Alter Agents Venture Beat / Alter Agents The ultimate bot guide for marketers: 11 strategies for success June 13, 2016

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Bots are showing themselves to be one of the darlings of adtech in 2016. They may potentially disrupt brand-consumer interaction as we know it, creating both opportunity and chaos for marketers.

And yet, as with websites and apps, building an effective brand asset doesn’t happen overnight — or come without challenges. And that’s certainly true for bots, whose technology is still very imperfect and will require extensive development before all is said and done. Even so, the benefits outweigh the risks, and brands should act now, as first movers will likely see major advantages. (more…)

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Alter Agents Advertising Week / Alter Agents Advertising’s 10 Most Stylish Brand Icons June 6, 2016

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What do a little girl in a yellow dress, a tuna fish wearing a beret, a woman in red, and a peanut with a monocle all have in common? Each one is a brand icon with a signature style that spans the decades. Their names will become easily recognizable in our countdown of advertising’s 10 most stylish mascots and spokespeople, proving that fashions fade but brand mascots are eternal.

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Alter Agents oracle / Alter Agents Extreme Customization May 9, 2016

How technology is shaping modern marketing

Extreme Customization
Marketing has never been an easy discipline. But marketers in today’s world face a particular set of challenges their counterparts in earlier times could not have imagined. First, there’s the pace of technological change, which seems to offer a new way to engage with customers on a
weekly basis. (Facebook Live launched the day this story went to print.) Fewer and fewer people watch broadcast television in favor of streaming shows via the web, marginalizing one of the most reliable ways to reach a mass audience. The use of ad blockers and email filters can narrow a consumer’s internet experience into an inaccessible niche. As a result, reaching consumers with a message is more complicated than it has ever been. (more…)

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Alter Agents Digiday / Alter Agents As PC era wanes, Intel moves away from ‘Intel Inside’ May 5, 2016

Alter Agents

Wearables and Internet of Things are logical outgrowths of the Intel brand as long as it still retains the concept that “Intel Inside” promoted: Electronics power by Intel are superior. If Intel wants to distance itself entirely from the idea of “Intel Inside” and pivot to another message, however, it will take a long time and lots of work for the brand to re-educate the consumer, said Rebecca Brooks, co-founder of market research firm Alter Agents.

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Alter Agents State of Digital / Alter Agents What Marketers Can Learn About Millennials via The Comedy Brand of choice: Comedy Central April 13, 2016

A Farm System of Nurturing Talent

What Marketers Can Learn About Millennials via The Comedy Brand of choice: Comedy Central

Rebecca Brooks, founding partner of marketing research firm Alter Agents, also agrees content is a huge part of Comedy Central’s attraction. (more…)

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Alter Agents Digiday / Alter Agents Tesla is the new Red Bull: Every brand wants to be it but can’t pull it off April 13, 2016

Tesla is the new Red Bull: Every brand wants to be it but can't pull it off“A combination of factors leads to Tesla’s marketing success: Innovative, revolutionary products and a genius CEO Elon Musk who has track record of success. I’m not sure you can replicate what Tesla has been doing – or if there’s a marketing model for other brands,” said Rebecca Brooks, co-founder of market research firm Alter Agents. (more…)

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Alter Agents SmarterTravel.com / Alter Agents How to Celebrate Holidays Aboard a Cruise March 21, 2016

How to Celebrate Holidays Aboard a Cruise
“The most popular holiday cruise is on New Year’s Eve,” says Rebecca Brooks, who co-founded Alter Agents, a research firm that represents cruise lines. “Which makes sense, given that you have a big, fun party right outside your door and you won’t have to worry about having to drive after a night of drinking.” Though New Year’s Eve cruises tend to be on the pricier side, Brooks says the revelries are typically included in your rate, so you won’t face sticker shock at the end of the night.
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Alter Agents Los Angeles Business Journal / Alter Agents Sale on Data March 15, 2016

Sale on Data

RETAIL: Alter Agents launches lower-cost service to provide new clients with information on shoppers’ spending habits.

