Retailers Ramp up Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Retailers Ramp up Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Retail

Last March we wrote about the increasingly important role that technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have in the marketing field. Since then, major businesses have continued to apply AR and VR to support a number of functions. Retailers have been especially keen to use these technologies for shopping. For example:

  • To capitalize on the uptick in mobile holiday shopping, Macy’s has launched an AR app that lets shoppers see pieces of furniture virtually within their homes, following the successful pilot of a VR experience to make furniture shopping more immersive. According to Macy’s, shoppers using VR headsets to view Macy’s furniture had more than a 60 percent greater average order value than non-virtual reality furniture shoppers.
  • Walmart recently announced the launch of new AR scanning tool in its iOS app to help customers with product comparisons. Unlike traditional barcode scanners (which allow price comparison on one item at a time), Walmart’s AR scanner can be aimed at multiple products on store shelves to view details on pricing and customer ratings.

Some studies predict the global economic impact of virtual and augmented reality to reach $29.5 billion. Although this number may sound overly optimistic, I do believe there is a lot of value in these technologies yet to be exploited. Both VR and AR have the potential to be among the most valuable tools in any marketer’s arsenal simply because they offer intimate and engaging experiences. They allow brands to build a more profound connection with consumers by offering personalized, interactive experiences. In addition, when combined with artificial intelligence, these technologies have the potential to help make life easier by empowering users to take immediate action (like completing a custom order on the spot).

VR and AR Defined

Even though they may look similar, VR and AR are different:

  • Virtual reality: refers to any kind of experience that places the user “in” another world or dimension usually by way of a headset with special lenses.
  • Augmented reality: the term we use when we place content “into” the real world by using cameras (e.g., Pokémon GO)

Although some brands have rushed to experiment with augmented reality on social media platforms, others are using AR and VR to support commerce. One of the cleverest campaigns was that one from the Spanish fast fashion retailer, Zara.

Although their storefronts may have appeared empty to the naked eye, they came to life when people pointed their phone’s camera at the shop’s window (or in-store podiums) after downloading the Zara AR App. This app enabled users to see seven-to-twelve-second sequences of models Léa Julian and Fran Summers wearing selected looks from the brand’s Studio Collection and allowed the viewers to instantly order any of the looks shown at the touch of a button.

 

Tommy Hilfiger is another example of a retail brand that has also deployed AR technology to improve the shopping experience in their stores. By placing digitally enhanced mirrors inside the fitting rooms, Tommy Hilfiger gave customers instant access to information like styles, models, sizes and colors available both in-store and online. The experience also allowed shoppers to request a new size or color without leaving the room and suggested other products to browse. These smart mirrors made product discovery much simpler and promoted sales by helping users find the right style.

iMirror for Retail from Pieter on Vimeo.

But the business potential seems almost unlimited when AR/VR is combined with artificial intelligence. An example is Salesforce’s Einstein AI technology, which was subject to practical testing along with Coca-Cola. As noted in this article from Diginomica:

Einstein was trained to recognize, identify and count the varieties and quantities of Coca-Cola bottles stored in one of its cooler display cabinets, simply by analyzing a photo taken with an iPad or iPhone. […] Einstein can then take that stock count and combine the information with predictions based on known seasonal variations, weather information from Watson [the IBM AI system], and upcoming promotions, to automatically calculate a restocking order.

There is no doubt about the potential benefits of new technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence for both consumers and businesses. In the ever-changing and dynamic world of digital marketing, it would be safe to expect tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook to soon develop and introduce new features that accommodate for these technologies in their portfolio of products and services.

Advertiser Q&A: Bing LinkedIn Profile Targeting

Advertiser Q&A: Bing LinkedIn Profile Targeting

Bing

Bing has been rolling out in beta mode a feature that makes it possible for businesses to target Bing advertisements by relying on LinkedIn data. The feature, known as LinkedIn profile targeting, is an example of how Microsoft is monetizing LinkedIn a few years after Microsoft purchased the popular business-to-business platform. In the following Q&A, we answer questions that our clients are asking about LinkedIn profile targeting. 

1 How does LinkedIn profile targeting work?

With this new feature, businesses running search campaigns in Bing can target people based on information they’ve shared on their LinkedIn profiles – specifically their industries, companies, and job functions.

