How do you make decisions? Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

29. February 2012 15:22 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


By the time you read this, an Academy Award for Best Picture will have already been handed out.  Of the nine nominations in that category, one was Moneyball, a baseball movie.  But it wasn’t like other baseball movies.  It didn’t end with a home run in the bottom of the ninth with a full count and two outs.  No, this baseball movie was about something else:  data.  In it, Billy Beane, the GM of the cash-strapped Oakland A’s, ushers in a new era for sport management by using data to build a winning team.  This doesn’t go over too well with some of his long-time scouts, who have always based their evaluations of ballplayers on their experience, gut instincts and intuition.    


            Daniel Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics though his field of work is psychology, has been studying judgment, decision-making and choice for nearly five decades now.  His most recent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, has been on the New York Times best-seller list for over fifteen weeks.  Like Moneyball, Thinking, Fast and Slow doesn’t seem like it’d grab a wide audience – though Moneyball did star Brad Pitt.  But when the material is this good, it’s not surprising the two have found such commercial success.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, called Kahneman’s book “a landmark in social thought, in the same league as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams.”   


            It may sound heavy but Kahneman writes short chapters and in such a conversational and even playful tone that it never feels like it.  And Kahneman is asking rather simple questions:  How good are the decisions we make?  And how do we make them?  These questions can be applied to both our personal and professional life.  According to Kahneman, the mind works in two ways:  “System 1” and “System 2.”  System 1 is fast and automatic, with hardly any effort.  It’s what you’d use while driving a car.  System 2 is slow, deliberate and gives attention to activities that demand it, such as 13 x 27, or filling out a tax form.  You’d think System 2 would be the one in charge, but it’s System 1 that Kahneman says is the hero of the book.  Why?  System 2 doesn’t have much energy.  Instead of rolling up its sleeves to get to work, so to speak, System 2 will take the easy way out.  System 2 is lazy.  System 1, on the other hand, is energetic and finds intuitive answers to difficult questions.  These two systems are constantly interacting with each other and are always on.  System 1 will call on System 2 when it runs into trouble, looking for more data, but both help illustrate how odd, or quirky, the human mind works. 


            Thinking, Fast and Slow is full of experiments Kahneman conducted with his partner of many years, Amos Tversky, who passed away in 1996.  Most showcase a breakdown in rationality.  One of their most famous ideas took place in 1983.  The two scientists created a character named “Linda.”  This is what they wrote about her:  Linda is thirty-one years old, single, outspoken and very bright.  She majored in philosophy.  As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.”  Kahneman and Tversky then asked people to answer this question: 








            What alternative is more probable?


1.       Linda is a bank teller.


2.       Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.   






Kahneman explained that the combination of two things must be less probable than one of those two alone.  Logically, there has to be more bank tellers than feminist bank tellers, and there must be a chance that Linda is one of the non-feminist bank tellers, so No. 1 “bank tellers” is the right answer.  (I picked No. 2 in a heartbeat.)  But I felt better when I learned eighty-five percent of doctoral students in the decision-making program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business also picked the wrong answer.  Our mind, Kahneman writes, is always jumping to conclusions.  “Linda” is just one of many ideas in Thinking, Fast and Slow.  To try and summarize them all in the book would be impossible.  But the main characters are System 1 and System 2.  The author uses them to explain the mistakes the mind makes in the decisions we make, and the reasons for them.   


            At the end of Moneyball, Billy Beane turned down a $12 million dollar offer from the Boston Red Sox to stay with the Oakland A’s.  Was it a good decision?  Did Beane’s System 2 fail him?  The Red Sox have since gone on to win the World Series twice, using the data system first employed by Beane.  Today, classic baseball terms like the ‘intangibles’ are no longer as popular as ‘on-base percentage’ as Daniel Kahneman was one of the first to discover what’s now known as behavioral economics.  The way baseball teams are built has changed forever but will reading Thinking, Fast and Slow help you make better decisions?  My fast answer is yes.   





A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Senior Writer Jim Dudley joined MRM Detroit in December 2009.  A few of his current projects include internal communications such as The CRM Journal, The Platform, GM World Platform News and The DPS Beat, an e-newsletter created for the teams in Buenos Aires and Detroit.  Previously, Jim has worked in the creative departments at J. Walter Thompson, Campbell-Ewald, Ross Roy and LM&T.  Some of the accounts he has worked on include Chevrolet, Ford, Mopar, Volkswagen and Audi, and Borders Books & Music.  A graduate of Marquette University, Jim lives in Birmingham, Michigan with his wife Katy and their three sons.  











How do you form brand relationships through apps?

15. February 2012 13:40 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Nothing really compares to the feeling of getting something for nothing. When offering apps to consumers, brands are finding utility to be key. With a wide range, from games to finance, most can offer something for what feels like nothing. These apps can relate to consumers through hobbies and interests, put brands in places other than their market, enhance the company’s product and allow consumers to participate on their own terms.

If you tie related interests or hobbies to a brand, suddenly you have much more than a winter coat. The North Face Trailhead can bring you to, and help you navigate a new trail you haven’t hiked.

Even customer and product satisfaction can be enhanced. Brands like Behr offer apps that can almost eliminate the unhappy customer, with their Color Smart app, that allows users to virtually test a paint color.

Brands can even follow consumers out of the store. With tracking/training apps like Nike+ GPS brands want to see how far you run and how hard you work even after you make your purchase.

Another reason people want to interact with brands through apps is they can engage on their own terms. People are on-the-go and brands can be there. Chase Mobile is there when you need to deposit your check Friday night so you can pay your rent on time.

Engagement with the brand forms an emotional connection to the consumer and actually makes people feel accomplished. As innovators and craftspeople we’re challenged to create elegant and useful app experiences. Through useful, easy-to-use tools, people can easily form relationships with their favorite brands. Combining utility and convenience is what apps do best and that is absolutely a place for brands to be.

