Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated

Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated

The new iProspect Future Focus report explores the intersection of consumer attention, commerce and data.    Today, we officially launch Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated as the essential read for conscientious marketers seeking to explore and exploit the latest consumer and industry advancements for brand growth. The 75+ page report addresses some of the most pressing aspects of modern marketing including; the battle for attention, wholesale changes in data privacy, and the emergence of assisted commerce.    Combining evidence-based research with interviews and responses from over 200 brand marketers in 29 countries, the Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated report delves deep into the challenges and opportunities faced in the current global climate and within the immediate media landscape. And, convenience and relevancy of media to the consumer is key, as 61% of marketers, polled for the report, considered ‘building a highly convenient experience for the consumer’ as the most powerful lever to generate business growth.i    The content of this sixth edition of the Future Focus series typifies the intricacies of bringing brand and performance together to achieve growth.     “Despite the challenging times we live in, I believe there have never been so many opportunities in media. With our new and unique approach of performance-driven brand building, we are firmly optimistic about the future and resolved to make it happen, today. With Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated as their guidebook, I hope all marketers will be able to leverage the growth potential afforded at these significant intersections of media, data, commerce and culture.”  Amanda Morrissey, Global President of iProspect    The findings showed that around 2 in 5 marketers (42%) still think the linear path to purchase is as relevant today as it was decades ago, despite the rise of digital. While at the same time 32% of marketers feel that expanding commerce capabilities is important for the 2021 roadmap, however 26% see this as one of the most difficult challenges this year.ii      Practical advice to marketers.   In addition to discussing and dissecting the impact of major global industry trends and innovations, the report spotlights the relevancy and opportunity for brands, regardless of sector, to capitalise on these seismic shifts in the media landscape. Examples of the report’s advice and guidance for marketers worldwide include:    #1: Commerce is Everywhere    Organisations should strive to build and maintain an accurate picture of their commerce capabilities across five key dimensions: desirability, availability, findability, buyability, and repeatability. This will help them define the most profitable commerce model for their brand, better integrate their e-commerce and stores into an actionable omnichannel strategy, explore new growth channels, and turn media opportunities into transaction opportunities.    #2 The Battle for Attention  Brands should consider factoring attention into their media optimisation and measurement efforts to elevate the impact and efficiency of their investment. To maximise audience attention, they should ensure the content and experiences they design truly align with consumer intent, and that the campaigns they develop do not relegate diversity and inclusivity as afterthoughts.  #3 The New Data Playbook    On the data front, organisations should embrace the new privacy-conscious world by re-evaluating the value exchange they offer to their audiences and anticipate technological changes to minimise business disruption. This is the occasion to explore opportunities for automation, evaluate the quality of the data they collect and process, and more broadly reflect upon how data is effectively used to inform decisions.    The last point is of particular significance as the report found in some circumstances there are huge disparities between what the consumer and brand marketer think, when it comes to assessing data value. Only 9% of marketers believe helping a company improve products or services is an incentive for consumers to share their data, while 44% of consumers believe it is a good enough reason to release personal identifiable information (PII) to the brand.iii     Download your copy of Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated now.    -----------------------------------------   [i] Proprietary omnibus survey: iProspect, 2020 Global Client Survey, 12 Oct–11 Nov 2020, 202 respondents. [ii] Proprietary omnibus survey: iProspect, 2020 Global Client Survey, 12 Oct–11 Nov 2020, 202 respondents. [iii] iProspect 2020 Global Client Survey (Oct 2020) and iProspect and Microsoft Advertising, Consumer Privacy and Data Survey (Mar 2020) 0

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London, Jan 12th - dentsu today confirmed its intent to integrate iProspect and Vizeum to create a new, future-focused, end-to-end global media agency under the iProspect banner. By integrating these two award winning agencies, dentsu brings Vizeum’s media strategy and planning, storytelling, and brand building capabilities together with iProspect’s digital expertise, audience knowledge, and performance mindset. Clients will have access to the unique capabilities of both agencies, all from one integrated team leading the new territory of performance-driven brand building by delivering digital-first media strategies underpinned by data and technology at every touchpoint in the consumer journey. The new iProspect media agency will draw from the broader dentsu capability set, allowing clients the flexibility to seamlessly build bespoke and specialised teams with resources from across the network. Clients will gain access to expansive new audience insights, integrated and more effective strategies, market-leading planning and activation, and unparalleled business performance. Carat and dentsu X clients will continue to access industry leading digital performance services through our dentsu Media Scaled Services. The new iProspect entity will be led by Global President Amanda Morrissey, bringing together more than 8,000 media and performance specialists across 93 key global markets. “iProspect is designed for clients at the intersection of brand and performance. We believe brand drives performance, and performance drives brand. We no longer exist in an ecosystem where these elements can be planned and bought separately. We must look at business and brand goals through a combined lens, bringing accelerated growth for our clients,” said Amanda Morrissey, Global President, iProspect. “By focusing on how consumers behave in their digital world and applying that to real world scenarios via a highly connected and creative use of all channels, we position our clients to combine the learnings from the short and long term to drive more effective business growth today and tomorrow.” Peter Huijboom, dentsu international Global CEO Media & Global Clients, said, “At dentsu our goal is to help our clients to make meaningful progress and thrive in a world of change. Because we know people better than anyone else, we deliver human-centric solutions designed to drive growth for our clients and good in society. By bringing iProspect and Vizeum together we are creating a global digital-first, end-to-end media proposition. This will give our clients a scaled choice that sits alongside Carat’s brand-first approach and dentsu X’s experience-driven approach while also allowing greater access to our Creative and CXM service lines.” The new agency will now be launched through a phased market plan over a three-month period with a target completion date of 31st March 2021. This integration is a proof-point of dentsu international’s strategy to simplify how it operates to deliver even greater agility and flexibility for clients through a more focused portfolio of six leadership brands. 0

