Brand Engagement

The Digital Marketing Trends Shaping New Customer Experiences

By Brand Engagement, Content Marketing, Insights & News, Social Commerce, Uncategorized No Comments

It can be increasingly challenging to keep up with digital marketing trends as they change so quickly.

To help marketers and digital leaders navigate this new landscape, we’ve identified the key trends to help you improve engagement and drive conversions this year.


TikTok Will Continue to Grow & Brands Need to Take it Seriously

The rapid rise of TikTok has seen the app reach 1 billion users and counting. The platform has enormous engagement (U.S. users spend up to 850 hours a month on the platform) and enables brands to create hyper-personalized content that truly connects with customers.

In terms of the platform’s revenue, TikTok was the top-earning non-game app in 2021 with more than $110 million spent by users. This just shows the earning potential of the app for marketers looking to drive sales amongst young consumers. 

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

Influencers have also played a role in TikTok’s rise with many earning huge amounts through sponsorship deals. Battisby believes that brands are now taking notice of influencer marketing on the platform.

In the platform’s early days, it seemed to be a place for kids and teens and the influencer who want to reach them. But, today, we are seeing influencers like Gordon Ramsey and financial influencers like @johnefinance and @breakyourbudget who help GenZers learn about planning for their financial futures.

Social Commerce Will Become Seamless

During the pandemic, social commerce took off and is expected to reach $1.2 trillion globally by 2025 according to an Accenture study – a growth that’s three times faster than traditional ecommerce, aided by hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.

2022 is set to see the experience of social shopping evolve as platforms work behind the scenes to enable customer payments without leaving social media apps, creating a seamless customer experience. Gen Z and Millennials are predicted to be the biggest spenders as they will account for 62 percent of global social ecommerce revenue by 2025.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

The key to driving engagement is for brands to create compelling shop windows on Instagram. It’s no longer enough to rely on one great image, companies need to have multiple images per product and add keyword-rich descriptions. Video is also crucial as the popularity of the format  – as witnessed by TikTok’s growth and Instagram’s recent transition – is exploding across all audiences. 

YouTube Advertising Will Explode

YouTube is going to explode in terms of investment from advertising in 2022. As more people move away from linear TV, fragmentation with subscriptions, and streaming services all means that more advertising spend is going to move to YouTube.

Last year YouTube’s global revenue (through its parent company Alphabet) grew to nearly $29 billion, up almost 46 percent from 2020. This level of revenue puts the social media platform on par with Netflix and is a result of the rise in more traditional TV advertisers on the channel, direct response ads, and brand advertising.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022


Marketers Need to Upskill in Digital

As brands clamor to engage, promote, and convert successfully online, the need for digital talent across industries is intense.

A recent whitepaper, ‘Perpetual Evolution’, from The Economist Group, revealed that securing talent with the right skill set is the number one challenge that the digital marketing industry faces, while the lack of training to upskill marketers ranks seventh.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

This demand is great news for marketers but poses a challenge for many in the industry who lack digital know-how or experience in digital marketing. So what digital marketing skills will be in demand in 2022? Social media skills remain in high demand, along with SEO and SEM.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

The Digital Gig Economy is on the Rise

Over the past decade, many workers are pursuing a more flexible ‘gig’ lifestyle for their professional lives. The emergence and rise of online services and apps such as Airbnb and Deliveroo have offered new ways of working for people rather than a 9 to 5 traditional job.

In fact, according to a recent Mastercard study, half of the U.S. population will do gig work by 2028.

This gig economy opens up the door for marketers with in-demand skills. We are seeing more creative or digital marketing professionals choosing the digital nomad route as this enables them to dictate their own working hours and have flexibility.


The Metaverse Will Become a Marketer’s Playground

While it has existed and evolved for years, the metaverse saw a boost in interest after Facebook changed its parent company’s name to Meta in October 2021.

This move, according to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is because “the metaverse is the next frontier in connecting people, just like social networking was when we got started. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards.”

So what is the metaverse? Basically, it’s virtual worlds in 3D that people can connect through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Imagine having an avatar that looks exactly like yourself with you exact measurements shopping in a virtual store. You would be able to try on clothes and see what they look like on your body from the comfort of your own sofa.

While we are still a few years away from reaching critical mass with the metaverse, brands are beginning to embrace it now to build on their customer experiences.

