Using Nielsen nPower® data from October 2006 (the first month with DVR viewing data), the authors found dramatic differences in the growth trends of non-live viewing amongst different categories of the linear TV landscape, with national broadcast prime showing the fastest increase (currently in the 30-40% range for persons 18-49). While experts have weighed in over the years on the effects of DVR-induced ad avoidance, analysis of the data offers reasons to remain bullish on the linear TV space, while also being cognizant of the need to include in many media plans some exposure in streaming platforms and other video mediums, both established and nascent.”
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, announced today that it has won 12 creative and corporate awards in the second half of 2019 from 10 different organizations. The awards recognized everything from Hawthorne’s results-driven campaigns to the leadership of the agency’s CEO, Jessica Hawthorne-Castro. They are a testament to Hawthorne’s continued success and influence within the advertising industry, honoring both client work and how the company is run.
“Hawthorne’s top priority is to execute memorable campaigns that not only meet our client’s objectives, but surpass them,” said Hawthorne-Castro. “Our team works hard to deliver measurable results while also cultivating a workplace where employees are empowered to do their best work. These 12 awards are further validation that our approach is resonating, and we look forward to continuing that pattern in 2020.”
Hawthorne’s innovative approach combines the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience to create meticulously crafted and expertly executed campaigns that deliver dramatic results for clients. Since the beginning of 2018, Hawthorne has won nearly 60 awards for its creative work and company culture, and Hawthorne-Castro has won dozens of awards for her leadership abilities and marketing influence.
Hawthorne won the following awards in the second half of 2019:
The Digiday Worklife Awards named Hawthorne as a 2019 finalist in the “Most Dedicated to Employee Growth” category.
Hawthorne has successfully led thousands of major campaigns for some of the world’s most recognizable brands, managing billions of media billings that have delivered strong results for clients. To learn more about the company and how they deliver value by combining creative services with data science, visit hawthornedirect.com.
About Hawthorne: Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers, and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands. Please visit www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.
Smartphone usage is higher than ever, with an estimated 5 billion people owning and/or operating a device. With the amount of time the average person spends on their phone each day, there’s a large window of time advertisers could be taking advantage of to get their content in front of their audience.
Tailoring your advertisements to be both user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing on mobile devices makes it easier for users to engage with content on the go. That’s why we asked members of Ad Age Collective to share some simple, yet effective ways agencies can move toward mobile optimization. Their best answers are below.
1. Deeply understand your customer.
To optimize the consumer experience for mobile, agencies must answer, “Who are they, where are they and why are they using this device at this moment?” Because technology enables us to know they’re on a mobile device and where they are, you can deliver the right content and capabilities at the right time, thereby eliminating anything that distracts from the intended path. Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
2. Say less.
Advertising has struggled since its early days to deliver impact with focus. Don’t say everything; say the most important thing. It’s even more essential now when you have only a few words and an engaging image to connect. Know “this.” Do “this.” If you’re successful, they’ll learn more later. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency
3. Keep it quick and easy.
Mobile optimization should always be part of a brand strategy. Creating a mobile interface that is optimized for quick and simple reading with easy buttons to click through to complete the process is key. Also, audio advertising where the user can verbally respond to “learn more” from an ad or Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page ads are gaining popularity as they optimize the advertising experience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
4. Focus on mobile-first creative.
The most effective way to move toward mobile optimization is to ensure clients are focused on creating mobile-first creative, such as 4:5 video, which is supported by both Facebook and Instagram feeds. According to Facebook, mobile-first creative aided recall by 46%. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE
5. Create lite and full versions of your ads.
Agencies and brands alike can optimize mobile campaigns by creating varied lite and full versions of ads that are easily viewable and clearly readable on both smart and feature phones, while maintaining the integrity of the brand message and creative. Along with a well-thought-out audience segmentation strategy, this approach empowers agencies to engage more people with a consistent brand message. Anas Ghazi, WPP
6. Think like a consumer, not a marketer.
So many brands and agencies think too much like marketers when building an online strategy. We need to be concerned about the end consumer’s experience with the brand, more than about getting a message out. If we think like we live, we will always have mobile first in mind. Figuring out how your consumer accesses and uses your brand on the go should be a first step in building any strategy. Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm
7. Develop websites in React.
Creating a mobile app can be expensive, and more consumers are looking for mobile-friendly browser experiences. By implementing React as your front-end language, your site will be responsive and optimized for the browser experience. – Patrick Ambron, BrandYourself.com
With Thanksgiving falling on November 28, the 2019 holiday season is shorter this year. With 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this compresses all festive holiday shopping into a four-week period filled with a variety of marketing opportunities. There may be fewer shopping days, but brands can take advantage of every single one to get the most out of their holiday ad campaigns — if they get started early, that is.