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London, Jan 12th - dentsu today confirmed its intent to integrate iProspect and Vizeum to create a new, future-focused, end-to-end global media agency under the iProspect banner. By integrating these two award winning agencies, dentsu brings Vizeum’s media strategy and planning, storytelling, and brand building capabilities together with iProspect’s digital expertise, audience knowledge, and performance mindset. Clients will have access to the unique capabilities of both agencies, all from one integrated team leading the new territory of performance-driven brand building by delivering digital-first media strategies underpinned by data and technology at every touchpoint in the consumer journey. The new iProspect media agency will draw from the broader dentsu capability set, allowing clients the flexibility to seamlessly build bespoke and specialised teams with resources from across the network. Clients will gain access to expansive new audience insights, integrated and more effective strategies, market-leading planning and activation, and unparalleled business performance. Carat and dentsu X clients will continue to access industry leading digital performance services through our dentsu Media Scaled Services. The new iProspect entity will be led by Global President Amanda Morrissey, bringing together more than 8,000 media and performance specialists across 93 key global markets. “iProspect is designed for clients at the intersection of brand and performance. We believe brand drives performance, and performance drives brand. We no longer exist in an ecosystem where these elements can be planned and bought separately. We must look at business and brand goals through a combined lens, bringing accelerated growth for our clients,” said Amanda Morrissey, Global President, iProspect. “By focusing on how consumers behave in their digital world and applying that to real world scenarios via a highly connected and creative use of all channels, we position our clients to combine the learnings from the short and long term to drive more effective business growth today and tomorrow.” Peter Huijboom, dentsu international Global CEO Media & Global Clients, said, “At dentsu our goal is to help our clients to make meaningful progress and thrive in a world of change. Because we know people better than anyone else, we deliver human-centric solutions designed to drive growth for our clients and good in society. By bringing iProspect and Vizeum together we are creating a global digital-first, end-to-end media proposition. This will give our clients a scaled choice that sits alongside Carat’s brand-first approach and dentsu X’s experience-driven approach while also allowing greater access to our Creative and CXM service lines.” The new agency will now be launched through a phased market plan over a three-month period with a target completion date of 31st March 2021. This integration is a proof-point of dentsu international’s strategy to simplify how it operates to deliver even greater agility and flexibility for clients through a more focused portfolio of six leadership brands. 0

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Want to improve your website's checkout flow on your mobile in order to increase your conversions? 9 out of 10 Danish webshops miss sales.   By focusing more on your users' experience through the flow, it is possible. In this blog post, you will get some pointers on what a good user experience (UX) is on mobile and how you can improve your checkout flow on mobile with a focus on UX.   What is good UX on mobile - and what is not? There are several different definitions of what good UX is. However, the core definition centers around meeting the specific needs of users in specific contexts. By focusing on mobile, you will also be ready for Mobile-First indexing.   When we talk about good UX for mobile, there are some best practices that are an important part of the design process, such as: ·       Prioritise the user ·       Make the navigation intuitive ·       Focus on the user's goals ·       Make the user’s tasks easy to do ·       Build speed into the UX ·       Give feedback to the user ·       Minimise the amount of extra information ·       Layout the design according to the user's hand (see image below)       By having these best practices in mind, you can create a better user experience for users who either visit your home page via mobile or app. Remember that the future of search is about one overall user experience.   How do I create a better checkout flow? Buy-ready users often leave the checkout flow because they experience some form of frustration during the buying process, giving them a poor user experience. Below are some best practices for how you can minimise the users’ feeling of frustration in the checkout flow and thereby give them a better user experience. Getting started with conversion optimization is easy.   Visualise the curve It should be easy and clear for the user to understand and control what is in his/her basket. A rule of thumb is that the user must have clarity about the product, which includes product images and information, such as price and delivery costs. In addition, the user should have the feeling of control when it comes to making changes to the curve. Therefore, the user must be able to update the number, colors, size, etc. as well as remove products from the basket.   Save for later The Save for later feature can be an important factor in the checkout flow, as it allows users to save a product on the page itself and come back to buy it later. Some users assume that websites or apps automatically store the information in the basket, which can create great frustration when they return and discover the basket is empty. Delivery information Filling out a long form is both time consuming and can result in errors and frustrations among users. Therefore, minimise the number of fields to make it easy and fast for users to enter their information. Another thing you can do to optimise the process here is to insert a field with the option to use shipping address as billing address. This eliminates the need for users to enter the same information twice. Auto-fill and error One of the primary purposes of auto-fill is to make it easier and faster for users to fill out a form. At the same time, auto-fill reduces the risk of user error which creates a better user experience. There are several different types of auto-fill options, such as filling in delivery information or finding an address by entering a postcode. Should it happen that a user enters information that contains an error, it is important that the user receives feedback on this. This could be, for example, if the user has entered his telephone number with a 7 or 9 number instead of 8. Then it must be clear in the form where the error is, so that the user can easily and quickly correct the error. The feedback that helps the user detect the error provides a better experience as the user can quickly and easily locate and correct the error. Order overview In the order overview, it is important that the structure of the information is organised in a way that will help streamline the users' checkout. Therefore, the shipping address should be at the top where users have the option to change it. Then the number of products and their details should be displayed to avoid the user going back in the process to make sure that they are the right products. Discounts, delivery costs, VAT and the total price should also be included in the order overview. This way, you avoid an unexpected cost for users later in the process, which prevents them from converting. Payment methods For many users, entering card information on their mobile phone can be cross-border and time consuming. Therefore, you can create a better user experience by offering different payment methods - including the ability to use MobilePay. That way, users avoid entering card information, and some users perceive the method as more secure compared to entering it directly on the website. Another way to create a great user experience is by displaying security and verification images in the payment step. It gives users a sense of confidence and security in the checkout flow.     Purchase confirmation Last but not least, a purchase confirmation contributes to a good user experience, as users now know that the transaction has been completed and a confirmation email has been sent. There are several elements you can consider including in the purchase confirmation to create an even better user experience. For example, you might add an image or illustration that clearly shows the purchase has been completed. Here, users get a sense of a successful checkout process and confirmation  they completed their goal, namely, to buy a product. How do I know if it works? As mentioned earlier, good UX is characterised by meeting the specific needs of the users in specific contexts. The optimizations that are meet your users’ needs and work for your business may not work for another business and their users. It is important to be clear about what your optimizations should improve. The easiest way to do this is to set up different KPIs. With a KPI framework, you always have an overview of what to measure and how it goes. Although the previous sections provide examples of best practices in UX optimization of a checkout flow on mobile, it is not possible to know in advance whether the optimizations you make on your website or app will work with your users. Therefore, it will be important to perform A / B split tests of the optimizations before they are implemented. Here, the different versions are tested against each other, making it possible for you to find out whether the optimizations perform in your checkout flow or not before they are implemented. You should never implement anything without testing it first.   Need help getting started?   You are always welcome to contact us if you want to hear more about how we can help you optimise your checkout flow and UX. We are happy to help you get started, so that together we can create a digital success that drives business performance. 0

