digital marketing

Sipra Thakur Named Mentor of the Month at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles Preccelerator



Founder & CEO
One Thousand Suns

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Sipra Thakur runs the digital marketing consulting firm, One Thousand Suns, where she helps B2C and B2B start-ups and traditional companies with digital marketing transformations. Prior to this, Sipra was Head of Digital Marketing at IMAX, which included social, website redesign (Webby award nominated), email, paid media, and analytics. Based on her work there and from several other start-up roles within companies like Universal Music and The Wonderful Company, Sipra has also been named as a 40-Under-40 and Women to Watch in marketing.
What are you passionate about? 

  • I’m passionate about creating influence and ideas and bringing them to life with a strong strategic focus.  I enjoy creating unique marketing initiatives tailored for companies while using supporting data to ensure the initiatives will have an impact for them.  Creativity coupled with strategy best help ensure maximizing reach, impressions, and ultimately sales/revenue for companies.  

What one piece of advice would you give an easy stage startup regarding your area of expertise?

  • Get marketing help! It’s easy to think marketing comes easy because it’s accessible-- most everyone uses social media and is exposed to ads, branding, etc.  Just because someone uses Facebook doesn’t mean s/he necessarily knows how to market on it though.  Good marketers use data alongside experience to best lay out plans for growth and engagement for companies.  Use any marketing resources you can while at the Preccelerator.

What do you like best about mentoring at the Preccelerator? 

  • What I like best about mentoring at the Preccelerator is the breadth of companies in the program and seeing the innovation come forth across a variety of industries. Within corporate roles, we are often exposed to a limited area of practice (one of the reasons I started my own consulting firm, to help a wider scope of companies).  Working with the Preccelerator keeps me apprised of happenings outside of my normal walk of life and walk a little further. 

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Oct 5, 2018)


Selfie deaths on the rise, A.I. written ads, and the QR code resurrection in this week’s Marketing in the Digital Age.

Death By Selfie

Summary: A study from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences found over 250 people have died in the past five years while trying to take a selfie. The country with the most selfie deaths was India followed by Russia, US, and Pakistan.

Opinion: Well, I guess we all have to go sometime.

Burger King’s “A.I. Written” Ads

Summary: Burger King released a series of ads that started with the bleeping sound of a modem and a warning that the ad was created by artificial intelligence. It produced ads around a chicken sandwich like “It tastes like bird.” Lo and behold, the ads were actually created by humans posing as A.I. as a nod to the threat people fear of A.I.

Opinion: Any ad that gets me to write about it I take as good as marketing!

Instagram Introduces Scannable Nametags

Summary: As the title of the article implies, Instagram rolled out scannable, semi-customizable QR name tags for users across the platform. Even though QR codes aren’t huge in the US, they have generated $1.65 TRILLION from transactions in China and Japan, and the hope is it translates over to the US over the coming years.

Opinion: Even with slow adoption of it in the US, scannable QR codes have provide their worth in spades with our friends in the East. Makes sense to incorporate it as international growth for these companies become increasingly important.

Marketing In The Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Jan 12, 2018)


Ikea wants you to pee on their ads.  Well, not every ad, but a specific ad to reveal if you are pregnant and receive a discount on the product shows. 

Hulu Subscriber Base Growth for 2017

Summary: Hulu's subscriber grew 40% over the previous year, which still leaves a big gap from Netflix's base of 52.8 million. 

Opinion: Will this lead to more cord cutting?  Having tried several live TV streaming services, YouTube TV, Hulu Live, and DirecTV Now, the services still leave something to be desired.  The stream often cuts out and each service has its limitations on what channels are available. 

What Is Snapchat Now That Story Sharing Has Stopped Growing

Summary: Instagram Stories has halted growth from Snapchat's most promising moneymaker, Stories.  Prior to Instagram Stories, Snapchat grew 17.2% compared to last quarter's growth of only 2.9%. 

Opinion: It's good to have competition and alternatives to Facebook/Instagram, and I was rooting for Snap.  Sadly, it seems it will continue on this downward trend given other functionalities introduced, like Snap Map live location sharing and geo-tagged content search have continued to decline.  

