Big Brands Give Small Tech Firms a Shot

Springpad, GumGum and Lattice score clients

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Today, Breville will embark on the Specialty Coffee Association's annual event in Boston to sell its coffee machines, espresso grinders and tea makers. Just as the business card has gone digital at marketing conferences in recent years, more deep-dive sales literature is also getting an interactive feel—and the kitchen appliances brand wants to stay ahead of the curve.

Leveraging Springpad's recently unveiled Embedded Notebook feature, Breville has created a "Barista Bootcamp Notebook" for the conference that entails instructional videos, how-to content and tips about using its slate of products. The Australian-based global company's willingness to test the marketing product underscores how big brands these days increasingly give tech start-ups a shot at proving themselves.

The interactive notebooks can be embedded in Web and social media properties of the brand—as well as the digital destinations of the distributors it may connect with this weekend. The notebooks are designed to work similarly to transportable Pinterest accounts, potentially giving companies more leeway in terms of reusing content. Like on Pinterest, a consumer can follow the notebooks—no matter where they are. Glamour (magazine) and TripAdvisor are also testing the Embedded Notebook product.

"It gives more control and flexibility around branding," said Rob Sheard, brand director at the 80-year-old Breville. "Obviously you can post things to Facebook, YouTube or Pinterest. But this allows us to organize these ideas in a single place in a way that's convenient for the consumer. It works across devices, and allows you as a marketer to extend the long tail of your content."

Like Springpad, in-image digital advertising platform GumGum is on a roll, expanding its national offices while gaining clients like the Lincoln Motor Company and Cat's Pride Fresh & Light (CPF&L). The latter brand, part of cat litter maker Oil-Dri Corp., is in the middle of a sizable GumGum campaign where CPF&L is running overlay ads on cat images for sites ranging from the New York Daily News to The brand is getting above-average 1.2 percent click-through rate on the effort, per CPF&L's agency, Doner.

"GumGum's technology is able to recognize images of cats in contextually relevant environments,  delivering ads on premium publisher sites," explained Bob Tacy, svp, director of digital for Detroit-based Doner. "When you click on the ad, you are taken to a humorous video about cat litter. Ninety percent of the people who get there follow through to watch the video. And then 4.2 percent of them click to either the brand's website or Facebook page."

Lastly, brands such as computer hardware giant Dell, payroll services firm ADP and b-to-b company Citrix Systems are employing Lattice Engine's big-data software, which is designed to combine multiple sets of marketing stats for targeting purposes.

In particular, Citrix is using Lattice to cherry-pick the best sales leads while weeding out weaker ones. For instance, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company has discovered that prospects who've added job postings within the last 30 days convert more often than those who haven't. 

"This ability to combine internal and external data to create a clearer picture of a prospect is what sets big data applications [apart from] marketing automation," said a Lattice rep.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.