According to eMarketer research, there will be 65 million people that use VR and 110 million using AR every month in 2023. That’s a lot of potential young customers to have in one space.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

Artificial Intelligence Will Hinder & Help Data Privacy

Privacy issues continue to plague brands as more customers demand transparency and control over their own data and we are seeing increasing concerns as AI continues to evolve the customer experience.

According to a Gartner study, 40% of privacy compliance technology will use AI by 2023 while global spending on privacy is expected to reach $8 billion by 2022.

However, companies can use AI in their data privacy initiatives to classify sensitive data and use it to search data to identify individuals that have asked to be forgotten (a specification covered under privacy regulations like GDPR).

The bottom line is the digital marketing space is changing rapidly and brands need to ensure they are testing new tactics and technologies while building the right presence across these new channels. If you need assistance taking a future-forward look at your brand’s digital presence and engagement, contact us today. Our experts are here to help.

Protecting Your Brand’s Digital Presence In a Crisis

By Brand Engagement, Insights & News No Comments

There are many types of crises that can impact your brand’s online presence or alter the context of your message. This is why it is imperative that you consistently monitor local, national and global news and have a clear “chain of command” in place with defined roles and checklists so you can quickly and seamlessly pivot when necessary.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for some common contingencies.


Cyber-attacks are an increasingly common threat, so it is important to stay vigilant. The US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) monitors for these kinds of attacks 24/7 so it is a good resource to help keep you apprised of any possible situations.

  • We recommend adopting a heightened stance for protecting your organization’s assets to make sure your team is ready to respond if something were to occur.
  • Ensure that multi-factor authentication is being used, when possible, company-wide
    • Ongoing employee training is essential to mitigating security threats to your organization.
    • Encourage your employees to say something when they see something.
      • In 40% of global businesses, employees have hidden an incident when it happens, which can lead to further destruction and down the line.

Paid Search, Shopping and Display

  • In the event of a local, national or global crisis, you should negate targeting for news sites, blogs & non-profit sites to ensure your brand does not show up among tragic or controversial news, politically charged POVs, or causes that may be off Brand.  
  • Further build out negative keyword list to include cyber attack, shooting, names of prominent political figures, etc.
  • Review messaging under the scope of the current situation to ensure there is nothing that could be construed in a negative light.

Social Media

  • During a significant local, national or global crisis, we recommend at minimum pausing any scheduled posts to ensure something does not go live that may be poorly timed.
    • For example, if something happens overnight and a post is scheduled for 6am, your team may not have time to pause ahead of time and, therefore, runs the risk of your brand seeming insensitive. The “something” that happens need not be a major global event. It could be something like a celebrity death. For example, when the news hit recently that the singer known as Meatloaf died, the grill company, Weber did not pause a post about “BBQ Meatloaf” and saw immediate backlash for their insensitive post.
  • Similar to paid search and display, we recommend an evaluation of where ads are appearing to negate any potential areas where misinformation or news could appear.
  • Be cognizant of the ever-changing news cycle and be prepared to shift messaging to avoid seeming tone-deaf and a public backlash.
  • Monitor comments on social ads for customer sentiment surrounding messages to ensure you protect your brand from any misinterpretations.

If you need assistance developing a crisis contingency plan for your brand’s digital presence, please contact us. We are happy to help.

Navigating the Modern Retail Landscape

By Brand Engagement, eCommerce and Marketplaces, Insights & News, Paid Media No Comments

Since the pandemic began, we have seen an accelerated convergence of brand and performance media where now all brand outcomes are measured.

While millions quarantined and conducted business from their homes, we witnessed a massive expansion in the retail world as retail-built networks (e.g. Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kroger) and retailer partner networks (e.g. Criteo, Ad Citrus, Promote Iq, etc.) began to monetize their first party data.

In the past, a shopper marketing strategy focused on traditional tactics such as in-store promos, circulars, and co-op tv spots. However, over the last decade these strategies evolved to include co-op digital media such as search, display videos and social media that – for the most part – was run by the retailer on behalf of the brand.

