What’s The Value Of A Sports Sponsorship Or Integration? Too Often, Brands Have No Idea.

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne. George Leon, Chief Strategy Officer

The fall is a huge time for sports. There’s the World Series, weekend football games, the beginning of the grueling NBA and NHL seasons and NASCAR winding to a close. Sports fans dedicate significant amounts of time to watching sports – on many different devices and channels – and brands are taking advantage of the many opportunities that affords.

Across the media landscape, inventory pricing is increasing but advertising budgets are not. As interest in sports sponsorships and integrations rise, agencies must find the right ways to evaluate these opportunities. Brands must apply the same path of attribution here as they do with their other advertising efforts.

The World Series is a high-profile event with major teams. Last year, it was the Dodgers and the Red Sox, two top five market teams. The series ended in five games, and advertisers were disappointed it didn’t go through the full seven because the campaigns did so well. This year, networks and advertisers continue to hope for a competitive World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals that continues through all seven games.

The Super Bowl, in contrast, is a singular cultural event that is difficult to measure from a KPI standpoint, but it is high in consideration in terms of interest, earned media and social mentions.

Over the past few years, the sports media universe has expanded dramatically. There are the mainstream networks, such as NBC, and cable networks, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, as well as an increase in conference-specific networks, including the Southeastern Conference Network, Big 10 Network and ACC Network. These networks open up sponsorship and integration opportunities that enable brands to deliver direct messages to particular regions and consumer segments. The evolution of these networks has added incremental opportunities for advertising and revenue, and brands of all sizes are taking note.

Whatever the network, attribution and accountability are key. For example, a big NASCAR sponsor will likely see a major increase in site traffic whenever there is a mention of its brand on TV during NASCAR races. This type of lucrative advertising avenue requires that it is measurable. It’s important to align sports sponsorships and integrations with results, such as branded impressions and ecommerce sales lifts.

There are several companies that look at the impression-level performance of sponsorships and integrations, but brands need to go beyond that and evaluate the value of particular campaigns. Often when sponsorship packages are offered by Fox Sports, NBC or ESPN, a big focus is on the creative element and the impressions for the events. However, there may not be any mechanism to measure the value of each element of a sponsorship or integration and their impact on brand metrics.

With attribution methodology, a very straight and clear correlation between when a brand’s logo appears and the impact on visits and acquisitions can be seen if rigorously measured.

Say a company buys branded signage at a televised event. The proposal is then evaluated based on the channel, the number of times the signage could be seen on screen and the mentions within that. It’s also considered if there is a different value depending on whether the logo is on the bottom of the screen, part of the background or part of the signage of the particular medium. If you look at any arena or hockey game, there are at least eight to 10 different brand logos. How frequently and for how long do those images appear onscreen? What is their prominence?

During the campaign, not only is the date and time in which the logos appear onscreen evaluated, but also the data and airtime of the advertising response. Brands should be able to understand how consumers react to these types of sponsorships and integration. How do they behave after seeing it? What’s the immediate or latent response?

We know they are not going to have the same audience delivery or measurements as a TV ad campaign, but often sponsorship and integration campaigns are seen only as a branded awareness configuration. Brands should also start considering them an acquisition and consumer response channel. It’s not just about the audience – it’s also about consumer engagement.

Now that sports season is in full swing, there’s no better time for brands to explore sports sponsorship and integration opportunities and how they can be evaluated for impact.

Incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important for success

Businesses of all sizes and across industries spend billions of dollars a year on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. CSR means choosing to put people and the planet first by operating in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. It can take many different forms — from eco-friendly office practices to charitable giving to volunteering — and vary widely from company to company, but it’s a critical part of succeeding in the current economy.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Three in four of today’s consumers claim they’re more likely to purchase from brands or do business with companies that are socially responsible. This is particularly true among millennials, both when choosing which brands to buy from and which companies to work for. According to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse survey, “81 percent of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.” CSR is no longer a “nice-to-have” — it’s a “must-have.”

CSR represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to build trust, bolster their reputation, and give back to the community. When creating and/or ramping up a CSR strategy, there are three pillars to consider: clients, people, and community.


Implementing CSR initiatives can give a competitive advantage to brands that are highly competitive on price, quality, and convenience. Embracing socially responsible policies helps a company burnish its image and cultivate positive brand recognition by demonstrating that it is compassionate and trustworthy. These values go a long way towards attracting and retaining clients. Clients and consumers (depending on the business model) want to be associated with businesses that are doing good and have a good reputation. By building client loyalty, CSR helps companies achieve increased profitability and long-term financial success.

A marketing and advertising agency can practice CSR by working with nonprofit clients, as well as for-profit businesses. A compelling campaign for a children’s hospital or a conservation non-profit telegraphs to other clients that the agency is committed to giving back, and clients will want to be associated with that goodwill. Charitable giving is another way businesses can use CSR to strengthen their client relationships. During the holiday season, businesses can donate to charitable organizations on behalf of their clients, which has the dual benefit of supporting meaningful causes and showing clients your business cares.


Just as CSR cultivates goodwill and loyalty from clients, it too can have the same effect internally. Making CSR a priority creates a positive work environment that inspires and unites employees. It supports recruitment, retention and employee satisfaction. Good CSR tends to attract employees who are eager to make a difference in the world, which is mostly millennials, and can help attract top-tier talent who are looking for jobs that have meaning and impact, not just a generous salary.

Social responsibility empowers employees to leverage corporate resources to do good and those collective employee efforts can achieve substantial results. This, in turn, increases workplace morale and boosts productivity. Having a sense of pride in the company they work for creates engaged workers who are happy in their jobs and committed to their employers. Put simply, they are more likely to stick around.

