Your Smartphone is Giving Retailers Your Every Move

We now live in a world where the moment you walk into a major department store, they are more than likely tracking what sections of the store you visit, how long you spent in each section, and which displays caused you to pause and linger. This data can be gathered as long as you are carrying your smart phone. According to an article in AdAge, a company called Nomi is further developing technology that gathers mobile-device IDs as people enter merchant locations through the merchant’s WiFi network or via small sensors that track a mobile device’s radio signals down to a one- to three-meter proximity. Nomi then uses machine learning to identify spatial relationships by crunching data on consumer footpaths. One of the major challenges associated with this technology is the encroachment on privacy. Do shoppers actually WANT their every step to be tracked, and can companies track them without consent? The issue has already created much debate.

According to The Washington Post, Maryland has just issued a bill which is currently making its way through the legislature. It would require stores to prominently display signs informing shoppers they’re being tracked on their phones. This still leads to the question: How do you educate people about their privacy rights in the age of Big Data? This is the hot topic in discussion this week in IMC 619- Emerging Media & The Market. Does putting a sign on the door telling customers they are being tracked really give them an idea of how their data will be used after they leave the store? Probably not.

One thing may be certain: as consumers we need to self-educate about the devices we use each and every day.  We need to learn the full operating capabilities of the powerful tools that help us connect with the world. The truth is, it goes both ways. Those devices allow the world to connect back with us, and many times that requires sharing or illegally using our private information.


How Dataminr and Twitter are Changing the Landscape of News

According to, “Dataminr is a five-year-old startup that has raised $48 million from investors like Box Group, Venrock and IVP. Until now it has worked with clients in financial services, helping banks and hedge funds make real-time investment decisions by processing huge amounts of social media content and extracting the high-value information. For example Dataminr told its financial clients that the AP tweet about an explosion at the White House was false five minutes before the AP itself corrected the facts.”

 Whether you’re a marketer or not this information should gain your immediate attention.  This January, Twitter signed a deal with Dataminr and CNN to determine the most trending news topics and give CNN a competitive advantage over what users are talking about real-time. Dataminr is essential to this relationship because they have the software and algorithms necessary to get news faster than traditional methods can. How many times in the last year have you logged into your Twitter account just to learn about breaking news? Most Twitter users now prefer this method to logging on to a news website or turning on “Live” Television coverage. According to Mashable, some of the first news stories to break on Twitter were “American forces’ raid on Osama Bin Laden, Whitney Houston‘s death, the Hudson River plane landing”.  Professional journalists also use Twitter to break news quickly before writing up full articles.  It appears that the business side is going digital too. Online news now generates more revenue than print newspapers.

The following infographic depicts how social media is changing the landscape of traditional news. With the evolution of companies like Dataminr, we are getting closer and closer to the demise of print news, and edging into the future of social news.

The New “Face” of Customer Service

In the last week, I have had my share of bad luck. It just so happens that much of my bad luck was the result of poor customer service.  I would like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned along the way as they relate to customer service and being heard when it comes to dealing with large companies who don’t always like to listen.

After many failed attempts (10+) making phone calls and leaving messages for various “senior level” managers at a particular property management company in the Philadelphia area, I finally lost patience and wrote on their official company Facebook page. I received a response within 30 minutes after posting! Now the response promised a follow up phone call with someone. That was three days ago.  Either way, it is clear to me now that the way we deal with companies is much different than it was only five years ago. It was common to pick up the phone or even write a letter about a problem or serious concern. Now it seems like everyone is Tweeting, Posting, and even snapping pictures or videos (anyone see the latest Pizza Hut PR nightmare?) about their poor customer service experiences.  According to “social media is driving profound change in social consciousness, political debate, medicine, government oversight, and virtually every other aspect of human endeavor. The reasons why social media is so able to affect change differ in all these scenarios. But one thing they all have in common is this; the veil of secrecy has been obliterated.”  We now live in a world where customers EXPECT your company to be socially responsive. According to one source, 62% of customers have used social media to raise a customer service issue. 81% of customers believe it is important for your business to respond to them if they have a question or complaint on a social channel. A recent study showed that a number of companies considered “Top 50” brands don’t really pay attention to customer issues hurled at their social media accounts. 56% didn’t respond to a single complaint posted on Facebook. Similarly, 71% of complaints on Twitter went ignored. It will be important for companies to start not only monitoring their social media pages regularly, but also responding to such customer inquiries. Gone are the days that brands simply need to use Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness and post promotions. Looking to the future, it will be imperative for companies to be more responsive to consumer’s comments (especially the negative ones), be more personal, and train employees how to handle certain situations that arise on social networks.

