MediaCom USA, part of WPP’s GroupM has hired three senior executives to join its senior leadership team, including one — Andy Littlewood — who will fill the new role of Managing Partner, Head of Knowledge. Also joining the media agency’s management team are Tamara Alesi, who is taking on the post of Managing Partner, Head of Digital Strategy and Stephanie Starr, the shop’s new Group Account Director for Audi of America. The agency said Littlewood will work with its North America client leads to provide faster access to data tools, systems and products from across the agency, GroupM and WPP. In his previous roles as MediaCom Australia’s Chief Data and ROI Officer and Head of Direct Response, Littlewood led the shop‘s analytics practice, including attribution modeling and forecasting, for clients including Dell, IAG, P&G and Volkswagen. Before joining MediaCom Alesi was the Media Capability Lead at DigitasLBi (part of Publicis Groupe) as well as the agency’s client lead on L’Oreal USA. Earlier Alesi held positions at MEC, DDB, The Martin Agency and OMD. Starr was previously SVP, Group Director on the Macy’s business at Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat. She’d been with Carat since 2002 and also has experience in the automotive, retail banking, CPG and beverage sectors.
It may be impossible to top last year's Ice Bucket Challenge to drive donations for ALS research, but Steve Gleason's Answer ALS Foundation and the National Football League (NFL) hope to raise money this year by rallying NFL fans around iconic game-changing moments in its sports history. Developed by agency KBS, the pro-bono campaign features amazing plays such as San Francisco 49ers' Dwight Clark’s “The Catch,” in 1982, Roger Staubach’s 1975 “Hail Mary” pass, and Steve Gleason’s 2006 "Rebirth” blocked punt play to remind fans that the impossible does sometimes happen. Gleason, a former pro football player with the New Orleans Saints revealed that he was battling ALS in 2011. Answer ALS is said to be the largest organization whose aim is to end ALS. It began in 2013, when Gleason asked scientists from all over the world to meet with patients and caregivers to come up with a plan that would end ALS. Autographed collectors’ items featuring images of these plays will be sold through the official auction site of the NFL. The "Game Changing Moments" campaign will run across TV, social media, digital and OOH channels including the NFL Network. Answer ALS will have access to the NFL’s social media channels, including Instagram, to promote the campaign. Fans will also be asked to donate $5 or $10 via text on TV, OOH billboards, in stadium and on social channels. The campaign will be running throughout the remainder of the NFL season. The NFL and teams, along with other foundation partners including Team Gleason, current and past NFL players, Johns Hopkins, Cedars-Sinai, and Harvard will also participate in the campaign by sharing messages on their own social channels. In addition, the broader ALS community including the creators of the Ice-Bucket Challenge, Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, will also be participating. “We’re grateful for our partners, especially Roger Goodell and the entire NFL organization, who generously donated their time and resources to make this effort a reality," said Gleason.