Amanda Ciccarino is Senior Interaction Designer at MRM Princeton. Amanda started out at Pratt Institute where she first learned how to not only design, but think. After graduating in 2007 with her BFA she went on to more traditional forms of design at an in-house print studio. She soon took on small projects of the digital form, carving out a place for herself and quickly became the go-to girl for all things RGB. After, she moved into Manhattan during the iPhone boom and got involved in some serious app making, working for a small boutique churning out big apps for names like Sony BMG, Owens Corning and Stanley Tools. Finding herself well-equipped to take on both digital and mobile platforms she landed at MRM where she has worked up the ranks and currently resides as a Senior Interaction Designer, involved with mobile, web and application design.

Is automated SEO the solution?

9. February 2012 10:35 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (1)

Over the past few years, I’ve heard several pitches from SEO automation companies who swear that their product is the ultimate solution.  And while some are very impressive and provide decent intelligence, there ain’t all that much difference between em’.  I’ve also had the opportunity to use a few of the top SEO automation tools in practice, and while somewhat helpful, I wouldn’t rely on them on their own, to get me through a client engagement. 

Then came an article on titled “As Growth of Search Marketing Slows, Agencies Change Tack”.  One of the most bothersome statements in the article was,“Pure search agencies are up against a wider swath of agencies that can buy technology to set up shop. Even some clients are licensing that technology themselves to handle search in-house.”

Anyone can train a monkey to use the various automated SEO software tools out there, but you can’t train them to think critically.  If all you plan on doing is following recommendations from an automated tool, I’ll take you on any day!  As I’ve said and written many times before (as have many others), SEO is both an art and a science.  You can’t automate that! 

Think about it, ultimately, if everyone uses the same tools and follows the same cookie cutter recommendations from automated reports, who wins?  I’ll tell you who wins, the brands and agencies that use people like me.  I’m not saying that these automated tools can’t be helpful.  With some of the good tools, you can quickly identify issues like:
•    Keywords that have significant upward and downward movement
•    Meta-data that are too long or don’t contain keywords
•    Duplicated meta-data
•    Some high-level technical obstacles possibly preventing search engines from accessing your Website or pages
•    How competitors are doing in comparison to you and very high-level tactics to help gain ground on them

Using SEO automation tools as a reference is ideal and is smart.  What’s not wise is leaning solely on these tools as the answer to being competitive in organic search.  These tools cannot help you:
•    Intimately understand a Website from a search perspective
•    Identify usability issues
•    Identify areas for information architecture improvements
•    Articulate different strategies depending on technology and enterprise constraints
•    Thoroughly use social media to boost organic search visibility, performance and CRM
•    Develop important relationships with bloggers, writers, publishers and key influencers
•    Explain many of the slick SEO strategies your competitors employ
•    When you’re meeting with stakeholders who are asking questions that a standard report can’t answer (which is more often the case than not)

Last year, Google changed their algorithm over 500 times and sometimes twice a day.  As Rand Fishkin stated in one of his great Google Panda posts,“Virtually everything you do on the Internet with your website can impact SEO today. That is especially true following Panda. The things that they are measuring is not, oh, these sites have better links than these sites. Some of these sites, in fact, have much better links than these sites. Some of these sites have what you and I might regard, as SEOs, as better content, more unique, robust, quality content, and yet, people, quality raters in particular, like them less or the things, the signals that predict that quality raters like those sites less are present in those types of sites.”

One last note about Rand and SEOmoz.  Most of the automated SEO tools out there use SEOmoz data to power their results.  I highly highly recommend using SEOmoz as a solution for automation.  It’s affordable, smart, and in the right hands can provide awesome intelligence.

But I digress… Real SEO is not a commodity as some in the digital space have suggested as of late.  Real SEO is not something that can be replicated by automation.  Real SEO is not just thinking about keywords and meta-data.  Much like doctors studying medicine to help patients… Real SEO is what’s practiced by experts who have dedicated their careers to understand code, content, brands, search engine algorithms and user preference.

One of my math professors in college used to say to us,“If you’re going to use a calculator, you better be prepared to explain to me how you would solve for the problem without it.  That’s the only way to truly understand mathematics.  If you’re given a word problem, a calculator isn’t going to help unless you truly understand the question.”

In conclusion… use tools… use as many of them as you can afford.  But it’s not wise to think that these tools can replace someone who truly understands search.  The Force without a Jedi Knight is just a BSO… bright shiny object.

Adam Dince is VP, Director of Search at MRM New York. With creativity and curiosity, Adam zealously focuses on building brands and sites that are user-friendly, socially connected and fully optimized for organic search. Adam brings over 10 years of experience within digital services with specific expertise in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization (SMO), and Search Analytics.  Through his multi-disciplinary focus, Adam has worked in a broad range of industries including: Pharma, Travel, Hospitality, Financial Services, Automotive, and Government. Furthermore, Adam is Advanced SEO Certified by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO).

Do you really know what’s happening on your website?

2. February 2012 12:14 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)


Given all of the articles in the press, all the self help books available, all of the websites, blog posts, tweets and social discussion; it would seem that as a topic, Web Optimization’s time has certainly come. In addition, there are a plethora of web analytics tools available, designed to meet every budget. From free software like the open source offering from Piwik, or Google’s offering of GA (both free and licensed), to commercially available suites of tools like those from Adobe (Omniture), all are designed to help you improve the performance of your website. However, regardless of how these tools are marketed and sold, they are simply tools, not solutions to your problem. Would you ask your plumber to remove your appendix simply because he had a stethoscope and a scalpel? Of course not!

