When Old Meets New: Amtrak’s Novel Idea

Amtrak’s latest public awareness move is one part genius, one part accident. What started out as a free train ride from New York to Chicago has since snowballed into a novel (pun intended) concept from America’s largest passenger railroad: a residency for writers.


It all began in December of last year, when Alexander Chee, a short story author and journalist, off-handedly mentioned in an interview that trains were his favorite place to work, telling the interviewer: “I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.”

Fellow scribes Zach Seward and Jessica Gross took his rumination to heart and starting tweeting about it.

Believe it or not, Amtrak responded.

In February, Jessica Gross took a test run, chronicling a trip for The Paris Review. Shortly thereafter Amtrak confirmed that it is indeed planning to turn the writers’ residencies into an established, long-term program, sending writers on trains throughout its network of routes.

It’s not everyday a passenger railroad gets to be cool. But Amtrak’s writer residencies are tapping into the desire for adventure on the rails. Last year’s Station to Station, another Amtrak-facilitated project, hit a similar note, bringing art and music to the heartland and lots of local attention to it’s patron, the Levi’s brand.

Railroads allow writers to visit specific places like no other mode of travel. There is something romantic about trains. They seem to offer exactly the sort of metaphorical inspiration that writers crave. Just as importantly, they say a lot about the enduring importance of local communities. And it’s that kind of powerful local thinking that inspires us here at the Altitude Group.

Today’s workplace might encourage people to detach from “the real world,” but people are inherently local, physically connected animals. And now there are opportunities to connect with local people and places in new, more authentic ways.

It’s always great to see companies engaging in real conversations on social media platforms like Twitter, but Amtrak’s response goes above and beyond. After creating a storm of hype for the writer’s residency on Twitter, Amtrak plans to offer their trains as a creative venue for select writers. Amtrak is essentially turning a charitable gesture into great marketing for local experiences.

Now, the company is using the idea to tap into South by Southwest, the music fair turned cultural mecca. Amtrak will be ferrying digital VIP’s from Los Angeles to Austin. As Adweek reports, a select few “adventurous thought leaders” will have their own dedicated observation car on the 33-hour ride.

And to be clear, this is more than just personal branding for writers and digital VIP’s. By captivating the imagination of America’s creative class, Amtrak has tapped into a major source of innovation and content. And that might mean getting extra press on social media, or being an integral part of the next great American novel.


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Using Search to Boost Local Radio Campaigns

We’re the first to argue that there is no single medium that reaches local audiences as powerfully as radio. But these days, no single medium, no matter how powerful, can’t benefit from digital amplification.

Marketers have put a lot of effort into creating a great cross-platform experience between TV and digital. You can’t miss the ubiquity of Twitter hashtags on your TV screen. But radio marketers have been less aggressive because it’s less clear how to combine mediums. The first challenge is that nearly half of radio’s 13-35 demographic is in a car. This is a powerful phenomenon but it also poses some unique challenges.

car-audioEven though tablets, PCs and mobile phones (in theory) are out of reach for radio’s car listeners, this audience is simultaneously  more captive, less distracted and, more often than not, just a turn signal away from a purchase.

Livio, one interesting startup, is trying to take this one step further. They’ve created a prototype that  connects your smartphone to your radio while you drive. Hear an ad for a steakhouse while you’re hungry? Hit a button, and Livio will plug the address into your GPS.

But even without technological ways of bridging the gap between audio streams and purchasing, marketers have plenty of other routes to explore. No local campaign is complete without some of these  radio-to-digital basics.

Aural signatures are undeniably powerful way to establish brand recognition. But when people are taking that final step to procure a local good or service, there’s a good chance they’re using through Google. They’ll remember a catchy jingle, but it’s critically important that they can quickly complete the transaction digitally.

As SearchEngineWatch reports, “Ninety percent of consumers now use search engines to shop locally; these queries are happening from the desktop, on the mobile web, in apps, from maps, and even from GPS and other in-vehicle devices.”

