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.

Vanguard Direct’s Story Behind Your Story

You read all about how this iBook® app came about in the last Utterly Orange blog. Will Lovell told you the process, described his inspiration for the characters and told you more of “the story behind the story.”

My post talks more about why I wanted us to do this. My strategy was to inspire a team of creatives to put their best efforts into creating and publishing an app/iBook, within the limitations of authoring tools available, and to dream up new ways to enhance these limitations. My goal was to give our company the tools and abilities to make this new business offering in a creative, strategic, cost-effective and efficient way.

From years of working with this team I knew if they were unleashed their creative energies would be powerful. I think I can say I was right on all counts. The iBook Orange is My Favorite Color is eye-catching and innovative, going beyond the authoring tools available and placing Vanguard Direct right in the thick of things in a competitive market.

Our diversity of in-house abilities makes us a powerhouse. I can easily foresee ways in which these effective communication vehicles can enhance the marketing and informational needs of our large client base—delivering positive results with fast turnaround, on a budget our clients will appreciate.

This app/iBook has been an endeavor of love… a passion project, so to speak. I am so proud of my team. Now I’d like you to see results. I urge you to download the iBook and enjoy it on your iPad. Give us a review and be honest—let me know what you think. We are doing a very active social media campaign; you should visit Hamlin’s Facebook page regularly to learn about special events such as podcasts. There will be many upcoming events and, if there’s a demand, further stories.

Author: Vanguard Direct Creative Services

Transcending the Traditional vs. Digital Divide

There’s a growing division in the advertising world: a yawning chasm between traditional and digital approaches. Old-school marketers, direct mailers and brochures in hand, stand on one side, and tech-savvy SEO gurus, web developers, and AdWords adepts on the other.

Yes, sometimes the two sides work together, though typically in a patchwork-style campaign. Predictably, the results usually fall flat.

This schism between analog and online isn’t just wrong-headed—it entirely overlooks the enormous power unleashed when both sides work seamlessly in a cohesive strategy. Both types of media become exponentially more effective when working as one.

Moving Beyond with a Media-Agnostic Approach

Too many agencies, advertisers, and businesses side with a camp from the onset, before even considering the specifics of the campaign at hand. Would a mechanic trash half his toolbox before discovering why the car isn’t starting? Would a general dismiss half his troops before determining the mission? You get the idea.

Before restricting ourselves to certain media channels, we work closely with clients to intimately understand the goals, challenges, and needs of the campaign. Only then do we proceed with a media-agnostic approach to implementing it. We go with whatever delivery methods work best—and that usually involves a combination of tradition and digital tools.

Digital platforms are indeed where more businesses are moving, and for good reason. It’s increasingly easy for customers to learn more, take action, or make a purchase online. But that doesn’t mean traditional tools are obsolete.

Some of the most successful efforts leverage the considerable power of traditional media—a physical brochure, a captivating sign, a direct mailing—to capture attention and send customers to a digital destination—a landing page, a mobile app, an ecommerce store—where they can heed the call to action.

Great campaigns make use of all tools at their disposal, merging digital and traditional media in a sharp, channel-agnostic strategy. The dichotomy between digital and traditional media is a false one: transcend it to make your message more effective. To paraphrase Aristotle, the whole is far, far greater than the sum of the parts.

Author: Zack Smith

From Pen to iPad

Hamlin, the main character of Orange is My Favorite Color, was born out of our department’s desire to create a publishing app. We knew we could learn the software; we just weren’t sure what to write about. Ultimately, we decided to do something simple: a children’s book. Orange is My Favorite Color is a delightful story for children of all ages. It’s funny, relatable and comes with a dose of moral teaching — “be careful what you wish for.” It won’t take anyone long to see that the inspiration came from the old King Midas tale.

One of the important considerations of the design was its simplicity. We knew we were not trying to compete with Disney and their high-polished character renderings. We wanted our illustrations to have the old-timey, throwback feel of the cartoons we all knew as kids (think of the old comic strip Peanuts, for example) but with some 21st century flair. Hamlin’s attire, tie and button-down shirt, is a playful nod to Vanguard’s corporate identity (not to mention his affinity for the color orange which also ties in to Vanguard’s brand). The execution of the illustrations was fairly basic: pen and ink drawings were scanned in and layers of color and other images were added using photoshop. Texture and collage techniques were incorporated into the illustrations on several pages. Once the artwork was established, it went into iBooks Author for layout.

Another goal of ours was implementing interactive features to give the reader a more satisfactory user experience. Not only did we push the software to its limits, we found third-party plug-ins to create the desired effects for several pages. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good job for a first attempt at digital publishing.

Vanguard Direct: Smarter Solutions, Better Results

In Orange is My Favorite Color, Hamlin changed the world with his story. Now, we want to bring your story to life! Our team’s creative process can present your message in the same compelling, engaging and forward-looking way. Vanguard Direct stands ready to work with you, customizing the digital distribution experience to help you grow your business and achieve your goals.

Orange has now officially launched and may be downloaded for free from the iBooks store from the link shown below.

For a look under the hood and behind the curtain, we hope you’ll also enjoy the following video about the evolution of the character Hamlin and his own colorful story.