CSR has to start “at home.” A key but sometimes overlooked aspect of CSR is how a company treats and supports its own employees. A company that makes large donations to charitable organizations but doesn’t pay its own workers a fair wage or provide equal access to opportunity, is not living up to certain values. Diversity and inclusion are essential to CSR. If leadership prioritizes these issues, it creates a culture of social responsibility that serves employees, clients and customers well.

Consider policies around flexible work schedules and remote work options. Those might not seem directly related to CSR on the surface, but they are critical to making jobs more accessible to a wider swath of people. A company with rigid hours may have trouble attracting or retaining employees with young kids or an elder parent to care for, which can result in a homogenous workforce. Instituting a corporate culture that promotes work-life balance and employee wellbeing is also part of CSR.


The third pillar of CSR is community. Businesses have a role to play in making local communities and the planet a cleaner place to live. The Earth is the only life support system we have, and companies should be passionate about protecting it by applying green thinking to every decision. Every business, no matter the size, can have a positive impact on the environment by implementing green practices and procedures designed to address climate change.

The opportunities are endless: recycling programs; purchasing environmentally preferable office products like paper towels and cleaners; a water filtration system to reduce plastic water bottles; technology that automatically goes into energy saver mode; employee tree planting days; bonuses for green methods of commuting to work, like bicycling or public transportation. The list goes on, and no measure is too small.

How to build a CSR strategy

With these three pillars of CSR in mind, companies should embark on building a CSR strategy by first identifying their strengths. What are you good at? What do clients, potential hires, and the broader business community look to your company for? What do you have that no other company does? What can you offer that’s unique?

Next, consider what your clients and customers value. Are there particular issues they care about? Once you’ve identified those issues, how can your company support them? For example, if gender equality is a big area of interest, a company could donate to charitable organizations that have that mandate, as well as ensure the gender balance of the workplace is equitable and there are programs in place to support female leaders.

Companies should also solicit input from their employees when crafting a strategy. What do employees care about? Since one goal of CSR is to engage employees in collective action, their opinions carry a lot of weight. How do employees want to spend their time and company resources?

Finally, effective CSR programs capture analytics and measurements to gauge how successful campaigns really are. You want to make sure you are designing programs to have an impact, not just for show. Employees and clients alike will appreciate knowing what the outcomes are.

CSR is about giving back and helping find solutions to everyday issues – locally, nationally and globally. Ultimately the most successful CSR strategies are those that are not supplemental or peripheral, but rather baked into a company’s DNA. There are few aspects of a business that thoughtful CSR can’t improve. Incorporating CSR into the business strategy helps to build brand recognition and client/customer loyalty, achieves cost savings through reducing global footprint, attracts positive media attention, helps to find and retain top talent, and improves employee satisfaction and morale. But most importantly, companies that practice CSR can make a real difference in the world.


How emotionally fueled mass communication can affect advertising and brands

Advertisers are often tempted to use sensationalist mass communication to promote their brand, which isn’t a good idea

It can seem like the news cycle these days is filled with sensationalism and attention-grabbing headlines, putting brands in a challenging and potentially compromising position.

Brands invest in advertising to attract attention, get the word out, and raise awareness about their product. In today’s saturated digital media environment, this can be a challenge because consumers have so many demands on their attention. Brands, understandably, want to meet consumers where they are—or rather, where their attention is—and find ways to break through the noise. However, this impulse can lead to the siren song of sensationalism.

Whether through advertising on sites that traffic in clickbait or by attempting to capitalize on the momentum of viral internet hoaxes, advertisers are often tempted to use sensationalist mass communication to promote their brand. This strategy is short-sighted.

Participation or affiliation with this type of advertising ultimately has a negative effect on a brand and its reputation. Brands can gain more ground by investing in accountable, ethical advertising that will drive results over the long-term.


Sensationalist communication, which can sometimes be known as “Ragebait”- or content specifically designed to provoke strong emotions – is nothing new. In fact, it has a long history in American media through what used to be known as “yellow journalism.”

Yellow journalism emphasizes sensationalism over facts. It first emerged at the end of the 19th century when competition between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, and their respective newspapers, was fierce, with each paper duking it out for the public’s attention. The publishers realized that exaggerating stories to make them more dramatic meant they could sell more papers.

However, the consequences of this approach became clear with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The newspapers had closely covered the Cuban struggle for independence and fanned the flames of the conflict, and while they didn’t cause the war, they played a central role in ginning up public interest and support.

Spanish-American War Coverage

Certainly, media and journalistic standards have evolved since then, but the internet is a breeding ground for sensationalist content. The internet enables anyone to be a publisher, promotes the rapid flow of information (with no gatekeepers), and floods people with so much content that headlines really have to be eye-catching to get clicks.

In the era of social media, more and more headlines use provocative messaging and promise stories that are “shocking” to attract attention. Other tactics include phrases like “one simple trick” or “what they’re not telling you.” The more people click on these headlines, the more people see the ads that are served there, and so the cycle continues.


Today, this type of content can be divided into a couple of different categories. One category is hoaxes, like the Momo challenge or Tide Pods. As explained by Vox, an image of a “devilish bird-lady” named Momo somehow became a global panic about a dangerous “suicide game” that targeted children on social media. Parents were terrified that Momo would goad their children into violence while they used WhatsApp, watched YouTube videos, or played video games. But there was no evidence that the Momo challenge ever led to any violence—it was an “overblown internet hoax,” just like the idea that teenagers were ingesting Tide Pods or snorting condoms.

