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Mark A. Browne

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What: Marketing technology struggles to keep up with increasing use of voice search. Adoption of smart speakers is highest among educated millennials with higher disposable incomes.
Why it matters: Voice search expands by 35-fold between 2008 and 2016. But brands don’t have to re-invent the wheel to make sure they’re on top of consumers’ search results.

Burger King had its own way last year. It ran a television ad with a young male employee speaking these words directly into the camera: “OK, Google, what is a whopper burger?”

The question triggered innumerable cell phones and smart speakers within hearing distance of televisions. They woke up and searched the internet for the answer. Their owners likely then heard a description of the burger chain’s iconic Whopper.  Their device’s virtual assistant read the description from a page on Wikipedia.

Google, which was not consulted before the ad ran, quickly modified its virtual assistant so it would not to respond to the ad, according to The New York Times.

Voice-search increases need for marketing technology

Burger King’s foray into voice search can be seen as a harbinger of the brave new world brands face. More and more internet searches are done by voice activated assistants on smart speakers and cell phones.

More customers ask AI-powered services like Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa detailed questions about restaurant brands.

Restaurants are responding to the pressure to get with the voice search game.

“In this new environment, more customers than ever are asking AI-powered services like Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa detailed questions about restaurant brands, locations and menu items,” said Lee Zucker of the New York City technology company Yext.

A study by Yext found that nearly half of all respondents (49 percent) said they would use voice search to get restaurant-specific information. “AI changes the game for restaurants everywhere,” Zucker said in a press release announcing the study results.

Brands ramp up marketing technology

Brand managers, however, don’t need to panic as they steer into the uncharted waters of smart speakers and voice-activated searches.

Adapting to voice search is not a case of re-inventing the wheel, SEO expert Chris Rodgers, founder of Colorado SEO Pros tells Portada.

“If you have already been performing SEO properly, then you have already done some of the work to make sure that you rank for voice search.”

What are the key things brand managers should watch out for?

Rodgers says:

  • Focus web page content on the questions people are asking.
  • Use natural conversational language on web sites.
  • Understand the problems and solutions customers are looking for when building site content.
  • Be the best resource on the web to answer customers’ questions.

“You need to pay attention to how your content solves problems via voice search,” and that often means ensuring that your site has an excellent FAQ section, Rodgers says.

If you have already been performing SEO properly, then you have already done some of the work to make sure that you rank for voice search.

“The truth is, this represents the next step and it’s just an evolution of what we’ve already been doing.”

More smart speakers, more voice search

The smart speaker market spend is ballooning. It will grow from $4.3 billion last year to $23.3 billion in 2025, according to Allied Market Research.

Amazon’s Alexa led in revenues in 2017 but Apple’s Siri is expected to grow the fastest. More will be spent in North America on smart speakers than anywhere else in the world.

The biggest adopters of smart speaker technology are affluent educated millenials as well as young gen X and children, according to Global Market Insights.

Along with smart speaker sales, voice search is growing, too.

More than 40-percent of adults “used voice search on a daily basis in 2016,” Forbes Magazine reports, noting that comScore predicts that “50 percent of searches will be voice-based by 2020.”

Forbes reports that most voice searches are also local. That puts an emphasis on the ability of the search engine used to deliver up local results.

The search engine voice searches uses depends in part on the device itself.

Rodgers tells Portada the search engine used in a voice search depends in part on the device used.

Amazon deploys its own database for shopping inquires made using its Alexa, and as a result Apple’s Siri has its own knowledge base. But Apple also uses Google. While Google serves as a main database, “it’s not a case of all smart speakers relying on Google.”

Microsoft and Amazon have teamed up against Google and Apple. Portada recently reported they are making their virtual assistants Alexa and Cordana compatible.

Brands jump in

Burger King’s joins a brave new world brands diving into smart speakers and voice search.

Marriott is trying out the Amazon Echo in rooms at select properties. Guest can access information on hotel services as well as their favorite music.

Saint Louis University decides to install Amazon Alexa smart speakers in student living areas and preload them with the answers to the most common 100 questions about getting around the university.

Andrew Ko, director of education at Amazon Web Services said “Amazon Web Services is proud to work with Saint Louis University to provide students with quick access to important information,” in a press release announcing the university’s smart speaker installation. “We applaud SLU’s commitment to using technology like Amazon Alexa to enhance campus life for its students.”

We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • GetResponse, the email and digital marketing company that helps businesses improve response rates and automate their marketing has opened an office in São Paulo, Brazil. The company’s headquarters is in Poland but their worldwide footprint includes offices in the U.S., Canada, Malaysia, and Russia. The Brazil expansion reflects GetResponse’s attraction to the rapidly growing ecommerce market in Latin America, Simon Grabowski, CEO, said in a statement.

 

  • Marketers in the US are projected to spend US $15 billion on data in 2019 and the US spend is way ahead of Europe. According to MediaPost.com, analysis by OnAudience.com shows European spending on marketing data is expected to reach US $3.2 billion this year, while the US is projected to spend US $12.3 billion. Despite the gap in spending across the Atlantic, total spend on data for marketing is expected to double in nearly all of the countries analyzed, the report said.

 

  • Paid search and social media will account for more than 60% of all growth in advertising expenditures by the year 2020, according to a report by Zenith Media. Spending on paid search will lead, expanding from US $86 billion to US $109 billion between 2017 and 2020 while social media advertising will grow from US $48 billion to US $76 billion.

 

  • IBM has released a suite of new AI tools to help marketers analyze their data and drive sales. Using IBM’s new “WEATHERfx Football with Watson” tool, the fast-food chain Subway was able to increase visits to its stores by 15%, according to MediaPost.com. The tool takes into account factors including weather and location plus data analytics, and Subway successfully used it to promote a specific sandwich on the Weather Channel mobile app, driving more traffic to its restaurants.

 

  • The so-called “digital gap” between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in the US just got smaller thanks to the smartphone. Hispanics have the lowest rate of internet usage in the US at 82.8% compared to 86.1% for Whites, 85.4% for Asians, and 83.8% for blacks. Hispanics, however, use smartphones at about the same rate as the three other groups (65.5%) and their use of online social media networks is higher than the average of 60 percent by about 5%, according to a report in eMarketer.com.

 

  • Teens say they are using Snapchat and Instagram more this year than last. More than half (56%) of Gen Z, ages 16 to 24, surveyed by the social video marketing agency VidMob said their Snapchat usage had increased, according to reporting by eMarketer. More than half (55%) also reported increased Instagram use. Nearly 60% said their YouTube usage was also up over the previous year’s rate.

 

What: We looked at the top 15 online retail sites visited by shoppers in the US in July of this year and how they scored in numbers of visitors.
Why it matters: A climb in the number of shoppers visiting Walmart online continued in July as the big box retailer aggressively expands its online sales.

Number of visitors to the Top 15 e-commerce sites in the US, July 2018
Total Audience, Home and Work, PC/Laptop 940,883
Site Total Unique Visitors
Amazon sites 198,651
Wal-Mart 121,379
eBay 103,520
Apple.com Worldwide sites 68,456
Target Corporation 58,798
The Home Depot 48,001
ETSY.com 47,692
Samsung Group 45,129
WISH.com 41,120
Ticketmaster 36,963
Kohl’s Corporation 36,703
Best Buy sites 35,357
Lowe’s 34,382
Wayfair 34,203
Macy’s Inc. 30,529

(Source: comScore)

comScore reported a total of 121,379 online visitors to Walmart in July of this year, up from 114,807 in June and 119,117 in May. The home improvement retailer reported a 33 percent increase in online sales in the first quarter of this year, according to The New York Times. Lowe’s Home Improvement suffered another decline in visitors in July at 34,382 compared to 35,757 in June and 38,635 in May. Samsung’s online visitors jumped by 4,463 in July, up from 40,666 in June. Online visitors to eBay showed little fluctuation, with 103,502 in July compared to 104,604 in June and 104,619 in May. Macy’s dropped to last place among the 15 sites monitored by comScore in June and remained in last place in the July rankings.

  • Amazon continues to enjoy a big lead among the 15 online retail site rankings with 21 percent of all online visits.
  • Walmart placed second, followed by eBay, Apple.com worldwide sites and Target Corp—virtually the same top five sites in terms of number of visits and in the same order as in May and June.
  • Online visits to Macy’s continued their decline to 30,529 in July, down from 31,636 in June and 33,725 in May.
  • Online visits to Lowe’s Home Improvement also declined in July to 34,382 from 35,757 in June and 38,635 in May.
  • Best Buy has seen a steady if slight increase in visitors over the May to July period, starting at 34,142 in May and increasing to 35,357 in July.
  • The gap in online visitors between Amazon in first place and its closest online competitors continues. Amazon took 21 percent of all online visits compared to Walmart’s 12 percent and eBay’s 11 percent in July.
  • Home Depot holds the lead for online visits in the big box home improvement retailing category with 5% of all online visits among the 15 sites monitored compared to Lowe’s Home Improvement at 4%.

What: comScore’s Ívan Marchant talks with Portada about the e-commerce landscape in Latin America and what to expect next.
Why it matters: The region is enjoying double-digit e-tailing growth with “real competition” between players and increased mobile internet access driving more and more online purchasing.

Increased internet penetration and availability of credit cards hold the keys to a bright future for e-commerce in Latin America, made even brighter by the recent opening of the cell phone market in Mexico, according to comScore Vice President Ivan Marchant.

A “world of opportunities” is how Marchant, vice president of comScore sales in Mexico, Peru and Central America, describes the e-commerce horizon in the region.

E-commerce in Latin America has lots of room to grow.

E-commerce in Latin America, he says, has “lots of room to grow.”

comScore’s internet usage monitoring platform tracks the internet behavior of an estimated two million users.

From Marchant’s perspective, online retailers in Latin America are engaging in “real competition,” but small- and medium-sized businesses have yet to fully get into the game. A concentration of e-commerce sales to consumers in the upper and upper-middle classes he says, needs to spread to a wider distribution of economic levels.

Internet access driving e-commerce growth

E-commerce starts to take off when half the population in any given market acquire internet access, Marchant said in a recent phone interview with Portada.

And increased mobile phone accessibility in Latin America, he said, is opening up internet access to millions.

In the case of Mexico, recent reforms to laws regulating the country’s cell and fixed-line networks, controlled for years by telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim, have lowered cell phone service costs and driven e-commerce growth to new highs.

Since telecommunications legal reforms were undertaken in Mexico in 2013, mobile broadband subscriptions increased by 50 million between 2012 and 2016, according to a study by the OECD.

E-commerce in Mexico is being held back, however, by credit card access below that of other Latin American countries, coupled with fewer opportunities to use debit cards to make online purchases.

