In Part 2 of Marketing Matters’ special CMO Spotlight, broadcast from Advertising Week in New York City, WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays and Forbes’ CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney continued their discussion with four thought leaders in advertising: Andrew Essex (former CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, author of The End of Advertising), Jonathan Craig (CMO of Charles Schwab), Diego Antista (U.S. Multicultural Agency Head at Google), and Brian Wong (CEO of Kiip). Each offered his unique perspective on advertising’s future and effective leadership strategies in an era of constant change.
Author and former Tribeca Enterprises CEO Andrew Essex emphasized the continued importance of authentic storytelling in crafting advertising that audiences truly want to see. The rise of ad blockers and abundance of clutter in the market make it imperative that advertisers create captivating advertisements. While Essex recently authored a book titled The End of Advertising, he believes that the continued value of agencies lies in their creativity. Essex stated that ad agencies are “traditionally the guardians of the brand, they have the people in-house who understand how to tell stories for brands in a creative way, and I think the best ones…are going to thrive like never before, so [it’s] the ones that are in the middle, that are essentially proliferating or promulgating mediocrity, that are doomed.” Both Jenny and Catharine agreed, with Jenny mentioning that industries with historically bad advertising have lots of room for innovation, and Catharine adding that advertisers should aggressively pursue and develop the next generation of great talent.
On the topic of what brands must do differently to stay relevant, Essex referenced a discussion from one of his Advertising Week sessions, “Extending the Live Experience.” In today’s world, brands must integrate themselves into experiences to be noticed. Real-time events and experiences have unique potential to get consumers out of the house, and brands must take advantage of opportunities. Advertising can also be helpful without being intrusive, as suggested by Essex’s proposal that brands sponsor utilities or services in public spaces.
Johnathan Craig of Charles Schwab shared his acute observations on Advertising Week attendees, noticing that everyone was struggling with similar issues related to technology and data. Craig articulated one of the main challenges advertisers face: “At the core of it, marketing is still an art and a science, and how do you balance the science and the art, and how do you leverage the technology that’s out there” without getting “lost in the technology” and remaining focused on the client?
Craig also discussed his Advertising Week session, “Principles for Success in Today’s Noisy, Connected Social Media Driven World” in which he championed the idea that “CMOs and marketers really need to be at the forefront of moving their businesses forward.” He believes that marketing is a core driver of business, and actions matter more than words. In his perspective, marketers must build trust with consumers and clients, and infuse the brand’s story in every interaction; data should be used to serve rather than to sell, and to make consumers’ lives easier. Craig also emphasized the importance of brands disrupting themselves even when times are good, acknowledging that it may hurt in the short run but will pay off in long-term benefits to the brand.
Google’s Diego Antista also discussed the necessity for change in advertising, having participated in the Advertising Week panel “True Diversity: Walking the Walk.” In his opinion, advertising today still has a way to go before it can be considered inclusive, and clients are increasingly demanding that agencies step up their efforts in this regard.
Multicultural-focused business sectors are booming, with large projected increases in various minority populations in the U.S. Antista identified a major conundrum that clients and agencies have been experiencing: Clients who need help in multicultural marketing often go to agencies that don’t have knowledgeable resources to suit their needs. He feels that advertisers must invest in more diverse talent, and increase the number of people of color leading the conversation.
Finally, Catharine and Jenny welcomed back returning guest Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, a mobile advertising network. Wong emphasized the importance of consumer-centric advertising, asserting that “marketers are not just here to communicate a message or to tell you about a product, but rather to service you and to give you value.” He stated that so-called “annoying” advertising is hurting brands, and advertisers must refine their practices in order to keep up with consumers by leveraging all aspects of mobile. He shared that TV remains the best place to create awareness and branding.
CMO needs are also changing, with increased concerns regarding fraud and viewability. In this vein, Wong noted a need for customized experiences that are also scalable, something that the industry is still figuring out. As expected, outcome-based/performance driven marketing, and being able to gather data with more precision remains a top priority.
