Digital advertising, at its root, is no different than any other advertising. The location and the ability to customize (target) simply changes. Ultimately, advertising is about reaching the right person, at the right time, on the right channel, with the right message. That message should relate to that consumers current situation and wants and needs, regardless of where Maslow’s hierarchy may position those needs.
I believe that in the future, digital advertising will be assisted by three main advancements in technology. Some may argue that these advancements constitute an invasion of privacy. While this may be a legitimate concern, the popularity of TikTok, known to provide private end user data to China, and the absolute willingness that people have to join the platform, seems to indicate that individual concerns of privacy are waning, quickly. (Baker-White, 2022)
Augmented Reality Headsets
In contrast with Virtual Reality, which creates and immersive experience, blocking out the view of the real world around the user, Augmented Reality takes the world we see, and provides digital overlays of information that we can see, while not impeding our site. The dystopian Total Recall presented a world where advertising was everywhere in a city, in 3D and even personalized form. Unlike this fantasy movie, AR of today and the foreseeable future will be based on wearing some form of glasses, providing projection of imagery and possible audio information to the wearer. Google Glasses of the past, and Apple’s new Apple AR Glasses (to be released in 2025), show promise in providing us personalized, meaningful experiences as consumers that benefit both the advertiser and the purchaser. Ventana Research released a study in 2022 stating: “AR-enabled visualization of vehicles, equipment, furniture and appliances means buyers can examine hidden features or operate and evaluate the product with unprecedented autonomy.” (Ventana Research, 2022) This Try-before-Buy experience, like that of Home Depot and Wayfair, where products can be placed in your space using a mobile device camera, will explode when adapted to normal sight (through the glasses) where you are immersed into the experience, not just looking through your mobile screen.
The level of personalization in digital advertising becomes more and more important, as we view mass marketing efforts as noise. Audience of one printed direct mail pieces, that are unique to us as consumers, do far better than the traditional “spray and pray” of mass email/direct mail marketing. Similarly, digital advertising experiences will unlock enormous benefits in marketing, using AR. According to Forbes, “Programmatic advertising, messaging and marketing (using AR) at the individual level is one of marketing’s ‘holy grails.'” (Forbes Expert Panel, 2021)
Machine Learning, Big Data and AI
As we collect more data, such as not only your search history, but what you said in front of Alexa or Siri, what you watched on your Smart TV and even where you went with your geo-tracing smart phone, the best marketers will focus on personalization of the digital experience. What you like and when you like it requires AI at best, and machine learning at minimum. Taking such large troves of data, and turning it into meaningful digital ad experiences, requires scale. Programming which offers, digital assets (images, copy, fonts and even colors) and channels are needed to present an idea to a targeted consumer requires Big Data and great programming. Some have predicted that by 2025, more than “150 trillion GB of data will need analysis….It’s safe to say that very soon all marketing efforts will need to invest in online software specifically geared toward handling big data” (Simpson, 2020)
Artificial Intelligence takes the target marketing based on analyzing data to a new level – prediction. Predicting consumer patterns and needs based on analysis now leverages the human psyche in an ominous way. According to one marketing data analytics expert, “Artificial Intelligence drives computers to draw predictive patterns, generate accurate advertising campaigns, and formulate responsive feedback mechanisms…From advertising to sales, AI has taken the field of target marketing multiple notches higher and will continue to do so.” (Rawat, 2021)
Voice-Search Based Content Strategies
According to Gartner, over 30% of ALL browsing sessions included voice search at the end of 2020. (Poperechnaya, 2021). At issue, and the need for a tech strategy to address it, is the fact that search logic, when using spoken word language, requires a more simple framing of content that matches the search criteria.
Content for a voice based search needs to be conversational in nature, rather than keyword driven. As most voice searches are full sentences, the matching of that full sentence, as much as possible, is critical to getting a specific search hit (advertisement or website) in front of the searcher. (Brenner, 2018) This creates a challenge to marketers who have been comfortable with AdWords buys that focus on phrases or keywords, instead leading to true content management across all digital platforms.