People dove into the Black Friday fray with gusto this year, but mostly from the comfort of their own couches. ComScore reports that e-commerce sales jumped 9% on Thanksgiving Day to reach $1.1. billion and 10% on Black Friday to $1.7 billion. And the National Retail Federation says that more than 151 million people shopped this weekend, either in a physical store or online -- a big jump from the 136 million who said they planned to shop in a survey a few weeks ago. But in-store spending fell on Black Friday -- from $11.6 billion last year to $10.4 billion in 2015 -- and sales on Thanksgiving dropped from more than $2 billion to $1.8 billion, reports Time, citing data from Shopper Trak. “It’s clear that consumers are spending,” says Jackie Fernandez, a retail partner at Deloitte. “But everything started so early — as much as a week ahead — that there is no reason to go into stores the day after Thanksgiving when you can get such great deals online.” She spent the weekend in malls watching traffic, and says there were “plenty of lulls, and people tended to be very targeted in the deals they were seeking.” For the big picture, it doesn't matter much. “From a macro point of view, a sale is a sale, whether it happens online on Thursday or in-store on Saturday,” says Ramesh Swamy, EVP of Curacao, a Southwestern big-box retailer that caters to the Hispanic community. “But for individual retailers looking to maintain or improve their market share, it’s important. When and where do they need to offer their best deals in order to win shoppers?” The NRF says 102 million people shopped in stores over the weekend, while 103 million shopped online. A change in its survey format means the Washington, D.C.-based trade information can’t ascertain whether those numbers are up or down from last year, or whether spending has increased. It says about 74 million shopped in stores on Friday, and 35 million on Thanksgiving Day. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, Fernandez tells Marketing Daily that the shift to more online deal-hunting is likely to cause retailers to rethink their Thanksgiving Day opening strategies next year. “It’s very expensive to open, both in terms of labor and utilities. And there’s been a little backlash from consumers. The question for retailers is how loyal their shoppers are. Will Thanksgiving Day shoppers spend their money somewhere else if their favorite store isn’t open?” Still, the prevailing sense is that consumers are in the mood to spend, and impressed by the big markdowns they’re already finding. “Consumer fundamentals are very, very strong,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a conference call presenting the weekend totals. “Consumer confidence is in a good place to get us to a strong holiday season. We’ve seen that in the last few days, and in a big way.” And while good deals are doubtless part of the reason more people shopped than expected, the NRF also detects a strong scent of cat-and-mouse thinking, with 43% saying they think retailers’ promotions going forward will be better than the deals offered over Thanksgiving weekend.
Empty shelves at retailers and distribution facilities could find consumers who are searching online for a specific product out of luck on out-of-stock items. Adobe data released Friday reveals that out-of-stock incidents were 600% higher than normal for electronics and 300% for toys on Thanksgiving Day. Despite sophisticated analytics and emerging programmatic ad-serving platforms that tie inventory to oonline advertising, marketers still struggle to time ads and promotions with production and distribution. Amazon Fire 7" 8GB, Beats Solo On-Ear Headphones in red and NBA 2K16 for the PlayStation 4, Pie Face Game, Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup Center Playset, Bladebuilders Star Wars Episode 7 Jedi Master Lightsaber, The Force Awakens 6-Inch Figure are some of the top-selling items running low in stock on Thanksgiving Day, per Adobe. Understanding inventory demands becomes just as important and identifying trends through analytics. Hannah Egan, IBM Commerce product and strategy manager, says the technology is available, but not really used by marketers and retailers. She points to the Watson Trend app that predicts some Star Wars toys will sell out based on aggregated data from more than 10,000 sources, including search engines. Technology now shows marketers how quickly trends can spread. "Some brands have tools that allow them to anticipate them," she says, but admits not all have analytics and listening capabilities. "You would think [out of stocks] still be happening, but demand for products change so quickly it's important for marketers to have something to predict them." By the time Cyber Monday rolls in, some will blame out of stocks on returns and items being tied up in the loop. A lot is at stake for retailers with consumers searching for products, ready to buy. On Black Friday, early data shows a 15% increase in spending compared with 2014, about $822 million spent online between midnight and 11 am ET, per Adobe data. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 37% of online sales Friday morning, with smartphone taking 22% of share; tablets, 15%. About $380 million in sales set a new record, per Adobe, which expects the day to generate $2.6 billion in total online sales, slightly lower than anticipated. Out of stocks could force consumers to find another brand or retailer. It turns out that 53% of consumers feel annoyed by items, colors, and sizes being out of stock, according to a report published Nov. 23, from ThoughtWorks Retail. ThoughtWorks survey ofmore than 500 U.S. consumers reveals women are significantly more likely than men to notice common retail complaints, but the biggest gender disparity points to customer service. Women were nearly 10 times more likely than men to cite poor customer service as the "worst part of holiday shopping," including out of stock inventory.