You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: https://businessradio.wharton.upenn.edu/bestof/marketing-matters/?h=r7z5
Access the recorded Advertising Week sessions at: http://newyork.advertisingweek.com/
Aired September 27, 2017
On the road again! For this installment of Marketing Matters’ CMO Spotlight, hosts Catharine Hays and Jenny Rooney broadcast amid the hustle and bustle of Advertising Week in New York City, a week-long gathering of thought leaders, executives, and innovators shaping modern marketing and advertising. In Part 1 of the show, Catharine and Jenny welcomed three guests: Mari Kim Novak (President of Advertising Week), Esther Garcia (VP of Marketing for Tecate at Heineken, USA) and Nigel Morris (Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Denstu Aegis).
These lively conversations focused on themes and takeaways from Advertising Week, as well as perspectives on the changing landscape and current trends in advertising.
Catharine and Jenny kicked off the interviews by inviting Mari Kim Novak, who was producing Advertising Week for the first time as the organization’s president, to give an overview of the massive event, which featured over 1,000 speakers and anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 attendees. This year’s theme, “Great minds think unalike,” embraced diversity not only in terms of culture but also in terms of thought.
Novak emphasized that “the greatest part of being creative is to think differently, to think out of the box,” an essential element of success in the current business climate.
Novak also acknowledged that Advertising Week’s 14th iteration is a well-run machine, but shared that she had the opportunity to put her own touch on it in various ways, including the creation of TechX. TechX is an interactive, educational experience that allows attendees to understand and test out how technologies such as AI and VR can be adapted to reach consumers. She implemented TechX to close the knowledge gap between engineers and executives in a time of rapid technological innovation.
Next, Catharine and Jenny spoke with Esther Garcia, who led the Advertising Week session entitled “Building an Authentic, Bold Campaign.” Garcia discussed the boldness of Tecate’s highly talked about “The Wall” ad, in which Tecate takes Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and turns the wall into a place in which Mexicans and Americans can share a Tecate as friendly neighbors. She also touched on the importance of brands injecting themselves into timely conversations, but also noted, “It’s critical that you are true to yourself as a brand…find something that is very true to you, to your DNA,” and make sure “that you have the tone of voice, and the right to jump into this kind of conversation.”
Garcia also addressed the challenges that come with risk-taking in advertising, stating that marketers “need to move the needle in a way, and it’s our responsibility as marketers to protect the brands but also to build the brands, and building the brands means you need to take risks, and you need to challenge yourself, and also have partners that challenge you.” Moving outside of comfort zones is necessary to break through the clutter, and she expressed that it’s critical to bring the brand’s communications and PR team to the table on new strategies from the beginning. Communication within the company is key, as well as aligning with stakeholders.
Nigel Morris joined Catharine and Jenny as the final guest of the segment and provided insight into his Advertising Week session on the importance of understanding the Chinese consumer market, including the similarities and differences it has with that of the U.S. Morris believes that the pace of innovation in China is much faster than the U.S. He also shared how the modern Chinese consumer market grew out of mobile–because that was where the consumer was–whereas U.S. brands started on desktop and then migrated to mobile. A key lesson from China is to understand the dynamic relationship between the creator and the consumer, and to invest in understanding first-party data to produce personalized content at scale for thousands of individuals.
When asked how CMOs are navigating this new reality, Morris responded, “An existential challenge that we’ve all got is, ‘How does marketing actually become the most important discipline within business?’, because where we’re moving to, doesn’t matter whether it’s China, here, or Africa, it’s a consumer-led market.” Consumers today have more control and a vast selection of alternatives, something that brands and their boards must understand.
Audio from Part 1 of our Advertising Week interviews may be found here: https://businessradio.wharton.upenn.edu/bestof/marketing-matters/?h=7GebK
Be sure to check our next blog post for a recap of Part 2 of our special Advertising Week broadcast!
Our September 13 Marketing Matters show featured leaders in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and marketing. WFoA Executive Director and Marketing Matters host, Catharine Hays, had the pleasure of speaking with Andrew Malcolm (Chief Marketing Officer, Evernote), Oren Etzioni (Chief Executive Officer, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence), Dan Briscoe (Chief Marketing Officer, HCSS Software), and Benjamin Spiegel (Chief Executive Officer, MMI Agency) regarding their insights on finding solutions amid complex situations.
Catharine’s first interview was with Andrew Malcolm, CMO of Evernote, a multi-platform app that helps users take notes, organize ideas, and keep track of information. Launched in 2008, Evernote was designed to be a note-taking app, with the ultimate goal of becoming an “extension of the brain.” The Silicon Valley startup saw its share of success, but in 2015, Evernote was labeled by Business Insider as the “first dead unicorn,” the Valley term for startups valued at over $1 billion. It was during this time that Malcolm joined Evernote as CMO.
