TVs, e-book readers and 3D TVs. With all these options, it’s no wonder media consumption habits are changing, especially when it comes to TV. Thanks to the influx of new technology, consumers have the opportunity to choose how, when and where they watch TV. Although this is where the market in general is heading, it’s fair to say that Hispanics may get there faster because of how they interact with new technology, particularly when it comes to connecting with family in their home countries.
According to eMarketer, Hispanics spend an average of six hours and twenty-two minutes per month watching online video, while white non-Hispanics spend only three hours and forty-four minutes, and African Americans spend five hours and forty-eight minutes per month. The reason Hispanics’ time spent is so much higher? In many cases, the Internet is the only way they can access programs, novelas and news from their home countries. Also, the Hispanic population tends to be younger than the general population, in parity with the online-heavy user, who is also younger.
A ComScore study revealed that Hispanics’ engagement levels with online advertising surpassed non-Hispanic consumers in 2010. Hispanics are also more likely to find online ads entertaining: approximately 31% of Hispanics enjoy watching online ads, versus 19% of non-Hispanics. Additionally, 36% of Hispanics are willing to click on ads to get further information about a product, versus 29% of non-Hispanics.
This means there’s a huge opportunity for networks and advertisers to connect with Hispanics via online video and web novelas. Univision recently announced a partnership with Hulu to provide Spanish language content to their subscribers, and Telemundo partnered with YouTube to launch a Spanish language video channel. It’s good to see how these networks acknowledge how TV viewing is evolving, and that they’re offering online content in order to better reach the Spanish-speaking Hispanic consumer.
Ever notice how random things look like they have faces? Like this:
There are a few Tumblr blogs that pay homage to these occurrences of anthropomorphism and now that I’ve pointed it out, you’ll probably start noticing these faces everywhere. You’re welcome.
Jumping on this micro-trend, Nike just released an app for Nike Free shoes in Japan called Nike Free Face, where users can bend and twist the Nike shoe to match their face. Leveraging facial and expression recognition technology, it photographs the users’ contorted face through a webcam and matches their face to the shoe’s form.
The app does an amazing job of highlighting features of the products—the flexibility of the shoe and the ability to personalize it—in a subtle and engaging way. On top of showcasing product features, the app gets people thinking about the shoe differently, positioning them not only as a utility product, but also as an expression of self.
These kinds of interactive opportunities that present products through a different lens are a clever approach for legacy brands like Nike to ensure they stay relevant and fresh. But more importantly, Nike’s Free Face app is fun, silly and shows that the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously. Allowing consumers to play with a product and have fun with it are the kind of online experiences that people remember and talk about.
Just think, when was the last time you had this much fun with a shoe?