PULSE

Pulse pulls together the freshest articles, research, and insights on hot topics in the marketing industry. Curated and vetted by an ANA researcher, each issue includes only the most current and credible information available.

Love Can't Wait, with Alan Gravely of Signet Jewelers

In 2020, upwards of 845,000 weddings were canceled due to COVID-19. However, many brave couples decided their love couldn't wait, even if their friends and families couldn't be there with them to celebrate. Jared the Galleria of Jewelry stepped up to help these of couples make their dreams come true with a seamless and personalized virtual wedding platform, complete with customizable invitations, streaming, and celebrity advice and officiants. Alan Gravely, VP of Marketing and eCommerce for Signet Jewelers, took us behind the scenes and explained how the platform and campaign came together within a matter of days.

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iOS 15: Apple Pushes Consumer Privacy Further with Email Protection

Apple announced earlier this year that with the update to their operating system with iOS 14, consumers would have more control over the information that apps could track via the IDFA (we explored the effect this would have on marketers here). Now with the announcement of iOS 15, Apple is putting yet more control in the hands of consumers by extending privacy protection to email and other often-used services on all their devices.

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ISSUES

August 2021

Apple announced earlier this year that with the update to their operating system with iOS 14, consumers would have more control over the information that apps could track via the IDFA (we explored the effect this would have on marketers here). Now with the announcement of iOS 15, Apple is putting yet more control in the hands of consumers by extending privacy protection to email and other often-used services on all their devices.

 

These include "Hide My Email" and "Mail Privacy Protection", both of which limit how much data can be collected and tracked from email clicks and opens, especially targeting the swath of junk mail that comes in through an IP identification. This of course also affects marketers, who rely on this same data to serve personalized messaging to consumers. Rather than look at this as a hindrance to marketing efforts, however, brands can use this as an opportunity to increase trust among consumers, but also to rely on forming different types of relationships with them that still protect their privacy.

July 2021

As the well-worn proverb says, “necessity is the mother of invention,” the pandemic hit retail spaces particularly hard, pushing consumers to use ecommerce more as social and safety protocols increased. While there may be more stores open now, shoppers have found that the convenience and speed when ordering items online is invaluable even long after the protocols have gone. 

 

To take advantage of this, retailers have turned parts or all of their spaces into “dark stores,” which act much the same way a warehouse or fulfillment center would. The opportunity then arises for retailers to not only leverage a wealth of direct consumer data from these types of transactions, but also provide greater personalization and localization services. This itself sets off a bevy of offers and angles from which to engage their customers. The resources here discuss the dark store trend and how it will affect the future of retailing.

June 2021

Marketing to any demographic includes looking at sets of trends and profile basics to craft a message that will reach them most effectively (the explosion of articles discussing "marketing to millennials" is an easy way to see this in action). The issue with reducing groups of a similar generation, race, or preferences to a target on a marketing calendar, however, is that it forgets the individual, and betrays strong consumer preferences for personalization.


This has become especially true for LGBTQ+ communities, where marketers have grown comfortable during June's Pride Month in posting a rainbow on social media, creating a promotion, and calling it a day. While this is, of course, important, it also reduces the community and event to a symbology; it forgets that in the U.S., 5.6 percent of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ+; this community is made up of distinct individuals who don't want to just see performative allyship but messages that speak to them on an individual level with honesty, authenticity, and care.

May 2021

No matter which side of the cancel culture debate you may fall on, the impact it has for brands hasn’t essentially changed from any other previous form of accountability companies have faced. Consumers expect brands to act, at the least consistently with the values they espouse, and studies continue to show that a brand’s reputation and trust amongst consumers increase when they’re doing good for society, whether that’s through sustainability initiatives or in the ways they’re helping communities. The proliferation of social channels and digital accessibility has only amplified consumers’ voices, and the power they yield today (made clear by how effective influencer marketing has proven to be how effective influencer marketing has proven to be) shows that brands can’t afford to ignore them. But if consumers are more aware than ever about a brand’s actions, then now as never before brands need to be more self-aware of how they interact with the world around them. 

April 2021

SEO was a lot simpler in a less-crowded marketplace; you could optimize by keyword for your product, industry, or customer demographics and watch your traffic grow. In 2021, however, not only is the online space left with little metaphorical keyword elbow room, but search engines have gotten smarter to keep up with consumer demand. People search more conversationally due to voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, and AI-powered chatbots learn more as they’re being searched, which also contributes to a natural semantic search style. If marketers want to make sure their SEO efforts are being noticed, there are several ways to do this, all of which embrace this more casual way of searching consumers are employing – “long-tail keywords,” those with fewer search results but a higher conversion rate; “keyword clusters,” which group product identifiers that can single out your brand;  “natural language processing (or NLP)” which rely on qualifiers like “what” and “where” to make a search less-robotic, and the overall conversational style that voice search and chatbots have made more prominent as of late. The resources collected here discuss how marketers can utilize each of these strategies to stand out in the digital crowd.