Malcolm viewed reviving Evernote as a challenge. Instead of a customer-centric model, he focused on an employee-centric model, or “marketing internally.” His idea was to “get everyone on the same page internally…before worrying externally” by using a number of methods, including reminding employees about their value to the company, rekindling employees’ passion for the company’s mission, and inspiring employees by demonstrating the impact of their product.
One example used to show the significance of employees’ work is the “Customer Story of the Week,” where an Evernote team member devotes one week to researching how a user has accomplished incredible feats with the use of Evernote. Malcolm shared that “It’s hard not to feel inspired and connected to [Evernote],” after hearing the stories and seeing the impact Evernote can bring to the world. On the customer side, Malcolm mentioned that they have been actively evaluating customer concerns, and based on feedback, will be moving towards organizing teams and users via AI and cloud-based technology.
After reviving Evernote, Malcolm says the next steps for Evernote will be continuing their mission to be an extension of the brain and evolving Evernote to be capable of connecting and integrating ideas. Malcolm ended the interview by providing an essential piece of advice on identifying solutions amid tremendous adversity: “Find the things that are going to work for your specific situation…do that with a sort of passion for the problem and just loving the journey you are on even when it’s hard…those two things together will take you a long way through even the darkest of times.”
Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, joined Catharine to discuss his recent AI op-ed in The New York Times and his views on AI regulation. With advances in AI technology, the control of AI development has become a controversial topic among tech leaders. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, flamboyantly identified AI as “[humanity’s] biggest existential threat” and urged a need for AI development regulations, but Etzioni disagrees.
Etzioni says AI development should not be confused with “science fiction” because it serves as an important tool for the “common good.” For example, self-driving cars using AI technology can significantly reduce accident rates. He also emphasized a critical distinction between regulating AI development and regulating AI application. He supports the regulation of the latter and believes the regulation of AI applications should be organized into three categories:
Etzioni understands that AI has certain drawbacks, including potentially damaging the job market. However, he highlighted how AI can also enhance employment in other ways, such as improving education and work efficiency. For example, the Allen Institute’s Semantic Scholar helps researchers shorten time spent on reviewing journals by analyzing and displaying the most relevant findings for the topic of interest. For corporations hoping to use AI, Etzioni recommends reviewing the AI’s functionality, the impact AI has on customers, related corporate liability, and the disclosure for users who interact with AI. He wrapped up his remarks with an optimist’s view: AI development and regulation should not be feared because it is “unknown, [a] Frankenstein,” but be embraced, with appropriate precautions, to bring significant benefits to society.
Next to join Catharine was Dan Briscoe, CMO of HCSS Software, a software company that produces construction project management applications. Briscoe, the MarketingSherpa 2017 Best in Show recipient, found a solution for providing assistance to the Greater Houston areas recently impacted by Hurricane Harvey. He recounted how HCSS Software was able to leverage the capabilities of their business to continue operations, shelter dislocated employees and locals, and to connect construction companies for disaster relief efforts. Briscoe attributed HCSS’ success in continuing operations in the wake of the storm to the company’s culture and the CEO’s announcement to continue paying employees, even if they could not come to work or were dealing with other issues after the disaster. HCSS’ successful relief project for the Houston community was the result of an employee’s volunteer initiative, which was fully supported by the CEO.
Coordinating the project was a complicated task. Briscoe remarked that marketing a relief project is skating on thin ice: It is easy to be viewed as “doing [disaster relief] for publicity when you just need to get the word out to gain support.” Instead of traditional marketing tactics, Briscoe used heartfelt video clips of employees and volunteers. He says his strategy was to have “other people tell the story, rather than the marketing team.” By being very careful about projecting a proper tone and balance in HCSS’ message, Briscoe helped the disaster relief project avoid being mistaken for a publicity stunt.
