The Four Slides You Need to Know: EMERGE Partner SM(ART) Conference


Last month a few of us from TPN had the chance to attend an all Omnicom agency summit called Emerge: Partner Sm(art).  Emerge focused on digital trends and creating more impactful marketing programs through partnerships with industry thought leaders like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, Vice and Yahoo!.  Knowing it’s hard to get away from the desk for two days, I wanted to share a few key themes from those presentations (spoiler alert, mobile is a key focus).  So here are The Four Slides You Need to Know.



Mobile, mobile, mobile.

There is a seismic shift towards Mobile driven by the rapid adoption of smartphones. As smartphone penetration continues to rise, so will the percentage of the population that is “mobile dominant” or “mobile first”. While only 18% of smart phone users are “mobile dominant” currently, that percentage is estimated to grow to over 70% within the next five years.



Rise of the “Phablet”

Engagement time grows with screen size. This means mobile engagement time is on the rise since Phablets (phone + tablet, think iPhone 6+) experienced a +148% growth in usage.  Phablets in many cases are replacing what we traditionally used tablets for, with full size tablets decreasing by -20%. The rise of the Phablet creates opportunities for richer, more engaging mobile experiences.



Mobile is the Platform, Video is the Medium.

Digital video consumption is on the rise.  18-64 year old Americans doubled their digital video habits while Facebook and Instagram alone saw a 75% growth year over year in video consumption, growing to over 3 billion video views per day.  Mobile is making a big impact; of those 3B video views per day on Facebook and Instagram, an astounding 65% came from mobile.  Part of digital video consumption’s growth is driven by the growth of Over the Top Television (OTT) – services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, or HBO Go.  OTT has given more control and customization to consumers while also allowing for a connected experience across multiple internet enabled devices.





Apps on Apps on Apps

Mobile apps are where we tend to spend the majority of our mobile time.  For app creators, getting on the device seems like the holy grail but staying on it may be equally as hard, as new app downloads are in part driven by replacement.  While 53% of new app downloads are motivated by a need for a specific task, 49% are to replace an existing app.  Of those replacing apps, 34% say they replace apps weekly and 52% replace them monthly.




Targeted Marketing takes Aim

That time West Elm advertised to me with a photo of my living room:

Last week, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came across a photo of my living room. This wasn’t something I had posted on Facebook, it was a West Elm ad. I snapped it on my iPhone when my new couch finally arrived and uploaded it to Instagram with the hashtag #mywestelm.

In April 2015, Facebook began testing a new product ad with Olapic that pulls in user-generated content for ad imagery. This is the first true test of user-generated content in a Facebook ad.

In the past, consumers didn’t want to interact with brand content on their social platforms. But with the rise of image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, a shift happened. Consumers now want to share how they engage and interact with their favorite brands and products. Because of this and consumers’ need and desire to have everything hyper-personalized, we are seeing the rise of user-generated content, from staged food photos on Instagram to product hacks on Pinterest. When consumers started seeing products friends and influencers were showing interest in, they found a desire to buy, right from social. They became shoppers.

Facebook is taking the Instagram and Pinterest user experience that motivates shoppers to make a purchase, and applying it to their ad units. West Elm didn’t know they were showing me my own photo (why would they sell me a product I already own?). What they do know is that consumers are more responsive to user-generated photos than branded content and I was the type of consumer likely to shop at West Elm (which is very accurate). My photo could have sold someone a coffee table. I should probably take a new picture now that I have a new West Elm rug.

Right? Wrong.

Yesterday I heard an interview with a talented song-writer on NPR radio and I found myself wincing a few times as I noticed both the interviewer and interviewee were peppering their dialogue with the word, “Right?” As if asking the other “You know what I mean?” I don’t mean to pick on either of them, as I am not a perfect speaker or writer myself. I make my share of mistakes and have communication crutches that I am not proud of, just like everyone else. So, it is with empathy that I bring this up.

I hear these all the time in conversation: “Right?” “Like” and “Um” (still a crowd favorite after many years) and it is concerning to me.

It was not so long ago that we became infected with the word LIKE. We identified “Valley Girls” in Southern CA as patient zero of this epidemic that quickly spread across the nation, to grown women and men, like a virus.

The infectious disease today seems to be “Right?” I am hearing it more and more in business conversations and, also, in business presentations. It is distracting and unnecessary. And there seems to be little awareness of the quantity of its use.

I am a big fan of Urban Dictionary, WordSpy, Slangsite and others who have turned an interested ear to current, cultural chatter and teased out the new words and phrases that are popping up daily. Vocabulary should and must evolve. We had no established words or definitions, for instance, for all the technology of the past decade. Those words have been fun, colorful and necessary and using them connects us all to the new conversation. But this thing with “Right?”, while definitely reflecting a cultural tick, is not the same thing.

It is not fun. Shoes are fun.


Imitation Game

This morning I hopped out of an Uber, almost jogged into my office building while texting one of my colleagues, and realized I needed coffee. Luckily I am not a coffee snob, so my caffeine need was solved by hitting the Kuerig button on my way through the office kitchen.

Six hours and many meetings later., I realized how a part of the “the convenience effect” I am. (I’m sure someone has come up with a better name for this). Of course, the efficiency of my morning routine is highly dependent on technological shortcuts. Instead of walking down the hall to ask a colleague a question face to face, I pick up the phone or even send a text. My stomach starts growling and I order delivery from my desk. I need to meet with an associate in LA, we Skype instead of flying across the country. All those choices made my day easier and faster… but did they make it better?

Instead of coming up with fresh, new ideas or stimulating conversations, we’re taking short cuts and imitating others. Social sharing, while great for a thousand reasons, has led to imitation and sameness—in dress, décor, behavior and communications. We walk the home goods aisle of TJ Maxx’, to find 10 different incarnations of the once iconic and classic Mason jar. We hear someone use a new phrase, then find ourselves repeating it hours later, even if it’s a made-up word.

Are we all turning into a culture of lemmings without original thoughts and ideas? Are we OK with always taking a page from someone else’s book? Has convenience driven us not to need to think for ourselves? Ok, this might sound a bit dramatic but it is on my mind. Think about the latest “convenience” from Amazon, Dash. You just press a button next to your coffee maker or washing machine and presto! More coffee or laundry detergent is delivered the next day. If you are the coffee or detergent brand on ‘speed dial’, good for you. But it might be there were new, better choices for the shopper but the choice was already made. There are no steps involved. Some in the media are rightfully raising the question—is our need for speed and convenience making us lazier and keeping us from having to think? Is taking steps out of daily tasks going to lead to the futuristic world illustrated in the movie, “WALL-E”?

At TPN, “Reimagine Retail” is the promise we deliver to our clients. That means we have to hold ourselves to thinking uniquely, not just taking a current idea and making it better. (DASH might be one of those unique ideas that changes the face of retail, my jury is still out). We have to innovate thought and process. We create, invent, dissect, and then think again in a new and different way. The outcomes can be surprising and they are always fresh.

Special Delivery! The Rise of the Box

Special Delivery! Subscription-based retail delights both customers and brands. Customers are often on autopilot when it comes to shopping for their weekly staples. Both traditional brick-and-mortar and online retail giants are great at providing customers easy access to the things that are regularly on their shopping lists.

Shopping, however, isn’t just utilitarian for some. For product junkies, shopping is also about the hunt for new and different products: things you may not have considered or have known about for various reasons. This desire for novelty, combined with personalization and convenience, is the impetus for the growing ecommerce model that is subscription boxes.

These days, it seems like there’s a subscription box for everything. Love make-up? There’s a box for that. Looking to bond with your child? There’s a box for that. Need to tame your beard? There’s a box for that too. There are even services out there that can help others start their own box businesses.

Growing up, one of my favorite shopping experiences was going to the local drug store with my dad, where he’d purchase me a kids “grab bag:” A surprise selection of goodies mysteriously packaged in a brown paper sack. Most of the time, I was delighted by my unforeseen bounty. Sometimes, however, I was just very disappointed.

That is what’s so great about today’s subscription boxes: all of the thrill, none of the fill. What’s not to love about a monthly surprise delivery of goods curated just for you? With an array of products and price points available, customers can easily incorporate both impulse purchasing and trial buying into their budgets. According to one Ipsy subscriber, “I tend to wait for the subscription to come, and generally just buy products I know from my delivery when shopping in-store.”

Customers aren’t the only ones who are benefitting. The box is a subscription-based model, which provides consistent revenue streams, which is–of course–good for business. When retailers focus on single products, sales can fluctuate wildly from month-to-month. By leveraging loyal customers via subscriptions, income becomes steady and predictable. Further, brands partnering with box businesses get their products into the hands of shoppers who otherwise may never have given the product a try.

Retailers such as Target and Amazon are incorporating subscription services into their ecommerce experiences, capitalizing on the convenience that shoppers love about boxes. Independent box businesses continue to grow, however, and until traditional retailers can offer the kind of curated personalization that speaks to these customers, boxes will continue to charm the hearts and wallets of customers around the globe.