Apple's iOS 14 is coming

The Fallout of Apple’s iOS 14

Remember the days when “protecting one’s privacy” simply meant lowering the shades in your house, or shredding paper documents?  To be honest, neither do we. That’s because, over the past 20 years, the ability to control one’s privacy has changed drastically. With the widespread adoption of the internet, and then later as social media platforms emerged, consumers have been slowly but surely relinquishing authority of the personal information that is not only being seen, but also tracked by businesses and brands, and even worse, by malware and hackers.

As a result, the push for user privacy has been years in the making.  Between 2012 to 2017, many consumers started to understand how closely their behaviors were being monitored and how easily their personal identifiable information (PII) could be breached. In fact, by 2016, 86% of internet users had taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprints.  The defining moment for privacy changes transpired in 2018 with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal and later that year, a new era of privacy regulation came to be with the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Today, privacy measures are about to take another unprecedented step with the forthcoming launch of Apple’s iOS 14. In short, Apple will require any apps that want to track a user’s online actions for advertising purposes to ask explicitly for permission to do so.  The biggest casualties of this change? Facebook and Google, and the brands that use them to reach their potential customers.  So, while this is welcome news for users who are looking for further ways to protect their privacy, it raises a lot of questions and concerns for marketers.

Online Privacy & Facebook

So, what now?

While the processes to handle these changes are still evolving, Facebook, specifically, has outlined a few things that advertisers must consider moving forward.  On top of the list, advertisers who plan to track conversions on their website are being urged to do the following:

  1. Verify your website’s domain. This can be done through the Business Settings of your Facebook account, and is something that Carbon will proactively do for each of our clients.
  2. Define and prioritize a maximum of 8 pixel events to track per domain. Recognize that your number one goal, for example purchases, may not be the number one priority from an event tracking standpoint, as not everyone who visits your website will make a purchase. Rather, you may choose the “add to cart” event as a better choice from which to optimize.
  3. Anticipate changes to the attribution window. Event attribution is changing to a 7-day click model. 28-day click and view through, as well as 7-day view through will no longer be options within the Facebook advertising platform.
  4. Identify campaign optimization strategies that may require testing. With reduced tracking and increased data restrictions, advertisers will have to consider other ways to optimize campaigns. This could include testing different bid strategies, alternative audience options, and specific placement selections.

While Facebook is certainly a big platform, we realize it’s not the end-all-be-all for marketers. So how else should your brand prepare?

For one, take steps to grow your 1st party database and enable for authentication across all online and offline brand touchpoints. This could be dedicating budget to lead generation email capture so you can convert customers at a lower cost through email later. Or it could be incentivizing your customers to share their PII at brand touchpoints.

Secondly, go old-school.  That’s right – rely less on 3rd party data and partner with publishers who have their own data, i.e. 2nd-party data, that aligns with your brand and objectives. Doing so assures access to permissioned PII and data that is measurable, as well as scalable.

The changes from Apple’s iOS 14 may be enforced as early as this month. Only time will tell how these new rules will truly impact advertisers on Facebook and elsewhere but preparing now will ensure your brand is able to move forward relatively unscathed. One thing is for certain: as consumers continue to choose privacy over ad relevance, the importance of the total customer experience will be instrumental in moving a brand forward. After all, a brand is so much more than just its digital advertising.


Digital Marketing During Coronavirus

How COVID-19 is affecting the digital landscape + how your brand should react

Since the first confirmed case in Wuhan in early January, the world has watched as the coronavirus, COVID-19, has spread across the globe. As the number of confirmed cases increase, the severity of the virus’s ability to spread is felt by everyone. As families continue to hunker down and practice social distancing, brands have the opportunity to lend a helping hand, make life a little easier, and even distract people from the hysteria by adding value through ways of content, special offers, services and volunteering.