March 2021

The hottest current iPhone app is Clubhouse, an invite-only social network that allows users to drop into audio-only “rooms” that can connect them with friends, followers, or the general public. It doesn’t have a specific focus, so every topic under the sun can be found—which means that in its nascent state moderation will be more than necessary. Clubhouse offers an opportunity for users to learn from others and forge deeper, authentic connections that open up the possibility for brands and marketing experts to earn credibility and trust through candid conversations. It also reveals a greater trend of social audio communities first seeded by the Podcast boom, and likely an unintended consequence of Zoom meeting fatigue; audio allows users to relax and listen, rather than be in an “always on” presenting mode. Other larger names will be hopping on this trend (Twitter's Spaces is already one), but the cool kid in the room right now is Clubhouse, and the resources here explore the app’s ins and outs, growth, and viability for marketers and brands.

February 2021

There’s more uproar in the data privacy world: Apple has announced that with their newest update to iOS 14, the previously optional Limit Ad Tracking function (LAT) will now be on as a default. This will force all apps and app developers to ask permission to use a user’s data or track their movement, and they’ll need to opt-in to sharing a unique device code, or the ID for Advertisers (IDFA). As Apple has said on their official iOS 14 info page: “Privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do. That’s why with iOS 14, we’re giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it’s used.”

 

Advertisers use the IDFA to target audiences and measure effectiveness. Just like with the cookie’s demise (as we’ve discussed here), the potential for the IDFA to be limited or disappear completely will hinder the reach and understanding advertisers have over their campaigns. Marketers will not only need to survive without cookies in their diet, but they’ll also need to find new—or in many cases, old—ways to gather audience data to aid in their targeting efforts. It may be best summed up in Apple CEO Tim Cook’s remarks on International Privacy day: "Technology does not need vast troves of personal data stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it, and we're here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom. If a business is built on misleading users on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.” The resources collected here discuss a post-IDFA world and what marketers can do to adapt without it.

January 2021

Now that 2020 has officially come to a close, marketers are hoping to move beyond the necessary survival mode tactics that challenged the world in the past year. Looking to the future is no easy task, however – despite the arrival of a new year, the lingering effects of 2020 will need to be taken into account as brands pivot to new strategies and tactics. Though planning for post-COVID-19 marketing has begun, the actual pandemic hasn’t ceased, and a continuing focus on digital will be necessary both now and later in the year. Likewise, the social justice and awareness initiatives that arose as direct responses to the unrest in 2020 must now become part and parcel of every successful marketer’s overall branding. The resources collected in this issue of Pulse share where marketers should focus their energies and advise how they can continue to adapt to the world’s present challenges.

December 2020

As the news of the cookie’s so-called demise has spread far and wide there have been a number of potential strategies laid out for marketers looking to navigate this brave new world. While further leveraging influencers or re-designing loyalty programs have emerged as two possibilities, we’ve also witnessed a natural tendency to focus on party data above all. This makes sense, as it’s the “death” of third-party data (in reality, privacy regulation barriers) that prompted a re-examination of how to properly use consumer data in the first place. Enter (or, re-enter, as it may be) first- and zero-party data. By relying more on data that consumers willingly supply, marketers can both adhere to privacy regulations and gain consumer trust in how and what data brands are collecting and utilizing.

November 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantines that followed quickly changed the way brands could sell and show off their products, fostering a need for marketers to get inventive with their tactics. The online space also evolved during this time, becoming increasingly dominant and the perfect place to welcome creativity beyond banner ads, video, and social posts. Enter livestreaming, a tactic already well established by gamers and other communities as a way to connect with one another in real-time. What better way for marketers to connect with consumers with so many traditional methods inaccessible for the foreseeable future? Similar to a television informercial or home shopping network, livestreaming offers all of the benefits of those models but cuts out production costs and call-center middlemen. While brand livestreaming is mainly centered in Asia at the moment, there is a huge opportunity and an eager audience ready for marketers to connect with everywhere else.