Baker-White, E. (2022, June 17). US TikTok User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China, Leaked Audio Shows. BuzzFeed News; BuzzFeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emilybakerwhite/tiktok-tapes-us-user-data-china-bytedance-access
Ventana Research. (2022). Augmented Reality is Changing Marketing and Sales Supercharging Sales through Digital Innovation. (n.d.). https://www.ptc.com/-/media/Files/PDFs/Augmented-Reality/Ventana_Research_White_Paper_PTC_Augmented_Reality_is_Changing_Marketing_and_Sales_2022.pdf
Forbes Expert Panel. (2021, August 31). Council Post: 11 Ways VR And AR Stand To Impact Advertising, Marketing And PR. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2021/08/31/11-ways-vr-and-ar-stand-to-impact-advertising-marketing-and-pr/?sh=118090635201
Simpson, J. (2020, January 17). Council Post: The Past, Present And Future Of Big Data In Marketing. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/01/17/the-past-present-and-future-of-big-data-in-marketing/?sh=13fcda695da9
Rawat, S. (2021). Target Marketing using AI: Strategies and Benefits | Analytics Steps. AnalyticsSteps. https://www.analyticssteps.com/blogs/target-marketing-using-ai-strategies-and-benefits
Poperechnaya, A. (2021, September 3). Marketing Technology Trends in 2022. Sloboda Studio. https://sloboda-studio.com/blog/marketing-tech-trends/
Brenner, M. (2018, September 10). How Voice Search Is Impacting Content Marketing? – Marketing Insider Group. Marketing Insider Group. https://marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/how-voice-search-impact-content-marketing/
Marketing objectives are strategies that support corporate goals. Typically, the objective of these strategies will revolve around a few over-arching categories. Sales revenue, sales volume, sales growth, market share and customer loyalty or engagement. Indeed, the objective may invoke SEO strategies or social media reach, but the categories above generally describe the intent of such an objective.
So how and why are marketing objectives used? The why is simple, we have corporate goals to achieve on behalf of our stakeholders, both internal and external. Marketing exists to support the achievement of those goals. The “how” of marketing objective use is not as simple.
When defining marketing objectives, we must set SMART goals. In this case, a bit of a double entendre. SMART is an acronym for
Specific – A goal must not be vague. Specificity is essential for clarity of mission
Measurable – If it can’t be measured, we can’t know if we succeeded.
Achievable – Realistic goals and objectives just make sense. But they also help “rally the troops” to something the team/company feels that can achieve. If my weight loss goals are 45 lbs this month, it’s not achievable by any sane means. The result would be certain failure and demoralization.
Realistic – Similar in some way to achievable, but adding the dimensions of things such as time. If I need to lose 45 lbs, it’s not realistic to do it in one month, but perhaps over a year? From a marketing perspective, if we are launching a new product, is it realistic to have it sell out on day one? No. But can we sell out of the product over some period of time, maybe! However, one must be cautious about determining if something is realistic or not. If I want to sell out of the product on day one, what if my objective is to do a live sell on QVC? You can indeed sell out of a product in a day, but it may require extraordinary events to make it happen.
Time related – Tying this all in together, what is the time frame in which you choose to achieve this goal? Without it, we never know if we achieved the goal due to these efforts, or just by luck! A plan must have a timeline. That timeline provides the necessary data points to allocate resources and budgets to achieve the objective- do I need to spend the money this fiscal year? Or is this a 5 year mid-term planning objective?
Marketing objectives must be collaborated and discussed with senior leadership. Shared vision is essential, as marketing sells nothing alone(normally). There is an entire value chain which is brought to bear in selling products or services. Objectives need to be in keeping with the scale of what is being attempted – new product launches, boosting Brand Awareness or Share of Voice (SOV), gaining social media followers, etc…..As we discussed above, these goals should be SMART. However, we must further break down what strategies, tactics and KPIs or measurements you will use to validate success.