That means a few things to marketers. Firstly, search engines are an invaluable component of any local campaign but they’re best utilized after establishing a brand’s resonance. Users may be searching for “Cambridge auto-repair” or “Kalamazoo interior design,” but it’s the brand recognition from other platforms that will make you stand out amongst competitors.

With that in mind, there are two prongs to any Google strategy. Search engine optimization and adwords.

The first can be tricky. SEO is the process of having your website appear atop the “organic” part of Google’s search results. Businesses are regularly bombarded by quick fix “SEO experts” who promise top spots in search results, but the reality is that it usually takes time to have your business be the first or second result.

More often than not, good SEO consists of creating great content that people want to read and share. Company blogs are their own art in the SEO field, often referred to as “inbound marketing.” Being on the first page of Google means life or death for some companies, and being the first organic result can capture as much as 33% of that term’s search traffic. And marketers would also be wise to make sure their business is on Google places to get maximum exposure from Google.

Otherwise, marketers will have to get to the top of the search results with paid advertising. It can be equally effective, and has become an industry in its own right, but truly capturing as much traffic from “Kalamazoo interior design,” either through paid Google ads or organic rankings, will still rely on the brand recognition that comes from radio.

But of course, getting consumers to your web platforms is only half the battle. Marketers need to make sure their web presence is fine tuned. Are your landing pages designed to convert those consumers into sales? Will users looking for you on social media find a barren, content-free desert, or a vibrant community that is engaged with your project? Will users who are on the road be able to find a mobile-friendly version of your website when trying to locate your business?

Plenty of marketers tout their native platform as the best – digital, TV, radio, print, etc. But here at the Altitude Group, we believe that the best elements of each platform work best together in harmony. We specialize in reaching local audiences, apps like Foursquare and services like Google Places provide amazing ways to connect local communities digitally. The question is not which is better, it’s how they can best work together.


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What Every Marketer Needs to Know About Language and the Brain

Storytelling is one of humanity’s oldest and most ubiquitous arts. Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners in a way that facts alone never do.

But did you know that stories – from reading fairytales to your children to entertaining friends at the bar – can actually change your brain chemistry? The way that language effects and shapes our minds is still a rapidly expanding field, but it seems every year researchers are finding new information about how our minds react to verbal stimulus. We, as marketers, are wise to watch these discoveries unfold.

Written stories, like classic literature, have some startling effects on our mind. One study found that reading literature actual rewires our brain, while another found that reading literary fiction improves our ability to decode emotions. That latter study, conducted last year by psychologists at the New School for Social Research, found the same effect in nonfiction, or even “pop” fiction. But the written word doesn’t get to have all the fun.

So what should we marketers know about language and the brain?

  • The Incredible Effect of Stories on Our Brain -  To say “the brain reacts to language” is obvious. But did you know that the brain reacts differently to stories than other kinds of language? Our brain actually processes “boring” information entirely differently than it does information presented in story form. As Leo Widrich at Buffer points out, hearing a story causes a storm of activity in our brain, much of which has little or to nothing to do with language processing. Hearing stories ignites parts of our brain that are associated with the event being described. So telling you about a savory steak dinner will light up the sensory cortex, while describing a morning jog will light up the motor cortex.Buffer continues to describe the “synchronizing” effect of storytelling. Researchers have found that when certain regions of the brain associated with emotions are lighting up while telling a story, so too are the brain regions in the listener.
  • Use the Words That Count - Great storytelling makes for great marketing. This science merely confirms what some marketers have been doing all along – stirring the imaginations with evocative language. If you’re selling food, for instance, descriptive storytelling about your succulent shrimp will target areas of the brain involved in actually enjoying the culinary delight. Researchers in Spain found that words strongly associated with smell or taste like “perfume” and “coffee” lit up the olfactory cortex, the area of the brain used in processing smells.
  • Avoid Cliches – Other studies have found an opposite effect on over-used phrases. Researchers, as The New York Times notes, have found that many cliches like “had a rough day” make a minimal impact on our brain activity and get processed “simply as words.” In other words, to risk using another cliche, they go in one ear and out the other.
  • Puzzles to Boost Brand Recognition - The “Eureka!” moment we experience when solving problems may help provide a marketing boost, Neuromarketing reports. Specifically, a study found that solving word puzzles to reveal a branded word increased brand recognition and preference. It’s possible that solving other forms of puzzles – riddles or games, for instance – could be a handy trick in a marketer’s tool belt.
  •  Freedom Works Better than Compulsion - It may seem counter-intuitive to everything we’ve learned about calls to action, but studies are suggesting there might be some merit to the “soft sell.” A study cited by Neuromarketing notes that simply reminding people they are free to do as they please actually doubles the likelihood of compliance. In other words, reminding your a client they would really benefit from your service – but they are free to make their own choice – works better than arguing the benefit of your service alone.  Neuromarketing offers this example: “The numbers show our solution will cut your monthly expenses by 15%. But, of course, you are free to choose.”

