Monthly Archives: October 2014

2014 Vanguard Direct Scavenger Hunt

Another year, another Scavenger Hunt!

Vanguard Direct’s yearly celebration of New York City went off without a hitch! On October 23, fourteen teams embarked on the fourth annual VanScavenger Hunt.

This year’s hunt put a twist on the normal look and find employees have come to expect. Teams found an envelope with 16 clues, all ranked with points. They also found a list of extra items they could find on the hunt for additional points. Limited to a 2.5-hour time span, whoever came back on time with the most points won!

Once the clues were solved, a theme revealed itself. The hunters were going to some of the most haunted places in New York City! Running from the Chelsea Hotel to the Fraunces Tavern and everything in between, the game was on!

Check out some of the best photos from the Hunt, including some classic pictures from the Halloween Costume Contest on our Facebook page!

Author: Zack Smith


Will Apple Pay Make Tap-And-Pay Mainstream?

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is here, and just like the Apple II in 1977 and the iPod in 2001, it promises to make giant waves. The platform will support NFC (near field communication)-based payments from the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and the Apple Watch, promising to bring tap-and-pay to the masses for the first time… well, sort of.

The truth is, NFC-enabled phones have been around for almost four years—an eon in tech years. The first was the Samsung Nexus S, debuting in late 2010. After the phone’s release, Android was quick to roll out updates, including tap-and-pay functionality linked to Google Wallet.

But it never caught on. Although you can find NFC tap-and-pay devices in NYC taxis, Walgreens, and thousands of other small-purchase, high-volume retailers, few people use them. So what makes Apple Pay different? Three words: timing, timing, timing. And a fourth: Apple.

Making Security a Priority

Putting sensitive information on a device that can be hacked, broken, or left in a taxi makes people uneasy. When they lose a credit card, most people know exactly what to do—but the rules for digital wallets are not as simple. To capture this market, Apple has positioned Apple Pay as safer than predecessors. The system uses tokens to add a layer of security, making sensitive information tough for hackers to reproduce.

Perfecting v. Inventing

Heightened security and brand name aside, timing is everything. Precisely because Apple isn’t the pioneer of NFC-enabled payments, the company is in a position to perfect it (sorry, Samsung). Furthering the hardware inroads made by Google and MasterCard, Apple can claim some 220,000 retail and dining partners, lending further authority to its culture-generating brand. Many of these retailers were early Google Wallet adopters and haven’t had to change a thing in their stores.

Striking Hot Iron

But Apple isn’t just hopping on a bandwagon. It’s positioned on the crest of a wave: a long-planned, nationwide transition to a new, more secure payment standard called EMV. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and is a global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards (IC cards or “chip cards”) and IC card capable point of sale (POS) terminals widely used in Europe. This change will require merchants to upgrade to IC-capable POS terminals, or risk being held responsible for fraud. Since all new terminals accept mobile NFC payments, they will go from rare to the rule.

We won’t fully know how much users will embrace Apple Pay until it’s tested on the free market. But we’ll put our money—and our iPhones—on a giant shift in how we buy.


What’s the Difference Between Print and Digital Advertising ROI?

ROI, or return on investment, is Business 101. When you don’t know the impact of efforts, you don’t actually know if they’re worth it. If you spend $1 on something that generates $2, you can be confident that your dollar was well spent: you achieved a 200% ROI.

This metric is particularly important in marketing, where there are a dizzying amount of approaches and a need to convince the higher-ups that your preferred channel will yield concrete results.

Broadly speaking, marketers will typically divide their efforts between digital and print advertising—but how does calculating ROI differ between the two? And does one approach offer a better return than the other?

Enjoying the New Advances in Online Advertising

Finding your ROI has never been easier, thanks to tracking technologies employed by virtually every digital advertising platform. If you’ve correctly tracked conversions, you can calculate the price and return for every single click—a degree of detail impossible to achieve in print media.

Even better, online advertising allows for incredibly precise audience targeting. You can zero in on the ideal consumer by strategically segmenting your audience by age, location, device, and more. You can also choose to show ads to those who have already interacted with your website (a tactic known as remarketing).

Specifying a smaller subset to market to is a huge win-win: not only do you pay less by showing fewer ads than a shotgun approach, but those targeted ads are far more likely to engage and convert, delivering a double-shot of ROI goodness.

But how’s that ROI compare to print?

The Underestimated Power of Print

While it’s certainly more difficult to get exact ROI metrics with print ads, that doesn’t mean they’re lower. In fact, a Nielson study found that brands that invested in magazine spots recouped an extraordinary 781% ROI, or $7.81 for every dollar spent, compared to just 279% for digital portals and ad networks.

A European study corroborates the surprising advantage of print media, concluding that newspaper and magazine ads produce 120% and 130% ROI respectively, while online ads only yielded 110%.

Making Your Choice

It’s important to remember that the numbers quoted above are generalized. Your ROI depends on innumerable variables, including industry, audience, product, context, etc. No matter what approach you ultimately go with, take steps to accurately track your own ROI.

For those seeking instant ROI gratification, digital is certainly the way to go. Print ads, though, may offer more of a punch—even if those figures are a little fuzzier. It’s in vogue to say that print is dying. The numbers tell quite a different story.