LATAM e-tailing to grow by 19%

As recently reported by Portada, e-commerce in Latin America is expected to grow by 19% in the next five years – well above the global average of 11%. Online sales in Latin America will double to $118 billion by 2021.

But Latin America has yet to catch up with the US, where online retailing makes up 5 percent of GDP. The average in Latin America is 2 to 3 percent, according to Marchant.

Brazil leads the region in e-commerce thanks to internet penetration of 75 percent, its larger population and higher credit card usage.

Argentina holds second place, followed by Mexico where online sales grew by 30% between 2016 and 2017.

“The entire region is growing in double digits,” Marchant says.

Since telecommunications legal reforms were undertaken in Mexico in 2013, mobile broadband subscriptions increased by 50 million between 2012 and 2016.

MercadoLibre the leader

According to data from comScore, MercadoLibre is the most visited e-commerce site in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. B2W Digital takes first place in Brazil.

“MercadoLibre is way ahead in audience,” Marchant says.

While Samsung and Falabella occupy second place in Argentina and Chile respectively, Amazon now has the second-most visited e-commerce site in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

“Amazon is growing rapidly,” Marchant said, while MercadoLibre enjoys an advantage from having been in Latin America long before Amazon’s arrival in the region.

Travel purchases, including airline ticket sales, make up 50-60% of all e-commerce in Latin America, according to Marchant.

“It’s definitely a travel market.”

The entire region is growing in double digits.

Purchases of computer hardware and software are also important, with fashion and clothing popular among e-commerce consumers in Mexico.

Seeing into e-commerce’s future in LATAM

Future opportunities for e-commerce growth in Latin America include the sale of groceries and artwork online, Marchant says.

Online sales of artwork are big in the US, but the same has yet to be seen in Latin America.

Both Walmart and Superama in Mexico have begun to sell groceries online, but in general, Latin America “is far from” where the US is in these important e-commerce sales categories, Marchant said.

Walmart, however, has made a lot of personnel changes in Mexico in an attempt to be a bigger e-commerce player.

The “most important opportunity,” regionally, Marchant says, is to get small- and medium-sized business to begin to do business with their customers online.

We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

Phrasee’s AI-powered Copywriting Tool Attracts $4M in New Funding

Investors will pour U.S. $4 million into the digital marketing software company Phrasee to power the expansion of its Artificial Intelligence tools that help brands like Domino’s and Virgin write better subject lines for emails. Brands also use Phrasee’s tools to write more effective Facebook and Instagram ads. The new funding will help Phrasee, based in London, to open offices in San Francisco.

Facebook is reportedly building a stand alone shopping app for Instagram, sources tell the media outlet The Verge. The app will allow Instagram users to use the app to buy goods from merchants they follow. Instagram is keeping mum about the new shopping platform. According to Facebook, there are 25 million businesses with accounts on Instagram.

Artificial Intelligence is rapidly changing how brands create content. The Tel Aviv firm Bidalgo has a new AI-powered tool that measures KPIs for the different elements of creative content, including words (messaging) and images (including video). MediaPost also reports that McCann Erikson Japan has launched the world’s first robotic creative director that analyzes key elements of past award-winning ads to then develop new ones.

The retail customer analytics firm Custora has won $13.75M in new financing for its software that uses Artificial Intelligence to help retailers segment and better understand their customers and as a result provide more personalized offers. Retailers also use Custora’s machine learning to analyze the impact of discounts and price points and forecast the lifetime value of each customer.

Investments in mobile advertising increased by 25% in the second quarter of this year compared to last, and more and more brands are choosing to place their ads within mobile apps, according to PubMatic’s Quarterly Mobile Index for 2018. In just the last year, spending on mobile video ads has increased by 239 percent, with a 688-percent year-over-year increase in advertising within mobile apps, the PubMatic release said.

The online flower delivery company Telaflora is using Artificial Intelligence to match offers to individual customers’ desires and preferences. Using AI tools from Bluecore and Custora, Teleflora succeeded in matching customer data with products to increase year-to-year sales by 50%, according to ClickZ.

What: Digital marketing technologies and how brick-and-mortar retailers are flocking to mobile phone, SMS, geofencing, Bluetooth and GPS technology. As a result, they’re discovering new and powerful ways to communicate with consumers. Both inside and outside of their stores. Interviewee: Gatorade’s Tiago Pinto.
Why it matters: Portada follows the money to understand this gold rush into mobile phone messaging. The bottom line for retailers adds up to a lot more sales.

The ubiquitous mobile phone may prove to be a lifeline to struggling brick-and-mortar retailers. They’ve found new and powerful ways to engage in one-on-one conversations with consumers. That’s fueling an investment and marketing boom in geofencing, SMS, push notification, beacon, Bluetooth and other technologies.

In fact, if numbers reported by retailer American Eagle are any indication, failure to adopt may be unaffordable. The fashion retailer reported a three-fold increase in sales after using geofencing to drive foot traffic into stores, according to a recent report by AdWeek.

E-commerce sales may be exploding, but it’s too early to discount the local shopping mall or retail as we’ve traditionally known it. The price of shares in Target are surging as the US rides a wave of rosy economic numbers.

But there’s more going on under the hood for brick-and-mortar retail and Target knows it. According to Chain Store Age, Target is expanding the use of its own mobile phone app. Now customers can place orders on their phones and then pick up their goods at the store’s curb. They don’t even have to leave their cars.

