How Online Brands Rule The Market

Emma Scott is the Women’s Wear Marketing Manager for ASOS in the United Kingdom.  Her job is understanding what customers are doing and thinking.  That is, matching customers desires with ASOS products, as well as providing info and content which engages and inspires.

ASOS2
Emma also has to be on top of the latest innovations in technology, keeping a close eye on what competitors are doing.  Day to day Emma and her team help plan and deliver promos and decide on marketing stories for the next few months.  “We liaise with Buyers and Merchandisers then brainstorm ways to engage the customer with in house Editors and Creatives or maybe contact an external agency”- says Emma.  Then the team has to decide what needs to go on the site and loop in UX (User Experience) brief assets required – for site, email, social and anything off the site, making sure links are tracked and reporting on campaigns when they are complete.

“I got into marketing and then moved sideways into fashion retail from publishing.  I started to get involved in ecommerce when I was at Dorothy Perkins as I worked in Customer Relation Management and wanted to develop a magazine that you could shop… and then moved to Tesco to work on their online business and this is my first pure-play retailer.”

The new channels and technologies have meant a great opportunity for business like ASOS, but life is not all peaches and cream.  Keeping up to speed with the changes, trying to second guess where their customers will be and the sheer volume of places makes it a challenge.  According to Emma social platforms are just the tip of the iceberg: “There used to be stores and mail order catalogues, maybe with a call centre.  Now there are stores, web, m-commerce, tablets, apps etc.  Then there’s interactive video and with apps like Aurasma or QR codes or NFT, every surface can become interactive and shoppable.  It’s about keeping all the plates spinning right now!”
Which is the profile for this job, then?  “Passionate, driven, creative, inquisitive, innovator.  An ideas person and a ‘doer’”

What is the next step for an innovative brand like ASOS?  “We want to make the shopping experience richer, more social and fun.  And we want to be the first place 20-somethings go to for fashion”.  What will we see on mobile in 2013?  “Mobile marketing is something everybody talks about but nobody is actually doing anything about it.  I remember once, we were working on a brief where it specified “mobile”, but nobody realised it till a few days before finishing the project”.

At this point, I want to know what somebody who works for an online store thinks about brands which don’t do social media at all, like COS or Primark.  According to Emma, there’s still room for a physical store.  Topshop is just one brand who are still opening stores – with a huge new space in LA.  However it’s likely the store experience will change and become more ‘experiential’ or service driven.  “Stores like Primark are doing well without an online presence but my feeling is brands like this will sell online eventually, if not with a stand-alone site and then via a third party” she says.

Spain is the European country with more mobile devices, even more than the UK, but the penetration of e-commerce is only 27%, compared with 71% in the UK.  How can you increase online sales in this society?  Is it an organic process or a deliberate action of the big online companies like ASOS?  Emma thinks certain things need to be in place.  Fast Internet connection – whether web or mobile – and good devices at affordable prices.  “Plus, there needs to be a bit of a cultural shift”,  she ads, “Fashion Up is going to be launched in Spanish sometime this month. We are sure it will have a good reception but some countries are more about outdoors and meeting friends than shopping alone at home!”

So what does ASOS think about the actual debate of companies sharing their Big Data?  “It’s going to need a big investment to upgrade process and systems”.

Written By Future Media Student: Julia Ivorra

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Gaming, Gamers and Marketing?

by John Seedhouse

What does a “gamer” look like? That used to be a fairly easy one to answer, and yes, the stereotypes you just pictured were probably accurate –  but now? Who can say?

Are we talking casual gamer? Our work-skiving Farm Town playing office drone – is that it? Maybe the scary as hell online gambler couple from the TV ads? It could be the app downloading Word Scramble evening Corrie ignoring post retired and touch pad cash rich ex-teacher and her sister.

Scary Gamer

Here lies the opportunity and also the horror. We love our mobile devices, our phones, our pads, our handheld electronic books. We are anybody who can afford it. Sit down and try to create a series of personas for the app gamer and fall quickly down that rabbit warren.

For “gamer” substitute “developer.” For every hit or miss branded product you can download to your device there are a dozen others put together by indie programmers simply wanting to prove a point on their own voyage of discovery.

 

PESTER from Flump Studios is a game in point, a dead simple looking and yet tricky little shoot em ‘up that instantly reminded me of standing in the arcade with a cheeky B&H, skiving A-level French. It’s not cutting edge and doesn’t claim to be and yet everyone I saw playing it at its public debut, Game City Nights MAC event, had ear to ear smiles. It was sold to the crowd in one of the most honest and enthusiastic pitches I have seen for a while.

Paul presenting his game, Pester. Buy it ! :)

“I built this because I wanted to play this game. I’m never going to make money out of it and it’s probably not even going to cover the £40 cost of getting here but I want you to like it.”

Paul Marrable of Flump with Pester

-Designer and impending father to be Paul Marrable.

 

Iain Simons of Game City and chief stage orchestrator of the Game City Nights events feels that it’s a tough work-place to be in but there are opportunities:

“It’s a big market-place and it is constantly growing.”

“There is no real tried and tested strategy for marketing the Indie game product. It is not often that the big companies pick up on the fantastic wealth of new talent out there. It is not unheard of but it’s rare.”

 

Ian and James indicating the future of gaming?

 

“We run the National Games Archive and we know that there are some amazing games out there and yet they never get beyond a 50 likes Facebook page or a walk-through video on YouTube. We run these nights round the country to give new developers a chance to pitch their games and concepts. For us it is really exciting to see the enthusiasm and love that goes into the products that are coming out of bedroom studios.”