Let’s look at the numbers. During the 2018 holiday season, total retail spending increased by 5.4 percent to $998.32 billion, with both traditional retail and e-commerce thriving, according to eMarketer. Brick-and-mortar sales rose 3.9 percent to $874.42 billion, and e-commerce soared by 16.7 percent to $123.90 billion. Last year’s Cyber Monday racked up $7.87 billion in e-commerce sales, representing the single largest online spending day in history, while Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day also experienced significantly above-average growth rates for online sales.
This year, estimates from the National Retail Federation and Deloitte expect holiday retail sales to increase steadily by around 4 to 5 percent, with e-commerce continuing to pack a heavy punch.
These numbers underscore the importance of the holiday season and holiday ad campaigns for retailers. The growth of e-commerce and the proliferation of new holiday shopping days, such as Green Monday and Super Saturday, put a lot of pressure on brands to leverage holiday fever to craft an omnichannel ad strategy that drives sales. As we approach the holiday season, there are a few critical points brands must consider when it comes to maximizing holiday campaign strategies.
Timing is everything
The first and most important question is when to spend. Timing is everything, and brands should be planning their holiday strategy far in advance. Although we began seeing some holiday promotions as early as October, effective promotional campaigns are up and running by early November to capitalize on early shoppers and to raise brand awareness before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Holiday emails sent early in the season drive two times the conversion rates than those sent later. Getting started early allows you to test out messages and strategies so they are fine-tuned when the holiday season gets into full swing.
Map it out
The planning process should include a preholiday checklist that takes marketers through what they need to know and do to prepare.
The first item is to set your goals: What do you aim to achieve, and what metrics will you use to measure success?
Secondly, look at your calendar to decide what holiday shopping days you want to focus on and how you want to pace the campaign over the course of the holiday season. Will you send out promotions on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or just focus on one? What budget will you allocate for each of those days? Know that many retailers rely on the majority of their annual sales during the holiday season, and understanding competitive marketing, messaging and advertising spend is key to maximizing share of voice during this season.
Third, evaluate past performance. All of these decisions should be made in part by considering the previous year’s performance. If a Black Friday campaign from last year wasn’t as successful as you had hoped, why was that? Would it have been more effective in a different time frame or targeted at a different audience?
The fourth step on the checklist is to give serious thought to every channel. There are so many ways brands can reach consumers these days: display, mobile, search, social, audio, video, connected TV, geofencing, billboards and more. Consumer shopping habits have changed, and even if they do shop in brick-and-mortar stores on major holiday shopping days, they are likely also browsing online, comparing prices and searching for deals and offers throughout the holiday season.
It can be difficult for brands to stand out during these weeks of media saturation, meaning an omnichannel marketing strategy that targets consumers with messages on multiple devices and accommodates multiple shopping patterns is a must-have. It is also key to identify marketing through a national campaign and how much incremental marketing will be needed regionally or locally.
This is just as true for digital brands as it is for brick-and-mortar stores. The boundaries between online and in-store are blurring. Beyond traditional ads, there are new strategies physical retailers can take to drive foot traffic and conversions.
For instance, historic geofencing is a technique to conquest a competitor’s customers by targeting them with a message that pushes them to your store or website instead. With foot traffic attribution, brands can not only connect their digital ads to sales lifts in store, but can also serve ads to shoppers while they are in-store to enhance their shopping experience and upsell them on relevant products.
Stay true to what works for your brand
The final step is to take a good hard look at your brand’s resources and assets. Video may perform better than static ads, but video is also expensive. Brands need to craft strategies that maximize reach without sacrificing quality.
To that end, consider investing in higher-quality private datasets, which may be more expensive but can drive performance with better targeting, and make sure your creative is spot on and has continuity across all media channels.