Then why do so many organizations invest in tools to optimize site performance, only to turn them over to a junior member of their staff, with the responsibility for not only implementing them correctly, but using them to interpret what is happening on their websites? While they may have a degree in Computer Science, or perhaps Marketing, they usually have only a few years of business experience, and they rarely have a solid understanding of your business, your objectives and those of the website you are asking them to optimize. Add to this, the fact that they may have only limited experience for; how a website works, how the tool works, and even if you provide training on the tool you’ve acquired, it is limited in scope, and it certainly doesn’t address how your site works. At worst, this is a recipe for disaster, at best you’ll get an implementation that may work, but will probably never help you achieve your objectives.

So how do you set yourself up for success? Follow this process and you’ll not only have a successful implementation of your tool, you’ll actually get real value from it; insights to optimize performance that drives a healthy return on your investment.

      1. Establish your goals up front, and ensure they are aligned with your business objectives, and the objectives for which your site was designed in the first place. Whether your site is intended to build brand equity (awareness, consideration, preference, etc.), drive engagement (providing product information, where to buy, etc.), or actually sell products online, it was designed with a specific objective in mind. Don’t lose sight of this when you define what success looks like for this endeavor.
      2. Capture the right data. While a lot of thought has probably gone into the decision as to which tool to acquire; budget, functionality, training, support, ease of use, add-ons, etc., they all do basically the same thing; tag your site to capture data. Your site is a collection of activities, assets and end actions that a visitor can engage with, and all of these tools help you tag those activities, assets and end actions to capture the event.  Make sure what you tag is important and provides a measure of effectiveness that can be optimized. Remember, just because you can measure it, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Not all activities are created equal, nor do they provide any real value for performance optimization.
      3. Understand the metrics, how they are calculated and what they are telling you. Most out-of-the-box metrics measure the same events that have been measured since the web first came into being. They are things like; visits, bounce, page views, time on site, etc. They are presented as the mean average over a specific period of time, usually per day, month, or quarter.
        1. The trouble with this is that while the mean average is a valid statistic for a normal distribution of data (remember the bell curve?), activity online is anything but normal. It’s skewed (most people do only one, or few things), and has a long tail (very few people do a lot of things). You should also understand that everyone who lands on your site and immediately leaves is included in the denominator for the calculation of the mean average. What a minute? That can’t be right! Think about that for a moment. The average number of visitors per day (month or quarter) includes all those visitors who did nothing on your site
        2. Well, the bounce addresses that doesn’t it? Not exactly, as an aggregate, average measure of bounce is also misleading. Bounce is a function of both the site (landing environment) and source of the traffic driving to the site (search, text links, display ads, etc.), and that source can have very different bounce rates. Consider the traffic from natural search, where a visitor is actively looking for specific information vs. a visitor who sees a web banner, is intrigued by the creative and clicks. This is why the typical bounce rate from natural search is substantially lower than that from display ads. Additionally, it doesn’t explain how bounce is calculated. Typically, it is a one page visit. A visitor comes to your site, lands on a page and leaves. Or do they? What if your site has a lot of flash video? A visitor could come to your site; view a number of videos and then leave, never going to any other page. Is that a bad site visit?
        3. But, page views helps with that, doesn’t it? While understanding what pages your visitors engage with (how much, and how frequently) can be useful information, once again looking at it via the mean average is rarely helpful. Consider this, is a page popular because a few people visit it a lot, or because everyone visits it? The answer is important, especially if the only people who visit it are the ones who actually convert. Is a higher page view count necessarily better? Suppose your information is badly organized and your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, requiring them to go from page to page…? You get the idea.
        4. Ah, but time on site can help address that. Can it? Do you know how time on site is calculated? It’s simply the time that elapses between the serving of one page and the next. What if a visitor comes to your site and has a three page visit? Let’s say they spend a few seconds on the homepage, a minute on the second page, and 5 minutes on the last page. That would be a visit of approximately 6 minutes, right? Wrong! Since they exited from the third page, there was no subsequent page served and therefore no calculation or capture of the time spent on that last page. Now consider that that same visitor makes use of the tab feature on most current browsers, and they have 5 tabs open (sound familiar?). Which site are they actually engaged with? The clock is ticking on them all! Finally, is more time on site better? What if you have an ecommerce site, and they can’t find the product they’re looking for because your internal search is bad, is a long time on site a good thing? What if they exit without buying anything? Hopefully, you now understand that understanding what the metrics are, and how they are calculated is important if you want to use them to optimize performance with the hope of having a positive impact.
      4. Hire an analyst, or take advantage of the consulting services offered by your tool vendor, your agency, or both. The value of a skilled analyst, one who understands; what success looks like, how your website works and the objectives it was designed to support, how the tool you acquired works and what the metrics actually mean, and is familiar with data and statistics, is significant. They will provide you with not only the observations of what is happening, but insights as to why, as well as data-driven optimization recommendations for how to improve (the so what). Implement these recommendations and evaluate their impact. You will see a difference in the effectiveness of your marketing budget.   And if you’re already hired an analyst, in the spirit of test and learn, hire another! You never know what a new set of eyes will bring!

In conclusion, think about how much money your organization is spending designing, building and developing content for your website. Now add the cost of the tool you’ve acquired to measure activity on that site. Now add the marketing dollars being spent to drive qualified traffic to your site, both the cost of creative production and the working media to support it. Don’t you think that it’s worth investing in an analyst who can optimize performance of both of the activity on your website and the traffic driving to it? It’s a small fraction of the investment you’ve already made and you can see that the return you can get from your analyst will pay dividends for years to come.


Dave Hohman, EVP Global Director of Performance, is the performance practice lead for MRM Worldwide, based in New York.  In this role, Dave is responsible for providing segmentation, predictive modeling, data analysis, campaign tracking and database marketing operations support to our clients.

