Why websites need to be more like people

I actually wanted to call it *machines should be more like people, but that wouldn’t link bait as much [#shameless]

Read the damn article. Don’t just skim it.

The Insight:- We rattle our remote controls, beg our phones to not die out, apologize to our laptops when we drop em, and feel genuine disgust looking at old Web 1.0 interfaces. Why is that?

Because, as human beings we seek human interaction. Its our survival instinct. We see Jesus on toast, see faces on moon rocks, and  figures on a Rosharch ink blot. Its called Pareidolia, and it happens because its easier to interact with a human v/s an inanimate object (like a rock or a website)

We’d much rather outsource our own internal processing to a human being by simply telling our problems to him and expecting intelligent solutions in return. That’s also why we hate pressing buttons on an IVR, and we want to jump straight to talking to someone on the other line.

 So, whats the significance of all this? How does it affect websites?

Here’s the ugly truth. A website, at its very core, is simply a channel that provides all the information that a consumer needs – designed in a manner that is simple and aesthetically pleasing. Mummas and Papas feel extremely happy when their children are looking their best with a bright smile and clean shoes.

When websites are only designed for this purpose (transaction and not interaction) – there’s a sense of cognitive dissonance in the minds of the visitor. Her query can not be solved effectively and she moves on. Sure the information is all out there, but it might not be the information that she’s looking for, or  maybe there’s too much of it at one go.

“What we really need to focus on, is building sites that estimate all the queries that a user could have (while browsing through) – and portray them in an aesthetically pleasing manner.” [ Select this statement with your cursor and it’ll automatically tweet it out for you. How cool!]

Square space understands that on other sites, visitors need to enter their credit-card info (yuck), and has explicitly stated that there’s no need to.


Because of this untapped service in the market, there came many-a-UX patriots that claimed many things. One of them was “user journey mapping”, and the other – “copy optimization”.

All of this was integrated quite effectively with the help of the Ol Sacred Sorting Hat or more commonly referred to as “The A/B Test” “Gryiffindor !” *cough cough.  I meant – “Treatment”




photo credit: viviandnguyen_ via photopin cc + a few modifications

There’s a lot of noise out there, and it seems that everyone’s into copy and conversion optimization. What really lies underneath, is the core essence of the website. By applying the Khera Model of web communication, we have the following features-

1. The personality of the website

2. The tone of the persona

3. The type and level of interaction

4. The persona’s background and his beliefs

I just slipped you a fast one. What does all this mean?

A website is simply a salesman/lead designer/product manager/CEO/secretary represented in their virtual essence. An Odesk is more like a concierge, vs an Alibaba’s more like a middle-man bargainer. A Microsoft.com is more sales-man & customer support rep, and a Salesforce.com is the product manager that provides all the relevant information to its customers.

People coming to these sites have different objectives and different questions to ask from it – before they decide to part with their money.

1. The personality of the website

Amazon.com What kind of a personality does Amazon have?

amazon logo

1. The Logo – It starts with the cheeky smile. A cheeky smile that starts from A and ends at Z. Notice closely how the bottom of the Z curves inwards – similar to the lips that push into the cheeks while smiling. In most micro-expressions discussions, its considered to be a sign of contempt, however its usually a sign of playfulness. [Asymmetrical Smiles] #Smiling like the amazon logo.


cheeky amazon smile cheeky amazon smiledownload

It all starts from here. The cheeky smile puts people at ease, when they’re nervous about getting a good deal, finding a decent fathers day present, or buying appliances for a new apartment. The cheeky smile that reassures us that Amazon’s got us covered. I’m curious about the effects of mirror neurons on seeing a smile on a logo.

*Side note – Magazine Ella Bache was forced to remove a cover photo of their modes staring blankly directly at you, all the while totally nude. They were told to put a picture of the models smiling.

2. The UI – Amazon’s design has a really smart balance of information showcased in a some-what minimalist way. The left-hand navigation has a large list of item categories – but its not really all that intimidating. Sort of like a Lionel Messi. Amazon’s got the goods but won’t brag about it. Its like a work of art – It really is. Check out Khan Academy’s Ben Kamens demonstration of Amazon’s navigation.

amazon navigation menu

The navigation is actually a customized jquery that triangulates the position of the mouse and displays the drop-down accordingly. Neat stuff. [Moving on]

What else is working for them?