Pee On This Ikea Ad To Find Out If You Are Pregnant

Summary: You pee on a section of the ad to see if you are pregnant and, if you are, you get a discount on the product shown in the ad.  

Opinion: It has me talking about it here as a marketing update so it's done it's job at innovation, and there could be other applications for this from a medical standpoint in the future.  But, ew.

The Subliminal Trick Netflix Uses to Get You To Watch More Movies and TV Shows

Summary: Most people make their viewing decisions based on the image since it is less of a time commitment than reading about the work.  Because of this, Netflix serves up different key art to you based on past watching behaviors.  For example, you may see Good Will Hunting pop-up in your recommended section.  If you were a viewer of romance based content in the past, you could be served an ad of Matt Damon and Minnie Driver kissing.  If you watched a lot of comedy in the past, you could get served an image of Robin Williams for the same film. 

Opinion: I think this offers a way to cater to individuals.  Different individuals may be drawn to the content for different reasons, so I think it's smart to offer different pieces of art from the same film to attract different people.  

Marketing In The Digital Age: News Round-Up (Week Ending Dec 22, 2017)


This week's highlights include why your old iPhone really is slow, Instagram comments, using Universal's music library on Facebook, Magic Leap's first product reveal, and fake news on Facebook. 

Apple Slows Down Old iPhones

Summary: Apple has confirmed it is throttling processor speeds when a battery capacity deteriorates over time. While users may feel this is a ploy to get customers onto newer phones, Apple has stated that the performance of older devices is sub-optimal due to its lithium-ion batteries which become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions. 

As of about an hour ago, a class action lawsuit was filed against Apple.  

Instagram now Quietly Nudges you to Comment on Posts In Your Feed

Summary: Instagram has quietly rolled out an "add comment" section to posts on Instagram, but you have to hover on a post for a few seconds before this new addition appears.  

Facebook, Universal Music Strike Multi-Year Licensing Deal

Summary: Universal Music Group is the first major label to sign-up a deal with Facebook allowing users to use upload videos to Facebook, Instagram, and Oculus. Facebook has done this in an effort to keep users on its site and attract advertisers.

Magic Leap: Founder of Secretive Start-Up Unveils Mixed Reality-Goggles

Summary: Magic Leap, which has been operating in a secretive mode, announced its virtual reality googles called Lightwear. This is the first piece of working technology the $6B valued company has revealed publicly. 

Facebook Changes Approach to False News

Summary: Instead of using "disputed flags" to indicate a story may be spreading false information, Facebook will rely on its "Related Article" feature. 

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Dec 15, 2017)


We're in the home stretch for the year, but the news hasn't slowed down.  Particularly, the huge ruling from the FCC on the repeal of net neutrality for which a short summary does not do it justice. 

It's Super Hard To Find Humans in the FCC's Net Neutrality Comments

Summary: The sites comments section is littered with comments from bots, memes, and input from people who don't actually exist.  

Twitter Just Took Another Step Toward Becoming A Full On Blogging Platform

Summary: A new feature has begun rolling out across the Twitterverse allowing users to compose multiple tweets with a "+" menu.  It allows multiple tweets to be linked together making it easier for users to tweetstorm.

The Very Real Health Dangers of Virtual Reality

Summary: There have been many instances of people falling while using the headsets because they were not aware of their surroundings. VR's effects are being monitored for an increased risk in myopia (nearsightedness). Motion sickness has been an issue from many users of the headsets. Its effects on children are still unknown. 

Force Block: the Star Wars Spoiler Blocker

Summary: Star Wars: The Last Jedi hit theaters last night, and the internet is ablaze with spoilers.  For those who aren't able to see the film right away, Google has a solution for you. You can install the Star Wars spoiler blocker and receive a warning when you are about to stumble upon a site that may contain spoilers. 



Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (WEEK ENDING DEC 8, 2017)


Starting today, I will provide a periodic round-up of newsworthy updates that affect marketing in the digital age.

Instagram updates its Stories Feature, copying Snapchat Again. 

Summary: Stories will automatically be saved to a user's archive page. Previously, you could not save Stories and could only manually save photos and videos.  This is a copy of Snap's Memories function.  

A new Highlights area will allow users to tout particular Stories on their profile page.

