By Erick M. Mas3 minute Read

They say appearances can be deceiving. In the case of gift giving, they might be right.

Consumers in the U.S. spend billions of dollars a year on wrapping gifts, in most cases to make their presents look as good as possible. This includes money spent on paper, boxes, ribbon, and pretty bows. While some people are particularly skilled at gift wrapping—with the perfect folds, carefully tied ribbons, and bows—others aren’t quite cut out for it, and apparently would prefer washing dishes or cleaning the house.

Two colleagues and I wondered whether all that time and effort is actually worth it. Does a beautiful presentation actually lead to a better-liked gift? Or is it the other way around?

Sloppy versus neat

In a paper recently published by the Journal of Consumer Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno professors Jessica Rixom and Brett Rixom and I conducted three experiments to explore the impact of gift wrapping.

In the first experiment, we recruited 180 university students to come to a behavioral lab in Miami to participate in a research study described as an extra credit exercise. Upon arrival, each student was given an actual gift as a token of appreciation for their participation.

The gift was a coffee mug with the logo of one of two NBA basketball teams, the local Miami Heat or rival Orlando Magic, handed out at random. We knew that every participant was a fan of the Heat based on a prior survey—and that they explicitly didn’t support the Magic. The purpose was to ensure that we were giving half of the students a desirable gift, while the other half received something they did not want.

Finally, half of the gifts were wrapped neatly, while the rest looked slapdash.

After unwrapping, participants evaluated how much they liked their gifts. We found that those who received a sloppily wrapped gift liked their present significantly more than those who received a neatly wrapped gift—regardless of which mug they got.

[Photo: courtesy of the author]

Managing expectations

To understand why, we recruited another set of students and asked them to view an image of either a neatly or sloppily wrapped gift and report their expectations about it prior to seeing what was inside.

Participants were then told to imagine opening the gift—which for everyone was a pair of JVC earbuds—and rate their actual attitudes toward it, allowing us to compare whether it matched their expectations or not.

Results showed that expectations were significantly higher for the neatly wrapped gifts compared with sloppily wrapped ones. However, after the reveal, participants receiving the neatly wrapped gift reported that it failed to live up to their expectations, while those who got the sloppily wrapped gift said it surpassed their expectations.

This suggests that people use the wrapping as a cue to how good the gift will be. Neat wrapping sets the bar for the gift too high, intimating that it will be a great present. Sloppy wrapping, on the other hand, sets low expectations, suggesting it’ll be a bad gift.

So a sloppily wrapped gift leads to pleasant surprise, while one that’s neat-looking results in disappointment.

Friends versus acquaintances

In our third and final experiment, we wanted to zero in on whether this effect depended on the relationship between the gift-giver and recipient. Does it matter if the giver is a close friend or just an acquaintance?

We surveyed a nationally representative sample of 261 adults and asked them to imagine being at a party with a secret gift exchange. At random, participants viewed images and imagined receiving either a neatly or sloppily wrapped gift. This time, we instructed half of them to imagine the gift was from a close friend, while the other half believed it came from an acquaintance. Then we revealed the gift and asked them to rate it.

When it came from a close friend, recipients ended up liking the sloppily wrapped gift more, just like in our other experiments. However, when the gift came from an acquaintance, recipients preferred it when it was neatly wrapped. This occurs because these participants used the wrapping as a cue to how much the gift-giver values their relationship—rather than to signal what’s inside. Neat wrapping implies the giver values their relationship.

A pleasant surprise

So if you’re stressing over gift wrapping this holiday season, consider saving yourself time, effort, and money by wrapping your friends’ and family’s gifts haphazardly.

But if you’re planning to give a gift to someone you don’t know quite as well—a work colleague, for example—it’s probably worth it to show you put in some effort to make it look good with all of the neat folds, crisp edges, and beautiful bows.

I, for one, am taking these results to heart. From now on, I’ll only wrap my wife’s gifts sloppily so she’ll always be pleasantly surprised no matter how good—or bad—the gift is.

Erick M. Mas is a postdoctoral fellow in marketing at Vanderbilt University. This story originally appeared on The Conversation.


Cloud communications platform Twilio has released a new study that found consumers prefer email and text when talking to brands, despite a wide selection of channels.

The survey, which includes responses from 2,500 global consumers, also concluded that despite negative consumer sentiment toward how businesses approach communications, they are more likely to reward businesses that adhere to their preferred channels.

