Tech Effect On Shopping

Without a doubt technology makes our lives better, simpler, easier. It allows us to be more effective and efficient in everything we do. Whether that is on our jobs or in our homes, technology is everywhere. And now it is changing the way we chop.

In-person shopping is being transformed by technology in ways that make us smarter shoppers. That includes finding features and benefits about products, reading reviews, asking our friends what they thing and even shopping for best price. Technology is enabling consumers to be in charge.

Technology is everywhere in the retail experience and that goes beyond the Internet and Mobile technology. Impressive inventions that will transform the in-person shopping experience, making it more interactive, personalized and helpful are on their way. These include intelligent mirrors (“Magic Mirrors) that can display how an outfit will look on you (without actually trying it on). This technology will suggest accessories and point you in the direction of similar items. If your product isn’t in stock, you will be able to make it with a 3D printer. Yes, consumers can use 3D printing technology to create their own products on the spot, such as towels, utensils and clothes. No room for an actual store, set-up product vending machines to act as your store. We see this being done by technology giants Best Buy, Apple and Sony.

Nothing is changing the experience more that the Internet and that means on your desktop and on your phone. Retailers are launching apps that enable shoppers to browse merchandise, scan bar codes or QR codes to learn more about products and inventory, and with the help of near field communication (NFC), pay for purchases.

As consumers get smarter so must your sales associates by putting technology (mobile) in hands of associates. Mobile devices and tablets will allow associates to check prices and inventory. Mobile will enable associates to check shoppers out anywhere in the store, see and Apple and Nordstrom stores.

The tech effect is everywhere and cannot be stopped. It is the retailer’s job to understand the technology, create a strategy around the technology, invest in the technology and embrace the technologies that will have a positive impact your operation.

By Steve Rockman


Mobile Shopping Trends

Without a doubt the biggest challenge retailers have heading into this “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” is how to deal with are the challenges / opportunities mobile devices pose. 2007’s launch of the iPhone changed the way shopping would be done in the future.

Today the iPhone has spurred on a smartphone industry that includes; iPhones, Android and Microsoft devises and even Blackberry is making a comeback. We see consumers carrying both phone and tablet technology into retail spaces, but maybe even more importantly they are using these devises to shop from, home, the office, the car and even while walking. Smartphone sales have even overtaken the sales of PC’s.

According to Nielsen’s “”Who is the mobile shopper” report, as of Q1 2013, 84 percent of mobile consumers have used their devices to shop within the past month, which is up by 5 percent compared to the same quarter from last year. Some of these mobile shoppers even stated that they do their online shopping mostly on their mobile devices than on their PCs.

There are a myriad of studies that will point to growth of smartphone sales or increases in mobile transactions, which is all to point out that retailers and product marketers need to be studying, planning and developing plans around the mobile consumer. There are many challenges that face the mobile marketer today. What is the role of this technology to your business or how do you learn and capitalize on the features within the phone?

The first question that needs to be addressed is how do we balance in-store sales with digital sales. In a report from Business Insider, it was stated that brick-and-mortar stores are in danger because of “showrooming”. Showrooming is consumer going to brick and mortar location to see a product then going online to buy that product. And not necessarily from the retailers digital location.

Last year, JC Penny reported a 32 percent decline in same-store sales because of showrooming, and it is expected that the numbers would just get worse as more people embrace mobile shopping.

Why is this happening?
1. Digital is open 24/7/365
2. Online price comparisons

Rest assured all is not lost. There are a few trends that will allow for marketers to be in the mobile game.

Trend 1 – Geofencing & NFC (Near Field Communications)
Geofencing technology allows for the real-time delivery of promotions to consumers right on their mobile devices when they are in the vincinity of a retailers location. Consumers just have to be at the right spot, like a few feet away from a retail store, to receive relevant notifications. To get the discount or free item, they just need to present the promo code or the message they received from their phone. This technology will get people back in retail stores, hopefully enticing people to buy more items from the shop.

Near-Field Communication (NFC), is also rocketing into the mainstream. This technology allows mobile users to transfer information from their mobile devices to card readers in a store that supports NFC which will allow customers to pay with their mobile phones. Experts expects NFC to be the most widely used mobile payment solution by 2015.

Trend 2 – Price Comparison Will Become Automated, Reviews Will Be Centralized
Shoppers want to know that they are getting the best possible price before they make a purchase. Already there are dozens of mobile apps that help shoppers make price comparisons. Look for future applications to use information about a person’s tastes or buying habits to automate price comparison.

After price comparisons, mobile shoppers are likely to look for user reviews before making a buying decision regardless of whether they are planning to order online or pick up an item from a brick-and-mortar store.

Look for review sites that consolidate reviews to emerge. This will offer shoppers the option to see product or vendor reviews from a number of sources through a single interface on their phone.

Trend 3 – Social Media Via Mobile
Consumers need advise, opinion, research and help with decision-making on their purchases. They are doing this through social media. Social media integration and intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri on mobile devices are expected to offer the same user experience as home computers. Consumers are taking pictures in your locations, they are posting, they are looking for reviews and they are asking opinion.

It is the marketers responsibility to have an active social media presence and provide the information the consumers is looking for in a easy to find, accurate, no-frills, none selling manner. Have a social footprint on all social channels and treat those channels as a sales associate.

Trend 4 – Mobile As Point-Of-Sale
Consumers are already using their mobile devices to research products and compare prices. So, mobile transactions are an obvious next requirement from the mobile consumer. Mobile must become a part of point-of-sale for brick-and-mortar stores, improving customers’ in-store shopping experience.

Major retailers are planning to offer mobile POS soon that will allow customers to find what they are looking for, to get more information about the product, and to make cashless purchases from their phones.

Trend 5 – QR Code Revolution
QR codes are not this writers favorite tactic, but research shows a resurgence. Quick Response (QR) codes are already being used by quite a few brands, but 2013 will be the year that most companies start creating and offering the smartphone-scannable tech to shoppers. The codes can provide offers in-store and online, as well as offer additional product information from the Internet about the products.

Trend 6 – Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is another exciting mobile technology trend. Marketers can create AR applications that let customers to point their mobile cameras at products to obtain relevant information about the products, such as reviews and discounts.

Mobile shopping is in its infancy, but rest assured it is not going away and it is transforming the shopping experience. The key for marketers and businesses it to embrace the changes that mobile brings you. Understand early, that the consumer owns your brand and it’s your job to supply the consumer with the brand experience they want. Lastly, remember mobile is just another channel and that technology unto itself does nothing!

By Steve Rockman

Content Marketing Strategies for Social Media: Trends vs. Hype

Great Article by Michele Linn published January 18, 2013

These days, it’s tough to talk about content marketing without talking about social media. As the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends research shows, marketers are relying heavily on social media to distribute their content, and there are increases year-over-year. However, is this a good thing? And are marketers doing this correctly?

Content Marketing Strategies for Social Media - Usage Chart

Continuing the B2B research roundtable conversation from Content Marketing WorldCMI consultants Carla JohnsonMichael WeissArdath Albee, and Jay Baer talk about the biggest challenges with social media and content marketing strategies. Thanks to Steve Rotter, VP of Digital Marketing at Brightcove, for moderating the conversation.

As the consultants mentioned, there are two big challenges with social media and content marketing strategies.

1. Marketers are using channels because they can, not because they make sense

I’m finding that the majority of clients are focusing on where; that’s all they care about. They want to know where they need to be; and I say, ‘STOP! We don’t know where you should be. Let’s figure out who, and what. Who do we want to talk to, and what do we want to say? Once we figure that out, then we know where they are.’ So maybe it will work, B2B for Facebook, or maybe it won’t; I think the increase of Facebook is just because it’s easy.” – Michael Weiss

So how do you know which channels make sense for you? The conversation reveals a few ideas:

2. Not all channels require the same kind of content

I look at how many B2B clients that I see who automatically drive their Twitter posts to Facebook, and it’s harsh when you see it in the wrong format.” – Carla Johnson

You want your content in the right format for the social network you are using. CMI’s eBook 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketing provides suggestions and examples for all of the social channels included in our content marketing research. Check it out!

How I Think About Marketing

I will no longer talk about how digital is changing advertising. If you don’t know that by now, there is nothing I can tell you will change that.

We have, and must continue to move from old agency models. That model is one, which all agencies followed, and some still follow. It is one that is predicated on the fact that we create a singular context of interruption. We interrupt the consumer with our marketing message, whether it is when they are watching television or reading a magazine or listening to the radio. Our job as an agency for the digital age is to understand the multiplicity of possibilities in communicating with a consumer. I’m not talking about social media or a website or a mobile device. Yes, it encompasses all of those and many more.Today we work with 0’s & 1’s and because we work with 0’s & 1’s and no longer atoms it means we have so many possibilities some of which haven’t even been thought of.

Today the medium really does change the message. As you have heard many times your clients no longer own their brands. This means we must advise and treat our clients in a much different way. Technology has the power to change, not just how we deliver messages but how we consume the message…and this is a radical change in how you need to be thinking.

Agencies are supposed to understand the lives of its consumers and create things that interact with their lives. Today our lives are bound to mobile devices and APPS, they are tied to social networks and websites, we have banner blur and email fatigue. It is our job to understand these things. PR is not PR any longer. Media is not media, as we knew it to be. And creative has moved from a 2D mindset to systems that enable a consumer to live a brand or better yet a brand that lives in the consumers life.

The holy grail of digital is to create platforms and to have campaigns run on top of these platforms. Platforms are these things that have a longer duration than a campaign. They are not launched with and eye to taking them down like a campaign would work. They are created with the intention that over time the audience grows. Why, because they give the consumer utility, value, worth. Today, our singular job for any client is to help them breakthrough and then fit in.

I think this is the best time to be in our industry. Today we, marketing experts, are asked to solve complicated business issues, and that should be exciting to you. Our clients rely on how we think! I believe we have a lot of work to do. We must help our clients understand what it means to be doing business in the digital age. Our challenge and key to success will be in our ability to transform what we do and how we teach our clients to think in a digital age.

Steve Rockman

Super Bowl ads and Social Media

It’s funny, I tell people all the time that I think websites are dying. I say the internet will live on but websites as we know them are dying. As we view more and more from our smartphones and tablets we will depend less on the browser. This becomes clearly evident this weekend with the Super Bowl. That’s not to say that we will never go to websites or that there isn’t a strategy for websites, but we will rely much less on websites and lean heavier on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social channels. Sorry, its just the facts.

Will you go online during the Super Bowl to follow what people are saying about the game? In the age of Twitter and Facebook, many Super Bowl viewers will be. This year, advertisers want them to tweet about their favorite commercials as well. You will find lots of real-time voting tools and APPS that will allow you to engage with the Super Bowl. To become part of the event and to share your thoughts with 100’s of millions of people around the world. I, as a Giants fan, will not be, but many of you will.

At over $3 million per spot, global brands from #Coca-Cola to #Volkwagen are looking to leverage social media to extend the buzz and reach of their ads.

It is my belief that the social media conversation has put more value on a Super Bowl ad, fans will be discussing ads on Twitter and Facebook and then go to YouTube to watch it on demand over and over again. That is the power of social media. The creation of a digital asset will live on forever and talked about for years to come.

NFL games are so valuable to advertisers that the league increased its rates to the Superbowl content and will bring in about $6 billion a year from Walt Disney Co’s ESPN, broadcast networks and satellite TV provider DirecTV for rights to air games and sell the advertising time.

The average price of Super Bowl ads have risen more than 50 percent in the last 10 years, defying economic downturns and secular industry issues. NBC sold out all 70 spots around this year’s game shortly after Thanksgiving weekend in November and reached a new high with one slot selling for around $4 million.

The game, could easily generate over a quarter of a billion dollars in ad sales.

Consumer research forecasts that 60 percent of fans watching the Super Bowl will also be tied into a second screen such as a smartphone or tablet.


#Anheuser-Busch, which typically buys exclusivity as the only beer advertiser during recent Super Bowls, is again the biggest spender.

Not unlike past Super Bowls, #Coca Cola Co and #PepsiCo Inc will face-off. Both beverage makers have come up with campaigns that attempt to leverage social media after their commercials air.

