Category: Digital Marketing

Is Taco Bell the Savviest Social Media Brand?

On my commute back from office last night, I noticed few odd and alarming tweets. Allow me to quickly present my case:

Bridget Carey, from CNET was tweeting in ALL CAPS!!

And Nilay Patel had this

Taco Bell story? Some die-hards were flipping out!

Like any self-respecting digital marketer, I figured I had to be on top of this recent development. So I went to Taco Bell’s twitter. Then to their Instagram feed. Then to their Facebook page. And finally to their Google+ page as well. This is a collection of what I saw.

Taco Bell - Social Networks

Taco Bell – Social Networks

As it turned out, Taco Bell launched a new mobile app but rather than going on a social media frenzy, and buying up all possible hashtags, the digitally savvy brand did the exact opposite. It blacked out and went silent across all of their social presence channels. Even the website, which had products and corporate/brand information, wasn’t spared either to promote the new app. Content on the company’s Facebook was deleted and all images blacked out. On Instagram, Taco Bell released a series of black and white text-based images with the hashtag #onlyintheapp. For a brand that has over 10 million fans on Facebook, this move can clearly be described as ballsy, one which most marketers will lose weeks of sleep over.

Taco bell - only in the app

The silence was urging fans to download the app directly. Normally, a brand would go all out on its social and web channels to promote a new launch. For something like an app, the focus clearly would have been more on mobile marketing, and a typical brand would have done one, two or all the three below:

1) Running a CPD campaign to promote downloads on mobile ad networks. Off late, this has been a very popular form of promotion on Facebook and Twitter native apps as well

2) Buying display and text inventory across major networks, trying to push app functionality

3) Bid for related keywords on search engines and then hope for CPC traffic

Taco Bell, to the best of my knowledge, has done nothing of the above. This is obviously not to indicate that the above-mentioned methods are not effective. Thousands of apps employ those strategies every day, and do it with great success.

Taco Bell has done things differently while creating enormous amount of buzz and earned impressions. The App Annie chart below looks at the Taco Bell “Live Mas” app’s rank history over the past month, for Apple iOS. Notice the spike in the end. The chart shows that for the Food & Drink category, the app moved from its usual spot from around 60 to become number one for that category, in the US. Amazingly, It also became 24th most popular app in the US on the launch day. Next day, it climbed up to rank #22.

Taco Bell App - iOS Rank History

Taco Bell App – iOS Rank History

The hour-by-hour report is even more incredible. It starts with the app ranked 1,379 overall in the US as of 2am PT, October 28. By 1pm — it had shot to become the 24th most popular app. The app is not yet listed on the iTunes most popular free apps chart as it is updated on a weekly basis.

Taco Bell App - iOS Hourly Rank History

Taco Bell App – iOS Hourly Rank History

Besides the number of downloads, the post-download behaviour/interaction is vital. Everybody in the business knows that its easy to make users download apps, its far more tougher to make them use it everyday, every week, once every month or heck, even once after the first trial.

It won’t be the brilliant promotion strategy that would make users come back, but the app itself, and the UX it offers. Taco Bell covered that with the option of ordering mobile app only products on the app. They are also offering mobile payment, which is apparently the first for the industry. Moreover, in stores, there will be a separate pick-up line for app orders.

Taco Bell is known for its progressive and clever social media strategy, including being an early mover on Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, Hyperlapse among others. While it initially seemed like Taco Bell had completely wiped out its Twitter history, the account is actually hiding at @totallynothere during the blackout — with all followers (1.4 million) and tweets (39.9K) in place.

Taco Bell - Totally not there twitter

Taco Bell’s alternative twitter account

It is also interesting to note how quickly Twitter acted to make the “new” Taco Bell account verified. Usually, when a verified account is renamed (which is exactly what Taco Bell’s agency Digitas did), it loses the verified status. Clearly twitter and Digitas were planning and working on this stunt together. For now, the experiment seems to be continuing though it may not be long before Taco Bell resets and retakes its old avatar. I, for one, miss the witty one-liners. See below for an epic example.

