Computers have been crunching massive amounts of data and answering complex questions for years. They now can also read our emotions.

Affectiva, in Waltham, is one company that provides software that tracks a couple dozen points on a person’s face and uses that data to describe their emotional state. They can detect changes in mood in a few milliseconds.

Affectiva face scan

Affectiva has applied this to several million people worldwide to build an emotional database.

Hundreds of companies now are using Affectiva’s Emotion as a Service online software to run virtual focus groups and test their advertising and marketing.

Note that this is not facial recognition. The identities of the faces in the database are anonymous.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to imagine uses outside of marketing in the future such as systems in cars to detect if a driver is drowsy, or drunk. Or maybe even systems in airports and subways that would detect the emotional states of would-be terrorists.

I was doing video work with IBM one time (many times, actually, but this particular incident only happened once) and my client asked me, “Do you know an agency that can produce an interactive software demo for us?”

Yes, I said, we can. My agency had produced many demos for IBM. But she thought of us as that video company.

Recently I was doing customer interviews for a client and their customer said that while he understood all of the current technologies my client provided, many others thought of them as being kind of old fashioned because they also provided support for a very old technology. (It would kind of be like a company that did print but also – mostly — web development and mobile app development, but people thinking of them as just a print company.)

This is a branding problem. And it’s common. Often companies occupy a particular place in the customer’s mind, or more broadly the market’s collective mind, and aren’t recognized for other things they do as well or better. It’s been remarkable, actually, so see how a few brands like Amazon and Virgin have been able to avoid this while expanding into many fields.

My client needs to update their appearance and messaging. Stop highlighting that old technology on their website and emphasize the new. They may need to do a branding campaign targeted to their industry. It could have a big impact on their business.

What are you known for? Is it what you want to be known for?

It’s December and time for the many year-in-review articles. A recent AdWeek piece featured the 10 most watched ads on YouTube.

These aren’t just :15 or :30 second TV ads posted to YouTube. Some, like the most watched ad from India are longer form pieces created specifically for the Web. (Millennials and Gen Z watch a majority of their video on devices other than TVs.)

Some, like the Melissa McCarthy Kia ad, are funny. Some are serious. The Indian ad is touching. Check it out.


Seven Principles of Digital Marketing

  1. We don’t do digital marketing but rather, as the head of brand at P&G said, market in a digital world. Digital marketing should be fully integrated with traditional marketing.
  2. Marketing should be judged on its contribution to business goals such as leads, opportunities, lower customer acquisition costs, and revenue, and not just marketing campaign metrics like opens, shares, and time on page.
  3. The customer should be at the center of all marketing, rather than the product.
  4. Use digital programs to personalize delivery of the right message to the right audience (person) at the right time.
  5. Use data to optimize programs. As Deming said, “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.”
  6. Bring an attitude of experimentation and constant improvement to the work. Recognize that what works for one industry, or company, or product, or audience, may not work for another.
  7. Be open to change, because what customers want and competitors are doing is likely to change increasingly frequently.

Southwest Airlines recently posted this promoted tweet:

Southwest tweet soliciting good flight experiences

This is a user generated content campaign. They can get countless impressions just by inviting people to share their stories and promising to retweet a few of them. And people did share, including the video in the center that used an app to add a goofy face to the speaker.

Several positive story tweets


Although I’ve seen user generated content campaigns from both B2B and consumer brands, and some considerably more elaborate than this (like entering a video in a contest), this kind of campaign can be risky. If Southwest had a lot of unhappy customers they may have taken the opportunity to tweet their displeasure. But I’m not seeing much of that.

I guess you don’t have to worry about that when you have the highest customer satisfaction rating in the industry.

Tomorrow evening I’m speaking to a class on social media marketing at Northeastern University in Boston. My news for them: sorry, but you’re late. The party’s over.

Brands can still use social media for connecting with influencers, social selling, and certainly for highly targeted paid ads (each platform has a different way to do that). But the idea of using social media for publishing and amplifying content is decreasingly relevant.

The average Facebook or Twitter post is only seen by 2 or 3 percent of a brand’s followers unless it gains considerable engagement. This week Snapchat announced that it’s dividing its Stories tab between friends-only and brands, sort of like Gmail’s Primary and Promotions tabs.

People on social media are simply more interested in posts from people, not from brands.

And then I ran across this on Twitter, that well-known cesspool of bots and harassers (and bots who harass). A verified journalist with 50,000+ followers (97% real, according to Twitter Audit, which is the highest rate that I’ve ever seen) discovers that she can avoid harassment by changing her location to virtual Germany…

Tweets from journalist

Countless people have reported being harassed on Twitter. It’s clearly one of the biggest problems with the platform. Why doesn’t Twitter treat everyone like it treats Germans?

The trade show industry took a major hit with the advent of the Internet, and the 2002 recession was the final straw for some. COMDEX, the huge computer industry show that started in 1979, folded after the 2003 show.

The 2008-9 recession was another hit, but through 2016 the industry has had six years of growth since then.

And while COMDEX is gone, Salesforce’s Dreamforce alone draws over 170,000 people. The annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is attended by over 100,000 people. A dozen other U.S. shows cover more than 1 million square feet of space annually.

Trade shows draw a very industry-specific audience and can help a company…
• Build its brand by its mere presence
• Present (often with customers) to a relevant industry audience
• Give sales people and executives a venue to meet with customers and prospects
• Gain leads

Some tactics:
• Before the show sales people and executives should schedule as many in person meetings with customers and prospects as possible
• Email or mail attendees an offer before the show if you can get the list, otherwise use a list you built last year. Promote the offer prominently on social media and perhaps targeted ads, as well as your booth.
• Be active on the event’s social media conversation using its hashtag; use that to respond to posts from others and inform people of offers and your sessions (there were one million uses of the Consumer Electronics Show #CES2017 and @CES this year)
• Consider state-of-the-art exhibit techniques like AR and VR to wow people at your booth.
• Be sure to follow up promptly after the show to all new leads.

Of course your tactics and approach will vary depending on your goals.
Sales people tend to love trade shows, and companies can over-invest in them. After all, for a small company it can easily cost over $10,000 all-in to exhibit and travel, and during the show your people there are 95% unavailable for anything else. Bigger companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, at a major show.

At my former agency for one show we arranged a discount in exchange for promotion with a bike store to give away a $2,000 bike (or the equivalent, like two $1,000 bikes). When I wheeled the bike into the exhibition hall I heard a person say, “No THAT’S a giveaway.”. The entry form was detailed and we had people lined up to fill it out. We got many good leads from that.

On the other hand I had one client who found that search ads were so much more effective for lead generation that they cut shows they exhibited at from 29 to 4.

Meeting people in person is still tremendously valuable and effective but don’t overdo it. Treat trade shows like any other channel. Integrate them with your other programs and use them to the degree that they’re effective for you.

If you’re leading a company that’s done little into a launching a marketing program, or scaling up an existing one, in my experience you better start showing some results within six months.

I’m not talking about campaign results like opens, likes, shares and retweets, but business results like an increase in leads, opportunities and sales. That’s what the people who control the purse strings are looking for.

And if they don’t have a lot of confidence in marketing to begin with, which is the case in many companies that haven’t been doing much of it,, they aren’t going to spend much money or give much time to see results.

And this is where my Bullseye Marketing Framework comes in handy since it priorities a number of programs that companies can inexpensively get business results from in just a few months.

Once you’ve shown business results and built confidence then you can get buy in for those longer-term, more expensive programs like social media and inbound marketing. Many VPs of marketing have said to me that a major selling job for them is getting the executive team to understand, and buy into, how long those and other campaigns may take to produce results.

That’s why you don’t want to start with those. Get some quick wins under your belt and you can move on to those longer term, always on programs later.