Many traditional retailers have seen dwindling sales thanks to a decline in consumer purchasing power and the proliferation of online shopping websites. (more…)

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Alter Agents Monsters & Critics / Alter Agents Gloria Steinem feature in Lands’ End catalog ignites firestorm March 8, 2016
Gloria Steinem feature in Lands' End catalog ignites firestorm
Gloria Steinem pictured during her Ms. magazine heyday circa 1971

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem bizarrely popped up in the most recent Lands’ End catalog. The brand is experimenting and has never had a celebrity featured before in something called the “Legends” feature. (more…)

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Alter Agents American Marketing Association / Alter Agents Super Bowl 50′s Best Ads February 10, 2016
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Alter Agents Monsters & Critics / Alter Agents Red Lobster should ‘never cross the BeyHive’ says marketing expert February 9, 2016
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Image courtesy of Monsters & Critics

The shade falls and the haters move fast on Black Twitter as the fallout of restaurant chain Red Lobster’s Tweet made the Beyhive swarm in response to their delayed acknowledgment of Beyonce’s risque tip of her hat to them in her NSFW “Formation” video and song lyrics. (more…)

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Alter Agents American Marketing Association / Alter Agents What Makes the Best Super Bowl Ads? February 2, 2016

What? The Super Bowl is unlike any other television event when it comes to advertising: People actually want to see the commercials.
So What? Viewers want to see new and different commercials on Super Bowl Sunday, so companies have to balance that demand with the necessity to stay on target and on brand.
Now What? Google’s new marketing product, Real-Time Ads, allows an ad element like images or text to be updated in real time so a brand can build a story with itself at the center while still leveraging “buzzability.” (more…)

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Alter Agents Business Management Daily / Alter Agents 6 admin workplace trends for 2016 December 21, 2015

6 admin workplace trends for 2016
The workplace is changing fast, and these six trends may affect the way you work in the coming year. (more…)

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Alter Agents ama.com (American Marketing Association) / Alter Agents Cyber Monday Exposes the Growing Advantage of Online Sales December 10, 2015

 Cyber Monday Exposes the Growing Advantage of Online Sales

Retail accelerates toward a decidedly cyber future, aided by mobile devices and the high costs associated with staffing and inventory. (more…)

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Alter Agents Monsters and Critics / Alter Agents Christmas Shopping On Its Ear: Why We Aren’t Following The Retail Rules December 9, 2015

Christmas Shopping On Its Ear: Why We Aren't Following The Retail Rules

Ask anyone you know. What are your plans for the holidays? We guarantee very few of them will say they are waiting in long lines stalking toy aisles or spending precious time circling parking lots of the relics of retail past: Shopping Malls. No, sir. (more…)

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Alter Agents theguardian.com / Alter Agents The beauty industry now has its own green ‘seal of approval’ December 3, 2015
Environmental Working Group has launched EWG Verified, a label that will help consumers spot products that meet stringent ingredient and transparency requirements
The beauty industry now has its own green 'seal of approval'

Unlike the food industry, the personal care industry has very few consumer labels. The new EWG Verified label will help consumers spot products that meet nontoxic ingredient and transparency requirements. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

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Alter Agents momentology.com / Alter Agents 10 Reasons Editorial Sites Are The Future Of Corporate Websites December 1, 2015

10 Reasons Editorial Sites Are The Future Of Corporate Websites

Brands like Red Bull, Coke and, more recently, Taco Bell are leading the charge toward editorial-driven websites that forsake traditional corporate site content for the stories, images and videos that were once the purview of blogs and news sites. (more…)

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Alter Agents ama.com (American Marketing Association) / Alter Agents Why Black Friday Will Continue to Fail Marketers … and Customers November 24, 2015

Why Black Friday Will Continue to Fail Marketers...and Customers

Black Friday is a remnant of the “Old Economy” shopping experience: a sales and marketing tradition whose time has come and gone. Here’s what the future of holiday shopping–and shopping in general– depends on now. (more…)

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Alter Agents Inc.com / Alter Agents 22 Tips from Influential Marketers as Content Marketing Evolves November 23, 2015

The content marketing landscape is rapidly evolving. We asked those in the know for their advice on staying ahead of the game.