October 2020

TikTok’s popularity quickly exploded on the mobile video app scene, and marketers followed suit. Recent controversies over TikTok’s data collection and privacy practices, however, have put the future of the app in the U.S. into question, and this poses a distinct loss for brands carving out a niche there. Amidst this chaos, Instagram launched a similar service – Reels – and while brands certainly want to include Instagram’s latest effort into their marketing mix, the question remains: will it be as effective as TikTok, whether it stays or goes? The resources here look at how lucrative Instagram’s Reels can be, and how to use them for marketing.

September 2020

The ongoing pandemic has had a strong yet complicated impact on the development of ambient computing, which refers to the contextually aware software that can serve users without requiring explicit commands. Things like smart home, smart city, and other IoT-enabled experiences, based on technologies designed to fade into the background as part of the ambiance, are all building toward the future of ambient computing.

August 2020

When AI-based algorithms were introduced to the marketing world they were an immense game changer: they upped the ante on how brands could target their existing audiences, and they sped up the process of understanding how to build new ones. As machine learning grew exponentially, however, it also lost much of its human touch. Without a balance of human input and safety checks, algorithms can adopt human biases (including hate speech), and cannot adapt fast enough to real-time crises like COVID-19. The resources here discuss how marketers can best work with algorithms to ensure they reach desired targets with efficient, optimized results, and avoid communicating the wrong messages.

July 2020

Prior to the pandemic, adoption of virtual doctor visits was negligible (at just 11%, according to a McKinsey survey). Since social distancing and quarantine, however, those numbers have rocketed to 46 percent, and the comfort and ease both consumers and doctors are finding through telehealth, or telemedicine, indicate that it’s here to stay post-COVID. But the surge in telehealth begs the question: if some vital services like healthcare can be delivered virtually, what other traditionally physical industries may also find themselves delivering via cyberspace? For the moment, telehealth is ruling the space and the resources below discuss its growth, application, and future.

June 2020

Brands share a unique voice that consumers pay close attention to, and marketers can choose to amplify or mute that voice. Brand responses to the COVID-19 crisis have run the gamut from sensitive to tone-deaf, and consumer perception of those brands can change as a result of their responses. As the United States struggles with racial and policing issues, what can brands do to show they are fully allied to current causes, and not just toeing the line, or worse, throwing fuel on the fire?

May 2020

Organizations have undergone unprecedented changes in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses with the ability to do so have shifted to a work from home structure, which the firm Global Workplace Analytics forecasts may make up 25 to 30 percent of the workforce by 2021. But for many companies, productivity and essential tasks must be done in a physical office space. While it’s still uncertain when employees may return to their workplaces, it’s vital that leaders look into the precautions and adaptations that will be necessary in many cases to ensure the safety of their employees. The resources below discuss many of these coming possibilities.

April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an unprecedented era of change across all of humanity, from economies, governments, consumers, and businesses, to, of course, marketing and branding. While we cannot predict the state of the advertising industry once the pandemic has passed, we do know that it will be immensely changed. The resources below speculate on what preparatory measures and foresight can be taken as of today to prepare brands for an era of marketing post-COVID-19.

March 2020

Consumer privacy is at an ever-increasing pitch, and a plethora of ad blockers and similar apps have already handed consumers the power to control their online experiences, at least to a certain extent. GDPR, which requires websites to obtain consumer consent before tracking cookies, has further restricted marketers’ access to consumer data. The final blow came with the announcement that Google Chrome will eliminate third-party cookies completely by 2022 – something that other browsers have already done. While initially this jarring news left marketers wondering what to do next, it has also created new opportunities.

February 2020

Artificial Intelligence has already rapidly advanced automation tools, and is now taking things a step further by moving into autonomy. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) reported that North American robot sales increased 5.2 percent, compared to 2018.  And while robots have already been used behind the scenes in auto and fulfillment industries, we’re now ready to see them working alongside their human counterparts. The resources in this Pulse issue explore the presence of robots in the retail space, and what marketers can expect.

January 2020

A new year is an ideal time for reflection as well as anticipation of the changes that lie ahead in the marketing world. A new year allows marketers to evaluate what has been most successful in the past, honing in and perfecting what has worked and dropping what hasn’t to try and prepare for the unexpected new trends that will find their way into consumer’s and marketer’s laps. No prediction is perfect, but these resources examine what marketers can anticipate in the year ahead, and analyze what didn’t work and what won’t work again.

December 2019

Our sense of belonging is considered a core attribute of human survival.  Social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn help fill that void – enabling people not only to find and connect with old friends, but also to discover new ones. However, a remarkable awakening is shifting user behavior: Consumers now recognize they are the product and that their engagement isn’t “free.” 

