Marketing Through Smart Speakers? Brands Don’t Need to Be Asked Twice

The New York Times took an inside look at how 360i is helping brands capitalize on change and shape the future of Voice marketing. In an article entitled “Marketing Through Smart Speakers? Brands Don’t Need to Be Asked Twice,” which appeared on the front page of the New York Times’s Business section, advertising reporter Sapna Maheshwari explores how brands are experimenting with Voice as a marketing channel, and spotlights 360i’s collaboration with client HBO.

360i President, New York Abbey Klaassen notes, “We’ve hit the point where the majority of our clients are now asking us for help with a voice strategy. It’s gone from an interesting kind of experiment to something they have recognized that they need to invest in to make sure they are discoverable and relevant in the next five years.”

Earlier this year, HBO and 360i created Westworld: The Maze, an immersive gaming skill for Amazon Alexa enabled devices that lets fans go on their own quest for consciousness. With more than 11,000 lines of script and 2 hours of unique gameplay, Westworld: The Maze is a first-of its kind full-scale voice skill that demonstrates the complexity of what’s possible on the platform. In addition to driving ongoing buzz and engagement for the Westworld franchise, the skill has picked up 15 accolades to date from Clio Awards, London International Awards, and others.

360i has long been a pioneer in the world of Voice technology. In May 2018, we published the 360i Voice Playbook, an actionable guide for marketers that shares our collective learnings from over a year of exploring and executing for Voice. The Voice Playbook covers everything from staffing for a Voice team to skill discoverability and the nuts and bolts of Voice production.

Want to learn more? Read the full New York Times piece here, and download 360i’s Voice Playbook here.

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360i Adds Jacob Davis as VP, Search & Performance Marketing

We’re pleased to welcome digital media veteran Jacob Davis to 360i as Vice President of Search & Performance Marketing. In this newly created role, Jacob will be responsible for leading new business search engagements, bolstering strategic search products and partnerships, and publicly stewarding the agency’s search practice through thought leadership.

Jacob Davis

Jacob brings more than 12 years of client and agency-side experience to the role—years spent building teams, leading optimization efforts, and running clients from initial opportunity engagement to full operational capacity.

“Search continues to be a cornerstone of our media practice, and a vital part of our overall business,” notes 360i CEO Jared Belsky. “360i has built a reputation as a leading innovator in search, so it was important that we find someone with the passion, expertise, and leadership experience necessary to maintain that tradition. Jacob possesses a powerful curiosity, and an openness to novel ideas that makes him a natural innovator. At the same time, his charisma and communications skills will be invaluable as we begin to execute our business development strategy for the year ahead. I couldn’t be more excited to have him aboard.”

Prior to joining the 360i media team, Jacob served as VP, Head of Search at the digital marketing agency iCrossing, where he managed paid and organic search for the company’s entire client portfolio. Before that, he filled leadership positions for a number of agencies and global brands including Havas Media, Neo@Ogilvy, and Hilton Hotels. Jacob’s agency experience has put him to work for some of the biggest names in marketing, including Lego, Microsoft, AAA, IBM, AutoZone, Tyson Foods, Liberty Mutual, Comcast, and TD Bank.

“360i is something of an icon within the field, so it’s truly an honor to be joining the team here,” said Jacob. “So much is changing right now in the world of search and performance marketing—from the rise of voice and semantic search to the rollout of the mobile first index. I can’t think of an agency that’s better positioned to capitalize on that change and lead its clients into the future of search and performance marketing.”

360i has been a longstanding pioneer in search since its founding in 1998, when Google was redefining how consumers searched for information. Twenty years later, the agency has been named a Leader by Forrester Research in “The Forrester Wave: Search Marketing Agencies” five times, with the latest report stating “Marketers will appreciate this agency’s ability to stay on top of trends but also have a level-headed perspective on what is industry hype versus real market changes.”

Jacob’s hiring marks the latest in a string of notable promotions and additions across the 360i leadership roster, which this year has also seen the appointment of Jared Belsky as CEO, the promotion of Abbey Klaassen as NY President, and the addition of Raig Adolfo and Doug Rozen as the agency’s new Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Media Officer, respectively. In early 2018 the agency was named Adweek’s Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year, and recognized in Ad Age’s A-List issue for the eighth consecutive year.

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360i Teams Up with National Geographic and Oath to Premiere First-Ever Programmatic VR Campaign

360i is partnering with National Geographic and Verizon’s Oath on the first-ever programmatic VR campaign to promote the season two premiere of MARS, a hybrid, six-episode series that alternates between scripted drama and documentary sequences to predict what life will be like on the red planet. The prospect of terraforming Mars once was considered science fiction, but soon, it will be a reality. After a highly successful first season — the series became National Geographic’s second highest rated series of 2017 — the campaign will build awareness for the return of MARS, which premieres on November 12.

For the first time ever, VR users will see ad placements for MARS in picture frames, on TVs and even on traditional billboards in gaming and social experiences — all within the immersive VR environment. This new ad experience will help the network deliver dynamic ad creative to attract viewers, seamlessly powered by Oath Ad Platforms and a partnership with SSP Admix and BidSwitch.

“We constantly look for ways to innovate and create seamless and immersive content experiences for our audience,” said Dennis Camlek, executive vice president, strategy and consumer marketing at National Geographic. “By partnering with 360i and Oath on delivering this incredible, first-of-its-kind VR experience, our audience is able to engage with MARS and get excited for the new season, and ultimately, by using this powerful storytelling device, we’re hoping to inspire future scientists, explorers and adventurers.”

VR usage is growing, especially within the gaming audience. There will be an estimated 36.9 million VR users by the end of this year, according to eMarketer, and that number is expected to increase 70 percent by 2020. We know consumers are hungry for engaging, well-executed VR ad experiences that provide utility, enhance reality and create meaningful connections with brands.

Read more about the partnership in MediaPost.

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Real magic happens when a creative brief doesn’t (necessarily) result in an ad

In a new piece for The Drum’s “Opinion” section, 360i Chief Strategy Officer Raig Adolofo argues that the outdated nature of the creative brief holds agency pros back from greatness. He writes, “In this brave new advertising world, brands are built under ever-changing circumstances; every client needs a true business partner, and agencies need to be able to address challenges with creative problem-solving. And to be sure, there is no shortage of complex business problems to be solved.”

Raig notes that modern agencies must be capable of providing different, unique answers to clients’ needs, and that at the root of this lies the fact that creative briefs are in desperate need of a makeover.

How can agencies move towards solving that problem? Raig introduces five key steps:
1. Invite the agencies in earlier.
2. Interrogate the challenge with them.
3. Organize an open brief.
4. Be open minded.
5. Define new metrics for success.

Read more in The Drum to learn how rethinking the creative brief can help create stronger results for both clients and agencies.

Follow Raig Adolfo (@Raig) 360i (@360i) and The Drum (@TheDrum) on Twitter.

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Would you buy a house sight unseen? New Bravo show puts couples to the test.

The real estate market is crazy, but Bravo’s new show Buying it Blind takes it to a new level.
To promote the premiere of the new show, three “hidden” homes are popping up in key, high-traffic areas in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Buying it Blind, which premieres at 8/7c on Friday, November 2nd as part of the network’s new real estate and design dedicated “Bravo Home” content block, will follow house-hunting couples who can’t agree on what kind of home to buy, so they hand the decision (and their life-savings) over to a team of experts to buy and renovate their dream home sight unseen.

To highlight the drama and anticipation of spending all that money on a house that will be a total surprise, Bravo worked with 360i to completely cover a series of existing homes in mysterious packaging posing the question, “Would you buy this house sight unseen?” The hidden houses serve as larger than life billboards that stop people in their tracks and generate buzz for the show. And to further target home buyers currently browsing the market, the wrapped homes are also being featured as “listings” in native advertising on & Will this real estate gamble end in a dream home or a house of horrors? Tune in Friday night to find out.

Want to see a hidden house to see for yourself? Stop by these three locations:

New York City – 80 Washington Place, NY, NY 10011 (October 31-Nov 3)
Los Angeles – 611 Mildred Ave, Venice, CA 90291 (Oct 30-Nov 4)
Chicago – 716 West Schubert Ave (Lincoln Park) Chicago, Il 60614 (Oct 30-Nov 4).

Read more about the activation in the Chicago Tribune and BizBash.

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360i #SideHustle: How “Vivrelle” Took Dani Calogera from Premium Television to Premium Accessories

Welcome to the 360i #SideHustle blog series, where we showcase the awesome side projects, hobbies, start-up businesses, and other ventures created by the entrepreneurial and always-curious employees here at 360i.

By the time 360i Account Director Dani Calogera was 7 years old, she knew how to run a register, manage retail inventory, and create marketing collateral, all thanks to the support of her family of entrepreneurs who value “the creative spirit.” Fast forward two decades: when Dani isn’t overseeing creative campaigns for some of 360i’s top entertainment clients, like HBO and Bravo, she’s helping to launch and run Vivrelle, a first-of-its-kind membership club for luxury handbags, jewelry and diamonds. We sat down with Dani to learn a little bit more about her #SideHustle.

360i: Let’s start at the beginning. What made you want to start a membership club for luxury accessories?

Dani Calogera (DC): One of my very best friends got married last November, and like most brides, a big part of her vision for her special day involved clothing and accessories – her dress, what her bridesmaids would wear, the jewelry she’d choose to complete her outfit. It wasn’t until she started looking for diamond earrings to rent that she noticed there were a bunch of clothing and accessories rental websites, but they didn’t really have the quality or the variety she was interested in.

My friend and I (along with her soon-to-be-husband) put our heads together and came up with the idea to create a one-stop shop for accessing hundreds of high-end accessories a flat monthly membership fee. And Voila! Vivrelle was born.

Dani (middle) and her two cofounders.

360i: What a name! Where did it come from?

DC: “Vivrelle” comes from two French words – “vivre” meaning “to live” and “elle” meaning “she.” Since Paris is the epicenter of fashion, we wanted to infuse that legacy into our brand.

360i: What sets Vivrelle apart from some of the other clothing and accessories rental services out there?

DC: For one, we’re a one-stop destination for not just handbags but other accessories like jewelry and diamonds – you can access everything from Chanel handbags to Cartier watches. We also have a flexible membership program starting at $99 per month, so you can choose which level works for you. Finally, and we love this one, we offer an influencer program where we allow members to access the closets of their favorite influencers, so they can act on the inspiration they get from people they follow on social media.

360i: What makes your #SideHustle possible for you and the co-founders?

DC: Each of our skill sets – finance, PR, marketing & branding – are different, and they each contribute something important to Vivrelle. Having flexibility is also a huge factor for me. Early on, I set the expectation to my business partners that my full-time job would be my priority. They’ve been really great about allowing me to contribute my part on my terms. I don’t necessarily need to be in the office or online from 9-6, so I usually tackle my portion at night or on weekends. It’s proven to work well for us so far.

360i: How has working as an Account Director informed your business?

DC: Having experience with the large brands I work on at 360i like Bravo and HBO has definitely given me the building blocks I need for this, especially in terms of understanding our audience, building our brand, and getting the word out. But Vivrelle allows me to work on new aspects of the business (e-commerce, membership) and dip my toe into some new categories (luxury goods, fashion) that have likewise helped me in my role at 360i. It’s a nice cycle.

360i: How much time do you dedicate to Vivrelle?

DC: Every minute that I’m not at the office!

360i: Why is this important to you?

DC: From a career development standpoint, it’s been amazing to work on a start-up brand where, for once, our audience isn’t established and we have to consider who it is and how we reach them. Building a brand from the ground up, creating recognition and identity, and providing a valuable service while endearing the customer to us will continue to be important for me and my long-term growth.

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Exploring the Worlds of AR & AI at the 2018 Fast Company Innovation Festival

This week at 360i’s New York headquarters, we hosted a session as part of the Fast Company Innovation Festival in partnership with Unity, and our client Fossil. The annual Fast Company Innovation Festival brings together thousands of forward-thinking creators, makers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders from across the country and around the globe who are embracing change, blazing new trails, and moving our world forward.

The panel included 360i’s CMO Doug Rozen, Fossil’s Global Marketing Lead Charlotte Roach, and Unity’s Global Head of VR/AR Brand Solutions Tony Parisi. The group discussed the opportunity that Augmented Reality (AR) offers brand marketers, including creative, interactive ad units.

Charlotte showcased a new example that Unity and 360i created for the 2018 Fall Fossil campaign, which allows users to virtually try-on and purchase different watch styles across social platforms. Fossil believes that experiential marketing is truly bringing an impact back to impressions, and Charlotte noted, “this isn’t a quick stunt, this AR unit is a long term investment.” Following the conversation, Unity invited audience members to experience their latest AR technology first-hand on iPads and Smartphones.