Amazon UI analysis of website

– The giant ass search bar – All e-commerce sites should have a giant ass search bar!

– The top right hand corner stamp of security – “100% purchase protection”

– The overwhelming amount of stuff on the homepage – Amazon knows a thing or two about user behavior.

We’re scanners. We scan stores both on-line and off-line, to find something that suites our mood.

There’s two types of users (broadly speaking) that come to Amazon

1. Visitor that knows what she wants

2. Visitor that doesn’t

By having a lot of tabs on the homepage along with prices and products, it captures the attention of both the casual browser and the specific hunter. Why? Because, a hunter will add his favourite MP3 player and add a set of headphones that she “happened” to notice on the way, and a casual browser sees a set of headphones on sale and picks em up immediately. Amazon probably spends a lotta cash on user journey mapping and behaviour analysis. $$

3. UX – I’m not about to map the journey here. I’m just gonna mention a few points here.

a. User doesn’t have to look too far to get the information that she needs. Everything is just a click, slide, mouse-over, drop-down, away. b. Recommendations. Amazon is the guide to the marketplace of the world, and below every product description they have a recommended products section.

Smashing Magazine’s got an awesome article about UX btw.You can check it out here – Smashin’ article ’bout UX

Areas of improvement

Amazon is in the top position right now, and is in no way in any danger of being dethroned. However, as the competition heats up, they’re gonna wanna invest in improving their persona a bit.

i. Changing terminology – The terms, phrases, copy, text, need to be more personalized to the category, demographic, and geographic. E.e. Having “This item successfully added” for an electronics product page, and having “Item successfully added. The kids are gonna love it.” for a teddy bear product page. Its the little things that count, and leave the user extremely happy with their experience.

ii. Cleaning up the interface – Amazon’s constant struggle to please everyone has left their pages filled with information. Filled to the brim in most cases. There’s a lot of content on each of the pages, and the experience feels clustered. Visitors may move on to specialized stores – like Zapoos for shoes, Istore for phones, Nike.com for shoes, etc. etc. A clear persona, is a clear brand, is a clear message. You know what else? Here’s Etsy’s unsubscribe page –


 2. The tone of the persona

Speak the consumer’s language, or speak a language that consumers want to be a part of. Its all about being a part of a tribe, and understanding what terminology the tribe uses, and how the sentences flow.

Your consumers will be the best source of insights regarding tone. If you still want examples then you can check out Copyhackers here, although I think its incredibly dumb to pick a voice from a list. Although Joanna, breaks it down quite nicely here –

Quick Insight – Build a website for a single tone of voice, when you can’t target consumers one-to-one. If you’ve got the chops, then just like Google, you need to customize the information presented based on Geo, Demo, Phsyco, and Intent-o.

Distilled’s got an annoyingly long blog post about tone and voice here. Worth a once over.

No Examples for this one! Because, its too easy to just find one yourself or develop one for your clients. You know what though, it might difficult to convince the bosses if your own tone is a bit simplistic and non-scientific.

Don’t worry, I got you covered. Here’s a great resource that creates a communication framework from USABilla that can put any upper management exec to sleep instantly. Its gotta lotta funky words and frameworks that sound really fancy and convincing.

3. The type and level of interaction

Zappos is known worldwide for their customer interaction stories. Here’s a few more.

They’re crazy into their consumers. Its a lot more relationship oriented. Now think about the interaction at a Walmart, or a McDonalds, where the interaction is strictly transaction based. Apart from the loyalty card or two, there isn’t much of interaction between them and the customers, which makes it extremely difficult to recommend the product to their friends.

In other words, TALK TO YOUR VISITORS! Nuff Said. [Moving on]

WebEngage is an awesome freemium tool that allows you to directly connect with the customers on your site. Appsumo has some excellent free tools as well. The absolute least that you can do is this


 4. The persona’s background and his beliefs

This one’s my favourite, because this really defines your brand, your marketing efforts, and your communications in general. The background and belief.

Bank of America


Ain’t nothing more ‘Merican than Bank of ‘Merica. Their background and beliefs are pretty clear. We’re conservative but we care about our customers. We believe in technology as our tool to a safer, secure, and prosperous nation. And we hate hippies. Talk to a group of younger Americans, and they won’t forget what happened with BoA and the bailout.