It is in determination of the strategies and tactics that we should be aware of potential legal and ethical issues. Assuming that the objectives themselves are ethical and not something patently illegal or unethical, it is more likely that the execution will be the weak link.
Improper data sources, claims used in marketing that are deceitful or even dangerous, subterfuge, and harassment of consumers must not be part of the equation. Objectives and the strategies and tactics should not compromise core values of the company. This may even extend to corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts. Breaching any of these areas of trust with the consumer and public can lead to devastating legal consequences at worst, but “cancellation” at best by the very public we are attempting to sway.
So while we collectively understand that objectives must be ethical and legal (I hope), so should we pay attention to the methods used to achieve those objectives.
TV advertising, billboards, print publications, direct mail, telemarketing, co-marketing, OTT/CTV, social media, paid Influencers, micro-influencers, event marketing, earned media, paid media….. it’s enough to drive anyone crazy while zapping a marketing budget dry. Marketing Return on Investment (MROI) is achieved by developing a strategy that maximizes impressions and/or impact on mostly those who have a need for the product or service. After all, targeting casino play to teenagers, sail boats to desert dwellers, and denture cream to millennials just does not make much sense.
Several tools exist to assist us in segmenting the market in a meaningful way. Typical demographic data such as income, gender, and location is not enough. Bringing in the behavioral traits of your potential target – understanding what makes them tick from a motivation perspective – can vastly change how and here you spend your marketing dollars.
Similarly, geographic data beyond a zip code can tell us the types of motivations residents have in the area. Perhaps the geography is made up of Movers and Shakers with no kids, or Networked neighbors – wealthy middle aged families with kids. By leveraging an understanding of what motivates these segments, we better mold messaging and channel delivery of marketing messages. This type of data is available through a model called Claritas 360 (otherwise known as Prizm) (https://claritas360.claritas.com/mybestsegments/#zipLookup) which leverages over 5 Billion data points (About – Claritas LLC, 2021) to align a geography into discrete categories.
Additional segmentation is useful at a deep psychographic level. Mintel (https://www.mintel.com/) provides marketing intelligence insights into the motivators, likes, dislikes and fears, of consumers, based on everything from generation to trends to even religion (Mintel: Global Market Research & Market Insight, 2022). By utilizing these services, we make our targeted messaging more impactful. Driving impressions to not only the right person, but at the right time, through the right channel with the right message is the target of a well thought out marketing strategy.
By developing a Persona, or description of a theoretical person that encompasses what we learn in the segmentation, we put our target prospect in terms that may seem more apt for a dating application than quantitative analysis. However, it is just that relatability that is crucial when we develop messaging. Think of it…. writing copy for an ad and only knowing that your audience is dads over 35 is nebulous. But if we can say, Jim is a 35 year old married sales exec that loves coaching his kids little league team, loves outdoor activities and barbecuing on a Big Green Egg- you begin to form the vision of Jim and can relate your copy to his values and experience.
Mintel: Global Market Research & Market Insight. (2022). Mintel. https://www.mintel.com/
About – Claritas LLC. (2021, September 21). Claritas LLC. https://claritas.com/about/
“Brand Promise” determines how a brand is viewed in the market. (Schultz, 2016).
Nike should keep this in mind as it attempts to pronounce judgement and cancel, through its marketing and branding actions, the opinions and deeply felt emotions of many consumers. Nike has chosen to become a social activism company, catering to a bully culture that includes most of entertainment, media and government leadership. However, when it comes to their own ethics, their actions are perhaps worst of all.
While Nike maintains advertising campaigns that support washed up Athletes that kneel like cowards for the national anthem, they stomp on those who are truly oppressed. They continue to produce cheap products with foreign companies that pay sub-standard wages with sub-standard work conditions (New Idea, 2019).
