The Versatility of Connected TV and How to Best Integrate Into Marketing Strategies

Connected TV covers a broad range of executions and it can be a very powerful tool in a media mix if properly deployed.

As consumers increasingly utilize streaming and connected TV services, either as a substitute for linear or as an extension of their TV viewing, connected TV advertising is proving to be a versatile channel in a brand’s overall marketing strategy. The truth is, connected TV covers a broad range of executions and it can be a very powerful tool in a media mix if properly deployed. In order to achieve proper execution, it is important to fully understand the entire versatility of the channel. In this article, we will explore the different iterations of CTV as well as the best ways to approach this emerging channel with and without traditional TV integration.
Bill Cogar

Connected TV: Making the Most of Your Advertising Dollars

Broadly speaking, CTV refers to TV programming that is streamed through an internet connected device. This includes smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku devices, gaming consoles (PlayStation, Xbox), and any video content streamed on an iPhone, tablet or desktop, commonly referred to as full episode player (FEP). In addition to device type, CTV also describes over-the-top (OTT), which refers to network provider extensions like DirecTV Now, HBO GO, and others. Additional examples of OTT include YouTube TV (lives in Google’s walled garden) and Hulu, which historically has operated from an open exchange and only recently started to break up its inventory putting more into auction.
When referring to CTV advertising, media buyers are referring to a range of executions, the nuances of which can be leveraged to drive brand awareness, lead generation and conversion as well as data and audience learnings, including attribution. The nuances that exist within CTV, including channel, programming type, and device type, can each be uniquely leveraged to reach specific users and achieve specific objectives. It is also important for brands to note that the nuances within CTV vary greatly in quality and cost. For example, a CTV ad delivered to a targeted audience using highly targeted data and delivered within premium network content during primetime hours provides a different value and experience than a CTV ad delivered to a broad demographic on mobile device in-app in off peak hours, yet on paper these can look deceptively similar. With the level of fragmentation that exists, it can be difficult to fully understand exactly what is being bought and placed, and if you are merely looking at delivery metrics to gauge performance, then dollars can be easily wasted.

Targeting and Tracking for Top Exposure

The most valuable aspect of CTV is the ability to apply granular audience targeting in order to identify high value users and bid specifically to place messaging in front them. In order to reach these highly valuable users, buyers and strategists must layer data, targeting, inventory, and bidding strategies in order to create effective and efficient buys. In addition to targeting, the ability to track and attribute your campaign to measurable actions like activity post exposure is beneficial for several reasons. Like other digital channels, CTV utilizes digital signals to track user’s activity after ad exposure. Smart TV executions rely on cross device mapping in order to create a device graph for each household, and measure activity on other devices tied to that IP address. With cross device mapping in place, marketers can see if a user who was served a CTV ad on their Roku device later visited a brand’s website on another device connected to the same WiFi router. This kind of direct attribution is beneficial because an individual’s ad exposure can be tracked to a user’s activity and optimized to ROI actions. Attribution is achieved by mapping the exposure of users to an advertisement to their web activity post-exposure. For example, direct actions like form fills or purchases, to indirect impact measurement like searches they conducted after being exposed. Additionally, ROI value is further enhanced when CTV is executed as part of a holistic digital campaign that includes display, social, and search.

CTV is effective for top of funnel efforts, while complementing other digital channels if the right strategies are deployed to ensure all channels work in harmony. These other strategies can include sequential message delivery, funnel modeled audience profiles, and re-engagement strategies that drive influenced actions. Beyond brand awareness and exposure, CTV can be leveraged with performance-based objectives in mind. Whether it is utilizing tracking and attribution to tie exposure to conversions, or as part of a re-engagement strategy to connect with users who have expressed interest but not yet converted, CTV is able to deliver high value messaging to specific users with specific influence in mind. CTV’s ability to be measured with high accuracy through pixels and cross device measurement means that even with view through attribution, the exposure these ads generate should be viewed as high value.

