In a 2007 purchase of medicines from Merck KGaA, drugmaker Mylan picked up a decades-old product, the EpiPen auto injector for food allergy and bee-sting emergencies. Management first thought to divest the aging device, which logged only $200 million in revenue. Then Heather Bresch, now Mylan’s chief executive officer, hit on the idea of using old-fashioned marketing in part to boost sales among concerned parents of children with allergies. That started EpiPen, which delivers about $1 worth of the hormone epinephrine, on a run that’s resulted in its becoming a $1 billion-a-year product that clobbers its rivals and provides about 40 percent of Mylan’s operating profits, says researcher ABR|Healthco. EpiPen margins were 55 percent in 2014, up from 9 percent in 2008, ABR|Healthco estimates.
A host of new companies founded or staffed by brain researchers have some advice for advertisers: Read your customers’ minds. In a world of ever-shrinking attention spans, where consumers flit through social media sites and skip right past online ads, advertisers are turning to neuroscience to better understand how to steer buyers toward their products.
“People are not governed by the rational side of their brains, so the majority of purchase decisions are made irrationally,” says Itiel Dror, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist engaged by London consultants BrandOpus to test the redesign of a logo for Canada’s McCain Foods Ltd.
For the traditional television industry, that means giving advertisers more data and better ad-buying solutions. Networks are also offering packages that allow advertisers to buy spots for both TV and digital content.
At its event on Monday at Radio City Music Hall, NBC promoted its suite of data-driven ad products, including NBCUx, which enables targeted ad buying. “These platforms and products ensure that your campaigns — your ads — are reaching the right consumers,” Linda Yaccarino, the chairwoman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal, told hundreds of marketers and ad buyers.
Recently, 21st Century Fox — whose broadcast network, Fox, also held its upfront presentation on Monday — acquired a digital ad firm called TrueX, which makes a technology that replaces a series of standard ads or video commercials with one interactive ad.
ABC plans to announce several data-driven products at its upfront event on Tuesday, including tools that allow advertisers to optimize their ad placements for specific audience segments beyond just age and gender. Turner Broadcasting — whose networks include CNN and the Cartoon Network — plans to introduce an ad-targeting product on Wednesday.
And at a series of events this year, Viacom showcased Viacom Vantage, which offers advertisers the ability to target specific consumers across the company’s portfolio of networks.
When Cornell arrivedat Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis, he was installed in the newly redone CEO’s corner suite on the 26th floor. Almost immediately he insisted he be moved to a smaller office down the hall that is only steps away from the company’s global data nerve center.
That’s the company’s mission-control-style monitoring room, which it calls “guest central.” There a team of 10 staffers scrutinizes live feeds from social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, along with television stations, on nine large TV screens high on the wall. They watch intently and use software to aggregate data to gauge by-the-second reactions to a product launch or news announcement or to respond quickly to, say, a customer fulminating on Twitter.
The social command center existed before Cornell became CEO. But he has beefed up its capabilities, and he’s looking for creative ways to use the data. He drops in every morning and insists on two updates a day.
Analytics have long been a central part of Cornell’s approach. When he headed Sam’s Club, the $55-billion-a-year Wal-Mart division, from 2009 to 2012, he improved the unit’s customer-insights system, according to Maggie Nation, a marketing executive at Sam’s under Cornell. The effort yielded such good results that Wal-Mart had all of its insights teams report directly to Cornell.
Kate Spade was hardly the first fashion brand to inhabit a self-generated fantasy environment; Ralph Lauren had been doing as much since the late 1960s. Nor would fashion be the only product category to benefit from an all-encompassing approach to retail and product design—as companies such as Apple and Nike have demonstrated. These enterprises don’t just sell products; they sell an experience. But many others have tried to take the same approach and failed, because the requirements for success with this kind of experience are seldom fully understood or appreciated.
Nice McKinsey interview with Lorraine Twohill, Google’s senior vice president of global marketing
“The way I think about marketing—and the way I tend to talk to my team about it—is “knowing the user, knowing the magic, and connecting the two.” Knowing the user means understanding who your consumers are, who your customers are. Not just knowing who they are, but what they need, what are their deep insights, and understanding how we can help them. Knowing the magic means knowing what’s in the hearts and minds of your engineers and your product managers, and what they’re building. Connecting the two means bringing the magic built by engineers to the world in a way that is relevant, meaningful, and compelling to the everyday consumer. So we create something that the world will be excited about.”
Ellis says it was a controversial decision to run it early, even among the ad agency and VW’s marketing team. “But I thought if everything goes right, this thing will catch fire and go viral,” he says.
By 8 a.m. Thursday, “The Force” had been viewed 1.8 million times on YouTube and had racked up 17 million views before kickoff, according to figures provided by Deutsch. Today, “The Force” has 61 million views on YouTube and is still the most shared Super Bowl ad of all-time and the second most shared TV commercial ever.
Outfront Media, formerly known as CBS Outdoor, has joined forces with Videri, a technology start-up, to create a new digital outdoor advertising that will enable advertisers to target audiences more precisely. The new platform will combine addressable displays with programmatic capabilities, cloud distribution and addressable ad infrastructure.
We've all heard the adage that brands are supposed to behave like people on social media. You know your friends who are always first to tell you about some new social platform, who had already made a dozen Vine videos when you decided to give it a try? There are marketers like that too.
Advertising Age highlights how GE, Pepsi, Burberry and others try new digital, social, mobile media and other new technology like Vine, Pinterest, Snapchat and Square.