Our fifth annual series of trends reports includes insights into the
big shifts that are changing marketing, healthcare, digital
experience, and consumer expectations. In this report, you’ll find
the top eight trends in marketing, each with clues into new
possibilities and examples of brands that got there first.
At the core of our innovation
practice is a simple idea:
At the core of our innovation practice is a simple idea: Knowing how
people’s expectations are changing lets us capture new market
opportunities, take smart risks and spur innovation.
We start by uncovering clues. Clues are data points, great stories,
quotes and pictures that shift our understanding of what people want
right now. We find them in practices around the world and in the
technologies, brands, and experiences that doctors and patients
encounter in their every day lives.
Over time, those clues combine and connect to reveal trends, a new
kind of inspiration for creating experiences in the moments before our
customers realize they need them. And, months and years before our
competitors realize the same thing.
We’re following eight trends that show how
marketers will earn attention and engagement in 2015.
Focus Group Adjourned
*Poof* – Instant Advertising
Amuse Me, Dear Advertiser
Content Isn’t King, It’s the Kingdom
Local, Now More Local
The open secret of
high-stakes websites is
quickly becoming the
standard for message and
THE RISE OF LIVE
For decades advertisers have invested heavily in
getting every single detail of a campaign right before
launching it to the world. They used focus groups,
quant studies, intercepts and more.
Now big brands are increasingly borrowing a long-trusted
trick from startups: in-market testing of
The approach randomly divides an audience into two
groups and offers each group a different option. Those
options could be large or small—from entirely different
homepages to a tweak in a banner ad headline. The
option that earns more of the desired behavior wins. At
least until the next test.
Companies whose conversion
rates have improved over the
previous 12 months are
performing on average 50%
more tests than those
companies whose conversion
rates have not improved.
#1 LESSON: NEVER TRUST YOUR GUT
During President Obama’s two election
campaigns, he charged his digital team
with one big goal: turn the website’s
visitors into subscribers—scoring an email
address that would let the marketing
machine kick into high gear.
To maximize that desired behavior, they
broke every page into its component parts
to determine how each could be most
effective, changing images and wording
on buttons to test their hunches.
Had the team listened to those hunches,
to instinct, the sign-up rate would have
slipped to 70% of the baseline. Instead
the A/B testing brought it to 140%. In fact,
they estimated that a full 4 million of the
13 million addresses in the campaign’s
email list, and some $75 million in money
raised, resulted from these careful A/B
Lear n Mo r e sign up
“Learn More” earned 18.6%
more signups than the
default of “Sign Up.”
The beauty of A/B testing is that it lets
marketers choose all of the above. Why limit
the options we give to consumers when they
can better choose what they want? If five
headlines appeal to the brand, data can rule
that final decision by running all five by our
audience, testing them live to see which earns
the most action.
This revolution in research is turning
traditional decision-making on its head. Taking
the call away from the HiPPO—”highest-paid
person’s opinion”—and giving it to the people
who pay us, our customers.
era gained a head of
steam in 2014 and is set
to earn brand sharing for
years to come.
FROM IN THE CAN TO ON THE SPOT
Advertising typically takes months to produce. It starts
with a creative brief and concepts and ends with a very
choreographed placement in mass media. That’s why
even seemingly of-the-moment advertising like Walt
Disney’s famous post-Super Bowl “I’m Going to Disney
World!” commercials were created well in advance of
the big game. The spots themselves had to be to the
television stations days before kickoff.
Social media took a big step toward changing that
model. No longer did advertisers have to buy television
time or reserve print space to reach customers. That
middle man of mass advertising could be entirely
But it’s a new kind of collaboration between agency and
client that’s really made instant advertising possible.
*POOF* – INSTANT
8 in 10
consumers use a second
screen while watching TV
SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSE
*POOF* – INSTANT
During live events, many brands have their agencies
at the ready to seize opportunity. Oreo’s famous
Twitter ad during the Super Bowl power outage took
just five minutes to conceive and produce because
creative and strategy teams were on site, working
together. It published quickly and was retweeted
more than 15,000 times in the first 14 hours because
client teams were on hand, ready to review and
approve just as quickly.