He brings more than twenty years of database marketing, and CRM experience to MRM Worldwide, with specific expertise deploying advanced analytics, and delivering process and systems solutions which optimize the effectiveness and profitability of multi-channel, direct marketing initiatives. Dave’s ability to deliver the best in behavioral analysis, data mining, consumer insights and strategic planning, in the context of a client's business objectives, make him one of the most effective analysts in Worldgroup today.  It’s this rare combination of deep analytics expertise with business savvy that have helped our clients achieve their objectives year after year.  

Prior to joining MRM Worldwide, Dave held senior-level positions at Wunderman, Medco Health Solutions, Prudential Financial and PNC Bank.  His experience spans technology, pharmaceutical, and financial services.  His extensive knowledge of the information technology sector having spent a number of years as Vice President of Global Implementation Services for an international CRM software company, as well as the Global Data Lead on the Microsoft business.

Some additional things you might like to know about Dave, he:

- served eight years on active duty with the US Marine Corps.
- has taken the 110 hour course for Culinary Arts at the French Culinary Institute
- speaks some German, and French
- is married to Jennifer Hohman, Managing Director, Global New Business, UM
- has two sons;
- Tristen, who is enrolled in the PhD Program for Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University – YES ROCKET SCIENCE! 
- Stewart who just earned his undergraduate degree in Commercial Illustration this June from the Savannah College of Art and Design


How do you stand-up to ZMOT?

18. January 2012 13:02 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)


How Do You Stand-Up To ZMOT?

“The shopping experience is in the consumer’s hands and you can’t fight where they’re going.”
– Gihad Jawhar, VP,

Digital technology provides consumers with the power to be smarter and more informed shoppers than ever before. Product and brand information has never been more accessible and accessed then it is right now. This gives consumers an undeniable advantage in the marketplace. No longer do consumers have to trust advertiser claims and/or retail sales pitches; with a few simple keystrokes or screen taps, shoppers can find a wealth of information about the products and services they are interested in. And ultimately, this process of instant online product research has been defined by Google as the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).


Introduction to ZMOT:

In November of 2011, Google published a study and point of view called Winning the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Google’s ZMOT document introduces marketers to a new mental paradigm that shoppers have adopted thanks to the evolution of Web accessible devices, social media, and user-generated content.


How Does ZMOT Change The Game?

The Old Paradigm:


Traditionally, there have been three critical junctures within a customer’s purchase process where brands must be successful: stimulus, shelf, experience

  1. The stimulus: This is the moment when an advertisement connects with a consumer in such a way that pushes him or her to visit a store (online or off).
  2. The First Moment of Truth (Shelf): The consumer, driven by an advertisement, visits a store and the combination of product packaging and salesperson claims, results in a purchase.
  3. The Second Moment of Truth (Experience): Once home with the product, the consumer uses it and forms an opinion of his or her purchase.


The New Paradigm:

The ZMOT introduces a “new” moment of truth to the traditional paradigm of the consumer purchase process. A moment in which the social and collaborative nature of the Web becomes the determining factor in a shopper’s decision making.


According to Google, the ZMOT is now a more important factor to driving a consumer to purchase than both the initial stimulus a shopper receives from an advertisement and the shelf experience a customer has in-store. Ultimately, this means that shoppers care more about what other shoppers are saying than they do about advertiser and retailer claims.


Furthermore, one person’s purchase experience becomes the next person’s ZMOT. The more shoppers write helpful product reviews, provide product ratings, and/or mention your product online, the more information the next shopper has to consider in their own purchase process.


The Numbers Can’t Be Ignored:

According to Google’s ZMOT study, before a purchase decision was made:


  • 50% of consumers used a search engine to find out information
  • 49% of consumers talked with friends/family about the product
  • 38% of consumers comparison shopped online
  • 36% of consumers sought information for a product brand/manufacturer Website
  • 31% of consumers read product reviews or endorsements online
  • 22% of consumers sought information from a retailer/store Website
  • 22% of consumers read comments following an article/opinion piece online
  • 18% of consumers became a friend, follower, “liked” a brand


How Do Brands And Advertisers Win The Zero Moment of Truth?


In order to win at the Zero Moment of Truth, brands and advertisers must synergize online, offline and in-store messaging. Furthermore, brands must center on optimizing the World Wide Web for the information their customers are looking for. Finally, it’s vital to track and trend as much of your analytics data as possible to ensure you understand how shoppers are using your Web properties and digital assets. Consider the following questions below as a guide to measuring your health at the zero moment of truth (ZMOT).



 o    Are your traditional advertisements (e.g., TV, radio, print, etc…) stimulating shoppers to seek your products out in the ZMOT?


 Content Strategy:

 o    Do you understand the language that your shoppers are using to find you online?


o    Does your online content change to reflect changes in consumer language?


o    Are you studying trends in


consumer language and prioritizing content accordingly?


o    Are you hosting product comparison information on your site?


Search Engine Marketing:

o    Are all of your Web properties and digital assets optimized for organic search?


o    When people search for your products and services, are you findable?


o    Are you encouraging click-through from search results?


o    Do your product’s organic search results stand out from your competitors?


o    Are your paid search ads visible when customers are searching for your products?


o    Have you synergized your organic search and paid search strategy?



Comparison Shopping Engines:


o    Is your product information available on comparison search engines?


o    Are you leveraging the technology necessary to ensure that comparison shopping engines consider your products?


o    Are you using Google as a comparison shopping engine?


Social Media:



o    Are you leveraging Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other social networks to be digital advocates for your brand’s products and services?


o    Are you nurturing your social communities?


o    Do your social networks return in organic search results?


o    Are you listening to what consumers are saying about your products?


o    Are you responding to what consumers are saying about your products?


o    Are you proactive or reactive to social conversation?


o    Are social influencers advocating on your behalf?