Momo Challenge

Satire, conspiracy, and “health” news

The internet can be an incredible resource to find information about current events, history, health, and more. It’s also a place where misinformation thrives, and it’s not always clear what is true and what is not. The internet makes it possible for people to find information that supports whatever they already believe, which fuels conspiracy theories. Anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, and “birther” conspiracists are able to connect and share online and reinforce one another. This, in turn, leads people who don’t believe the conspiracy to try and correct the record. Each side infuriates the other. People may be mad, but they are engaged, which is what advertisers want.

Moreover, it can be tricky to discern online between what is satire and what isn’t. Sarcasm and nuance aren’t easy to pick up and people take things literally. Furthermore, many people aren’t educated on how to identify whether media sites, sets of facts, or scientific studies are truthful and valid. Content makers can take advantage of this ignorance to promote conspiracy theories and make money. One of the most notorious conspiracy mongers out there, Alex Jones of InfoWars, uses crazy ideas to shill products like nutritional supplements and survivalist gear.

Deep fakes

The lines between what is real and what is not are only going to blur further, thanks to technology that enables “deep fakes.” A deep fake is a “computer-generated replication of a person, saying or doing things they have never said or done,” as defined by The Guardian.

From celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence accepting an award to President Trump advising the Belgians on climate change, technology can make it impossible to decipher whether a thing actually happened or not. As deep fakes become more sophisticated, it will be even more important for consumers to rely on trusted platforms to parse what’s real and what’s not, and even more important for brands to focus their advertising in places not linked to falsehoods and deception.

Deep Fakes

The good (the bad, the ugly)

Certainly not all content that is designed for clicks is nefarious. Unorthodox food preparations and recipes tend to attract a lot of attention: Videos of people throwing pieces of Kraft cheese onto babies’ faces, or a bizarre-looking pot of “queso” have generated huge reactions. There are also positive challenges, like the ALS ice bucket challenge, which raised millions of dollars for disease research.

The internet has been around long enough at this point that sensationalist, viral content is not that hard to engineer. It’s a cheap laugh, and brands have to seriously question whether it’s valuable or ethical to engage with it.

While advertising alongside rage bait may garner eyeballs in the short term, it can also cause long-term reputational damage. There’s been a concerted effort from groups like Sleeping Giants to get brands to remove ads from platforms and shows that peddle in sensationalism and fear-mongering, like Breitbart and the Ingraham Angle.

Brands whose ads are associated with or run alongside deceptive or harmful content now get called out and held responsible, so companies have to weigh the value of reaching certain sets of customers with the need to preserve the dignity and positivity of their reputation. Either way, they may lose customers, so it has to be a question of ethics, integrity, and accountability.

Brands also have to make sure they know where all their ads are placed, which in a time of real-time bidding and programmatic advertising, is not always easy to keep a handle on. Brands should be very aware of where their digital advertisements get placed and where they are getting shared, perhaps through the use of a Digital Asset Management platform.

Staying on top of negative communication trends is key to a brand. By using a proprietary suite of social listening tools to analyze sentiment around the brands they represent, agencies can make their clients aware of these negative trends and how it may be impacting their customers. This can quickly affect messaging across all channels and placement that will quickly help brands navigate this negative ecosystem.

Final thoughts

In summary, effective advertising is about much more than how many people see an ad. It’s about building a brand’s reputation and developing a strategy that is sustainable in a constantly evolving landscape. There are new internet fads every day, and while they may attract attention in the moment, the next day will bring something new.

Trying to capitalize on this ephemeral, and often harmful, momentum is a losing strategy. Instead, brands should aim to optimize ROI by advertising in a way that is true to their vision and that doesn’t rely on the crutch of sensational or emotionally fueled communication to have an impact.


John Francis is Sr. Director of Digital Strategy at Hawthorne and responsible for creating digital advertising experiences for Hawthorne’s clients that emphasize conversions. He has a penchant for analyzing qualitative social and UX data in order to achieve the highest ROI for clients like BLACK+DECKER, Dexcom, Dyson, Gemmy, LeafFilter and Sengled among just a few. Understanding how people interact with information design is John’s passion. Prior to Hawthorne, John was the dean of the Keller Graduate School of Management/Information Sciences. For the 12 previous years he taught “Interactive Design, Usability, Marketing and Branding” at The Art Institute of California. Before his teaching adventures, he was the director of partner marketing with VERIO/NTT. Prior to his time with VERIO/NTT, John was Webmaster at America Online, where his team spearheaded the creation and launch of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and strategically marketing the AIM software package, resulting in over 400M installations of the chat application.

Building housewares brands with brand response TV

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

It is time for marketers to take advantage of the DRTV expansion to solve some of their biggest advertising pain points.

Karla Crawford Kerr on September 26, 2019 at 9:51 am

Housewares and brand response television have a long and robust shared history. Over 30 years ago, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) deregulated television air time allowing different time formats of commercial air time to be purchased. This paved the way for the live shopping channels as we know them today, showcasing many housewares products. It also opened up the airwaves to longer formats like 30-minute infomercials. Braun and Black+Decker were among the first major housewares retail brands to embrace the format, an early example of direct response television (DRTV), in which consumers are encouraged to buy directly from advertisements.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, longer format advertising represented about 75% of the DRTV landscape and today the industry is worth over $200 billionPopular housewares DRTV advertisers achieved an almost cult-like status by using a variety of lengths including from 30 seconds to a half hour and live shopping to promote products like the George Foreman Grill, OxiClean, ShamWow and of course, the Snuggie. However, it is brands like Conair, Cuisinart, Dollar Shave, KitchenAid, Pfizer, Shark, Wahl Clipper Corporation and WORX that have paved the way for advertising that utilizes both branding and response mechanisms or brand response advertising.

As television and media consumption habits have evolved, along with advertising and marketing technology, so has DRTV, paving the way for the next generation of brand response TV. The role of DRTV is expanding in the brand marketing world and the next generation of DRTV has opened up powerful opportunities for housewares brands seeking accountability and faster campaign ROI. As the role of DRTV expands in the brand marketing world, it is time for marketers to take advantage of that expansion to solve some of their biggest advertising pain points.

In today’s competitive media landscape, brand advertisers struggle more than ever before to earn market share using traditional approaches due to factors like cost and fragmentation. Targeting consumers and B2B customers is getting extremely difficult. Put simply, it’s hard to stand out in an environment where people are bombarded by brand messages all day, on all sides. Social media may be widely used, but it also gives brands a split second to make an impression. What marketers need is a canvas that tells a story in an attention-getting medium, which is why they are turning to brand response TV (BRTV) and connected TV with the traditional bag of tricks like retargeting.

Brand response advertising increases brand awareness, improves brand perception and drives engagement. It is highly accountable, measurable, and delivers real ROI. It features customized, relevant content and works in conjunction with other types of media and channels. The brand response paradigm leverages a strong data component and can empower brands to make better decisions around media buys, messaging, and their overall campaigns. Marketers can analyze real-time performance statistics and test strategies in an ongoing way. BRTV is also more affordable and efficient than general advertising.

Despite these major benefits, many brand marketers are reluctant to invest in brand response TV due to concerns that people aren’t watching. Certainly video content is evolving, but that doesn’t mean TV is dead.

In an October 2018 study, the Consumer Technology Association surveyed 2,000 US adults about their content consumption habits. The survey yielded four main segments: Traditionalists, Value-Conscious Streamers, Device-Diverse Viewers and Experience Seekers. Traditionalists (29%) haven’t tried new technology and are less likely to stream or binge-watch; Value-Conscious Streams (41%) are more likely to use streaming services than cable and prioritize saving money; Device-Diverse Viewers (13%) watch a lot of video content from many sources on many devices; Experience Seekers (17%) prioritize an optimal viewing experience, and are willing to spend on technology and content to get that experience.

Across all these personas, one thing is clear – TV remains the top device for viewing content and cable/satellite remains the top source for content. TV is highly relevant and a long way from becoming obsolete. Housewares brands that invest in brand response TV can get serious bang for their buck.

Housewares brands are particularly suited to brand response advertising for a number of reasons. One is the power of demonstration. Brands can show their products in action and demonstrate how they will improve people’s lives in a way that is impactful and enticing. Consider Dyson, Keurig, Leesa, Rust-Oleum and T-Mobile. Viewers can immediately see how these products address a clear pain point and offer better ease and convenience than whatever they’re currently doing.

Housewares tend to be fairly intimate since they are products people use in their homes, so creating an emotional connection with viewers is key. This is why so many of the stars of DRTV are “everyman” or “everywoman” types who viewers feel comfortable with, recognize, and trust.  Housewares brands using brand response have a natural, high-focus on their relationship with consumers. The shift from brick and mortar to e-commerce has been beneficial to brands as they engage directly with the consumer via Amazon FBM (fulfillment by merchant), as well as interactions with consumers that share their housewares experience online.

Further, using brand response for housewares creates more room to deploy creative strategies, as suggested by Dash, Sobro and Wahl Clipper Corporation executives at the aforementioned building housewares brands seminar. For example, Catherine-Gail Reinhard, vice president, product strategy & marketing for Dash and Sobro shared that she often creates recipes and/or develops cookbooks that complement a food-related houseware. At the same seminar, Steven Yde, Vice President Marketing NAC division, said that offering guides from in-house barbers helps build value and ensures greater product satisfaction.

Direct response advertising has come a long way from the days of Ron Popeil’s first TV commercials for Ronco’s housewares gadgets like the Ronco Spray Gun, the Chop-O-Matic and the Veg-O-Matic, but clearly many aspects have remained the same.  In 2019 and beyond, brand response TV is a highly effective and cost-efficient approach for any housewares brand that wants to strategically grow and have a meaningful impact.

13 Tips For Effectively And Efficiently Personalizing A Marketing Campaign

Today’s marketers are learning that personalized campaigns are often the most successful. These powerful marketing tactics are particularly effective in targeting Millennials and Gen-Zers, who crave authentic, personal connections with the brands they patronize. However, taking the time and resources to tailor every individual marketing message can get very expensive, very quickly.

If you want to get more personal without breaking the bank, try following these tips from the experts of Forbes Agency Council. Their tactics will help you efficiently and cost-effectively take a more individualized approach to your marketing.


1. Authentically Automate Personalized Campaigns

There is a multitude of ways to automate personalized campaigns. However, it’s essential not to sacrifice authenticity for the efficiency of automation. For example, too many “persona-based” personalized campaigns paint too broadly when bucketing cohorts. Instead, opt for more individually personalized automation. An obvious example is sending automated emails on audience members’ birthdays. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync

2. Get More Specific With Your Targeting

Plain and simple, our technology today allows us to get very specific in who we are targeting. The more specific you are about who you want to see your campaign, the more you are able to personalize it and keep within budget. This means you need to really know who your target audience is and what their habits, likes and dislikes, and behaviors are. – Andrea Keirn, Black Rhino Marketing Group

3. Let Them Tell You What They Want

Give your younger customers a chance to self-select by asking them what kind of consumer they are. For instance, ask if they’re a regular purchaser, a sometimes purchaser or a first-time purchaser. It’s simple: Once they’ve identified as a purchaser at all, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Then, adjust your messaging and offers accordingly (but don’t forget to test those messages!). – Kathy Broderick Selker, Northlich

4. Leverage Narrative Psychology

Personalization of campaigns can be efficient and cost effective when considering the power of narrative psychology. Think social quizzes—these self-directed widgets blew up because it’s all about the “story of me,” a.k.a. narrative psychology. Include your targets in creating the campaign, creatively, and let them tell your story in a personalized manner. – Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate

5. Align Campaign Structure And Messaging With The Customer Journey

When you don’t have the time, data or dollars to build truly personalized marketing, structure your campaign to mirror the customer journey and create different messaging for each stage. Most marketers don’t. In the top of the funnel, differentiate your brand and address customer needs. At the bottom of the funnel, use retargeting campaigns personalized to site behavior, and use a strong call to action. – John Keehler, RUNNER Agency

6. Start With A Hashtag

It can all start with just one word. The campaign has to be catchy, and it can be just a simple hashtag where people can get involved with no cost. Having a hashtag go viral would be the most cost-effective campaign. Millennials and Gen-Zers want something straight to the point and real. What better way than to convey your message with a simple hashtag? – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

7. Create A ‘Vault’ Of Collateral To Use Year-Round

Cost-effectiveness and efficiency often get sacrificed in campaigns when everything is created from scratch during the time campaigns are being created. Have your team regularly deliver content and copy that can be utilized when it’s time to create a new campaign. Use Pinterest boards and a shared Google Doc that everyone can contribute their ideas to as they feel inspired to do so. – Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media

8. Tell Real Stories About Real People

Personalized campaigns require preliminary research to understand your customers and the causes they believe in. To deliver powerful campaigns that truly resonate, tell real stories about real people, and draw the connection between these narratives and your brand’s overarching mission and vision. This will help make advertisements that are unique to your company and your audience. – Theresa Schieber, Givewith

9. Study Popular Search Terms

Personalizing ads can be done cost effectively through dynamic, digital creative that is based on the terms Millennials and Gen-Zers are searching for. Different imagery, highlighted products and offers can all be personalized and changed based on the initial search terms. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

10. Engage With Them Where They Already Are

It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen-Zers dwell in the details and thus consume an overwhelming amount of information to help guide their decision making. When crafting a campaign, it’s important to take note of where they are engaging with content, like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, and create campaigns that are relatable, personable and easy to communicate through these channels. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Get A 360-Degree View Of Your Customer

Invest in a platform that centralizes data about your customers, business, category and competitors to gain a comprehensive view of your business and customers. With machine learning enhanced by artificial intelligence powering your data feed and displaying it in a comprehensive dashboard, you can make informed decisions and instant adjustments to campaigns to connect with customers on an individual level. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

12. Get Personal At The Right Time

Personalizing campaigns used to mean inserting a name into an email or adding some “meat” to your interaction. But there are many stops along the buyer journey to connect when it is the most valuable for the buyer. For example, you get a new iPhone. Now you might need a case and perhaps a backup charger. Just check your email or that text message. This is personalized remarketing at its best. – Bernard May, National Positions

13. Use Dynamic Content

You can create personalized emails without spending hours on crafting emails manually. Use dynamic content. This method enables you to create one email with separate blocks customized to each recipient. It also allows you to localize the images. Dynamic content can be a perfect solution, as it helps brands build a much stronger relationship with the customers by showing that they really care. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

Private Equity firms and Branding: 7 reasons why it makes for better ROI

Anant Deboor

By Anant Deboor, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Hawthorne

Original Publication: Medium

Date of Publication: February 7, 2019

‘We are a private equity firm — I am not sure why we need to invest in branding and marketing. Our business is face-to-face, we know our clients.’Anant Deboor

Something that we often hear of as brand and marketing consultants. On the other hand, research from a 2014 survey by financial services firm, BackBay Communications, among 290 PE partners, agents, lawyers and i-bankers, 98% said it was important. Where’s the truth in this post-truth world? Or perhaps more accurately, which is the more justifiable opinion?

Private equity: a young, maturing industry with an ancient history

PE has always been around, it just hasn’t been called that until modern times.

If you went back to the 15th Century, it would have been a husband-wife venture capitalist team in Spain by the names of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who provided seed funding for a chap called Christopher Columbus hoping to find a new route to India. Señor Columbus first made presentations to the King of Portugal, who turned him down after consulting with his advisory team. Over the years, the King and Queen put up more expansion capital as they started seeing some returns — and then convinced investors from other parts of Europe to jump into Project America.

Fast forward to the 1960s-80s, when we witnessed explosive growth among PE firms. From Silicon Valley start-ups funded by venture capitalists through to the infamous leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco by Henry Kravis and Jerome Kohlberg, Jr — PE firms started acquiring their cavalier (and sometimes dark) reputation, immortalised in pop culture with the book and film “Barbarian at the Gates”.

From small to big: contrasting worlds, bigger challenges

PE firms are generally slotted in somewhere along a scale of size: from small to very, very large. At the smaller end of the spectrum, you typically have the largely self-funded VC firms. The culture tends to be more chaotic — and often driven by a belief in an idea. As most of the firms here are self-funded, the deals they look for are based often based around personal beliefs, capabilities and vision. To the extreme right however, you have the behemoths such as KKR and Blackstone, that look and feel premium corporate. It is the world of big business, huge numbers, management power and aggressive ambitions.

Beyond deal-making: the emergence importance of brand and reputation

While the ability to spot winners, negotiation skills, financial nous and an innate aggression have always been central to the success of PE firms, in today’s market, they can no longer rely on that deal-making prowess alone. In a post-2008 tighter regulatory and more suspicious climate, with the general drying up of easy capital, an increasing number of PE firms — particularly the small and mid-market ones — need to make every deal count. In the cut-throat world of PE, the deal-making — and oftentimes the unsavoury fallout — ends up damaging reputations for the long-term. Just Google the PE fight over the super luxury hospitality brand Aman Resorts, and the impact it had on the Aman brand.

Here are seven lessons in the long-term importance of the brand that PE firms are realising today, lessons that firms such as Deloitte, McKinsey and PWC, and law firms such as Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Clifford Chance and others have realised over the last decades. An importance that is leading to greater ROI on every deal that is at the heart of the PE business.

  1. Cascading trust: A stronger brand at the heart of the PE business means an ecosystem of greater trust and confidence — and the cascading benefits. Brands are also hugely valuable during times of underperformance, and when working with regulatory bodies. While basic honesty and integrity in deal-making are essential in the VC space, this becomes mission critical as you move to the right of the spectrum above.
  2. Stronger deal results: For the small and mid-market firms, their PE brand is critical in an external downstream context. This could mean more proprietary deal flow, with fewer auctions. It will mean more calls returned, easier negotiation on term sheets and big insurance against ending up competing on price.
  3. Efficiencies in attracting the right opportunities: Creating a reputation for a sector expertise, or sustainability, automatically separates you from other firms by attracting the right kind of investment opportunities. For example, Impact Investing has become such an important arena that The Economist estimates it will take an additional $2.5trillion of private investment per year to really tackle the issues of climate change.
  4. Insurance against financial crises: For the mega firms such as KKR and Blackstone, corporate reputation matters more than ever before. The WPP BrandZ Portfolio of Strong Brands outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of 2 between Apr 2006 and April 2013. Companies that invested in their brand showed smaller drops during the financial crisis, and rebounded faster and higher after.
  5. Winning the war for expertise: Most importantly, a strong brand helps in the talent marketplace. A survey by Deloitte once estimated that a 1% drop in talent attrition led to an annual savings of over US$400mn. Toward the right of the spectrum, companies like KKR and Blackstone face fierce competition to hold on to their star fund managers and to continuously attract the best talent.
  6. The power of the halo effect: The Aman Resorts case is a classic lesson in how not to handle PE deal-making. The impact on the Aman brand is still reverberating, five years on. The stronger your PE brand and reputation, the stronger the halo — both on sources of capital as well on your investment properties. A strong PE brand has a direct impact on the valuation of the very companies it has stakes in — resulting in greater returns.
  7. Access, access access: A strong PE brand with a sharply defined purpose will open gateways to far more deals of the right kind rather than the ‘spray-n-pray’ approach that many adopt through endless networking events and seminars. Access to sectors, geographies, people and deals happen because your reputation precedes you.PE firms need to translate intent into meaningful action to define and develop their brands and marketing propositions. Being able to articulate a central idea and brand vision and making that work nicely for the business is quite simply a measure of sophistication of the firm — and will stand it in good stead.

Anant Deboor is a specialist in brand architecture/consulting and the Regional MD (APAC) of Hawthorne, a US-based, ROI-led performance marketing agency.

Growing ‘unicorns’ with brand response TV advertising

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

By Karla Crawford Kerr, VP of Marketing, Hawthorne

Original Publication: The Drum

Date of Publication: February 4, 2019

Advertising during the Super Bowl is designed to make a statement. Brands use those premium slots as an opportunity to make people laugh or cry, to take a political stance, but most of all, to make a lasting impression. At $5 million for a 30-second spot, Super Bowl ads aren’t cheap, and just as notable as the content can be which brands decide to shell out for ads at astronomical prices.

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

Click here for the full story over at The Drum

What Is Privacy Forward and Why Does it Matter for Marketers?

John Francis, DBA

By John Francis, DBA

Original Publication: Marketo

Date of Publication: November 12, 2018

When I worked as a webmaster at AOL in the early days, every employee had visibility into every member’s account. Then in 1999, a naval officer was outed by one of the employees after he logged into an alternate profile with a different screen name. AOL’s course of action was to immediately shut down access to all members’ data and hire an integrity assurance officer. It was a moment of reckoning for online privacy.John Francis, DBA

I’ve been thinking about that anecdote a lot recently following the revelations about how Cambridge Analytica accessed and deployed Facebook data to impact the U.S. election. There’s been a lot of discussion about how much Mark Zuckerberg knew and whether Facebook should have done more to prevent or stop the data theft. Those are absolutely questions worth considering, but the issue of data theft is nothing new. Tech companies have always created platforms with a certain degree of naivete about the possibility that user data could be exposed or exploited.

As a marketer, it’s important to understand privacy as it is part of the customer experience. In this blog, I’ll tell you about what a walled garden is and why it’s a myth, how to engage with customers, and what a privacy forward strategy looks like for marketing teams & their customers.

The Myth of the Walled Garden
At a recent Videonomics symposium, I heard representatives from many tech companies discuss how advertisers couldn’t get into their “walled gardens.” A walled garden is a closed ecosystem where operations are controlled by an ecosystem operator. The term is frequently used, but based on decades of experience with dot-coms and digital advertising, I consider a myth.

The fact is that it’s very simple for someone to take first and third-party data, link it up and retarget consumers with ads. That information combined with a user’s history can help build a persona around them. Even though Facebook shut down the ability to take data from third-party data brokers, companies can still put cookies on other websites that collect activity from users. They may not know who the person is, but if they have an IP address and can link those two together with Facebook, you get a full 360-degree view. The data that is already out there, whether it’s been released or stolen, can then be correlated and shared.

Moreover, data breaches appear to be accelerating in severity and scale. Breaches at Yahoo, Sony PlayStation, and Alteryx, for example, resulted in compromised data for hundreds of millions of people. All that information is available to anyone. We live in an age of “data promiscuity.” Walled gardens and online privacy are nice to think about, but privacy could soon become a relic of the past, which is why a new crop of data privacy regulations and guidelines are emerging to create a privacy-forward landscape.

Data Targeting
Questions around data privacy have particular relevance for marketers and advertisers, who rely on data to improve their targeting capabilities. Robust data allows them to put their ads in front of people and create brand awareness, which helps sell products. Secondly, marketers can use data to put targeted messages in front of people who actually want the product, instead of people who don’t.

However, participants in the advertising ecosystem need to have data integrity assurance incorporated within online platforms that actively works to protect private information. Our industry is making progress towards increasing the capacity to distribute information freely. In addition, the platforms they create to spread this information are very user-friendly. I’m not a programmer by profession, but available analytic tools can be easily configured to exploit private information based on the conspicuously available private data. Cambridge Analytica’s brazen use of a Facebook application to gather insights on millions of users is a prime example of this dynamic at work.

Engaging with Relevant Content
Moreover, Facebook uses a process called content-based targeting, whereby related content and ads are delivered to members based on their likes, shares, and follows. Facebook collects much more data about members’ engagement than what is made privy to advertisers.

Targeting the right audience doesn’t (and shouldn’t) require theft and privacy violations. Data privacy and marketing do not have to be mutually exclusive. Marketers care that an action was created, but not about who created it. All that matters is what the consumer did and why.

Digital analytics and web traffic tools like Google Analytics and Matomo place pixels on a website. The pixel provides timestamp information when an action is taken. Say a commercial aired on Lifetime for a Gerber product. If somebody sees the call to action and types in the URL on their computer or mobile device, then we know what ad they saw, where they were located, and the time and device they used. We also know that a commercial sent a certain amount of money at cost-per-click or per action, which is useful for looking at a marketing budget and figuring out where best media spends are.

A Privacy Forward Approach
In June 2018, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018. The policy grants consumers the right to request the data that businesses collect on them and to ask companies not to sell their data. The law imposes strict rules about how businesses disclose data collected from consumers. It also empowers the state Attorney General to fine companies for noncompliance. Needless to say, it was opposed by major media, telecom and tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. Facebook initially opposed it but eased off after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.

The CCPA was inspired by what is happening in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposed new rules on controlling and processing personally identifiable information, or PII. There was skepticism that the privacy forward principles of the GDPR would catch on in the U.S., but it has, starting with California which is setting the standard other states will soon follow. Dot-coms are following suit as well, as evidenced by the pop-ups about policy changes on what feels like every ecommerce and news site.

These initiatives have entered the term “privacy forward” into the modern lexicon. A privacy forward approach is best described as the guidelines for identifying data that should be considered classified. Classified information includes IP addresses, contact information, and genetic and biometric data. It also encourages organizations that collect personal data to conduct mapping and maintain a 360-degree view. Customer information is not a commodity, but rather a personal bond of trust between an organization and its customers. This also extends to what is shared with outside vendors and third-party data analytic tools and their associated platforms. Transparency is paramount.

In 2001, with the merger of Time Warner and AOL, the FCC ordered AIM, which had over 90% of the market (and thus user data) to become interoperable with other chat platforms. Today, Facebook is participating the Data Transfer Project, a collaboration of organizations, including Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, committed to building a common way for people to transfer data into and out of online services. It’s a big and exciting step towards making privacy forward the norm.

6 Ways To Thrive In Today’s Challenging Omnichannel Economy


By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: YPO.Org

Date of Publication: October 9, 2018

Today’s marketing landscape is broader, deeper and more complex than ever before. There are more channels, more choices and more customers who get more savvy every day. Thriving in this “omnichannel marketing” playground is a balancing act. Companies have to continuously evaluate and strengthen customer touchpoints while delivering a consistent and seamless experience across all channels.Omnichannel

It’s no easy task. My advice? Put the customer at the center, enact a prudent and adaptable plan that focuses on delivering consistency, measure constantly and be willing to take some risks. To that end, here are my top tips for effective omnichannel marketing:

Every customer wants to feel like your best customer, and the only way to deliver this is to put your customer at the center of your omnichannel approach. Whether calling in, walking in, shopping online or interacting any way, they expect a personal, seamless and pleasurable experience. Fine-tune all your customer touchpoints so they deliver on this, including social media and mobile sites. And remember, it isn’t just the purchasing experience that matters. Customers expect to be able to research product options (i.e., read product reviews on smartphones while standing in the retail store aisle), access coupons via text or a website, or even contact customer support using Facebook or Twitter. Bottom line: The customer is king — or queen — and every interaction with them matters.

In theory, it sounds simple. But maintaining consistency across various marketing channels is an ongoing challenge. The first step is to take a holistic look at all your marketing, advertising, sales and even product return activities. Then, examine each to make sure they are delivering a personalized experience that’s also uniform. That may mean focusing less on individual channel performance correlated to revenue goals or other specific measurements. You may also have to restructure processes and even your organization to eliminate silos and encourage cohesiveness.

Make sure to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. The optimization of cross-screen attribution methodologies allows a marketer to fine-tune creative content advertising by channel and device, as well as identify attribution insights driving media optimization for e-commerce and drive to retail campaigns.

Adopting cohesive and well-connected strategies across various advertising channels can lead to greater success. That means integration among digital (online and mobile) and search-engine marketing, television, over-the-top (OTT) content, video on demand, print, radio and display ads. Be sure to leverage multivariate testing — a technique for testing a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified to determine landing page conversions, display ad effectiveness and other important measurements. And take time to review the ways consumers interact with your brand across all platforms. You’ll be able to draw fresh insights into their buying preferences, engagement times and transaction history.

Collect data and learn how to effectively analyze and use it. It’s not just about having all the numbers and statistics at your fingertips. You can use the data to predict where the consumer is going to be, how they will be buying and how you can reach them in that setting — and at the right time. Use the data to stay ahead of the curve and to not only execute on a one-time basis, but also to duplicate the data in a way that allows you to repeat the successes and avoid mistakes.

I recommend using multi-touch attribution, mixed-media modeling and ingestion of first-party customer data that’s layered with second- and third-party data to provide a 360-degree analytic view, which will connect brands with customers to gain deeper insights. We’ve learned at Hawthorne, through experience, that custom-built analytics tools and methodologies utilizing real-time customer data gives companies insights to optimize marketing strategies.

There is no magic formula for omnichannel marketing. In fact, this is one of the most common mistakes companies make as they embark on their own omnichannel strategy. Instead, be prepared to put in time, patience and perseverance to discover the right formulas and implement them. And remember, digital media isn’t a panacea. Sure, you can achieve some quick results with digital media. But there’s no guarantee it will deliver the customer response you’re looking for. Nor does it always help customers find your products or services.

It takes constant tracking, measuring and optimizing. Track the consumer path to conversion across all screens and devices used by the target demographic, from TV to desktop and mobile. Measure the fractional response and weighted conversions that each media channel is individually driving, from linear TV to streaming and pre-roll video. Optimize the media allocation between media platforms to maximize reach, consumer response and ROI per advertising dollar on a weekly basis.

The days of “set it and forget it” media planning are gone. Data are always moving, and weekly optimization is key so use real-time data.

Be on the lookout for — and open to — emerging trends. For example, begin investigating the effectiveness of voice search, especially with the growth of smart speaker sales in the past year. Voice search has a lot of potential in microtargeting a local market. However, technology is still being developed to better optimize search results and the individual will need to learn how to succinctly communicate with the audio device to get relevant results.

By integrating these essential practices into your marketing strategy, you’ll be in a great position to realize the real power of the omnichannel. Just remember: Don’t expect immediate results (patience is a virtue here), and continuously test new techniques and selling strategies before you launch them. And perhaps most importantly, always keep your customers at the center.

“If You’re Looking For A Job In Advertising, Strive To Combine Your Right Brain Creativity With Left Brain Data”

By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: Howigotjob.com

Date of Publication: September 24, 2018

Why Did You Seek Out A Career In The Advertising Industry?
Patience has never been my strong suit, so finding a career that allows me to see immediate results was a natural fit for me. Advertising provides the best of both worlds – a perfect combination of working directly with clients and leveraging creativity. The best part? You never get bored or stop learning. Diving into each client’s business, you become an expert in their vertical and product category. Additionally, as someone who dislikes waste (wasteful time, resources, money, etc.), accountable advertising is a path that fulfills the desire to reduce waste as we are able to maximize the cost of media and generate an ROI on the media spent. The greatest reward is seeing clients’ businesses grow and watching the executives we partner with flourish in their industries as a result of the campaign success.

What Was Your First Job That Helped You To Get To Where You Are Today?
I started out as a talent agent trainee before becoming a Television Literary Agent for the large firm, WME/William Morris Endeavor. My client management experience and expertise representing individual writers, directors and producers for TV directly translated to the advertising world. As a talent agent, my focus was on growing my individual clients’ careers. In advertising, I had the opportunity to represent a bigger entity –an entire brand.

What Are Your Tips For Preparing For Job Interviews?
I’ve always been someone who is over prepared for job interviews. If I had to narrow down my tips to just the 6 most important, they would be:

  1. Dress to impress – first impressions are everything, and your choices for how you will make a physical impact matter.
  2. Bring a black portfolio holder – pack extra resumes and sample work you’d like to showcase.
  3. Do extensive research – it’s surprising how some candidates rely on their experiences without doing the research to connect the dots. Extra effort and knowledge of case studies and people who work at the company will go a long way.
  4. Don’t stop at preparing for questions they might ask you – prepare questions for them. The biggest red flag in an interview is a candidate who has no questions for the interviewers.
  5. Show that you’re self-motivated – it’s not enough to say it. Share examples of your experiences that speak for themselves.
  6. Be excited – smile, show confidence and enthusiasm. No one is going to give you a job just because you have an impressive resume. People want to enjoy working with you and know that you’ll be a positive, enjoyable extension of the team.

Are There Any Books That Have Helped You Along The Way?
The top book that comes to mind that has helped me grow in my career is Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business by Gino Wickman. Traction is a phenomenal book and philosophy that takes the best elements out of all the business operations and team building philosophies out there and combines them into one holistic platform. It’s a game changing platform for businesses to operate on.

Things Are Changing Very Fast In The Industry, How Do You Keep Yourself Updated?
Please list techniques or newsletter, podcasts, events etc.
I have a news channel on in my office all day to see the headlines. I still scan every email that comes in for industry headlines and events. I attend both industry conferences and those that have a more global perspective (TED, Singularity, etc.) to fuel my brain and future thinking of how our company wants to give back to society as a whole. I read through hard copies of key industry trades, as well as top tier national outlets like Forbes, Fortune and Harvard Business School.

What Is Your Advice For Someone Looking For Job In The Advertising Industry?
Advertising is becoming so much more data-driven than ever before. Creativity and client service skills must be accompanied by background in statistics, programming, data science or math for success in today’s advertising world. If you’re looking for a job in advertising, strive to combine your Right Brain creativity with Left Brain data, and you’ll truly succeed in delivering ROI for your clients.

Why Do You Think You Were Selected Among Other Candidates When You Began Your Career?
Before I started my first job out of college, I had already interned at smaller talent agencies, film production companies, music video production companies and had done computer graphics and editing. I think I stood out from other candidates because I was an artist, but I also knew the business side and how to represent artists and their interests.

What Lessons Have You Learned From Jobs You Were Turned Down From?
Everything is meant to be, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Every job interview is a learning experience and makes you a better interviewee.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne, an award-winning technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns for over 30-years. Hawthorne has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience