Talk to Your Shopping: Voice Activated Shopping with Demandware

The Amazon Echo is one of the first voice activated smart home hubs. Through an Al personality called Alexa it can manage connected smart home devices, sync with calendars and entertainment content, and tell jokes. We set out to see if we could integrate Alexa with Demandware to deliver voice activated home shopping. You can […]

The post Talk to Your Shopping: Voice Activated Shopping with Demandware appeared first on Isobar Blog.

Driving Digital: How the Auto Industry Is Adapting for a Connected World

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Technological advancements, government mandates, consumer trends, and emerging markets continue to drive evolution in the automotive industry, forcing automakers to rethink how they design, manufacture, and market vehicles. But despite the massive amount of disruption rippling through the global market, our recent report shows that innovation in the auto industry continues to be rooted in its long-time guiding principles of convenience, safety, and efficiency. Here we examine how technology, in particular, is shaping the future of this industry and helping manufacturers deliver on their brand promise.

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Convenience

Digital disruption has prompted major shifts in consumer expectations – and the auto industry is no exception. Automakers today aren’t just tasked with delivering a high-quality, reliable vehicle – they’re expected to make the trip simpler, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. By incorporating important safety and navigation features into vehicles, automakers have become responsible for the overall driving experience, as opposed to just the car or truck itself.

For example, automakers are currently experimenting with biometric technology, such as unique fingerprints and retina scanning, to access and control vehicles. In the meantime, MIT is developing tattoos that connect with mobile devices to adjust in-vehicle features or exchange data with other devices via near-field technology. By using this connected technology, drivers can access their vehicle and automatically load preferences – such as seat position, climate settings, music preferences, and previous destinations – in a seamless way.

Connected vehicles can also provide drivers with useful information such as gas prices, weather reports, service station locations, and alternate routes. While these features are secondary to the design and mechanics of the car itself, they help set vehicles apart at a time when customers are seeking both customization and simplicity.

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Safety

As in most industries, automakers have no shortage of customer and product data. However, it’s through careful analysis and application that this information can be used to improve customers’ lives. In this case, automakers can use sophisticated onboard platforms and advanced navigation systems to transform large amounts of data into warnings and recommendations for drivers, thereby improving comfort and safety.

For example, a heads-up-display (HUD), which is a type of augmented reality that can be used to display speed, enhance visibility, and confirm stopping distances all on the windshield glass, gives drivers valuable information, while allowing them to remain fully focused on the road. Similarly, improved GPS in smartphones and cars has made pinpointing a vehicle’s location even more precise, which not only makes for better navigation, but also allows emergency services to locate a driver in times of crisis. Eventually, these in-vehicle features can be networked with other cars, making it possible for automobiles to communicate with one another and, in turn, make travel more efficient and secure.

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Technology has also supported the rise of important self-driving options like auto-braking, lane-change avoidance, and auto parallel parking. These features are only the beginning as traditional manufacturers and tech companies alike race to develop a fully self-driving car, a concept that has the potential to eliminate human error, alleviate common traffic issues, and decrease accidents.

Efficiency

While hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and fuel-cell vehicles were introduced long ago, continued technological advancements have helped make these power sources much more mainstream in recent years. In fact, a four-year study by MIT concluded that electric vehicles on the market today could replace 90 percent of the cars used in the U.S., reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.

While the viability and speed of adoption of these vehicles are influenced by consumers’ perceptions of their driving habits and cost of ownership, auto marketers are also under pressure to reduce manufacturing and material costs, improve the charging infrastructure, and extend the life of the batteries. Fuel-cells, for example, have resurfaced as one possible alternative to traditional cars as their only byproduct is water vapor. Much like electric vehicles, fuel-cell vehicles have an infrastructure hurdle to cross, necessitating that gas refueling stations be replaced with hydrogen ones – implying that the rate of change in the auto industry will be influenced at least in part by the willingness and ability of other industries to adapt.