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Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated

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You might be wondering, ‘What the heck is happening in the social space right now?’ and ‘Why have I prioritized wildly average short-form content over sleep?’ The second question may just be me, but let’s focus on the first and start with the most recent updates involving TikTok: 1. President Donald Trump issued a pair of Executive Orders on August 7th one directed toward ByteDance (TikTok) and one for Tencent (WeChat) which calls for banning these Chinese-owned companies due to the alleged national security threats these apps pose. 2. Having recently surpassed 100MM users (in the United States alone), TikTok released a statement noting the orders came as a complete ‘shock’ while Tencent, one of the largest investors in online games (Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Riot) and owner of the messenger/social/commerce app WeChat, has yet to make a statement. As rumblings of a TikTok acquisition loomed prior to the Executive Orders, with conglomerates Microsoft and Twitter among suspected contenders, the future of the app remains unclear. What is certain, is TikTok’s uncertainty triggered an uphill battle for the social platform. Nearly overnight, Instagram Reels and Triller have obtained a toehold on the short-form video landscape. To keep up with the ever-changing landscape, here’s what brands need to know about these app/product expansions and how brands can immediately capitalize on the increased competition in the social app space. Although TikTok did not invent short-form content, they undoubtedly inspired the evolution of the short, user-generated, meme-style, musically driven (and Musical.ly-inspired) content that has infiltrated social feeds. Instagram Reels is a TikTok-proclaimed ‘copycat product’ which sits as an extension within the existing Instagram ecosystem, whereas Triller more directly competes with TikTok with an even greater emphasis on celebrity users and music creation and dissemination. Let’s go deeper into each…. Instagram Reels: Can Facebook create their own products? Of course, but recent product launches could lead users to answer with a soft ‘no’. Influenced by the likes of Snap, Amazon, and most recently, TikTok, last week Facebook launched Instagram Reels. Although Instagram’s product chief, Vishal Shah, states ‘the timing of the launch is coincidental and the feature has been in development for more than a year,’ it’s no secret Facebook is notorious for their unofficial ‘borrow and make-it-even-better business model,’ which has a proven track record (think, Instagram Stories). Although, it is worth noting Facebook's previous attempt to compete with TikTok, Lasso, failed.  As opposed to IGTV, which launched as an Instagram extension and supplemental IGTV app, Reels seamlessly ties into the Instagram user experience. Reels invites users to create vertical, 15 second videos through an in-app editing studio and share content with friends and followers. Again, think Instagram Stories, but make it broad. Reels show up in dedicated placements within Feed and Explore, enabling creators to reach new audiences globally. Triller: Triller has been making headlines this month, most notably for becoming the most downloaded app in the App Store, but they have been around since 2015, two years before TikTok’s debut. Triller is an AI-powered music video app and talent discovery platform that allows users to create professional-looking videos in a matter of seconds. Sounds familiar, right? Fairly. The differentiator is Triller has secured deals with major celebrities (angel investors include Snoop Dogg, The Weekend, Marshmellow, and Lil Wayne) and record labels, centering their app around music. This explains why their algorithm tends to favor music-based content over voiced dialogue, despite having two public in-app feeds: one called ‘music,’ the other ‘social’. Aniz Uzzaman, general partner of Pegasus Tech Ventures, an early investor in Triller, called out, “Celebrity-quality content is one thing that sets Triller apart from TikTok,” referring to Triller creators Alicia Keys, Cardi B, and other big names. Over the past two weeks, Triller has expanded both their user base and team, bringing on the likes of TikTokstars Noah Beck and Josh Richards, Richards being named their new Chief Strategy Officer at only 18 years old. This strategic move generated an immediate influx of TikTok stars and their corresponding cult-like followings to Triller. Differentiated Offerings: Although TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Triller content adheres to the expected short-form video themes, there are some key app nuances worth calling out: Paid Advertising Opportunities Over the past year, TikTok has invested greatly in both their advertising products and internal brand partnership teams, recently launching their self-service auction interface, removing a large barrier to entry for businesses.  The social app has a myriad of advertising offerings ranging from First-View Brand Takeovers to In-Feed to most famously, Hashtag Challenges, which allows brands to create content around a hashtag and contract influencers as a part of the paid package to increase scale. Instagram, with arguably the most robust advertising capabilities among social platforms, is following Facebook’s organic-first, paid-second approach when it comes to new products. Facebook & Instagram Stories, Explore, and IGTV, all launched without paid opportunities. Instagram Reels is currently organic only, but it is presumably only a matter of time until this placement becomes available within Ads Manager, where advertisers will be able to opt-in to begin testing as a part of the larger Instagram network. Triller has been slow moving when it comes to paid opportunities for brands, and after quick scrolls through the app, it is clear advertising is limited and virtually nonexistent. We are still waiting on official response from Triller product teams on their existing direct advertising capabilities, but it will likely take time until a seamless, auction-based interface is available. Influencer Monetization There is no denying dedicated fans will follow their favorite creators from platform to platform, proven by the fact that 68% of users come to Instagram to interact with creators. Therefore, all three social apps are making strides to keep or convince influencers to choose their platform. TikTok announced a $200MM Creator Fund and is now looking to expand this to ~$2B. While previously, creators could monetize their live streams, the new program will pay select creators for making videos. Specific eligibility requirements and creator limits are still TBD, but users must be 18+ and have amassed a baseline number of followers. Instagram already allows for influencers and creators to earn revenue through brand deals and sponsored posts, but Instagram doesn’t directly pay people for content. Well, they didn’t - until Reels. Instagram offered financial incentives to persuade TikTok creators to begin posting on Reels. Evergreen monetization remains unavailable. Triller’s monetization efforts fall more closely in-line with TikTok. Fans can exchange real money for ‘Triller Gold’. However, the drawback is this ‘Gold’ can only be given to verified users whereas on TikTok, unverified users are eligible. Creative Capabilities To date, TikTok hosts the most sophisticated and seamless editing interface, but from an organic content creation standpoint, there are some quick platform differences brands should be aware of: Maximum Video Length: TikTok- 60 seconds, Triller- 30 seconds, Reels- 15 seconds. Privacy: Triller and TikTok gives users option to choose public versus private pre and post launch, whereas Reels does not allow you to make a video private once live. Reels does, however, allow you to choose if you’d like the Reel to live on your master Instagram Feed or only on the Reels tab. Saving Content: All apps allow for saving created content, but only Reels allows you to export without stitching on a branded logo overlay. Audio: All enable users to create sounds or choose from a music library, but Reels does not allow users to upload new sounds directly into music library. Duets: Creating content based off other on-platform content (videos, comments) is native to only TikTok. View Counts: TikTok updates views in real-time, Triller has a slight delay, and Reels often requires closing and re-opening app to see latest view count. Maximum Caption Length: TikTok- 150 characters, Triller- ~100 characters, Reels- 2,200, which aligns with Instagram In-Feed caption length, allowing for more hashtags. Experience: TikTok’s interface is by far the most advanced, followed by Reels. Triller trails as the app sees lagged load time and provides an all-around less user-friendly experience, proven by the frustrated app online reviews, but Triller is investing in their product given recent success and will likely implement improvements in near future. Hashtag Tracking: When selecting relevant hashtags, TikTok and Reels show hashtag volume whereas Triller keeps volume private. Cover Photo: Reels users can upload a custom cover photo, TikTok users can choose and edit their cover photo, but not upload directly. Triller does not appear to allow users to choose or upload cover photo. Location Tagging: Triller is the only app that enables location tagging when posting content. Instagram has this functionality, but it is not currently available for Reels. Editing Posts: Once post is live, Reels and Triller allow copy edits, TikTok does not. Insights: All platforms have limited insights, showing only view count, comments, likes. Despite Reels being a part of the Instagram family, deeper analytics are currently unavailable. Why Brands Should Take Advantage ASAP Despite the paid opportunities currently available on TikTok, and the lack thereof on Reels and Triller, there are still three key justifications for brands to immediately engage with Instagram Reels and Triller: 1.  Increase Reach & Video Views Given Reels is new, content volume is still growing. Brands who get in NOW will see higher video view rates compared to previous In-Feed content, while exposing themselves to a larger audience, driving follower growth. One influencer saw an increase of 500%+ when comparing In-Feed video views to Reels and follower growth has exceeded 1,000% WoW since activating Reels. 2.  Ease of Platform Adoption Jumping onto a new platform can be stressful and intimidating, but for brands with an existing TikTok presence, Reels and Triller adoption can be as simple as exporting TikTok videos, cropping out TikTok logo, and pushing live. Archived Instagram Stories can also be quickly reconfigured and made into a successful Reel. 3.  Expand Influencer Marketing Efforts Even without direct buys available, from a paid advertising perspective, brands can and should activate influencers ASAP to capitalize on the incremental reach opportunity or to help build out their own Reels and Triller profiles through branded, influencer-created content. With advertisers exploring alternative options to TikTok as implications of the Executive Order play out, Instagram Reels and Triller provide immediate, viable options for brands. Although we cannot undermine the strength of community that exists on TikTok, we will likely see more creators and their followers explore these platforms and wherever users go- advertisers must follow. 0

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The corona crisis has changed the shopping behavior of a large group of Dutch people: almost one in three shoppers ordered online more often during the crisis and half of them also bought more products per order (source: GFK). This upward trend is expected to continue. According to Kantar research , 20-40% of the Dutch indicate they continue to shop in the online stores they discovered during the COVID-19 crisis. It makes sense for companies, now more than ever, to invest in online commerce. The social giants are also busy. In order to facilitate brands in social commerce, they launched one new feature after another. What are the latest developments in social commerce? And what can you best invest in as a brand to boost your online sales?   1. Facebook and Instagram Shops Despite the recent coverage of Facebook in recent months, the giant continues to develop in e-commerce at lightning speed. In view of the increasing restrictions on finding first- and third-party target groups on digital platforms, the recent launch of Shops is a godsend for advertisers aiming to continue toward target advertising.   Facebook Shops act as copies of web stores where products are displayed on both Facebook and Instagram. The products, or a selection thereof, are linked via a catalog or loaded directly from a website via shopping partners. It has been possible for some time to tag products in an image or video. With a single tap, the user can immediately access the product details. Recently it has also become possible to advertise in the Netherlands in this way.    A new development is the Shop tab, in which you can discover the entire collection within the Facebook page or Instagram profile Shop. Shoppers can then pay on the advertiser's website or most recently - and this is where it gets interesting - without leaving the app.   Facebook Pay   Facebook users in the Netherlands can now link payment details (credit card, debit card or PayPal), contact details and delivery address to their Facebook profile by means of Facebook Pay. The user sets this up once. With this you can pay in the Facebook Shop within the Facebook app. If successful, this will be rolled out further to Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp. This way the target group can make a purchase immediately with minimal obstacles.   Besides a better shopping experience, this is a great opportunity for advertisers to stay relevant to their customers. Privacy regulations make it increasingly difficult to use website data within other platforms and apps, but with the help of Facebook Pay the advertiser retains the option to continue to show relevant advertisements based on purchase data.     As a brand you can already study Facebook Shops. In a cookie-free future, you will have both the data to remain relevant for your customers, and an advanced consumer experience when customers expect this from brands.     2. Snapchat - dynamic ads We already know them from Facebook and Instagram, but last month Snapchat also launched Dynamic ads in the Netherlands. A big advantage of dynamic ads is that all products from your product catalog are loaded into your advertisement. If products change, the advertisement changes immediately so that you always show up-to-date advertisements that fit within every advertisement format. This has many advantages; Snapchatters see more relevant ads, brands see a higher ROI and content creators spend less time on small adjustments. Snapchat is increasingly collaborating with partners who make the dynamic ads applicable for multiple platforms by means of feeds and templates. It is a great advantage that you can offer your assortment automatically on multiple channels to invest in technology solutions that make this possible.   Snapchat - Beta Brand Profiles In July, Snapchat started testing Brand Profiles for 30 major brands in a closed beta. Brands are given additional options such as saving and showing previously posted Snaps, videos, stories, and AR lenses. This way you can discover multiple products within Snapchat and test them virtually. In addition, potential customers can checkout directly in the app through Shopify.   