Now in its 90th year, The New Yorker magazine is reaching its largest audience ever, with subscriptions to newyorker.com up 61% and web traffic increasing 25% compared to a year ago. Now, parent company Conde Nast and ad agency SS+K are introducing a multi-faceted campaign to help continue this audience growth and momentum. The new campaign focuses on what the magazine asserts are traits shared by readers--that they are innately curious, with eclectic, contemporary tastes. “Only at The New Yorker can you enjoy a diverse range of stories expertly told, with iconic depth and accuracy, on multiple platforms," says Rob Shepardson, partner, co-founder, SS+K. "Today’s readers—no matter their interests—will find their place in The New Yorker. We set out to tell that story.” The initiative includes an online film directed by J.C. Chandor (“A Most Violent Year,” “All Is Lost,” “Margin Call”) that celebrates "the anticipation before one dives into The New Yorker." The film follows a young man making his way through a crowded train station until he arrives at his train, opens his New Yorker, and finds the story he wanted to finish all along. This clip appears on Hulu, YouTube and newyorker.com. The print component shows a crowd of readers consuming the same edition of The New Yorker on a beach and in a packed subway car. These images are running in the Financial Times, The Economist, Food & Wine, People, Travel + Leisure, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit, Vogue, and other Conde Nast publications. Meanwhile digital ads will run on TechCrunch, across the Condé Nast network, and on other sites. The New Yorker social media channels will also help raise attention for these spots. “2015 marks one of The New Yorker’s most successful in its ninety-year history, with record audience numbers across print, web, and mobile,” said Monica Ray, executive vice president of consumer marketing, Condé Nast. “It’s against this backdrop that we’re making an investment in our readers—existing and new alike—by creating an advertising campaign that captures the essence of The New Yorker: It’s where things get interesting.”
High-end fashion brand Belstaff has appointed Droga5 London as its new creative agency after a review. The agency will handle the business out of its London office. There was no recent AOR incumbent. The agency said it would work with the brand, which has global expansion plans, on the concepts behind all integrated creative strategy across the brand’s media mix and will be responsible for its execution. Droga’s first work will be a brand-communication campaign slated to make its debut in April 2016, featuring actress and Belstaff brand ambassador Liv Tyler, who will also be contributing creatively on a women’s collection. The campaign will be comprised of digital, TV, social, print and out of home. “As Belstaff continues to grow its presence around the world, it’s critical that we have the right partner agency to help us broaden ourselves creatively and push our business forward,” said Gavin Haig, CEO of Belstaff. “We were energized by the daring and adventurous qualities of Droga5 London.” Belstaff, founded 90-years ago in the UK is now part of the privately held and Luxembourg-headquartered JAB Holding Company.
Thanksgiving Day data released from ChannelAdvisor shows search rose 4.7% as of noon Eastern, compared with last year, and overall sales on Google Shopping grew 35.9%, compared with 2014. The "date-shifted" data to compare the actual day, Nov 26, 2015 vs. last year Nov 27, 2014, saw shoppers hit the online offers early. It analyzes about 12 hours worth of online shopping. At the end of Thanksgiving Day same store sales (SSS) at Amazon rose 28.9%; eBay, 7%%; and other third-party marketplaces, 182.6%, per ChannelAdvisor. Overall, comScore estimates e-commerce will grow 15% this year, compared with last, and so far for Thanksgiving Day the industry sits at 50.6% on a SSS basis, which ChannelAdvisor notes is much faster than the e-commerce trend. Putting it all in perspective, ChannelAdvisor saw 19% SSS growth for mid-day Thanksgiving and ended Thanksgiving up 20%. Smartphones rocked online sales, rising 52% on Thanksgiving Day, compared with 28% recorded for the same day in 2014. Adobe reports that consumers had already spent more than $1 billion online as of 6 p.m. Eastern on Thanksgiving Day. The company's data projects sales to exceed $1.7 billion for the day, with 22% YoY growth expected during the evening hours. The data is based on about 100 million visits to more than 4,500 U.S. retailers. Mobile devices drove $283 million in sales so far taking 26% share with about 