April 8, 2018

ANA Launches Marketing Futures: Initiative provides members with info on latest innovations

Innovation has permeated all aspects of the marketing industry and brands are challenged to think in new ways about the technology they use, the products they position, the channels they use to communicate, and even the ways in which their organizations are staffed. As a result of this rapid influx of new trends and technologies, becoming fluent in the latest concepts and leveraging them for your brand can be a daunting task.

The ANA is helping marketers face this challenge head on through its new program: Marketing Futures. This initiative was born out of the idea that ANA members are challenged by the rapidly changing technology, trends, and ideas that are influencing their industry. Through this program, the ANA will equip members with the information they need to keep pace with the industry-wide disruption caused primarily by advances in technology. The program’s online hub gives marketers access to content on 12 innovation topics:

  • Neuroscience
  • Header Bidding
  • Chatbots
  • Future of Retail
  • Virtual Reality
  • Digital Transformation
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence)
  • Internet of Things
  • Blockchain
  • Live Video
  • Augmented Reality
  • Dark Social

With an eye on what’s next, the ANA will provide members with access to information on the latest innovations. Each topic will have a content experience that includes video interviews with practitioners and subject matter experts, detailed reports for topical deep dives, and case studies highlighting brands that have activated on these innovative concepts. With the help of the Marketing Futures initiative, marketers will know what’s on the cutting edge and how to activate for their brands.

A Smart Business Decision or a Bright, Shiny Object?

While innovation can help brands be more efficient, communicate more effectively, and serve to differentiate them from competitors, there are some associated risks that brands should weigh carefully. According to Peter Hubbell, founder/CEO of BoomAgers, brands are “being seduced by the allure of the next new thing that promises to deliver short-term results.” Hubbell encourages brands to “look beyond the shine and to focus on substance.”

Andrew Grinaker, associate director of content strategy at Possible Seattle, suggests marketers ask these questions before placing their bet on a new technology or trend:

  • Does the opportunity fit our all-up strategy?
  • Is my target audience consuming or active on this channel?
  • Can this opportunity impact our business goals?
  • Are there any barriers for you to be successful with this new opportunity?
  • Does the time and budget needed align with the market opportunity?

For example, if virtual reality can amplify your marketing efforts and help support business goals, then it may be a good area in which to invest. But if virtual reality would alienate your core consumer or take away resources from essential initiatives, think again before crafting your marketing plan around VR.

A good way to test the waters, according to Grinaker, is sticking to the 70/20/10 rule. He suggests brands allocate 70 percent of marketing efforts toward tried-and-true methods, 20 percent toward high-confidence tactics, and 10 percent toward innovation and exploration. This balance allows brands to maintain their business but stay dynamic and relevant at the same time.

At a July 2017 ANA conference, Intuit CMO Lucas Watson advised innovative marketers to lead with brand, rather than technology. He explained that technology changes so rapidly, and it soon becomes the new baseline rather than a marketplace differentiator. Technology must complement brand initiatives. Watson also recommended that despite incorporating more and more technology into brand interactions, companies must always infuse a human element into their communication. For example, chatbots should still provide a human-like experience; relationships and emotions are an essential part of forging a connection with customers.

The Harvard Business Review suggests that innovative thinking should be part of any good marketer’s DNA: “Innovative marketers use unique marketplace insights to come up with products, services, or solutions based on untested ideas.” Depending on your office culture, innovation can be an intimidating thing to embrace. The more an idea challenges the status quo, the greater the market opportunity, but in turn, there is a larger personal risk to whoever is pushing the idea. It’s important for marketing leaders to have the courage to pursue bold initiatives and the know-how to overcome naysayers.