3. Pinterest shopping   Whereas the platform first focused on inspiration and awareness, it is increasingly shifting towards conversion-driven solutions: Shop the look, Collection ads, Dynamic product ads and Shopping tabs. One of the newest features is Shopping Spotlights, which gives influencers a bigger role on the platform. The promoted content appears at the top of the search tab and links directly to the brand’s (product) site. In addition, Pinterest launched Shop with Your Camera on June 1, where a photo of a product leads to suggestions from Pins with products similar to this one. The products that are in stock can be purchased directly in the new shop tab via the advertiser's checkout page. This is expected to be available in the Netherlands shortly. Also read: One year of Pinterest advertising: six key learnings   Pinterest advertising - be the brand they see first 97% of pinners' search traffic is still non-branded. They are looking for inspiration very early in the Pinterest buying process, even before deciding on a brand or product. The target group therefore actively moves towards the content. It is precisely in this orientation phase that you have the opportunity to expand your search strategy and be findable with the right product. Pinterest Business itself states: Be the Brand they see first. Even with the short period Pinterest advertising is available, it is still relatively easy to climb as a brand on Pinterest in both organic and paid search results. The big difference here compared to other social platforms is that the content has a much longer lifespan. An investment you make now to make content easy to find can have positive effects on the algorithm in the long term. Take into account a longer path to purchase.   4. Conversational commerce via social media   Thirty-five percent of online shoppers regularly contact a brand or company, in most cases with questions about the delivery ("Where is my package?"), but there are also many questions about the price and quality of a product. In order to speak to customers in an efficient and effective way, an increasing number of commerce parties, have added so-called messaging apps (also called conversational commerce) as a complement to their in-person customer service. The quality of the services of these messaging apps provide is improving rapidly.   Messaging apps such as Whatsapp and Messenger offer consumers the opportunity to interact with a company in an accessible way. Messaging bots or Quick Replies exist for even faster and more efficient service, and customers are growing accustomed to these enhancements. The contact they then have via these apps is comparable to a physical store assistant. This can increase trust in a brand or product by removing doubts: 57% of conversational shoppers say they chat with a company for additional information about products and 34% for more confidence in the brand.* In addition to improved emotional value, you can also negotiate the price of a product via conversational commerce: 35% of conversational shoppers indicate they negotiate prices or offers via Messaging apps. In fact, two-thirds say they spend more money after chatting with a company.   The Dutch consumer increasingly expects companies to be available through conversational commerce. Conversational commerce is therefore clearly here to stay. As a brand you want to respond quickly to this development, preferably before your competitor has this perfectly in order and your target group already has a smooth user experience with another brand. You can scale up later when it suits the business. * Source: “Conversational Commerce: the next gen of E-com” by BCG (Facebook-commissioned study of 8,864 people across BR, ID, IN, MX, MY, PH, TH, US and VN), Aug 2019.   Pick your battles The precondition for the above developments is that a platform must match a brand. For walkers you don't have to advertise on Snapchat and a recruiter has little to look for on Pinterest. In addition, the foundation of your e-commerce must be in order before you use the many possibilities of social commerce. Shopping tools, catalogs and campaign management tools allow you to quickly scale up to multiple platforms. Changing afterwards or setting up each platform separately costs a lot more time and money in the long term. It is better to start on a small scale and be ahead of the competition. This way you can scale up with a strong product when they start experimenting rather than the other way around.   Finally, and this is perhaps the most important, pick your battles. Be critical about which developments really have potential for your organization, then invest in improving and automating that process. A company must look beyond today's fast conversions, as KLM has done with conversational commerce. This can yield you more in the longer term than, for example, a one-off campaign on TikTok.   Would you like to chat about social commerce for your brand? Please feel free to contact kitty.bakker@iProspect.com. 0

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Welcome back to this two-part blog series focusing on all things Voice. ICYMI, part one covered the top 6 lowest hanging fruits to make your website content Voice Search ready. In part one, we learned that winning Position 0 is critical to gain Voice Search visibility. However, conversational AI technologies and voice user interfaces (AKA: Voice-based applications) offer opportunities for brands to engage with consumers beyond the search engine results page.  When we take a step back to look at the evolution of media consumption it becomes clear that consumer behaviour and purchasing habits have shifted following the succession of technological revolutions. With the rise of the Internet of Things and Smart Devices, interactivity has become the new standard. We went from passive mediums such as print, radio, and TV to user-generated content, to customer-initiated communication with mobile and tablets.  As a result, simply producing a piece of content and hoping it reaches your target audience, is not enough. Much more must be done for brands to respond effectively to how humans and machines interact. As it stands now, Voice Search does not necessarily allow brands to measure user engagement and understand trends to improve user experience. Also, most voice answers about a specific brand come from other highly authoritative sources (ex. Yelp, Wikipedia), which are not controlled by a brand. As a result, brands risk weakening their customer experience and even losing market share to competitors who are Voice ready. That's where Voice-based applications come into play. So, What is a Voice-based Application?  A Voice-based Application or Voice App is a conversational interface designed to extend the functionality of voice-enabled devices such as smart speakers (just like screen-based apps would do on mobile). Users can interact with this easy-to-use voice-directed technology using its invocation name. A few favorite examples… H&M Home Stylist The H&M Home Stylist voice application allows users to ask questions on décor inspiration for different rooms in the house. How it works: Ask for help with a specific room Choose from a range of styles such as classic or modern Receive inspiration and mood boards based on your preferences See example products from H&M Home, along with suggestions for materials and colour schemes Mystery Oreo Mondelez turned to Alexa to promote a new Oreo flavour contest. The purpose was to boost awareness, interest and engagement with the brand as part of a two-month long “Mystery Oreo” campaign.  How it works: Users activate the voice technology with the query: “Alexa, what’s new with Oreo?”  User receives weekly flavour cues When prompted, order cookies via Amazon  Domino's Anyware As part of the Domino’s Anyware initiative, the restaurant chain launched voice-activated pizza delivery for pizza lovers. How it works: Speak to a voice device (Google, Alexa, Siri) and ask it to "Talk to Domino's" Build a new order from scratch or reorder a most recent order Integrates with Domino's Tracker Also integrates with Slack and Facebook Messenger Voice expert lives in the Domino's app to take voice orders  In my opinion, these examples prove that the best voice interactions are usually not approached as an advertisement but as an extension of the brand experience. How are Voice-based Applications Being Used by Consumers? Voice devices are everywhere. They are often in shared spaces in the house (living room, family room) such as smart speakers like Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home. They are usually on your mobile (Siri, Bixby). They are also on-the-go in your Car or Smart Watch. Voice devices are mainly used for education (asking questions to a bot), utility, and entertainment. People enjoy interacting with Voice Apps while multitasking to get things done faster (save time from not having to type) or enhance daily routines (to-do list, commute times, weather, reminders). Taking the first steps towards launching your own Voice-based Application may seem daunting without in-house expertise or a proven roadmap. When working with clients in developing an Application, we focus on 4 key considerations. Consideration no.1: Find your “Why” When thinking about how to engage with Voice, the first thing to do is identify how your brand can provide value within the voice ecosystem. The goal here is to figure out what are the top use cases for Voice Applications, understand different ways in which customers approach these cases and how it refers to your products and services. That is going to allow you to find natural connections between your brand and consumer needs. This can be done by applying a creative approach. You can begin by brainstorming and ideating with your team. You can also adopt a data-driven approach by taking an in-depth look at your internal data. Whether they are coming from a website chatbot, call transcript, or findings from a digital footprint analysis, all data is welcome. We have identified 3 ways that brands can bring value to the customer in a business setting. Product Extension: Extending the value of the product through a Voice Experience (ex. Unboxing moment, instructions on how-to put a piece of furniture together)   Content Strategy: The brand may have existing content that can be translated into an interactive experience on Voice platforms (e.g. Educational, curated lifestyle advice, tips, CSR). Customer Support: Makes any information a customer might need accessible through Voice with ease and convenience.  Once you have decided what the main focus of your app will be, you will then need to decide what phrase or invocation name will be used to activate it.  Consideration no. 2: Put the User at the Center of the Design Process If it is not easy and enjoyable to use, it is not likely to succeed. In order to design meaningful user experiences that work through voice-enabled devices, it is important to take into account how people naturally use their voice to communicate, and what they expect from a voice interaction. We recommend the following: Do not settle to a machine's limitations. Instead, be willing to stretch technology to meet user expectations. Your voice app should be able to accommodate multiple variations of the answer, rather than just requiring the question be answered precisely the way you phrase it. Think of the best way to help users and then consider the level of technical complexity required. Allow users to use natural language. All of us use slang and have unique ways of saying the same thing. So, if you know your niche audience, it is essential to adapt the speech and tone accordingly. We recommend spending some time thinking of how users will interact, what questions they will ask, and how you intend to respond. Take context into account. Not every consumer will interact with your Voice Application under the same conditions. They could be experiencing it at home or on-the go.  It is essential to adjust the experience and level of information to the user's context. Give users a good reason to come back by providing new and returning visitors with relevant information. People are most likely to go back if the content is updated regularly. Consideration no. 3: Don’t be Afraid to Iterate We are at a tipping point in the adoption of Voice Technology where an early majority of Canadians have started using Voice-activated devices. Close behind, brands, marketers and agencies are still trying to figure out what to do to attract consumer's attention. At this stage, it's important to not focus on having the perfect Voice Application from the get-go, but to have something out on the market and see how your customer base interacts with it. We recommend focusing on proven use cases and low effort implementation. The sooner you launch, the more time you will have to experiment, learn and improve your voice-based application. Consideration no. 4: Promote your Voice App There are currently over 100.000 Alexa skills and over 33,300 Google Assistant Actions available. Unlike mobile apps, when it comes to the voice ecosystem, there is no popular distribution platform to promote your voice application. This general lack of awareness about what voice-based applications can do and how to find them makes driving voice discovery and engagement a critical challenge for brands to overcome. In order to get more users, we recommend integrating Voice with existing digital & offline channels as support. Discoverability is hard in the voice assistant market. Voice experiences seem to do a better job at creating a deeper user engagement than creating awareness.  The scale is not necessarily the metric by which the success of Voice application should be measured. Looking ahead... Times are changing and search is not just about keyword rankings anymore. While optimizing on-page content for Voice Search is a good first step towards entering the Voice ecosystem, we believe there are several moments within the customer journey where the effective use of voice-enabled applications could create a game-changing shift. A smart voice-first strategy should start with putting a simple voice application out there to see how users interact with their AI assistant. Keep in mind this is a new channel for both your customers and your brand so there is lots of experimenting to be done - but the time to get started is now.   0

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Google is reinvigorating their marketplace product Buy on Google (formerly called Shopping Actions) by removing commission fees and giving control of the brand experience back to the hands of merchants. These updates represent a direct effort to compete with Amazon and evolve Google’s online shopping experience at a time when people are shopping online more than ever due to COVID-19 closing down physical stores and altering consumer habits.   The announcement made last week highlighted several major changes. Google showcased new payment service platform partnerships with PayPal and Shopify and also expanded data feed integrations within Merchant Center. Google also passed back responsibility to brands for managing customer support, shipping, and returns. Finally, Google has even created a solution which builds feeds directly from Google’s own database.   Buy on Google will disrupt small and large retailers.  A streamlined checkout process has several highlights that are covered in a bit more detail below. 0% commission fees: This is a major change which will encourage all retailers to rethink their Buy on Google strategy.  A comparison that highlights the magnitude of this change:  Previous commission rates on Shopping Actions for apparel product categories was 12%! Updated merchant and financial requirements: The requirements to sell on Shopping Actions are now gone and Google is pulling out all the stops to remove excuses for brands to not onboard. Marketers no longer need a US bank account after linking to GMC with an approved payment service platform account (PayPal and Shopify, to start with). Barriers of entry have been removed: Google has relinquished complete control of payment transactions, managing customer support, as well as returns & shipping. Returning ownership of important brand-owned processes back to the retailer shows that Google is confident in brands meeting customer expectations for purchases made on Google Shopping. Product feed integrations: Google Merchant Center is supporting non-Google product feed uploads, by their greatest ecommerce and marketplace competitor - Amazon. Focus on supporting small businesses: Consumers will soon be able to filter and view products sold by small business merchants specifically.   What was missing in the announcement Google has been slowly rolling out new features and updates over the past several months around other organic and unpaid feed-powered listings. Retailers activating on the Buy on Google program can also opt-in at the same time to these free Google products listings called Surfaces Across Google. The same product feed powers both programs so merchants not only have commissions removed for Google’s marketplace but their catalog will now serve across multiple shopping experiences without paid media.  