Nissan won over the Internet with a similar rapid
response, joining the worldwide excitement about the
new royals and reaching hundreds of thousands of
drivers doing it.
JOINING A NATIONAL
*POOF* – INSTANT
The secret to instant advertising is context:
being part of a conversation or event people
are already excited about and are actively
looking online for people (and brands) that
feel the same way.
There may be no annual event for which the
fanboy excitement is more palpable than
Apple Live. It’s where the new iProducts are
revealed and the gossip leading up to it is
dwarfed only by the flurry of online
conversation during it. Samsung took big
advantage in 2014 by creating instant ads
that made fun of Apple's glitchy live video
stream and compared new iPhone features to
ones it had made standard years before. Video: engadget.com/2014/09/10/samsung-notethedifference-apple-attack-ads/
The golden rule of content
marketing is coming to
advertising: Make things
people want instead of
making people want things.
WHAT DO PEOPLE WANT? SHAKIRA, OF COURSE.
AMUSE ME, DEAR
The most shared ad of all
time was “The Force” for
remember it—the cute kid
in the Darth Vader
costume who believed he
was opening the car door
with The Force, promoting
the remote start feature on
the new model.
It was the most shared
until the Dark Empire fell
to yogurt. Dannon bested
the spot with trackvertising
—a spot that is both a
music video and an ad.
They launched an Activia
spot, titled “La La La
(Brazil 2014)” featuring
Shakira, during the World
At last count, it had been
shared 5,409,192 times
across Facebook, Twitter
and the blogosphere,
(beating out “The Force” at
5,254,667 shares). The
bigger spread is in the
number of views. “The
Force” earned 60 million.
“La La La” is at over 330
million and counting.
Kia recently launched
even more brand-centric
trackvertising with Maroon
5’s single “Animal,” and
with Lady Gaga’s track
“Applause.” H&M teamed
up with Beyonce, Fiat with
Arianna; and Evian with
AMUSE ME, DEAR
Shakira “La La La” Video
Volkswagen “The Force” Video
FINE PRINT GETS FUN
Every traveler is familiar with these words:
“Now we request your full attention as the
flight attendants demonstrate the safety
features of this aircraft.” We know they’re
required to do it, but the presentation that
follows is so boring that even its could-save-your-
life potential can’t make people tune in.
Delta decided to rethink that fine print and
make the required safety demonstration fun.
Not just for the sake of entertainment, but to
really earn people’s attention. Their new in-flight
videos include their charismatic
president, triplets, a few comedians, and even
a friendly alien we know as Alf.
AMUSE ME, DEAR
Delta’s Safety Demonstration Video
The fracturing of original programming is
creating even more opportunities for brands to
develop advertainment. Platforms like Hulu
offer brands much more than product
placement: from becoming part of the story
arc, to taking the characters off set, to develop
brand-centered original programming.
AMUSE ME, DEAR
Only one (Kony 2012) of the
most shared videos of all time
is not a music video.
Kony 2012 Video:
Rumor is that you’re more
likely to climb Mount
Everest or survive a plane
crash than click on a
banner ad. So why do we
keep making them?
CLOSING THE ATTENTION GAP
CONTENT ISN’T KING,
IT’S THE KINGDOM
Where do people go with their questions about life and
health? 90% of people turn to the Web first for
information about consumer products or services and
72% of people treat their health questions the same way.
But, only 13% of them choose our product websites for
answers. We do a little better with doctors: 82% are
asking Google for help every week and 21% get some of
their information from our product sites.
That attention gap has a lot to do with our current
approach to content. Our ads and websites are all about
the brand and not at all about our customers.
Consumers want more than those product messages—
and they’re finding it elsewhere.
Consumers are hit by
over 5 trillion impressions
a year, leaving
bombarded by, what a
recent Microsoft study
CONTENT ISN’T KING,
IT’S THE KINGDOM
WE’RE LIVING IN AN ERA
OF BANNER BLINDNESS:
Only 14% can
remember the last
display ad they saw
and the product it
Worse, only 2.8% say
the ad was relevant
CONTENT FLIPS THE MODEL
CONTENT ISN’T KING,
IT’S THE KINGDOM
More and more brands—
from American Express to
content marketing to
fundamentally change that
model and earn more of
their time and attention.
They’re throwing away the
megaphone of push
marketing that interrupts
doctor and patient alike
with yet another
commercial message. And
replacing it with what
people are actively looking
for: compelling, authentic
stories that create real
meaning and provide real
In the American Express
OPEN Forum that means
200 experts giving ~
2 million people per month
ideas, advice, and
connections that will grow
their small businesses and
increase their use of
products. For Merck it
personal planning tools
and deep content
designed to help people
living with chronic disease
stick with treatment and
lifestyle change. Or, said
another way: Be more
OUR FIRST QUESTION TO ANSWER
IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST: HMDIS
CONTENT ISN’T KING,
IT’S THE KINGDOM
When people first go online looking for healthcare answers, they have one big question: How Much
Does It Suck (HMDIS)? They want to know what to expect, what side effects might be possible, how
much will it cost, and when they might actually start to feel better.
They’ll return later with much more personal questions to understand if how they’re feeling is normal or if
there isn’t something more they could be doing. The healthcare brands that are making the deepest
connections are delivering three kinds of content to support them along their very personal journeys:
Information: What happens if
you don’t take your medicine,
facts about how the drug
works in your body, about
what life on therapy will be
Inspiration: Disease makes
people feel isolated and
alone. Bring them inspiration
from people who are dealing
with the same decisions and
Innovation: Curate and
create apps, experiences, and
products that enable more
empowered patients and
physicians + better living with
CONTENT ISN’T KING,
IT’S THE KINGDOM
DATA DRIVEN CONTENT
Content marketing earns 54% more
leads than traditional marketing and
costs 13% less per lead.
Hubspot survey of 3,300 business
leaders and marketers around the
54% more —2013 DDCM
A surprising number of
brands are trying to carve
out a new space. One that
puts them firmly in the
“Even very successful brands leverage their humble
beginnings by using a narrative of their history to
help build brand biographies. Tech giants Apple,
Microsoft, and HP each proclaim that they were
started in a garage. In doing so, managers hope to
construct a brand image that can leverage their
underdog status for competitive advantage.”
—Consumer Research, Georgetown University
KNOW YOUR BRANDED PLACE
After a decade of marketers vying to create the next Big
Lifestyle Brand that fans would not only buy, but make
part of their own identities and lives, we’re seeing a shift
to a less assuming approach. More and more brands
are turning the attention away from themselves, letting
the customer be the story and simply pointing to their
small part in it.
Overall, consumers were more
likely to choose the underdog
brand (71%) than the
top-dog brand (29%).
FIRST, THROW AWAY THE LOGO
This spring will mark the end of Abercrombie and Fitch’s
traditional logo-focused apparel line in the US. Teens
who once sought brand names have shifted to fast
fashion that is cheaper and unmarked, from retailers like
Forever 21 and H&M (Hennes & Mauritz). They want to
put together their own individual styles, not emblazon
themselves with a brand.
It’s not just teens. Brands ranging from Louis Vuitton to
Michael Kors to Coach have started to limit logo’ed
merchandise. Once considered among their most must-have
items, products bearing logos have been broadly
relegated to the discount bin.
Abercrombie & Fitch is dropping
its logo from their apparel to meet
a shift in unmarked retail goods.
BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER
Who’s behind the largest public hygiene campaign in the world? It’s Unilever. And their ultimate ambition is
to reach 1 billion people. At the center of the effort is the Lifebuoy soap brand. Unilever focuses the brand’s
humble efforts on reducing the number of children who die from diarrhea and pneumonia. They do it by
telling stories about families, not about brands.
And by taking action in communities. Like, stamping 5 million roti with a soap-washing reminder at Kumbh
Mela in Allahabad, India, where 100 million visitors pass through. They’ve also created new ways for
villages to connect around better hygiene, like a clever jump pump designed to bring children together or a
simple test to show children how clean their “clean hands” really are. These humble efforts work because
soap saves lives. Selling more soap builds bottom lines.
It’s a double bottom-line approach to social business that creates opportunities for big consumer brands to
act like service brands, expanding their reach and changing their reputations. Coca Cola and GE are
“HELP A CHILD REACH 5”
Unilever has built the largest public hygiene
program in the world and delivered real health
impact—reducing diarrhea by 25%, reducing
respiratory infections by 15%, and increasing
school attendance by 40%.
Unilever “Help A Child Reach 5”
BANK OF AMERICA
There’s no better example of this
“humility in advertising” than Bank of
America’s storytelling campaign, which
takes us into the real lives of its
customers with this powerful, but
deferential promise: We know we’re not
the center of your life, but we’ll do our
best to help you connect to what is.
Bank of America “Portraits” Video
Guinness’ “Friendship" spot takes a
similar approach, letting its consumers
be the focus of the story. The 60-second
spot is all about six guys playing
wheelchair basketball, revealing in the
end that only one of the men needs the
mobility device to play. After the final
buzzer, the group heads into a pub for a
few post-basketball pints.
Guiness “Wheelchair Basketball”
Why go it alone when the
perfect sidekick can make
your story so much better?
MAKING IT CLICK
Today’s partners are getting much more
creative about where multiple brands can fit
into one experience. From the floor of Comic
Con to Central Park to hospitals in India,
these brands are turning away from glorified
sponsorships and figuring out how to amplify
each other’s brands with deeper integrations.
Okay, maybe not all so “deep.” Some of our
recent favorite pair-ups include 3D Systems
and The Hershey Company, joining forces to
chef up printable chocolate. Or Pizza Hut and
the Ninja Turtles, replicated the Ninja Turtles’
pizza-shooting van and letting Comic Con
fans shoot pizzas from the top of it. Yes!
Chobani ran a promotion in New York City
with transportation app Lyft. New riders
received a case of pumpkin spice yogurt
in exchange for booking a car, resulting in
19,000 people who received free yogurt in
two hours, according to CMO and brand
officer Peter McGuinness.
RIDING A TREND
Uber will continue to be the darling of urban riders going into
2015. Which will, of course, continue to make them the darlings
of urban brands.
Lay’s made one of the most memorable moves, with a bold new
Uber-assisted approach to sampling. Consumers could log on
to try one of the new potato chip flavors and—with the right
code—have UberRush quickly deliver them a basket filled with
the chips, two sandwiches from Katz's Deli, fruit and two bottles
of Aquafina water (owned by the same parent company).
Retailers, universities, and the reservation system Open Table
have partnered with Uber to deliver everything from mattresses
to dinners. Expect more surprise services in the year to come.
These early integrations point to a new fast-mover expectation.
The first to make the partnership wins headlines and hearts.
Pizza Hut teamed up with the
producers of the Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles movie to
create a real-life Pizza
Thrower, a vehicle used in the
original cartoon series.
BEST OF TWO VERY DIFFERENT WORLDS
As the walls of traditional institutions—like media and publishers—
continue to crumble, more interesting partnerships are formed in
their wakes. One we’re watching is Amazon—now both retailer
and publisher—and Mattel. Together, they’re bringing popular
children’s cartoon Fireman Sam exclusively to the online retailer.
Across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and more,
Amazon users will be able to watch the best of Sam, via Amazon
Instant Video, Prime Instant Video, and FreeTime Unlimited,
paired with ready-to-buy merchandise like toys, ebooks, games,
apparel, footwear, and lunch boxes.
These intriguing opportunities to bring new expertise to the
experience are extending into healthcare. Think Eli Lilly and
Disney teaming up to make navigating diabetes easier for kids. Or,
Sanofi partnering with India's Apollo Hospitals to offer diabetes
management services via a chain of diabetes clinics.
Disney and Eli Lilly’s “Coco,”
a monkey with diabetes, helps
kids make living with the
In 2014, we said people would
rather just press “play” than read
brand content. In 2015, marketers
are going to make that trend quite
a bit smaller.
“I thought that YouTube
was like TV, but it isn’t. I
was wrong. TV is one-way.
YouTube talks back.