November 2019

According to drinks market analysts ISWR, global alcohol consumption has declined by 1.6 percent, especially in sectors such as wine and beer. Spirits and other specialty drinks are on the rise, however, and IWSR actually predicts 5 percent growth in the industry over the next three years. The takeaway? Like in so many other industries, disruptors are embracing change and taking over markets that have grown stale with sameness – and they’re doing so at a time when consumers are both seeking and facing constant change. Read on to discover more about these disruptor brands and shifting consumer trends in the alcohol space.

October 2019

The development of plant, seafood, or lab-based meat products – that is, “meatless meat,” – has grown notably over the past few years. Why the sudden change? There isn’t one specific reason behind the shift; rather, there are a number of health, ecological, economical, and emotional explanations for why consumers on both the vegan and meat-eating sides of the aisle are increasingly purchasing meatless foods. This issue of Pulse explores the mystery around meatless meat, examining what exactly it is, where it’s thriving, and its many future possibilities.

September 2019

TikTok is the newest of hot video apps in the tradition of Vine and Snapchat before it. It originated in China before rebranding and making it way to the U.S. and the rest of the world, where it now can comfortably claim more than 500 million users. Most are young people and early adopters, begging the question: should brands already be on TikTok, utilizing it before it becomes saturated like Facebook and Instagram?

August 2019

Cannabis Sativa has been used for generations in both practical and more… notorious ways. The strain that allows the creation of hemp products (textiles, food, fuel, insulation, etc.) has an increased amount of the chemical cannabidiol (CBD), while the psychoactive version has increased tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). All science lessons aside, extracted CBD has been known to provide certain health relief without the effects of THC, but yet has remained barred by the FDA  -- until just recently. It now exists in flux as a saleable product in the U.S., with uses varying from state to state. It is a market exploding with potential; given a marketer’s savviness, it can become a viable product on its own, or as part of a retailer’s arsenal. Read on to discover more about the product, the market, the hurdles, and the strategies that can help marketers navigate the tricky CBD terrain.

July 2019

Big Data revolutionized marketing with the sheer volume of consumer insights that could be gleaned from massive data sets. For years this has aided marketers in their targeting and campaign design. While big data works fantastically on large consumer groups and demographics, it lacks the ability to understand and then target the individual with personalized information more reflective of the actual buyer. Enter small data, which takes the giant store of data collected and makes it easier to analyze, act upon, and uncover consumer trends. The resources here discuss how to successfully use small data, both on its own and in concert with big data.

June 2019

Others motivating consumers to buy products is far from a new concept: from family and friends, celebrities, mascots, ambassadors, and spokespeople, all have contributed to the success of product sales and awareness. With the ubiquity of social media, “influencers” have become the nom du jour for these groups. For years, celebrities and users with millions of followers (macro-influencers) have held court; however, a saturation point has arrived to make way for a new class: micro-influencers, who have a smaller group of followers but a more loyal pre-existing fan base to share. Read on to see how micro-influencers are changing social marketing and how you can use them.

May 2019

There have been a number of innovations in online retailing – free shipping, sponsored auction listings, exclusive membership privileges, bundling, etc. – but because of this, traditional retailers have suffered a hemorrhage of store closings, bankruptcies, and decreased sales (despite increasing omnichannel tactics). Hope remains on the horizon, however, as many retails are now adopting a new tactic – the Buy Online and Pickup In-Store (BOPIS/BOPUS/BOSS/BORIS…) method, AKA Click and Collect. Read on to see how retailers are using it, and how marketers can adopt this innovation.

April 2019

Wearables have come and gone like offbeat inventions in a sci-fi movie, never quite grabbing a firm hold in consumer’s minds. However, with the explosion of Fitbit trackers, the Apple Watch, and voice assistants like Siri, the promise of integrating clothing and accessories is no longer the stuff of fantasy. This month’s Pulse looks at the future of wearable devices.

Issue 3
March 2019

Direct-to-Consumer brands and marketing has existed for years, but as whispers rather than shouts; now they are fully disrupting not only ecommerce markets but also brick- and -mortar as they move into physical realms. What are the best ways to approach marketing a D2C product? As a "legacy" brand, how does one survive amidst the disruption? The pieces here offer some perspectives.

February 2019
Over-the-top (or OTT) media services are those that bypass traditional television to deliver content. OTT leaders include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube (amongst other smaller players), and later this year, media giants such as Disney and Viacom. Navigating this unfamiliar terrain can cause marketers to shirk from the field and stick to what they know, possibly missing the opportunity to succeed in what will certainly grow to not replace but exist aside television. Read on to discover the OTT ecosystem, how consumers feel about it, how it can exist effectively aside pre-existing TV ad plans, and more.
The way consumers shop – and retailers sell – are rapidly changing as new technological advancements allow for greater flexibility and reach. In the past, these have taken the form of beacons, QR codes, mobile wallets, etc. Now tech like augmented reality, virtual reality, and hyper-specific targeting are leading the pack, providing an increasingly seamless shopping experience between retailers and consumers.