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Alter Agents CMO Digital Forum / Alter Agents GETTING READY FOR TWITTER WEDNESDAY November 17, 2015

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Nothing says “holidays in November” quite like the traffic on Twitter. (more…)

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Alter Agents Monsters & Critics / Alter Agents Watch: Aussie Man Complains About Jeep Vehicle In Viral Video November 16, 2015

JEEP

In today’s technology driven world consumers have more access than ever to air grievances and take companies to task for failing to live up to expectations. Some of the griping is unfair, but many efforts to reach corporations via social media are warranted. (more…)

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Alter Agents momentology.com / Alter Agents 2015 Holiday Marketing: REI’s #OptOutside Reveals 9 Truths November 6, 2015

2015 Holiday Marketing: REI's #OptOutside Reveals 9 Truths

Outdoor retailer REI’s announcement that it will remain closed on Black Friday could turn into a case study in holiday marketing. That’s because it is a brilliant marketing move cloaked within a nice gesture. So, in a way, everyone wins.  (more…)

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Alter Agents mediapost.com / Alter Agents Death Knell For Black Friday? November 4, 2015

It’s hard to believe, but Black Friday in its current gonzo incarnation has been around less than a decade. It was in the mid-2000s when big box retailers like Target, Walmart, Kohls, Best Buy and Macy’s began tinkering with the carved-in-stone formula of beginning the official Christmas shopping season at 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. It was then that the stores began opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving Day. Giddy at the results, both in terms of sales but as importantly, media coverage, these nationwide retailers in 2012 began opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day itself — sheer blasphemy in prior times. (more…)

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Alter Agents Forbes.com / Alter Agents Chipotle’s E. Coli Crisis: P.R. Experts Say It’s Handling It Right November 4, 2015

E. coli is one item that nobody orders off the menu. But sometimes, like bad customer service, you get it, anyway.

So far, the tally of customers who have become ill from eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in the Portland, Ore., area and several counties in Washington State from Oct. 14-23 stands at 37 people.

It was scary news for consumers, of course — E. coli is a bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and even kidney failure — but the headlines are also frightening for business owners whose trade is in food. If you work in the food industry, here are some lessons from Chipotle’s crisis.

Chipotle's E. Coli Crisis: P.R. Experts Say It's Handling It Right

Chipotle Mexican Grill is temporarily closing more than 40 restaurants in and around Washignton and Oregon, as health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak.(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

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Alter Agents momentology.com / Alter Agents 10 Pop Songs That Perfectly Illustrate The Brand-Consumer Relationship Today October 23, 2015

alteragentspicLike a bad boyfriend, brands lie and cheat. There’s no shortage of examples, including Volkswagen most recently, but also Amazon, Apple and Google, among others. And, like an insecure girlfriend, if consumers love a given brand enough, they are more than willing to forgive – after perhaps a period of cooled intimacy.

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Alter Agents Targeting Mantra / Alter Agents How to Boost App Engagement With Mobile Marketing Automation October 20, 2015

How to Boost App Engagement With Mobile Marketing Automation

You have a sleek app with a smooth UI, seamless navigation and amazing products. After much anticipation, you acquired thousands of mobile users who have installed the app. Now, the question is- What’s next after the install? (more…)
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Alter Agents Smarter Travel / Alter Agents 10 Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise October 14, 2015

If you’re reluctant to book a cruise because of the price tag, take heart: There are plenty of creative ways to cut costs without sacrificing the best parts of the trip. I asked a handful of cruise experts for their money-saving tips. Their responses make it clear that even if you’re tight on disposable income, you can still enjoy the high seas without busting your budget.