“Everyday at Twilio, we hear from brands who want to improve their customer experience yet are overwhelmed by the increasingly complex communications landscape,” said Sara Varni, chief marketing officer at Twilio. “There is a lot to be done to improve the current state of how companies engage with their customers and it starts with knowing which channels consumers prefer and how to personalize the medium to align with the context of the interaction.”

Why we should care

Understanding how, when and where our audience wants to hear from us is critical to keeping them engaged with our brands. The study findings include that channel, frequency and timing will influence consumer behavior and sentiment. 94% of consumers reported they are annoyed by the current communications they receive from businesses, citing high communication frequency (61%), irrelevant content (56%), not remembering opting in (41%) and being contacted on the wrong communication channel (33%).

The context of the message heavily influences the consumers’ channel preference. While 83% of consumers said they prefer to receive emails, texts are twice as popular for urgent messages, including delivery or arrival notification or appointment reminders.

The research also found that personalization is increasingly important to Gen Z and Millenial consumers — the two groups who are also most likely to reward brands who meet their preferences or penalize businesses for subpar communication experiences. Across all respondents, Twilio found that 75% have rewarded a business for using the right communication channel with 71% saying they have penalized brands for not delivering on the right channel. Over one-third (34%) indicated they will make a purchase from a business that communications with them on their preferred channel.

More on the news

  • Twilio surveyed 2,500 consumers from the US, UK, Germany and Australia in August 2019 about their communication preferences and experiences.
  • All respondents owned a mobile device and had been the recipient of communication from a business through a variety of channels including email, text message, messaging app, social media, phone or a company’s mobile app.

About The Author

Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.


A new report published by mobile ad company Kargo found that ad viewability does not directly correlate to memorability. Similarly, the report also indicated that ad visibility does not necessarily yield higher user engagement. 

Kargo’s study distinguished the correlation between viewability of an ad unit and its memorability (ad effectiveness), examining the following formats: Instagram ads, large format in-article mobile ads, Kargo pinned mobile ads, mobile gaming in-app ads, and desktop ads.

Viewability vs. memorability across digital ad formats

Instagram among the highest in ad effectiveness. Despite the low share of sessions reported at 1.9%, Instagram proved to be 8.3x more effective than gaming and 5.4x more than desktop with 77% of participants looking at an ad at some point during their session. Instagram generated an ad effectiveness score of 10.8%, which was also matched by large-format in-article mobile ads.

Large-format in-article ads just as effective as Instagram ads. These ads also scored 10.8% in ad effectiveness with 4.1% share of sessions. The ads had a 50% viewability rate. The study determined that mobile web ads offer a lucrative format for amplifying social efforts within existing contextual environments.

Kargo’s pinned mobile ads 2x more effective than desktop ads. Kargo’s “Breakout” and “Sidekick” ad units – which display as a fixed block at the bottom of articles – ranked third in ad effectiveness at 3.9% with 90% viewability. By using a basic banner format and adding animation, these smaller format units were analyzed to test if creative enhancements alone could result in a higher share of session and attention.

In-app gaming banner ads showed lowest ad effectiveness.  While in-app game banners were highly visible (90% viewability) according to Kargo’s study, they were rarely looked at and resulted in only 1.3% ad effectiveness. Almost 98.5% of the time that the ad was in-view, it was not being looked at, and claimed only 1.5% share of total sessions. Furthermore, ad recall for these ads was extremely low, with participants claiming there were no lasting impressions around the brands or products being advertised.

Desktop banners second-lowest ad effectiveness of all platforms. Kargo exposed participants to sidebar banner ads on desktop. While these ads had an 80% viewability rate, they were only looked at an average of 1.9% of the total session time and represented 2% ad effectiveness.

Ad recall by platform

In addition to tracking viewability, Kargo also measured the effectiveness of each platform by how well respondents accurately recall the brands that were advertised.

Among the respondents who were exposed to at least one ad, pinned mobile web ads and large format in-article ads outperformed the other platforms in ad recall by 29%.

Additionally, participants in the mobile web group were tasked with selecting the brands they recall from a list, of which 60% selected at least one of the four brands tested.