Benjamin Spiegel, CEO of MMI Agency, a data-driven conversation agency with a focus on digital technology, discussed his op-ed on AdAge.com about advertisements in disaster regions. Thanks to evolving technology, people can whip out their mobile phones to check Google for the latest news or review the tweets from local governments for information during situations like Hurricane Harvey–all while traditional forms of communications are unavailable. However, technology is not all positive when it comes to disaster regions. Spiegel felt compelled to speak out about advertising in disaster regions when he was forced to watch a “75-second pre-roll” ad before he could browse the announcements for Houston residents. He says too many ads are now running on “autopilot,” and that is taking out the “human element of advertising.”
Spiegel highlighted the ease with which advertisers can turn off these ads using geo-fencing, a geographical way to target ads. So, why are ads still running? He posited two reasons. The first: The thought never crossed the advertiser’s minds. The second: The media does not want to stop broadcasting ads–after all, advertisements are their primary source of revenue.
Not all ads are made equal. Spiegel says ads with good intentions should continue to run. He highlighted a few ad campaigns that added value to the brand, such as Tide’s Loads of Hope and AT&T announcing a no-overage policy for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. These region-specific advertisements can be broadcast using geo-fencing technology and are beneficial because they are communicating messages relevant to the audience.
To end this week’s “Marketing Matters,” Catharine reminded listeners to think beyond advertising and to broaden the definition of advertisement to encompass a value exchange of consumer and brand that happens over time. In any challenging situation, there is always a solution and a silver lining to be discovered–it’s about finding the lighter side of the dark side.
Aired July 19th, 2017
This week on Marketing Matters, Executive Director Catharine Hays was joined by thought leaders changing the ways in which multicultural marketing and data analytics are being used. Linda Lane Gonzalez (Board Chair, AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing; President, Viva Partnership, Inc.) and David Wellisch (Co-Founder and CEO, Collage Group), discussed the importance of the Hispanic Market while Flint McGlaughlin (CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute), and Daniel Burstein (Senior Director and Editorial Content for MarketingSherpa, MECLABS Institute) from MECLABS explained the innovative ways in which they hope to use data as a tool for better marketing.
This week’s first interview was with Linda Lane Gonzalez, the Board Chair of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing and the President of Viva Partnership. Catharine started off the interview by asking Gonzalez what she thought of “Despacito,” the most popular song in the world right now, and what it means in the scope of multicultural marketing. Gonzalez asserted that it’s an exciting reminder that Hispanics have a huge influence on culture and that music is just one of the many Hispanic elements shaping the modern landscape of America, alongside food, dance and more.
Shifting the conversation, Gonzaelez then addressed the uniqueness of the Hispanic market and how language influences consumption behaviors. To Gonzalez, culture is the distinguishing aspect of the Hispanic market and it influences interactions with the economy. She emphasized that language is a part of culture and is a bridge people use to connect with heritage. For these reasons, she claims that it can become a powerful tool to elicit the type of emotions that drive Hispanic consumers to purchase. For example, Gonzalez cites how studies have shown that Hispanic communities communicate with friends and family more than any other ethnic group, and this phenomenon is rooted in the cultural importance of familial piety. Gonzalez stated that this is relevant for marketers because it means that Hispanics are extremely digital and technologically connected. She further cites the “Latino Bloomers” as an example of Hispanic millennials that are extremely connected with their heritage and increasingly family-oriented, as well as more educated and affluent than their ancestors, making them a growing and extremely desirable demographic for marketers. Gonzalez’s closing advice for advertisers and companies seeking to appeal to Hispanic consumers was to remember that they are not a monolithic community, but one that varies along not only geographical lines such as California Mexicans, Texas Latinos, and New York Puerto Ricans, but also generational lines, like the “Latino Bloomers.”
Next to join Catharine was David Wellisch, the Co-Founder and CEO of the Collage Group, a group working to connect top companies with different demographics such as Hispanics, multiculturals, and millennials. Wellisch helped debunk a series of myths about the Hispanic community, particularly the idea that Hispanic and multicultural markets should be an “addition” to any general marketing strategy. Instead, Wellisch argues that America is inherently a multicultural market and there have been major changes in the Hispanic market segment, making it not just Spanish speakers, but also a much larger group of people with an incredible potential for market influence. In light of this claim, Wellisch proposes that companies market across a cultural continuum broken down into four different types of consumers: Cultural Explorers, World Citizens, Isolated Americans, and Ethnic Enclaves. In doing so, marketers expand their perspective and are able to create more holistic campaigns that imagine Hispanic and other multicultural consumers not as supplementary niches, but as integral market segments. Wellisch says this is a more effective model for marketing than to market by targeting specific ethnic communities because studies show that there are more consumption commonalities among these groups than there are differences. Companies must focus on passion points, such as music and sports, which translate authenticity—the most important component for any effective advertising campaign across all four of Wellisch’s consumer segments.
During the final segment, Catharine welcomed Flint McGlaughlin and Daniel Burstein from MECLABS Institute. McGlaughlin began the interview by sharing how he started his work at MECLABS, and some of the central questions driving his research there. He explained that MECLABS works to understand the cognitive psychology of consumer conversion through research and data analytics ultimately geared towards answering the question of “Why do people say yes?” His research uses consumer data of various forms to establish a framework of behavioral psychology to understand how people make purchasing decisions. Burstein joined the conversation by explaining how MarketingSherpa, a research institute acquired by MECLABS, works to find and publish inspiring stories highlighting the success of “customer-first” marketing. Burstein elaborated about the nature of customer-first marketing and what sets it apart from “customer-centric” marketing. He explained that customer-first marketing is about matching long-term personal consumer goals alongside short-term company goals, whereas customer-centric marketing focuses on how can a company can target and get the most out of a customer.
McGlaughlin also shared his belief that data is a powerful tool that is not being properly leveraged in the current industry environment: The work being done with “big data” is only scratching the surface of how this information can and should be used. McGlaughlin explained his observation that data is often being used to treat people instrumentally rather than intrinsically, and this process ultimately disrupts the ways in which data can be fully utilized. He feels that companies must reframe the ways in which they conduct research in order to change the culture. For example, rather than marketers imagining consumers as a “lead” or a means to an end, he wants consumers to be viewed as multifaceted people whom the company is interested in serving. This can help rehumanize business, and truly create a culture of customer-first marketing.
You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/research-initiatives/radio-show/
By Hyungtae Kim
College of Arts and Sciences ’20
Aired August 2, 2017
This week on Marketing Matters, Executive Director Catharine Hays was joined by marketers leading the way in creative uses of artificial intelligence, more commonly known as AI. Or Shani (CEO and Founder, Adgorithms), Winston Binch (Chief Digital Officer, Deutsch North America), Jordan Bitterman (CMO, IBM Watson Content and IoT Platform), and Aaron Dauphinee (Head of Marketing/CMO, Rubikloud) discussed how they have been integrating AI into their companies and how the intersection of AI and branding is likely to provoke a new wave of innovation in the marketing industry, most notably in data analysis, ad planning, brand persona and resource allocation.
This week’s first interview was with Or Shani, the CEO and founder of Albert, the first AI marketing platform. Shani first entered the industry on a traditional executive track, which is where he noticed the limiting effect of calculative work on creative content. To remedy this inefficiency, Shani developed his AI software, Albert, which operates by autonomously tackling execution and back-end calculations for marketing teams.
Shani proposes that by improving the speed at which remedial calculations can be done, marketing teams can refocus greater resources on the creative operations of a campaign. Furthermore, Albert is able to collect long-term consumer metrics that can be used to evaluate the success of past and current projects. The technology also incorporates predictive analytic application programming interfaces (APIs), that make experimentation more accessible—another powerful tool for creative teams. In closing, Shani noted that almost all of their clientele have been forward thinkers who have been able to look past antiquated ideas of how marketing teams should operate, pushing boundaries and redefining a rapidly changing industry landscape.
Winston Binch, Deutsch North America’s Chief Digital Officer, also spoke with Catharine about his work with Great Machine and his thoughts on the presence of AI technology in the marketing world. Binch emphasized that there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way executives imagine companies. He believes that a company’s identity can no longer rest on just the brand alone, but also on what he defined as a cultivated “Brand Personality.” Binch cited TacoBell’s Tacobot as a great first example of technology that pushed the boundary of consumer interfacing and simultaneously expanded a corporate identity. Companies have to be useful and memorable; he posited that the new way to achieve this is through AI technology that serves as both an instrument for consumer engagement and a tool for commerce that drives sales.
Next to join Catharine was Jordan Bitterman, the CMO of IBM Watson Content and the Internet of Things (IoT) Platform, to discuss his work with The Weather Company, an entity recently acquired by IBM. According to Bitterman, weather is often a driver of business outcomes. Using AI and the IoT platform, sensors around the world are able to collect and receive weather data in order to work with airlines as well as other industries to make informed business decisions. The next step for IBM is to integrate these two technologies together.
Currently, IBM is working on Watson’s ability to learn and reason, and Watson Ads has been created to engage this ability for marketing purposes. IBM is interested in not only presenting the consumer with an advertisement, but also in allowing the consumer to interact with the ad. Through these interactions, Watson is able to gather much more consumer information and product insights based on what consumers are asking. Bitterman also expounded on the term “augmented intelligence” to combat the perception that AI is displacing jobs—he sees it as actually expanding the role of creativity in marketing. Bitterman explains that within IBM they like to use the term “augmented intelligence” because AI technology isn’t used as a tool to replace human intelligence, but to supplement it instead. In response to the question of who is using Watson Ads, Mr. Bitterman explained, similar to Or Shani, that it is the innovative brands, the ones that are open to experimentation. He stated that now is the time for marketers to begin using this technology. Catharine remarked, “It’s almost riskier not to jump into the game.”
AI certainly presents a moral dilemma, but Bitterman emphasized that IBM has a high ethical standard by which it innovates. In terms of regulation, he believes that because the government is slow in creating policy, it will come down to the industry to be proactive in self-regulating these technologies. While AI is able to solve problems in the marketing industry, it is crucial to not create new quandaries in the process.
In the last segment, Catharine welcomed Aaron Dauphinee from Rubikloud to discuss how his firm has been using AI to transform the playing field for traditional retailers. Rubikloud is a start-up based in Toronto that uses machine learning to gather data from online and offline consumer behavior for retailers to help automate merchandizing and marketing. Dauphinee explained that machine learning is a subset of AI that is applied to optimize a particular activity, with ultimate control given to the human being. This allows for the reallocation of team resources, giving them the freedom to think, plan, and innovate to create the best marketing campaigns possible and optimize the process—a concept also highlighted by other show guests.
Dauphinee revealed that machine learning can help brick-and-mortar stores be more competitive in a retail environment being dominated by behemoths like Amazon and Walmart, and stated that it could be a savior for some retail sectors. He said that his unit has automated “turnkey” solutions that can be implemented in 12-18 months, instead of the years-long timeframe that more traditional turnaround projects could involve on the same scale. He also shared how Rubikloud’s technology has provided significantly more accurate sales forecasts and resulted in less resource-intensive marketing campaign management for clients. He believes that the time is now for retailers to take the “leap of faith” and implement automated analytic solutions.
You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/research-initiatives/radio-show/
By Hyungtae Kim
College of Arts and Sciences ’20
WFoA’s directors, Dr. Jerry Wind and Catharine Hays, were recently interviewed by Tracey Lindeman of IBM’s thinkLeaders blog for an article about the new era of personalization and contextualization in advertising. Lindeman highlighted WFoA’s Beyond Advertising book and its R.A.V.E.S. guidelines for generating desired ad content as “a roadmap on how to reach increasingly empowered consumers.”
Read the full article, “The Future of Advertising: Personal and Contextual on All Touchpoints” at https://www.ibm.com/blogs/think-leaders/new-thinking/future-advertising-personal-contextual-touchpoints/
Aired May 31, 2017
On this episode of Marketing Matters, WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays welcomed leaders in science and business to discuss the confluence of neuroscience and marketing. Dr. Carl Marci (Chief Neuroscientist, Consumer Neuroscience Division, Nielsen), Kyle Nel (Vice President of Disruptive Innovation, Lowe’s), Dr. Michael Platt (Director, Wharton Neuroscience Initiative, Wharton School of Business and James S. Riepe Professor of Marketing, Neuroscience and Psychology), Dr. Elizabeth (Zab) Johnson (Executive Director and Senior Fellow, Wharton Neuroscience Initiative, Wharton School of Business), and Kevin Randall (Brand Strategy Consultant and Writer) offered their takes on the new and developing field of neuromarketing and its implications for not only the marketing industry, but for consumer lifestyles.
Dr. Carl Marci, a leading neuroscientist at Nielsen and a contributor to WFoA’s Advertising 2020 project, provided insight into the field of neuroscience and why it has become a growing component of research for brands. He explained that consumer neuroscience examines non-conscious processing. About 80% of consumer decisions are made on a subconscious level, which cannot be taken into account using the standard survey method of self-reporting. By integrating new methodologies, such as EEG, facial recognition software, and eye-tracking technologies, Nielsen’s neuroscience unit can paint a complete picture of the consumer that incorporates attention, emotion, and memory, allowing researchers and advertisers to be in the moment of decision with the consumer.
Marci emphasized that neuromarketing is taking off, and it’s important that marketers aren’t left behind. Neuromarketing techniques are becoming ubiquitous, consistently producing meaningful data and allowing companies to make accurate predictions. New technologies generate diagnostics that are impossible to obtain from standard surveys, and the insights gleaned are actionable. Marci expects that more companies will adjust their marketing based on neuromarketing findings, creating multiplatform ads, mobile-friendly campaigns, and short-form video that is more compatible with social media websites.
Kyle Nel, the Vice President of Disruptive Innovation at Lowe’s, was Catharine’s second guest. Nel is a behavioral scientist that heads Lowe’s Innovation Labs, which is dedicated to continuous change in order to stay relevant and dominant in today’s constantly changing consumer environment. He works to understand how individuals and groups make decisions and believes that neuroscience is the “metal detector of behavioral economics.” The world around us is quickly changing, but human beings are not. He posited that it is crucial to form a better understanding of how consumers are making decisions in order to create a better future.
While the amount of data able to be collected from neuromarketing technology is growing, Nel emphasized that it is important to consider whether the company can actually utilize the data and execute change on its unique scale of operations. It is important to be practical when applying these new technologies and techniques, distinguishing between real insights and meaningless data.
Catharine interviewed Dr. Michael Platt and Dr. Elizabeth (Zab) Johnson of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative in the show’s third segment, discussing the state of neuroscience and business in academia. Platt and Johnson emphasized that the future of business lies in neuroscience, and with that future in mind, the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative was created to elevate neuromarketing research. The Initiative also aims to enhance the Wharton School curriculum, helping to develop the next generation of business leaders and inviting other disciplines to collaborate on research. Catharine noted, “The essence of the initiative is grounded in helping people, understanding how we tick, why we tick, and then using the information to make sure that we tick well.”
Platt and Johnson are performing research that could have numerous applications in the marketing world. Platt is studying interpersonal interactions, focusing on how people’s prior life experiences shape how others act toward them. He’s asking whether certain behaviors can be promoted or diminished, such as attentiveness and listening, and is using his findings to create therapies currently being implemented at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Platt is also interested in decision-making under uncertainty and how people decide whether to continue with what they know well or to diverge and innovate. These ideas can be applied to brands by creating a better understanding of how to capture the attention of the consumer, as well as how to provoke a change in the consumer’s day-to-day life.
Johnson has recently studied the realm of vision and color, specifically people’s perception of color. She explains that color perception is very much “all in your head,” and related to each individual’s experiences. She also notes that people generally believe that their perception matches everyone else’s and are genuinely surprised to find that that is not the case. There is not yet a neuroscientific explanation for this, but Johnson is researching the potential applications of color perception in a variety of industries, such as advertising and cosmetics.
Catharine also delved into the ethical implications of new neuromarketing technologies. Dr. Platt shared that ethics are definitely a part of the conversation surrounding the research. He believes it is necessary to determine the proper applications as a scientific community to create the best possible outcomes. In Dr. Johnson’s perspective, “If it didn’t have ethical implications, it wouldn’t be cutting edge science.”
Catharine wrapped up the show with brand strategist and New York Times writer Kevin Randall, who provided a reporter’s outlook on neuromarketing trends. Randall stressed that researchers only know about 15% of how the brain operates, and he believes that the future of all disciplines is in neuroscience. With a plethora of new technology working on a larger scale, the field has matured and engaged leaders from diverse industries, such as healthcare and marketing, all seeking to better lives by increasing efficiency, productivity, and ease of everyday tasks. Randall also discussed the importance of understanding emotions in the future of marketing, emphasizing that emotions play a large part in the unconscious decision process. He is excited to see how emotions will play into artificial intelligence on top of the growth and affordability of wearable technology that can provide real-time biometric assessments.
You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/research-initiatives/radio-show/
By Colleen Brace