There’s still some bad blood there. Add to that the fact that BoA has been voted last in terms of consumer satisfaction.  But you know me, I hate reports that claim this or that, because they can be easily fudged or even badly misinterpreted. Eitherway, its clear that a company’s background and beliefs can be appealing to some [old conservative duds] and not to others [young mixed race] folks.

Establishing the background and beliefs of a company on its website is critical to communicating your message.

Congratulations cool person! You’ve done it. Much effort. Many pains. Multiple rewards await you in your future.

Alright, in conclusion. I hope you f*ckers create a kick ass site that communicates to consumers, rather than building a one-way beep boop beep machine that dumps information into your Pre-frontal cortex.

Focus on the UI (the make-up) and make it as creative as possible. Cuz pretty faces draw attention for a slightly longer time and non-pretty ones.




photo credit: ‘PixelPlacebo’ via photopin cc

negotiation strategy

The Language of Persuasion – Stuart Schmidt

I found this old gem over at Academia.edu, from an author named Stuart Schmidt. This paper’s pretty cool. The most intersting thing I picked up from this is the fact that people use a HARD tactic when resistance is anticipated. Bosses anticipate anarchy, and order their subordinates to comply. Consumers may sometimes feel like that when dealing with sales reps. I dunno. Seemed kinda interesting.

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What the heck is Anchoring, and why is it so important?

Simply put, anchoring is how people live their lives… Woaah! *We gotta bad ass over here*

Anchoring is all about comparing a certain prospect to another. The base-line product, base line sale, menu option, service, vacation, relationship, , etc. etc. etc. – we all live by comparing our current life system to potential options that we see.

Bar Rafaeli will never date you, cuz Leonardo DiCaprio is a thing. She’s gonna anchor her decisions based on who she’s with right now.

[Slow clap for the ones that couldn’t make it to the rich guy boat party]

So, you know how it’s so hard for businesses to tap into clients in the B2B space? That’s cuz clients are anchoring their existing providers with you. If you can anchor yourselves with the existing provider and compete on only one or two key differentiators – then it makes the decision easier for the client.

Examples of Anchoring?

1. A $55 Filet Mignon coupled with a $60 Lobster will make the decision easier if anchored against a $25 Roast. Its a no-brainer – I’m not spending twice as much on something that fancy – although, if I order the Roast, and I like it – I’m gonna think about how incrementally more delicious the $60 Lobster is gonna be.

2. Expensive audio equipment.


beats by dre pricing
Beats by Dre Pricing comparison – Click to enlarge


So a consumer walking into the digital store will have a set budget in mind, and looking at the expensive price point of $449.95 – the decision is clear. He’s gonna go for the cheaper headphones. Anchoring works in this way. You gotta check out their product pages – their UI is quite above average – check it out

3. Digital newspaper subscriptions – I love this experiment by the economist  Dan-the man-Ariely’s. *Props*. I pulled these images from Peep’s blog at ConversionXL (another interesting resource)

Here’s the setup – a group of MIT students (the top 1% of the worlds smartest) were asked to choose a subscription model for the Economist magazine. They were free to walk away from the deal as well. [Not sure about how the questions were phrased]

One of the groups saw the following options  –

1. Web Edition- $59.00

2. Print Edition – $125.00

3. Print and Web – $125.00


84% went for the last option, and 16% for the first.

Option 2 was a decoy. An anchor stimulant – if you will. Consumers base their anchor point at the web edition, and imagine their lives with Options 2 and Options 3. Option 2 seems like a waste of money, and option 3 appears to be a gosh-darn bargain. I’ll pick option 3.

Now here’s where the experiment gets realllly interesting –

When they removed the second option for group II, only 32% went for the last option. A huge drop! When group II anchored themselves at $59, they were too focused on the incremental cost of a print edition – and then they considered themselves environmentalists *guppies* and went for the web edition instead. Too much of a processing load to handle.

A huge drop in revenue.

Here’s another gem from Peep at Conversion XL

“When people were offered to choose a trip to Paris (option A) vs a trip to Rome (option B), they had a hard time choosing. Both places were great, it was hard to compare them.

