Category — Digital Marketing

Once Upon eBay

ebay hub richelle parham

Marketing chief Richelle Parham would love to share your eBay story.

The story goes that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar created an auction site so that his then-fiancée could more easily pursue her hobby collecting PEZ dispensers. It was a quirky little tale that not only generated copious press coverage, but also perpetuated a legend that only grew larger over time.

The minor detail is that the story isn’t true. A company publicist, struggling to whip up media interest in an obscure dot-com that earnestly promised to create a "perfect market," made it all up. The truth is that eBay was conceived when Pierre wrote some code and posted it on his personal web page, which at the time also featured information about the ebola virus.

The first item Pierre listed for auction was a broken laser pointer, which promptly sold for $14.83. Puzzled, he contacted the winning bidder to make sure he understood that the laser pointer was broken. The buyer explained that he collected broken laser pointers. (In case you were wondering, ebola and the name eBay are unrelated. Pierre originally named his site AuctionWeb. He wanted to change the name to Echo Bay, after his consulting practice, but that domain name was already taken. So, he shortened it to eBay. True story.)

eBay has today evolved from a pure-play auction site into the world’s second-largest e-commerce site, after Amazon. Auctions now account for just 30 percent of eBay’s business. It’s a somewhat surprising turn for eBay, which until recently looked like it might be consigned to the scrap heap of e-commerce history. The company’s narrative arc took an upward turn thanks largely to its early entry into mobile and renewed focus on innovation and the customer experience.

eBay is betting that the smartphone will continue to transform retail, but its fortunes are also grounded in a bedrock faith in the power of stories to create engagement, value and a better shopping experience. Maybe eBay has yet to produce the "perfect market," but it certainly proves the power of a good story. As eBay marketing chief Richelle Parham says, "The stories really are foundational to who we are." continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Here Today

peter cloutier catapult marketingWe are already living the future of digital shopper marketing. By Peter Cloutier. As this issue of the Hub is dedicated to emerging media, we decided to leverage the many creative minds across our ten Catapult offices with our own exercise in crowdsourcing. So, we asked our teams: "Over the coming year, which innovative technologies will change how shoppers think about and buy brands?"

The responses started as a trickle, and soon became a fire hose. What emerged is a very pragmatic view of where we are with technologies in our craft today. We’re now at something of a tipping point — what with Big Data, targeting, modeling, personalization, social media, and location-based applications. Digital is no longer a theory or a mystery; it is simply a part of what we now do as marketers, day in and day out, because it’s how consumers and shoppers live today. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Activation Unboxed

christine hall landor assocaitesNew media success depends on time-tested branding principles. By Christine Hall. New media is ever-changing and seems to have a different definition depending on whom you ask and what day it is. It is alternately referred to as media design, interactive user experiences, and digital, social, and mobile strategies. Wikipedia defines it as "on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, and creative participation. Another aspect is the real-time generation of new, unregulated content." As the entry implies, this definition is likely to evolve over time.

At Landor, we use the term "media design" and approach it through the lens of brand storytelling and branded content generation. Media design extends beyond social media, mobile applications, and websites to include brand films, motion graphics, 3-D illustrations and animations, architectural projections, digital photography, and digital publishing. We focus on seamless, branded consumer experiences, so our media design is found not only in the virtual world, but also sometimes in live events and retail environments. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

In The Mode

sharon love tpnRetailers must offer shoppers the best of both bricks and clicks. By Sharon Love. It isn’t news that technology has changed the way we shop. E-commerce continues to chase down brick-and-mortar sales and some retailers are downscaling their bricks locations. While the overwhelming majority of sales still occur in physical stores, shopper expectations have changed dramatically because of the technology advancements they’ve become accustomed to online.

Twenty years ago, 10 years ago — five years ago — the power of shopper expectations were considerable, but shoppers did not exert the influence they do today. As shopper expectations grow and change, brands must evolve the way they communicate and create a modal dialogue — a conversation between brands and their targets, whenever and wherever their target is engaging with the brand. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Hungry Minds

stanton kawer blue chipShoppers have an appetite for engagement that all media must satisfy. By Stanton Kawer. When I first became a dad, I was dazzled by my children’s capacity to give so much of their attention and adoration to me. However, as they continued to grow, a certain sadness began to surface — I realized that, one day, they would make the transition all kids eventually make; they would begin to allocate their friendship, time, and attention to more and more people. Every parent dreads this day.

What I didn’t anticipate was that, in addition to competing with other people for their attention, I would also be battling against their digital and mobile implements. They would sit on the sofa watching television, smartphone at the ready and tablet in hand. Meanwhile, I would attempt to carry on a conversation, imploring them to "put your weapons down!" Convinced that they were as distracted as I was just by watching them, I never expected I could still reach them. I thought: How could they be present when their attention span was so fragmented? continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Physical Fitness

beth ann kaminkow tracy lockeThe time is ripe for bricks stores to flex their experiential muscles. By Beth Ann Kaminkow. When we think about emerging media today, our minds most likely go to digital, mobile and social. Yet, when we look at where the majority of shopping and buying still occurs, it is in physical retail. We all know that more people visit Walmart on any given day than view the Superbowl. However, this hasn’t dramatically shifted the way Walmart or its manufacturer partners create consumer engagement and experience in its stores.