These are just a a few examples of how  marketers can benefit from understanding how our brain works. Of course, our challenge as marketers is to interpret and utilize this data to more effectively reach consumers. As cognitive science and psychology continue to shed light on the inner workings of our mind, marketers will be faced with new challenges to translate this into effective campaigns – and we can’t wait.

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The Best (Local and National) Ads from Super Bowl XLVIII

How many Denver Broncos does it take to change a tire?

One, unless it’s a blowout, in which case the whole team shows up.

All jokes aside, football wasn’t the only must-see event on Sunday. Besides the spectacular Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers halftime show, Super Bowl XLVIII was a time to see some of marketing’s best minds give it their all.

The Los Angeles Times reported that this year’s championship featured over 55 commercials that averaged $4 million for a 30 second spot.

Spending on the ad time by advertisers has increased more than 70% in the last 10 years, rising to a current average of $4 million for each 30-second spot. Some companies spend an additional $2 million on production costs, which can hike the total cost of a 60-second Super Bowl ad to nearly $10 million.

It’s no surprise that many of the spots featured top-notch celebrities to sell a product. But properly utilizing a star-studded spot made the difference between a great ad and a good ad.

So, to start our list of favorite Super Bowl XLVIII spots, let’s take a look at this great (and local!) Geico spot.

Geico’s Cheesesteak Shuffle

It’s a shame that most Super Bowl ad roundups don’t capture some of the amazing local flare from region-specific spots. This Geico ad, which aired in the Philadelphia area, memorializes the Philly Cheese Steak with an incredible jingle, and this even-better music video.


It’s hard not to love Bruce Willis and Fred Armisen, of SNL and Portlandia fame. But we feel this commercial encapsulates what John Cleese meant when he argued eloquently that one should not find “serious” and “humorous” to be two mutually exclusive terms.

Honda also utilized the hashtag #hugfest, encouraging its audience to submit pictures of their best hugs with loved ones. Fans submitted a mixture of cute, touching and irreverent embraces. Honda decided to responds to some of its fans with memes, mashing the commercials visuals and hug themes with classic Bruce Willis tropes.

Doritos Time Machine

If an ad executive ever pitched spending $200 on a commercial that costs $4 million to air, they’d probably be institutionalized. But when Doritos decided to crowd source their Super Bowl ad, just that happened. The winner shot this spot in 8 hours on a$200 budget, according to Business Insider.

Radio Shack

Self-deprecation is a great strategy for comedy, but its a little risky in the ad world. Radio shack pulled it off however, as the brand says goodbye to its retro store design and unveils a new modern look.


Budweiser made a huge impact at last year’s Super Bowl with their Clydesdale ad. That ad told the story of the deep bond between a man and his Clydesdale. Budweiser used the wildly successful formula this year, but this time invoked the deep friendship between a puppy and a Clydesdale.