During the pandemic, this changed as retail leaders such as Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, etc. allowed brands and agencies to combine their first-party data and leverage the retailer first-party rich audiences to buy media within their own media platforms, and in return receive a wealth of measurement metrics such as sales data. This ability to analyze the shopper at a more intimate level allowed both shoppers and brands to develop better marketing mixes that target the retailers’ consumer with more precision and develop more persuasive marketing strategies to target the general category consumer as well.  

This is important as we move to an uncertain world without a cookie identifier, brands are seeking ways to leverage their first-party data. Moving forward, brands are focused on spending retailer dollars with a maximum use of data that allows them to make smarter decisions with their investment choices. This can help mitigate wasteful spend and provide a self-serve space that allows retail media performance to be directly tied to brand outcomes.

Brands know about their category and retailers understand the consumers who are buying in that category. The combination of this intelligence through a omni-retail media mix can result in precision targeting with persuasive messaging in the upper funnel and creates the ability to capture demand from onsite search.

While these brands will always need a traditional national branding strategy, they now can focus less on national branding and more time, budget, and attention on supporting retailers with connections to the outcome. This can be particularly advantageous when retailer contractual commitments continue to grow, reducing brand media dollars.

What has caused brands to gravitate to retail media?

  • The ability to understand media’s correlation to SKU outcome and to access a retailers’ first-party data..
  • Using co-op dollars on self-serve media platforms for measurable outcomes
  • Retailers built their own on-site search platforms. Kroger, Amazon and WMT (O&O only) have also built their own programmatic platforms for offsite media.
  • DSPs like Tradedesk and Data Onboarding tools are fighting to help these retailers and brands partner together to build full self-serve models that allow the combination of first-party retail and brand audiences to be targeted across a funnel approach including ad exchanges and media types (OTT, Display, Remarketing, etc.).         
  • Brands can understand a shopper at an individual level and through retail media strategies, they can better understand what drives a consumer to purchase.

Why do shoppers lean into this?

  • Having a media mix that is both tied to Media Mix Models and digital measurable outcomes enables shoppers to build a better omni-channel mix using data.
  • Almost everything is measurable; they no longer need to rely just on in-store promotions and coupon clipping.
  • By combining a Performance Media and Shopper Strategy, brands are better able to understand the consumer more intimately. This allows them to drive a better omni-channel mix.
  • Omni-channel support that is targetable and trackable not only drives in-store and online sales, but media that is also married with in-store makes the insights more useful than just what we have mined from digital. This can also help inform future creative testing ideas.            
  • Understanding consumer behavior better than they can with their own first-party, brands have the precision of targeting that allows for more effective persuasive messaging.

POV By Gregg Manias, SVP, Performance Media


How Neuromarketing Creates Connections and Conversions

By Brand Engagement, Content Marketing, Insights & News, Paid Media, Uncategorized No Comments

With customer data and AI driving digital engagement, brands need to take a human-first approach to create value through personalization and relevance. Enter neuromarketing.

What Is Neuromarketing?

Acronym’s VP, Integrated Media, Joanna Cohen is a neuroscientist and brand marketer. She explains,

“In its simplest sense, neuromarketing focuses on the psychology and brain physiology behind customer decision-making. Neuromarketing gives brands the ability to create more effective campaigns by understanding the way we perceive and process information. It helps us identify the emotional and perceptual triggers that are key to a customer’s decision-making and purchase process.”

How Does Understanding Neuromarketing Improve Brand Experiences?

The subconscious, specifically, emotion, plays a large role in influencing behavior. It can even change the way a certain brand, product or image is internalized in the brain. Most marketing strategies approach buying behaviors as a rational, conscious decision as illustrated below.

However, the human brain is much more motivated by emotions and the subconscious thought process, which is driven by the customer’s hopes and fears; their emotions and ego; their experiences and expectations; existing attitudes and beliefs (including social and political) and their behaviors. The process is actually more closely related to the below illustration.

Marketers and brands should take common emotional triggers into account when planning their digital campaigns. In fact, according to an IPA dataBank Study, marketing campaigns that focused on emotional drivers (the Feel, Think, Choose approach) were 31% effective as compared to campaigns that used the rational drivers (Think, Feel, Choose), which were only 16% effective.

How Can Brands Create an Emotional Connection with Customers?

So, if customers feel before they think and choose, how can brands tap into those emotions? The answer is visual imagery.

To begin with imagery is essential. Implicit memory, which is primarily visual, affects the way brands are perceived and this is encoded in our memories.