Source: Kargo | Mobile web recall is significantly higher than gaming or desktop at 90% confidence | Base: Total respondents exposed to at least one ad; Mobile web n=126, Game n=119, Instagram n=107, Desktop n=112

Why we should care

The study findings indicate that in-app gaming and pinned mobile web ads demonstrated the highest rate of viewability, despite in-app ads producing extremely low ad recall. In contrast, Instagram and in-article mobile ads yielded the highest ad effectiveness and ad recall – while not being considered the most viewable.

“In order to deliver a successful ad experience today, brands need to consider if their creatives actually depict a clear message and resonate with consumers,” said Harry Kargman, CEO and founder of Kargo.

Factors such as ad creative, messaging, and digital placement can greatly impact how consumers are exposed to ads, and whether or not they are memorable.

The metric of viewability implies that an ad format has a greater opportunity to make an impression on audiences the longer it’s in-view, but Kargo’s findings show that viewability alone isn’t a consistent indicator of the ad’s lasting effect. Digital advertisers should consider that while an ad may have been “viewable,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was memorable.

About The Author

Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.

Welcome home!

This timeline is where you’ll spend most of your time, getting instant updates about what matters to you.

Tweets not working for you?

Hover over the profile pic and click the Following button to unfollow any account.

Say a lot with a little

When you see a Tweet you love, tap the heart — it lets the person who wrote it know you shared the love.

Spread the word

The fastest way to share someone else’s Tweet with your followers is with a Retweet. Tap the icon to send it instantly.

Join the conversation

Add your thoughts about any Tweet with a Reply. Find a topic you’re passionate about, and jump right in.

Learn the latest

Get instant insight into what people are talking about now.

Get more of what you love

Follow more accounts to get instant updates about topics you care about.

Find what’s happening

See the latest conversations about any topic instantly.

Never miss a Moment

Catch up instantly on the best stories happening as they unfold.


Ângela Sousa

This week I’m adding a cool feature to one of our most beloved apps: Whatsapp. Have you heard of it? ?

My colleague Ida Sandes gave me this amazing idea for this 4-day project.

? Interview with Ida

Well… It should not be an interview. It should be a conversation with your user.

I tried to understand why does she feel like this feature is missing. What could be her main pain points so I can try and help her out.

? Insights

  • Her main purpose was to schedule birthday messages. She feels like she may hurt her family’s/friends’ feelings for forgetting their birthdays;
  • She also feels like she’s being rude if she sends a message at the wrong time (different timezone — from Portugal to Brazil);
  • She mentioned also that it could be used at a professional level (schedule meetings, selling products, etc). Whatsapp is a very strong app in Brazil;
  • It could also be another pain point here as she refers that if she sends an automatic birthday message and doesn’t respond right away, her friend may notice and be upset.

? Surveys

I tried to understand if people really schedule messages frequently and if not if they would like to on Whatsapp.

Wow factor: 40 responses in 7h. Thank you guys ❤


  • 78% don’t schedule messages;
  • 62% would like to but wouldn’t use it a lot (so it won’t be one of the main features).

Main reasons for using this:

  • Birthday messages;
  • Personal reminders (for myself or for sending other people a message).

Since I can’t send messages to myself on Whatsapp, I thought that a general message scheduler would be a cool feature. Most of them didn’t refer business so I’m not adding this filter. Some mentioned timezone as an important feature.

? JTBD (Jobs-To-Be-Done)

“When we buy a product, we essentially ‘hire’ it to help us do a job.”

Clayton M. Christensen

Meaning: What does the customer want when they buy/download something? What is his/her true goal?

I used Ida as my main user to create Jobs-to-be-done and understand. Let’s put ourselves in her shoes.

  • When: It’s one of my Brazilian friend’s birthday;
  • I want to: send them a personalized message;
  • So that: I can feel part of their lives even though I’m away.

? Value Proposition Canvas

I created this canvas to better empathize with my user since we have just 4h for research.

✍? Lo-fi

Oh my gosh. What a nightmare. I got stuck here.

I already knew what I needed to create as you can see on my first User Flow.

It’s a disgrace. I know.

Next in line: I needed to understand Whatsapp flow and how I could use their icons/screens to create something new. My feature should feel natural on the app and consistent with the design they already have. And how do I do this?

You can check the nightmare on the next sketches.

So I asked my TA and TL for help and?

… of ideas!

So my process of ideation was based on the pages that I knew I had to create:

  • Sending a message;
  • Scheduling that message;
  • Choosing date/time;
  • Be able to know which messages I already scheduled and delete them;
  • Create templates for those messages;
  • Erase/edit those templates.