Patagonia Gets Political: A New Era of Retail Activism? 

Summary: Patagonia's CEO, Yvon Chouinard, and company website, took a public stance against Trump's plan to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah.  The CEO plans on suing the president.  This move signals that brands may no longer be able to sit on the sidelines, though the move can have considerable risks.  

YouTube to Start Music Streaming Service 'Remix' in March

Summary: This will be a paid music streaming service incorporating elements from YouTube, like video clips.  The service is an attempt to catch up with Spotify and Apple.

Facebook Built a Version of Messenger Specifically for Children

Summary: Messenger Kids is aimed at those kids under 12 who are too young to use Facebook due to age restrictions.  Parental approval will be needed to setup an account and add new contacts.  It's available on iOS in the US only currently.  

Apple Is Buying Shazam at a Big Discount

Summary:  Be on the lookout next week for a formal announcement of Apple's purchase of music-recognition technology, Shazam. 

Sipra Thakur: Expert's view on Engagement

We sat down with Sipra Thakur, Former Head of Digital & Mobile Marketing at IMAX.  Sipra Thakur has 14+ years experience focused on digital marketing. She has held start-up roles within established organizations, such as IMAX, The Wonderful Company, and Universal Music Group, in which she has led organizations' digital strategy. Based on this experience, Sipra has established her own consulting agency, One Thousand Suns, to help more businesses create successful digital strategies in an ever-changing landscape.

Sipra was also named a 40-Under-40 marketer in 2016 and in Women to Watch for marketing in 2017. Ahead of her presentation at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit this May 24-25 in San Francisco, we sat down with Sipra to talk all things digital marketing, from social to personalization. 

Marketing leaders have had to adapt time and time again in recent years, for you, what has been the biggest change? 

Having spent nearly my entire career in digital, it has been a continuous cycle of change. From the rise of mobile to ever-changing social platforms, it is keeping up with the changes that have been the excitement of and challenge of working in digital. Given this, the biggest noticeable change has been the adoption of digital in overall marketing plans. The role of Chief Digital Officer existed in few companies years ago, and it has gained increased presence in companies of all size in recent years.

What approach have you taken to social media and how are you measuring your success? (brand awareness, clicks, shares etc.)

Although numbers are important from an aesthetic point of view, engagement rates are the most important metric to me when measuring success. It’s easy to buy followers and boast large social media numbers. If those people aren’t truly an audience you can create a relationship with and potentially convert to a sale for your brand, product, or artist, I don’t see much use in having those high numbers. When views, likes, shares, and comments are high in an engagement-to-follower ratio, that’s when I know I’ve done my job in reaching the right audience and creating value for a brand.

How are you successfully managing (and optimizing) a multichannel brand presence?

As a (good) marketer, you have no choice but to optimize for a multichannel brand presence. It is planning for and considering the differences between channels to create complementary marketing collateral. For example, with the same campaign, for print you may want an image and message that is large and concise. For online media buys, a snippet of video may better serve as an effective communication tool to reach your audience. Using the same font, color scheme, characters, etc. creates a unity across channels while using different content formats also respect the strengths of each channel. Together these lead to an integrated marketing approach for a multichannel presence.

How crucial is the role that data plays in your decision-making?

Data is important in that it quantify fundamental truths, such as the best time to post for your audience, what may have caused spikes in web traffic or email opt-ins, quantify ROI on media spends, etc. Data alone, though, isn’t enough to build the right marketing strategy for your product. Simply because one strategy worked on one campaign does not mean it’s going to work the same on the next.

As an example within the same superhero genre, take Deadpool and Batman vs Superman. I can use data to know when the audience may be online, as well as a best time to post on social, but what is communicated for each property would vary greatly. Deadpool took on a darker humor skewed towards an R-rated audience while Batman vs Superman aimed towards more general fanboy/fangirl audiences. As a blatant demonstration of this point, holding a sweepstakes giving away a year’s supply of chimichangas was part of the marketing strategy for Deadpool (for those of you that don’t know, Deadpool’s consumption of chimichangas is a love of the character, and we were not just trying to contribute to America’s increased cholesterol levels). Using only the resulting data from the promotion for the same or similar giveaway for Batman v Superman to replicate the success would tell audiences that you don’t understand the properties or their likes. The data along with nuances between the properties need to be taken into consideration when planning for the most effective marketing strategy.