Web Design and Development:


o    Is your Website mobile friendly?



o    Can customers easily find product information on your Website?


o    Are you monitoring analytics to ensure you understand who your customers are and where they are coming from? And what they want?


o    Are you synergizing your social networks with your brand Websites and digital assets?


o    Do you utilize a CRM tool on your Website?


o    Are your Websites and digital assets scalable?


o    Does your creative encourage engagement?


Aggregators and Affiliates:


o    Are you listing your products on popular aggregator sites?


o    Do you have an affiliate program that encourages Web entrepreneurs to list your products?


Reviews and Ratings:


o    Are you utilizing product reviews and ratings on your Web site?


o    Are you leveraging product reviews and ratings across all of your owned Web properties?


o    Are your product reviews and ratings visible on search engine results?


o    Are you using your CRM tools to foster and en

courage customers to leave product feedback?


o    How do you respond to your customers’ product feedback?


Retailers/Manufacturers Synergy


o    Are you developing synergized Web strategies with your retailers and manufacturers?


o    Are your retailers and manufacturers providing you with product feedback?




o    Are your Web properties and digital assets easily usable on mobile devices?


o    Are you leveraging mobile friendly social communities and networks to market your products?


o    Are your emails mobile friendly?


o    Is your content easily shareable via mobile device?



How Do You Stand-Up To ZMOT?


If you believe that you could be doing more to win at the ZMOT, when shoppers are making their purchase decisions online, MRM can help. We offer a ZMOT Score, which provides:


        • A baseline of your brand/product’s ZMOT health
        • Solutions geared towards improving your ZMOT score and increased ROI from your digital assets


Why not contact us?


Are Real and Virtual Worlds Melting Together?

11. January 2012 13:00 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Arnab Sen is head of strategic planning at MRM, a global, top-five digital and direct agency in India. As a trained anthropologist, Arnab applies social science to develop working models that help decode and interpret cultures of consumption, categories and brands.

Social science studies increasingly suggest that the divide between the virtual and real worlds is narrowing. Our experiences of reality may no longer constitute a duality. Nathan Jurgenson of Society Pages, a multi-blog social science forum hosted by the University of Minnesota, rejects the idea of dualism. “No longer can we think of a ‘real’ world opposed to being ‘online,’” he says.





Be that as it may, a life that crosses virtual and the physical boundaries raises new issues, and requires fresh approaches to understanding technology and culture. Recent 
debates about the ownership of virtual air, for example, demand new perspectives and resolutions.


Actor Network Theory

Technology is the process through which human beings and machines interact and, therefore, create culture. This concept is called the Actor Network Theory (ANT). The social theory studies the relationship between material things and immaterial concepts. This is the space in which product, usability, and ideas like brand experience and freedom of choice are located.

In urban South Korea, retailer Tesco had made a strategic move to widen its footprint by installing Home Plus 
virtual stores in commuter rail stations. Images of physical shelves appear on 2D screens. Consumers shop the screens, using smartphones to scan product QR codes and purchase provisions that Home Plus will ship to their doors.

The Home Plus innovation actually affords the speed and convenience of online shopping with the feel of a brick and mortar store, and in doing so, sits in between physical and virtual spaces.

Seen through the lens of ANT, this innovation networks human and non-human actors (shoppers, displays, train stations, QR codes and delivery process) in a human – and thus, cultural – environment to acquire meaning. Does this make the experience somehow less than real? Probably not, though some of us might still prefer the brick and mortar store alternative.


The Blurring Boundaries

Beginning with the Internet revolution of the ‘90s through the development of Web 2.0, our lives have continually expanded to occupy virtual spaces. In Second Life, we bought virtual houses with real money; when playingFarmVille, we woke up in the middle of the night to save our virtual grapes from rotting. Does today’s dualism make our lives inherently schizoid?

geotagging, for instance. On the one hand it combines a physical element with cyberspace chatter, but does it also blur those boundaries? A sociological study of a very interesting experimental social game localized to the streets of Tokyo, for example, shows how “real-life” politeness affects the response of gamers to the actual proximity of others in their group.

In a world where technology intervenes to enhance, or at least to modify our everyday experiences and the physical environment around us, social science studies of technology will be a powerful and invaluable tool to help designers, technologists, marketers, media, lawyers and consumer rights activists alike.

Where's the value in User Experience (UX) design?

4. January 2012 09:00 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

In the lightening fast world of digital marketing, how much time are you investing in understanding your customers online and testing new ideas with them?

As a fly on the wall in meetings across Asia-Pacific over the years, what always grabs me is when clients and agencies  (they're both culprits) try to extrapolate personal experience to make strategic decisions about their customers on the web, in social networks, search behaviour, and mobile device use.

This is invariably a mistake. 

At best, the team working on a project may intuitively guess at what users want. At worst, the infinite monkey theorem takes hold - in which teams will hit random keys on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time (and budget) and will eventually produce the perfect product. 

Investing time upfront in User Experience Design (UX) and usability testing helps reduce the risks of jumping in to new ideas which may not have merit. Or alternatively, can validate that an aging digital experience, such as a website, is not only stale, but is costing a brand money. 

Before I move on it might help narrow what User Experience Design (UX) is. I'll try and put it simply as explaining it could be an article in itself: A UX professional helps create or enhance services and products based on the consideration of the user’s perspective.

To help give some perspective here are just some of the costs that a poor user experience can bring to a company or brand:

1. Decrease the value of a brand. This includes identity, reputation and trust. If a website or mobile experience doesn't match an offline reputation for quality, then can you expect customers to trust the digital experience?

2. Cost of finding (and not finding) content. If a customer cannot find the content they're after easily, then you may lose out to a competitor who is perhaps only a Google search away. 

3. Increased costs of building a product. Documentation is refined through visual wireframes by UX professionals. Likewise, re-building or refining a product after it has launched is more costly than doing upfront testing with real world customers while in development.

4. Increased cost of training and education. If a product is not intuitive to use, then the cost of training staff to support the product will increase costs. Staff may also be unmotivated to use the product if it is too difficult.

5. Additional costs of maintaining a product. If a product is bloated with unused features, then keeping it up to date will increase costs over time.

While all team members in an agency should be user-centred in their approach to projects, User Experience Design (UX) can bring more thorough and tangible results to digital products through analysis, tools, and validation. 

For example, before a project starts, a UX team can identify personas that represent real world customers and can be validated against. Once this is identified, a team can do an analysis of the current state of play for existing digital products and form the platform for new product development. Ideally, this should happen before a creative team can start wielding their magic, as it will more likely produce results which are targeted towards end-user's goals and aspirations. 

Likewise, during development of a product, user testing can validate your findings with real world users. Tools for testing a product's usability and usefulness are now mature and easily accessible and don't need to burden budgets enormously. While analytics can find out what happened after a product launches, knowing the user and testing upfront can find patterns in user behaviour and importantly find out why things happen at the start of a project - not after it's in the hands of customers.

The value of incorporating User Experience Design (UX) into projects far outweighs the risks of intuitively guessing at what users might like or want. While on the surface it may sound like common sense it's worthwhile to paraphrase Descartes’s words of wisdom - "Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every marketer is convinced that they are well supplied with it".

In future articles, I'll explore in more depth the approaches to User Experience Design and how it can be used to avoid unnecessary wastage in budgets and time, and getting a product closer to something your customers will intuitively use.

An Australian native, Brendon Chase, Digital Director APAC has spent the past 4 years living and immersing himself in Asia. Working for the past 2 years at MRM, he brings with him a wealth of experience with over 12 years of building, producing, and managing large-scale digital products.

Brendon's focus and passion is on the end-user's experience. He works on projects from concept until delivery to produce the best possible outcome for real-world customers. He uses a mix of best practices, experience, and usability measurement tools to achieve these results.

While at MRM, Brendon has worked on numerous projects for our leading clients spanning web, mobile and video channels. Just some of the clients he has consulted include Intel, Avaya, Goodyear, Holiday Inn, General Motors, Harley Davidson, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Nippon Paint, Nestle and Unilever.




Is technology getting in the way of a good idea?

16. December 2011 17:40 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

This quote from English physicist & science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke from 1962 is something we should always keep in our minds. Why? Because sometimes technology tends to get in the way of a good idea, instead of making a great idea possible.
The magic is about what we do NOT  see
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad he also called it a "magic" device. Why? Because it allows users to forget about the technology. They can focus on what is important to them. The iPad showed us that we do not need a PC with a complicated operation system and a keyboard and mouse if we just want to look for information online, read a book or magazine or enjoy some casual games. And we can control the system with a rather organic pointing device: our fingers.
I gave my grandparents an iPad for Christmas. My Grandmother is 83, my grandfather is 85.  I would have never even dared to confront them with the (unnecessary) complexity of a PC. But when it comes to the iPad they are able to use it and they like using it. From browsing through picture albums, reading magazines, playing Sudoku to videoconferencing with me through Skype. The device made their lives more enjoyable.  In technical terms the iPad is a very complex device. But it does not feel like it at all. Making complex things look simple by using technology in an inteligent way, that is magical.
iPad Magazines, seniors using the device, Sudoku on iPad
Don’t add complexity, bring in simplicity
Let's take the example of a user manual. In the good old times this was a printed manual  that came with the product. Then the maker started to ship a CD with a PDF version of the manual instead of the printed booklet. Then they also replaced that CD with the URL of the service website. The latest technical development is putting out a mobile app and mobile site which may include very helpful extras like "how-to-videos" and  FAQs. Plus maybe the online version of the user manual.  But this is far from magical.
What we have seen recently with the iPhone 4S and its new "Siri" service can be a step into a new direction. Advanced voice control combined with an intelligent, talking concierge service give things a new twist: Imagine that you no longer need to read a product manual, browse a website or fire up a mobile app. You can just ask Siri for help using your voice and Siri will talk back to you. And if even Siri fails to give the right answer, the system can connect you directly to a specialist on the service hotline. This is a way to utilize technology for to make life more simple.
Apple Siri technology on the iPhone 4S
Don’t get lost in your love for technology
What has this to do with agency life you may ask? Well quite a lot. At digital agencies, we deal with advanced technologies and services every day. Most of us love technology and we always try to bring cutting edge solutions and great creative ideas to our clients. And our clients love us for that.  But sometimes we can fall into the trap I call "technigitis". This is when we try to utilize the technology for the sake of technologies instead of using it to make a real good idea happen.
One  example could be 2D barcodes: A few years ago mobile barcodes also started to appear on ads outside of Japan. But different from Japan, users had to first go to a mobile website, download a barcode reader application, then open the application, then scan the barcode and then they could access the ads special information online.  For creating a media buzz this might be ok. But is this empowement? Magic? No it is technigitis.
Japanese QR code ads for Disney, other mobile code ads which require the user to download a scan app first
Great ideas use technology to empower consumers
Sometimes the "magic" in a product or service might look like a small thing but it can have an empowering impact. Take Navitime, a Japanese mobile navigation service provider for example. A few years ago the company launched a new pedestrian navigation option for rainy days. Based on the local physical architecture, the system tries to guide the users to their destinations in the most “dry” way possible. I tried it out myself on a very rainy day and it worked pretty well. Another nice example is “Yoox”,  a global online fashion retail shop. Just by adding a "search & match by color" option they were able to drastically increase their sales and their customer satisfaction. For the user it was a great empowerment to be able to look for styles based on matching colors.  A very recent good example is Kazemiru which just  won the global Clio Healthcare Gold Award. This services collects and analyzes flue related tweets of Japanese users across the country and then creates a real-time "flue" map of Japan. A helpful tool not only for people trying to avoid flu hot spots but also a great tool for medical professionals to track the disease spread.
Navitime rain navigator, Kazemiru website screenshots (first version and updated version)
A good idea can change the world
For many of our clients we are the gatekeepers, advisers and evangelists for new technology. At the same time we are also asked to bring in new ideas that will help our clients' future business.  And this is a fantastic opportunity for us. We should utilize technology in the best way possible and create solutions that truly empower people. An idea that empowers can be a game changer for a whole industry. Just look at the iPod,, twitter, foursquare as examples. The same can be said for great communication and campaign ideas. So if  we can utilize technology to make a great idea come true then we can create magic.  Let's all be magicians....