An additional benefit of a CTV campaign is its use as a testing platform to prove a creative or audience hypothesis, before rolling out to more mass reach channels like linear TV. Because CTV sits in between digital and traditional channels, it provides a platform to understand response and engagement with content and audiences with the flexibility of digital execution. Therefore, it is a great way to experiment with audiences, creative, programming, and other variables to collect data that can be used to make decisions across channels. CTV can uncover audiences that are likely to respond to your product or disprove audiences that will not respond. The campaign can identify data points for programming and interests within existing audiences; potentially preventing an expensive buy on a network that is not likely to perform, and it can deliver response metrics to different creative tests; helping direct creative teams toward more effective messaging. All of this can be accomplished with lower investments and within shorter time frames as statistical relevance can be reached quickly and cheaply if executed well.

The question becomes how should CTV be integrated into a brand’s marketing mix? Due to its flexibility, CTV can be executed in many different ways. It can be used as a testing vehicle for linear TV executions or as an integrated awareness driver with linear TV, providing an extension of reach and frequency that improves overall exposure rates and provides stronger attribution signals on the effectiveness of both channels. It can also be run as an extension of Digital buys as a way to fill the funnel with high value sight, sound, and motion touch points along with a re-engagement vehicle to drive deeper influence throughout a user’s journey, and as a way to deliver video content in attention heavy inventory. However, it can also be executed as its own standalone effort with its own KPIs for success. Overall the most effective position for CTV, like with any marketing channel, is within a larger strategy where all channels work together toward a common objective with shared thinking and data between them.

The strongest teams to run CTV campaigns will bring both TV and digital experience to the table, with the teams working closely to share expertise, share data and learnings, and leverage knowledge bases to extract the best of all that CTV has to offer.

Quantum Considerations and Neuroscience for Brand Response Marketing

Is thinking of Marketing as a quantum mechanical process useful? It is when you are seeking to attribute consumer response to media impressions, and when you’re crafting and testing effective messaging. This white paper explores a few selected topics within this theme under active research, development, and use in marketing and advertising campaigns.

Exactly why someone buys or not, and why they buy one brand over another, will always have some aspect of the mysterious unknown, and therefore marketing will always have a magical component requiring art and inspired creative initiative. Even when directly asked, most people are unaware themselves of all the influences motivating them to buy and value brands. However, there are aspects of marketing that are scientifically measurable and predictable.

To read the rest of this piece, download below:
Dr. Stephen Kelley – Quantum Considerations and Neuroscience for Brand Response Marketing

3 Ad Campaigns That Resonated With the Gen Z Audience

Gen Z is completely shifting the way advertisers work. The long-held mindset of heritage, comfort, and familiarity is being upset by this up-and-coming generation of digital natives. Gen Z approaches the world differently than previous generations, and their way of thinking is coming to the forefront of today’s society. Their passion for social justice, demand for authenticity, and short attention spans have forced brands that target Gen Z consumers to shift their advertising strategies accordingly.

3 Ad Campaigns GenZ

Today, brands are starting to get better at picking up on what Gen Z values and learning to adapt. From a company structure perspective, this can mean implementing more corporate social responsibility initiatives; while in advertising and marketing, this can mean deploying messages, media, and strategies designed to resonate with Gen Z consumers. There are a number of one-off ad campaigns that have redefined success with this generation, as well as continuous campaigns and brand behaviors that are molding and shaping the way marketers and advertisers target this audience.

Here are examples of three very different ad campaigns that have resonated with Gen Z in unique ways, and how they did it.

Aerie ‘Real’ Campaign

Historically, clothing brands have promoted themselves with bombshell supermodels who possess unattainable beauty. It may seem simple, but Gen Z is challenging that paradigm by calling for and responding to ad campaigns that feature “normal” people, and by rejecting impossible beauty standards.

In the early ’00s, brands began receiving backlash for digitally enhancing the faces and figures of their models in noticeable ways and removing anything that might be seen as an imperfection. Once it became clear that this imagery was harmful to the development of young girls’ self-esteem and confidence, American Eagle’s intimates brand Aerie decided to connect with its target consumer, Gen Z, with a different approach — body positivity.