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Driven by new technology, the global automobile industry is poised for a major transformation. While automakers are forced to contend with a whole host of new challenges – including ever-changing customer preferences and government mandates – they should remain focused on improving the driving experience through enhanced convenience, safety, and efficiency. Our recent report highlights these three pillars and depicts how, in today’s digital age, technology holds the key.

By Timothy Cory, Associate Creative Director, Creative Strategist for Consumer Experience, and Design Specialist, SapientNitro Detroit

What Makes An API Great For Advertisers?

An application programming interface – or API – is what allows different databases, software programs, and applications to communicate with each other effectively.

They allow sites like Kayak.com to aggregate travel deals from around the web, Yelp to populate a map sourced from Google, and your favorite food brands to pull Pinterest recipes onto their website. Each is built to render and communicate specific types of information between two or more different systems.

In the process of ad creation and ad serving, an API takes a call from an ad server, translates the request for whatever ad content is available in a data warehouse, and then expresses it back within the parameters needed to render the ad experience properly.

How the API is built will determine what types of content and creative can be displayed, how quickly it renders, how stable features behave, and much more. The more complex the

Virtual Reality: Taking an Emerging Technology Mainstream

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Virtual reality (VR) has arrived. Augmented reality (AR) is not far behind. And now is the time for brands to experiment with these emerging mediums. 

VR and AR: What’s the difference?

VR: A three-dimensional, computer-generated digital world that can be
explored through the use of headsets, sensors, and other special equipment.

AR: An
enhanced environment that seamlessly blends the digital and physical world
through advanced technology. While AR is used extensively by the military and
in business-to-business applications, consumer-focused programs are less common.

As companies look for a way to differentiate their brands and set themselves apart from the competition, more and more businesses – particularly those in entertainment, retail, and travel – are seeing VR and AR as ways to build brand affinity, deepen customer relationships, and transform strategies and experiences. However, while these technologies hold great promise for organizations, consumers have yet to fully embrace VR and help it reach critical mass.

With that in mind, SapientNitro commissioned a global study of 2,500 people across five countries to gauge consumer awareness of and interest in VR. Here we discuss some of the findings of our study and leverage the data to offer a timeline for how the future of this technology may unfold. To review a full analysis of our survey, download our report, entitled VR and AR Demand Long-Term Action from Innovative Brands.

1. VR awareness is on the rise. Four in ten respondents in our global survey (40 percent) could name, without prompting, at least one brand of headset. Perhaps more important, awareness among younger age groups was even higher, with more than half (54 percent) of consumers under the age of 24 being familiar with the technology and its application.’

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2. There is significant appetite for VR. Almost half (47 percent) of our respondents said that they were “very” or “extremely interested” in using a VR headset. In particular, consumers in emerging markets like China and India are especially excited about this technology, with 66 percent and 64 percent, respectively, expressing interest.

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3. Consumers are willing to invest in VR. VR hardware ownership remains limited, with just 4 percent of global respondents saying that they own a headset. But signs of the technology’s growth appears imminent with two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers aged 25-34 saying that they are “extremely” or “very interested” in purchasing a headset within the next two years.

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So what does this data mean for businesses? Our survey findings can help determine when and how consumers may embrace VR. For example, the platform’s existing user base, coupled with the high level of interest among younger consumers in emerging markets, implies that adoption and demand will be led by this highly-connected, tech-savvy group. In particular, the gaming industry – one of the early drivers of VR – will continue to develop content and experiences to help further generate interest and awareness.

At the same time, our survey found that consumer interest in VR runs much deeper than gaming. Through enhanced access and increased content, it is possible for this technology to go mainstream. To that end, mobile is likely the key to general usage. Just about every smartphone produced within the last two years is VR-capable. And as manufacturers constantly pack more processing power and higher-resolution screens into their smartphones, the pieces are in place for the mobile VR experience to take off with a wider audience. Similarly, headsets continue to get sleeker and cheaper, and are increasingly being bundled with cell phones, gaming systems, or other electronic purchases, which means this platform has the potential to become a household commodity.

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While the mainstream adoption of VR relies, in part, on consumer interest, brands also have a role to play. Our survey suggests that many users may be waiting for companies to create more content and experiences before making a personal investment in the medium. To that end, brands should take this time to explore how they can incorporate both VR and AR into their existing marketing and technology strategies as a way to deepen relationships with consumers.

Curious to read more about how that can be done? Download our full report here.

By Adrian Slobin, Managing Director and Digital Strategist, SapientNitro Minneapolis

My Media Week: Marc Nohr

Marc Nohr Fold7 CEO

Campaign magazine follow Fold7 CEO Marc Nohr while he joins the IPA to discuss the impact of Brexit on advertising, sits in on a planning meeting for Carlsberg, teaches his children to cook burgers and more.

The article was first published in Campaign magazine.

MONDAY
It’s the Jewish New Year, so I take my family to Synagogue and then host friends for lunch. It’s always a bit odd to see regular London going about its business when Jewish London hunkers down for these autumn days. But kind of nice too.

TUESDAY
My daily morning ritual kicks in: wake up to the Today programme and straight to my home gym. Today yoga, with the Mrs. It’s the one form of exercise we both agree on.Jump on the train and read half a Harvard Business Review article. It’s an early start today to film a new AAR reel for the agency. This requires a couple of coffees and a few takes to get into my stride. But the director is personable, has a good interview technique and we get there in the end…90 minutes fly by.

Lunch is in the office with an old confidante. We discuss an opportunity to do a joint venture in a new market. I throw a few provocations his way and he throws a few back my way. As a form of problem solving this Socratic dialogue probably explains why creative teams still form pairs – and by the end of an hour we have a sense of how to proceed.In the afternoon I go across to the IPA at the invitation of director general Paul Bainsfair to join some other agency leaders to discuss the impact of Brexit on advertising.

As a Remainer it’s interesting to now problem-solve around the reality of exit and to try to make the best of it. On the way back to the agency I have a long chat with a mate who is a leading political columnist on what is happening at the Tory conference. Tuesday evening is a late shift. A massive presentation the following day to a major client for their global campaign next year – which has some 15 people or so work until the early hours, fuelled by Uber Eats. Pitches are where it all comes together in our business – where problem identification turns into strategy which becomes creative work to solve the client’s business problem. Addictive but knackering.

WEDNESDAY
To the gym for high intensity training. It’s painful but the happiness hormone kicks in as soon as I finish. Hotfoot it to the agency Zone (recent recipient of BIMA’s digital agency of the year) where I serve on their Advisory Board. Three former agency chiefs, three clients and the agency’s management team. Every meeting centres around a big topic, which we all receive in advance and are required to come and talk about. It’s a mental workout for their executive team – as they get to test their ideas and have their assumptions challenged. The format is the brainchild of chairman James Freedman who sits back and largely enjoys the debate.

Arrive late morning in the agency’s reception dominated by stationary bikes and blaring music in aid of the NABS Ride Adland event. We appear to be going at a fraction of the speed of Bartle Bogle Hegarty. I console myself that they employ Lawrence Dallaglio who could probably do the race single handedly. Lunch is with a headhunter who recruited a star player for us a few months back – no agenda, other than his desire to recruit some more. I’m always up for discussing talent. Then, the afternoon is dominated by a creative presentation involving several clients in different cities. I’d much prefer to be doing it in person, but screen share technology at least gives us the chance to control the visual flow. After a series of internal meetings I remember my wife is out this evening. I call home to ask if any of my kids know how to cook a burger. By the third “no” I head straight home to show them how it’s done. An evening of news, box sets and red wine follows.

