Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 Canadian Online Media Usage Trends - IAB Canada X Series: Metrics

Before 2013 closed out, I was able to attend a great X Series IAB session about metrics here in Toronto.  It was standing room only at the Windsor Arms Hotel where attendees gathered to hear from a fantastic roster of speakers from thought leading organizations like Google. Ipsos Reid, AdKnowledge and PHD Canada. 

The event kicked off with the latest Canadian Media Usage Study (CMUST) results delivered by Rob Young, Sr. VP Director of Insights and Analytics, PHD Canada, which as usual, were incredibly insightful and detailed.  Here are the key takeaways that were shared around the study’s theme “Unearthing Internet Time”.  I’ve re-ordered these slightly from what was provided in the presentation – hope this doesn’t upset anyone.:

1.    The Internet medium, unlike the traditional offline media, has been growing both in terms of reach and time spent.
2.    A PHD review of Canadian and US data sources produces a total, all device estimate of 1,735 minutes per week of time generated by Adults 18+ within the Internet medium – the “unearthed Internet time. This time level slightly exceeds total legacy TV time.
3.    A very large proportion of the “unearthed” Internet time (47%) is generated through mobile devices.
4.    Video is the primary content genre within the Pure Play category and Adult 18-34 year old consumers are particularly attracted to online digital video. This demographic group represents the “engine” for the Internet’s future rates of growth.
5.    ComScore, the measurement body of record for the Internet medium, currently provides minutes based data for PC device only (Media and Video Metrix). On this basis, Adults 18+ spend 701 minutes per week per capita with the Internet medium, well below the Radio medium’s time spent level. Internet time is overdeveloped against 18-34 year olds and those with above average household income levels. Quebec now matches total Canada’s Internet time per capita.
6.    The rapid growth and large weekly minutes per week counts are driven by ever increasing penetrations of OTT (Smart TV), Mobile and Game Console Internet access devices.
7.    Co-branded Internet time represents a small proportion of total Internet time spent by adults but PurePlay makes up almost 50% of Internet time. PurePlay time could be considered a “consumer media marketplace” that represents a source of growth for co-branded media vehicles down the road.

Major implications from the report included the knowledge gap the industry is experiencing on where consumers are truly spending their online attention.  The Internet, to date has not been measured across platform and channel to piece together a full and complete consumer profile.  Sellers as well as planners are having a hard time measuring macro consumer attention and as a result are challenged to justify media values.

Ad revenue against heavy hitting online video and mobile consumption is still trailing actual usage numbers.  There’s work to be done all around.

The good news is that in late summer 2014, ComScore and their new multi-platform measurement system will be able to measure total Internet time and reach in Canada offering planners and sellers a more reliable quantification to help stimulate ad revenues.

Young’s presentation had some great take-aways and as always, it’s so refreshing to get pure Canadian data to use heading into 2014 planning. 

As IAB President Chris Williams was introducing the next speakers from Google and Ipsos Reid, he made such a great point that I thought captured the industry’s sentiment extremely well.  He said that the Canadian industry is hungering for actionable Canadian data.  He went on to explain that countless times, as we are presenting strategy to clients, there is without fail, that awkward moment, when a client points out that the data used to support a point in actually US.

Stay tuned for my next post where I cover off the Google and Ipsos Reid’s November 2013 Study findings around the Multi-Screen World in Canada and its impact on the consumer purchase funnel.  The other presentations will also be covered over the coming days. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Social CRM - The Implications of "Micro-Loyalty"

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about where we've landed as an industry in the social CRM space.  With the increasing demand from clients to develop social media strategies, it's easy to get swept up in campaign-land where we forget to think about the long term perspective of brand presence.  It's our own fault for racing towards building fan bases and creating one-off social content campaigns that are often wired with predictable contest models or leveraging sponsorship events.

Brands are competing with a constant fire hose of unbranded baby pictures, hilarious memes and links that deliver on the highly coveted WTF factor.  To make matters more complicated, the normalization of social media usage has diminished the value of likes in that it has fragmented to small moments in the consumer's mind.  What's happening, is that we're starting to delineate between liking content and liking a brand.  In my humble opinion, the best way to describe the current state of social CRM is "Micro Loyalty". It is the product of consumers learned generosity towards "liking" and of brands spraying hopefully likeable content throughout the channels. Over time, it has left a long trail of hits and misses.

Here are some implications that fall under this shift:
  • Inconsistencies in brand content littered throughout social channels that are visible through social search affecting the brands reputation and identity
  • Channel fragmentation that is re-consolidating through social search and content aggregator platforms
  • The need for a more consolidated "like" or engagement score as opposed to outright "fandom"
  • Time sensitive content strategies that are more loosely associated with core brand messaging
What's the opportunity:
  • Content strategies that lead the channels - not occupying channels to tick the box
  • Best in Channel content development - not re-purposed video or print ads
  • Re-visting metrics to create score cards that more accurately reflect brand perceptions
Brands, like individuals, need to remember that their activity doesn't just "disappear" when a campaign is through.  They must assume that it is tattooed on their faces.  Investing in longer term social strategies will ensure that brands are winning the "Micro Loyalty" game over time - as well as the shorter term.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We’re all Snowflakes…Fingerprinting as a Cookie Replacement

The Globe and Mail recently ran a great article about new(ish) technology that is designed to combat the "cookie problem".  For years, advertisers have relied on cookies to help target and re-target ads to consumers.  Cookies allow marketers to “book mark” consumer activity so that they could better address their levels of interest.  Every time a consumer would visit the advertiser’s site, a cookie would track their behavior beyond the actual visit.  With the growing trend of sense and response web design, cookies have played a critical role in delivering enhanced experiences online – sites remembering your preferences, making suggestions on what to browse etc.  The problem with cookies is that people felt they were creepy and over the years, more and more of the population has opted out of cookies leaving advertisers in a jam for targeting.  Studies have shown that at lat least 30% of the population deletes their cookies each month.

There’s a new technology emerging as the super hero for online advertising called fingerprinting.  Fingerprinting creates unique identities for each desktop and mobile device based on the user settings.  According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 94 percent of browsers that use flash or java have unique identities.  In other words, you, the consumer visit a site, are assigned a unique identity and are then tracked based on this identity.  Start-ups like TapAd and AdStack are early users/brokers of the technology.

What’s interesting about this method is that counter to common logic, the more security or anti-spyware you upload, the more unique your identity becomes.  Our desktops and devices are becoming as individual as we are, like snowflakes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Can I Help You? A Sense and Response Approach to Customer Service

Best-in-class approaches to online marketing are found within categories that depend heavily on certain elements to drive revenue.  When exploring customer service issues, we naturally gravitate towards the eCommerce sector to derive valuable insights that may be applied to all categories. 

Driven by the eCommerce sector’s ongoing need to reduce abandoned shopping carts, increase purchases and raise overall transaction sizes, there's no doubt this category maintains a strong leadership in perfecting customer experiences online.

The category has taught us that the key to delivering excellent customer service online is in striking the fine balance between “always on” presence and offensive or “pushy” communication.  Luckily, technology has advanced to such a degree that we can study user behaviors and take appropriate courses of action based on calculated models.  Top eCommerce properties have implemented these technologies and have effectively shifted from reactionary courses of action to proactive service offerings.  We call this new approach to intelligent customer service “Sense and Response”.

Behavior models to help sense customer needs can be calculated by observing factors like:
  • how many page views tend to indicate imminent exit from the site?
  • how many seconds a user remains idle during a transaction process indicating a loss of engagement or hesitation to complete the process?
  • mouse movement patterns while filling out form fields suggesting some confusion on instructions.  
Powerful responses to these immediate needs we are able to sense can come to life in a variety of ways.  Some examples include:
  •  offering auto-save functions within an RFP process
  • providing deeper instructions upon roll-overs in a form fields
  • launching two-way communication to offer assistance in real time

One of the greatest examples of Sense and Response technology available today is Live Chat. When a website senses hesitation or confusion from the customer it signals the launch of a chat window to gently offer assistance or collect feedback from the user.  This provides customers with a communication channel that does not disrupt the user session and also creates a new dimension to the relationship with the brand.

The benefits of this sense and response approach are clear.  According to a Forrester report entitled “Capitalizing on Live Video Chat” in one case study eCommerce site reported multiple business benefits from its live video chat deployment, including:
  • average time on site that was 491% higher for video 
  • chat user conversion increase of 662%
  • average order value increase of 32% 

In our continued drive towards better online experiences for our customers, these types of exciting advancements towards proactively anticipating customer service needs must be infused into overall strategy.