How brands are giving back

While the coronavirus has created unforeseeable hurdles for brands to overcome, many have found creative ways to use this time to give back and use their resources for the greater good. CVS, for example, has waived delivery expenses for medical supplies for those who are unable to leave their home. Uhaul has allowed displaced college students to occupy storage spaces for free for up to 30 days. Schools across the country have set up food pickups to help out families in need. Ford has stopped auto production and is offering payment assistance to potential buyers and current owners. Ford and GM are both looking to help with the medical supply shortage, by producing medical equipment. Tesla also answered the call by donating and shipping ventilators they purchased from China, to California.  In NYC, Hertz is providing free car rentals for health-care workers in an effort to help nurses and doctors distance themselves and avoid public transportation.

Supplies aren’t the only way brands are giving back. With social isolation forcing parents and children to be at home, some brands are using visual content to entertain and lighten the mood. Fiona, everyone’s favorite hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo, is being featured in a “Live Safari” which has occupied the attention of kids and even many adults. Contrastingly, Pornhub is offering its premium service in Italy, for free!  Loom, a video-recording and sharing service, has given free access to teachers so they can continue to teach kids while away from the classroom. Yale has even offered a free course centered around happiness and enjoying the simple things in life.

"With what feels like the whole nonessential world working from home, now is the time to leverage increased screen time and build brand awareness with content that is relevant and serves a purpose."

How Brands should adjust digital marketing strategy 

So what do we know as of right now? Industry conferences, sporting events, and face-to-face interactions are all being shutdown, cancelled, or moved to digital means. With what feels like the whole nonessential world working from home, now is the time to leverage increased screen time and build brand awareness with content that is relevant and serves a purpose. 

 

Promote Corporate Social Responsibility 

Now is the time to let your brands’ Corporate Social Responsibility shine! Like the brands mentioned before, giving back and providing aid will promote brand awareness and build brand equity, plus doing the right thing always feels good. And we can all use some of that right now.

 

Create Relevant Content

 Moving forward with scheduled campaigns aren’t going to create a reaction or connection with current or potential customers. Brands need to stay relevant and create content that acknowledges the coronavirus and offers something that can ease the pain, boredom of being in isolation, or make life a little more tolerable in the short term. Ben and Jerry’s Jerusalem ran an advertisement that acknowledges how boring isolation can get, but with a delicious bowl of ice cream, all seems right again. 

 

Utilize High Traffic Channels to Connect with Followers

While social and digital spend may feel like the last thing your brand should do, impressions have never been more cost effective with increased screen time globally. A recent research study conducted by IZEA insights, found that 66% of social media users believe their usage will increase amid isolation. 

 

Consumers are going to spend more time watching video-content. Brands able to curate video content in a short turnaround will benefit greatly from this. Video-content is engaging and captures your audience’s attention as they scroll through their feed. Leveraging video on YouTube, IGTV, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok will allow you keep brand awareness on the radar. 

 

Engage with Followers

Use your social channels to tell your brand’s story and keep your followers updated. We all have a story to tell during these uncertain, unpredictable times (if you’re stuck at home). Keeping your followers informed of your current state and responding to comments will allow you to stay connected with your followers, create lasting relationships, and allow them to engage with your brand. If your company sent workers home, yet you are still operating, be sure to keep them up-to-date and let them know you are still in business.

Stay Positive 

The Coronavirus has affected everyone in some way, shape, or form. While the end may not be in sight just yet, companies and individuals who go the extra mile by giving back, helping out, and making times easier, will not go unnoticed. Do not underestimate the power of staying positive!


Digital Accessibility Made Accessible

Domino’s, Pornhub, Amazon, Nordstrom, and Warby Parker. These are a few of our favorite brands… that have been sued for noncompliance with web accessibility standards.

Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those users who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities

In the U.S. nearly one in four people has a disability, so it’s no surprise that there has been an increasing effort to make the internet more accessible. In 2018 alone, there were 2,285 lawsuits that were brought forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Nervous now? Us, too! However, not all businesses are required to comply with the ADA. Under Title I of the ADA, any business with at least 15 full-time employees that operates for 20 or more weeks every year is covered by the law. Under Title III Businesses that fall into the category of “public accommodation,” such as hotels, bands, an public transportation are also required to comply.

If you need to or would like to be more compliant, here are a few specific items to consider:

  • Closed Captions – Any audio content, including videos or podcasts, must include captions
  • Screen Reader Compliance – Screen readers are software applications that convert text displayed on a computer screen into synthesized speech. To become compliant, provide coded descriptive text alternatives for non-text content and the specific language of a page or a specific word should be indicated so the correct pronunciation can be programmatically determined.
  • Easy to Read Text – Text blocks with narrow widths are easier for all people to read, especially those with reading or vision impairments. Because of this, the WCAG recommends keeping a line of text’s character count below 80 characters.

Want a deeper understanding of compliance on your site?

While there are automated plugins and chrome extensions available that can help you, having an expert conduct an audit of your site would be the best approach. Be aware, compliance is not a one time achievement, it will be an ongoing effort to maintain accessibility standards. No one wants to deal with a lawsuit that could have been easily avoided, especially when the work will ultimately make the internet a better place for everyone to shop, peruse, stay in touch, or otherwise enjoy.


The W’s and H’s of CCPA

January 1st brought about a large change in the world of business.

CCPA is affecting millions of companies that may already be in violation of compliance without their knowledge.

 

Here are the facts:

Businesses operating in California could have a head start on tackling compliance costs should other state laws or a national policy take effect.

What is CCPA?

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act

What Does This Act Mean?

  • This act enables any California consumer to demand to see any and all information any company has on them. This also empowers consumers whose information is not provided to them legal footing to sue them with or without a breach of privacy (wow, what a green light).

Who Does it Affect?

  • All Companies that serve California residents and make at least $25 million in annual revenue. (that’s more than a handful)
  • Any company that has data collected from over 50,000 people and gets more than half of their revenue from selling that data.

What Happens If Companies are Not Compliant Even After the 30-day Warning Period?

  • Your company can be fined up to $7,500 per individual record (yikes).
    • Seeing as some of these companies have hundreds of thousands of records on file this could be very costly.

How Do I Protect My Business?

  • If you are using a 3rd party vendor this vendor should have already made changes to ensure your compliance. If your current vendor isn’t taking the proper precautions, you need to find a new vendor that will immediately.
  • If you are handling your own data infrastructure you need to engage a legal or compliance consultant (or both) to get your company on the right track ASAP.

Companies should feel slightly at ease knowing this act was written in a week. The short duration of its creation and its multiple amendments (already) in a short period of time has this act viewed as a “work in progress.” Our advice to companies is to take measures immediately to ensure they are compliant (or at least show that they are taking steps to get there) to avoid heavy penalties and/or earn some leniency.

 

In conclusion, CCPA should be taken seriously, and companies who don’t are in for a rude awakening. There is an abundance of information and resources available on CCPA compliance for all interested parties. It is best to start working towards full compliance as soon as possible. If you think your company is in danger of being penalized, contact a legal consultant and/or active partner/vendors ASAP before it is too late.


The State of Media

Sometimes it feels like the media landscape is ever changing

But then we’re reminded that the Yellow Pages still exists. In an attempt grapple why, and best plan for our clients’ media in 2019 and 2020, part of our crew from Carbon React, our media team, attended BIMA’s State of the State event.

This event serves as a yearly check in with the best and brightest of the media industry who discuss the state of media and technical changes to expect in the upcoming year.

BIMA Media Workshop

Here are the main takeaways:


Traditional + Digital

In years past, many marketers thought the world of media would eventually shift from traditional to digital. However, we’re seeing that traditional channels may never die. Rather than thinking about a total shift in dollars to new technologies, it’s important to understand the purpose and value of current channels, while being aware of emerging channels. Include both into your mix if they make sense for your brand and goals.

Digital =/= Direct Response

It’s time to stop thinking about digital media as a direct response model. When we measure the success of digital media in terms of short term KPIs only, we are undervaluing its impact. Ultimately, finding ways to have a fuller picture of campaign impact and the lifecycle of consumers will continue to be an important task for marketers to tackle.

2019 Legislation Changes

In 2018, GDPR shook part of the marketing community, while others seemingly ignored it. In 2019, it’s likely that the California Privacy Act and possibly a patchwork of other state or federal laws will rock the digital marketing ecosystem. It will be vital for marketers to be aware of the changing legislation and the potential impact they will have on our industry.

Will this change everything?

Likely not! However, here at Carbon, our team is dedicated to guiding our clients through the ever-changing (and sometimes unchanging) media waters.


'Understanding' Innovation at Adobe MAX 2018

Thoughts on Adobe MAX 2018

MAX wrapped up last week in Las Vegas and since I’ve been back in the office, I’ve been thinking a lot of innovation. Yes, Adobe apps are some of the most innovative pieces of software out there, and we couldn’t do the work we do without them.

But the idea of never-before-seen solutions isn’t what I find most exciting about the new releases at Adobe MAX this year.

It’s the every-day solutions. The things that we as designers, illustrators, editors and animators do dozens of times each day, hundreds of times each week and I don’t even want to know how many times each year.

It’s safe to say that because of my unique professional experiences, I’ve tested out a lot of headphones.

John Williams

The gift every creative wants. Time.

This latest round of updates to Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps seem to really focus on understanding how we’ve all been working, to strip some of the tediousness out of what we do in order to save us time.

And that isn’t to say that Adobe hadn’t been understanding how we worked before, but the pace and nature of the work we do as a creative agency was itself shifting over the years so that a video editor didn’t need to just understand story and pacing – but also user content habits on half a dozen social platforms as well – changing one deliverable into half a dozen so we can reach every audience.

The gift every creative wants. Time.

It seems Adobe has worked under the mantra of “Work smart, not hard.” as they put together some really serious tools supported by machine learning (Adobe Sensei) to essentially act like an interpreter between what we as creatives need to do to achieve the outcomes we want, and the apps themselves with all the timelines, panels and functions we have to hunt through to do it. Adobe’s Sensei doesn’t seem like the dreaded AI we fear will take our jobs…but more like the Mr. Miyagi we all need – helping us to focus and hone our thinking (the serious stuff behind the work) – since we’ve already put in the countless hours of clicking through panels that equate to catching flies with chop sticks.

Quality.

As someone who has always focused more on what the work is, what it says and how audiences engage with it, these Creative Cloud updates show that Adobe is thinking along the same lines. Our creative work will always be based on client goals and effectively communicating with our audience – that won’t change – what will change is how much time and effort we need to spend on the many tedious elements of executing the work that don’t actually advance client goals.

You can’t advance brand awareness by clicking through 46 menus in Photoshop.
You can’t increase sales by constantly importing or recreating effects for every social video.

So with improvements across the entire spectrum of creative development – from experience design to photography, from social to video & animation – this streamlining of HOW we work, will improve WHAT we can do in the time we have.

So maybe “Work smart, not hard.” isn’t the correct interpretation, because there’s always going to be hard work in what we do.

Maybe it’s like Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
And now our software has a little bit of that intelligence built in to help out.

Erik Heumiller heads up Video & Animation content at Carbon and likes to experiment in areas that are not his expertise, so he is very much looking forward to diving into every Adobe app over the coming weeks to see what he can cook up.


3 Brands Who Mastered the Art of Storytelling

Everyone has that one friend…

The one that can tell a great story. The kind that makes you gather around to hear. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what age you are, everyone likes a good story. I think it must trace back to our childhood, to bedtime stories, meant to inspire our imagination, or just help our parents get us to “Go the F*%K To Sleep.

I’ve come to realize that stories are one of our most powerful forms of communication. It’s stories that build connections that can span countries, audiences and generations. Because people always remember a good story. A great story that personifies your brand is what you need in order to position yourself in the most effective way possible. Therefore, the most memorable brands with the greatest stories are the ones that stand out the most. Here are 3 brands who have done just that.

A great story that personifies your brand is what you need in order to position yourself in the most effective way possible.

1. Nike

Nearly everything Nike does is accompanied by a backstory. Instead of pushing a product with a Sell! Sell! Sell! mentality, Nike’s launch of a new footwear “Flyease” was released alongside a video and an article that told “The Flyease Story” of how the shoe came to be. This is a brand that acts with purpose. This specific shoe was designed with a specific function; for athletes who have trouble getting in and out of shoes and securing them. And the story behind it will make you look at the brand in a whole new light, I guarantee it.

2. GoPro

For handheld video camera brand Go Pro, every single day is a new opportunity to tell a story, to capture and share the most meaningful experiences in life, and celebrate them together. They have been successful in building brand loyalty through their user-generated content, with over 6,000 new videos uploaded to YouTube daily. The idea is that in the same way that “a day on the mountain with friends is more meaningful than one spent alone, the sharing of our collective experiences makes our lives more fun.”

3. Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees has an actual story, when its founders Roxanne, an artist, and Burt, a beekeeper met in 1984 while hitchhiking, hit it off and started making wax candles together. It’s simple, sweet, and despite the company’s success, they have stuck to their philosophy that “What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.” They have an entire section of their website devoted to their story and use videos to educate consumers about the processes. If you only watch one video, make it “Burt talks to the worker bees.

Everything we do becomes part of our story, part of who we are, what we believe in, what we stand for. For your brand to really stick out, you’ll need to clearly define its story and how you want to tell it. Reach your consumers in an emotional way, make a meaningful connection, be a great storyteller and watch your audience grow.


Four Ways Brands Create Faithful Followings

How is it that some brands create such faithful followings? How did La Croix fizzle its way to the top ranked sparkling water brand? And how is it that Trader Joe’s is a household name yet has no Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram account, not even a webpage? They all seem to have one thing in common; they are able to find new, inspiring and unique ways to stay in touch with their customer-base. Here are four specific marketing tactics used by brands with cult-like followings.

Advocacy is born from meaningful relationships.

1. Emotional Marketing

I remember the first time my friends dragged me to Soul Cycle. I couldn’t understand their obsession. We had been to tons of spinning classes before. And most of them came at a lower price tag. I had barely set one foot in the door before I saw the massive “Sprint” “Dance” “Rock” “Sweat” “Cry” “Laugh” “Change” “Soul” plastered on every wall. The music is so loud, the instructors are passionately giving motivational speeches about life throughout the class that by the time I’ve finished I’m just about convinced all of my dreams in life will come true as long as I continue going to Soul Cycle, despite the feeling of hearing loss similar to leaving an ACDC concert.

The key here that Soul Cycle has mastered is the ability to tap into the emotional side of their customer. The idea of benefit first, features second. Before knowing what your business, product or service does, touch on what’s most important to them; what it does for them. 60% of consumers who feel a “high brand connection” are more likely to make a purchase, only further proving that a strong emotional connection is key to creating and keeping more loyal customers.

2. User-Generated Content

The benefits of user-generated content marketing are huge. Why? On a basic level, people are influenced by what other people think. For a first-time buyer who hasn’t made up their mind about your brand but is looking for information, they are highly-likely to be influenced by others opinions. A user-generated content campaign can be successful by taking advantage of the power of numbers with an entire group of people talking about your product and what it does for them.

Coca-Cola launched their “Share a Coke” campaign by creating bottles personalized with first names, encouraging consumers to share a coke with someone and use the hashtag #shareacoke. Everyone has beard of Coca-Cola brand but this campaign was meant to revive engagement. The lesson here is that simple campaigns with a positive message can be extremely successful. When the campaign launched last June, Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke was the #1 global trending topic on social media and resulted in a 2% increase in sales. And while I’m sure a global brand such as Coca-Cola has no such worries, for a brand just starting out, a campaign involving multiple people that are spreading the word organically is a great way for publicity and conserving your marketing budget.

3. Brand Evolution

Not to be entirely biased but this is my favorite idea. Brand evolution. If you really take a minute to stop and think about what it takes to create a brand that can withstand the evolution of trends and time, it’s kind of incredible.

Moleskine is a product that has stayed relevant as a notebook in a digital age by allowing the brand to evolve whilst maintaining its legacy. It’s adapted to our world today with a line or journals, bags, writing and reading accessories that can travel with us and are dedicated to our “mobile identity.” At the same time Moleskine continues to brand themselves as a symbol of creativity, reminding those who have nostalgia for pen and paper that Hemingway and Picasso were among its early brand advocates.

4. Inspire Ownership in your Brand

Beachbody. You’ve heard of it. Or tried it. At least one person you’re friends with on Facebook is a coach and is part of the Beachbody community and is blowing up your newsfeed about it. This brand has gone straight to the top of the at home fitness and nutrition industry by inspiring ownership. Beachbody has over 450,000 independent coaches working to distribute products, fitness programs and nutrition coaching. They reached over $1 billion in sales last year and get over five million unique visits to their digital platforms monthly. How? By giving each coach the tools they need to succeed and then putting them in charge of their own success.

Creating advocacy within your brand comes down to creating meaningful relationships; 64% of consumers say shared values is the main reason they have a relationship with a brand. Studies show that 52% of the population and 62% of Millennials tend to stick with one brand once they’ve made their decision, making it that much more important to make the consumer your first priority from day one.


The Power of Social Media

Social Media is all about perception.

The most successful brands have been able to use their social platforms to gain loyal followers, communicate with their customers and be a part of their daily lives. However, as Uncle Ben would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” For Uber, it only took one tweet to put them in the hot seat with their users and potentially cause irreparable damage to the brand.

On Saturday January 28th, The Taxi Workers Alliance in NYC had asked all drivers, including Uber, not to pick up at JFK airport from 6-7pm to protest Donald Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. Uber’s response was a misguided tweet, informing customers it had switched off surge pricing at JFK. This was, according to Uber’s CEO, an honest attempt to help customers continue traveling to and from JFK at normal rates, but it was seen across the nation as an attempt to undercut the strike, especially as they were asked to stand in solidarity. In this political climate, it has certainly not gone unnoticed that Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick is serving as an economic advisor to President Trump.

"Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient."

@Uber_NYC

Enter the power of Social Media.

Uber was quick to apologize but not before a social media campaign had been started on Twitter, via the #DeleteUber hashtag, quickly becoming the number one trend in the entire U.S. by Saturday night.

Lyft was also quick to act, coming out against the travel ban by pledging to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union. And just like that, the competitor car service company that never could quite catch up to Uber began soaring up the App Store’s Charts from #39 to #8, knocking Uber down to #17.

Uber “Trumped” Lyft’s $1 million by creating a $3 million fund to help cover immigration and legal costs for its drivers who were affected by the ban and spoke out against the new presidential administration’s travel ban but in just hours after that one tweet from Uber, thousands had already deleted their accounts, proving it by posting pictures of it. Four days later, #DeleteUber is still getting 525 tweets/hour, 975 retweets/hour and 10.5 million views/per hour.

For Uber, one tweet sent out during a time of political unrest in what’s being called the “Twitter Presidency” along with its CEO’s role within the Trump organization caused a national social media frenzy. The lesson for other companies is clear. Your customers are starting to hold the brands they use and trust accountable, and they are using social media to do it.


Carbon Hires a CPO

Carbon announces Steve McCall as CPO (Chief Pizza Officer). In addition to sourcing and securing the best pizza for Carbon and our clients, Steve will also lead all client relationships as a Partner.

He brings more than 20 years of experience directing brand marketing across digital, experiential, and shopper marketing to the team, and previously, Steve was the General Manager of a large full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in Boston.

A perfect fit.

Steve joins Carbon’s executive team, which includes fellow Partners, Jason Rivera and Nikki Raffenetti. Carbon fuses culture, data & technology to build bonds between people and brands.