Go with what works — in 2018, the promotional offers that appealed most to U.S. internet users were price discounts (95 percent), free shipping (75 percent) and free gifts (52 percent). As direct response marketers well know, the offer itself is critical. All the strategizing and optimizing in the world won’t help if the promotional messaging is not compelling.
Ultimately, maximizing holiday campaign strategies boils down to considering what your goals are, what your brand is, what timing makes sense, the media your consumers spend time on and what message is likely to have the greatest impact. Start asking those questions now, ahead of the holiday shopping season, and you will be ready to reap the rewards when November 28 hits.
Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing methods for a business to connect with its current and potential clients and expand its influence and reach. Many people listen to podcasts since they are portable, easy to access and fit into a busy schedule.
There are only a handful of ways to get a podcast right, and a myriad of methods to get it wrong. A podcast has to compete against a lot of other, similar recordings, and it needs to prove its worth — or else it won’t get the recognition it deserves.
To help, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council offer their best advice for businesses planning to start a podcast and keep it running for as long as possible.
1. Have A Clear Plan
It’s easy for many of us to talk about a topic that we find interesting or know a lot about, but make sure you don’t run off on too many tangents. Stick to the goal, the question or the topic to keep your podcast on track and your listeners engaged. Remember, it’s a podcast, not a broadcast. It doesn’t need to be perfectly polished. Your skills will improve and evolve over time. – Bernard May, National Positions
2. Know Who You Are Talking To
I’ve created many podcasts for my clients, from concept to production. The one thing that I know is that brands need to know who they are talking to. Podcasts are just like ads: Do you know who you want to talk to? Podcasts, similarly to video, don’t need a massive number of listens to have a high ROI. What you need to do is focus on your core audience and make sure they follow and listen. – Azad Abbasi, Genius
3. Think End-User First
When brands create podcasts, content typically tends to be focused on what’s important for the business. This approach results in each episode having a different target market, which prevents it from building community. Treat podcast episodes like serialized storytelling rather than a single public relations opportunity and you’ll find greater success, increased consumption and engaged listeners. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP
4. Provide Value Without Fluff
Standing out is a critical problem to solve with starting a new podcast. What’s the best way to do it? Provide value without the fluff. Shorter length podcasts that are jam-packed with value have an easier time gaining traction and retention than ones where the listeners have to sit through an hour just to hear a few points of interest. – Nishank Khanna, Demand Roll
5. Defining The Cadence And The Structure
One mistake that is constantly made with podcasts is people who are not taking them seriously enough. If you want to have a successful show you need to plan ahead and show when you are going to be creating content. When you put that content out, you always, without question, must be on time. You also must constantly bring an exceptional format to the show. – Jon James, Ignited Results
6. Build Viral Awareness
Every guest you host and every company they represent should be an advocate for promoting the program. Leveraging individual company newsletters, databases and social media channels will help build a following. In addition, make sure the focus of the podcast (its messaging) is clear and concise so people looking can find you based on their interests. – Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations
7. Be Extremely Customer-Centric
Remember that your podcast content is not about you. Make sure that every podcast topic and episode is laser-focused on bringing value and entertainment to your audience. Think about what they want to learn in your industry and don’t be afraid to talk about things that you don’t offer. Focus on their interests and they will stick around to hear the rest. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta
8. Capture A Niche
In order to survive in the extremely congested podcast landscape, the podcast must adequately capture a niche and communicate that niche in a way that is extremely clear to the target audience. General topic podcasts are extremely difficult to sell to a saturated market — find a particular thing you can own and run with it. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group
9. Become Predictable
Become predictable but not in the repetitive, boring sense — in the way that your fans know when they can expect the next release, the type of content they will hear, and how that content will be delivered. From my experience, maintaining a consistent schedule is just as important as delivering interesting stories to your listeners. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions
10. Don’t Copy Someone
If you find yourself needing to copy someone else for lack of your own originality, then maybe the time to start a podcast just isn’t right. We don’t need more content for the sake of more content. If you’re patient, your original idea will eventually come, and then it’ll be time for you to go all in before someone else beats you to it. – Greg Trimble, Lemonade Stand
11. Remember Your ‘Why’