#Coca-Cola’s TV commercials, which will air during the first-and second-quarter breaks, will center around its computer-generated Arctic polar bears watching the game. The bears will then be brought to life on Twitter, Facebook and on a dedicated Website doing such things as responding to fans and commenting on the game. They will even have their own Twitter hashtag –#GameDayPolarBears — for fans to follow.

Fans who catch #Pepsi’s commercial with “X Factor USA” winner Melanie Amaro performing the Otis Redding song “Respect” will be able to download a free video of the performance by using the Shazam app on their phones to capture audio from the commercial.

There are also partnerships with online radio service Pandora Media Inc and social TV specialist GetGlue centered around the game and other free content.


The biggest spender by category is the autos industry, which made a big comeback last year and was noted for one of the most memorable spots — #Volkswagen AG’s ad with a young child dressed in a Darth Vader outfit believing he can control the Passat car’s lights.

This year, #Volkswagen’s #Audi is hoping to win more creative kudos with a spot that taps into the “Twilight” teen vampire pop culture phenomenon. The 60-second spot, which will air during the first break in the game, will highlight the new 2013 Audi S7 and its LED headlight technology, which has unfortunate consequences for a party of young vampires.

#Audi hopes to continue the conversation about the ad via the Twitter hashtag #SoLongVampires.

I have read that the auto makers are leading a trend toward long-form campaigns of 60 seconds or more, allowing high-end creative concepts to be fleshed out in the commercial’s narrative rather than just going for a quick gag and punchline.

#Chrysler, #Toyota, #Honda, #Hyundai, and other automakers will also be advertising during the game.

#GM mainstream #Chevy brand will run seven TV commercials before, during and after the game. It will also center its overall campaign heavily around Web-based partnerships with NBC, Twitter and Facebook.


With the conventional wisdom being that consumers are more likely to make a purchase if recommended by a friend or family member, chief marketing officers are keen to insert themselves in a Facebook or Twitter conversation about the products and services they sell.

Bluefin Labs, a start-up company that aggregates and analyzes TV viewer data and comments on Twitter and Facebook, has been hired by several advertising agencies with Super Bowl campaigns to help understand how football fans react to the commercials during the game.

While advertisers are eager to experiment with social media during a big event like the Super Bowl, there are still questions on how we measure its impact with a consistent, industry-accepted method. A tool like GetGlue, lets TV fans share their viewing experiences by ‘checking-in’ in exchange for online rewards. A pretty cool concept.

So have fun watching the Super Bowl and the commercials and watch how many of you are commenting on the game or commercials in real-time.

Go Giants!!!

Steve Rockman

How do we need to think about Social Media?

I was asked last night for my thoughts on where is Social Media is headed? What’s going to be next? My friend expected me to say, “I love this new app or there is a great new social platform she must try that’s really going to change her life.” Sorry that’s not my answer. Social isn’t about an APP, a network, a tweet or a Facebook page.

Here’s an insight, it’s not about PR and it’s not about marketing and it’s not about advertising. This isn’t fun, it’s not a game or something that must be gamified (not sure that’s a real word), nor is it easy to succeed. This is about social interaction. It’s about the principles that the great sociologists; Pierre Bourdieu, Herbert Spencer and George Herbert Mead, defined over the past years. Study them a little bit to understand Social Media. It’s about how and why humans interact. When we understand this, and only when we understand this will we be successful Social Media professionals. I see progress in this direction everyday but it all starts with education, passion and intellect. The easy path, the obvious path won’t accomplish your or your companies’ missions.

We have a name problem. Social Media isn’t really media at all. Media is something you buy. What we do is influence. Whoever named this space did all Social Media professionals a disservice. The agency, Razorfish, has come the closest to getting the name correct. They have coined the term Social Influence. I liken what we do as social professionals as going to a networking cocktail party. If I wear my badge and expect people to come talk to me, it will be a long evening. If I greet someone with a, “Hi, I’m Steve, you should buy my widget”, or “Hi, come to my store, I’m having a sale” or these are my hour or my specials or here is a coupon, I will be ignored. It’s all about very basic and simple communication so friends or potential new friends know what my business is up to. It’s done one-on-one and personal.