Taco Bell vs Old Spice - Tweet Wars

Taco Bell vs. Old Spice – Tweet Wars

It is heartening to see Taco Bell embrace technology like no one else, and at the same time, add emotions in the mix. Even the press invites sent for the announcement looked like something you wouldn’t expect from a fast food retailer.

Taco Bell Invitation

Taco Bell Invitation

And that’s the trick. Taco Bell wanted to make sure that their message broke through, without breaking their budgets.  As a pioneer marketer, Taco Bell prefers to do things that have never been done before, which fits perfectly with their brand as well as the demographic they cater to.

Social media has been tightly entrenched in Taco Bell’s broad marketing play as well, with key personnel from PR, operations, product, and marketing playing a part in influencing the brand’s social movement. And for those, who believe social media leads to zero ROI, one look at Taco Bell would absolve that myth. AdAge recently wrote about the role of social media in year-on-year sales growth outpacing its competitors.

I have written in the past about clever social media and real time marketing employed by brands but this easily surpasses all Dark dunks and funny tweet fights. What do you think?

This article has also appeared on The Wall Blog.

 

GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Brett Snyder (The Cranky Flier)

GlobeTrotters on Twitter 2

The first bookmark in my aviation essential reading folder is CrankyFlier.com, and I’m certain to be one of the many enthusiasts who open the site every day to read new content (although on an average, a new article pops up on the site every second day).

Brett Snyder, the President and (as he likes to call himself) the Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Flier is the ‘been there, done that’ man of the aviation industry. Fascination with airplanes started at a very young age and by the age of 12, he had become a travel agent. His fascination with the industry only grew with job stints at USAir, America West, United and PriceGrabber.com.Brett Snyder - Cranky Flier on Air NZ

He’s been a full time blogger for few years now, along with his own air travel assistance service, known as Cranky Concierge, for which he has been named as a “Top Travel Specialist” by Conde Nast Traveler for multiple times now.

Brett has also won multiple awards for “The Cranky Flier”, and also writes for CNTraveler.com and Intuit Small Business Blog.

Before we begin our chat, bit of trivia about the name: Brett was given the name “Cranky Pants” by his friend and that stuck as CrankyFlier, as the name seemed neutral to Brett himself.

 

  • What makes you travel Brett?

Brett – Sadly most of my travel lately is about the process itself and not about being in a location.  That’s too bad, because the real motivation for travel should be what’s on the other end of the flight.  It’s almost always worth it, even though it is exhausting.

  • Do you enjoy the aviation/flying part more of your travels or the sightseeing in cities? Of all the flights that you may have taken, any particularly memorable experience you would like to share?

Brett – I enjoy both, but I don’t have a lot of sightseeing opportunities on my trips lately.  Regarding flights, I have had so many great experiences.  But I think if there’s one that stands out, it’s the time I had the pleasure of flying Concorde from London to New York.  That was just surreal. (Vishal’s note:  Must read related trip report of Concorde here).

  • I know that Boeing 747 is your favourite aircraft, what about your preferred airport and why? 

Brett – I don’t have a single airport or airline that I like best.  It’s different depending upon the situation.  For example, I love my hometown airport, Long Beach, but that’s because you can get through it very easily and the facility is excellent.  But it’s not where I’d want to spend a long connection.

  • And your Favorite airline will be?

Brett – For airlines, I might choose one airline to go in business class to Europe whereas a short hop to San Francisco might be something else.  I really don’t have a top choice.

  • What about your preferred city for a break?

Brett – I’d have to say London.  For whatever reason, I just love going there.  One of my favourite experiences there involved a visit to some friends on a surprisingly warm and sunny spring day.  We started up on Baker Street and wandered the streets until we ended up down in South Kensington for dinner.  We just wandered aimlessly for hours and took advantage of the city’s lack of an open container law.  I find that the best experiences are when I know someone locally.  It just changes the way you see a city.

  • Leaving aside Wi-Fi, which is being implemented by majority of airports, what other changes you want to see at the airports?

Brett – I would love to see more day rooms.  Fortunately, we’re seeing that happen more and more.

  • You run a successful website/business. What would you tell as advise to the average Joe, missing deep pockets but still harboring the will to travel the world?

Brett – There are great ways to travel the world without spending a ton of money.  In particular, if you can qualify for a credit card, you can earn a lot of miles and turn that into free travel around the world.  Or you can look for a job that requires a lot of travel.  Travel within regions can be very inexpensive, and you can always say in hostels to save money.  So the key is just funding the long haul travel.

  • Do you have a go-to guide before you travel?

Brett – I don’t have a go-to guide.  I use friends as much as possible, but for internet research I usually just start with Google and work my way around from there.

  • What role do you think social media/twitter has played in propagating Travel?

Brett – I think social media has helped bring experiences to people in real time.  It used to be you could watch a slideshow of someone’s trip after they returned.  Now you can live through it with them including photos, videos and more.  It can all be shared as it happens, so it makes it more real for people at home.

  • Finally, as this is GlobeTrotters on “Twitter”, your 3 favorite twitter user accounts?

Brett – three favourites?  Hmm, maybe @FakeUnitedJeff@NYCAviation,

and since you didn’t say it had to be travel-related, @Dbacks.  (Yep, I’m a big baseball fan.)

 

 

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GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Shashank Nigam

GlobeTrotters on Twitter 2

If your wondering what all this is about, then you should probably go here before proceeding further.

For the first profile of my most ambitious blog series yet, I wanted to have someone who straddles the aviation, travel as well as digital marketing aspects together and really sets the benchmark for this initiative. Luckily enough for me I did not have to look around hard as Shashank kindly agreed to be featured as a “GlobeTrotter on Twitter”.

Shashank Nigam in Cockpit

Cockpit access tips, Shashank?

Shashank Nigam of course is much more than just that. He is the Founder/CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s leading aviation marketing consultancies, which advises over 25 airlines. airports and even aircraft manufacturers on profitable customer engagement strategies. On top of that, SimpliFlying.com is one of the Top 2 blogs on aviation, and their Twitter handle (@simpliflying ) is also one of the Top 5 most influential on airlines.

Excerpts from my geek-out with him

  • Air Travel used to be a breeze back in the day but not anymore. What is your greatest motivation to travel?

Shashank – I love watching planes, being on planes, just being near them. And I realise that I, like many others, have jet-fuel running through my veins. I get excited each time I need to search for a new flight, go through the booking process, in anticipation of the flight itself. The joy of flying is greater than any hassles. And through all this, I’ve now been to 51 countries!

  • 51 countries is impressive indeed. But tell me do you enjoy the flying part of your travel more or the city sightseeing? Of all the thousands of flights that you may have taken, any particularly memorable experience you recount?

Shashank – I cherish the flying part of travel as much as sightseeing, and meeting people from different cultures. There are a few in-flight memories that have left an impact. My first flight – it was on an Aeroflot Illyushin in 1994, from Delhi to Singapore. Everyone was drinking, playing cards and I smelled like an ashtray when I stepped out. But my first flight, nevertheless. My first ultra-long haul flight was on Thai Airways, from Bangkok to New York, non-stop, over 17 hours! The first time I flew Business Class – it was on Cathay Pacific, from New York to Singapore, via Hong Kong. Loved the experience and service. The first time I flew the 787 Dreamliner, on a private invite-only flight at the Singapore Airshow was unforgettable. And as recently as last week, when I flew from Dar-e-salam to Zanzibar on a 17-seater, and the Captain was kind enough to let me sit in the cockpit, next to him for the full flight!

  • Which is your favourite airport and which is your favourite airline? and tell us why?

Shashank – Favourite airport has to be Singapore Changi Airport – there’s so much to do, and if you want to get out, you go from plane to taxi in 10 mins.

Favorite airline differs depending on the class. My favourite First Class experiences has been on Emirates – the Suites are very private and luxurious and you get treated like a king. Their lounges in Dubai are superb too. The best Business Class experience has been on Turkish Airlines, long haul – where you get your own butler in-flight, and their lounge in Istanbul is possibly the best Star Alliance lounge in the world. The best Economy Class is on Singapore Airlines – true value for the premium you pay. Among LCCs, I love Virgin America, jetBlue and Volaris, for treating us like real people and offering a differentiated service!

  • Alright, that makes me ask you your favourite aircraft?

Shashank – To look at – A340-600 – I think it’s the best looking aircraft out there. Beautiful silhouette. To fly, A380 – it’s the quietest and most comfortable aircraft I’ve flown.

  • Couldn’t agree more with you there. In fact A340 is my favourite aircraft as well. Pity its not as popular among airlines now. Which city you’re particularly fond of?

Shashank – Istanbul is my favourite city – the perfect mix of culture and modernity. Though, from an #avgeek perspective, I love London and Los Angeles, with the huge variety of aircraft flying low, throughout the day, prior to landing.

  • Leaving aside wifi, what would you like to see airports world over to adopt?

Shashank – “Quiet zones” will be welcome, where travellers with longer lay overs can just relax.

  • Which website, guide book etc. you consult before and while your traveling? What’s your research for a country/city like?

Shashank – I always check seatguru.com to select the best seat before I check-in, Tripadvisor is a must for the hotels and Hipmunk for flight bookings. Most of my research on a city is last minute – a tweet or Facebook message to friends before I take off ensures I have 2-3 solid recommendations of things to do in a city.

  • You run a successful consultancy and of course have jet-fuel running through your veins 😉 but what would you to tell the average guy who wants to travel but is afraid of the expenses associated with it?

Shashank – With the advent of LCCs, anyone can fly. So look out for those cheap deals and book a ticket. You might score one that’s cheaper than the train or the bus too. It’s never too late to fly!

  • and finally, what role do you think twitter has played in encouraging people to travel? Also, as this is “GlobeTrotters on Twitter”, your 3 favourite twitter user accounts?

Shashank – I love to meet my Twitter friends at airports while I’m in transit, or in the city that I’m visiting. Social media, especially Facebook and Pinterest are great for seeking inspiration on where to go next too!

My top 3 favourite Twitter users –

@ApexMary – she is the girlgeek of travel, who knows everything there is to know inside the cabin.

@airlinetrends/@capa_aviation keep me updated with the latest industry analysis.

And fellow avgeeks like @arun4, @airlinereporter and yourself (@vishal1mehra) are great company online!

Thanks Shashank, That’s little more than 3 but because you mentioned one certain Vishal Mehra, we would let that pass.

Lemp Incident Highlights Social Media as the Answer

Indian like in Social Media

It’s been over 2 days “Lemp” has been a top trending topic for over 20 million users of Twitter in India. Surprisingly Lemp is not the name of a champion Indian cricketer, a famous Bollywood actor or a corrupt politician caught in yet another scandal.

Lemp is a name of a brewery-restaurant located in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, caught in the eye of a social media storm after a group of youngsters were cheated and mentally harassed by the management and owners of the property.

Due to whatever reason the original blog post has been removed, but thanks to Google cache it will forever live on. I would strongly suggest you to read more about the incident here before proceeding further. Scribd also has a copy of the deleted post.

It is yet another example of how a young, educated & web savvy population in India is making sure their voice is not muzzled & their rights not being taken for granted by people in power.

A visit to a restaurant for a ‘Hawaiian Sunday Brunch’ turned out to be too ghastly for a group of youngsters this Sunday, after they had checked out Sunday brunch events listed in the review site, Zomato. Apart from not being served any advertised Hawaiian food, they were overcharged when they wished to leave and threatened with police arrest when they protested about the bill. Besides, the Haryana/Gurgaon police instead of coming to their rescue, chose to side with the owner and manager of the restaurant. The youngsters were just short of being detained for not paying the ‘overcharged’ bill.

The youngsters decided to blog about their experience and since then the Indian twitterverse has been enraged to the say the least. The news is even picked up by the biggest newspaper of the country, Times of India besides other major publications and one of the biggest online news publishers, FirstPost.

Zomato has even come out with a blog post on it’s website supporting the youngsters.

Incidentally, the user rating for Lemp Brewpub & Kitchen on Zomato has had a huge fall to 1.2 from its earlier 3 point something, after the blog post went viral on Social Media.

Lemp opted for a rebuttal by a fake customer, who incidentally has access to all of their CCTV footage. They also threatened the diners with a defamation suit in a very cocky reply to their review, although the unrelenting attack has also forced them to change their name to PurpleBar. So much for transparency.

There were two possible options for Lemp:

1)   Brazen this out, offer their version and prove that those diners were indeed trying to fleece the restaurant. One of the better ways could have been to show CCTV footage of the altercation, without obvious editing of the same. Their press release mentions the same but even after 4 days of the incident, nothing has been released yet.

2)   Apologize. Admit that they messed up, a spur-of-the-hour moment for them, which shall never be repeated, with sincere apologies on video by the management and the owner. Convince those youngsters to visit the restaurant once more and actually organize a Hawaiian Sunday brunch, on the house for them. Considering the egos involved, this certainly seems like a definite no-go and I’m not surprised that Lemp has decided to go ahead with option 1.

After much hullabaloo, Lemp issued a statement last night (on Scribd) offering their version of events, including insights from their social media agency, as to who could be behind all of this, clearly going on the offensive.

In a country where consumer rights are always taken for granted, our proud history of free speech and the opportunities provided by the power of social media is making sure that the voice of the common man can be heard loud and clear.

It’s a welcome change and one that the common Indian hopes will make the “high and mighty” think twice before taking him for a ride.

This blog post has also been featured by The WALL here, one of the world’s leading blog on Digital and Social Media.

The Magic of Twitter and it’s 11 Tricks

Twitter LogoWhat started off as a SMS service to communicate within a small group on 21st March 2006 has swiftly transformed itself into a leading indicator of everything from political to pop culture for 200 million citizens of our planet.

Twitter is used from everything to break global news (the unfortunate Boston marathon blasts news was on twitter 20 minutes before it reached TV channels), help stranded travelers, being a virtual water cooler for TV viewing or even igniting revolutions.

17 October 2008 was the date when I joined twitter, and more than 1600 days later I’m still as excited as my first day on the network.

I have expressed my admiration, love and lust for twitter very many times over the web, in person, on the phone and possibly every other way I could have. People, who know me, know my proud fetish for it. Over the period of my last 32000 odd tweets I have been able to derive immeasurable value out of twitter and I hope to continue doing that over a long time to come.

There’s no other platform which has given me so much value, both personally and professionally, like twitter has that it is the only social network I would be more than willing to pay for, if it decides to go paid or premium in the future.

I know I know, there’s app.net for that, and I do have a registered account there as well, but it is difficult to compare that against a 200 million-user strong twitter base.

Here are few best practices for twitter I have learned and stumbled across, on the way till now:

  1. Build your Twitter following by following those that follow companies/people similar to you. The discover section of Twitter lets you see what those you follow are doing; what tweets have they favourited? And whom have they followed?
  2. Ensure your profile has a picture (the egg doesn’t count), Avoid changing it often, have an interesting background & customise your profile to be consistent with your online presence.
  3. Interact with key influencers in your industry, discuss with respect and intelligence and you may gain some following. Some folks use online tools like Klout to recognize influencers, I have had low success ratio with that technique & have found those tools to be usually inaccurate in their assessments.
  4. The easiest way for me to find more influencers has been to follow leading known influencers & then see whom they follow. Handy technique, always works well.
  5. Keep track of your most engrossed followers so you can give them a shout when you want to share content.  But don’t annoy them by tweeting too much & expecting swift replies.
  6. The more tweeting you do the more clicks you’ll get but overdoing it gets labeled as spamming by followers. No one wants his or her timelines spammed. Tweeting keyword rich, relevant content throughout the day will attract followers’ specific to your industry/interests.
  7. #hashtags are a nifty way to get eyeballs during big news days or events. It also helps in recognizing users with similar interests. Be sensitive and careful while tweeting #tags during tragic events or accidents.
  8. Favouriting tweets are a simple way of acknowledging people and in return may get you some recognition.
  9. Use platforms like TweetDeck and Hootsuite to schedule tweets.  Divide your tweets across the day to get maximum exposure for your tweets. Scheduling tweets during peak times will result in more eyeballs for your views.  You can even use tools like Social Bro to get the right time to tweet.
  10. Tweets including pictures or infographics get more eyeballs; consider appropriate content to increase clicks.
  11. Research has proved keeping the length of your tweets between 70 to 100 characters increases engagement rate, helping in readability while glancing through the timeline.

Geek mention: This post would be grossly incomplete without me thanking the programming languages of JavaScript, Ruby, Scala, and Java, without which good folks like Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams and the usually un-mentioned Noah Glass (often referred to as Twitter’s 5th Beatle) would never have been able to develop twitter.

This post also appeared on Bite’s official blog as a slightly altered post

(Picture courtesy : Twitter)

The King of Real Time Marketing

This promises to be a crisp and concise post and I had to share this as a follow up to my last post, Real Time Marketing in India, where I discussed brands like Tide, Calvin Klein & Pepsi but Oreo‘s efforts during that fateful evening of SuperBowl stood out.

Real time marketing is gaining prominence in different forms all over the world, apparently even Blackberry is giving it a shot for Z10. You know what they say about “has-been” brands and RTM right? me neither.

anyways Oreo is making sure it stands out as the undisputed king of Real Time Marketing on interwebs.

How?

So this started out quite harmlessly, when a Rihanna fan known as Laura Ellen tweeted this

Laura Ellen Tweet on Oreo and KitKat

Things stayed quite pretty much for 2 days & Laura went about her business. But then suddenly KitKat woke up

KitKat replies to LauraSo it was the crunchiness of KitKat vs the darkness of Oreo in Tic Tac Toe. Even Laura could not believe what was transpiring

Laura replies

The smart alec types started having their own little fun, look at the second comment by John Haywood above 🙂 Meanwhile Laura was getting increasingly anxious

Laura is all over tumblr because of Kitkat

Her challenge was  getting attention far and wide. Images of twitter war between Taco Bell and Old Spice came running back.

But then, the team at Oreo tweeted the unthinkable

and Oreo closes the social media battle

They could not resist and rightly so I could not resist discussing this as a short post. Needless to say KitKat got some brownie points (touche’) but Oreo won that fair and square by being the nice guy. Brands need to have a human face, Consumers miss that most about them.

Real Time Marketing in India

RTM in India

Real Time Marketing in India

Few weeks back when I wrote about the top digital marketing trends for India, RTM (Real Time Marketing) did not figure in the list. But then February 3rd, also known as Super Bowl Blackout day happened & the world of marketing promised not to be the same ever again.

I started thinking about RTM scenarios for the Indian market & how our marketers could take advantage of those opportunities. But what really drove me to write this post was a session during ad:tech new delhi 2013.

RTM is not a new phenomena which spawned one fine evening when Oreo & it’s agency partner decided to dunk in the dark, & in the process became a lifelong case study for this marketing genre. Instead Real Time Marketing techniques were developed in 1990s with initial deployments of CRM solutions in major sectors, but it wasn’t so glamorous & thus not thought about much during that time.

Marketing has altered radically in the last few years — perhaps more than any other business role — and the progression will absolutely continue as marketers become more single-minded, swift and supple.

Oreo Super Bowl Blackout Tweet

Oreo Super Bowl Blackout Tweet

With over 150 million internet users, & 100 million social network user base, India as a market is ripe for some RTM action but this form of marketing goes far beyond simply posting a timely tweet (see Oreo/Tide during blackout), a status update or even a vine posting (see Calvin Klein). Brands have to expand the use of real time social analytics, create great content to drive engagement & make on-the-fly decisions around trending relevant topics. That certainly is hard to fathom in current Indian marketing culture.