How are you tracking your customer journey and have you seen a change in browsing behavior? (e.g. move to mobile, two-screens, etc.)

Over the years, not surprisingly, there was a pronounced move onto mobile devices for discovery and ticket purchase. This customer journey helped structure digital marketing efforts. It dictated a redesign of and resulted in producing content more noticeably suitable for mobile consumption.

In terms of the site redesign, we evaluated how customers were using the site to make it easier to know what was playing and to purchase tickets. Content was also made into snack-size pieces to make it friendlier to consume content on mobile in terms of shorter time and data lower usage.

What measures are you taking to personalize your outreach? (localization, customer profiling etc.)

When you are evaluating and creating a plan for your product, personalization is key to reaching the right audiences around the globe. For many with a global brand, this includes localization of content. With global audiences, what may work in the US may not translate in terms of language and content to audiences in Brazil. If this expertise doesn’t rest in-house, this can mean hiring agencies versed in different markets to tweak content to speak literally and metaphorically to best cater to audiences in that country. It’s that added touch that makes local audiences feel special and in-the-know about your brand.

What strategies are you using to increase your customer lifetime values?

Listening. It sounds basic, and it’s easy to forget when caught in the day-to-day shuffle of our jobs. When you see a trend across channels or customers reach out with similar complaints, listen to them and use this as your own market research to evaluate if something may need to change. Respond to customers wherever possible and make them feel heard to increase the value that you provide and, in return, get increased return from your customers.

New technology adoption and transforming staff practices can be a tricky process - what tips do you have to make this a success?

Throughout my career, I’ve been in a unique position of holding start-up roles within established organizations. With it, I’ve seen extremes of internal resistance to technological change or the other end of wanting to jump on absolutely any new technology. In either case, there is often warranted justification for the emotions. One the one hand, change is hard and it can be intimidating. On the other, you don’t want your brand to fall behind, so when you see an opportunity, you want to seize it.

A way to provide a balance for these extremes is through education and communication of new technologies and changes to stakeholders. It’s easy to dismiss either side (and, yes, there have been occasional times when it feels much easier just to say, 'because I said so', and feel done with it), but that wouldn’t get you far in creating adoption throughout the organization. Once the information is presented and questions answered, the goal is to have stakeholder buy-in. These stakeholders can then set an example and proliferate the message to their respective teams for a more widespread adoption of the technology across the organization.

How do you maintain brand loyalty and meaningful engagement in the over-crowded digital space?

As touched upon in previous questions, listening and personalization are major components of brand loyalty. When reaching out to a brand, most people do so to be heard. When they see a real person is responding, posting, and interacting with them, they do feel heard and know someone is listening. It’s this human touch that helps foster loyalty.

When you have it, how are you personalizing the content for fans?

By producing more of this type of content, you’ve listened to what your customers want. Even using subtle differences for the same content when debuting content, like the spelling of 'color' vs 'colour' in copy for US versus UK, you’ve also created a sense of personalization for customers. These efforts add up to nurture brand loyalty with audiences.

What do you foresee to be the biggest area of growth in marketing through 2017?

If the $24B IPO wasn’t a dead giveaway, Snapchat will continue to be a force to be reckoned with throughout 2017. It’s still in its infancy, and it has proven its value in terms of user engagement. The audience will only continue to grow this year as parents and grandparents learn about the tools their kids and grandkids spend countless hours on each week. Even if the massive audience were to remain the same, Snapchat is an expanded growth opportunity for brands and artists to reach their audiences through their continually developing ad platforms and stories.

It is still relatively expensive to do a lense and can be challenging for brands to maintain a channel presence on Snapchat. There still are other ways to participate in the platform, like ads in between stories and filters, that can let you reach a new audience more economically. As 2017 progresses, I wouldn’t be surprised if Snapchat continues to offer more ways for brands to interact on the platform. 

You can hear more from Sipra, along with other leading marketing executives, at the Chief Marketing Officer Summit taking place this May 24-25 in San Francisco.

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