Building and creating interaction with brands — as well as with consumers and shoppers — is happening far more frequently, creatively and effectively through media outside the store. This is not a critique of shopper marketing. It is a call-to-action for marketers to pay more attention to one of the most important emerging media channels — brick-and-mortar retail. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Moments + Math

al wittemen st. john partnersThe art and science of storytelling in today’s omni-channel world. By Al Wittemen. I learned the importance of good storytelling from my son, Jason. We had moved, it was bedtime, and he was lonely. So, I asked if he’d like to hear about another little boy, Joe, who had found a lost puppy, Rascal, in a field by his house. He did, but first he wanted to change Joe to a little girl name Jodi, Rascal to a big, brown bear named Brownie, and the field to the woods behind our new house. Jason first needed to help me reimagine these elements so the story would fit what he wanted and needed.

Thirty years later, I now realize that the Jodi and Brownie stories prepared me to reimagine the marketing tools and storytelling touch-points that omni-channel marketing requires today — a combination of "moments" (the stories) that build the brand’s narrative arc, and the "math" (the research, insights and modeling analytics) that reveals the consumers’ needs and wants. While I came by the importance of storytelling via a personal route, today we find business leaders like those at Booz & Company at the forefront of the same dynamic model. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

‘Net Interest

mike lebeau match weld In the social media space, meaning is the new metric. By Mike LeBeau. Social media are becoming mass media, and their impact is evaporating. Facebook and Twitter are now big, robust social networks, and it makes sense to continue to advertise and communicate through them. However, dark clouds are gathering on the horizon.

Right now, the sheer scale of social networks is threatening to become a juggernaut. Every day, more than 3 billion "likes" and comments are posted on Facebook. Every 60 seconds, more than 100,000 tweets are sent, and 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, reports Ethan Zuckerman in The Atlantic. In fact, it is scale itself that is creating the problem. The trouble is that social networks are too vast, too shallow, and too boring to engage audiences effectively. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Shift Key

jason katz acosat mosaic groupSocial, local and mobile are converging in a new age of shopperism. By Jason Katz. Sam Walton once said: "Each Walmart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they uphold for their community."

This quote predated the digital age, and it is more prophetic than ever today. Our lives — and the marketing ecosystem — are changing rapidly as technology shifts from personal computers to mobile devices, empowering us to connect meaningfully through social networks, and become more localized.

Walton’s prescient view readily translates into the digital age with the combination of three words: "social," "local" and "mobile" — or the buzzword, "SoLoMo." Today, SoLoMo is reflected in the way Walmart — the world’s largest retailer — is marketing to its shoppers. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

Pivot Point: Not So Fast

hub magazineThe speed of digital is slower than it seems. By Tim Manners. Exactly 17 years ago, Reveries.com made its debut as a "digizine" for marketing people. It featured roundtable discussions, white papers, research reports and interviews with high-profile marketing leaders. Reveries was the online precursor to The Hub Magazine, which is now nine years old.

Some people find it funny that The Hub began online and evolved into print, given that most other magazines have done just the opposite. We flew in the face of prevailing winds believing that nothing could ever totally replace the tactile experience of picking up and reading a print publication.

It’s not unlike the way many — if not most — people feel about the tactile experience of picking up and trying on a pair of jeans, or giving a cantaloupe a good squeeze. There may come a day when these things are no longer important, but that’s not likely in our lifetimes. It may seem like everything changes quickly in the digital age, but appearances can be deceiving. continue

September 1, 2013   Comments

The Social Shopper

collectiveSocial media provide an unvarnished view of shopper behavior. By Brad Lawless and Mary Tarczynski. Shopper marketers spend their days studying and researching a product, understanding its core demographic appeal and brand positioning. Focus groups (both online and off) allow brands and retailers to moderate discussions with shoppers around specific topics. Aggregated store-level and loyalty-card databases offer historical views into purchasing trends.

However, reports generated from large research data sets tell us at best what, not why, shoppers bought, while other methods suffer from observational bias. We constantly seek better ways to understand the shopper’s mindset as she plans for and executes her weekly shopping trip. How does she compile her list? How does she learn about new products or pricing specials for her favorite products? Once she arrives at the store, how does she find her way around to gather items in her basket? continue

May 1, 2013   Comments

One Macy’s


martine reardon macys



With one foot in digital and the other in stores, Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon keeps all eyes on her shoppers.