IKEA Shares Four Ways to Innovate Your Brand

Developing and nurturing a culture that encourages and champions innovation is more important than any one idea or technology, IKEA contends. Here are four ways the brand drives innovation:

  1. Revolutionize an industry. In the 1940s, the founder of IKEA recognized a problem with purchasing furniture: it was impossible to get into a car, and having it delivered was costly. This inspired him to start an entire line of affordable furniture which customers could easily assemble at home. Nearly 60 years later, IKEA is the world's largest furniture retailer.
  2. Use consumer insights to in uence the product. IKEA invests substantial time and resources into the designs of its in-store room displays to re ect how people truly live. Every year the brand releases a "Life at Home Report" with ndings on how people live at home to create products that solve real-life problems.
  3. Transform existing high-performing tactics. Since 1951, the IKEA catalog has been the cornerstone of the brand's marketing efforts. In 2014, the brand started to integrate augmented reality technology into the catalog, creating an app that interacts with the catalog to create a new customer experience.
  4. Empower customers to create their own vision. The IKEA Virtual Reality Experience enables consumers to explore a fully furnished kitchen in 3D, and even "interact" with objects in the room. The brand continues to re ne its VR experience, as it feels the program helps speed up what is typically a lengthy customer journey.


Neuroscience Provides Deeper Insights

The 2017 ANA report “Neuroscience: Tapping into Consumer Consciousness” covers the core neuroscience concepts marketers need to understand as they take next steps to incorporate this science into their strategy.

What is neuroscience? Consumer neuroscience integrates non-conscious measures to capture responses moment by moment, offering a more complete view of the consumer. Key methods include eye tracking, measurement of brain activity, and facial coding.

Why should marketers care? Marketers use neuroscience to answer the question, “How do consumers’ minds actually work?” It can help marketers uncover more data that leads to deeper insights and ultimately, more effective campaigns.

How can it help your business? Although only a small number of respondents (10 percent) attributed revenue growth to the use of neuroscience, those who did said it contributed a sizeable amount (an average of a 16 percent increase in revenue).

Key Research Findings

  1. Marketers are optimistic about neuroscience. Most marketers (73 percent), especially those who report revenue growth, are familiar with some form of consumer neuroscience and believe it will complement (64 percent) or replace (30 percent) traditional techniques.
  2. Attribution to revenue is difficult. Most marketers can’t attribute revenue growth to the use of consumer neuroscience. For those in the study who were able to, however, the average revenue increase was sizable, at 16 percent.
  3. Articles and blogs are primary information sources. For 48 percent of surveyed marketers, the primary sources of information about consumer neuroscience techniques are articles and blogs, followed distantly by market research suppliers (16 percent). Innovators tend to use academic papers more than other groups.
  4. Eye tracking is the most used technique and is perceived as the most reliable. Eye tracking is the most prevalent neuroscience technique, with one-third of the marketers surveyed having used it and most having awareness of it. In the past year, neuroscience techniques were most applied to web page design and branding. With its direct interpretation of results, it is also seen as the most valid and reliable, followed by biometrics and facial coding. Neuroscience methods that measure changes in brain physiology, such as EEG and fMRI, are perceived as less valid and reliable.
  5. Cost is the main adoption barrier. The research identified the main barriers to adopting consumer neuroscience as cost (55 percent), integration with existing research processes (43 percent), and lack of understanding (42 percent).

Best Practices

Traditional brand research captures conscious measures through things like awareness and attitude tracking. However, more than 90 percent of brain processing occurs below conscious awareness. Consumer neuroscience involves using tools to reliably and affordably capture what the consumer brain is doing in order to get a more complete view of consumers. It integrates non-conscious measures in order to capture responses moment-by-moment as they happen. Non-conscious processes can be very powerful; non-conscious biases have been shown to exist in physical judgments, personal judgments, physical behaviors, and self-assessments of pleasure and pain. Through this innovation research, marketers can get closer to understanding their target audience on a deeper level.