PULSE

Pulse pulls together the freshest articles, research, and insights on hot topics in the marketing industry. Curated and vetted by an ANA researcher, each issue includes only the most current and credible information available.

ISSUES

Apple announced earlier this year that with the update to their operating system with iOS 14, consumers would have more control over the information that apps could track via the IDFA (we explored the effect this would have on marketers here). Now with the announcement of iOS 15, Apple is putting yet more control in the hands of consumers by extending privacy protection to email and other often-used services on all their devices.

 

These include "Hide My Email" and "Mail Privacy Protection", both of which limit how much data can be collected and tracked from email clicks and opens, especially targeting the swath of junk mail that comes in through an IP identification. This of course also affects marketers, who rely on this same data to serve personalized messaging to consumers. Rather than look at this as a hindrance to marketing efforts, however, brands can use this as an opportunity to increase trust among consumers, but also to rely on forming different types of relationships with them that still protect their privacy.

As the well-worn proverb says, “necessity is the mother of invention,” the pandemic hit retail spaces particularly hard, pushing consumers to use ecommerce more as social and safety protocols increased. While there may be more stores open now, shoppers have found that the convenience and speed when ordering items online is invaluable even long after the protocols have gone. 

 

To take advantage of this, retailers have turned parts or all of their spaces into “dark stores,” which act much the same way a warehouse or fulfillment center would. The opportunity then arises for retailers to not only leverage a wealth of direct consumer data from these types of transactions, but also provide greater personalization and localization services. This itself sets off a bevy of offers and angles from which to engage their customers.

Marketing to any demographic includes looking at sets of trends and profile basics to craft a message that will reach them most effectively (the explosion of articles discussing "marketing to millennials" is an easy way to see this in action). The issue with reducing groups of a similar generation, race, or preferences to a target on a marketing calendar, however, is that it forgets the individual, and betrays strong consumer preferences for personalization.


This has become especially true for LGBTQ+ communities, where marketers have grown comfortable during June's Pride Month in posting a rainbow on social media, creating a promotion, and calling it a day. While this is, of course, important, it also reduces the community and event to a symbology; it forgets that in the U.S., 5.6 percent of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ+; this community is made up of distinct individuals who don't want to just see performative allyship but messages that speak to them on an individual level with honesty, authenticity, and care.

No matter which side of the cancel culture debate you may fall on, the impact it has for brands hasn’t essentially changed from any other previous form of accountability companies have faced. Consumers expect brands to act, at the least consistently with the values they espouse, and studies continue to show that a brand’s reputation and trust amongst consumers increase when they’re doing good for society, whether that’s through sustainability initiatives or in the ways they’re helping communities. The proliferation of social channels and digital accessibility has only amplified consumers’ voices, and the power they yield today (made clear by how effective influencer marketing has proven to be how effective influencer marketing has proven to be) shows that brands can’t afford to ignore them. But if consumers are more aware than ever about a brand’s actions, then now as never before brands need to be more self-aware of how they interact with the world around them. 

SEO was a lot simpler in a less-crowded marketplace; you could optimize by keyword for your product, industry, or customer demographics and watch your traffic grow. In 2021, however, not only is the online space left with little metaphorical keyword elbow room, but search engines have gotten smarter to keep up with consumer demand. People search more conversationally due to voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, and AI-powered chatbots learn more as they’re being searched, which also contributes to a natural semantic search style. If marketers want to make sure their SEO efforts are being noticed, there are several ways to do this, all of which embrace this more casual way of searching consumers are employing – “long-tail keywords,” those with fewer search results but a higher conversion rate; “keyword clusters,” which group product identifiers that can single out your brand;  “natural language processing (or NLP)” which rely on qualifiers like “what” and “where” to make a search less-robotic, and the overall conversational style that voice search and chatbots have made more prominent as of late. The resources collected here discuss how marketers can utilize each of these strategies to stand out in the digital crowd.