So, let’s say I want to run an online search campaign targeting marketers in the financial service sector. I can target ads toward people who have identified themselves on LinkedIn with that specific job function in that particular vertical.

2 What’s the advantage to using Linked profile targeting?

According to Bing, LinkedIn profile targeting offers three advantages:

  • Relevance: LinkedIn can help you target the right audience. More-targeted audiences allow you to bid boost more precisely.
  • Ease of use: you can set up LinkedIn profile targeting in minutes.
  • Unique to Bing ads: Bing Ads is the only digital advertising platform (outside of LinkedIn) to offer LinkedIn profile targeting.

3 Who is a good match for LinkedIn profile targeting?

LinkedIn profile targeting is ideal for any business-to-business company. Bing can target:

  • 145 industries including consumer goods, hospitality, and financial services.
  • 80,000 companies such as Adobe, Disney, and Starbucks.
  • Job functions such as marketing, finance, and operations.

Also, this tool could be a more efficient way for smaller B2B companies who want to capitalize on LinkedIn but might find LinkedIn advertising products to be a too costly. LinkedIn profile targeting makes it possible for those businesses to capitalize on LinkedIn’s audience in a more cost-effective way.

4 What are the limitations of LinkedIn targeting?

  • The feature might not be as useful for consumer-facing firms.
  • The feature is based on job function (e.g., marketing), not title (e.g., CMO). So you can’t target people with specific titles.
  • LinkedIn profile targeting is based on information that LinkedIn users share about themselves. It’s only as accurate as the data people report.

5 I don’t use Bing. Why should I consider Bing in the first place?

Advertisers should consider Bing for a number of reasons. For example, the typical consumer on Bing spends more per purchase. My colleague Tim Colucci shared more reasons in an October blog post, “Why Advertisers Need Bing.” Check it out for more insight.

Plus, I believe there is much more value to LinkedIn profile targeting that I hope Bing will make available to advertisers soon. I would like to see Bing expand this new feature to include enhanced demographic/behavioral filtering. For instance, it would be useful if we could target certain interests and specific abilities/knowledge (either based on self-reported data or on post engagement) and maybe even years of experience. This capability would have a number of benefits. For instance, in the higher education space, universities could offer an operations management MBA program to target candidates with more than two years of experience who have field-related abilities like strong communication skills, and who share an interest in inventory forecasting, logistics, and quality control.

6 What should I do next if I am interested?

It’s a closed pilot. Not everyone can just do it. Reach out to your Bing representative or agency partner, such as True Interactive. Contact us. We’d love to help!

Coming Soon: A $1 Trillion Holiday Shopping Season

Coming Soon: A $1 Trillion Holiday Shopping Season

Retail

Get ready for a strong holiday shopping season. eMarketer has raised its 2018 holiday shopping forecast, with total retail spending growth expected to be 4.1 percent, up from eMarketer’s previous prediction of a 3.8 percent growth rate. The 2018 season will approach $1 trillion in spending, or $986.77 billion to be more precise. In addition, eMarketer says that retail ecommerce will grow at 16.2 percent, with that growth being driven largely by mobile.

“We expect that the 2018 holiday retail season will be one of the strongest in recent years,” eMarketer said in the October report, Holiday Shopping 2018. Reasons for a strong season include:

  • A strong economy that will fuel spending.
  • A lengthy shopping season, with 32 days occurring between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the longest possible calendar between these two landmark dates. “This will give shoppers ample opportunity to complete more of their holiday shopping online,” noted eMarketer.
  • The growth of mobile. “The other key growth factor is the extent to which mobile is fueling consumers’ ecommerce migration” said eMarketer. “Mobile now drives nearly two-thirds of online shopping activity, according to research firm comScore, and is inching ever closer to a majority share of ecommerce spending. Although shoppers are still much more likely to shop than buy on mobile, they are increasingly comfortable transacting on smartphones, thanks to more seamless, optimized experiences on both mobile web and apps.”

The prospect of a stronger holiday season is good news for retailers and consumer electronics firms. Per eMarketer, “Consumer electronics will prove popular during the 2018 season, particularly with an ever-expanding slate of voice-activated and connected home products hitting the market. Apparel and accessories will continue its online migration, while the toys and hobbies sector promises to get more competitive.”