THURSDAY
Go for an early run, shower and jump on a train. Read news headlines on Twitter. Breakfast is with Annette King at Ogilvy. She shows we me their wonderful new office with views over… my kids’ school. I think of burgers. We discuss kids, clients, talent and the thrill of the chase in new business. Back to the agency for calls, internal meetings and the rehearsal of an afternoon presentation. Lunch with Chris Duncan, chief marketing officer of News UK and fellow political junkie. We discuss party conferences, paywalls and who is winning in online journalism.

Afternoon presentation to a client on how to win in the content wars. Then a prospect meeting with a fintech brand wanting to internationalise and seeking to understand how relevant their brand will be in the US. At the end of the day, head out to Soho to my favourite Chinese restaurant and to meet a former client who has now turned up as a client again – dinner followed by a gig at Ronnie Scott’s featuring drummer legend Steve Gadd (best known for the drum lick which starts Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover). Love that place.

FRIDAY
Gym: kettlebells. Breakfast in a local cafe with my cousin who is a City trader of some repute – I find his job as bewildering as he finds mine, but as my only extended relative in the UK (both my parents were immigrants) it’s always heartening to see him. A morning at my home office – a dozen or so calls including one to the US chief marketing officer of Audible whose UK campaign we have just launched, and a strategy call with the Hilton marketing chief in Virginia.

I get to the agency at 1pm, just in time to sit in on a planning meeting for Carlsberg for 2017. I am struck by the startling array of media we operate across as marketeers. Afternoon of one-to-one meetings with my senior team. Then, I have a meeting with the founder of our new experiential agency Hyperactive and Tony Spong of the AAR to discuss credentials. Finally, an end of day drink with someone keen to discuss an overseas venture. Then head home for the traditional Jewish Friday night meal – which I endeavour never to miss. When I reach home the phone goes off – 24 hour digital detox begins.

My Media Week: Marc Nohr

Marc Nohr Fold7 CEO

Campaign magazine follow Fold7 CEO Marc Nohr while he joins the IPA to discuss the impact of Brexit on advertising, sits in on a planning meeting for Carlsberg, teaches his children to cook burgers and more.

The article was first published in Campaign magazine.

MONDAY
It’s the Jewish New Year, so I take my family to Synagogue and then host friends for lunch. It’s always a bit odd to see regular London going about its business when Jewish London hunkers down for these autumn days. But kind of nice too.

TUESDAY
My daily morning ritual kicks in: wake up to the Today programme and straight to my home gym. Today yoga, with the Mrs. It’s the one form of exercise we both agree on.Jump on the train and read half a Harvard Business Review article. It’s an early start today to film a new AAR reel for the agency. This requires a couple of coffees and a few takes to get into my stride. But the director is personable, has a good interview technique and we get there in the end…90 minutes fly by.

Lunch is in the office with an old confidante. We discuss an opportunity to do a joint venture in a new market. I throw a few provocations his way and he throws a few back my way. As a form of problem solving this Socratic dialogue probably explains why creative teams still form pairs – and by the end of an hour we have a sense of how to proceed.In the afternoon I go across to the IPA at the invitation of director general Paul Bainsfair to join some other agency leaders to discuss the impact of Brexit on advertising.

As a Remainer it’s interesting to now problem-solve around the reality of exit and to try to make the best of it. On the way back to the agency I have a long chat with a mate who is a leading political columnist on what is happening at the Tory conference. Tuesday evening is a late shift. A massive presentation the following day to a major client for their global campaign next year – which has some 15 people or so work until the early hours, fuelled by Uber Eats. Pitches are where it all comes together in our business – where problem identification turns into strategy which becomes creative work to solve the client’s business problem. Addictive but knackering.