One thing is for sure: Social media as a customer service tool is no longer experimental. It is fundamental to any businesses success.  The sooner more companies begin to realize this, the better customer experiences they can create.

Is Facebook Really Concerned about YOUR Privacy?

This week social media giant Facebook was featured in the news regarding a story where an infant’s photo ended up in a Crest Toothpaste advertisement featured on Facebook. It was also one of the
feature topics in IMC 619- Emerging Media & The Market. As my fellow classmates and I dug deeper into the advantages and disadvantages to this social network, it became even more obvious how big an issue Privacy has become.

With 945 million monthly active users and 757 million daily active users on average in December 2013, Facebook has become one of the largest social networks to date.

When you visit Facebook’s official News Room and click on “Safety & Privacy” the first sentence reads: “Facebook is focused on giving people control over their experience so they can express themselves freely in the way they intend.”  In 2013 Facebook removed the privacy feature that lets users limit who can find them on the social network. Some of Facebook’s new policies make it clear that users are required to give the company permission to use their personal information in advertising as a condition of using the service. According to an article in The New York Times, in August 2013, a judge approved some of the wording as part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit which was brought by users who were upset about seeing their names and photos used to endorse products in Facebook ads sent to their friends.

After much contemplation about whether or not it’s worth it to have my personal information published for all to see, I realized that the only other alternative was to close my Facebook account all together. Some users have begun to do the same, specifically teens. But as a marketer I ask myself; should we be that concerned about privacy or should we continue to keep pushing Facebook toward more and more data collection if it helps us reach our target audience?

Facebook already gives marketers an opportunity to reach targeted customer groups based on their likes, their relationship status, favorite movies and so forth.  More and more, those ads are targeted based on what you say and do on Facebook. Facebook doesn’t charge you for its service, but its biggest source of revenue is advertising.

Facebook scrutinizes every like, share and data point. They even target the things you hide on your public profile. For instance if you have chosen to keep your birthday hidden, Facebook can still use it to customize ads. As Facebook continues to see growth worldwide, the company will continue to push the limits when it comes to data collection and user “privacy”. The big question still remains: How long will users tolerate it?

Crowdsourcing Takes Gold in Sochi

In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, I feel the need to post once again how evident Emerging Media has been throughout this course of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.  NBC profiled American speedskater Emily Scott’s underdog story, and the struggles she’s faced not only to become a speedskater, but also just to get to Sochi. You can read her story here.

Emily Scott was forced to apply for food stamps after her monthly stipend from U.S. Speedskating was cut from $1,950 to $600. Thanks to the crowdfunding website and an article in the USA Today newspaper, she has raised nearly $49,000 from some 700 donors — enough to cover her expenses and allow her father to watch her compete. The official definition from states that crowdfunding is an approach to raising capital for new projects and businesses by soliciting contributions from a large number of stakeholders following three types of crowdfunding models: (1) Donations, Philanthropy and Sponsorship where there is no expected financial return, (2) Lending and (3) Investment in exchange for equity, profit or revenue sharing.


So how far-reaching has crowdfunding become? Even the Jamaican bobsled team used crowdfunding to get to this year’s Olympic Games. In late January, Jamaica learned it qualified for the Sochi Olympics, but the team didn’t have the money to make the trip. They needed a minimum of $80,000. A crowdfunding campaign on generated almost $130,000 and allowed them to travel to Sochi to compete. 

According to The Crowdfunding Industry Report by Massolution, the overall crowdfunding industry raised $2.7 billion in 2012, across more than 1 million individual campaigns globally. In 2013 the industry was projected to grow to $5.1 billion.


The infographic above shows the growth in crowfunding over the last few years. North America and Europe have dominated the crowdfunding industry, with over 70% of funds raised worldwide. As crowdfunding grows in popularity expect to see more success stories similar to that of Emily Scott and the Jamaican Bobsled team. The Olympics not only bring out the best in athletes, but also the best in all of us who are compelled to help fulfill the dreams of others.

Sochi is only an “app” away!

I don’t know about you, but I was counting down the days until the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games aired.  I was also waiting to watch the Opening Ceremonies.  While at work on Friday, I couldn’t help but notice news headlines both online and on my iPhone discussing the events that were currently taking place in Sochi. There were pictures, videos and Instagram shots of athletes as they were walking into the arena.  Our connectivity via mobile phones and tablets has changed the way we “watch” the Olympics.  You used to wait until primetime to find out who was winning the medal count, or what the biggest “upsets” of the day were. Now you can simply download the official Sochi 2014 Olympic App and find out instantaneously.  According to the Olympic website, The Official “Sochi 2014 Results” mobile app contains all you need to know about Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ competition schedule and results.










According to one source, time spent with mobile apps is starting to challenge television: consumers are spending 127 minutes per day in mobile apps–up 35 percent from 94 minutes a day in the same time last year–and spend 168 minutes watching television per day.


As Americans become more connected to their smartphones, their other habits begin to change. According to, 34 percent of Americans will follow the Olympics via smartphones since the games will take place nine hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, challenging American mobile marketers to be on their game. The “Sochi Olympics Second Screen Survey” showed that consumers plan to spend a lot of time on mobile devices during the Olympics.

Maybe in 2018 we will all be watching the games on live streams via our smart phones…or better yet…Google Glass!


Super Bowl Ads: To the Internet and Beyond…

Nearly 108.5 million people watched last February’s Super Bowl. According to the NFL, FOX’s broadcast was estimated to reach 198 countries and territories in more than 25 languages. Media from 24 countries and more than 100 stations were broadcasting live from Radio Row at the Super Bowl Media Center in New York’s Times Square. It’s no doubt that the Super Bowl is a big event. Lately, bigger than the game have been the ads. Many ads have gained momentum over the past few years. According to one survey cited by USA Today and others, 78% of Americans look forward to the Super Bowl mainly for the commercials, rather than for the game.

In recent years many of the biggest players in the Super Bowl advertising game have chosen to pre-release their 30-60 second ads up to five days before the actual game day. Those who followed through this year with pre-released ads were: Budweiser (Anheuser Busch), Doritos (Frito-Lay), M&Ms (Mars), and Axe (Unilever).  After watching many of the pre-released teasers and commercials on YouTube, I couldn’t help but wonder how many viewers would chose to simply watch these ads on their own time over the Internet without having to turn on the TV to watch The Super Bowl on Sunday evening.  As a marketer, it makes sense to leak ads so that the buzz surrounding the brand can last longer and increase the probability that more people actually watch them via social networks and YouTube. Many of these leaks often create a firestorm of word-of-mouth buzz for the brand.

As more companies such as Anheuser-Busch release the full versions of their ads via YouTube, they

youtube-ads-vs-tvhave to be asking themselves a hard question: “Is the actual “air time” worth the money?” AdAge reported that Fox Sports averaged around $4 million for 30 seconds worth of ad time during this year’s game. In 2013 CBS had essentially sold out its ad inventory for its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII at prices averaging between $3.7 million and $3.8 million, according to ad buyers. With prices on the rise, and viewership on the decline, marketers may have to re-evaluate their strategy looking toward the future.

One hint that we may have already seen the peak in television ads during the super bowl came in an interview with Subway CMO, Tony Pace. Mr. Pace said that the chain had no plans to buy into the game until Friday evening. “There were a lot of folks that for whatever reason were backing out, so it’s something we decided to take advantage of.” Subway submitted the following 30-second piece, featuring their new “Fritos Chicken Enchilada”.