Now they were offered 3 choices instead of 2: trip to Paris with free breakfast (option A), trip to Paris without breakfast (option A-), trip to Rome with free breakfast (option B). Now overwhelming majority chose option A, trip to Paris with free breakfast. The rationale is that it is easier to compare the two options for Paris than it is to compare Paris and Rome.”

I think this sums it up.

Types of anchors


Pricing anchors –

i. First digit anchor

The magic of “9”…*spoooooky*

Why is everything on this god-damn planet priced at $49 or $499.95, or Rs. 19,900, or something of the sort?

That’s cuz we anchor the price of the product to the first digit we see.

In the case of $49 – We instantly associate the price of the product as being $40 + $9, instead of being $50. This is huge. Because now you’re looking at these numbers separately and they’ve become an acceptable amount for placing an order.  $40 bucks works for me, and what-the-heck – $9 isn’t that expensive either.

This also works incredibly well for the $1 a day campaigns. A few insurance companies and cell phone providers say that their service only costs $1 a day instead of saying $30 a month. Why? Because you can ANCHOR $1 and compare it with your daily bus fare, coffee, bag of chips, energy bar, etc etc etc. Instead of comparing $30 to a pair of shoes, or a bag, or something of higher value. Consumers will automatically anchor onto the $1 and won’t budge.


We can’t help it – that’s just how people are. If we like something we see, we wanna convince ourselves to buy it. And if there’s an external influencer like a pricing anchor – then damnit we’re sold!

*To Note* This doesn’t kick in during discounts. Selling a $50 product and discounting it by $5 is too much of a load on the consumer’s mind. Now she’s gotta factor in the after-sales tax, and she thinks “When you add it all up, it comes up to the same price”


ii. Comparison anchor –

Having a dummy price-point  built in to your pricing, works great.

price intelligently mac book

When I look at the MacBook Air’s 64 GB hard drive – I’m like NO WAY is anyone gonna pay that much for that little. And now – I’m sucked in. The ad has got my attention, and got me thinking about the other three brands. The Macbook’s also intentionally placed on the extreme left – like its almost automatically distanced from the true mid-range selections. (:0 Genius)

Credit goes to Price Intelligently for spotting that.

iii. After Sales – Upselling ancillary items after someone has made a huge purchase has a lot to do with anchoring as well. The cost of the accessory is now compared to the price of the overall product. The product now being the anchor.

E.g. A car with a music system. A flat screen with a set of speakers. A PS3 console compared to a game that costs almost 25% of the price of the PS3. Compared to the investment that the consumer has just made, the price of a smaller commitment/product/upgrade on a flight/extra leg-room/ super-sizing / etc. etc. etc. seems inconsequential. “Go ahead n do it, but make it fast.”

Service Anchor –

a. Customer Experience -When a customer walks into a store, and they’re treated with respect & made to feel affluent, it creates an anchor. An anchor where the consumer starts believing the script, and ends up spending more during the stroll-around or atleast leaves the store with a smile. Bob would recall his experience and tell Cindy,” I didn’t buy anything from that store, but man were the staff helpful. Great bunch of people. They’ve even got a decent winter-coat.”

[Slight Caveat] Sometimes the staff is just a bit rude to their customers – especially in high end outlets. Bunch o’ bitch*s. I haven’t imagined an interaction where that would pay off – unless you want to influence an existing customer who’s browsing. The fact that the sales person didn’t bother me, made me feel like I belonged to that store, that brand, that ideology, that socio-economic class.

I remember listening to an episode of Freakonomics or maybe it was NPR, where a guest talked about a guy (a stranger) in the subway telling others (strangers) whether they’re ok to enter the subway or not. The man would simply say, “You can enter. You can’t. You sir, can enter.” Kinda made him feel like he was in a nightclub. He later gushed and said,”It felt nice.”

b. Ownership anchor –  A Starbucks coffee will have your name written right on it. Starbucks is the largest chain of coffee shops in the world. Correlation? Maybe.  Just the fact that someone publicly acknowledged your presence and wrote your name on your order – does have a significant impact. I think it was either Dan Pink or Ariely that mentioned this in a TED talk a few years ago, but the principle still holds true. When you have ownership of a certain product or a service – you value it much more. Starbucks made you the owner of that cup-o(insert_fake_italian)-cinno, when they wrote your name on it and called it out to ask you to claim your property. The anchor now being the fact that you now have ownership of the brand’s product, which inclines you to value it more, enjoy it more, and return for more of the same in the future.