Marco Koeder just joined MRM Japan in September 2011 as the Digital Marketing Group Head.

Marco is originally from Germany and holds a Master degree in Sociology (Marketing & Media).  In Germany he was one of the core members of I-D Media AG, one of Europe's first digital agencies being in charge of marketing for virtual online communities and avatars and then became the marketing head of the interactive TV unit ID-TV.
Later he re-located to Japan to run Cybermedia, a digital strategy agency. He was in charge of developing, implementing and supervising digital strategies for global players in the Japanese market covering web, mobile, social media and IPTV. 

Marco also has several years of research and consumer insight experience as a trend specialist and strategic consultant for global media and telecommunication companies. (Siemens Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Axel Springer AG)
Together with Professor Dr. Philip Sugai and Ludovico Ciferri he published a mobile strategy guide called “The Six Immutable Laws of Mobile Business” based on the experiences and learnings in Japan.(Wiley, 2010)




Marketing measured: fact, fad or fiction?

8. December 2011 10:51 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Fact: marketing budget accountability

Marketers are under increasing pressure to use more channels, more technology and more data in their campaigns in order to not only optimize marketing spend on an ongoing basis, but also to demonstrate the value and ROI of their marketing spend.

To be able to quantify a campaign’s impact one needs to track spend, media, lists, channels, contacts involved, response rates, leads generated and ROI. A typical campaign example, e.g. to promote an event or a new product launch over the course of three months could involve over 60 marketing activities such as:

  • 40 Email-marketing campaigns using inhouse and 3rd party lists
  • 3 Telemarketing campaigns
  • 2 Direct mailings
  • A media campaign comprising  AdWord and banner advertisements
  • A website or launch dedicated mini site  
  • Print advertisements
  • Social media marketing across several subchannels such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in special interest groups
  • Mobile campaign consisting of WAP pages, SMS and QDR response codes encaptured in its non-mobile communications
  • Across all these marketing activities, a marketer would need visibility on KPI’s like: 
    Marketing spent
  • Contact volume reach
  • Cost per contact
  • Response rates in terms of:
    • Enquiries made
    • Brochure downloads
    • Purchases made 
  • ROI

To allow him to fine tune and improve the budgeting pyramid on an ongoing basis; invest 80% in those segments that generate 80% of revenue.

On a micro level within a selected activity per channel understanding of the same KPI’s, but now applied on a list,  contact-cluster or 3rd party media level is needed, to allow a marketer to decide which lists, clusters and 3rd party media  to re-deploy or scale. And which ones to limit to a low cost-per-contact channel approach  only or retire all together. Marketing budget accountability is a fact.

Web 2.0, social media: no longer a fad

With the establishment of blogs, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube and Google+, a wide range of online communication platforms in addition to one’s website are now at a marketers disposal to reach out to possible prospect communities. With the flight that social media have  taken in under 10 years time, including (impending) IPO listings for some of the platform owners, and double digit user base growth world wide, social media and consumer generated content are no longer a fad.

Social Media have, besides the marketing opportunities that those platforms offer, many other communications aspects that an organization can only manage through deployment of specialized tools to assist analyzing conversations, and provide reputation-index track and trace functionality to help corporate communications respond adequately and swiftly.

For marketers, one of the attractiveness of the social media channels is that it provides an opportunity to reach out to markets inexpensively, swiftly, and as such can be considered a cost effective test medium, as well as an economical channel to ‘pull’  prospects or an audience towards ones site or event. On the other hand, deployment of social media marketing, paid search and optimized unpaid search, does place heavy demands on skills and knowledge, not necessarily on hand with every marketing professional.

Aggregated multi-campaign analysis: fiction?

On a campaign by campaign basis, an excel spreadsheet as a budgeting, planning and measurement solution might suffice. However, to track what was done, what works and which media owners, creatives, offers, data providers and marketing channels are driving the greatest impacts across multiple campaigns, marketers need to be able to look back at comprehensive analysis, on multiple dimensions and compiled across a wide range of campaigns, channels and activity groupings in order to improve future campaigns. Attempting to accomplish this through an accumulation of spreadsheets will seem fictitious if not impossible.

Aggregated analysis, across multiple campaigns, markets, marketers, channels, media, databases requires specialized management and measurement tools as well as expertise to configure an environment that produces actionable insights adapted to the various levels in an organization.

With the need for accountability of marketing spent and establishment of Web 2.0, a role has been created for the digital agency; namely to exploit the facts, leverage the fad and bring truth to fiction. This operationalises itself by assisting clients to design strategic campaigns in the most efficient manner, that continue to evolve through leveraging new channels, new media, new tracking technologies whilst integrating with established below-the-line and offline channels and media and maximize the ROI on marketing and efforts spent. In this process, marketing will or has become more of a business science and marketers will be empowered to speak the profit-and-loss language of business stake (and share) holders.


Saskia Dormaar is Strategy and Planning Director at MRM since early 2011. She settled back into Hong Kong after having fulfilled various management and consulting roles within the sphere of CRM and campaign management. For nearly 20 years she has been involved with the implementation and management of B2B and B2C interactive marketing programs, as well as development and deployment of the underlying systems  and processes accelerating revenues and improving marketing ROI efficiencies in regional markets.  Saskia worked for various industries ranging from world’s largest conference organizer, 4A Ad-agency networks to Telecom Provider in Apac, Europe, the Middle-East and the America’s. 