There’s more going on under the hood for brick-and-mortar retail than you may realize.

Not your father’s digital marketing technology

Target’s use of its mobile phone app is the tip of the iceberg of a bevvy of exploding technologies that has altered the landscape of brick-and-mortar retail marketing well into the foreseeable future.

Your mobile needs global positioning system (GPS) technology to find the nearest cell tower. But it also allows retailers and apps like Facebook to pinpoint your location to within less than 100 meters.

Enter SMS, Bluetooth beacons, geofencing, push notifications and stores’ own apps and retailers now have a whole new way to lure customers into their aisles—including targeting you even when you’re shopping at a competitor’s location.

JCPenney, Whole Foods, and Best Buy are using mobile apps to send special offers and coupons to customers, according to Mobile Business InsightsPepsiCo’s Gatorade discovered three years ago that it could use Facebook and GPS to post offers on Facebook for soccer players within a certain distance of known team practice locations in Brazil.

“Sales went through the roof,” Gatorade’s Global Marketing Director Tiago Pinto tells Portada. The program was expanded to other cities in Brazil and PepsiCo now uses GPS and Facebook to send messages to consumers in Mexico City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, and Santiago. Feedback has been positive from consumers. According to Pinto: “I think as long as you are providing a service and not interrupting, the consumer sees it as welcome. They want to receive content that is relevant to them.”

Geographic location is just one of the barometers you have to look into. The consumer’s profile is more important.

“Gatorade would like to expand the program to include WhatsApp. But Facebook which owns WhatsApp has yet to make that possible”, Pinto says.

Brave new world for retailers

GPS technology and cell phones have opened up a brave new world of digital marketing technologies for retail marketers. But at the end of the day, Pinto tells Portada that knowing the customers’ likes and preferences is still the key to the kingdom.

“I think geographic location is just one of the barometers you have to look into. The consumer’s profile is more important,” says Pinto.

Nevertheless, the seemingly endless growth in cell phone usage worldwide and digital marketing technologies makes the possibilities appear limitless.

According to a study by Criteo, retailers in North America with both a mobile website and a mobile phone application make 67% of their sales on their mobile apps.

Tech Crunch reports that consumers now spend fives hours per day looking at their cell phones. According to Mobile Business Insights, SMS messages are read by 98% of consumers who receive them.

Having their own mobile app allows retailers like Target to send push notifications to their app users.

Geofencing investment to hit $1.7 billion

But the cherry on the ice cream may be the combination of GPS with geofencing.

With geofencing, retailers can selectively message mobile phone users when they are within say a mile radius of the store. It also allows retailers to set up geofencing perimeters around competitors’ locations. They can then target offers to consumers considering the competition’s options.

With geofencing, retailers can selectively message mobile phone users when they are within say a mile radius of the store.

Investment in geofencing is expected to race past $1.7 billion in 2024, with the fastest growth seen in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a study by Global Market Insights.

“As more and more brick-and-mortar retail businesses are implementing proximity-based marketing campaigns, the applications of geofencing-based marketing solutions are poised to increase rapidly over the forecast period,” the study of digital marketing technologies found.

Key players in the geofencing market are Apple, Google, Thumbvista, Esri, Urban Airship, Bluedot innovation, Gimbal, Embitel, Placecast, Simplifi.fi, Swirl Networks, Radar Labs, UpSnap, GeoMoby, PlotProjects, Localytics, Pulsate, Mapcite, and DreamOrbit, the study said.

A bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • You can now speak to Alexa on your Amazon Echo by talking to Cortana on your Samsung smartphone. Amazon and Microsoft are making their virtual assistants compatible in the US as they take on Alphabet’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. How well this new marriage of voice recognition technologies works will be open to users’ feedback.

 

  • Email has the highest ROI (59 percent) when communicating with customers and prospects, according to a study by Campaign Monitor. While 53 percent of the marketers and experts surveyed said they use automated email campaigns, only 5 percent said they plan to manage their campaigns with artificial intelligence.

 

  • Ready for your close-up? Mediapost reports that L’Oréal and Facebook are planning to deploy augmented reality using Facebook’s camera apps to help consumers choose their makeup. L’Oréal has bought the AR firm ModiFace. Consumers will be able to test lipstick shades and other makeup brands in real time using the AR technology on Facebook.

 

  • The popular website cars.com plans to use machine learning to make the car purchasing experience even easier. Deploying AI, the website will match vehicle features with consumers’ answers to a series of lifestyle questions, offering up to 20 different recommended vehicle options. The app gets smarter as users give a thumbs up or down to the different options offered.

 

  • The Singapore startup WhereIsWhere has launched a location-based mobile app that lets retailers send promotions to mobile phone users conducting searches within a kilometer of a brick-and-mortar store. The app, dubbed “WhereIsWhere,” is downloadable on Apple and Android and will include push notifications and live updates from stores based on the mobile phone user’s location.

 

  • The geofencing market is expected to grow to US $1.7B by 2024, according to a Global Market Insights study. The technology that allows retailers, restaurants, and many other businesses to send push notifications and other types of messages to nearby mobile phone users is expanding rapidly, with the fastest growth predicted in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia and India.

We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

Meltwater has announced it is opening up its AI platform, Fairhair.ai, to give developers and data scientists the tools to: connect and organize internal and external data by a knowledge graph; access pre-trained, configurable AI models; and create real-time insights to make forward-looking, data-driven decisions. According to Meltwater, Fairhair.ai makes it easier for businesses to gain a real-time pulse on everything from market research to risk management.