Matter-o-fact, here’s an oldie from Dan Ariely –

Credit – Youarenotsosmart/anchoring

Drazen Prelec and Dan Ariely conducted an experiment at MIT in 2006 where they had students bid on items in a bizarre auction. Ariely explains in his book, Predictably Irrational, that the researchers would hold up a bottle of wine, or a textbook, or a cordless trackball and then describe in detail how awesome it was. Then, each student had to write down the last two digits of their social security number as if it was the price of the item. If the last two digits were 11, then the bottle of wine was priced at $11.

If the two numbers were 88, the cordless trackball was $88. After they wrote down the pretend price, they bid. Sure enough, the anchoring effect scrambled their ability to judge the value of the items. People with high social security numbers paid up to 346 percent more than those with low numbers. People with numbers from 80 to 99 paid on average $26 for the trackball, while those with 00 to 19 paid around $9.”

c. Brand Anchor – Brands perceived to be a certain way, will find it incredible difficult to convince consumers otherwise. Walmart will have a hard time selling $1000 Louis Vuitton hand-bags, customers will never forgive Enron, and Barack will always be seen as a caring father to Malia & Sasha, regardless of how many drones or the extent of the NSA program. Celebrities make constant appearances in advertisements, or the paparazzi – they want to anchor themselves in your minds as having a certain trait or certain personalities. Miley has anchored herself as a crazy wild performer, and hence can’t be pictured in a Disney production – unlike singer and actress Selena Gomez.

Communication that anchor is crucial.



Take Virgin. They’re into everything. Even space exploration.

What do you think Virgin has anchored itself onto? Being the best in the music business?  The greatest network provider?

No, its the experience. Virgin anchors itself on experience.

I love love love flying virgin. I’ll pay a little extra and change flights to fly virgin -because the experience is far superior to any other airline and its not that expensive. This superior experience can be literally translated to any and all businesses, and consumers know that deep down. Want proof? Branson’s signed up 700 folks to fly in space, asking them to pay $200K upfront per seat. Why? Because he’s gonna take good care of em, and because they know they’ll enjoy the experience.

Well then, what should a brand do?

Experiment – and track the experiment closely. It’s a lil bit of work but it’ll pay off, and you’ll make millions – I promise.

I) Choosing an anchor – Pick a dummy comparison price point, pick the $9 pricing trick, select the $1 a day effect – choose whatever you want, but keep in mind about the communication strategy around it. If your competition is spewing the same numbers as you are – then its no fun to be in that game. Pick any anchor based on your current objectives, market trends, competition review, and brand profile.

II) Setting up the anchor – Next, you want your major communications channels to reflect the anchor effectively. Ads, radio jingles, 20 second spots, social media, etc. etc. – make sure you rock each one.

III) Executing the anchor – You want to make sure that the anchor is presented effectively at the point of sale. Website, shelf space, Amazon, sales staff, in-store, on mobile,  in-air, in person, whatever and wherever. You need to have it reflected across platforms to maintain a consistent consumer journey. Plus it’ll be a huge headache to track multiple anchors across the country if you get feedback data with inconsistent metrics.

This is the end of the article. You did it! You’ve absorbed most of this information subconsciously, so ease up and chill if you didn’t quite remember everything that was covered. Take care!


The Psychology of Snapchat



MAU – 70 million

Frequency – 400 million snaps a day

Gender – 70% female

Geographic – Mostly US

Revenue – $0

Business Model – None

*Disclaimer* I love Snapchat, despite having only 5 or 10 friends using it. I get to stalk em whenever they update their profiles, and they get to share their most [intimate – icwhatudidthere] thoughts and e-motions. Kinda like Facebook – but cooler – as people would think.


Motivation for new users

Observational Findings – As someone in his mid-twenties, not Snapchat’s core demo,  I started using it cuz I’m a marketer. A damn good one, to say the least. And as all good marketers, I instantly rubbished it. I.e. until I heard about the $3B valuation. That’s when I started using it religiously, and chatted back n forth with a French buddy of mine who’s also a marketer. I instantly found more and more of my other mid-twenty friends joining- in and using Snapchat to tell stories of their most perfect-est starbux-acinnos, and OMGing over IMGs of their P.ETs.