WEDNESDAY
To the gym for high intensity training. It’s painful but the happiness hormone kicks in as soon as I finish. Hotfoot it to the agency Zone (recent recipient of BIMA’s digital agency of the year) where I serve on their Advisory Board. Three former agency chiefs, three clients and the agency’s management team. Every meeting centres around a big topic, which we all receive in advance and are required to come and talk about. It’s a mental workout for their executive team – as they get to test their ideas and have their assumptions challenged. The format is the brainchild of chairman James Freedman who sits back and largely enjoys the debate.

Arrive late morning in the agency’s reception dominated by stationary bikes and blaring music in aid of the NABS Ride Adland event. We appear to be going at a fraction of the speed of Bartle Bogle Hegarty. I console myself that they employ Lawrence Dallaglio who could probably do the race single handedly. Lunch is with a headhunter who recruited a star player for us a few months back – no agenda, other than his desire to recruit some more. I’m always up for discussing talent. Then, the afternoon is dominated by a creative presentation involving several clients in different cities. I’d much prefer to be doing it in person, but screen share technology at least gives us the chance to control the visual flow. After a series of internal meetings I remember my wife is out this evening. I call home to ask if any of my kids know how to cook a burger. By the third “no” I head straight home to show them how it’s done. An evening of news, box sets and red wine follows.

THURSDAY
Go for an early run, shower and jump on a train. Read news headlines on Twitter. Breakfast is with Annette King at Ogilvy. She shows we me their wonderful new office with views over… my kids’ school. I think of burgers. We discuss kids, clients, talent and the thrill of the chase in new business. Back to the agency for calls, internal meetings and the rehearsal of an afternoon presentation. Lunch with Chris Duncan, chief marketing officer of News UK and fellow political junkie. We discuss party conferences, paywalls and who is winning in online journalism.

Afternoon presentation to a client on how to win in the content wars. Then a prospect meeting with a fintech brand wanting to internationalise and seeking to understand how relevant their brand will be in the US. At the end of the day, head out to Soho to my favourite Chinese restaurant and to meet a former client who has now turned up as a client again – dinner followed by a gig at Ronnie Scott’s featuring drummer legend Steve Gadd (best known for the drum lick which starts Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover). Love that place.

FRIDAY
Gym: kettlebells. Breakfast in a local cafe with my cousin who is a City trader of some repute – I find his job as bewildering as he finds mine, but as my only extended relative in the UK (both my parents were immigrants) it’s always heartening to see him. A morning at my home office – a dozen or so calls including one to the US chief marketing officer of Audible whose UK campaign we have just launched, and a strategy call with the Hilton marketing chief in Virginia.

I get to the agency at 1pm, just in time to sit in on a planning meeting for Carlsberg for 2017. I am struck by the startling array of media we operate across as marketeers. Afternoon of one-to-one meetings with my senior team. Then, I have a meeting with the founder of our new experiential agency Hyperactive and Tony Spong of the AAR to discuss credentials. Finally, an end of day drink with someone keen to discuss an overseas venture. Then head home for the traditional Jewish Friday night meal – which I endeavour never to miss. When I reach home the phone goes off – 24 hour digital detox begins.

Fold7 lands money.co.uk account

Fold7 lands money.co.uk account

We’re delighted to announce that money.co.uk has hired Fold7 as its creative agency following a competitive pitch. The task ahead will see us handle brand strategy, creative, and content strategy, positioning money.co.uk as a challenger brand and a trusted alternative in the sector.

Founded in 2008 by entrepreneur Chris Morling, the company is independently owned and was ranked the UK’s second-fastest growing business in 2015 by the Sunday Times. The brand’s mission is to provide people with the expert knowledge they need to make smart financial decisions and choose the right deals for them.

Marc Nohr our CEO comments: “We are drawn towards entrepreneurial fast growth businesses. And we have our fair share of credentials in the comparison space – so we feel equipped to provide the brand with a voice and distinctive point of view on the world. money.co.uk are an ambitious organisation with a clear sense of how they want to win.”

With the comparison sites category being a crowded one – dominated by the likes of Compare the Market, Moneysupermarket, Gocompare.com and Confused.com – we’re on a mission to switch things up, watch this space.