Equity investor Beringea sees a bright future for Popular Pays model of helping brands create content for social media. Beringea will invest US $5.5M investment in the Popular Plays platform that provides workflow management tools and integration with a community of content creators.

Consumers are snapping up smart speakers in the US faster than any other device since the smartphone, according to new research by eMarketer. Sales of smart speakers in the US are projected to increase by 47.9 percent between 2016 and 2020—from 16 million to 76.5 million units, eMarketer says.

Investors have ponied up US $20M in additional funds for Eyeview, the video technology company that personalizes video ads for TV, desktop, mobile and Facebook. Top brands using Eyeview’s technology-driven platform for creating one-to-one videos include Lowe’s, Walgreens, Honda, BMW and Uber.

Owners of so-called “smart TVs” connected to the internet are eight percent more likely to view a view an ad to its finish (38 percent), compared to mobile users (30 percent), according to a new report by Extreme Reach. The report looked at billions of video ad impressions in the second quarter of this year across multiple devices. The Video Completion Rate for desktop, mobile (smartphones) and tablets, all increased.

Initial success has propelled Pandora to expand its programmatic ad-buying service on its music platform. The platform is powered by AdsWizz which Pandora acquired this year. According to DMNews, 92 percent of Pandora’s audience is ad-supported, vs. 56 percent for Spotify.

A survey of 433 decision-makers in Europe and the US by Forrester Consulting showed that almost half plan to make major AI spends within the next year. eMarketer reports a YouAppi survey of 425 digital marketers globally found 36 percent reporting AI investments this year.

What: Chilean bricks-and-mortar retailer Falabella purchases Latin America online retailer Linio for US $137 million.
Why it matters: Online sales in Latin America will double to US $118 billion by 2021 and Falabella is preparing to be a major player, using its physical stores to key advantage.

Chilean bricks-and-mortar retailer Falabella is determined to be a major e-commerce player, and will likely use its physical stores to key advantage as it ramps up to compete with Amazon and MercadoLibre for online sales in Latin America. That’s how industry and regional experts explain Falabella’s recently announced purchase of online retailer Linio for US $137 million.

The word analysts keep repeating is “omnichannel.”

Omnichannel refers to the ability of bricks-and-mortar retailers to offer in-store pickup of goods ordered online.

It could become a key competitive edge for Falabella.

“This is congruent with a trend we are seeing of retailers getting smarter about e-commerce,” Lindsay Lehr, a senior director at the consultancy Americas Market Intelligence tells Portada.

One of the big stumbling blocks to e-commerce in Latin America is the inability of people to receive packages in their homes, which is why omnichannel purchasing is increasingly important, Lehr said.

The word analysts keep repeating is ‘omnichannel’.

Leveraging Stores to Boost Online Sales

Headquartered in Santiago, Falabella operates department stores, supermarkets, home improvement centers, malls and financial services in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay.

With the Linio purchase, Falabella’s online footprint expands to cover Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama.

The acquisition boosts Falabella to the #2 e-commerce spot in its home markets and begins the process of positioning it to take on MercadoLibre and the expansion of Amazon (Amazon Mexico’s Guillermo Rivera recently joined Portada’s Council System) in the region, Lehr says.

“They are getting prepared for what’s ahead.”

Betting on E-commerce

“The company is betting on e-commerce,” analyst and retailing expert Jorge Lizan tells Portada.

Even though online sales now only make up 14-15 percent of its business, Falabella is spending 80 percent of its development budget on the online channel.

Falabella will mine Linio’s database and leverage its e-tailing expertise to position Falabella to take on MercadoLibre and Amazon, Lizan says.

“Linio is very small. They didn’t acquire Linio for the size of the company or to be a big part of Falabella’s business. What Falabella is looking for in this acquisition is to get the infrastructure and expertise,” Lizan says.

Falabella will mine Linio’s database and leverage its e-tailing expertise to position Falabella to take on MercadoLibre and Amazon.

Getting ready to face Amazon

The Linio purchase is about protecting future market share from online competitors MercadoLibre, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and even Alibaba.

MercadoLibre is the undisputed leader in e-commerce in Latin America.

Amazon has taken second place in Mexico and reportedly has plans to expand its operations in Brazil. Its web services division has expressed a long-term interest in investing in Chile.

Wal-Mart is heavily invested in online sales in Mexico and Central America, according to Lizan.

Growing Digital to Offer More Products

With the permission of its shareholders, Falabella plans to raise US $800 million in capital to ramp up its efforts to go digital in Latin America.

“This increase in capital will allow us to accelerate our digitalization and grow regional services for our clients, offering our products across a diversity of channels,” President of SACI Falabella Carlo Solari said in an announcement of the Linio purchase.

“With this acquisition, the company advances its goal of being a leader in electronic commerce in the region,” said Falabella’s general manager Gaston Bottazzini.

Expanding product lines online

The Linio purchase gives Falabella something more than just an online presence. Online translates into the capability to offer customers a broader selection of products beyond the brands Falabella sells in its physical stores.

“They can have limitless numbers of brands which is something they can’t do in their bricks and mortar stores,” Lizan tells Portada.

Moreover, Falabella wants their stores to become fulfillment centers for online sales.

“The name of the game is omnichannel and will increasingly be in the future. Falabella’s brick and mortar presence will definitely give it an edge vs. MercadoLibre,” Lizan comments.

The name of the game is omnichannel and will increasingly be in the future.

Seeing a big online future

E-commerce in Latin America is expected to grow by 19% in the next five years – well above the global average of 11%.

Online sales in Latin America will double to $118 billion by 2021. And according to Lizan, retailing in Latin America is still under developed and under penetrated.

Falabella has the largest retail customer database in the industry; dominates its markets in key offerings such as grocery, home improvement and home and décor; and recently announced a partnership with IKEA in Chile, Colombia and Peru.

From 36,000 feet, the Linio purchase is “very small,” Lizan said. But the advantages on the ground are strategic.

“It’s a benefit for Falabella to have an e-tailer in their portfolio because they will learn from them and the learning curve will be shorter.”

“It is a very strong statement by Falabella.”

We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

LATAM retailer SACI Falabella will purchase the online retailer Linio for US $138 million. Linio operates in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. E-commerce in Latin America is expected to grow by 19% in the next five years – well above the global average of 11%.

Investors will pour US $4.5 million into the influence marketer FLUVIP to help it grow in Spain, Latin America, and the US. FLUVIP uses machine learning and predictive artificial intelligence to measure the impact and cost of influence marketer campaigns on social media platforms.

Your customers could be turned off if you only talk to them using artificial intelligence, a Capgemini worldwide survey of internet users has found. The survey saw wide acceptance among shoppers for AI interactions, but it also discovered that shoppers are happier when chatbots and virtual assistants come with live-human interaction options.

Compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is costing Fortune 500 companies US $7.8 billion, according to Fortune. A survey by PwC pegged the cost for 200 US companies of 500 or more employees at between $1 and $10 million.

A majority of US marketers view the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a threat to their ability to target audiences. Digiday talked to 46 US marketers who said they were more concerned about restrictions on reaching key market segments than the cost of fines for noncompliance.

Conversions of inbound marketing leads into sales is a lot lower than you may think at just 13 percent according to a study by Implicit, as reported by PMG360. Look for a 20 percent improvement when you nurture inbound leads with personalization, targeted reach, lead scoring and timely response.

 

What: We looked at the top 15 online retail sites by visitors in the US in June of this year and how they scored in number of visitors.
Why it matters: Visitors to Macy’s website fell slightly in June, putting it in the last place according to comScore’s latest ranking of the top 15 e-commerce websites in the US for June of this year. Kohl’s surged ahead two spots, nipping on the heels of Best Buy. Target continues to have the largest online following of customers among traditional and off-price department stores, as well as ranking ahead of the home improvement big-box chains The Home Depot and Lowes.

Number of visitors to the Top 15 e-commerce sites in the US, June 2018
Total Audience, Home and Work, PC/Laptop 949,169
Site Total Unique Visitors (000)
Amazon sites 202054
Wal-Mart 114807
eBay 104604
Apple.com Worldwide sites 65560
Target Corporation 59509
The Home Depot 47879
ETSY.com 44058
Samsung Group 40666
WISH.com 40500
Ticketmaster 36296
LOWES.com 35757
Best Buy sites 33513
Kohl’s Corporation 32658
Wayfair 32074
Macy’s Inc. 31636

(Source: comScore)

  • Amazon, Wal-Mart, eBay, Apple.com and Target held on to their positions as the top five online retail sites in number of visitors in June.
  • com saw a slight decrease in visits from 67,102 in May to 65,560 in June.
  • Macy’s slipped to last place in the June ranking, with just 3.4 percent of all visits compared to 3.7 percent in May.
  • Lowe’s managed to move up from last position in May to 11th place in June, but it, too, saw a decrease in visitors from 38,635 in May compared to 35,757 in June.
  • Online visits decreased slightly in June compared to May for all of the sites ranked, except for eBay which saw a very slight increase.
  • The Home Depot made a big move up in rankings compared to May, surging ahead to sixth place, ahead of Etsy.com, Samsung Group, and WISH.com
  • Home Depot’s online sales continue to outpace Lowes.
  • Amazon continues to overwhelm the entire field of competitors ranked, with more than 21 percent of all online visitors measured in June and May by comScore.

What: Block chain technology offers brands the opportunity to collect customer data and incentivize their behavior directly and transparently.
Why it matters: Customers can protect their personal data and monetize it, entering into a one-on-one relationship with brands through a technology called “smart contracts”. Smart contracts allow users to enter into data sharing agreements with brands that are “securely stored on the block chain along with the detailed terms and conditions.”

Block chain technology is poised to revolutionize how brands gather customers’ data and incentivize their behavior. The digital computer code that is best known for being used to create the crypto-currency known as “Bitcoin,” also allows for “smart contracts,” whereby two entities (i.e. a brand and a customer) can enter into agreements that are transparent, verifiable, secure and direct.

So what do “smart contracts” mean for brands?

Smart contracts backed by block chain technology have the potential to shatter the traditional paradigm whereby brands purchase customer data from third parties like Facebook, or loyalty programs that rely on consumer subscriptions but don’t provide a lot of purchasing behavior or product preferences information.

Enter Killi, a consumer application available on iOS or Android. Killi lets consumers sell their personal data directly to brands and receive compensation every time marketers choose to buy it.

Using block chain technology, Killi collects users’ locations and their purchasing data which is stored on the user’s device. Brands can then purchase the data with the permission of the app users.