The companies in the best position to thrive:

  • Have strong mobile commerce operations.
  • Capitalize on an expected intense period of spending around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday is no longer a single-day event. The day really begins on Thanksgiving now.
  • Effectively invest in advertising across the digital world, with a focus on Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

To make sure you benefit from the holiday spend, be sure to check out some recently published resources from True Interactive:

  • Advertiser Q&A: Amazon Sponsored Ads,” a post from Samantha Coconato that discusses one of Amazon’s popular advertising products for businesses that have a presence on the platform.

At True Interactive, we’ve been actively working with clients to create successful holiday advertising campaigns online. Contact us if you need assistance with yours. We’re happy to help.

Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Marketing

WhatsApp is one of the most rapidly evolving and exciting apps on the market. The platform recently launched several new features for iOS users, such as status search, notification extension, and suspicious link detection. And with more than 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp is also arguably the most popular messaging app in the world. These points are all well and good, but does WhatsApp matter to advertisers?

Short answer: yes.

As I discuss in a new Adweek Social Pro Daily column, Facebook is making some big moves to monetize WhatsApp. For instance, the newly released WhatsApp Business API (application-programming interface) will make it easier for companies to communicate with current and potential customers through end-to-end encrypted messages. Businesses will now be able to send customized notifications with relevant non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders, or event tickets, all at a flat rate. According to Sale Stock, a company that uses WhatsApp to deliver product recommendations, order updates and customer service, customers read 90 percent of delivered messages.

My column discusses in more detail how and why Facebook is monetizing WhatsApp. Meanwhile, I believe businesses need to understand how WhatsApp can help them improve both their branding and online commerce strategies. Consider this: people spent 85 billion hours in WhatsApp in the past three months — versus 31 billion in Facebook.

Although Facebook Messenger has a larger base of users in the United States, WhatsApp dominates the messaging app space in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. In those countries, users rely on WhatsApp to share pictures, videos, as well as breaking news. As I discussed in a previous column, WhatsApp is also used around the globe for informal business, connecting local buyers with sellers.

Local businesses in the tourism and restaurant industries are already adopting this tool to connect with customers and prospects. Larger business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies (especially those with interests in the markets mentioned above) should consider implementing WhatsApp in their business development and PR efforts, as the app’s popularity seems to be as high as its potential of driving business.

WhatsApp is wide open for businesses. Contact True Interactive to learn how you can win on WhatsApp.

Facebook Shows Mobile Games More Advertising Love

Facebook Shows Mobile Games More Advertising Love

Social media

It makes sense for Facebook to be paying close attention to mobile gaming, as this industry reportedly generated 40.6 billion dollars in 2017 worldwide. Last year, 42 percent of the industry’s global revenue came from smartphone and tablet games. According to some 2016 reports, U.S. gamers played an average of 3.6 mobile games per month, and 1.3 games on a daily basis. True value for game developers, however, does not usually come from game install volume, but from game usage (time and money users spend on it), especially for those games with ad-based revenue models.

With the recent launch of playable ads, Facebook seems to be focusing on driving real long-term value for gaming companies, rather than promoting mere app installs. With this new ad format, users can experience a preview of the game from within the ad. Giving users a chance to interact with the game in the feed before they install it creates higher intent, according to Facebook, and I agree.

At first, ad format will look like a simple video ad, but it becomes a rich experience once the user taps on it thanks to the capabilities of HTML5. Hopefully we will see Facebook releasing new immersive ad formats to use with other campaign types, or the highly anticipated capability to use 360 videos in ads.

After more than a year in Beta, game developer companies like Rovio have seen favorable results. Rovio, owner of the popular Angry Birds game franchise, claimed that it saw a 40 per cent lower cost per paying user when using playable ads, along with a 70 per cent lift in day seven ROAS. Similarly, Bagelcode, creator of Club Vegas virtual slot machine game, saw 3 times higher ROAS on Android as well as 1.4 times higher ROAS on iOS.

Furthermore, the new retention optimization will increase the chances of a game to be downloaded by a more engaged user. According to Facebook, gaming marketers will now be able to deliver their ads to those users who are most likely to play their game. Its official rollout is planned for later this year on Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network.