We predict that in the near future to see Buy on Google checkout options begin to show on organic search results, such as on the Knowledge Graph - a previously paid ad listing placement. While this experience is what we expect next, the details still follow suit on aggregating paid and free product listings to their specific ad placements across Google properties. Shopping Actions:  A solution in search of a problem...until now The Google marketplace (Shopping Actions) has struggled to burst through the bubble of mass adoption by merchants with spending the last seven years expanding and rebranding the program. The removal of commission fees is a unique value proposition and explicit advantage against marketplace rivals like Walmart and Amazon, but also a deep benefit for small businesses that started digital ecommerce on eBay and Etsy. The payment system partnerships have made up for years of minimal merchant integrations. To compensate and attempt to counter Amazon’s two million+ small businesses already selling on that marketplace, Google chose to integrate the Amazon catalog into Google Merchant Center. This has never happened in the history of Google and is unprecedented. What Google now has is a data set of product information far more robust than their own catalog. Shopify has a small business customer base of one million (and growing) on the platform which now brings a larger assortment of products, and new small businesses that have minimal reason to not now sell on Google marketplace. What does this mean for your business? Brands who have refused to launch on marketplaces like Amazon now have minimal hesitation to begin selling on Google. Nike has refused to sell on Amazon for some time due to not being able to own the customer experience. Brands should focus on evaluating their media plan and product feed strategy. This would entail identifying product lines, seasonality SKUs, and less profitable products to be specifically assigned as eligible to serve in a marketplace, organic/unpaid listings or paid campaigns. This granular setup is especially important due to limited reporting features and forecasting features within the Google Merchant Center--feature gaps which will hopefully be addressed by Google in the future. Google is placing a strategic bet on small businesses to lean into their marketplace by removing commission fees and reducing barriers to entry. These changes were driven by Google’s Bill Ready, a former PayPal executive, executive leader at Braintree & Venmo, and supporter of small business commerce for over a decade. When it comes to steering a ship such as Google marketplace in a new direction, his vision shows the understanding of how small businesses are driving the future of marketplace commerce. However, even if the primary focus of these changes appears to be small businesses, if large brands don’t take the time to review their current Google Shopping approach and leverage these new features, they will be the ones missing out on a major commerce opportunity during this coming holiday season. 0

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The Voice revolution is here and is drastically changing how consumers are searching for information and interacting with brands. Virtual assistants have reached a 20% adoption rate in Canada and 88% of English and French speaking Canadians are reported to use voice at least once a week. As a result, Voice Search is gaining considerable momentum and is anticipated to cause a lasting change in consumer behaviour. My opinion? I think we’ll witness the most significant shift in consumer behaviour since mobile adoption. Looking at the evolution of Fortune 500 companies between 2000 and 2018, 52% of these companies missed the shift from desktop to mobile and never recovered from this technology change. Repeating the same mistake with Mobile and Voice would present significant consequences for brands.  Don’t panic. There are different ways for brands to win with Voice and Conversational Assistants. In this two-part blog series, we’ll provide tactical recommendations on how to get your brand started on the right foot. In part one, we’ll explore the top 6 lowest hanging fruit to make your website content Voice Search ready. Hey, Google! - Let’s get started No. 1: Optimize for Position 0, AKA:  the Featured Snippet Position 0  is the information search engines show at the very top of the search engine result pages (SERPs). SERP features are enhanced to draw user attention on the results page with a visually appealing, information-rich search results experience. This includes featured snippets, local pack, recipes, reviews, featured videos, video carousel, etc.   When the Conversational Assistant is asked a question, the device returns a unique response. This makes winning position 0 or the featured snippet for informational queries one of the biggest challenges with Voice Search. To increase chances of winning position 0, it is key to have content properly marked up and surfaced. To achieve this, structured data can be used for web pages, blog posts, news articles, events, how-to’s, job postings, local businesses, organizations, persons, products, recipes, and videos. This will help your content be considered for position 0 or for the People Also Ask (PPA) section. There are various ways of annotating your content with structured data including Microdata, Microformats, RFDa, Schema.org, Open Graph, and JSON-LD. However, Google recommends using JSON-LD for structured data whenever possible. No.2: Optimize Content for Long-Tail Queries and Questions Unlike typed searches, most voice searches are performed in the form of a question, using human language. Do you have enough educational and informational content? Can you repurpose existing content pieces?   To optimize for long-tail queries, it is key that you examine your existing content to identify the pieces that present the most relevant and valuable information.   Focus should be placed on long-tail keywords and conversational language. Once you have selected high potential content pieces, we recommend the following:   Create a short answer for all questions. The sentence should include 25 to 30 words. Beyond word count, it is important to be mindful of the syllable count since it will affect the time duration of the speech. Enrich your content and explore topics more in depth by integrating questions (what, where, who, when, why, how) in the title and heading of your pages. This way, users landing on your website will not only find a concise answer to their question, but also additional relevant information around that topic. No.3: Optimize for Local Search According to a Bright Local study, 58% of users perform a voice search to obtain information on businesses close to home. Therefore, local business listings play a critical role in allowing users to find your business when using a voice device. Make sure your business name, address and phone number are consistent across all online platforms, directories and locations. Consider submitting the website to directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local, Manta, ShowMeLocal, Hotfrog, Better Business Bureau and FourSquare.     No. 4: Optimize the Website Structure for a Seamless Mobile Experience  More often than not, Voice Search happens on mobile. Solving for Voice starts with ensuring your website and content is working properly on mobile devices. Make sure the website structure is optimized for a seamless mobile experience. Improve page speed. The page load time is the time it takes to fully display the content. In addition to being an important ranking signal, a fast page load time offers a great experience for users. Faster pages rank and convert better. Additionally, search engines have limited resources to crawl the internet, therefore a faster page load speed means an increase in the number of pages crawled. Having more pages indexed means more ranking opportunities. Consider the user experience on small screens by minimizing content, simplifying navigation, restricting user inputs, and ensuring continuity and consistency. No.5: Identify Search Intent with Data Gathering Understand how spoken commands and searches will differ from typed commands, for example: words to use, two-way interaction between a consumer and the device. The first step is to determine the intent behind voice searches.  What questions are being asked?  What keywords do we need?  Instead of relying on assumptions, we recommend using keyword tools to generate a list of questions about your industry and business. The more comprehensive the better. Perform a keyword research You can use tools such as Answer the Public, Ahrefs, Text Optimizer and SEMrush Keyword Magic. As each user is unique, there are multiple ways to say the same thing.  Identify and regroup different ways to formulate questions by expressing the same idea with alternate words. You will need to cluster questions based on the theme, persona, search intent, and/or stage of the customer journey to which they refer.   No.6: Adopt the FAQ Page Format Usually websites only have one FAQ page. This makes it difficult for search engines to assess the topic or keyword the page should primarily rank for. Creating topical resource pages will allow questions and answers to be hosted in a relevant fashion. A quick win is to have a dedicated page for each FAQ, with an optimized title, description, and h1. -- In part two of this blog series, we’ll go a step further and uncover the strategy to build a voice-based application that allows businesses to take advantage of the field of possibility the Voice Search revolution has to offer.    0

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As we find ourselves approaching the four-month point since the national lockdown was introduced in the UK, it is interesting to consider just how much the population has adapted to the restrictions imposed; cluttered kitchen tables have transformed into office spaces, re-arranged living rooms into stay-at-home workout areas and Zoom chats have come to substitute, well, pretty much any social event that we can virtually re-imagine! In a similar way, digital platforms became almost the only way for brands to maintain engagement with their consumer base after the closure of high street stores on the 24th March. Uplifts in the number of consumers exploring e-commerce made these platforms more valuable than ever to brands, evidence of which can be seen in many cases through increased investment in digital development and advertising. Some brands adapted to these changes in consumer behaviour like ducks to water whereas others faced immediate challenges, at times attracting un-wanted media coverage in the process. Limitations of platforms came under increased scrutiny and issues at production level were exacerbated by social distancing measures, but overall, digital has stood up well in these testing times, and now provides businesses with a path for growth. Prior to stores re-opening there was a feeling of ambivalence towards the predicted number of consumers feeling comfortable enough to visit them, and concerns around how this would affect in-store performance. However so far, the signs have been positive in favour of a high-street recovery; store footfall jumped up by 38.8% on the 15th June as non-essential shops re-opened and footfall on England’s high streets specifically measured 50.5% higher than the week previous (econsultancy.com). These statistics suggest that consumer confidence hasn’t been hampered as severely as first thought, and the demand for physical stores still holds viability for brands. Nevertheless, recent events have no doubt led to a further blurring of the lines between online and offline retail, making it now an important time for brands to re-evaluate the ways in which their online activity can complement their offline strategy. The role of online activity within the consumer journey is highly regarded by many marketers, and a publication from JRNI reported that 73% of users in the UK say that they research digitally before going on to purchase in store. Bridging the gap between online and offline retail was a developing area within Google paid search long before the days of toilet roll shortages and Tiger King-mania, which began with the introduction of Google My Business to help drive footfall to stores via maps and directions. In reaction to widespread adoption and strong performance, advertisers now find themselves with an ever-increasing arsenal of technologies becoming available. One of the first Google Ads features to appear in support of physical stores was the location extension, which has since been utilised by many brands. Featuring across the Google search network, these extensions commonly appear beneath paid search ads to provide information about stores local to the user. When delivered on a mobile device they can also display a “call” button, making these extensions a particularly useful feature for businesses that rely on real-time conversations, or apprehensive shoppers wishing to check stock availability before venturing out. ‘Local campaigns’ were another evolution of Google’s online-to-offline offering when they were introduced last year, allowing advertisers to dedicate budget entirely to the pursuit of in-store footfall via paid search platforms. These campaigns use a combination of text, image and video assets to reach users across Google search platforms and give brands more power to communicate with consumers at the right time. As stores can appear to users within Google Maps without actively searching for them (in the form of a branded drop-pin), local campaigns can hold value in supporting upper funnel tactics. Figure 1: Example of a branded drop-pin and ad within Google Maps (Google) Conversion tracking is also available to advertisers that meet Google’s eligibility criteria, the requirements of which include sufficient store locations and traffic amongst other attributes. Once set in place, conversion tracking allows advertisers to see within Google Ads exactly which campaigns, keywords and devices drive the most store visits. These metrics are extremely useful in understanding return on investment and better evaluating the effectiveness of your messaging. As well as providing geographical information about store locations, Google also make it possible to integrate the availability of in-store stock via the use of local inventory ads (or LIA for short). Working in a similar way to shopping campaigns, these ad formats require the set-up of a dedicated feed into the Google Merchant Centre and give users the ability to browse products local to them within a Google-hosted virtual shop called the ‘Local Storefront’. With a reported 50% of shoppers globally checking online before considering an in-store purchase (Google), this feature holds a great advantage for brands looking to create synergy between their online-to-offline shopping experience and provide a seamless user journey. Figure 2: Example of LIA on a mobile device (Google) Aside from the many inherent benefits they offer to consumers including added convenience and avoidance of delivery charges, click and collect services have provided an attractive prospect for brands wanting to turn online traffic into physical store visits for several years. The availability of click and collect through Google as an accompaniment to LIA now means that more and more brands can implement this tactic as a part of their online-to-offline strategy. The features covered in this blog are only a handful within Google’s current repertoire, and the tech giant have made no secret of their plans to expand this area of paid search significantly over the coming months. With so many options available for brands looking to bolster their online-to-offline strategy, understanding how each can support your business objectives is conducive to a successful strategy. Just like many marketing exercises, testing offline campaigns in unison with your existing digital activity is the best way to gauge their impact upon your performance. Starting out with a small, focused strategy around a few stores before slowly scaling up can be a good way to gain valuable insights without spending a fortune. Early adoption within fast-developing areas such as online-to-offline can often hold advantage for brands willing to dip their toes in the water. It could also prove instrumental in building consumer relationships and driving performance within a post-Covid world.   This article was written by Rick Hewitt. Rick is a Paid Search Executive with over two years’ experience at iProspect and a prior background within the advertising and marketing industry. His current role specialises in the planning and activation of paid search strategies for an international fashion brand across EMEA markets. 0

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