When a 2016 Nike ad campaign kicked off with an image of Colin Kaepernick, with ad copy spouting “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” (Nike’s Ad and Believing in Something, 2018), no one questioned Nike. By joining the social media bully culture, they were insulated. Yet that same year another super-star, this one in the NBA, Turkish star Enes Kanter, had a true act of sacrifice because of what he believed in. In Kanter’s words “I talked to Nike and they said ‘we want to give Enes a contract, but if we give him one [the Turkish government] will shut down every store in Turkey, so we cannot’… I’m an NBA player with no shoe deal. No endorsement deal. And I play in New York!’ (Enes Kanter is the NBA’s Man of Many Faces, 2018).
Nike’s issues do not end there, nor does the backlash. In 2020 and 2021, when protests that were initially driven by protesters asserting their first amendment rights to point out systemic injustices in various areas of our day to day lives, these events turned violent and deadly, primarily due to the insertion of ANTIFA and BLM agitators. This, of course, is a difficult view to espouse freely, lest one be cancelled. However, BLM as an organization and BLM as a movement of those seeking equality and opportunity, consistent with MLK’s “Dream” speech should be clearly separate – one is a movement that has morphed into a national organization, where the other is a meaningful reminder and motto that make us pause and think about the impact of personal and professional practices moving forward.
BLM as an organization has become rife with conflict and potential corruption. Most of the local BLM operations are struggling for funding, while a BLM co-founder has purchased her 3rd home for cash. The lack of transparency has led to many chapters to break away (Gyamfi & Konadu, 2021). Yet Nike, wanting to jump at the opportunity to represent their support for a large segment of their consumer population, committed $40M to the BLM organization and led an alliance of companies promising $140M over 10 years (Murphy, 2021).
While Nike led the charge with branding activity that focused all efforts on vocal BLM support, they neglected to take into consideration a large population of this country that were skeptical about the BLM organization (not the motto- this is not social commentary). There is a large population of this country that truly believes in equality of races and opportunities. However, many in this position have been put off by being called racist, with cancel culture wishing to censor and silence any discussion. For equality to be embraced by all, punishing the open exchange of ideas is counter-productive. Nike firmly has placed its foot in this trap, and has been hurt by those who now choose to look elsewhere, as is evidence by a YOY comparison of financial indicators, especially around the height of the riots in 2020 (NIKE Revenue 2006-2021 | NKE, 2021).
Nike doesn’t care about public opinion- and this would be where I would recommend a shift in strategy. Looking at how Enes Kanter’s family had to disown him in order to not be killed in Turkey, while Enes espoused his pride in living in the United States and becoming a citizen, Nike should look to sponsoring Kanter.
Nike should focus on issues facing the black community at the local and regional level, demanding to see actual impact of their investment. Providing financial support without a clear expectation of results, and those results being the ACTUAL good that the black community should expect to experience from that investment – the tangible demonstration, is financial negligence.
I have frequently said. perhaps rather than choosing a side in a battle over what patriotism and bravery look like, they should focus on what makes this country stronger. Show the differences in life conditions that a living wage paid in a foreign country can make and recommit to making a difference. Choose athletes who have demonstrated true bravery on the field, on the battlefield, and in their personal lives. Spotlight the heroes that fight for equality and diversity, not divisiveness and discord. Show why this brand uplifts all, not 50% of the country.