How do we increase confidence in digital as a brand-building medium?

30. November 2011 14:58 by MRM Worldwide in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Digital media has earned a reputation for delivering immediate and significant returns on investment, supported by precise, real-time tracking of consumer interactions with brands. Sectors that rely heavily on digital transactions to drive their business, such as travel, retail and finance, can predict outcomes with reasonable accuracy and therefore, are able to scale initiatives with confidence. While the ability to track the impact of every variable to the nth degree and maximize returns has led to growth in direct-response advertising spends, digital has had limited success in gaining traction as a brand-building medium.

Source: Lehman Brothers, ThinkEquity Partners

In fact, while 63% of total ad spending is aimed at building brands and 37% aimed at eliciting an immediate response, nearly the opposite is true of digital ad spending, with 77% considered direct response spending and only 23% used for branding. Is this simply a reflection of each medium’s ability to contribute to each marketing objective? No. We know that digital media can make significant and efficient contributions to brand-building initiatives. Dozens of published cases have demonstrated digital’s ability to increase awareness, perception, preference and purchase intent, with efficiency.

Unfortunately, many factors work against digital media; notably a lack of understanding about how to measure contributions to brand-building goals. While the ideal solution is to measure a change in cognitive metrics, employing a partner like Millward Brown, many marketers are reluctant to increase their “non-working” investment. Instead, some default to familiar metrics, such as reach, frequency and TRPs as a proxy for success and basis for comparison across channels. For decades, these metrics have informed allocations across television day parts and across various offline channels. However, when asked to provide these metrics for digital initiatives, agencies cringe. Why?

Most digital media plans are designed to target explicit behaviors that are more indicative (than demographics) of a potential need or interest. With better indicators of interest available, demographics lose their usefulness, and worse, they shortchange the plan. For example, if a marketer’s infant formula message is delivered within infant nutrition content, and a planning tool indicates that W25-49 make up 70% of the audience reached, then what percent of the delivered impressions are “targeted”? Is an involved father or a 24-year-old mother less valuable than a W25-49? No, but neither would be represented in the R/F metric.

Even if R/F runs could be adjusted to reflect a behavioral target, efficient delivery alone is not strongly correlated with brand-building. For example, a highly efficient approach, built specifically to maximize R/F, might leverage remnant inventory across thousands of sites; delivering billions of impressions for relatively little cost. However, in order to achieve this extreme efficiency, frequency-building, relevant context, a proactive consumer mindset and other factors that are tightly linked with branding success are traded off.

Again, ideally, if a marketer wants to build the brand via a multi-channel plan, changes in cognitive metrics should be tracked via a campaign impact study (e.g., Millward Brown) and attributed back to all influencing variables and combinations of them, so that future plans can replicate successes, eliminate weaknesses and expand to test new possibilities. However, in the absence of this, I suggest looking at a variety of readily available metrics, across and within all channels, to aid conversation about how each element contributes to each marketing objective and to gauge relative success:

First, provide R/F/TRPs for the desired demographic cut if requested; a familiar and comfortable place from which to start the conversation. Supplement this with projected delivery against a behavioral target. Explain the methodology (e.g., 100% of gross impressions reach people reading about infant formula, so 100% are “targeted” impressions). Augment with other metrics that are important to achieving success, such as frequency distribution and, if a complex message, a projection of time spent. Calculate cost-per-:15 (for ease of comparison with television) by dividing the program cost by the sum of all projected time spent (x 15), including:

  • Time the banner sits on the page (length of page view)
  • Projected in-banner engagement time (form-filling, game-playing, video-watching)
  • Projected visitation/interaction in another destination (official site, Facebook page)
  • Time spent that results from referrals/pass-a-long activities

Remember to give television or other media credit for additional time spent as well. We’ve historically given non-digital media credit for 100% of visits that could not be tracked back to our display ads; assigning more credit than due. Still, digital media has delivered a more efficient cost-per-time spent than offline media. Last, consider the context in which the media is delivered and the mindset in which the audience is reached. In total, you’ll have half a dozen highly influential metrics, which can be scored, blended and weighted to give a more accurate projection of future performance.

  • Demographic R/F/TRPs (if requested)
  • Behaviorally Targeted Impressions  (manually adjusted, with methodology fully disclosed)
  • Frequency Distribution (ideally, frequency caps employed to limit ineffective frequency, and instead redirect impressions to under-served prospects, building frequency)
  • Cost-per-time-spent (e.g., :15)
  • Context (irrelevant vs. relevant)
  • Mindset (passive vs. proactive)

There are caveats to consider, as with all metrics, but this approach represents significant progress from traditional evaluation metrics. When faced with requests for flawed, incomplete and outmoded metrics, such as R/F/TRPs, take the opportunity to shift attention toward a new set of metrics that are not only better indicators of success, but are also applicable across a broad set of media. By using familiar concepts and language, you will be able to alleviate some of the trepidation associated with new media and will hopefully help marketers to begin harnessing the power of digital media to build their brands.


Kate Clough is Regional Media Director serving MRM for over 10 years. After spending nearly 7 years at MRM Minneapolis (USA), co-managing a team that led all digital strategy development and execution for 40+ General Mills brands, MRM indulged her desire to seek new challenges abroad. In February 2008, she moved to Shanghai; tasked with strengthening and expanding MRM’s digital media operations in China. In April 2009, she moved down to Hong Kong to build the APAC regional media center of excellence. During that time, MRM AP’s media staff, services, coverage and client base have significantly grown, and today, their efforts (display, paid search, SEO, et al.) contribute significantly to a diverse portfolio of regional and global clients’ businesses.


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