Thank you to our panelists and guests for joining us. You can read more about the panel in Forbes.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter as we live-tweet the latest and greatest from 360i events.

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The Future Of Search Has No Keywords

In a new piece for AdExchanger’s “Data-Driven Thinking” column, 360i’s CEO, Jared Belsky writes, “The time for the next great evolution of search is upon us, and there is too much revenue and opportunity left on the floor.”

While search has long been about keywords (think: Lycos, AltaVista and, Jared argues that this model is less than ideal. He identifies three “tsunami-like forces” are that will turn search on its head:

    1. Human Capability – We have reached a point where people alone are no longer fast or efficient enough to help brands master the search auction.
    2. Voice Technology – The sheer volume of devices containing microphones and internet capability make voice search an ever-present option.
    3. Everything Becoming Universal – For the past decade, search, display and video assets have been managed individually by channel specialists, but we are quickly heading into a world where these components are automated by artificial intelligence and distributed to their intended audiences based on key performance indicators.

Read on in AdExchanger to learn more about how search is changing and how Marketers can keep up with — and stay ahead of — these trends.

Follow Jared Belsky (@jabelsky), 360i (@360i) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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With the launch of Portal, Facebook taps into the power of Voice

Facebook is kicking-off Q4 with what could be the most-wanted product of the 2018 holiday season. Today, Facebook announced Portal and Portal+, two Alexa-enabled, video chatting devices that are designed to help people feel closer to friends and family. Over the past few years, Facebook has made advancements and investments to fulfill its mission of ‘giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.’ This mission paired with the smart speakers booming market (16.8M smart speakers, +187% YoY, were shipped last quarter) make Facebook’s interest in video chatting hardware a natural fit.

Portal and Portal+ are currently available for pre-order at and there are rumors of a major marketing campaign in the works. Facebook will face some stiff competition including the 6.73M Google Home speakers and ‘tens of millions’ Alexa devices sold during the 2017 holiday season. However, Portal and Portal+ will include an unprecedented AI-enabled Smart Camera, it will be an authentic extension of users’ social networks on Facebook and Messenger, and will offer more interactive experiences via premium content (Music + Facebook Watch content) and augmented reality effects.

What This Means For Marketers:

With 19.7% of US adults owning smart speakers, they are moving from “new technology” to an accepted and expected part of our digital marketing ecosystem. Portal, in particular, is challenging social marketers to adjust their strategies in new ways:

  • An Alexa-first consumer journey: Since Portal will be Alexa-enabled, it is important that brands have a strong Voice strategy to conquest any potential opportunities to educate consumers. For example, last holiday season consumers looking for cooking-related advice via Alexa increased by 9X YoY. If you’re a food brand, you’ll want to make sure your brand has the opportunity to populate as a key ingredient in what users are searching for. (Note, all video and Voice calls will be encrypted using Portal, meaning there are no current or foreseeable retargeting opportunities based on what people are talking about on Portal.
  • Defining the role of Voice and video: Over the past few years, Facebook has preached the importance of video in bringing the world closer together and their introduction of Portal is no different. While Voice technology is a key feature of Portal, it is currently only being used to convenience users. Video however is being used to create more meaningful and impactful experiences between consumers. Using Portal’s video capabilities, brands may have the opportunity to be a part of entertaining consumers and fostering greater interaction between family and friends. While this clear definition between Voice and video will live authentically within Portal, it is also something to consider as other platforms build out their audio/Voice capabilities.
  • Optimizing for a connected ecosystem: Both Google and Amazon have evolved their smart speakers into smart ecosystems and it is likely that Facebook will do the same. With consumer interaction at the desktop, mobile and now Portal-level, it is likely that consumers will come to expect more seamless experiences on the platform. For example, if a user is watching a video on Facebook, they may come to expect to share that video via a chat experience on Portal. For marketers, we are challenged with creating experiences that can be enjoyed by a single individual as well as many.
  • Forecasting Portal’s Future:

    Portal’s success remains to be seen, but its collaboration with Alexa and first-to-market augmented reality and artificial intelligence capabilities are promising. Below are a few ways we predict Portal will evolve.

  • More integration with Messenger and Facebook: As of now, Portal is Facebook Inc.’s way of making your Messenger and Facebook connections more real and ‘felt’ by users. However, if users adopt Portal more widely, it is possible that there may be further integration between Facebook’s personalization and Alexa technology. We foresee that Facebook will want to create personalized recommendations based on how they’ve wanted to use AI assistants in the past. What remains to be seen is how this mission for personalization can be married with Amazon Alexa.
  • Branded Portal Experiences: Portal is launching features that are authentically set up for brand integration (i.e. premium video content, Facebook’s Spark AR platform, Story Time, etc.). Depending on usage, it is possible that these capabilities will expand to include ads (potentially as a part of the video content distributed via Portal) as well as interactive gaming capabilities similar to what rolled out on Messenger in August. As of now, future Portal users will be able to engage in branded augmented reality filters made using Facebook’s Spark AR platform as well as branded Facebook Watch channels.
  • Heightened sensitivity around privacy: With Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and last month’s security breach, the use of Portal will likely be under a lot of scrutiny (from the industry and users) when it comes to privacy. As Portal rolls out to users, it is likely that their promise to privacy will be paramount as they have already shared their precautions in having a single-tap disable feature, a built-in camera cover, and a four- to 12 digit passcode.
  • As marketers, there is no doubt that the smart hardware landscape is becoming difficult to navigate. That is why we’ve put together the below cheat sheet comparing Facebook, Amazon and Google for reference. You can also reference 360i’s Voice Playbook to learn more about optimizing your brand’s Voice strategy.

    Marie Goldstein – Senior Social Marketing Strategist
    Amy Donnelly – Social Marketing Supervisor
    Geoffrey Cook – Associate Creative Technologist
    Alexis Moses – Innovation Technologist

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    Bid Caching: Breaking Down the Facts

    Is bid caching beneficial or deceiving as a programmatic auction technique? Over the last few weeks, the digital advertising industry – from ad trades to exchanges and supply-side platforms (SSPs) – has been deliberating this previously unknown practice. The catalyst? An article published by AdExchanger calling out the SSP Index Exchange (IX) for bid caching.

    What is Bid Caching?
    Bid caching is the practice of utilizing a lost bid from one programmatic auction to fill a subsequent auction for the same user. This process transfers bids from one auction to another with the goal of boosting publisher yield. For example, an advertiser’s bid for a homepage ad impression might be used to fill an impression on an article page later in that user’s session.

    How is it Done?
    Best practice dictates that SSPs share the entire bid request URL, which discloses the type of content the ad serves alongside it. IX was not sharing the entire URL, just the top-level domain name. Bid caching was not enabled for video, though – it was limited to display. IX defended the practice by claiming it reduced latency, particularly in ad environments that are highly sensitive to this, such as slideshows, mobile articles spread across multiple pages, and responsive web design.

    IX confirmed that they had been practicing bid caching for over a year. Research by Jounce Media indicates this may have accounted for up to 50% of the impressions filled for some publishers. And while IX initially defended the practice, on August 17, 2018, they discontinued bid caching due to industry backlash and expressed regret about their lack of transparency.

    How Common is Bid Caching?
    In early August of 2018, Jounce Media conducted a series of bidding tests through a major demand-side platform (DSP) with the goal of identifying incidents of bid caching. Their test campaign delivered over 1.7 million impressions across nine ad exchanges, illustrating that only IX was utilizing bid caching.

    What are the Implications?
    Supply-side platforms have been under increasing pressure to decrease latency and increase publisher yield. With ad tech advancements such as header bidding, it’s harder than ever for exchanges to have access to exclusive publisher inventory. Bid caching gave IX a competitive advantage by allowing them to conduct auctions with DSPs faster and return bids to the header bidding auction with increased speed. Unsanctioned processes like these are common in the industry, though, and it is no surprise that the competition would be quick to point out IX’s use of bid caching to distract from their own nontransparent practices.

    360i’s Take
    While IX should have been transparent about their use of bid caching, most of the press coverage has taken an alarmist view. Initial findings suggest that this did not significantly affect CPMs or mislead buyers, since they were only bidding on top level domains in the first place. Concerns that buyers lost control over brand safety, frequency caps, or targeting appear to be false because the same targeting from the initial bid was applied to the cached bid on the same publisher for the same user session.

    In the age of transparency, these types of practices must be communicated to both buyers and sellers, and IX has taken full responsibility for their lack of transparency. In our review of the data, we determined that the impact on impressions of IX’s bid caching is minimal to insignificant and does not warrant panic. We don’t recommend that marketers pull their spend from IX.

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