Blythe, J. (2014). The philosophy of ethics and the corporate conscience. Social Business, 4(3), 245–253. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1362/204440814X14103454934258
Schultz, H. F. (Practitioner). (2016). Brand management [Video]. SAGE Knowledge. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781473988484
Nike’s Ad and Believing in Something. (2018). Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-and-strategies/nikes-ad-and-believing-in-something
New Idea. (2019, December 11). Nike Sweatshops: The Truth About the Nike Factory Scandal. New Idea. https://www.newidea.com.au/nike-sweatshops-the-truth-about-the-nike-factory-scandal
Enes Kanter is the NBA’s Man of Many Faces. (2018). Vice.com. https://www.vice.com/en/article/gye9g4/the-nbas-man-of-many-faces
Gyamfi, B., & Konadu, K. (2021, September 8). Black Lives Matter: How far has the movement come? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/black-lives-matter-how-far-has-the-movement-come-165492
Murphy, Y. (2021, June 2). Blackout Tuesday 2020: One year later, what have companies done for Black lives? Vox; Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/22463723/blackout-tuesday-blm-sephora-starbucks-nike-glossier
Apple, Inc. was originally founded as Apple Computer, Inc. In 1976, the year of its founding, the logo on the left in the image above was originally designed by the third, lesser known founder of Apple, Ronald Wayne (Apple Explained, 2021). However, it is the change from the rainbow apple logo that Steve Jobs quickly selected over the Newtonian Apple landscape logo, to the monochromatic Apple Silhouette in 1997 that indicates the major brand shift upon which the company became beloved.
On August 27, 1999, Apple replaced the rainbow logo with the monochromatic logo. “Like our products and our customers, the Apple brand continues to evolve,” read their marketing positioning statements at the time. (Dormehl, 2021) This marked the return of Steve Jobs to Apple and the kick off to their new branding, summed up in the “Think Different” tag which began to permeate their marketing materials.
“THINK DIFFERENT’ represented a new direction in Apple products. Simplicity and sleek design became the hallmarks of the Apple product offering. In 1998, right after the logo change, Steve Jobs discussed this with BusinessWeek saying, “That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” (Farfan, 2016)
The brand vision supports their overall company mission statement: “Man is the true creator of change in this world. As such, he should be above systems and structures, and not subordinate to them.” (Farfan, 2016) This brand vision has persisted and been built on since 1998. The Think Different tagline speaks to man being the entity to be served by technology, not the other way around. Up until that point, computers drove how people interacted with them: usually a desktop computer with a corded keyboard and mouse. This method of interaction made humanity subservient to the method of interface with the technology – at a desk, on a chair. Changing this on it’s head, where humanity becomes elevated by using technology, drove the amazing success that Apple has seen after 1998. Interestingly, at that time, Apple also dropped the Computer from Apple Computer Inc and just became Apple Inc – a foreshadowing that they would be more than just a computer company.
This brand transition resonated with consumers at it made us feel part of something stylish, yet revolutionary. Thinking Different bucked the Big-Blue IBM style office culture in favor of a Gen X friendly streak of independence. Employees at Apple sensed this new paradigm as it drove the success, and very public failures, of many within Apple. External stakeholders benefited as customers, but investors needed performance. As this is not a blog about finances, I will pass on a lengthy discussion about what failed and what worked. In some cases, the company’s investors were its worst enemy. However, everyone acknowledged that Think Different summed up the challenge Steve Jobs was driven to conquer.
So what do we take away from Apple’s successful branding shift and naming?
Understand what your brand ASPIRES to. It’s not that the logo or company name needs to directly address it, but it should evoke emotion that supports the company aspiration. The simplicity of an Apple falling from a tree inspired Newton to theorize about gravity (well that’s at least the simple fable about it). It is the simplicity of that Apple, and an understanding of how it acted in nature that drove Apple to it’s $3Trillion USB valuation it enjoys today. SImple form, revolutionary impact. Not everyone will be branding the next Apple, but the ASPIRATION must drive the name, vision and mission of the company. It should drive day to day internal interactions with employees and other internal stakeholders. It must permeate the actions that everyone takes every day. Make the brand ASPIRATIONAL and share broadly what that Aspiration means through the name.
Apple Explained. (2021). History of the Apple Logo [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LWWH5LiMJc
Dormehl, L. (2021, August 27). Today in Apple history: Rainbow Apple logo gets a modern overhaul. Cult of Mac. https://www.cultofmac.com/498704/rainbow-apple-logo
Farfan, B. (2016). What Is Apple’s Mission Statement? LiveAbout. https://www.liveabout.com/apple-mission-statement-4068547