The initial curiosity or draw was that it was a novelty that everyone was talking about. They wondered what they would do with $3B dollars and post their trip to fantasy-land, they thought about installing the app once – just to see what it was all about.

For tween-agers, its a whole ‘nother story. Their eco-system has snapchat ingrained in it. Their friends from high-school are bulk sending secrets to one another, and their parents are using it to ask em what they’d like for dinner. It’s new, it’s fresh, – then there’s always the element of the surprise dick pic. The issue that got a lot of bad press (good press?) last year.

Instant draw – Curiosity fuelled by mass – media, with a hint of F.O.M.O. and connection.

Research – I love the fact that mass-marketing influences downloads, purchases, and buy-ins to a large extent. The juicier the story, the more WoM, the greater the impact on your conversions. Case in point, two major media stories –

1. Snap chat Dic* Picks – This was brilliant. Tweens everywhere – attracted by the mere premise of their friends sharing inappropriate images with one another.  “If there’s an outlet to defy authority, kids will gravitate towards it.” I theorize, that Omegle and Chatroullete as well – had a similar underlying usage behaviour behind it.

2. Manic valuation – Not a lot of buzz was going around companies that were valued at that price point, and the buzz spread worldwide. Media outlets across the globe were sharing the news about the application that made no money and only targeted kids. Buzz translated into downloads.


Motivation for initial usage

Research – There are a few components to this madness, and they are as follows –

1. Scarcity – You could listen to Cialdini, Ariely, or even Chris Nodder (his lynda .com course here) and they’d tell you the importance of scarcity in driving behaviour. The scarcity factor associated with the the short life-span of these snap images sparks a host of neural pathways in the brain. You tend to value these images a lot more on Snapchat (10seconds) than Facebook (forever). These images are now as valuable as a gourmet meal, made more valuable by applying filters, tags, and cute n cudely doodles.

I love this snippet about Cialidini’s remarks on Scarcity –

“Basically what the researchers said was, ‘If you insulate your home fully, you’ll save 50 cents every day.’ That was for half of the homeowners.” Cialdini says. “With the other half, homeowners were told, ‘If you fail to insulate your home fully, you’ll lose 50 cents every day. In the end, 150 percent more people insulated under loss language than gain language. It was the same 50 cents, but people are more mobilized into action by the idea of losing something.”

Resources –

1. http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2011/05/how-the-power-of-free-and-scarcity-influence-decision-making.php

2.http://knowwpcarey.com/article.cfm?aid=684  (they should have changed their permalinks)

3. This is kinda cool. A list of persuasion techniques/principles – http://changingminds.org/principles/principles.htm

It kinda makes me think about Gold, and how much we value this scarce commodity. Meanwhile, we can’t cook it or drink it or even make a house out of it. It’s *intrinsic value* is supposed to make it valuable. Sounds like another DeBeer’s diamond wedding rings marketing ploy to me. [Moving on]

2. Connectivity/Intimate Bonding – I get a glimpse into the lives of my friends in a more appealing format than text. An IMG with you playing with your kitty cat, is a better response to “What’s Up” than “Not Much”. Of course, the rules of the game don’t change here. The more your friend offers to you in terms of entertainment, humour, excitement, beauty, etc. – the more you would reciprocate and the longer you spend time on social media apps.

You can quote me on this.. “Users don’t spend time on Facebook because Facebook is boring, its because their friends are boring. ” Facebook knows this and is desperately trying to get more info about you, to deliver content that is relevant to you, makes you smile, or is important to your demographic in general.

3. Defying Social Norms – I can appreciate your activity for a longer duration of time than is socially permissible in a face-to-face interaction. Our brains can process images within microseconds of seeing it, but the joy in taking your time to truly get a dopamine dump for 10 seconds is exciting enough for anyone to get addicted to.

4. Interaction Design – Snapchat has some of the best interaction design elements involved in it. Swipe right to chat, slide to switch cameras, push down to refresh, and press-n-hold to view. These elements have made it simpler to use the app v/s having buttons or complex menus to browse through. Its quick and its young.