An Honorable Mention

It’s hard to tell if this ads over-the-top nature is a product of the creators insanity, or genius. But regardless, it made a viral classic and landed on the pages of Gawker, Adweek and Slate. Not bad for  a commercial that only aired in Savannah, Georgia.

It’s not Jamie Casino’s first over-the-top ad, suggesting this is part of a more deliberate marketing strategy. An ad from last year features Casino taking a hammer to “greedy insurance companies.” His current ad has over 100,000 views on YouTube.


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Transistor Radios Ignited Beatlemania

radiosThere is a fascinating blog post today by veteran music executive Steve Greenberg about how the breakout success of the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” might never have happened if not for the mid-1960′s proliferation of small transistor radios.

Moving the release date up had an unexpected benefit. In 1963, the average American teen listened to the radio for slightly more than three hours per day. With kids out of school for all of Christmas week, that number was undoubtedly even higher. And, importantly, the most common stocking-stuffers received by teens that Christmas were transistor radios, which had become cheaper than ever.

Although wildly popular since the mid-50’s, the Japanese-made transistor radio experienced exponential sales growth in the mid-60’s, as inexpensive off-brands proliferated. While 5.5 million sets had been sold in the U.S. in 1962, by 1963 that number nearly doubled to 10 million

As we gear up for the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan show, it’s fascinating to learn more about this lynchpin of the band’s early popularity.

Check it out!

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CBS Live Experiences Relives the Beatles Debut

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Marketers rightly complain about information overload. There is so much content coming from so many places that it can be difficult to capture and hold an audience’s attention. But in an era of information overload, there is one entertainment experience that simply can’t be beat: live.

We saw this clearly at The Grammys where brand marketers from all categories rushed to ride the surge of real-time interest and a tweet from Arby’s stole the show.

Recognizing the enduring power of “live,” a new CBS division is starting to harness the power of real-time news and entertainment events.

On Sunday, February 9th, CBS News Live Experiences will launch with 50 Years: The Beatles, a live, interactive multimedia event to mark the 50th anniversary of the band’s first American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles event is just the first in a series of live events to be produced by CBS Live Experiences. The program is made possible by Motown The Musical, the story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul.

Sunday’s show will consist of a two-hour symposium at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, featuring CBS News’ original coverage of key Beatles moments 50 years to the day after they happened. CBS News Senior Business Correspondent Anthony Mason, who is known for his profiles of musicians on “CBS News Sunday Morning,” will host the event with a panel of Beatles experts.

The Ed Sullivan Show didn’t make the Beatles in the States, but it cemented their popularity. Their songs were already dominating the airwaves weeks prior to them performing “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” when a record 73 million viewers tuned into the show.

Live events are becoming increasingly popular with media outlets looking for new areas of growth. The New York Times reported back in October that companies like The Atlantic, Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan were launching conference-style events. Fortune, which hosts a “Most Powerful Women” summit, reported an annual growth of 60% for their overseas conference.

Some top brass at media outlets are even jumping ship to start their own event businesses, including Tina Brown of The Daily Beast. Many of these events businesses, while successful, cater to tiny niche audiences of professionals. CBS Live Experiences, by contrast, caters to a far wider demographic.

These events are more than just revenue streams. As we’ve discussed earlier, experiential marketing is a highly effective means for brands to build relationships with clients. As Forbes wrote back in 2012:

The din of noise is deafening,” says David Rich, senior vice president of strategy and planning worldwide at George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, the world’s largest event and experience marketing agency. “Brands are realizing that awareness is no longer enough—it’s about brand experiences and creating brand relationships.”

In addition to live streaming the event on and, viewers will also have access to rare CBS footage of the Beatles, radio interviews and photos. Artists at the symposium will also discuss the lasting legacy of The Beatles.

The live symposium, moderated by Mason, will feature musicians and artists whose work has been influenced by the Beatles. The panelists will include Pattie Boyd, a photographer and model who was married to George Harrison and the inspiration for his song, “Something”; Andrew Loog Oldham, who managed the Rolling Stones from 1963-67, and before that was the publicity assistant to the Beatles’ manager; guitarist, songwriter and record producer Mick Jones, who founded the rock band Foreigner and played the same Paris concert hall as the Beatles 50 years ago; and Julie Taymor, an award-winning film, opera and theater director whose Oscar-nominated “Across the Universe” is a ’60s-era love story powered by more than 30 Beatles songs.

As Variety reports, the concept has its roots in the “aftershow” musical presentations available from “The Late Show with David Letterman,”

The new Live Experiences series isn’t just exciting because everyone loves The Beatles, it also offers a new way of storytelling by combining archival assets with visual and written and real time media in a novel and innovative way. This material revivified in a  way that resonates with audiences across the spectrum.

50 Years: The Beatles will also mark the launch of what CBS hopes can be a sustainable business offshoot. “People are passionate about our media properties,” David Goodman, the president of CBS Live Experiences, told Variety. “We are thinking about how we could create more experiences around those assets and bring them to life in ways that go beyond broadcast — in the infotainment space, in the spoken-word space. We have a lot of opportunities.”

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Coca-Cola and the Power of Story

Few brands have as storied a history as Coca-Cola and no brand understands the evolution of storytelling quite like it.

Coca-Cola of course has a well-earned reputation as a marketing innovator with landmark campaigns and global clout. For many years, traditional television advertising was the hallmark of Coca-Cola’s creative might but the media landscape has been upended in the last five years and as this video shows the company isn’t taking any of it for granted.

These days, Coca-Cola is on a mission to transform their marketing in an effort to “move from creative excellence to content excellence.”

What do they mean by this?

Well, as we learn from the video, the purpose of content excellence is to create ideas so contagious that they can’t be controlled. One early example might be the company’s iconic I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke TV spot. Everything about this commercial from the unforgettable melody to its cast of free-spirited young people was innovative. It went way beyond a campaign to become something uncontrollable.

Coca-Cola describes this phenomenon as “liquid,” a powerful state where concepts are innately linked to customers, business objectives and the marketplace. A big part of this strategy is to use “dynamic storytelling” as opposed to one-way storytelling. Coca-Cola recognizes that through the explosion in social media, consumers themselves are active participants in every brand’s story.

Audiences can be active brand ambassadors rather than passive recipients. This means allowing the story to evolve down any path as one permits the public to participate naturally.

The strategy is already effective. Coca-Cola videos have gone strongly, contagiously viral. There is a lesson here for all brands, not just ones with the enormous market power of Coca-Cola. Want to learn how your marketing message can break through? You might want to take a look at Coca-Cola.

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What Radio Can Learn from Hulu, and Vice Versa

Radio Intelligence’s Mark Ramsey has “glimpsed the future of radio.” And it is Hulu.

In an interesting blog post published last week, Ramsey wrote about Hulu, the Netflix competitor that made it big by providing streaming TV and movies to viewers.  Much like radio, Hulu offers quality content from a variety of exterior sources. There is nothing proprietary about the TV shows they play, just as radio stations don’t have exclusive rights to the songs they play.

So how do Netflix and Hulu make their real mark?

Original content.

Netflix has garnered a lot of buzz in the last year for its own original series like House of Cards, Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black. Not one to be left behind, Hulu has launched its own set of exciting originals. The Awesomes, one of their original comedy series, hosts and impressive cast of Saturday Night Live alumni (including Seth Meyers). Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring as well, with Alpha House, a political comedy created by Garry Trudeau and starring John Goodman. In all case, these digital-native platforms are gaining mind share by creating their own original content.

Ramsey suggests that radio should take this lesson to heart. His “message” to the radio industry is:

Don’t be so comfortable as that “pipe that carries other people’s stuff.” You need stars – now more than ever. This is not optional. The alternative for Hulu, he explains: “is to be an undifferentiated utility subject to the whims of the content owners.”

If that sounds like a warning for radio, it should. He goes on to argue that too much radio is “woefully deficient” in unique and compelling content.

There’s something to this argument for sure, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Hulu isn’t just the future of radio. It’s also its past. Unique and compelling content has always been radio’s home turf. If anything, Hulu is a reminder for radio to look back at its roots. Is there really much of a difference between families huddling around the TV to watch the latest Hulu original and families huddling around the radio to hear their favorite radio drama? Great radio stations have a clear, distinct and unmistakeable identity. A feeling that can’t be found anywhere else.

American Hustle director David O. Russell admitted as much at a recent press event when he approached by a 1010 WINS reporter with a microphone. “I grew up listening to 1010 WINS every day,” Russell said. “I have such great memories of [my father] shaving in the bathroom every morning, listening to 1010 WINS, that I just had to include it in the film.”

1010 WINS was (and is) unique in a way unlike any other station.

In an age of endless platforms, radio has found other ways to differentiate itself. Personalities and contests are some of time-tested ones, but in the digital age, all our radio stations are adding compelling digital experiences via Facebook, Twitter and and other social platforms. It could be said Hulu has a few things to learn from radio too.

So radio folks need to ask themselves, “what am I doing to rise above the noise?” A killer playlist isn’t enough. Distinct personalities and energy are just as important. Listeners may tune in for their favorite personality, but they’ll stick around for the rest of your great programming. That’s how you build a loyal audience on any platform.

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Crowds, Chaos and Innovation at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is almost 50 years old, and its evolution is as fascinating as the floor itself.  What started as a conference for new TVs, radios and stereos has evolved into something much bigger and wilder: an annual meeting place for those who want to see the future of technology, marketing and entertainment.


With each successive revolution in consumer electronics — PCs, the internet, and now mobile — CES has managed to take on new industries without shedding some of the time-tested titans. But a growing component CES isn’t necessarily on display at the convention floor.  That’s because advertisers are increasingly using the show as a venue for wheeling and dealing with clients, cutting some of the biggest deals of the year.

It was at CES that countless game-changers were unveiled.

The VCR (1970), camcorder (1981), HDTV (1998) and HD Radio (2003) – to name just a few. The show has also seen the introduction of countless historical novelties that never were, like a home-security Roomba (1991) and an “iSmell” to give scent to the internet.

While many pundits argue that the most exciting new technology products are no longer launched at CES, there was plenty to impress. A few that caught our eye: Sony’s 4k projector which made Gizmodo‘s “Best of CES” and their smart tennis racket was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in years.

HERM_scoresIt’s a tennis racket with a lightweight vibration and motion sensor in its handle that can be synced to a mobile app. The sensor provides players with lots of data, including swing speed, ball speed, spin, impact position, and number of balls hit. It uses this information to analyze your swing, showing you how many backhands, forehands, slices, and volleys you’ve hit. It’s amazing.

This year, there were also a host of innovations that seemed to come straight from science fiction.

Toshiba’s “smart mirror” provides information on weather, your schedule and heart-rate whenever you’re near. And a 3d printer that could create food was sure to make any Star Trek giddy with it’s similarity to the fictional “replicator.”


But the real story, CNN noted, is the business deals being forged on and off the showroom floor.

Indeed, for all the action on the show’s many floors — walking all 1.9 million square feet of CES is a soul-sapping, dehydrating, physically grueling, thoroughly demoralizing experience — as much action happens off the floor as on. CES even has become an important stop on the circuit of chief marketing officers, who are fully aware that technology holds the key to their future…

In fact, a chief marketing officer who doesn’t attend CES runs the risk of being out touch. “Marketers who come to CES now aren’t here to see the technology per se,” says Wenda Millard, who runs the digital marketing advisory firm Medialink. “They’re really here to understand technology as a facilitator of changes in consumer behavior. They’re not looking at technology because it’s cool. They’re looking at changes in consumer behavior caused by changes in technology.”

Indeed, one of the biggest strengths of the show is that in an era when more and more business is done over long distances, you can actually see your customers and partners in the flesh.

CES attendees are a who’s who of advertising execs, big name corporations and gifted young innovators. So while a CMO can keep a pulse on the latest gadgets that offer new opportunities in ad-targeting, they can also schmooze with execs from Coca-Cola and Walmart, who are finalizing ad deals of their own.

Even as far back as 2012, AdAge brought to light floor tours being offered to media agencies looking to connect with new clients. Ad Age writes:

You could spend six months meeting all your clients and customers, or you can do it in six days,” said Jeff Levick, chief advertising officer of Spotify. “It’s a very efficient use of time.”

CES is catering to its newfound, big-spending constituency. In 2011 it added a Brand Keynote Panel, which this year will feature participants from Facebook, Unilever, GE, Hyundai and AT&T. The discussion will be moderated by MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, who has made quite a business from connecting consumer marketers and technology — often representing both sides.

In this sense, CES will probably always be be a must-attend event for any marketing executive who wants to stay ahead of the curve. Not only do advertisers need to keep up to date on the latest technology trends (and craft inventive ways to capitalize off them), but as more behind-the-scenes deals are cut there, it’ll cost companies more money not to attend.

I had a blast at this year’s CES, and can’t wait for the next convention in 2015.

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9 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2014


1. Local Has Never Been More Important

In 2013, tons of great new digital-to-local businesses gained steam, and we expect them to continue to do so in 2014. Online retailers like eBay are offering super-fast delivery of local products in select metro areas. There were also a host of great campaigns like the Walmart local basket challenges which tailored a national campaign to specific communities.

Technology is also offering exciting new possibilities in local marketing. GPS technology is increasingly being used on mobile phones to offer location-based marketing and there are more points of local contact for consumers than ever before.

2. Native Advertising Grows, On and Offline

Native advertising has been a staple of radio advertising for decades, but has lately become all the rage in the digital world. More and more advertisers are attempting to provide sponsor content that is much more tightly integrated into programming. Recent data shows that 61% of digital publishers offer a native advertising option. On Wednesday, The New York Times plans to launch it’s web site redesign with a new focus on native ads. But for native advertising to truly break through, it needs to seamlessly mesh with programming. As more as more marketers realize this, they will turn to quality, engaging content on and offline.  We hope to see that 61% grow in 2014.

3. Radio Will Gain an Increasing Share of Local Ad Revenue

Radio is already a major player in local ad-spending, but is poised to gain market share over its competitors. Mark Fratrik, chief economist at BIA/Kelsey, noted :

Radio is also beginning to deliver other compelling digital services that help its local advertisers navigate promotional opportunities. With the right attitude towards the new reality of increased competition and strategic planning, local radio stations can prosper.

In 2013, BIA/Kelsey suggested radio accounted for  11.5% of the $132.7 billion of total local ad-spending. And with recent studies finding that 94% of the $75,000+ earners can be reached via radio, marketers targeting this key demographic will continue to expand their already strong relationship with radio.

Despite the explosion of growth in broadband internet and mobile devices from 2003-2013, radio gained 20 million new listeners in that same time period. With the dust settling soon around these newcomers, radio has an exciting future.

4. Data Will Explode, Making Marketers More Accountable 

Hubspot triumphantly declared in early 2013 that campaigns were dead, and the age of real-time marketing was upon us.  And while we disagree that the growth of one mean’s the death of the other, real-time analytics and marketing has and will continue to grow well into the next decade. Better technology allows for marketers to instantly view demographics and the viewing habits of audiences, and that data in turn becomes invaluable for offline marketing. And with demographic tools like PPM, Quantcast and Google Adsense, the barrier to entry is lower than ever before.

With these tools readily available, marketers can more effectively target highly specialized demographics. The days of intrusive, irrelevant ads are going away as consumers experience ads that are relevant and timely. As result, clients get a better return on their investment.

Radio marketers can use this data to ask important questions to adapt their marketing strategy: How are consumers finding a product online, and how can that translate offline? What affinity groups can we discover online for us to more effectively target new demographics over the airwaves? And finally, how can on and offline strategies compliment each other?

5. Facebook is Getting Older

Don’t get too alarmed. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, but some recent numbers show that Facebook’s demographic is getting older as younger consumers flee from the largest social network. Kids are increasingly being put off by us “old folks” littering their feeds with baby pictures, and internet-savvy parents who are able to monitor their social activity.

Marketers take note. Facebook’s largest growth was in the 65+ demographic, which is great new for some marketing sectors. But marketers looking to teens and tweens will need to alter their long term strategy to incorporate other social platforms. As always, the smartest marketers will integrate multiple platforms to touch audiences wherever they are.

6. Cross-Platform Marketing Comes of Age 

The Xbox One made a splash in the gaming world by announcing their latest console would be an “all-in-one” experience. From the same device, you can watch TV, listen to music, play games, and chat with friends. In the web design world, “responsive” designs are surging in popularity to optimize a viewers experience whether from a 60-inch screen, computer monitor, or mobile device.

In short, the various platforms we use are converging. According to Nielsen, nearly half of viewers who own smartphones or tablets use the device while watching TV. As television rolls out compelling “second screen experiences” on hit TV shows, others will continue to innovate the vastly uncharted territory in cross-platform experiences.

As different platforms become integrated, such as when terrestrial radio gets syndicated digitally, new opportunities arise for great cross-platform marketing. Radio, of course, is the first multi-pronged medium. Every day hundreds of millions of people listen to radio while doing something else: driving.

7. Simplicity Will Reign

Product design is shifting between two poles – one grandiose, flashy and showy. The other, simple, clean and minimalist. Flat design is becoming more popular on the web, and we think that’s a good indicator for the other visual arts as well. As Forbes notes:

Maybe it was “Gangnam Style” that pushed us over the edge of overstimulation, however as we embark upon a new year, the overwhelming feeling among consumers is one of exhaustion. There is a sense that from the hyper-connectivity of our highly-digitized lives to the bright, flashy, complicated sensory input we’re fed everyday, there is no way to continue at this pace. As a result, 2013 is likely to be a year where the most successful marketing strategies will be ones that are not only simple in nature, but promote goods and services that serve to simplify the consumer’s life, or even just their customer experience.

8. More Twitter Ads

Following their 2013 IPO, Twitter has been rolling out its one-of-a-kind ad platform. As a new player to the game, it will  still take some adjustment time for marketers to nail down their Twitter advertising strategies, but this number will most likely see a drastic increase in 2014.

As Search Engine Watch notes:

Throughout 2013 and leading up to the IPO Twitter successfully overhauled the advertising interface and targeting functionality, launched TV ad targeting and created the impressive Lead Generation Cards.

Since the IPO in October, the Twitter development train has kept right on chugging. Now we have Tailored Audiences (remarketing), promoted accounts in timelines, and a true “broad match” for keyword targeting.

Now that Twitter is beholden to shareholders, expect this kind of rapid development in the advertising platform to continue. Ad revenue = happy shareholders.

9. More Image-Centric Content

Advertisers should take a cue from Buzzfeed and Pinterest, Forbes argues,  and realize the power of image-driven content. And with an increase in responsive design, it’s getting easier to integrate beautiful high resolution images that will look great on any sized screen. A great image can add depth to an article or inspire action in an advertisement. With super-high resolution screens like the Apple Retina display gaining traction, the power of images will be amplified in 2014.

Multi-platform media companies like CBS are at an advantage here because of their ability to combine different mediums: out of home, TV, radio and digital screens.

The media landscape has never been more interesting and we here at the Altitude Group couldn’t be more excited! What are you thoughts on marketing in 2014? Sound off in the comments below. And have any questions or comments for us? Feel free to contact us directly any time!

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