Current culture being the key statement in the last paragraph.

Because Indian consumers have moved on & so must the marketing techniques employed to entertain & engage them. A recent study in fact did say, “Engaging customers through content & other outreach techniques is getting increased attention from marketers in India”.

Tide Super Bowl Blackout Tweet

Tide Super Bowl Blackout Tweet

But most Indian marketers still find it challenging to cut through the information clutter today to resonate. Mostly because they are not used to customers driving interactions (after all it was one way shouting till a while back) & taking control of the relationship they share.

Marketing strategies still rely heavily on arranging everything, to the T. That practice has to give way. Marketers can plan, but can’t choreograph consumer behavior.

With the sixth edition of Indian Premier League starting in April, Indian brands have a grand stage to get daring with their consumers & in the process get embraced.

The biggest opportunity out of all brands clearly lies with Pepsi. Pepsi is not just the official presenting sponsor for IPL 6; it is a youth driven brand urging its TA to “Live for Now”. In India its latest brand tagline “Oh Yes, Abhi” conveys the same spirit of Now, Instant & Dynamism to the impatient Indian youth.

Although my views about Pepsi not introducing the new logo in the Indian market even after 4+ years is widely known on twitter, I still believe being a challenger cola brand a new approach can have a positive impact for them.

That new approach is not just premiering new TVCs on YouTube, because that is passé, it is not just dumb tweets asking who your favorite cricketer is, it is making custom content for its online consumers which needs to be fun & useful.

& If some of that can be made at twitter speed, it would be Quaker oats on the milk (let me know if you have a better suggestion for this?)

I should also note that the instant Oreo Super Bowl ad followed a 100-day program called “Daily Twist” that began in June 2012 and ended on October 2nd, 2012. It was 100 days of real-time posting of Oreo’s responses to what was happening in the news, such as the Mars Rover landing and the anniversary of the ATM. So in no way it was a fluke or a creative that popped out of nowhere.

Another extensively acknowledged case study has been the work done on Old Spice campaign through YouTube, “The man your man could smell like”. Here’s a helpful link to take you back to 2010.

Real Time Marketing is clearly not cut out for every brand, nor it can be done without extensive resources on a continuous basis. Probably the easiest way to implement it would be to start using it in select functions & not across the marketing department off the bat.

I firmly believe that RTM has few unique principles:

1)   Focus on individual interactions

2)   Need for adaptive campaigns

3)   Strong alignment with other key departments like sales

4)   Customer collaboration

That certainly is not a comprehensive list & just like it’s core, these principles are ever changing & dynamic in nature.

In today’s aggressive and rapidly fluid economy, brands are determined to remain at the vanguard of their industries, which gives Real time marketing its spotlight. By allowing marketing to be “better, faster, and cheaper,” and be more flexible in the face of change, RTM 24/7 can help brands in their efforts to create a competitive advantage.

Brands can also expect RTM to benefit their offerings by increasing WOM (Word of Mouth), Media Receptivity, Social Media Presence and increased chances of consideration by the consumer.

Let me conclude with one of my key learning’s from ad:tech new delhi 2013 about marketing “Don’t wait to be perfect, just start”, after all Brands can afford to be “flawsome”

This piece has also appeared on India Digital Review as a Guest Article

Digital Marketing Trends for 2013 in India

As over 150 million Indians surf the interwebs (yes, that’s what the cool kids call it these days), Indian marketers are losing their sleep to catch them young, in their mid-life crisis or even after hanging up their boots. The challenge is immense. Out of the $5 billion Indian advertising industry, $900 million go to digital marketing.  The share of digital is poised to grow larger every year & slated to touch 30% of the total market by 2015.

As marketers we need to keep a track on the consumer’s pulse and the next big idea to engage them. Keeping that in mind & that we have 11 months left to make those ideas work for us, here are 5 trends, which will go massive in 2013

1)   Native Advertising

“Once you go Native, you don’t go Interruptive” – ANON

Over the past 10 years, publishers have continued to monetize their sites with banners and pre-roll ads, and advertisers have continued to pump billions into these formats, in spite of tanking performance & universal contempt. While click-through rates on display ads started out at around 9% in 2000, they now hover around 0.2% – which effectively means 99.8% of banner ads go straight to the trashcan.

Native advertising like a Promoted Tweet or a Sponsored story in Facebook allows brands to promote their content into the experience of the site or other mediums, in a non-interruptive & integrated manner. We are going to hear a lot about Native this year & it will affect the way we create content, effectively & hopefully killing advertising that sucks.

Native advertising is the irrefutable future.

2)   Social TV

2013 is the year when Social TV will go mainstream, ending the era of sitting passively on big boy recliners and watching television.

Social TV’s secret sauce is mixing humanity’s love for Television and its enchantment with social media. NEWS, Sports and Music channels have been on the wagon for a while but the turning point for the industry will be getting GEC’s onboard, inviting viewers to interact and decide their own storytelling experience.

NDTV’s second screen effort in its mobile app and Airtel’s Shazam campaign are couple of recent examples from the Indian market, but the biggest of them all comes in April 2013, when American network SyFy launches Defiance as a cross-platform story, on TV and as a MMO game.

What makes the industry even more exciting is the imminent launch of Twitter TV ratings with Nielsen this summer and the prospect of Social TV growing to a multi billion-dollar industry by 2020.

3)   Fragmentation

Today’s consumer is both everywhere and nowhere and his/her attention is divided between multiple screens & platforms on different screens. Marketers like to speak about TV, Desktop & Mobile as 3 screens, adding Tablet into the mix as the 4th screen will be a wise move to reach those fragmented souls who are always on the target list as the “elusive on-the-go customer”.

More consumers are watching more and more content, but that viewing is dispersed across different platforms, starting with TV, Online Streaming and VOD to Podcast. Although some western markets are going through the cord cutting phenomena, Indian market is going through what I like to call as “Cord extension” phase, where consumers are adding broadband, mobile, DTH, DVR and IPTV connections over their existing Cable TV.

The mantra of Content everywhere and anywhere on any device & any screen has played its bit role in fragmentation but changing consumption lifestyles has made it necessary to shift both strategy and focus for marketers that want to keep up with their audiences.

Thus 2013 should see some brave moves by content owners worldwide, some even unthinkable few years back, to keep their audience with them.

4)   Content Marketing

Content Marketing has already attained huge prominence among marketers worldwide but 2013 will see consumers seeking out content themselves, making it increasingly vital to the purchase cycle as well. Brands & agencies are responding with increased capabilities, as they look for opportunities to get involved and engaged with consumers at different levels, to provide content that is relevant and share worthy.

2013 will also witness marketers combining content with context to drive commerce.

Brands such as Red Bull with the Stratos Freefall initiative and McDonald’s Canada with Our Food, Your Questions campaign have led the charge globally while Tata Nano’s Social road trip has made a splash in the Indian market.

5)   Smart Data

Originally this was supposed to be titled as Big Data, and then came along an email by Rachel Gilley from our UK office, explaining how 1 of our clients thought data needs to be actionable and Smart data attained it’s place in the list. Every consumer touch point is a valuable piece of data & taking it together is possibly an antidote to fragmentation, discussed earlier in this post.

Big Data is complex to say the least and possibly the greatest challenge marketers face all over the world today. Companies collect information from their customers in structured or unstructured format, which are later put through various tools to understand consumers better. Global brands like Netflix, Amazon and Apple use it to serve better recommendations to their customers, whereas most of major Indian Retailers like Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle use transaction data to re-design store layouts & inventory management.

Interestingly Shoppers Stop, for instance, found that very often when middle-aged ladies shopped for Indian clothing, the other item on their list was men’s innerwear.

The much-improved version of Big Data is Smart Data, Data that can be put instantly to use by brands to improve marketing, business decisions and customer engagement practices.

This post has also appeared on imediaconnection India