We’ve just started our own podcast, so we’re experiencing these challenges firsthand. My biggest tip would be to always remember why you created it so that you don’t go off-topic, off-brand and off your strategy. Always think about how you are going to add value to someone else’s day. If you hold that in, you’ll be able to stay on track. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
12. Ask Better Questions
Having started my own podcast recently, my tip would be to make sure you get really good with asking better questions. I saw a lot of videos on how to ask good questions before I sat down to frame my own. Asking questions that don’t lead to a one-word answer would be my one tip. – Namita Ramani, Above Digital
13. Learn Your Distribution Model First
Developing a good podcast is similar to making a website search engine-optimized. Strategy-wise, the search engine component to podcasts is as important as the content itself. Having knowledge of your potential distribution is crucial, so it’s best to start with a distribution model and work your way back through content creation and storytelling. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners
14. Promote On Social And Track Results
It’s critical for the success of your podcast to properly leverage social media to drive listeners from your target audience. Make sure to share a link to each episode on the social platforms relevant to your target audience of listeners: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and/or LinkedIn. Tracking visitors to your podcast will allow you to optimize future distribution efforts. – Jody Resnick, Trighton Interactive
15. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Personal
A good podcast tells a story audibly but makes you visualize the situation, personal story or character of the narrator or interviewee. When starting a podcast, strive for that personal connection by sharing relatable stories with human flaws that people sympathize with. The audience will feel they truly “know” the person and continue following their story in subsequent podcasts. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
The rise of direct-to-consumer and challenger brands in the marketplace over the past several years has driven a dramatic paradigm shift. This new wave of products, services and subscription models has captured the mind and spirit of U.S. consumers, particularly in the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z audiences. It has also obliterated the traditional rules of marketing. To succeed moving forward, every marketer has to understand how the game has changed in order to win. Challenger brands that want to climb to the top, and stay there, have to be smart and strategic about how they engage consumers.
Why is this happening now?
Over the past several years, the U.S. cultural and political landscape has been marked by upheaval: Widening income gaps, the #MeToo movement, massive personal data breaches, shattered norms, unusual political allegiances, election meddling. and non-linear warfare, to name a few. Consumer behavior has always correlated closely with larger social trends, and this moment is no exception. The current social upheaval is reflected in the marketplace through the increasingly rapid introduction of startup disruptors, like Uber, AirBnB, Casper, and Peloton. It’s no coincidence that when the cultural zeitgeist is one of disruption and perpetual change, “disruption” is what every business strives for. Perpetual change is our new normal.
Driving these changes in the marketplace are technological advancements and tools that fuel agile, upstart challengers, which seek to steal market share from legacy leaders. Interestingly, many challenger brands have direct-to-consumer (DTC) business models. They are also borrowing tactics from the Direct Response advertising and marketing playbook. Testing creative messaging, offering configurations and call-to-actions along with triggering an impulse buy, and measuring everything as precisely as possible are all hallmarks of Direct Response—newly re-christened as Performance Marketing.
From a digital platform perspective, the tools and services to support challenger brands with DTC models are all there. However, scaling up past digital is the true test of whether these brands will have a significant and lasting place in the market. As the costs of advertising on Facebook and Instagram increase and the competitive bidding in AdWords becomes untenable, the target cost-per-actions needed for businesses to scale (and perhaps close another round of funding) begin to drift out of reach.
While there are other channels—such as social media influencers and out-of-home—they can make it tricky to show accurate ROI. The fact is that if a challenger brand wants to scale effectively beyond digital, TV is the answer. Why? Because the array of strategic options with linear, connected and addressable TV is continually being refined. Moreover, the attribution and analytics to track TV performance to provable ROI is more advanced than ever.
How to scale and win
The key to winning—meaning to scale beyond digital—is simple, but it requires the right ingredients and the right partner. Here are four steps that direct-to-consumer challenger brands can take to effectively scale to win.
1. First, brands need to craft compelling creative messaging that will elicit the desired response from their audience. Generally, this entails balancing an emotional component, to hook them, and a rational component, to drive responsiveness. A/B testing tools that offer configurations and call-to-actions can help brands uncover the best performer within their creative options.
2. Secondly, a brand’s audience segmentation and media strategy must be spot on. Brands can learn quite a bit about their audience through digital channels and there are formulas to apply those learnings and the profiles in a CRM to TV. Additionally, TV can provide more “spillover” than digital, so there’s an opportunity to test out an audience’s sweet spot.