15% belonging to smartphones, and 11% to tablets, according to Adobe data. IBM predicts online sales will grow by more than 14.5% compared with 2014. Analysis from IBM Watson Trend report show how consumers shop. The data suggests mobile led early-Black Friday sales with shoppers spending more on gifts this year than in 2014. Online sales for Thanksgiving rose 26% compared with the same day in 2014, with consumers spending $123.45 per order. Mobile traffic reached nearly 60% of all online traffic, an increase of 14.8% more than in 2014. Mobile sales also grew, with 40% of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of 23.8% more than Thanksgiving Day 2014. Smartphones accounted for 46.7% of all online traffic vs. tablets at 13.7%. Smartphones also surpassed tablets in sales, driving 23.9% of online sales vs. tablets at 16.1%. Monetate data shows consumers searching more compared with last year, but spending less, based on analysis of 34 million online shopping sessions in the U.S. across retailers like Macy's and Best Buy. However, the data shows an increase in sales on mobile devices. Mobile phone shopping traffic rose 119%, iOS up 85% and Android up 44%, but the add-to-cart rate fell 26%. Black Friday online shopping traffic rose 21%. Consumers are using mobile phones to browse and spending more on desktops, averaging $181; and tablets, $170; and mobile phones, $125. iOS spend $163 on average; and Android, $132. Overall, Monetate data shows Thanksgiving Day purchases were down, both online and off. Conversion rates fell 23%. Average order value fell 3%. Bounce rate continues to hold steady this week at 33%.
As a stress test for retailers' online and mobile systems, Black Friday cannot be beaten. As for customer experience, though, it sucks. I'm not just talking about the people who may or may not at some stage today end up in a fistfight over a widescreen tv with a few pounds knocked off -- I'm talking about the online consumer trying desperately to transact despite all that is thrown at them. Last year I just gave up. No sites worked, and those that claimed to just placed me in a perpetual waiting room. This year things are better, but only just. I gave up on a couple of online gaming stores for committing the cardinal sin of retail -- showing people what they could have bought if they had only shopped a little earlier. Clearly, stock levels were not linked to what the stores were promoting. Try as I might, I just couldn't get a console bundle to move from the page in to my basket on my mobile phone. After many attempts I tried online and added it once or twice, only for it to disappear. Eventually I was notified the offer was out of stock -- but still when I searched again, the bundle was right there with no "out of stock" warning, just adding to my confusion and no doubt that of any other shopper. In the end, I did what I always do -- fired up John Lewis and just got on with it. The bundles weren't as plentiful, but the site works. Well, kind of. It took a worrisome hour or so for my receipt to be emailed to me. In the meantime, to check that I really had placed an order, a couple of attempts to access my account page ended up with warnings that the site was struggling to cope with demand. It's ironic, because I was talking with a Brick Lane fashion retailer the other day about how his iPad and an app are his ordering system, combined with a stock-level monitor and cash register. Within a microsecond he can put an "out of stock" banner on anything the system knows is no longer available, as well as have a click-and-collect order ready within a minute. I know Black Friday is a massive rush that must feel like a denial-of-service attack to some unprepared retailers -- but come on guys, let's get some of the basics right. Don't keep on offering something you have sold out of -- and if someone clicks on it, tell them the deal has run out. Don't leave them hanging there wondering why it's not showing up in their basket. I'm no ecommerce or mcommerce expert, but there must be ways to simulate a trial Black Friday. There must be ways to test how quickly a "sold out" sticker can be slapped across an offer or how soon it can be removed from the site to save confusion. The way things stand, Black Friday gives you two options -- to have a row with your device as you can't figure out what's going wrong, or a punch up with a real-life shopper over last year's latest flat-screen tv. As for me, I'm just going to -- as the t-shirt would say -- "Keep Calm And Carry On Shopping" anywhere else than a site with a black banner claiming amazing deals I could have got had I got up with the sparrows.