No Excuses, Think Like a Small Brand

I spent two days at the Transition Percolate marketing conference in New York City, and one of the most insightful panels was titled, How to Build an Inspired Customer Community. Nikki Rappaport, director of brand and marketing at Cava Grill, has helped grow a local restaurant into a national chain with an engaged social community. Her tactics may be easier to execute within a small organization, but that’s no excuse. Here’s what we learned:

Be nimble. When Nikki started at Cava Grill, the social photography was less than stellar. She went beyond styling better food photos and actually changed the way the restaurants were presenting food. By making a few small tweaks in how the kitchen added garnish and sauces, she was able to inspire the brand’s advocates to post more pictures on social.

Follow-through is key. Cava Grill keeps track of each user asking for new restaurant locations, then follows up with them on social when they launch in the requested city. They’ve done the same with specific product requests—tagging vegetarians in social posts announcing new meat-free menu items.

These are just a few of the simple concepts presented at Transition Percolate that have a huge impact, which big brands should be executing. Changing an organization’s process is not an easy task, but if you’re nimble and you follow through, you can build an inspired customer community.

#Transition2016

Experiential start-up Hyperactive joins the Fold

Experiential agency Hyperactive joins Fold7

Determined to provide our clients with the expertise needed to thrive in the noisy 21st century, we’re thrilled to announce the backing of experiential start-up Hyperactive. Led by the former Managing Partner and Head of Experiential at Havas SE Cake, Andrew Casher, its mission statement is to create “brand experiences that can’t be ignored”.

Hyperactive will see Fold7 Founder/CCO Ryan Newey and CEO Marc Nohr taking director roles. A familiar face at the Fold, Andrew met Ryan in his music days when he was marketing manager at Ministry of Sound, a previous Fold7 client. Eurostar and Tag Heur are amongst the start-up’s launch clients, with Andrew and his team of experiential buffs looking to service stand-alone clients, as well helping to broaden opportunities at Fold7.

“Big ideas are only half the story. It’s what you do with them that counts. At Hyperactive we are all about producing exciting, innovative and uber-creative experiences for our clients, and we structure our ideas to live beyond experiential and into communications channels for increased scale and tangible measurement,” explains Andrew. Hyperactive will become a key pillar in what we believe clients need to succeed in the 21st century,” adds Ryan.

Before giving birth to Hyperactive, Andrew was a board director at Cake where he ran the experiential team for 6 years, leading experiences for brands including EE, Coca-Cola, Carling, British Airways, Xbox and River Island to name drop a few. He’s even made a few cameos on Rihanna’s Instagram having led a series of events to launch her clothing range for River Island.

Hyperactive will be taking residence in our lovely Farringdon office. Drop us a line if you’d love to pop in and say hello over a cuppa – we’ve got loads of biscuits.

Carmen Graf named 2016 Adweek Media All-Star

Every year for the past 30 years, Adweek’s Media All-Star award has honored the most trailblazing media executives in the business. And this year, with little surprise to us, Carmen Graf was named an Adweek Media All-Star. Ask anyone who has worked with Carmen Graf, executive director of GSD&M’s media department, and they’ll tell you why she’s one of the 12 executives in the country to be honored this year.

Adweek saw no oversight into her many achievements such as being named a Media Star of the Future by Newsweek, earning a Silver Effie Award, being named a media finalist at Cannes and being part of the BMW/Graffiti campaign, which Forbes named one of the best social media campaigns of all time.

With her intuitive and creative approach, Carmen exemplifies the quality of charisma required for her capacity of work, and in her 24 years at GSD&M, she has channeled that energy, creativity and forward-thinking to make serious moves for the media department. You’re an all-star, Carmen! Congrats. Learn more about the honor right here.

carmen-adweek-congrat-poster_FINAL_WEB2

Artwork by GSD&M designer, Laura Guardalabene