Go Back

Does Your Brand's Marketing Pass the Kitten Test?

Posted by: Robert Ausdenmoore on November 06, 2013

The Next Big Social Thing

Where there might have been some philosophical consensus on the merits of big data, opinions on best social media best practices were at times more divided at Advertising Age’s 2013 Digital Conference and CMO Strategy Summit. Overwhelmingly, marketers understand the critical role that social interactions with their customers will hold going forward, but many are trying to get out ahead of the curve of “what’s next?”

Visa CMO Kevin Burke commented that versus the year 2000, the average person is consuming 75 hours of media a week, 67 percent of which is consumed digitally. The proliferation of mobile devices and online reviews has forced transparency that will, according to Burke, “raze the ivory tower of the brand.” While the need for a robust digital and social strategy is increasingly apparent, there are some real practical considerations that are shaping what tactics marketers are deploying.

Lucas Herscovici, VP of Digital Marketing for Anheuser-Bush explained AB’s three part strategy on determining social channels to leverage: Observe, Experiment and Scale. “Observe” platforms are new social channels that AB actively monitors but doesn’t currently market in for legal or propriety reasons such as an overwhelmingly below-21 user base. “Experiment” channels like the fast-growing Vine or Instagram apps are obvious fits in terms of their media capabilities, but perhaps emerging in size. The “Scale” platforms (like Facebook or Twitter) are critical marketing channels in terms of members and opportunity for impressions.

Looking across all three buckets of social channels, AB has ensured they can remain relevant on what is emerging, what is current, and are now conventional “must-have” social channels to utilize.

Ben Huh, Founder and CEO of Internet culture network Cheezburger had similar recommendations in considering what channels could be appropriate marketing vehicles. He encouraged marketers to carefully consider the role of “native format” media, and how applications feel, and function seamlessly across mobile and PC channels. Rather than focusing on capabilities of any one given social channel, content should be generated in a format that is able to be consumed and shared across the largest number of devices.

In spite of their relative simplicity, Internet “meme” images are so prevalent because of how instantly they can be consumed, regardless of where they are viewed. Huh’s perspective was largely captured in what he calls “The Kitten Test.” Within the context of the Internet, whatever marketing message you create needs to be able to hold interest as well as a picture of a kitten, because that is largely the type of media you are competing with.

Relevance in Real-Time

A specific tactic marketers are utilizing within their social channels is the so-called “real-time” approach of entering themselves into online conversations. A gold standard example that was used across several presentations was the “Oreo: Dunk in the Dark” tweet that ran during the blackout of the last Super Bowl. Other examples included the royal baby birth and recent iPhone release.

Neil Bedwell, Coca-Cola's Group Director for Digital Content and Strategy, is working carefully to apply some of these real-time principles to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Despite its acclaim, he opined that the Oreo example also started a trend of horrible real-time marketing imitations from brands that haven’t appropriately mastered “when to speak and when not to speak.”

Twitter noticed this trend and developed an Amplify platform that allows brands to work together to live in the moment. An example was ESPN sharing Instant Replays of college football plays within Twitter, complete with a brief Ford Fusion pre-roll that was promoted to non-followers who otherwise fell within Ford’s segmentation. The highlights and associated ads were viewed over 7 million times.

Like Bedwell, Kevin Weil, Twitter’s VP Product for Revenue, suggested that the key to this sort of real-time success is authenticity, but that its benefits are obvious when a good fit is uncovered. Twitter has determined that interacting with a promoted tweet has resulted in an average 12% sales list among exposed audiences.

Robert Ausdenmoore is Manager, Client Development, for Interbrand Design Forum.

Related Posts

UGG takes its brand where there are no roads (yet)
How Do Brands Achieve "Lifestyle" Status?
How Digital is Transforming Brand Building: Huang Taji's Success
FOMO Finds its Way to Marketing