The hottest current iPhone app is Clubhouse, an invite-only social network that allows users to drop into audio-only “rooms” that can connect them with friends, followers, or the general public. It doesn’t have a specific focus, so every topic under the sun can be found—which means that in its nascent state moderation will be more than necessary. Clubhouse offers an opportunity for users to learn from others and forge deeper, authentic connections that open up the possibility for brands and marketing experts to earn credibility and trust through candid conversations. It also reveals a greater trend of social audio communities first seeded by the Podcast boom, and likely an unintended consequence of Zoom meeting fatigue; audio allows users to relax and listen, rather than be in an “always on” presenting mode. Other larger names will be hopping on this trend (Twitter's Spaces is already one), but the cool kid in the room right now is Clubhouse, and the resources here explore the app’s ins and outs, growth, and viability for marketers and brands.

There’s more uproar in the data privacy world: Apple has announced that with their newest update to iOS 14, the previously optional Limit Ad Tracking function (LAT) will now be on as a default. This will force all apps and app developers to ask permission to use a user’s data or track their movement, and they’ll need to opt-in to sharing a unique device code, or the ID for Advertisers (IDFA). As Apple has said on their official iOS 14 info page: “Privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do. That’s why with iOS 14, we’re giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it’s used.”

 

Advertisers use the IDFA to target audiences and measure effectiveness. Just like with the cookie’s demise (as we’ve discussed here), the potential for the IDFA to be limited or disappear completely will hinder the reach and understanding advertisers have over their campaigns. Marketers will not only need to survive without cookies in their diet, but they’ll also need to find new—or in many cases, old—ways to gather audience data to aid in their targeting efforts. It may be best summed up in Apple CEO Tim Cook’s remarks on International Privacy day: "Technology does not need vast troves of personal data stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it, and we're here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom. If a business is built on misleading users on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.” The resources collected here discuss a post-IDFA world and what marketers can do to adapt without it.

Now that 2020 has officially come to a close, marketers are hoping to move beyond the necessary survival mode tactics that challenged the world in the past year. Looking to the future is no easy task, however – despite the arrival of a new year, the lingering effects of 2020 will need to be taken into account as brands pivot to new strategies and tactics. Though planning for post-COVID-19 marketing has begun, the actual pandemic hasn’t ceased, and a continuing focus on digital will be necessary both now and later in the year. Likewise, the social justice and awareness initiatives that arose as direct responses to the unrest in 2020 must now become part and parcel of every successful marketer’s overall branding. The resources collected in this issue of Pulse share where marketers should focus their energies and advise how they can continue to adapt to the world’s present challenges.

As the news of the cookie’s so-called demise has spread far and wide there have been a number of potential strategies laid out for marketers looking to navigate this brave new world. While further leveraging influencers or re-designing loyalty programs have emerged as two possibilities, we’ve also witnessed a natural tendency to focus on party data above all. This makes sense, as it’s the “death” of third-party data (in reality, privacy regulation barriers) that prompted a re-examination of how to properly use consumer data in the first place. Enter (or, re-enter, as it may be) first- and zero-party data. By relying more on data that consumers willingly supply, marketers can both adhere to privacy regulations and gain consumer trust in how and what data brands are collecting and utilizing.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantines that followed quickly changed the way brands could sell and show off their products, fostering a need for marketers to get inventive with their tactics. The online space also evolved during this time, becoming increasingly dominant and the perfect place to welcome creativity beyond banner ads, video, and social posts. Enter livestreaming, a tactic already well established by gamers and other communities as a way to connect with one another in real-time. What better way for marketers to connect with consumers with so many traditional methods inaccessible for the foreseeable future? Similar to a television informercial or home shopping network, livestreaming offers all of the benefits of those models but cuts out production costs and call-center middlemen. While brand livestreaming is mainly centered in Asia at the moment, there is a huge opportunity and an eager audience ready for marketers to connect with everywhere else.

TikTok’s popularity quickly exploded on the mobile video app scene, and marketers followed suit. Recent controversies over TikTok’s data collection and privacy practices, however, have put the future of the app in the U.S. into question, and this poses a distinct loss for brands carving out a niche there. Amidst this chaos, Instagram launched a similar service – Reels – and while brands certainly want to include Instagram’s latest effort into their marketing mix, the question remains: will it be as effective as TikTok, whether it stays or goes? The resources here look at how lucrative Instagram’s Reels can be, and how to use them for marketing.

The ongoing pandemic has had a strong yet complicated impact on the development of ambient computing, which refers to the contextually aware software that can serve users without requiring explicit commands. Things like smart home, smart city, and other IoT-enabled experiences, based on technologies designed to fade into the background as part of the ambiance, are all building toward the future of ambient computing.