A personal data locker is controlled by the user and secured by the block chain. This allows you to take back control of your personal data from those who are selling it today without your consent.

When users authorize brands to access their data, Killi stores the payment on the Killi app until users choose to redeem it.

“Killi acts as a personal data locker that is controlled by the user and secured by the block chain. Killi allows you to take back control of your personal data from those who are selling it today without your consent,” Killi tells consumers on its website.

The Killi website is a bit vague on how the technology actually works, but “the offering of being able to monetize your own personal info does sound intriguing,” said Jay Gumbiner, vice president for Latin America at IDC.

“We could even imagine some consumers being worth much more than others based on their purchasing habits, socioeconomic placement, educational level, etc.”

We could even imagine some consumers being worth much more than others based on their purchasing habits, socioeconomic placement, educational level, etc.

“In terms of using block chain for maintaining the integrity of that data and being able to easily track who has been able to access the information, it seems like blockchain could be a great use case for managing data such as this,” Gumbiner noted.

The Killi app relies on block chain technology to create what is known as a “smart contract” between the app users and brands.

Smart contracts allow users to enter into data sharing agreements with brands that are “securely stored on the block chain along with the detailed terms and conditions,” according to Yves Benchimol, CEO at the French startup Occi.

Thanks to these smart contracts and encryption via the block chain, consumers can “easily request an exhaustive list of all retailers/brands they have shared data with, and in which conditions, in compliance with GDPR,” Benchimol said.

Occi is working on its own products for retailers that use block chain and smart contract technology to reward customers while providing a rich set of data about their shopping behavior to brands.

Smart contracts with consumers provide a channel for consumers to share their information with brands, while providing brands new possibilities for influencing consumers’ behavior.

Brands can “create a campaign rewarding a shopper for visiting a store and define the amount they’re willing to reward a shopper along with a total budget, which will be locked in a smart contract,” Benchimol said.

Retailers have access to well-established sources of data on consumers’ preferences and behaviors from a wide range of sources, but new laws such as GDPR create barriers to using that data without consent.

Block chain and smart contract technology “bring forth a new way to solicit data sharing from shoppers, that is more transparent and fair because it directly rewards them,” Benchimol said.

We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

Hotels are discovering the power of voice-activated digital assistants to build customer loyalty. Marriott is trying out the Amazon Echo in rooms at select properties allowing guests to access information and hotel services as well as their favorite music.

Video ad spends by brands doubled in 2017 compared to 2016 according to a new report from InMobi. In-app video advertising surged by 136 percent in 2017 worldwide and has grown by 500 percent in China so far this year.

Most consumers don’t trust how brands are using their personal data and would like to see improved personalization of offers, according to a new study from Jebbit. The study found consumers would even be willing to relinquish some of their privacy to get access to better deals.

Viewers of streaming video say they are watching more online (47 percent report more live online video streaming) and less offline (regular TV) as a result (44 percent), according to a May survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

E-Commerce communities continue to force brands to go digital with 46 percent of brand marketers telling Ingenuity that they are revamping their go-to-market strategies as a result, including moving faster to make sure they are covered on all channels. A little over 25 percent said they are making changes to how much they spend online.

Try it on—on Facebook? The social media giant has announced it will test augmented reality ads with users in the United States, with products including makeup and furniture. Michael Kors will be among the first brands to use the technology to advertise its sunglasses.

Facebook New Customer Tracking Tool for Brands, called Journeys, is no ‘Magic Bullet’
Andrea Lopez, head of the social media agency Socialyse in Miami tells Portada.

MediaMath has won $225 million in new financing for its demand side and data management platforms powered by artificial intelligence aimed at making connecting brands with consumers more efficient and effective.

Door-to-door on-demand delivery service Rappi, with operations in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, has caught the attention of Headway, the Buenos Aires, Argentina based mobile marketing company. Headway will serve as Rappi’s exclusive partner for promoting the Rappi app.

Know your customer has taken on new urgency, according to a recent study published by the Harvard Business Review. A majority of companies (58 percent) said customer analytics have improved customer retention, but even more (60 percent) said real-time analytics is “extremely important.” Nearly three-quarters said they have increased spending on real-time analytics over the past year.

What: Facebook unveiled a new anonymous internet monitoring software tracking tool. It named it “Journeys.” It’s designed so brands can see where consumer interact with brand advertising and their paths to decision-making. As a result, we asked Andrea Lopez, head of the social media agency Socialyse in Miami, to evaluate this new tool for advertisers.
Why it matters: With Journeys, Facebook promises to make “the paths to conversion available in a single report.” Therefore, this new tool will help brands decide which devices consumers use and where they convert into buyers the most. Consequently, it provides insight for strategizing where to best place online advertising assets.

Facebook Unveils New Technology

Concerns about the privacy of users’ data are rocking Facebook’s world. They exploded in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Data, after all, is central to Facebook’s business model. It’s also important to digital marketing at large.

Brands have a lot at stake in the effort to protect customer privacy. A single breach can destroy customer loyalty that takes years to earn.

At the recent F8 developer conference, Facebook unveiled new technology. It will give brands a powerful tool to see how customers interact with their Facebook pages, web assets containing the Facebook pixel, and Facebook SDK for apps.

As with all measurement, Facebook is sure to limit third-party access and clarity on the exact measurements, leaving us to question how much stock to put in this analysis.