Consumer neuroscience leverages the following non-conscious measures:

  • Biometrics: Pulse, breathing, and heart rate can indicate an overall level of emotional engagement, showing the most- and least-engaging moments.
  • Facial coding: Facial coding can identify discreet, facially expressed emotions, such as surprise, sadness, confusion, and joy.
  • Eye tracking: Visual attention to content, including specific areas that attract the most and least attention, can be mapped for analysis.
  • EEG/fMRI: Functional magnetic resonance imaging looks at blood flow in the brain to detect areas of activity.

  • Implicit measurement: Subconscious associations with brand or product benefits, emotional reaction, and degree of preference are examined.

Integrated consumer neuroscience has two facets: knowing when to integrate different tools (with an understanding of each tool’s strengths) and integrating non-conscious measures with traditional measures of self-reporting. Sometimes self-reported measures and non-conscious measures line up and sometimes they do not. Either way, there are insights to be learned from integrating the results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Modern neuroscience clearly demonstrates that much of the brain’s activity and emotional influence occurs beyond people’s conscious awareness.
  • Given the shorter attention spans of the modern consumer, understanding the complete consumer (conscious and non-conscious processes) is more important than ever before.
  • Integrated consumer neuroscience offers tools to measure the non-conscious combined with traditional approaches in order to allow new opportunities for insights.
  • Neuroscience research shows that highly engaging ads activate emotion, memory, and reward centers as well as areas of the brain related to personal identity.

Chatbots Enhance the Customer Experience

The ANA report “Chatbots: Marketing in the Age of Immediate Engagement” gives insight into the emerging technology that allows brands to connect with their consumers in a direct and immediate way via online instant messaging.

What are chatbots?

A chatbot is a computer program that has been developed and deployed as an interactive agent. Through a desktop, text message, or even voice interface such as Apple’s Siri, chatbots have one-to-one interaction or conversations with humans. Also known as talkbots, interactive agents, or simply bots, they have become channels for customer and user interaction.

Why should marketers care?

Adoption and use of chatbots is occurring rapidly, with most deployments coming in the past year. As the technology matures and grows more sophisticated, so does consumer acceptance of chatbots, particularly among Millennials, well over half of whom have used chatbots to interact with a brand.

How can they help your business?

A chatbot can become a new service layer that extends and projects your brand’s values and becomes a brand ambassador. A well-designed bot is always on and always available to facilitate one-to-one, personalized interaction that enhances the customer experience.

Key Research Findings

  1. Most marketers are at least somewhat familiar with chatbots. More than 80 percent had some familiarity with the application of chatbots to marketing. Large companies and B-to-C organizations are most familiar with chatbots. The primary information source for study participants has been articles and blogs.
  2. Marketers recognize that chatbots are becoming an integral marketing tool. More than half feel chatbots will complement (52 percent) or even replace (38 percent) traditional techniques.
  3. Penetration of chatbots is currently low (17 percent). This is particularly true among smaller companies.
    • Most companies that currently use chatbots have less than one year of experience doing so.
    • However, about two-thirds of the companies that don’t have chatbots are somewhat likely to employ them within the next year.
    • Chatbot usage is in the early adoption stage. Companies identified as Innovators or Early Adopters are far more likely to use them.
    • Most companies (48 percent), especially smaller companies (73 percent), use an in-house agency to create chatbot dialogue content.
  4. The primary reason marketers use (or would use) chatbots is to save money. One-third of marketers indicate that chatbots give customers a better experience, and one-quarter believe their chatbot usage creates a competitive advantage.
    • Marketers use chatbots to provide real-time customer service experiences and to increase engagement. About one-fifth of the companies use chatbots to personalize marketing and gain consumer insights.
    • Most marketers (61 percent) attributed operational savings, rather than revenue growth (12 percent), to chatbots. The average operation savings is 31 percent.
  5. The impersonal nature of chatbots is the primary concern marketers have about chatbots. Difficulties implementing and creating an authentic dialogue are barriers among about one-third of marketers.
    • The average reported chatbot failure rate, which is when humans have to intervene, is high, at 31 percent.

Best Practices

According to a recent study by Juniper Research, chatbots driven by artificial intelligence will redefine customer service by 2022, when they are estimated to save companies more than $8 billion per year. That shift will represent a total makeover of how businesses function in retail, e-commerce, banking, and healthcare. So, bots — like the smartphone apps that came before them, and the social networks developed prior to that — are the next wave of tech, and smart money is already investing in them. Derived from early movers and already established veterans of the emergent space, these best practices can help marketers chart a chatbot course for their companies.

  1. Tackle the why first. There’s always a lot of excitement when a new technology emerges, but brands need to think through their decision to adopt the technology before succumbing to the hype. “I think the ‘why’ part is something that should be tackled first,” says Vince Lynch, CEO at Los Angeles–based artificial intelligence agency IV.AI. There are many reasons why a company may deploy chat tech, but in all cases Lynch says it needs to be a simple one. “If you can't summarize the purpose of the bot in one sentence, you shouldn’t do it.”
  2. Plan ahead. Thinking ahead about branding and data integration will optimize your chatbot program. Take, for example, SUBWAY, which recently launched a bot within Facebook's Messenger app for online sandwich orders. SUBWAY’s chatbot came out before the company unveiled a brand transformation and a new app. The chatbot's voice, a little bolder and more fun, is reflective of SUBWAY's forthcoming tone. Both the chatbot and the app share an underlying dataset, which will make the company's online ordering smarter and more personalized.
  3. Don’t just chat with your bot — listen. While the customer service savings that chatbots are poised to provide could be substantial, the ability for this technology to accrue rich customer data and enhance the shopping experience may be even more valuable. IV.AI's Lynch asserts, "Most chatbots work best when you have some memory of who the users are and what they've done." Cross-referencing data from many consumer touchpoints such as telephone calls, customer service text messages, etc., allows chatbots to provide a tailored customer-service experience.
  4. Set a foundation for conversation. Selecting the right platform for your chatbot plays a big role in the success of the program. But how do brands choose the right one? The easy answer is to be wherever customers are most likely engaging. But as the technology evolves and customer’s habits change, bot-makers are best advised to set a solid foundation of sharable data and flexible APIs that can let companies pivot to the best platform for their customers, as soon as they arise.
  5. Feed off the feedback. Interactions taking place with chatbots need to be continually evaluated, not just to ensure the system is working well but to make certain that it’s reaching its potential. People — customers — are the ultimate quality assurance, and they will say how they want to use a brand's conversational interface. Because this technology is so new and customers may be unfamiliar with the experience, take their feedback with a grain of salt. Customers know what websites and apps look like and how they perform, but they aren’t as familiar with bot technology. Carman Wenkoff, SUBWAY’s chief information and chief digital officer, suggests combating the lack of familiarity by “getting out prototypes and wireframes and educating your stakeholders.” Constructive feedback is critical.

Case Study

Kellogg Affirms a New Package Design

To develop creative that resonates, it’s critical to attain a complete understanding of the consumer. Neuroscience provides a holistic view of consumers, including thoughts that they are not able to articulate. The Kellogg Co. used neuroscience to determine if its new packaging for Rice Krispies Treats was more or less effective than the existing packaging. In addition to an updated logo, the new packaging had an added flavor name; different Snap, Crackle, and Pop characters; an enlarged food shot; a modified background color; and an added write-on wrapper.

In its neuroscience research, The Kellogg Co. hoped to answer the following questions:

  • Is the new package design as effective as the existing?
  • Are branding perceptions affected?
  • Does the new design communicate all desired equities?
  • Does the new package affect Rice Krispies Treats on the shelf?

Study participants were women ages 21 to 54, half of whom were parents and who had previously purchased granola bar snacks. Along with Rice Krispies Treats, two brand competitors were tested in isolation and on the shelf. The Kellogg Co. tested three different kinds of messaging: one childlike, one modern, and one to convey the “sharability” of the treats.

To conduct this study, the brand asked participants to view the packaging alone and then placed it on a shelf with other brand and competitor products. Package viewing in isolation reveals non-conscious responses to the package (both overall and individual elements) and areas for improvement. On-shelf viewing assesses the package in a competitive context and provides cues to the package’s ability to grab visual attention.

In each participant, The Kellogg Co. observed and measured:

  • Segment-level diagnostics
  • Eye-tracking
  • Action intent
  • Brand resonance
  • Message resonance

Package in Isolation Findings

  • Both packages caused the eyes to move around the entire box, but the new placement of the “Original” flavor label drove more focus to the treat.
  • The existing package integrated all elements into one highly effective zone, while the white section drove focus to the variety. The new package contained elements that were well integrated, and the wrapper/marker acted as a visual border.
  • The new package maintained overall action intent in addition to performance among parents. However, the new package was directionally higher among non-parents.
  • The focus on food on the new package drove a strong emotional response and became more memorable to non-parents.
  • The new package drove exceptional brand associations, outperforming the existing and differentiating the product from competitors.
  • The new design had a decreased association with childlike messaging when compared to the existing packaging. Both designs were perceived as sharable and modern.

Package in Context Findings

  • The white banner on the existing packaging created a pattern at the shelf, while the light blue cues on the new packaging are more consistent, causing the treats to “pop” against the blue background.
  • Existing shelf design placed Rice Krispies Treats alongside competitive bars with mixed effectiveness. The navigation was category-focused and somewhat disorganized, driving exploration of brands.
  • New shelf design was not brand-specific, but more organized than the existing. Products on the bottom shelf continue to be a universal challenge.
  • The existing and new shelf designs have comparable action intent. Exploration may be driving higher emotional motivation when the existing package is on the shelf, but the increased prominence of the treat on the new package may contribute to higher memory for the category.
  • The new design maintains the brand perceptions of the existing, showing good brand resonance and a slight advantage over competition.

Implications and Next Steps

  • The Kellogg Co. will move ahead with its new package design with no concerns of in-market performance. The brand will also consider how the design will work at a larger scale and how to incorporate consistency and repetition across different product varieties and consumer touchpoints.

NitroBot Delivers Leads for Kia

Hybrid cars are the fastest-growing auto segment, and Kia’s marketers knew growth in this area would be critical for future business success. It was also an important area to pursue from a strategic perspective because of the “halo effect” the initiative would have on brand perceptions across the portfolio (increasing Kia’s association with environmental, efficiency, and technological qualities). The brand set out to accomplish the following goals: Clearly explain hybrid electric vehicle benefits to consumers, find new audiences, and sell 60,000 cars, which would be a 34,000 percent increase in hybrid sales year over year.

In order to increase its presence in the hybrid electric car category, South Korean automaker Kia developed a chatbot for customers to interact with. This chatbot could have conversations with consumers, and the more it communicated with a person, the “smarter” it would become as a result of remembering previous conversations. This allowed Kia to provide customers and potential customers with immediate, friendly, and engaging conversations around its new hybrid electric vehicle, the Niro EV.

The target audience for the chatbot was composed of “hand raisers,” or customers who identified themselves as being interested in the Niro and hybrid electric vehicles. Kia sought to reach these potential customers through social media. Marketers also recognized an opportunity to engage audiences who preferred to speak Spanish and were underserviced by English-language advertising.

In recent years car-buying habits have changed. Customers are less trusting of salespeople and make fewer dealership visits than years past. Plus, traditional mass market tactics are not as effective as they used to be. Today, purchase decisions are made after the customer reviews online information and seeks out advice from friends who are passionate about cars.

Through AI technology, Kia could become “that friend” to consumers, a go-to resource at all stages of the buying journey. Instead of waiting for consumers to visit dealerships or wade through web content, NiroBot could speak with them where they were already spending time: on Facebook.

The NiroBot strategy was built on the insight that each person’s car buying circumstances were unique, so the conversations around those purchases would have to be equally unique. Chatting with NiroBot would provide immediate, friendly, and engaging text, video, and audio content about every aspect of the vehicle. This includes the pricing, features, technical specs, and test drive locations. Additionally, the preferred language could be changed from English to Spanish.

With every conversation, the NiroBot gathered customer data, becoming smarter through artificial intelligence. It remembered previous comments, including the details and context, and built on them. Best of all, the conversation didn’t stop once a purchase was made. NiroBot told new owners of the car about the innovative features so they wouldn’t have to read through a 300-page manual. This feature helped to drive product love and word of mouth.

Kia created the NiroBot to live on Facebook because that is where consumers were already spending time. Its mobile-first approach took advantage of users’ location, multimedia, social networking, and conversation content.

Kia’s marketers were determined to deliver a truly frictionless experience. They created the NiroBot to harness all the platform’s advantages: rich content, video, GIFs, 360-degree image specs, and more, making the conversation seem as natural as the ones users were having with friends.

NiroBot was able to answer thousands of vehicle-related questions, like questions about exterior and interior design, hybrid powertrain, and advanced technology. The system was both informative and playful, leading users on a personalized journey as they explored the Niro. It also connected prospective buyers with nearby dealers where they could test drive cars, converting virtual conversations into face-to-face experiences with the brand.

In the first six months of the campaign, Kia had more than one million conversations, each lasting between one and four minutes. This demonstrated enthusiastic consumer adoption of the chatbot. Most importantly, the brand was on track to double its Niro sales targets. It also began applying the chatbot approach across all 17 of its models as a major focus and communication pillar.

NiroBot was the first auto chatbot in the U.S. To date, NiroBot has delivered 400,000 cost-effective leads, is on track to double sales targets, and was heralded by Forbes and other media as setting the benchmark for consumer interaction.


(Source materials may be available only to ANA members.)

Building a Better Chatbot.” John Patrick Pullen. ANA Magazine, 6/13/17.

“Chatbots: Marketing in the Age of Immediate Engagement.” ANA, 2017.

How to Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome in Marketing.” Andrew Grinaker. The Drum, 9/9/16.

"IKEA Shares Six Ways to Innovate Your Brand." Alia Kemet, Director of Media at IKEA US. ANA Innovation Day, 8/16/16.

Kia: Digital Transformation Through Virtual Reality and Influencer Marketing.” Eugene A. Santos, Senior Manager of Digital and Social Media Marketing at Kia Motors America. ANA Digital and Social Media Conference, 7/14/17.

Kia NiroBot.” 2017 MMA Smarties Bronze Winner, Product/Services Launch; Finalist, Innovation. Brand: Kia Motors of America. Lead Agency: Ansible.

Leveraging Consumer Neuroscience to Drive Brand Growth.” Emily Adkison, Manager of Insights and Planning at Kellogg. ANA Shopper Marketing Midwest Chapter Committee Meeting, 8/9/17.

“Neuroscience: Tapping into Consumer Consciousness.” ANA, 2017.

North Star or Bright Shiny Object?” Peter Hubbell. The Huffington Post, 2/23/17.

Reaching Consumers on the Path to Purchase Through Neuroscience.” Carl Marci, MD, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at Innerscope Research. ANA Webinar, 8/6/14.

Unleashing the Power of Marketing.” Beth Comstock, Ranjay Gulati, and Stephen Liguori. Harvard Business Review, October 2010.


"Innovation." Insight Brief compiled by Emily Apisa, Content Creation Associate Manager, Marketing Knowledge Center, ANA. Designer: Amy Zeng, Marketing and Communications, ANA. Editor: Ken Beaulieu, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, ANA. © Copyright 2018 by the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. All rights reserved.