Resources –

i. Some awesome interaction design designs – https://www.behance.net/search?field=51

ii. Basic 101 on interaction design – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlzuJqZ797U


What does all this mean for brands?

1. Sharing pictures of your stuff, instead of text – Fans will inevitably be sharing images of a multitude of products, events, memories, and experiences.

2. Invite Snap Celebs – Get em to your new store opening, give em free tickets, free promos, you know the drill. These guys are the new broadcasters of 2014. You gotta tap em, when they’re young.

3. Youth – You’re gonna gettem young. You don’t want a Vice to take over the publishing game and dethrone incumbents by tapping the youth

4. Low Risk – If you fail, you fail. No expectations, no impact on KRA – you’re free to experiment around without too much of a disaster in your hands


 Examples of Brands using Snapchat –

i. Brands doing an OK job at snapchat – http://mashable.com/2013/12/05/snapchat-brands/#gallery/brands-rocking-snapchat/52a0500b97b2f829ce0009d1

ii. More brands doing an OK job – http://socialmediatoday.com/elizabethkent/2251046/using-snapchat-guide-brands

iii. Slightly better than OK – http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/36542.asp#singleview

iv. This guys is a beast on snapchat – http://digiday.com/brands/art-good-snapchat/

Brands on Snapchat –

  • TacoBell
  • Love16Handles
  • karmaloop.com
  • Grubhub
  • Wetseal
  • Acura_Insider
  • Businessweek
  • SenatorRandPaul
  • Sports Teams:
    • Saints (New Orleans Saints)
    • Eagles (Philadelphia Eagles)
    • New York Jets
    • Washington Wizards
    • Dallas Mavericks
    • Los Angeles Galaxy
    • Washington Capitals


You did it! You read through the entire article. No you didn’t. You skimmed. Trust me, you’re gonna wanna really read this article. Or not.


Why marketing is dirty, unethical and bloody brilliant

We’re scammers. We’re forgerers. We’re hackers. Some call us artists. Others – scum. Why did Marketers develop such a bad rep? In more ways than one, we deserve it. Why do marketers play dirty tricks? Here’s why –

“Why mathematicians hate toothpaste companies”

Oral health brands have consistently defied the rules of the game, making this industry exemplary in their ability to bend the rules of 2nd grade counting. If 9/10 dentists recommend every toothpaste brand that exists, then we must be living in parallel universes. We’re living in a multi-verse where all the dentists of a single universe unanimously agree about their preferred choice of toothpaste. Every time you see the “9/10 dentists agree” tag line in a toothpaste commercial; know that we’ve collectively crossed through the worm-hole and entered a different dimension of existence.

As brands in different industries aim to differentiate their positioning, the oral heath care brands have strived to do the exact opposite. They usually go down the product endorsement route by using actors to vouch for their products. Sometimes, its in the form of celebrities; other times its in the form of *expert* recommendations. These experts are easily recognizable in their past appearances in failed tv shows or from other toothpaste commercials. People have grown tired of these forms of advertising; but hey, as long as it comforts the brand managers, its all good.

Here’s a bunch of some great ads that are really creative and play within the rules:-

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“Why numbers lie to us, and why we like it that way”

Let’s start with Facebook. People buy likes, comments, and shares from third-world countries for their Facebook pages. They do this because real visitors to their Facebook page feel comforted in the fact that 100K+ others have liked it before them. There’s safety in numbers, but even more safety if your friends have liked the page as well. A recent article on the NY Times covered the not-so-underground $200 Million industry of buying and selling fake accounts.
A company called Unique IT world, publically commented on the article about how it created fake accounts and has regular employees that constantly like, share and comment on these social media pages. It’s not robots anymore. Robots are easy to catch and delete. These are human beings that create these accounts and share each other’s content as well. One would suspect that Facebook would counter these activities by tracking the locations of their IP addresses, but companies like Unique IT world are smarter than that. The brash nature of these companies is what really defines the strong need for fake followers, likes, and shares.
YouTube. Our beloved YouTube had so many fake views on its platform, that it had to remove the Top-10 feature all together. Marketers then found the “Statistics” section below every video.