Next thing I was prototyping.

I decided to prototype on paper for 2 main reasons:

  • It’s easier/faster for me than to do a mid-fidelity;
  • I think the interaction with our users is different. I’m able to change screens and add pop-ups (if necessary) in that exact moment. I had some doubts so I thought this was the best way to prove my theories. And I can’t tell you how much this helped me…
  • Well, another one: improving my drawing skills is also a plus ?‍♀️

Don’t judge yourself if you don’t understand what’s written.

I was sooo wrong. Thank god for testing!

Wrong assumptions:

  • People would directly go to write a message to a specific friend. Instead, ALL OF THEM were going to the menu;
  • They would go to the menu to delete an already scheduled message. Instead, they ALL tried to delete it immediately on the same screen.

Those insights were MAJOR to hi-fi development. Since I had tested and knew all the screens that I needed I started with my newest passion: UI. Never draw a hi-fi like this so it’s a huge challenge for me.

✍? Hi-fi

I had to dive into hi-fi and skip mid-fi since I didn’t have much time and all the users I tested with followed the same flow.

I’m designing in Android because its easier for me to test on my phone while I’m creating the high fidelity prototype (using Crystal).

? Blocker ?

WhatsApp seems to dislike designers. The screens available on their brand resources page are not up-to-date. Had to use my own screens to design.

Another one: what about icons people? I had to create almost all of them since they don’t have any library available for me to export. This was good to practice but I having only 4 days to work on this project it took me a long time to create that (#pickygirl).

Besides that, I loved the hi-fi process (#teamSketch).

So WhatsApp… are you ready? Before trying my prototype out be aware of your flow:

  • 1: Schedule a birthday message to Alex;
  • 2: Check all the messages you already scheduled to him;
  • 3: Delete 1 message.

Ready. Set. Go ?

Here are my screens for your appreciation ❤️

I have to mention some things that I’m proud of:

  • Improving my Sketch skills;
  • My attention to detail. I really wanted users to feel like they were inside WhatsApp;
  • Designing most of the icons you see on the prototype. It’s funny to see how now I can understand how I should build them like legos. I just join the pieces and adapt.

“Steal like an artist” — Austin Kleon

This was a really strange thought to me. I came from content management. “Stealing” is something very serious and that I never did. It pissed me off when I saw my article used without people even crediting me.

Because of this, I was a bit scared of UI. “How am I going to get creative enough to create something powerful?”. Now I understand that in order to create your own design you must get inspiration from other people. And that’s exactly what I did.

Here is my presentation for you to check ?

?‍? What did I learn?

  • To manage my time a bit better. I’m very picky and sometimes you have to choose between having a good night sleep or a prototype close to pixel perfect. Not having a good night sleep influenced my pitch. So a bit of a warning for you guys;
  • I should test with people that are not biased. On my next project, I’ll try and do a guerilla test so I can understand the different kinds of feedback;
  • That organizing my Sketch while I’m working is crucial. I took a long time creating my Atomic Library but it was easier for me since I already had at least my icons organized;
  • Everyone has their own pace. I trusted more the process this time and I’m very proud of what I came up with.

So WhatsApp… when should we start?

A new feature is coming.


  • All icons that I didn’t design myself @ Font Awesome and Noun Project;
  • All images @ Pexels;
  • Android device outlines mockup, keyboard, and date time picker @ Sketch App Sources;
  • Inspiration to create my slides @ Behance.

Email optimization and deliverability are critical to our marketing programs, and a new report [registration required] from Return Path indicates that marketers are starting to pay closer to attention to the key factors that help their email reach the intended inboxes. Reaching the inbox continues to challenge marketers as bad actors continuously develop new methods for spamming email users. Internet service providers (ISPs) constantly update their algorithms to prevent spam from reaching email users, inadvertently causing headaches for email marketers.

Why we should care

Email programs have
significantly improved over the past decade. Marketers are becoming more aware
of the importance of their sending reputation, while email service providers
(ESPs) and deliverability monitoring firms have created new tools and features
to help marketers keep track of their deliverability.

When Return Path published its first Sender Score Benchmark report in 2012, 60% of email messages were deployed from IP addresses with a Sender Score below 11 — compare that to only 16% with Sender Scores below 11 today. Nearly half (42%) have a Sender Score between 91-100.

MarTech East in Boston, September 16-18. I hope to see you there!

About The Author