A Personalized Future, with Mike Barclay of MoEngage

Personalization in marketing is nothing new; since the dawn of the internet, brands have been able to customize messaging to specific groups or even individuals. However, we haven’t always used this engagement superpower for good. Many brands have been guilty of getting a little too personal and creeping out their customers in the process. But today’s guest says there’s a bright future for personalization as a cornerstone to modern marketing. Mike Barclay of MoEngage joined the pod to discuss the highs and lows of personalization, and what brands born before the dawn of the internet can do to get in on the personalization game.

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QR Codes: Are they Back for Real This Time?

QR Codes are an extension of the barcode, and were first introduced as a way for manufacturers to scan larger amounts of data quickly. By 2011, retailers and tradeshows were able to take advantage of smartphone technology to utilize QR codes in their inventories, badging, and check-ins — and slowly there emerged consumer usage in the form of online offers.
The process, however, was clunky and involved third-party app software to get QR Codes to work. Fast forward to 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic raged, and the need for contactless interaction became paramount. It was during this time that QR Code technology could now exist on everything from packaging to OOH signage, and with a simple hover of a smartphone’s camera send consumers to microsites, check-in pages, and offers.
This has allowed marketers to take advantage of QR Codes in ways previously unthought of; however, like most technologies, there are privacy and safety issues to be aware of — and the current speed and ease of QR Code usage means large untapped potential for marketers in the future as well. Read on to see how marketers are using them and addressing issues with QR Codes.

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Pulse Issue 33

Marketers in the Metaverse of Madness: VR, Crypto, Communities, Gaming, Ecommerce, and More Converge

September 2021

By Josch Chodakowsky, Senior Manager, Research & Innovation at Ask the Expert
By Josch Chodakowsky, Research Manager at Ask the Expert
Media channels, and the ways in which marketers have used them, have always evolved. Marketers can access consumers where they are in more and more places online presently – from social media, gaming, online communities, and simple ecommerce transactions. The rapid development of virtual and augmented reality, however, has opened up a door beyond all of these: Consumers are now, via avatars (yes, just like the movie), experiencing entire virtual worlds that are also constantly developing. Marketers have an opportunity to incorporate all of the channels they were already reaching consumers at within these worlds, converging them all into one fully realized alternate reality – what’s now being called the “metaverse.” The resources collected here explore just what the metaverse entails, how brands can take advantage of them, and some examples of marketers who have already dipped their toe in these unchartered waters:
Because the metaverse brings a new dimension to the internet, brands and businesses will need to consider their current and future role within it. Some brands are already forging the way and establishing a new genre of marketing in the process: direct to avatar (D2A). Gucci sold a virtual bag for more than the real thing in Roblox; Nike dropped virtual Jordans in Fortnite; Coca-Cola launched avatar wearables in Decentraland, and Sotheby’s has an art gallery that your avatar can wander in your spare time. D2A is being supercharged by blockchain technology and the advent of digital ownership via NFTs, or nonfungible tokens. NFTs are already making waves in art and gaming. More than $191 million was transacted on the “play to earn” blockchain game Axie Infinity in its first 30 days this year. This kind of growth makes NFTs hard for brands to ignore. In the process, blockchain and crypto are starting to feel less and less like “outsider tech.”
Hyundai and Vans are the latest marketers to experiment on Roblox, the online gaming platform and game creation system. The "Hyundai Mobility Adventure" is the first Roblox activation of its kind from a global automaker. The shared virtual space, which contains five themed parks and showcases the company's future mobility products, like a Nexo hydrogen fuel cell crossover vehicle, and the Ioniq 5 all-electric SUV Hyundai is aiming to familiarize young consumers with these offerings in the hopes that it can forge long-lasting customer relationships. Similarly, the "Vans World" skatepark is an online venue where Roblox players can gather to practice tricks and try on virtual gear, including four customizable shoe silhouettes. Both efforts demonstrate how established marketers are increasingly turning to the "metaverse" to engage young consumers who have shunned traditional media.
The Metaverse provides creators with a whole new aspect of interaction and communication, not only with their fans but also with their fellow influencer peers. Food influencers can cook together; travel influencers can share experiences together; sport influencers will have their fan base in the crowd, and much more. It’s a playground that practically has no limits at this point and allows all players, be it influencers or businesses, to be pioneers, innovators, and creative geniuses. Moreover, are we going to need real people behind metaverse influencers, or can they very well be just simulations? The question today isn’t whether the Metaverse is coming or not, the question is whether companies and creators have a plan on how to be a part of the new era of the internet or they will miss out on this like they did on the crypto boom.
A new league of online gaming titles and platforms are taking over where players are able to transcend reality for wholly new and inventive alternatives. Fortnite, Animal Crossing, Minecraft, and Roblox are the elite class of games skyrocketing in usage and poised to continue trending upward. These massive online multiplayer games (in many cases they aren’t even games at all, but worlds to explore freely) are likely to be more than just a fad. Instead, many believe they are harbingers of what will likely become mainstream platforms for teens and young adults. A few intrepid brands have pioneered these emerging spaces, testing the reception of branded content and sponsorships with gamers to learn what works. Verizon created a virtual replica of Raymond James Stadium using Fortnite’s Creative Mode for gamers to gather and interact with one another as part of their Super Bowl marketing efforts. However, we’ve also seen other everyday brands exploring these platforms – take Marc Jacobs’ custom avatar outfits in Animal Crossing or Nike’s Air Max Day activation on Roblox as examples of what we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of soon. For brands who are on the verge of exploring these worlds, but are not sure where or how to start, WARC offers five mantras to bear in mind as you design your entrance.
The internet might have taken 30 years to get where it is today, but the metaverse is poised for rapid growth with technology primed and humans ready to crossover into new worlds. And just like marketers transitioned into optimizing to get found in search engines or amplified their social media presences, it’s time to start analyzing how to get found in the metaverse. One way brands can achieve this is by staking their claim in a world, community, or platform that matches your audience. Here, Search Engine Journal provides a starting point when it comes to SEO, social media, and public relations to get you started.
Are you an ANA member with a research request? Contact Ask the Expert to submit your question.

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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