In 2014, Aerie’s “Real” campaign was born. American Eagle started by announcing that it would not only cease the use of supermodels, but would also refrain from digital retouching. That campaign received a flurry of attention as the first-of-its-kind and was a big success. Since then, Aerie has continued to expand the parameters by which it chooses lingerie models. Campaigns have included women with curves, cellulite, small chests, large chests, disabilities, medical illnesses, stretch marks, body hair, and more. Furthermore, the “Real” campaign has expanded by including Aerie consumers. The brand encourages people to feel positive, confident, and comfortable in their own bodies and show it off by joining in with the hashtag #AerieReal on social media.

Not only has this approach helped Aerie stand out in the market and build a positive reputation with Gen Z, but it’s also increased sales year-over-year, with a 38% increase in Q1 of 2018, alone. Overall, the “Real” campaign enabled Aerie to earn credibility in authenticity, diversity, inclusion, and body positivity spaces. Aerie was also ahead of the curve, and many brands are now embracing body positivity and inclusion in their own branding.


Casper is a new age mattress company that has completely shaken up its sector. A traditionally brick and mortar industry, Casper took a direct-to-consumer approach to mattresses that appeals to a younger-skewing audience. Casper has succeeded with this business model by incorporating selling factors that are important to Gen Zers.

Before Casper, the idea of getting a bed-in-a-box was unheard of and viewed as impractical. Casper, however, had a deep understanding of its target audience and realized a DTC approach could be effective, if the brand positioned itself as a master in the mattress space. To that end, Casper deployed a robust content marketing campaign. The company leveraged social media and retargeting to garner attention and create brand awareness. Once its audience was engaged, Casper established itself as the expert in the space, using product comparisons, customer reviews, and influencer marketing to move the consumer down the funnel toward purchasing a mattress they had never even touched before.

In addition, Casper invested in building a sense of community around its brand. Campaigns like Staycation Story Hacks, unboxing videos, “Waffle Crush Wednesdays,” and the publication Winkle were all geared toward giving consumers many different ways to engage and interact with the brand, and with fellow brand customers. Together, Casper’s marketing efforts have brought in upward of 100,000 video views; 2,000 to 10,000 likes per post; and increased its valuation to $1.1 billion, in just five years.


Revolve, an e-commerce clothing brand geared toward Gen Z, has targeted and engaged these consumers, not with traditional advertising campaigns (like Aerie), but by putting its marketing dollars toward a large group of Instagram influencers — 3,500 of the most successful fashion influencers Instagram has to offer.

When influencer marketing really began to take off, Revolve saw an opportunity to grow its relatively new brand and build buzz. The company established an ongoing relationship with Instagram’s most popular fashion influencers, including Kendall Jenner, and began throwing #RevolveAroundtheWorld events in popular destinations, including Palm Springs, Turks and Caicos, and the ever-important Coachella — a super hub for influencers and Gen Zers, alike.

These lavish trips and events are invite-only and create a space where influencers can come together and do what they do best — advertise Revolve’s products by modeling the clothing and publicizing them all over their Instagram accounts. An event exclusively filled with popular Instagrammers effectively gets the brand name out there and capitalizes on the “wish you were here” mindset that Instagram seeds in its users. Consumers have their attention grabbed by the glamorous photos and then may feel inspired to buy the trendy clothing they see. They both relate to and aspire to be like their favorite influencers. Clearly, this approach is working, as Revolve was recently valued at $1.2 billion.

Final Thoughts on Gen Z Ad Campaigns

In today’s world, it is vital that brands— old and new, alike — continue to evolve in the ever-changing advertising landscape. Brands that target Gen Z have to shape their marketing and advertising strategies to convey authenticity, relatability, consistent engagement, and progressive social values. American Eagle’s Aerie, Casper, and Revolve have each taken a highly distinct and unique approach, and each has succeeded in its own way. There are lessons to be learned from their similarities, and their differences. There are many ways to craft campaigns that resonate with Gen Z, but they won’t look like campaigns of the past.

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