The bottom line is new tracking technology that both brands—and customers—can love since it gives brands powerful insights into customers’ behavior without revealing customers’ identities.

Aptly named Journeys, the new technology is part of Facebook’s suite of analytics tools. They are available to advertisers on the Facebook platform.

Journeys lights up the path customers follow when interacting with a brand’s presence online. It reveals the multiple points customer touch online including at Facebook, on the web or a range of digital assets. Also, coverage includes apps and landing pages.

Internet Monitoring Software ‘No Magic Bullet’

“The new Facebook Journeys feature presents an interesting new opportunity in marketers’ ongoing mission to understand how a consumer interacts with a brand or product. It includes the various touchpoints involved in the path to driving towards an ultimate action,” says Andrea Lopez. She is head of the social media agency Socialyse.

But she warned against believing in any “magic bullet” especially one that could make advertisers’ jobs easier. Also, because she underscores the huge amount of information consumers are bombarded with as well as the devices available to them.

“As with all measurement, Facebook is sure to limit third-party access and clarity on the exact measurements. This leaves us to question how much stock to put in this analysis. It will be interesting to see how brands and marketers use this data. How much of it is applicable and useful versus interesting forms another consideration.”

With Journeys, Facebook promises to make “the paths to conversion available in a single report.

Brands will be able to see where customers began. Plus, they can see where customers ended up and the points in between as they moved through the process of making a purchasing decision. It will show how long customers spend on each asset and which channels they use.

“You can see omni-channel data and reporting, giving you a holistic view of the different interactions people have with your business before converting, making a purchase or subscribing,” Facebook explains on its analytics website.

Marketers dream of better placement of digital advertising assets resulting in increased conversions.

Moreover, the way Journeys protects customers’ data is likely to please consumers, too. That’s because Journey aggregates customer data. It does so anonymously to build its reports so individual data on consumers is not revealed.

What: We looked at the top 15 online retail sites visited by Hispanic shoppers in the US and how they scored in number of visitors in May 2018.
Why it matters: Hispanic online shoppers’ preferences closely matched those of the population at large in the US in May, with retailers Amazon and Wal-Mart taking first and second places respectively for most-visited sites. Macy’s ranking in monthly visitors increased when considering just Hispanic shoppers compared with shoppers of from all ethnic groups. Big box home improvement retailer Lowe’s ranking dropped to last place. (Check out the overall U.S. May e-retail ranking!)

Key Insights

  • Hispanic shoppers overwhelmingly prefer Amazon for online shopping (21.7% of all visits by Hispanic shoppers in May, 2018).
  • Amazon, Wal-Mart, eBay, Apple, and Target were the five most popular sites for Hispanic visitors in May, 2018—the same order of rankings for shoppers of all ethnic groups.
  • The top four retailers’ share of online visits (Amazon, Wal-Mart, eBay, Apple.com) for Hispanic shoppers are nearly the same as they are for shoppers from all ethnic groups in the US.
  • Home improvement retailer Lowe’s slipped from tenth place among all ethnic groups to last place in online visits by Hispanic shoppers.
Number of Hispanic visitors to the Top 15 e-commerce sites in the US, May 2018
Total Audience, Home and Work, PC/Laptop
Total Unique Visitors: 132,078
Site Total Visitors
Amazon sites 28,741
Wal-Mart 16,150
eBay 15,261
Apple.com Worldwide sites 8996
Target Corporation 8995
WISH.COM 7303
Samsung Group 6542
ETSY.com 6515
The Home Depot, Inc. 6155
Ticketmaster 5459
Best Buy sites 5,391
Macy’s Inc 4,828
Wayfair 3,986
Kohls Corporation 3,932
Lowes.com 3,824

[Source: comScore]

What: We looked at the top 15 online retail sites visited by shoppers in the US and how they scored in number of visitors in May 2018.
Why it matters: Wal-Mart’s hard-fought effort to build an online presence has put it ahead of eBay in the number of online visitors. The Bentonville, Arkansas brick-and-mortar retailer surged ahead of eBay by nearly 5,000 visitors in May, 2018. But the e-commerce behemoth Amazon still leads by nearly double the number of monthly online visitors compared to traditional retailer Wal-Mart.

Number of visitors to the Top 15 e-commerce sites in the US, May 2018
Total Audience, Home and Work, PC/Laptop 949,169
Site Total Unique Visitors
Amazon sites 204,743
Wal-Mart 119,117
eBay 104,619
Apple.com Worldwide sites 67,102
Target Corporation 61,115
The Home Depot 49,499
ETSY.com 46,891
Samsung Group 42,078
WISH.com 39,585
Lowes.com 38,635
Ticketmaster 37,395
Macy’s Inc 35,511
Wayfair 35,102
Best Buy sites 34,142
Kohls Corporation 33,372

[Source: comScore]

Key Insights

  • Amazon led the field with 21.5% of all online visitors in May
  • Wal-Mart (12.5% of all online visitors) and eBay (11%) are competing neck-in-neck to be Amazon’s closest online competitor
  • eBay dropped behind Wal-Mart by just under 5,000 visitors for a second-place finish
  • Apple took fourth place with 7% of all online visitors for the month
  • After Apple, Target took 5th place with 6.4% of all visits in May
  • Big-box Target has nearly double the visitors of Macy’s
  • Home Depot has powered ahead of Lowe’s by more than 10,000 monthly visitors in May, proving to be online shoppers’ favorite in the home improvement category