A feature, they believed would give them better insights about the quality of that YouTube channel and the content that it produces. Little did they know, that this data is almost completely hack-able. It is next to impossible to conduct any primary research based on the data available through YouTube.
Twitter? Oh boy. Let’s move on.

So why do these numbers give us so much comfort? Well, we like the way they look, and sometimes they are directly connected with our performance appraisals. When we see our competitors destroying us on these platforms, we have to stop and wonder if it’s worth our time explaining to everyone in our company that our competitors purchased fake likes – without having any shred of evidence against them. It’s a difficult place to be in.
I couldn’t resist skipping Twitter altogether without talking about this mid-2013 trend of “liking-back”. I see so many *experts* that have 100K+ followers, but follow 100K people at the same time. What kind of an expert could that person be? Then again, someone with 100K+ followers and 10 follows could indicate that his bank statement has an entry called “Fivver.com – buy 1000 followers for $5”.



A waste of $5 you say? Well, think about how many customers he could con, claiming that he was an expert in the field. “Just look at my follower count”, he would say. “ I charge $250 an hour”, he would add. What should really scare you right now, is that brands can advertise to accounts directly on Twitter, with tailored audiences. Try and guess who they’ll be targeting in 2014. It’ll be these high-rollers with large followers, so they’d RT some of their advertised content.

“Why we love displaying banner ads – when its more likely that a person will be accepted to Stanford than click on a banner ad”

The absolute worst examples of banner ads are the ones that ask you guess something or shoot something. These flash based banners have existed in the trenches of the internet, and sometimes lead you to well known and popular websites if you click on them. This happens, most likely, when brands outsource their banner campaigns, and the agency agrees upon a range of CTRs or impressions. Since the click throughs can be tracked using Google Analytics, these agencies mask the traffic as redirects or even as direct traffic sources. GA doesn’t breakdown direct traffic effectively and hence, brand X might see a 20% increase in direct traffic, but a 0% increase in conversions.
Another excellent example of pushing ads on unsuspecting people is the interstitial ads in mobile games. We’re used to being interrupted by interstitials on popular news websites, but mobile games have an ingenious way of forcing you to click through. They offer in-app upgrades for clicking on the ad or installing a specific application. They give you a 100 gold points if you click on an ad, that you eventually close and proceed to playing your game again. How effective is this type of conversion going to be? Your CTRs could be 70%, but your conversions would be negligible. But then again, marketers are masters at misinterpreting numbers.


“Why marketing built the internet and why we’re the most brilliant bunch of people you’ll ever meet”

As Dan Pink once said – “To sell is human”. Think about the greatest inventions in technology in the 21rst century. Arguably, “the internet” could be considered to hold a special place in that category. Think about how it started off in the 1970s. Way before cat memes and online trolls, there were a few servers, a data transfer protocol and some people that wanted to share ideas with one another. Computers were heavy, transfer speed was low, and people were quite contempt with talking over their cordless phones.

Think about how we interact with the internet almost everyday now. As soon as we open our browser, we press the letter “f” on our browser and pop opens Facebook. Our morning routine has us checking our emails, browsing the news, and looking at Buzzfeed lists of – the top 10 reason why (insert thing here) is (insert emotion here).
Here’s the ugly truth kids – the internet isn’t free and its funded by advertising.
If it wasn’t for marketing, we would have never figured out a way to sustainably enjoy the benefits of the internet. Why else do you think Google is pushing its internet service Fiber, and Facebook is pursuing Internet.org. The more people there are on the internet, the more brands will pay to show their messages. It’s this fundamental rule that created and grew the internet to where you can enjoy it completely free from the comfort of your homes, without paying a single dime. The tenacity of marketers to push and sell products and services is remarkable – if you really think about it.
We use creative tactics to game the system, we stalk our customers wherever they go, we use psychology to increase consumption, and we use influence to mould society the way we want to. Beer commercials will always be about sex – because it works, skincare will always show fair skin and long hair, and fast food will always be about fighting obesity and healthy nutrition.

We understand what makes you happy, what makes you insecure, what makes you believe in our products, and what makes you unique in your unoriginal way. In more ways than one, we know you better than the NSA. All we ask in return, is that you be yourself. Be original. Be whoever you want to be, and be in charge of your own decisions. Because, we could use a challenge. And because we love to make you smile, in our own creative and quirky way.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc