CES: The power of the printed word

CES: The power of the printed word (ThePlan8 Podcast)The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas is crammed with the latest gadgets, all blasting out light and noise and motion in high definition goodness. Much of the news this week will be about 3D TV, motion controlled video games, and the blending of Internet and broadcast on traditional television platforms.

There will also be a lot of press around e-readers. They are everywhere – CES has an entire section of the show floor dedicated to e-reader developers; most major CE manufactures will also have branded e-readers. And of course, the rumor mills churn with the news of an Apple iSlate, though there have been no formal announcements yet.

These little flat, grey-scale tablets seem to have little to compete with the walls of flat screen monitors in every booth. Although e-readers offer lots of consumer benefits, the actual experience is not as exciting as 3D, not as immersive as new gaming technology. It is just reading, after all, right? Continue reading “CES: The power of the printed word”

Holiday bounceback thanks to…robotic hamsters?

Cepia LLC Russell Hornsby's Zhu Zhu PetsCan you feel it in the air? That brisk breath of air may not be the weather; instead it’s the sharp inhale as retailers who have spent as much as nine months preparing for the holidays step back, square their shoulders, and prepare to face what Holiday 2009 may bring.

Every product you see, ad you read, sale you line up for was carefully orchestrated last spring when retailers (and brands who sell into retail) made their call on Christmas. Those decisions came during perhaps the darkest hours of the macro-economic news fest, coming off one of the toughest holiday seasons on record.

Imagine being the buyer who had to commit to inventory, pricing and terms? It must have felt more like prognostication than retail merchandising. I have been asked a lot lately to make my own call on the holiday season. It’s easy to predict the worse. Continue reading “Holiday bounceback thanks to…robotic hamsters?”

How retailers can tap into pre-shopping

How retailers can harness the power of pre-shopping (iStock)Let’s go shopping.

Those three words used to mean climbing into the car and heading to the local mall. But for today’s connected consumer it more likely means going online, hitting the blogs, following a Facebook trail, or sending out a tweet–all without ever visiting a single retail location.

Two recent surveys show that at least 30% and as much as 70% of consumers who bought retail reported pre-shopping for information about a product before shopping a physical store (ARG, “Pre-shopping and the ever changing role of retail” January 2009). And these numbers are up almost 20% since the same survey less than two years ago. Continue reading “How retailers can tap into pre-shopping”

A chief marketing officer’s worst nightmare

John Ross, President IPG Emerging Media Lab What scares you? What keeps you up at night, and nags at the back of your consciousness? There are a couple of things that frighten me. Being likened to the comedian Carrot  Top is one of them. The other is finding that I have stopped learning.

Can you imagine it? Waking up one day to discover that your capacity for taking in new knowledge has ended. That everything you are going to learn has already happened and that your brain, now filled to capacity, was blinking the “hard drive full” message across your retinas over and over again. It can happen. I have experienced it.

One of the things that happens when you are the custodian of a large marketing budget is that suddenly everyone wants to meet with you. If you allowed every new vendor to come in a pitch, you could spend your entire day watching Power Point slides. Want to know what waterboarding feels like? Just follow the media director of a major brand around a marketing conference and watch the vendors surround them like flood waters. Continue reading “A chief marketing officer’s worst nightmare”

The promise of “local”

The promise of local (istock)Local is the new hottie and everyone wants to date her! The promise of local (in terms of content and targeted advertising) has long been the promise land for all of us emerging media types.  With the growth of broadband and IP related content solutions, the dream of targeting relevant content/ad messaging can become a reality. Semantic solutions are allowing us to learn about users and IP-based data allows us to push down that marketing funnel and deliver the dream of relevant messages.  Cable has been playing with DMA and SubDMA targeting for the last few years but has yet to really land the plane.  For the larger cable and satellite solutions it’s a numbers game.  They need access and affectability in more regions and households to make this a true play and they aren’t there yet.

Mediabrands, the Lab‘s holding company,  has just launched a new Hyper-local Media and Marketing Unit to offer new local marketing solutions.   “Geomentum,” is a new business entity, whose  hyper-local vision is based on a bottom-up investment strategy, which begins with sales data, and data reflecting the changing media mix.  Continue reading “The promise of “local””

What makes a great marketer?

IPG Emerging Media Lab President John RossMy answer to the question of what makes a great marketer is simple: Being a great listener. Yeah, that’s right, listening.

The answer is simple because marketing is simple. If you know what your customers really want and give it to them, magic happens. Easy, right?

Most businesses start off as great listeners. Bernie and Arthur, two leaders I was fortunate to work for when I first joined Home Depot knew how to listen to customers. Their entire business was built around listening. Continue reading “What makes a great marketer?”

From moon landings to media labs

Moon landings, new media, and black plastic frame glasses (iStock)This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing. I remember that event vividly: in my classroom huddled around a small portable television our teacher rolled in on a wobbly TV cart; those fuzzy pictures, the network anchors explaining what was going on in space with small plastic models, scenes of NASA engineers all wearing geeky black plastic-framed glasses ( which now have somehow come back into style). At the time as I sat there watching this incredible event happening, I thought that I was the luckiest kid in the world.

It was also the first major multimedia moment of my life. I remember my parents later talking about the TV in the classroom, and marveling about the opportunity that this new technology offered for my future. If only they had known how prophetic that conversation was. Continue reading “From moon landings to media labs”

John Ross on why retail needs new tools

John Ross, President of the IPG Emerging Media Lab John Ross recently joined IPG’s Mediabrands to become President of the Emerging Media Lab. John brings 20 years of retail experience to the job, most recently as VP of Advertising and Marketing for Home Depot. I sat down with him during a recent visit to Los Angeles (John will be managing a trifecta commute between his home base in Atlanta, Mediabrands offices in NY, and the Lab in Los Angeles) to talk about why retail and emerging media are well suited, and what challenges lay ahead for both sectors.

DR: What is the biggest challenge for the retail sector in terms of effectively harnessing the power of emerging media and technology?

JR: [Retail] needs to embrace and employ new tools that allow them to access the dialogue that’s taking place about their business. They need to have new listening tools and these tools need to be snapped into the way they make business decisions. Social media combined with retail has so far been a terrifying combination, it takes courage to really listen and a fear of that that dialogue might get out of control in ways that could be dangerous to your brand. Continue reading “John Ross on why retail needs new tools”

Report: Recession changes everything

Recession is Game Changer for Consumer Behavior (Initiative)A new report by Initiative finds that shifts in the economic climate have created permanent shifts in consumer behavior. The report “Game Changer” provides marketers with insight on how brands can take advantage of changing values in their products and messaging.  Some of the key findings included:

-Massive decline in trust of “establishment”  (Further proof of what we’ve known for awhile, that consumers are trusting each other and online communities more than ever)

-Qualities such as “reliable,” “open” and “honest” are now valued more than “well-known” or “established”

-The Internet has become an “essential form of technology” for 75 percent of consumers surveyed, with mobile in second at 56 percent (interesting here was the 40 percent who said they are most likely to maintain spending on the Internet compared with other forms of technology and communication)  Continue reading “Report: Recession changes everything”

IPG unveils digital ad network

Mediabrands (parent company to the Lab) unveiled its latest project, Cadreon: a new, proprietary digital ad network. While Cadreon aims to capture a greater share of client business, the new network will also enable purchasing of advertising across platfroms–from video to digital out of home, to social networks.

At the Lab, this has us jumping up and down for joy. Because while online display advertising is an important part of the equation, tapping into the larger ecosystem–social, mobile, DOOH–remains a challenge for agencies and brands alike.

Continue reading “IPG unveils digital ad network”