Aired November 16th, 2016
This week on Marketing Matters, Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing & WFoA Academic Director Jerry Wind joined WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays to welcome four guests from the 4As CreateTech Conference, an annual forum bringing technology and creativity in advertising together, where Catharine delivered a keynote address. Marian Salzman (Chairman, Global Collective and CEO, North America of Havas PR at Havas Worldwide), Katie Swindler (User Experience Director at FCB Chicago), J. Brooks (Founder and CEO of GlassView) and Jonathan Rosen (Senior Vice President of Content, Strategy and Creative Services at PRN LLC), brought their varied perspectives on the topic of user experience design (UXD) and discussed some lessons from the US presidential election.
- UXD reflects a greater trend in marketing towards personalization and bilateral feedback between brand and user.
- User-oriented storytelling that feels unbranded and authentic is becoming a core marketing strategy.
- Building passion, advocacy, and trust in users can strengthen a brand’s effectiveness and make marketing outcomes more predictable.
- In order to optimize UX, brands should use multiple parameters to understand their target audience holistically.
- Accurately contextualizing messages in terms of time and environment is incredibly important for successful delivery.
Measuring passion in politics and marketing
The first guest, Marian Salzman, is one of the country’s leading public relations executives and a polished trend-spotting expert. On November 9th, Salzman took the podium at the CreateTech conference and spoke about the results of the presidential election. According to Salzman, “selective objectivism” (people hearing data points they wish to hear) and a fallacy of misplaced concreteness (people believing what they repeatedly hear) were perhaps two reasons why Clinton lost the race. The election turnout was a firm reminder that data is untrustworthy and that passion may be a more reliable indicator of outcome. To measure passion, “you need to evaluate the density and velocity of the opinion,” Salzman explained. Density indicates how true the opinion holds at the core of a person. Velocity indicates how much that person will actively advocate that opinion to other people. Salzman believed Trump voters had the power of passion on their side. While parameters for measuring voter, consumer, or user passion can be difficult to define, passion can be built through establishing strong partnerships (between brand and brand, or President and Vice President) who offset each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Passion can also be encouraged by involving the audience—in Trump’s case, a call to action to “make America great again.”
Salzman identified a few key lessons from the election that translate to consumer marketing research:
- Storytelling is crucial, but focusing too much on the past can alienate the audience.
- People tend to prefer what’s authentic, colloquial, and relatable.
- Kill the ideologies and practically sell the rational and emotional benefits.
In terms of how to improve research and trend-spotting, Salzman suggested listening to people with whom you disagree, as well as utilizing approaches in both science and art during problem solving.
Good vs. Evil designs
Katie Swindler introduced user experience design at FCB Chicago as an effort to bridge the gap between idea and graphic design. In addition to being planned visually, their designs are also informed by studies in areas such as human psychology, motivation, behavioral economics, and the science of behavior change, which help the company identify who users are and how to influence them.
“The best interface is no interface,” Swindler said, quoting one of the rising trends in UXD. Instead of building apps that may complicate problems, companies are turning to new technology to achieve more “frictionless” user experience. Multisensory contextualization is another direction for the future of UXD. One such exploration into the multisensory is “taptic” feedback, or touch feedback, incorporated in the Apple Watch. Wearable technology has an alternative benefit for brands: as users experience more forms of feedback, brands are simultaneously gaining more ways to contextualize their users.
However, it is equally as important for brands to beware of using “dark patterns” and other types of manipulative designs, which aim to trick users for the benefit of the business. The line between persuasion and manipulation can be thin. For example, when a designer employs choice architecture, constructing a good series of choices can guide a user comfortably through the selection process. On the other hand, a designer could choose to emphasize choices that maximize revenue without consideration for the user’s interest. If a brand finds that a design is more harmful than helpful, that should be a red flag.
“Evil designs” are ultimately bad for business. Research has proven that brand loyalty comes from the consumer’s trust more than anything, and loyalty is what sustains a brand in the long-term. Jerry added that the consensus among over 200 top leaders featured in Beyond Advertising is truly aligning the design objective between society, the user, and the brand. “The idea is pushing towards what we call the ‘triple bottom line.’ […] Are you addressing the evolving needs of customers? Are you providing a positive impact on society, and not only as a charitable activity or a profit activity, but really as an integral part of the business?”
Videos for global outreach
Brooks has spent the majority of his career working “below the line” from an operations activation standpoint, maximizing user experience through a massive video technology platform. When asked about the role of video in boosting user experience, Brooks answered: “[People] like to say that a picture is worth a thousand words—we really believe video’s worth a million.” In his experience, controlling frequency (how often a message is seen) and sequencing (the order of messages seen) are some of the best tools for optimizing experience. To improve user targeting, GlassView investigates a combination of demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and geographic characteristics via conducting surveys. Although surveys, such as this year’s voting polls, are occasionally unreliable for predicting results, Brooks argued that nevertheless, consumer behavior can always be trusted.
He emphasized the necessity of contextualizing messages: reaching people at the right time and right place, as well as being able to appeal to emotion and authenticity. Emerging trends involve varying video delivery in both digital and physical spaces, especially between different types of screens, but Brooks maintains his core strategic values. “Brands are already waking up to the fact that they’ve got to create incredible creative content that captures attention,” he said. “Now it’s about how we administer that in a smart way that doesn’t overwhelm our users.”
Virtual meets reality shopping
Jonathan Rosen provided an in-store media perspective on UXD, sharing his experience with conducting small-scale experiments in stores even as physical footprints continue to shrink. While 90% of commerce is currently still happening in brick and mortar, Rosen noted that e-commerce has significantly shifted retail dynamics.
Rosen has observed a gradual conflation of e-commerce and brick and mortar. At CreateTech, he spoke particularly about artificial intelligence and companies such as Sentient Technologies, True Fit®, and IBM’s Watson who are taking an A.I. approach to product selection. Rosen predicted that the fusion of digital and physical shopping will eventually result in purely omnichannel teams that will work on supporting consumers across all shopping channels.
Among the most recent innovative tests are virtual aisles, where digital screens are being introduced to physical store aisles in hopes of increasing interactivity with shoppers, broadening product selection, and bringing the convenience of the online “filter” to the in-store shopping experience. Rosen commented on the rise of mobile being an ill fit for the in-store experience; however, he acknowledged certain trends, such as chatbots, could potentially be implemented on mobile to assist shoppers with physical tasks like in-store navigation.
By Gloria Yuen
English, SAS ‘18