We’ve all heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Consider that two-thirds of the stimuli reaching the brain are visual and about 80% of learning is visually based. In fact, facial signals are encoded in the brain and have a much more immediate effect on customers’ attitudes than words.

Brands can shape customer attitudes by tailoring perceptual cues through the use of color, image selection, wording – including font style and size – facial expressions seen in images, messaging sequence and storytelling. In other words, focusing on how the brain stores information and the psychology and physiology behind customer decision-making, brands can reach individuals across the customer journey with the right messaging.

The more brands understand how their customers make decisions, the better they can leverage insights about the brain and how it stores information to design memorable and effective marketing strategies that target both the conscious and the subconscious mind.

If you’d like to learn more about how neuromarketing can improve your digital marketing approach, contact us today.

POV by Joanna Cohen, VP, Integrated Media.

Pinterest TV

Pinterest Launches Live Shopping with Pinterest TV

By Brand Engagement, Social Commerce, Social Media No Comments

As social commerce continues to grow, Pinterest is entering the game by launching a shoppable live series, Pinterest TV, which debuts November 8th. Each episode will star a content creator from the platform and it will air Monday through Friday at 6PM ET on iOS and Android. Shows will cover fashion, beauty, home, food, and more.

The first few episodes feature c Olympic athlete Tom Daley and popular makeup artist Manny MUA and viewers can purchase exclusive products from different brands, such as Patagonia, Crown Affair, Allbirds, Outdoor Voices, Mented, and Melody Ehsani, using special discounts.

Additional Pinterest-exclusive shows are in-production, including Christian On, where fashion designer Christian Siriano will replicate the most popular fashion-related searches on Pinterest. And, food creator, Monica Suriyage is set to host Unfail My, a show designed to help viewers correct cooking mishaps.

Every episode will be available via the Pinterest app and viewers can ask questions in the chat and interact with hosts.

Pinterest live shopping show
Image Courtesy of Pinterest

To assist content creators, producers from Pinterest will be on hand to provide technical support and collaborations with creators to make engaging content. Creators can show off and tag products during their shows, as well as offer exclusive discounts — viewers can then select, view, and purchase the product from the retailer’s site.

Acronym’s Director, Paid Social Media, Gellena Lukats weighed in on this news:

“With Pinterest expanding their e-commerce features and adding a shoppable live series, we look forward to helping brands use this to showcase products this holiday season and beyond. More and more brands are focusing on video content through engaged ad formats and we’re excited that there are now live streams available to advertisers on Pinterest. We have been conducting live streams on Facebook and LinkedIn, and do see more engaged consumers, so we anticipate similar results on Pinterest.”

Pinterest first entered into creator monetization in July of this year by introducing shoppable pins that let creators tag and sell products to earn a cut of the profit. As social media platforms seek more ways to attract influencers and help them make money, live shopping has become a major trend.

If you’d like assistance leveraging Pinterest TV to drive more customer connections and boost your sales, please contact us. We’d be happy to help!

Acronym’s Mike Grehan Shares His Thoughts On Marketing In A Post-Pandemic World

By Brand Engagement, Insights & News No Comments

More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic where volatility, complexity, and uncertainty reached an all-time high, a brand’s ability to get attention, be remembered, and be an educational resource has become more imperative than ever. That, in conjunction with consumers wanting their buying power to reflect their personal values, has placed extreme pressure on brands to get it right.

Acronym’s CMO & Managing Director, Mike Grehan joined SAP’s former CMO, Alicia Tillman and current Senior Director of Global Branding, Dennis Thomas in Bonnie D. Graham’s podcast, Changing the Game with Digital Engagement to discuss Brand Marketing in a Post-Pandemic World.

Topics include:

  • What role does branding play in the buyer’s journey and has that changed since the pandemic began?
  • What could or should companies do to better reflect the social climate or should they not engage in that conversation?
  • What other impacts will the pandemic have on the future of branding?

Watch this conversation and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Do You Hear What I Hear: The Power of Podcasts in APAC

By Brand Engagement, Insights & News No Comments

Audio programming is making a comeback in the form of its younger, on-demand sibling – Podcasts. 

Podcasting has emerged into a giant industry, exceeding $10B in 2020 and is slated to double within 24 – 36 months. In Asia, the podcast industry is emerging out of its infancy and presents an exciting addition to your digital marketing channel mix.  

According to consumer insight company, GWI, sixty-six percent of those surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region claim to spend an average of one hour a day listening to podcasts.  

  • Ongoing growth of smartphone usage.  
  • Flexibility to listen to episodes while you are on the go. 
  • Multi-tasking potential behind tuning in. 
  • Wealth of content on nearly every imaginable topic or area of interest at your fingertips. 

As podcast audiences grows, we can expect more marketers to start channeling ad dollars into Podcast Advertising (Podvertising).  

Podvertising is a relatively underutilized digital marketing channel. It does not take a huge investment to stand out. In Asia, ad dollars invested into podvertising is currently relatively low, making it an uncluttered medium. In addition, affordable rates make this an inexpensive way of building brand awareness. 

Brands can also hyper-target their campaign to their most captive audiences based on content topics that captivate their key audience segments.  

Podcasts also provide a highly immersive experience, and with attention levels high (no visual distractions), consumers are less inclined to skip ads particularly when the brand airtime is embedded into conversation. Ads in podcasts cannot be blocked by ad blockers, which is a bonus. 

Moreover, listeners tend to be loyal and trust their host and recommendations, like influencer marketing, but much more affordable.  

That said, here is how you can get tuned in:  

  1. Pre-roll, Mid-roll, Out-roll 

Like video advertising podcasts ads are typically played at the start, middle or end of a show. As most listeners would have tuned out by the end of the show, Out-roll ads are generally less popular with advertisers.  Mid-roll ads tend to be most popular because they are a longer segment and listeners tend to be more engaged by this point. Industry standard for podcast advertising is in CPM (Per thousand listens). 

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the medium, metrics beyond listenership cannot be tracked, however many brands have monetized their return on advertising by including a unique and easy to remember discount code or landing page extension. Attribution is then linked to discount codes redeemed or visits to the unique landing page.  

  1. Product placement 

This involves the host talking to their audience about the product or service. They will tend to mention why they recommend it, some examples about how they themselves use it, how they benefit from it, and why the listener would too. In this case, the brand becomes another part of the episode content, as opposed to sounding like a typical ad. 

  1. Sponsored series 

Sponsoring a series takes podcast marketing opportunities to the next level. Sponsors have far more opportunities to reach their audience in more meaningful ways such as a representative that appears on the show, access to the podcast social media channels, audience email lists, website promos and more. 

  1. Branded podcasts 

Producing your own branded podcasts would be taking things to the “Ultimate” level.  This approach requires a dedicated team and would involve a long-term content strategy, like any other social media channel. This approach provides brands with the opportunity to build a relationship with their audience, develop a strong connectivity, create a following and grow your first party database.  

Here are some notable brands who are already harnessing the power of branded podcasting: 

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Like in any other digital advertising medium, success in this medium involves identifying podcasts that have the right audience demographic & interests for your brand as well as the type of ad and messaging that will resonate. Often, this involves research and potentially working with podcast producers to gain a better understanding of their subscribers and how they interact with advertising and sponsored content. 

If you would like to explore podvertising and would like to learn more about how you can integrate this into your digital marketing mix, please contact us. Our subject matter experts will be happy to assist you. 

POV By Farah Sadiq, EVP, GM, International

Instagram To Become More Like TikTok

By Brand Engagement, Social Media No Comments

Instagram started testing a new video feature to compete with TikTok and YouTube, which will take place over the next six months with a focus on creators, video, shopping & messaging.

This new feature will be different from Reels, which launched in August 2020, with the aim to compete with creators and users of TikTok, including algorithm-recommended videos from accounts that people do not currently follow.

This emphasis on video comes as TikTok continues to dominate the social media space. Among the top five non-game apps in May, TikTok was ranked No. 1 by downloads and was the only app not owned by Facebook, to make the list. It is estimated that TikTok was installed 80 million times in May, compared with 53 million for Facebook’s main app.

Facebook’s goal with this testing seems to be to transform Instagram from a photo-sharing app to more of a social video app TikTok. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, announced the plan to show full-screen, recommended videos in user feeds.

“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app,” Mosseri said. “Let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now. TikTok is huge. YouTube is even bigger, and there’s lots of other upstarts as well.”

Why this is important:

Users will start to see Instagram’s changes in their feed including recommended videos and accounts. Since this is a new feature that will be slow to roll out, there will be many updates along the way. As Mosseri acknowledges:

“We’re also going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly — full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video. You’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”

That said, this new feature is perfect for brands that already have a social media presence on Instagram, allowing them to post more TikTok-like videos. If this is an opportunity your brand would like to pursue, contact us about testing.

hand with phone

Acronym Explains How Commerce via Chat Is Growing

By Brand Engagement, Machine Learning No Comments
I spent the weekend making new friends on the web. Chatbots are now my new BFFs. Who (or rather what) are these Chatbots? A chatbot is an artificial intelligence (AI) program that can simulate a conversation (or a chat) with a user in natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile applications or by phone. The global chatbot market is expected to be worth $9.4B by 2024 according to MarketsandMarkets. The increase in adoption rate is largely driven by the business benefits realized through this form of automation. According to a study conducted by CNBC, business cost savings from chatbots are estimated to be worth $8B by 2022. More and more businesses are turning to chatbots to handle customer service. For many users, the chatbot is the first touchpoint with your business – which is more personal than email. It is also available immediately and around the clock. My biggest bane, even pre Covid, was the long wait time on the phone before being able to speak with a customer service officer to address an issue. I have found that on most occasions, a chatbot is able to process my request within minutes and, if there is a question that the chatbot is not able to troubleshoot, there is still the likelihood of being forwarded to a human employee, with transcript of the chat, so we can pick up conversation from where things were left off. Intrigued by how chatbots are increasingly influencing eCommerce, I decided to test out chatbot functionality on some of my favorite Brands. Meet my friend Neha. She is a chatbot for a large high-street cosmetic company. I recently purchased a couple of items online and ended up with one item that was damaged. As there were no return labels, I went online to contact the company and organize a refund and return the item. This brand, like many others, had their live chat functionality on the bottom right-hand corner of their homepage. Neha politely introduced herself and asked how she could assist. I explained the problem and she requested that I take a picture of the item so that she could assist to process the refund.  Then she cleverly suggested the option of a credit toward my next online purchase. I was intrigued so I asked about their existing promotions which prompted a series of questions that helped Neha suggest which of the products on promotion would fit in best with my skin type. Long story short, in less than 10 minutes, Neha had organized my return postage label, courier pick up time and upsold me for 3x more than the cost of the damaged item! Meet my Amazon marketplace ‘Anonymous Personal Shopper’. I have been online grocery shopping for over a decade. Understandably, during the first lockdown in February 2020, most major supermarkets blocked out and reserved their delivery slots for people over 70s deemed vulnerable to the virus. In the UK, Amazon very promptly partnered up with a large local supermarket to start offering a personal shopping experience for Grocery items. As an Amazon Prime subscriber, I was able to secure same day delivery with a selection of delivery slots available some as close as 2 hours from when my order is placed. On a weekly basis I fill up my grocery cart, select my delivery slot and wait for a text message from the system to let me know the status of my shopping cart. My interaction with this bot is two-fold. It lets me know the status of my grocery shopping cart, including when it is on the move and about to be delivered to my doorstep. Its link with mobile maps enables me to track my delivery right to the point where its minutes from my home. Secondly, if an item in my shopping cart is not available, the chatbot provides recommendations for a suitable substitute. I have the option to either accept or reject the substitution and my grocery bill is adjusted accordingly. From a customer service perspective, the rise of chatbots is great as it has allowed us to continue to self-isolate without having to worry about whether we will run out of milk or bread! Unfortunately for my decade old online grocer, Amazon’s new customer experience, has me sold and there is no turning back. Meet my friend Donna. She has solved all my banking issues (new cards, pins, statements, change of address among other items) within minutes! Ordinarily, we would have had to call the bank, schedule an appointment with an Account Manager and then spend anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours completing forms and jumping through hoops to get all items up to date.