The modern world has not been kind to the old-fashioned department store. Hammered by shopping malls and specialty shops in the late 20th century, it is now confronted by digitized shopping in the new millennium. And yet Macy’s, founded in 1858, is thriving on a mixture of nostalgia for a storied past and visions of a high-tech future. Where other retailers are scrambling to downsize their stores, Macy’s is renovating its iconic Herald Square flagship. While others submerge into the minutia of the digital age, Macy’s stays afloat with its larger-than-life Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At the same time, Macy’s was among the first to achieve success with QR codes. It has introduced True Fit, an online tool that enables shoppers to find their fit without actually trying on any clothes. It is testing digital mannequins, so that customers can mix and match to their heart’s content. It has more than six million Facebook fans, too. Rather than ceding ground to ecommerce, Macy’s has re-imagined its stores as a nationwide network of “warehouses” that can deliver whatever size, color or style shoppers want regardless of where they are shopping —online, in-store, coast-to-coast. Product assortments are meanwhile tailored on a by-store basis, affording selections according to local culture, events and climate.

As CMO Martine Reardon tells it, it is this intense, technology-enabled customer focus that makes all the difference. “Our motto is that we put the customer at the center of every single one of our decisions,” she says. “It’s almost like she gets a seat at our table as we think about new strategies.” More than any other reason, that’s why Macy’s is still a miracle on 34th Street. read >>

September 1, 2012   Comments

Upward Mobility

hub roundtable media

The future of shopping is in the shopper’s hands.


A roundtable discussion on emerging media, with Michael Minasi of Safeway, Patrick McLean of Capital One, David VanderWaal of LG Electronics USA, Jeanne Danubio of Neilsen NA and Ken Barnett of Mars Advertising.

Is the effect of mobile devices on shopper behavior overstated?

Michael Minasi: If it’s overstated at all, it is only because marketers have a tendency to think beyond the current timeframe and structure of use and project where they think the future will be. But you can’t really overstate the fundamental change that mobile media will have on shopper behavior and how shoppers get information.

As it stands right now, we see Safeway shoppers using mobile primarily as a pre-shop planning tool, which may be to create or maintain a list or to search out and find digital coupons and so forth. The vast majority of use has to do with the utility of shopping and making shopping a bit easier and then saving money with digital coupons. read >>

September 1, 2012   Comments

The eRankings Report

jason katzNew research sets a foundation for excellence in ecommerce. By Jason Katz. Consumer packaged-goods face a critical juncture in ecommerce. This segment is among the fastest growing industries in ecommerce, but is also very much in its infancy. Its explosive growth is shaping a new frontier of consumer engagement and is giving rise to new collaborative models.

The brands and etailers who partner to deliver the right shopper solutions will gain tremendous first-mover advantages. They’ll chart the roadmap for success. They’ll emerge as the early winners and define what’s “best in class.” As Jeff Bezos said — and it’s glaringly evident across the ecommerce ecosystem now —”What’s dangerous is not to evolve.”

The 2012 eRankings Report, co-sponsored by Etailing Solutions, RetailNet Group and the Center for Ecommerce Excellence, is the first in an annual series that will monitor and survey insights into ecommerce for consumer packaged-goods. This report was developed to be a foundation for how to win in ecommerce, and to see it from both the manufacturer and etailer point-of-view. read >>

September 1, 2012   Comments

Emerging Behavior

sharon loveThe emerging opportunity is to make connections and build relationships. By Sharon Love. When it comes to emerging media,much of the rest of the world is far ahead of the United States. It’s not emerging elsewhere around theworld; it’s already established as part of the culture.

While most of us already know this, it became glaringly obvious during the recent Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Istanbul. Speaker after speaker from around the globe made the point through their case studies and stories.

The smart people at Capgemini shared a study that reported significant differences between shoppers in developing markets and those in mature markets, like the US. In developing markets, digital-savvy, social shoppers are using technologies in all phases of the shopping journey. According to Capgemini, two-thirds of consumers are interested in finding out about new products via social media. read >>

September 1, 2012   Comments

Wired To Please

lauren de simoneRetail’s past offers clues to its digital future. By Lauren de Simone. For thousands of years, markets have been at the center of communities. Shoppers went to market to buy, see and hear about what was new, and in many ways to dream of something better. Not so long ago, small neighborhood groceries, run by local “experts” like my grandfather, provided help, service, social news (a.k.a. gossip) and introductions to new and better things.

My grandfather’s store, Roxy’s Market, was a small grocery in the East Bronx: think Sam Drucker from Green Acres. The man knew everything and everyone, and shoppers came away from their trips to his store richer in many ways. They left with so much more than a bag of flour; they came away with my grandmother’s special one-egg cake recipe that they could now make for their own celebration. If anything went wrong, help was just an old-fashioned phone call away!

Reflecting on those days got me thinking: Might digital’s future in packaged-goods retail reside in putting people, and the personal touch, back into the shopping experience? If store employees were to help shoppers enjoy a more technologically integrated experience by educating and informing them on how to use, leverage and thread together online and offline experiences, would markets once again become the center of the “new community”? read >>

September 1, 2012   Comments