Retention optimization is not the only refreshment Facebook has given to its app marketing toolbox. Its latest update to the value optimization tools include minimum ROAS bidding, which will enable advertisers to “set a minimum spend to find the players most likely to make in-app purchases, and eliminate spend on connecting with players less likely to engage.

It would be interesting to test this minimum ROAS bidding in conversion campaigns and compare results with the currently available Target CPA bidding. I believe there is much more yet to come, and that we will soon see new, more interactive ad formats like the recently released collection/canvas ads.

I encourage brands to monitor these new features and test them in conversion campaigns. For insight into how to maximize the value of Facebook advertising products, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://marketingland.com/facebook-launches-playable-ads-tests-retention-optimization-for-app-advertising-245312

 

Facebook Sees Success with Marketplace

Facebook Sees Success with Marketplace

Social media

Facebook has taken some lumps during a tumultuous year. After weeks of being dragged through the mud with scandals involving data privacy, the company suffered its worst day in its history as a publicly traded firm after announcing quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

But the news is not all bad.

Amid the turmoil, Facebook is actually growing in some ways that are less visible to Wall Street. For example, Facebook Marketplace, which Facebook relaunched in 2016, is experiencing strong growth. Already, 550 million people across 51 countries use Marketplace each month to buy products from other people and business. By contrast,  55 million people visit Craigslist monthly.

And Marketplace is attracting more and more large businesses from sectors such as automotive. Based on the traction Marketplace is getting, Facebook recently announced that it is making it possible for businesses to advertise in Facebook Marketplace to reach people where they are actively shopping.

At True Interactive, we are helping businesses take advantage of Marketplace advertising. We just tested a conversion campaign for a client and achieved favorable results. In a new column for Adweek Social Pro Daily, I discuss our experiences with Facebook Marketplace and provide more insight into the growth of this feature.

For more insight into how to succeed on Marketplace and other online destinations, contact True Interactive. We are here to help.

How the Oscars Have Adapted to a Declining TV Audience

How the Oscars Have Adapted to a Declining TV Audience

Marketing

It looks like the 90th annual Academy Awards will go down as the least watched in history. Preliminary numbers show that overall viewership will dip below 30 million for the first time ever. Until now, the least watched Oscars telecast occurred in 2008, when the Academy Awards garnered 32 million viewers.

And the numbers appear even worse when you realize that the Oscars have been experiencing a ratings decline for four straight years. By contrast, in 1998, the Academy Awards were watched by 55 million people, an all-time high.

Should the Academy be worried?

My take: the ratings decline is simply a sign of change in the way people experience televised events. In fact, the Academy is already doing what any smart brand should do: adapt.

As we’ve noted on our blog, television continues to present its share of limitations for advertisers. Viewership for major events, such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, and Academy Awards, continues to drop as people shift their viewing habits from sitting in front of their TV sets to multi-tasking with social media and catching snippets of content on their mobile phones. Interestingly, Josef Adalain of Vulture points out that the Academy Awards will continue to be profitable for ABC because it’s still one of the few opportunities for advertisers to share their message with a mass audience.

But the Academy is not simply feeding off a smaller audience. The Academy Awards meet viewers where they are with a number of digital experiences. For example:

  • Oscars: All Access makes it possible for fans to get a look at what happens backstage via well placed cameras that catch interesting little moments such as how stars react right after they walk backstage after receiving their Oscars. The All Access feature appeals to people on their phones and laptops who are looking for a fun second-screen experience, especially for cable cord cutters who are shut off from the actual show.

  • With social media, the Academy engages fans through Facebook Live broadcasts, contests, and shout-outs to fans who are tracking the show online. On platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the Academy cranks out a mix of visual content to tell the story of what happens onstage and in the audience. The Academy has turned the Oscars into a year-round brand by using social to keep fans engaged with content. You can even watch Oscar-nominated shorts on the Academy’s YouTube channel.

Advertisers are also adapting. We’ve already seen many instances of businesses creating real-time social media content to capitalize on memorable Oscar moments, while other brands, such as AT&T, have used advertising dollars to sponsor the Academy’s digital content, such as Oscars: All Access.

The Academy Awards offer a lesson to businesses that emerged in the age of linear TV. In the age of digital, you can still have your audience. You just need to meet them where they are. To maximizing the value of our digital spend, contact us. We’re here to help.