More and more banking and financial organizations are leveraging artificial intelligence and investing in chatbot solutions to reduce costs and serve increasingly tech-savvy consumers. The objective is to provide quick service and transactional support. Most basic tasks such as balance inquiry, bank account details, loan queries etc. can now be handled by a chatbot efficiently, allowing customer service representatives valuable time for more complex issues. According to a report released by Juniper, chatbots will be responsible for over $8B in annual cost savings by 2022! In fact, more advanced banking chatbots already exist and based on customer’s data, they can track spending habits, provide credit scores, set and manage budgets and tell the consumer where they are spending their money. With the added advantage of AI-based recommendations, these advanced banking chatbots  could even provide advice for better money management. I am not quite ready to hand over my purse strings just yet, but who knows what the future holds. Meet my friend Patrick. I had read about Lego’s gift chatbot, Ralph, who was launched over Christmas to help indecisive shoppers. I was hoping Ralph would be able to help me pick out a Father’s Day gift. Ralph was not available, but Patrick talked me through my options and helped me weigh out the pros and cons of a Minecraft themed set vs. Mindstorm robotics kit. He shared links to the Lego shopping website and images of themed options complete with discount codes.
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According to HubSpot, 47% of users are open to purchasing items through a bot. That is nearly 1 in every 2 customers who are willing to engage in a purchase process that is completely guided by a chatbot! I did deliberately abandon the cart. Though, Patrick is a persistent chatbot. He has tried to re-engage me through messenger and tempt me with discount codes and free shipping.  No, I have not transacted yet and am waiting for the retargeting media campaign to kick in. Beyond the sales and lead generation aspect, another benefit of Chatbots is cart recovery, particularly for retail and eCommerce companies. Chatbots can remind customers to buy, offer assistance, discounts and even clear up confusion or address concerns. Smart marketers can take this one step further and integrate the intel collected from chatbots and inject it into their remarketing campaigns to re-engage cart-abandoners and try to trigger a transaction. Meet my “Anonymous Friend” who specializes in luxury travel. A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a luxury hotel group’s chatbot as part of their lead generation exercise to re-engage with a past guest. The message was simple: “Hi Farah. We invite you to experience Budapest with our limited-time offer. Please let us know if you have specific travel dates in mind and any questions we may answer. We look forward to welcoming you.” Of course, I was interested. Considering Covid travel restrictions are being eased and summer travel is becoming a real possibility, I inquired about the current offers and travel restrictions. The chatbot’s response included links to relevant packages, travel documentation requirements, a link to a list of accepted countries and contact details for the reservation team. In the last few years, interest in chatbots within the hospitality industry has been growing steadily and is greatly reinforced by COVID-19 circumstances that push towards staff compression, cost efficiency, and the need to deliver instant and up to date information to prospective guests.
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Beyond the above example of how the hospitality industry is using chatbots to influence direct sales and deliver relevant information, chatbots offer support by increasing operational efficiencies, by filtering and answering frequently asked questions and redirecting the more complex questions to the reservations or concierge teams. My weekend with my new friends was truly educational. I learned that chatbots have multiple uses for business from a variety of industries beyond retail and eCommerce. With their quality improving and advances in AI-based technology, they are here to stay and are a welcome change, particularly from a customer service and operational efficiency standpoint. As AI and related technologies develop further, the more advanced chatbots will drive lead generation, influence cart recovery, and engage with prospective customers into conversational commerce that could impact an additional revenue stream. It’s no wonder that by 2024, chatbots are projected to drive eCommerce transactions worth $142bn! If you’d like to discuss how Acronym can help you leverage chatbots for cost-savings or as a revenue driver, contact us. POV by Farah Sadiq, EVP, International
video game controller in hands

G-Commerce is the New Ecommerce: 5 Ways Brands Drive Revenue Through Gaming

By Brand Engagement, G-Commerce, Insights & News No Comments

Gamification is not a new concept in marketing, particularly from the perspective of securing brand loyalty. Back in 1896, marketers sold stamps to retailers who used them to reward loyal customers. Fast forward to the 21st century, brands are still applying fun and engaging methods to stand out positively and reinforce buying behavior, engagement, brand loyalty and fuel online.

My earliest memory of a Brand -developed viral online game application is the Red Bull Roshambull game app, an online version of the old schoolyard game “rock-paper-scissors” which was launched on the Facebook platform back in 2007. It was fun, engaging, and due to its addictiveness, a perfect match for embracing the early days of Facebook’s growing community. It did wonders from a Brand visibility perspective, back then, as it was simply more interesting than just poking a friend!

In today’s world, everything is turning into entertainment and there is increased demand for new customer experiences and engaging content presented in a unique and fun way. Hence, the convergence of gaming and eCommerce (G-commerce) is inevitable.

While the common perception is that the typical gamer is very young and with little decision making and buying power. The truth is the average video gamer is 34 years old parent and homeowner (and women like me represent 33% of this gaming population!)

In 2019, there were already more than 2.7 billion video gamers worldwide. The gaming market has since exponentially grown and is due to continue to grow to $256 billion by 2025.

According to Forbes, 80% of smartphone users play mobile games on their device, and nearly 50% play games every day. Additionally, mobile game apps are used equally by both men and women. While more teens play mobile games than adults, 62% of adults do use these apps.

If you are not tapping into the gamer market, you have got to ask yourself, “Why not?”.

Here is how some brands are successfully using games for marketing and generating a new revenue stream through G-Commerce.

Live Streaming Game Platforms 

In September 2020, British heritage brand, Burberry became the first luxury fashion brand to collaborate with Twitch and livestream the BurberrySpring/Summer 2021 show from London Fashion Week. The hour-long stream garnered approximately 42,000 concurrent views. It has not only unlocked a new space to connect with the Burberry community but also enabled the luxury fashion brand to tap into a potential new customer base.  

As Twitch is owned by Amazon, there is possibility to now extend the Twitch partnership further and create a seamless linked customer experience on a new eCommerce storefront – Amazon Luxury Stores.  


ESports has always been popular and not just in the US. With game genres ranging from fighting games, first-person shooters, strategy, sports, racing and all sorts of multiplayer online battle arenas, it is no wonder that the esports market is valued at over $900M and growing at an exponential rate. It has certainly come a long way since the first ever FIFA game was released in Dec 1993 on consoles like SEGA. (While the game only included a national team, without player names, there were sponsors on the background billboards!)

Companies looking to grow their brands are partnering with specific esports leagues or tournaments to sponsor the events. These partnerships offer an opportunity for high engagement since they often feature live performances and, extensive media coverage – online and offline, which helps brands connect with enthusiastic gaming fans. Beyond event sponsorships, companies have also adopted product placement to boost brand awareness with in-game branding such as billboards, player jerseys, digital signages and customized arenas.

Red Bull tops the list of ESport sponsors, and their investment has a return of a whopping USD 1.8B+ in revenue from ESport sponsorships alone

Brand Tie-ins 

One of my favorite brand tie-ins is EA Games and Italian fashion house Moschino from 2019. They collaborated to create in-game packs that would unlock virtual Moschino clothing and fashion-themed career paths in the Sims Universe. Not only did the luxury brand creatively position their garments as part of the in-game experience, but Moschino also adopted the game theme in-store by launching their ready to wear line under the Moschino x Sims moniker. 

More recently, Balenciaga recently released their 2021 Fall Collection in the form of an immersive online video game titled “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow”.  

 Influencers & streamers

Like Travel, Fashion and Beauty influences, Gaming influencers are extremely impactful. Most of

these streamers have millions of followers, and sponsoring their streams is an effective strategy for brand marketing. Similar to other advertising on broadcast channels, a streamer might include your brand in a sponsored stream title or on a tile on their channel page. Other options include brand placement on the video stream itself or behind the streamer on their webcam.

Brands can monetize on this when streamers share unique promotion codes with their fans to receive discounts or value adds when they transact on Brand eStores.

Adidas collaborated with gaming streamer Ninja (Tyler Blevins), to launch a new sneaker collection. As Ninja is one of the most followed Twitch gamers (14M+ followers!), this collaboration helped Adidas tap into his massive following.

Programmatic advertising in games

In-game advertising has significantly evolved, not just in the sophistication of gamer audience target segments but also with the use of AI technology, tools and technique that are less disruptive to game play while still being engaging.

With programmatic advertising now integrated into mobile devices and console-based games, it has opened up a whole new channel for Brands to engage with their desired audience while using the same sophisticated and customized audience-based targeting.

For those of you who are still deliberating on whether gamification should be part of your overall marketing mix, perhaps start with a small test on your next programmatic media buy and take things from there. Or, you can contact us and we can help develop a strategic approach with you.

POV by Farah Sadiq, Acronym’s EVP, GM International