The Truth About Innovation, with IPG Media Lab

IPG Media Lab works with some of the world’s largest brands to drive innovation in media, marketing, and business models. As the dedicated innovation initiative of the UM family of agencies, they’ve worked with companies of all sizes, across numerous verticals. Chad Stoller and Adam Simon of IPG Media Lab discussed the types of conversations they have with marketers around innovation, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how IPG Media stays innovative, and asked whether one can truly measure innovation success.

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SEO in 2021: To Keyword Clusters, and Beyond!

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.

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Pulse Issue 12

Where Have Facebook Users Gone? Next Gen Social Communities Have Arrived

December 2019

*This month's issue of Pulse is a guest post co-written by Jessica Peltz Zatulove, Partner at MDC Ventures and Mark Linao, Principal at AET Fund
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.” 
As more people join communities outside of Facebook, we are entering a post-timeline era of social experiences that are less about keeping up with the feed and more about rallying around shared interests. This is creating tremendous tension for brands that risk being left behind - or worse - outsiders not invited into new environments where consumers may express purchase intent or receive word of mouth recommendations.


New social systems fueled by the desire for more security, privacy, offline experiences, and better curation are providing people with new spaces to build community - and the next big brand marketing opportunities. They provide new forums to transact, participate in activities, monitor progress or cue emotional triggers in a purpose-driven ecosystem.  Different from legacy social networks, revenue comes more from annual membership fees, subscriptions, commerce, and corporate partnerships, versus selling ads or data profiles. This signals people will pay for the perceived value of an advertising-free environment. 


Not only are next generation communities here to stay, but people are paying to opt in.  Here’s how:
1. Exclusive Access Communities: This trend is grounded in the idea of making formerly exclusive physical spaces - such as Soho House or the Harvard Club more accessible.  These communities bring together people with similar cultural, professional, and social interests via amenities and exclusive events. WeWork propelled this trend by bringing together like-minded professionals in need of desk space, and providing amenities that cultivate in-person relationships and community. The Wing, The Riveter and The Wonder, are all members only venture backed startups focused on women or family providing shared office space, social and educational events.  
2. Special Interest Groups: These communities capitalize on the power of tightly curated groups of like minded people, often rooted in a deeper sense of identity. For example, Yelp started coalescing its online review platform around in-person events and meetups for foodies, incentivizing users with “Elite” member status for access to exclusive experiences and in-person connections. There are several verticals in this category, including gaming (e.g., Discord, a communication platform for gamers, Houseparty, a video chat platform for teens and young adults monetized via games, and Bunch, a live video chat platform to play mobile games together), fitness enthusiasts (e.g., Peloton, Crossfit, SoulCycle), or life stages (e.g., HeyMama, a hyper engaged community for modern moms, or Revel, a community for women over 50.)
3. Professional Support Groups: The rise of this trend signals the desire for professionals to be better supported in their careers, as traditional sources such as LinkedIn or alumni networks appear to be falling short in creating meaningful connections and resources. This category provides career oriented networking and shared resources around jobs, career advice and professional development, along with access to professional services. Companies in this category are online, offline, or a mix of both - such as breakout startups like Chief, a private network for women executives, The Cru, Declare and Girlboss, a company dedicated to coaching and empowering women to elevate their careers. IVY brings together innovative professionals through unique gatherings via access to monthly masterclasses, dinners, culture labs, and socials, where most these occur offline. 
4. Brand Tribes: Several direct-to-consumer brands are doing an incredible job at being “tribe first” – with passionate, cult-like customer bases that consider themselves more a part of a community than just brand loyal. Brands like Dia & Co, Lively, Stash, and Glossier have done this well. Consumers come together based on their love of the product and ultimately have ended up with friends discussing career, financial, pregnancy and other types of lifestyle advice.


Brands have renewed opportunities to participate in next generation social networks, not as advertisers, but as partners and participants. This will require a more colloquial tone and an ability to adapt to becoming a genuine part of the community. Brands will need to take positions on what they stand for and have that shine through in everything they do: from their packaging, to materials, messaging, community initiatives and more.  It will require discipline, a multi-dimensional and multi-generational strategy, and a desire to experiment with new partnership models. But the brands that are able to organically weave themselves into these communities will be the ones that win the hearts of consumers.
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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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