 

No development budget, no marketing budget and possibly nothing more than a desire to make something pretty much seems like a recipe for a credit card bill and heartache and yet it is clear from the crowd on this damp Tuesday night that there is a passion to be more than consumers of mainstream product.

 

Gamer Camp, the Birmingham City University Master’s program, is a course designed to create industry ready employees for the major players in the Gaming Industry. It had 3 offerings on show. The students on this course are preparing to enter a notoriously difficult job market. They are also prepared to invest a substantial financial gamble on their ability to demonstrate skills.

“We set them a technical challenge to design a 2D platform game which made use of the swipe control of the iPad”

 

Oliver Williams of Gamer Camp

 

Oliver Williams, Gamer Camp Operations Director and fan of FIFA.

“We showed them Manic Miner and then let them work from there. All 3 products were approved for the app store on first submission and the teams have produced three great playable fun games.”

“We don’t focus on the marketability element of the process at this stage of the course and it’s something we should consider integrating as these guys should be proud of the product and pitching at events like this are a key part of the professional development process.”

This is all well and good but how far can you take a career in this industry with a Field of Dreams approach? Tubby Toucan, Totem Dash and Baggage Reclaim for Gamer Camp are free for the iPad – how do you make them stand out?

“The previous Gamer Camp course got 20,000 downloads for their game.”

Brad Hinkle from Team Stache – the guys behind 70s inspired Baggage Reclaim. 

“We would ideally look to match and improve on that figure. We have a really cool game that hits that nostalgia cartoon market.”

“We didn’t really do any audience research other than decide as a group what we thought was fun and if we like it…”

So with no budget and no audience in mind – where next? Ben Dobschin from the team behind Tubby Toucan:

 

Ben Dobschin and Tubby Toucan

“If we had time we would look beyond the game. We have a character that would be ideal for a plushy doll. This game is a technical assignment but we understand the market. We have ideas for a second game and BCU don’t maintain the IP of the product”

If any of the Gamer Camp products illustrates the difficulties presented by the current approach of “Indie” game design it is Totem Dash. It is artistically lush and highly addictive and yet monochrome. Everyone who plays it seems to love it – and I have lost my iPad most evenings to it and yet would a non-colour game ever make it past product research in the mainstream? It is a shining example of creative versus strategic implementation. It works but shouldn’t and anyway, who the hell is the target audience?

Totem Dash with his creator

BCU has over 20,000 students. Is that a captive audience? BCU sponsored the Rethinking Regional Media event in 2012. Very little was made of the Games Industry contribution to the media and yet on a national level Second Screen seems to be the holy grail of broadcasters and advertising monetization.

Totem Dash under appraisal
This is a now situation. According to Apple there were 20 billion downloads from the app store in 2012. 300,000 apps were for the iPad. How times were these apps downloaded and more so how long did they last? I have screens full of downloaded and unopened apps filling space on my phone. I am not unique.

“Games die. They generate unbelievable excitement and then they fade out. What is the value of your game?”

“When 2 second hand games are on the shelf and one has the instructions and one doesn’t, one sells for 25p the other for 19p – it would seem that the write of the manual is worth more than the game designer…”

-Iain Simons

Somewhere there is an answer of how to make the jump from games for games sake and games for the ubiquitous commuter/work shy/average latte drinker. How do you make that jump? How can you prove a guaranteed ROI? I can’t tell you because I have to go and save the rainforest by swiping a little Toucan around a 7inch screen…

If you are interested in digital marketing you can find out more about our Future Media course here.

John Seedhouse

The Disruptive Future of Marketing

At the Drum event ‘4 Minute Warning’, held on 5th December 2012, speakers from the digital industry came together to discuss what the future holds for marketing and media agencies and challenged them to think the unthinkable.

Talks at this event looked at the digital revolution including augmented reality, 3D printing and the future of mobile.

Our very own Mark Brill discussed what he terms the ‘Disruptive Future’, this is broken down into four sections.  Firstly he looked at how we create the skills for the jobs of the future that have not been invented yet?  This state of Disruptive Employment is a growing challenge for the businesses of today as they need to try and anticipate the changes in the industry and prepare their staff for the future.  Similarly universities must do the same to prepare their students for the jobs that they will eventually go in to.

Shopping also falls under this disruptive heading as brands use showrooming and behavioral targeting through image recognition to re-define the retail experience.  Some brands are also using technology like augmented reality to alter the traditional shopping experience.

Health apps are on the increase and people are increasingly turning to their mobile phones to check their symptoms, rather than visiting the doctor.  The future holds even more potential for this sector as devices that work with your smart phone are being developed to not only diagnose but also to help treat illnesses.

The final disruptive category is interactions.  New screen technologies are rapidly evolving and multi-screen consumption is becoming more and more the norm.  Soon the smart phone as we know it will cease to exist.  How will these technologies impact on consumers and brand engagement?

What Is Future Media?

When I tell people that the NTI run a course called Future Media the first thing they say is “What’s that?” In a nutshell I tell them that it is:

“The use of new technologies in digital media marketing strategies.”

For further clarification I explain:
•Digital media can be online, mobile – via a smartphone or tablet or even interactive TV and strategies can span over all these mediums making them multi-screen.
•Digital communications includes interacting with your customers on social media platforms by sharing information, blogging, running competitions and engaging in conversation.
•Digital marketing is inbound and can be measured with analytics. Campaigns can take place on social media, by e-mail or using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click) to drive traffic to a website. Websites should be mobile responsive for a user friendly experience.
•Mobile marketing can use technology to develop apps to scan QR (Quick Response) codes, bring AR (Augmented Reality) to life or even to geo track your users via the GPS in their mobiles as they check in on their favourite social networks.

Quite simple really!