TV means reach.
—Eric Schmidt, Google
SCREEN SHIFT CONTINUES
Mobile has swiftly risen to become the leading digital
platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets
accounting for an astounding 60% of digital media time
spent in the US.
Video is a critical part of that move. Every day, more
than 100 million Internet users watch an online video—
40% from mobile devices.
Advertisers are following suit. US brands are expected
to spend $6 billion on video ads this year, with growth to
15% of their ad budgets by 2017. Leading CMOs are
quick to point out that number will just be the average.
Some brands will be spending up to one-third in video.
—Comscore, 2014; Nielsen, 2014
Mobile devices such
as smartphones and
tablets account for
60% of digital media
time spent in the U.S.
MILLENNIALS ARE THE ACCELERATOR
YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any
cable network. It is their TV. The challenge for brands is
that traditional methods of advertising often don't
translate well on mobile — both because of the different
screen size and the user expectation.
Eric Schmidt, Google chairman, said it best: “I thought
that YouTube was like TV, but it isn’t. I was wrong. TV is
one-way. YouTube talks back. TV means reach.
YouTube means engagement.”
People use phones differently than computers. The bar
is even higher to make content quick and seamless,
augmenting—not interrupting—the experience.
- Nielsen, 2014
What better way to show the power
of video than with a video?
Shutterstock and Comscore
“Exploration of Video Engagement”
NEW MEDIA UNITS MAKE IT POSSIBLE
Don’t worry, we’re not about to proclaim that banner ads are
dead (again). Instead, they’re changing and evolving to be
more native in more places.
For example, Google’s new ad units are designed to
overcome the limitations of the small screen and deliver a truly
branded experience—mostly based on user interaction
(there’s one that’s a little more, shall we say, not optional).
One is focused on expanding the reach of their popular video
ads on the TrueView platform by taking it from gaming apps to
all apps. Their approach sets the bar high for brand and
platform alike: advertisers only pay when a user chooses not
to skip their ad. And, of course, consumers only engage with
ads that make sense on the device, at the moment, and in the
media they’ve chosen.
Kate Spade created mobile
lightbox engagement ads
that dynamically resize to fit
any screen size.
We’ve watched marketers
make incremental changes to
adjust to the digital world, but
this year marks the tipping
point of our big leap forward:
iBEACON, DO YOU?
Apple is the biggest momentum driver in the
category, with its clever iBeacon devices. The
small, cheap Bluetooth transmitters can talk
to apps on user’s phones when the phones
comes into range, prompting offers, content,
Beyond the iBeacon, all sorts of technologies
—like NFC and GPS—make distributing local
advertising content to users, via wireless
channels such as mobile devices, easy. And
when we say local, we mean hyper-local,
within no more than 100 meters.
iBeacon Bluetooth Transmitter
RETAIL JUST WENT FIRST
ABI estimates the iBeacon/BLE market will grow to 60
million units in the next four years. Retailers moved first.
Creating in-store promotions and location-relevant content
designed to compete with stiff competition from hyper-personalized
But proximity marketing can change any number of
advertising experiences from billboards to baseball. In fact,
it’s already changing Major League Baseball. The
organization was one of the first to deploy iBeacons on a
broad scale in 28 ballparks around the US. They let users
check in to games to get special offers that recognize their
location in the park and are customized based on offers
they’ve used before. They’re entering phase 2 in 2015 with
even more content and interactive features.
BULLISH ON BEACONS
As with any big shift, the jury is still
out on the ultimate fate of this
emerging trend. Operational
complexities and opt-in
requirements could stand in the
way of fast upscaling. And the
quality of first experiences could
dramatically impact the rate of
consumer uptake and confidence.
But, right now, this is the next
frontier of advertising: interactions
delivered only in the moment
they’re most likely to be relevant.
Consumers who feel a
coupon is the most
valuable form of
Consumers who share
local deals with friends
Consumers who are
more likely to engage
Consumers that are
willing to share their
current location to
To discuss this report live, request another module, or schedule a
presentation of trends, please contact Leigh Householder at
614-543-6496 or firstname.lastname@example.org