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Alter Agents Advertising Age / Alter Agents A Four-Point Plan for VW to Repair Its Brand October 9, 2015

Volkswagen Needs a Cultural Reboot

“I’m not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.”

Those nine words pretty much sum up what’s wrong with the Volkswagen brand these days. Spoken by former CEO Martin Winterkorn on his way out the door, it speaks volumes about why VW’s “clean-diesel” mess requires more than the typical crisis-management response. This is pure scandal on a macro level because, as Mr. Winterkorn also said, the marketer has “broken the trust of our customers and the public.” (more…)

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Alter Agents E-Commerce Times / Alter Agents Microsoft and Google End Hostilities, Partner Up October 7, 2015

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By Quinten Plummer
Oct 2, 2015 7:00 AM PT

Following a successful series of talks, Google and Microsoft on Thursday announced they had come to an agreement to close about 20 lawsuits fired off by both sides. (more…)

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Alter Agents smartertravel.com / Alter Agents The Worst Decisions You Can Make on a Cruise October 1, 2015
The Worst Decisions You Can Make on a Cruise

If you’re making any of these poor decisions, you’re cheating yourself of the best version of your cruise vacation.

If you know what you’re doing, cruising can be an enriching form of travel. But plenty of people swear off the big ships because of some terrible experience that ruined their first time out. To prevent yourself from becoming yet another cruise hater, take note of these rookie mistakes–and don’t make them. (more…)

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Alter Agents PopZette / Alter Agents A Peak for ‘Star Wars’? How too much hype could hamper Skywalker & Co. August 31, 2015

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What’s more powerful than Luke Skywalker, Yoda and Darth Vader combined?

The marketing “Force” at Disney Inc.

But could the company’s promotional blitz behind the seventh film in the “Star Wars” saga end up hurting, not helping, the franchise? (more…)

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Alter Agents CommPro / Alter Agents Are Brands Being Genuine in Their Ethical Campaigns? August 27, 2015

Rebecca BrooksBy Rebecca Brooks, Partner and Co-Founder, Alter Agents

Honey Maid, the venerable brand of graham crackers whose very name evokes sepia- toned memories of the good ole days, launched a cutting-edge advertising campaign last year that is a model for all other brands seeking to be genuinely “genuine.” We’ve all heard that the evolving, self-aware consumer wants brands to be more “real” and “authentic,” but what does that mean? (more…)

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Alter Agents Street Fight / Alter Agents How Hospitality Brands Balance Global and Local in Their Marketing August 27, 2015

Hotel Concierge

Hotel brands face a marketing conundrum: Though they may be national or global brands, the average consumer experiences them on a local basis. Travelers may have a general preference for one chain or another, but when it comes to deciding which specific property at which to stay and how much they enjoy the experience, it comes down to local. So how should global hospitality brands manage such a bifurcated marketing strategy? (more…)

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Alter Agents Momentology.com / Alter Agents 33 Branding Experts On How Subway Should Handle Foglegeddon August 27, 2015
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It’s a safe bet no one envies Subway’s marketing team – or its reported new CMO - in the wake of the unprecedented implosion of its longtime spokesman. The brand is facing a situation that will likely become a reputation management case study for years to come. While Subway wasn’t complicit in the actions of its longtime spokesman, Jared Fogle, the range of responses from branding experts – from laying low to undergoing a major shift and seemingly everything in between – underscores the complexity and delicate nature of the issue at hand. (more…)

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Alter Agents usnews.com / Alter Agents Google’s Big Time Alpha-Bet August 17, 2015
The Associated Press
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, have an unabashed love of fashioning new
digital gadgets and goods. Now they’ve performed a most old-school tinkering act: They’ve
changed the name of the world’s top tech brand to Alphabet.