And, don’t forget to download and enjoy the free iBook at: http://bit.ly/1Bycdic

Author: Vanguard Direct Creative Services

Update on Eco-Friendly Printing

Green technology has moved beyond the customary recyclable paper and arrow-ridden logos. Some companies are taking it a step forward to increase social awareness. Printing green has gained a new definition that does not only reside in the one industry.

Photo originated from Output Magazine. See direct link below.

Pollution Absorbing Posters.

In the United Kingdom, University of Sheffield professors, Tony Ryan and Simon Armitage, crafted a poster that turned the side of a university building into a nitrogen-oxide absorbing poem. It will remain in this position for the next year.


Photo originated from Adweek. See direct link below.

Toxin-Ridding Billboards.

Multiple companies have also created floating promotional pieces to absorb air pollution and other toxins. Shokubutsu Hana, a cosmetic brand in Japan, recently used their new ad as away to remove pollution from the Pasig River in Manila. Partnered with the Pasig River Rehabilitation commission and Vetiver Farms Phillipines, they launched an 88ft. floating vetiver grass billboard to help absorbs toxins.


Eco-Friendly Film.

Display products that include a plastic film will also be given an eco-friendly adjustment. Earlier this year, Amari Digital Supplies premiered a static-cling film composed of recyclable polypropypylene from Statix. This can be used on indoor and short-term outdoor signage. It may also be used for promotional display items.


The aforementioned billboard, poster, and printable static film, are a few among many eco-friendly materials in the market today. For more information, follow the shortened links below each category.

Author: Jaclyn Saumell

Orange is My Favorite Color — The Story Behind the Story

Orange is My Favorite Color is Vanguard Direct’s first foray into digital iBook® publishing. This delightful short story introduces Hamlin, a little boy who remade the world in a new way – his way. With the assistance of a magic wishing frog, he colored the whole world orange – exactly how he wanted it! – until he came to realize that an entirely orange world has its drawbacks, too.

But the story of Hamlin actually begins long before this iBook® came to be.

Let us tell you our story about Hamlin’s story.

As an industry leader in print communication, Vanguard Direct is known for providing smarter solutions and better results, and with mobile apps and digital publishing rapidly becoming the predominant vehicles for content delivery, we were determined to get ahead of that curve as well.

Three years ago, iBooks® were expected to become the primary growth catalyst propelling Apple’s iTunes Store to $13 billion in revenues during its 2013 fiscal year. Anticipating this paradigm shift, our Director of Creative Services, Kevin Green, challenged our leading Digital Producer, Antonio Lopez, along with the entire Creative team, to author an iPad-friendly digital publication within six weeks. The goal would be twofold: to demonstrate Vanguard Direct’s rapid mastery of eye-catching dynamic graphics and interactive features available only within the digital publishing realm – and to create an entertaining narrative that would amuse children and adults alike.

Initially, the team selected Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) as the best and swiftest route to a professional-quality production draft. Then we pulled in our staff to develop a suitable project that met the agreed-upon criteria. Ultimately, we agreed that a children’s book could exploit all of the interactive features supported by DPS, and we set out to write one.

Will Lovell, Designer, had recently become a father himself. Inspired by the legend of King Midas, he had written his own take on the Golden Touch story to entertain his young daughter. For our version, Will created the young protagonist, Hamlin, who was granted a wish to change everything he touched to the color orange. (Perhaps owing to Vanguard Direct’s own attachment to that color, we were all particularly enamored of the concept.)

Once the characters were developed and the storyline was nailed down, it was time to produce. This interactive app would require the entire team to push their creative talents to the limit. Every available skill and aptitude was pressed into service, in such disciplines as content development, writing, illustration, storyboarding, layout, design, video editing, voice narration, sound editing, HTML coding, project management – all these and more were put to the test.

Orange Interrupted                      

Incredibly enough, while the app was being completed, Adobe and Apple stymied the whole endeavor when they abruptly changed their terms regarding the DPS distribution channel for non-profit projects.

To counteract, the team quickly mastered a new software tool in record time. While iBook Publisher provides a less robust authoring toolbox than DPS, it just took a little clever back-end coding by the team to work around its obstacles. As a result, the iBook version of Orange is My Favorite Color represents a substantial improvement over the original DPS draft! With its assortment of simple animations, pictures that change colors as you swipe, and embedded audio/video, the final experience is far more interactive and engaging than most typical iBook offerings. It stands out as a stellar example of how the limitations of the format can be overcome and surpassed. 

Vanguard Direct: Smarter Solutions, Better Results

In Orange is My Favorite Color, Hamlin changed the world with his story. Now, we want to bring your story to life! Our team’s creative process can present your message in the same compelling, engaging and forward-looking way. Vanguard Direct stands ready to work with you, customizing the digital distribution experience to help you grow your business and achieve your goals.

Orange has now officially launched and may be downloaded for free from the iBooks store from the link shown below.

For a look under the hood and behind the curtain, we hope you’ll also enjoy the following video about the evolution of the character Hamlin and his own colorful story:

And, don’t forget to download and enjoy the free iBook at:


Author: Vanguard Direct Creative Services