When AI-based algorithms were introduced to the marketing world they were an immense game changer: they upped the ante on how brands could target their existing audiences, and they sped up the process of understanding how to build new ones. As machine learning grew exponentially, however, it also lost much of its human touch. Without a balance of human input and safety checks, algorithms can adopt human biases (including hate speech), and cannot adapt fast enough to real-time crises like COVID-19. The resources here discuss how marketers can best work with algorithms to ensure they reach desired targets with efficient, optimized results, and avoid communicating the wrong messages.

Prior to the pandemic, adoption of virtual doctor visits was negligible (at just 11%, according to a McKinsey survey). Since social distancing and quarantine, however, those numbers have rocketed to 46 percent, and the comfort and ease both consumers and doctors are finding through telehealth, or telemedicine, indicate that it’s here to stay post-COVID. But the surge in telehealth begs the question: if some vital services like healthcare can be delivered virtually, what other traditionally physical industries may also find themselves delivering via cyberspace? For the moment, telehealth is ruling the space and the resources below discuss its growth, application, and future.

Brands share a unique voice that consumers pay close attention to, and marketers can choose to amplify or mute that voice. Brand responses to the COVID-19 crisis have run the gamut from sensitive to tone-deaf, and consumer perception of those brands can change as a result of their responses. As the United States struggles with racial and policing issues, what can brands do to show they are fully allied to current causes, and not just toeing the line, or worse, throwing fuel on the fire?

Organizations have undergone unprecedented changes in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses with the ability to do so have shifted to a work from home structure, which the firm Global Workplace Analytics forecasts may make up 25 to 30 percent of the workforce by 2021. But for many companies, productivity and essential tasks must be done in a physical office space. While it’s still uncertain when employees may return to their workplaces, it’s vital that leaders look into the precautions and adaptations that will be necessary in many cases to ensure the safety of their employees. The resources below discuss many of these coming possibilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an unprecedented era of change across all of humanity, from economies, governments, consumers, and businesses, to, of course, marketing and branding. While we cannot predict the state of the advertising industry once the pandemic has passed, we do know that it will be immensely changed. The resources below speculate on what preparatory measures and foresight can be taken as of today to prepare brands for an era of marketing post-COVID-19.

Consumer privacy is at an ever-increasing pitch, and a plethora of ad blockers and similar apps have already handed consumers the power to control their online experiences, at least to a certain extent. GDPR, which requires websites to obtain consumer consent before tracking cookies, has further restricted marketers’ access to consumer data. The final blow came with the announcement that Google Chrome will eliminate third-party cookies completely by 2022 – something that other browsers have already done. While initially this jarring news left marketers wondering what to do next, it has also created new opportunities.

Artificial Intelligence has already rapidly advanced automation tools, and is now taking things a step further by moving into autonomy. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) reported that North American robot sales increased 5.2 percent, compared to 2018.  And while robots have already been used behind the scenes in auto and fulfillment industries, we’re now ready to see them working alongside their human counterparts. The resources in this Pulse issue explore the presence of robots in the retail space, and what marketers can expect.

A new year is an ideal time for reflection as well as anticipation of the changes that lie ahead in the marketing world. A new year allows marketers to evaluate what has been most successful in the past, honing in and perfecting what has worked and dropping what hasn’t to try and prepare for the unexpected new trends that will find their way into consumer’s and marketer’s laps. No prediction is perfect, but these resources examine what marketers can anticipate in the year ahead, and analyze what didn’t work and what won’t work again.

Our sense of belonging is considered a core attribute of human survival.  Social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn help fill that void – enabling people not only to find and connect with old friends, but also to discover new ones. However, a remarkable awakening is shifting user behavior: Consumers now recognize they are the product and that their engagement isn’t “free.” 

According to drinks market analysts ISWR, global alcohol consumption has declined by 1.6 percent, especially in sectors such as wine and beer. Spirits and other specialty drinks are on the rise, however, and IWSR actually predicts 5 percent growth in the industry over the next three years. The takeaway? Like in so many other industries, disruptors are embracing change and taking over markets that have grown stale with sameness – and they’re doing so at a time when consumers are both seeking and facing constant change. Read on to discover more about these disruptor brands and shifting consumer trends in the alcohol space.

The development of plant, seafood, or lab-based meat products – that is, “meatless meat,” – has grown notably over the past few years. Why the sudden change? There isn’t one specific reason behind the shift; rather, there are a number of health, ecological, economical, and emotional explanations for why consumers on both the vegan and meat-eating sides of the aisle are increasingly purchasing meatless foods. This issue of Pulse explores the mystery around meatless meat, examining what exactly it is, where it’s thriving, and its many future possibilities.

TikTok is the newest of hot video apps in the tradition of Vine and Snapchat before it. It originated in China before rebranding and making it way to the U.S. and the rest of the world, where it now can comfortably claim more than 500 million users. Most are young people and early adopters, begging the question: should brands already be on TikTok, utilizing it before it becomes saturated like Facebook and Instagram?

Cannabis Sativa has been used for generations in both practical and more… notorious ways. The strain that allows the creation of hemp products (textiles, food, fuel, insulation, etc.) has an increased amount of the chemical cannabidiol (CBD), while the psychoactive version has increased tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). All science lessons aside, extracted CBD has been known to provide certain health relief without the effects of THC, but yet has remained barred by the FDA  -- until just recently. It now exists in flux as a saleable product in the U.S., with uses varying from state to state. It is a market exploding with potential; given a marketer’s savviness, it can become a viable product on its own, or as part of a retailer’s arsenal. Read on to discover more about the product, the market, the hurdles, and the strategies that can help marketers navigate the tricky CBD terrain.

Issue 7

July 2019

Big Data revolutionized marketing with the sheer volume of consumer insights that could be gleaned from massive data sets. For years this has aided marketers in their targeting and campaign design. While big data works fantastically on large consumer groups and demographics, it lacks the ability to understand and then target the individual with personalized information more reflective of the actual buyer. Enter small data, which takes the giant store of data collected and makes it easier to analyze, act upon, and uncover consumer trends. The resources here discuss how to successfully use small data, both on its own and in concert with big data.

Others motivating consumers to buy products is far from a new concept: from family and friends, celebrities, mascots, ambassadors, and spokespeople, all have contributed to the success of product sales and awareness. With the ubiquity of social media, “influencers” have become the nom du jour for these groups. For years, celebrities and users with millions of followers (macro-influencers) have held court; however, a saturation point has arrived to make way for a new class: micro-influencers, who have a smaller group of followers but a more loyal pre-existing fan base to share. Read on to see how micro-influencers are changing social marketing and how you can use them.

There have been a number of innovations in online retailing – free shipping, sponsored auction listings, exclusive membership privileges, bundling, etc. – but because of this, traditional retailers have suffered a hemorrhage of store closings, bankruptcies, and decreased sales (despite increasing omnichannel tactics). Hope remains on the horizon, however, as many retails are now adopting a new tactic – the Buy Online and Pickup In-Store (BOPIS/BOPUS/BOSS/BORIS…) method, AKA Click and Collect. Read on to see how retailers are using it, and how marketers can adopt this innovation.

Wearables have come and gone like offbeat inventions in a sci-fi movie, never quite grabbing a firm hold in consumer’s minds. However, with the explosion of Fitbit trackers, the Apple Watch, and voice assistants like Siri, the promise of integrating clothing and accessories is no longer the stuff of fantasy. This month’s Pulse looks at the future of wearable devices.

Issue 3

March 2019

Direct-to-Consumer brands and marketing has existed for years, but as whispers rather than shouts; now they are fully disrupting not only ecommerce markets but also brick- and -mortar as they move into physical realms. What are the best ways to approach marketing a D2C product? As a "legacy" brand, how does one survive amidst the disruption?

Over-the-top (or OTT) media services are those that bypass traditional television to deliver content. Ott leaders include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube (amongst other smaller players), and later this year, media giants such as Disney and Viacom. Navigating this unfamiliar terrain can cause marketers to shirk from the field and stick to what they know, possibly missing the opportunity to succeed in what will certainly grow to not replace but exist aside television. Read on to discover the OTT ecosystem, how consumers feel about it, how it can exist effectively aside pre-existing TV ad plans, and more.

The way consumers shop – and retailers sell – are rapidly changing as new technological advancements allow for greater flexibility and reach. In the past, these have taken the form of beacons, QR codes, mobile wallets, etc. Now tech like augmented reality, virtual reality, and hyper-specific targeting are leading the pack, providing an increasingly seamless shopping experience between retailers and consumers.

Pulse serves as an extension of the ANA’s Ask the Expert Service. ANA members are invited to submit marketing questions to our team of researchers who will respond with curated reports outlining research, data, and expert perspectives.

About ANA Marketing Futures

Knowing that marketers are increasingly challenged in their efforts to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) tasked itself with creating a program designed to help marketers anticipate—and prepare for—the future of marketing.

 

ANA Marketing Futures is what emerged. With a focus on innovative topics and emerging trends, ANA Marketing Futures provides resources that will influence and inform via member cases, research studies, and insight from industry innovators. Check back often to learn about emerging trends and become inspired to take steps toward the growth of your business.

 

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