 

For the digerati, that’s news enough to trump the release of any new iPhone model (or for the true Google groupie, an Android device). But when your stock is valued in the stratosphere above $600 a share, even the smallest revamp can turn investors’ heads. But whether that’s a va-va-voom or rubbernecking at an accident depends on whom you ask. “Google listened to Wall Street by responding to its concerns before any other tech giant, reassuring stakeholders that their core businesses will remain stable,” says Peter LaMotte, senior vice president and chief of digital engagement at Levick, a public relations firm based in Washington, D.C. “This decision put Google ahead of the curve and their decision may influence other Silicon Valley giants to do the same.”

Then again, would Apple (AAPL)? Or Facebook (FB)? Or eBay (EBAY)? “I’m really surprised by the name change,” says Bennett Gross, investment strategist with EP Wealth Advisors in Torrance, California. “I think that the brand Google is exactly what people want their brand to be. It has become a verb to say, ‘I Googled that because I did not know what it meant.’ To ditch a name that has meaning, in my opinion, is a mistake.” So far, Wall Street has signaled a tentative thumbs up to Google 2.0. As of the close of trading Tuesday, shares of Google stock were up more than 4 percent - part of an amazing run that has seen Google stock climb 20 percent in the last month. Some market watchers see this as a chance for Google to address investor concerns. “Wall Street appeasement is certainly a major factor in Google’s decision to reorganize,” says David Gaspar, managing director of New York-based DDG, a consultancy that builds startups inside Fortune 500 companies.

It can help market mavens forget about the Google+ setback, while providing more transparency and efficiency. A former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) executive wonders whether the change spotlights Google’s vulnerable underbelly. “This reorganization further exposes Google for what it really is, just an advertising company,” says Bob Herbold, once chief operating officer and executive vice president for the software giant. “The company makes the 89 percent of its revenue through ads, and all of their experimental efforts that get so much press coverage have shown no return to date – and quite frankly, are making the company’s investors nervous.” So what’s new so far as the ever-watchful investment community is concerned?

For starters, Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly traded entity, with all Google shares converting into the same number of Alphabet shares. Google now becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet, and still lends its name to Alphabet’s Nasdaq ticker symbols, GOOGL and GOOG. The new company has a cheeky URL – abc.xyz – and in Monday’s investor letter, “G is for Google,” Page described Alphabet as “mostly a collection of companies.” The new Google “is a bit slimmed down,” with various pieces such as Calico (a company researching the aging process) now under the Alphabet umbrella. Alphabet will operate with Page as CEO and Brin as president; Google’s highly-respected products chief, Sundar Pichai, becomes CEO of Google.

Thoughtful investors might want to look under the hood at what Alphabet will contain. “You see it with Amazon [AMZN], for instance, which has grown a bunch of sub-brands such as Zappos,” says Rita McGrath, professor of management at Columbia Business School in New York. “By supplanting the strong Google brand with Alphabet, Page and Brin are signaling that the sky is the limit for their powerhouse of brands,” says Rebecca Brooks, a founding member of Alter Agents Market Research in Los Angeles. “New ventures won’t have to be constrained by the Google heritage. They are free to be whatever they want to be.” All that said, what’s in a name: and is this a stale stunt or a fresh start? “It’s a brilliant name which has a hidden meaning,” says Duncan Davidson, managing director at Bullpen Capital, an early-stage, post-seed venture fund in Menlo Park, California. “The alphabet soup of separated companies are ‘alpha bets,’ investments in a potential large ‘alpha,’ or fundamental value.” McGrath is more skeptical. “I’m not sure I’m overwhelmed with Alphabet,” she says. “But finding good names for things these days is very tricky.

The name has to travel globally, not belong to anyone else and not mean anything in particular to be a good umbrella brand name.” (Alphabet is also the name of a BMW subsidiary; the German auto manufacturer says it is trying to determine if Google would be infringing on its trademark.) Alphabet translates to “Alfabeto” in Italian, “Arufabetto” in Japanese and “Abeceda” in Czech – whereas Google is universally and triumphantly Google, even in Esperanto. Yet for all the analysis and dissection, Page hopes to give investors the final word by putting a folksy spin on the Alphabet game. “Don’t worry,” he writes. “We’re still getting used to the name too!”

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