Social channels are more scalable. Information moves faster, impacts more people exponentially and influence spreads before we no it, it’s not controllable. Think about what would be if our great leaders like George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. or Paul Revere had social channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to spread their messages quicker and influence more people? Paul would have gotten good night sleep. Dr. King would have spread his dream to all corners of the world, in real time. They had important messages that “end-users” needed to hear. Today, we can start changing the world quicker, just ask Tunisia or Egypt, but don’t forget social media was just the delivery channel, the message of one man in the street is what started the revolutions.

We need to be more accountable. From individuals, to influencers, government and media, we must start taking this new way of communicating more seriously. It is 24/7, 365 days a year. During the Japanese earthquake and tsunami CNN’s twitter account went MIA for a few hours during the most crucial timeframe. We can’t get that time back. CNN television did not go down for a few hours, but their Twitter account did! The CNN Twitter bio says they will bring breaking world news to more than 2 million people. Unfortunately not when people needed it most.

We must keep pushing the boundaries of what these channels can be used for. Its no secret social change is among us. How are you approaching it?

Steve Rockman

Companies Still Don’t Understand Social Media.

Just a few factual pieces of information you might be interested in reading.

1. Spending – Social media spending is extremely low. Almost two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey said they spend just 5% or less of their marketing budget on social media. While social can be less expensive than other marketing elements, this is surprisingly low. Social represents a big opportunity to get a high return for spend, if properly resourced. This level of investment would suggest that marketing departments are looking at social as an experiment or, at best, a campaign, rather than an ongoing effort that requires the programs and staff to build and maintain relationships over the long haul.

2. Don’t Know What To Do – Companies are still broadcasting, not interacting. Social tools are meant to be used as two-way communications devices. Over 60% of companies surveyed felt that social media was very important in brand building but less than 20% thought it was very important to product ideation. Really??? A surprising 58% stated that social media was not important to product or service testing. Really? Talk to Mountain Dew. This would seem to show that social media is considered more like one-way advertising and less like a channel for understanding customer needs and leveraging valuable and available customer insights in product development.

3. Not Understood – Social’s value across business functions not realized. Just under 40% view social media as very important to demand generation and under 30% are using social media for employee engagement. This shows that the potential of social media to engage prospects, customers and employees is not fully understood. Most of the respondents to this survey were in marketing so they may not be reporting on activity in other functions but the cautionary note is that each part of an organization can benefit from well designed social efforts, particularly if they are not siloed but allow insights to cross functional lines and be shared more effectively.

Steve Rockman

In the beginning…of this blog.

A while ago, as many that will read this know, I had a opportunity to take some time and write. I by no means am a writer. Actually if you decide to read this blog you will see that I don’t spell or punctuate very well at all. I’m not sure why that is as I had wonderful schooling with teachers that cared, or at least seemed to, but I never got the writing piece very well.

I am not sure what I will end up writing about as I wrestle with talking about what I do, digital marketing. Or what I like to do, watch New York Giants Football or write about my adventures. I think till it takes shape that I will write about anything that comes to mind. I hope that you will contribute and write your thoughts as well.

So today I am thinking about happiness. I was inspired today by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk and a TED talk that he did a few years ago. As I do everyday, I spend my morning walk to work listening to TED talks. Most I don’t understand, but I listen anyway. I highly recommend you get in the habit of listening to TED every morning. I realized during this walk and throughout the day how unhappy people are. I mean truly unhappy. Almost in tears, unhappy. I wonder why? I suppose people think they are suffering and I suppose that based on my experiences of the last 10 years I have a different version of suffering. I know that I know longer get upset if a car pulls out in front of me or if the woman at Dunkin Donuts forgot my bagel or if when I get into work something from the night before wasn’t done or done correctly. I guess those things just don’t matter any long. If they are wrong, then they are wrong.

So what I learned this morning and I will try to remember were the habits of people that are happy.

1. Let it go. The past is the past and there is absolutely nothing we can do about what happened a minute ago. Live in the present.
2. Appreciate the simple. As Andy Warhol said, “You have to be able to be happy about nothing at all.”
3. Being happy is not easy and it takes practice. But it is possible.
4. Don’t believe what you mind is telling you unless you see it or hear it for yourself.
5. Value the people in your life.
6. Get focused, stay focused on your passions in life.

Anyway thanks to some incredibly unpleasant times over the past 10 years, this is what I learned.