3. Third, media buying must be optimized weekly. With accurate attribution, analytics and reporting, media buyers have the information at their fingertips to heavy up on the best performing stations and day parts while balancing clearance to meet business objectives.
4. Lastly, and most importantly, brands have to measure everything. TV post-logs, BVS detections, Google Analytics, Omniture, Adjust, Appsflyer, Liveramp and other data sources should be fed into custom attribution engines with fully refined algorithms to deliver results, insights and directional data to make better decisions, which drive even better results.
All of these steps must be iterative in nature. Winning in today’s landscape requires an agile model that seeks to continuously improve results in order to achieve sustainable scalability. Just like any advertising investment, there is risk involved. There is risk involved in starting a business, raising money, and taking on the role of marketer. Now, brands have to decide if they want to scale up and capture market share or be content with where they are now. Direct-to-consumer and challenger brands have endless opportunities ahead of them, if they know how to take advantage of them.
Connected TV covers a broad range of executions and it can be a very powerful tool in a media mix if properly deployed.
As consumers increasingly utilize streaming and connected TV services, either as a substitute for linear or as an extension of their TV viewing, connected TV advertising is proving to be a versatile channel in a brand’s overall marketing strategy. The truth is, connected TV covers a broad range of executions and it can be a very powerful tool in a media mix if properly deployed. In order to achieve proper execution, it is important to fully understand the entire versatility of the channel. In this article, we will explore the different iterations of CTV as well as the best ways to approach this emerging channel with and without traditional TV integration.
Connected TV: Making the Most of Your Advertising Dollars
Broadly speaking, CTV refers to TV programming that is streamed through an internet connected device. This includes smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku devices, gaming consoles (PlayStation, Xbox), and any video content streamed on an iPhone, tablet or desktop, commonly referred to as full episode player (FEP). In addition to device type, CTV also describes over-the-top (OTT), which refers to network provider extensions like DirecTV Now, HBO GO, and others. Additional examples of OTT include YouTube TV (lives in Google’s walled garden) and Hulu, which historically has operated from an open exchange and only recently started to break up its inventory putting more into auction.
When referring to CTV advertising, media buyers are referring to a range of executions, the nuances of which can be leveraged to drive brand awareness, lead generation and conversion as well as data and audience learnings, including attribution. The nuances that exist within CTV, including channel, programming type, and device type, can each be uniquely leveraged to reach specific users and achieve specific objectives. It is also important for brands to note that the nuances within CTV vary greatly in quality and cost. For example, a CTV ad delivered to a targeted audience using highly targeted data and delivered within premium network content during primetime hours provides a different value and experience than a CTV ad delivered to a broad demographic on mobile device in-app in off peak hours, yet on paper these can look deceptively similar. With the level of fragmentation that exists, it can be difficult to fully understand exactly what is being bought and placed, and if you are merely looking at delivery metrics to gauge performance, then dollars can be easily wasted.
Targeting and Tracking for Top Exposure
The most valuable aspect of CTV is the ability to apply granular audience targeting in order to identify high value users and bid specifically to place messaging in front them. In order to reach these highly valuable users, buyers and strategists must layer data, targeting, inventory, and bidding strategies in order to create effective and efficient buys. In addition to targeting, the ability to track and attribute your campaign to measurable actions like activity post exposure is beneficial for several reasons. Like other digital channels, CTV utilizes digital signals to track user’s activity after ad exposure. Smart TV executions rely on cross device mapping in order to create a device graph for each household, and measure activity on other devices tied to that IP address. With cross device mapping in place, marketers can see if a user who was served a CTV ad on their Roku device later visited a brand’s website on another device connected to the same WiFi router. This kind of direct attribution is beneficial because an individual’s ad exposure can be tracked to a user’s activity and optimized to ROI actions. Attribution is achieved by mapping the exposure of users to an advertisement to their web activity post-exposure. For example, direct actions like form fills or purchases, to indirect impact measurement like searches they conducted after being exposed. Additionally, ROI value is further enhanced when CTV is executed as part of a holistic digital campaign that includes display, social, and search.
CTV is effective for top of funnel efforts, while complementing other digital channels if the right strategies are deployed to ensure all channels work in harmony. These other strategies can include sequential message delivery, funnel modeled audience profiles, and re-engagement strategies that drive influenced actions. Beyond brand awareness and exposure, CTV can be leveraged with performance-based objectives in mind. Whether it is utilizing tracking and attribution to tie exposure to conversions, or as part of a re-engagement strategy to connect with users who have expressed interest but not yet converted, CTV is able to deliver high value messaging to specific users with specific influence in mind. CTV’s ability to be measured with high accuracy through pixels and cross device measurement means that even with view through attribution, the exposure these ads generate should be viewed as high value.
An additional benefit of a CTV campaign is its use as a testing platform to prove a creative or audience hypothesis, before rolling out to more mass reach channels like linear TV. Because CTV sits in between digital and traditional channels, it provides a platform to understand response and engagement with content and audiences with the flexibility of digital execution. Therefore, it is a great way to experiment with audiences, creative, programming, and other variables to collect data that can be used to make decisions across channels. CTV can uncover audiences that are likely to respond to your product or disprove audiences that will not respond. The campaign can identify data points for programming and interests within existing audiences; potentially preventing an expensive buy on a network that is not likely to perform, and it can deliver response metrics to different creative tests; helping direct creative teams toward more effective messaging. All of this can be accomplished with lower investments and within shorter time frames as statistical relevance can be reached quickly and cheaply if executed well.
The question becomes how should CTV be integrated into a brand’s marketing mix? Due to its flexibility, CTV can be executed in many different ways. It can be used as a testing vehicle for linear TV executions or as an integrated awareness driver with linear TV, providing an extension of reach and frequency that improves overall exposure rates and provides stronger attribution signals on the effectiveness of both channels. It can also be run as an extension of Digital buys as a way to fill the funnel with high value sight, sound, and motion touch points along with a re-engagement vehicle to drive deeper influence throughout a user’s journey, and as a way to deliver video content in attention heavy inventory. However, it can also be executed as its own standalone effort with its own KPIs for success. Overall the most effective position for CTV, like with any marketing channel, is within a larger strategy where all channels work together toward a common objective with shared thinking and data between them.
The strongest teams to run CTV campaigns will bring both TV and digital experience to the table, with the teams working closely to share expertise, share data and learnings, and leverage knowledge bases to extract the best of all that CTV has to offer.
Is thinking of Marketing as a quantum mechanical process useful? It is when you are seeking to attribute consumer response to media impressions, and when you’re crafting and testing effective messaging. This white paper explores a few selected topics within this theme under active research, development, and use in marketing and advertising campaigns.
Exactly why someone buys or not, and why they buy one brand over another, will always have some aspect of the mysterious unknown, and therefore marketing will always have a magical component requiring art and inspired creative initiative. Even when directly asked, most people are unaware themselves of all the influences motivating them to buy and value brands. However, there are aspects of marketing that are scientifically measurable and predictable.
Gen Z is completely shifting the way advertisers work. The long-held mindset of heritage, comfort, and familiarity is being upset by this up-and-coming generation of digital natives. Gen Z approaches the world differently than previous generations, and their way of thinking is coming to the forefront of today’s society. Their passion for social justice, demand for authenticity, and short attention spans have forced brands that target Gen Z consumers to shift their advertising strategies accordingly.
Today, brands are starting to get better at picking up on what Gen Z values and learning to adapt. From a company structure perspective, this can mean implementing more corporate social responsibility initiatives; while in advertising and marketing, this can mean deploying messages, media, and strategies designed to resonate with Gen Z consumers. There are a number of one-off ad campaigns that have redefined success with this generation, as well as continuous campaigns and brand behaviors that are molding and shaping the way marketers and advertisers target this audience.
Here are examples of three very different ad campaigns that have resonated with Gen Z in unique ways, and how they did it.
Aerie ‘Real’ Campaign
Historically, clothing brands have promoted themselves with bombshell supermodels who possess unattainable beauty. It may seem simple, but Gen Z is challenging that paradigm by calling for and responding to ad campaigns that feature “normal” people, and by rejecting impossible beauty standards.
In the early ’00s, brands began receiving backlash for digitally enhancing the faces and figures of their models in noticeable ways and removing anything that might be seen as an imperfection. Once it became clear that this imagery was harmful to the development of young girls’ self-esteem and confidence, American Eagle’s intimates brand Aerie decided to connect with its target consumer, Gen Z, with a different approach — body positivity.
In 2014, Aerie’s “Real” campaign was born. American Eagle started by announcing that it would not only cease the use of supermodels, but would also refrain from digital retouching. That campaign received a flurry of attention as the first-of-its-kind and was a big success. Since then, Aerie has continued to expand the parameters by which it chooses lingerie models. Campaigns have included women with curves, cellulite, small chests, large chests, disabilities, medical illnesses, stretch marks, body hair, and more. Furthermore, the “Real” campaign has expanded by including Aerie consumers. The brand encourages people to feel positive, confident, and comfortable in their own bodies and show it off by joining in with the hashtag #AerieReal on social media.
Not only has this approach helped Aerie stand out in the market and build a positive reputation with Gen Z, but it’s also increased sales year-over-year, with a 38% increase in Q1 of 2018, alone. Overall, the “Real” campaign enabled Aerie to earn credibility in authenticity, diversity, inclusion, and body positivity spaces. Aerie was also ahead of the curve, and many brands are now embracing body positivity and inclusion in their own branding.
Casper is a new age mattress company that has completely shaken up its sector. A traditionally brick and mortar industry, Casper took a direct-to-consumer approach to mattresses that appeals to a younger-skewing audience. Casper has succeeded with this business model by incorporating selling factors that are important to Gen Zers.
Before Casper, the idea of getting a bed-in-a-box was unheard of and viewed as impractical. Casper, however, had a deep understanding of its target audience and realized a DTC approach could be effective, if the brand positioned itself as a master in the mattress space. To that end, Casper deployed a robust content marketing campaign. The company leveraged social media and retargeting to garner attention and create brand awareness. Once its audience was engaged, Casper established itself as the expert in the space, using product comparisons, customer reviews, and influencer marketing to move the consumer down the funnel toward purchasing a mattress they had never even touched before.
In addition, Casper invested in building a sense of community around its brand. Campaigns like Staycation Story Hacks, unboxing videos, “Waffle Crush Wednesdays,” and the publication Winkle were all geared toward giving consumers many different ways to engage and interact with the brand, and with fellow brand customers. Together, Casper’s marketing efforts have brought in upward of 100,000 video views; 2,000 to 10,000 likes per post; and increased its valuation to $1.1 billion, in just five years.
When influencer marketing really began to take off, Revolve saw an opportunity to grow its relatively new brand and build buzz. The company established an ongoing relationship with Instagram’s most popular fashion influencers, including Kendall Jenner, and began throwing #RevolveAroundtheWorld events in popular destinations, including Palm Springs, Turks and Caicos, and the ever-important Coachella — a super hub for influencers and Gen Zers, alike.
These lavish trips and events are invite-only and create a space where influencers can come together and do what they do best — advertise Revolve’s products by modeling the clothing and publicizing them all over their Instagram accounts. An event exclusively filled with popular Instagrammers effectively gets the brand name out there and capitalizes on the “wish you were here” mindset that Instagram seeds in its users. Consumers have their attention grabbed by the glamorous photos and then may feel inspired to buy the trendy clothing they see. They both relate to and aspire to be like their favorite influencers. Clearly, this approach is working, as Revolve was recently valued at $1.2 billion.
Final Thoughts on Gen Z Ad Campaigns
In today’s world, it is vital that brands— old and new, alike — continue to evolve in the ever-changing advertising landscape. Brands that target Gen Z have to shape their marketing and advertising strategies to convey authenticity, relatability, consistent engagement, and progressive social values. American Eagle’s Aerie, Casper, and Revolve have each taken a highly distinct and unique approach, and each has succeeded in its own way. There are lessons to be learned from their similarities, and their differences. There are many ways to craft campaigns that resonate with Gen Z, but they won’t look like campaigns of the past.
Hawthorne Advertising was named a Most Influential Family-Owned Business by the Los Angeles Business Journal, awarded a Bronze Stevie Award for Great Employers, and shortlisted for the Digiday Worklife Awards in the “Most Dedicated to Employee Growth” category. Additionally, CEO Jessica Hawthorne-Castro has been named a finalist for the Stevie Awards for Women in Business Woman of the Year — Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.