Archive | May, 2011

Your Ad Agency’s First Task: Educate Your Clients

A Lesson From the Branded-Entertainment Front

We run, I’m proud to say given the landscape, a growing branded-entertainment and alternative-marketing agency. That said, we continually face the same challenges as other agencies when looking to work with new clients. In spite of its popularity, no one really knows what branded entertainment actually is — how much it costs, where they can get it or what their expectations should be. Funny really, since it’s been around since about 1950.

Let’s start with the definition.

Branded entertainment is not product placement. It’s not the ability to put a brand’s name on the side of a building. It’s not the excuse for a new challenge in the reality show, or the prize for caller 105 on the radio. It’s not a sporting event, or a mention of your favorite footwear, candy or mode of transport in this week’s top 40. It’s not the ability to finance a TV show or produce a web series. It’s not an article in your favorite rag, and it’s not a mind distractor at the gas pump. It’s all of the above, none of the above and much more. And that’s the problem (or at least one of them). Depending on whom you are talking to, almost everyone has a different definition — primarily based upon their own experience or capabilities.

We believe that entertainment, broadly speaking, is everything that you, or I, spend our hard-earned money on when we are not at work. Hitting the gym or the spa, reading a book (analog or digital), going to the theatre, getting your hair done, watching the game, surfing the net, grabbing a bite, watching the TV — you get the idea. Branded entertainment therefore is the ability to integrate brands into any of those social activities. The trick, however, is to ensure the integration is strategically relevant. If it’s not, the result will be as intrusive as more traditional forms of marketing and far less effective. However, when it is relevant, consumers willingly invite brands into their world and the return is outstanding. Jay Z’s new Life Times site is a great example of good branded entertainment.

Given that the opportunities for branded entertainment are so extensive, it’s not surprising that that the demand is increasing. Every agency has a branded-entertainment executive or department, and every agency, which just five years ago was focused on a single discipline, can now do it all. Some can, but many can’t, and that’s a worry for us small agencies. To complicate matters further, clients often don’t know what they are buying, how much effort and time it takes to move the needle and what success looks like.


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The New York Times Social Media Strategy Boils Down To ‘Don’t Be Stupid’

Liz Heron, the social media editor at The New York Times, is refreshingly honest about her paper’s policies about Twitter and Facebook.

Or lack thereof, as the case may be.

“We don’t really have any social media guidelines,” she told the audience at the BBC’s Social Media Summit. “We basically just tell people to use common sense and don’t be stupid.”

While last year, she and the other two social media editors encouraged journalists to use social media like a distribution channel, this year they want writers and reporters to interact with people.

The three goals for the social media platforms are to increase “user engagement and newsgathering on our main accounts,” “amplifying our journalists’ voice for those who are doing [social media] really well,” and add a social media component to high-impact stories coming out of the newsroom like a Facebook chat when Osama bin Laden was killed.

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This Is the Golden Age of Advertising

Mad Men Era Was Dark Ages Compared to Digital Renaissance

We are in our Golden Age. Sorry, it wasn’t the age of Mad Men. Those were the Dark Ages. I, like most, worship those days. It had its appeal. There were brilliant people creating at that time. But looking back, they had so few tools the effort were the equivalent of beating a log drum compared to conducting a symphony orchestra. Today we have the opportunity to engage a consumer in a duet compared to singing a solo to them. Listening to a song entertains, but singing along makes you a part of the music. The human appeal to communication today and the advertising of yesterday is like comparing traveling across country in 2011 versus doing so in the 1850s.

We are in the most exciting time of marketing history. It’s the equivalent of the Renaissance after the Dark Ages. If you have ever studied art history you learn that The Dark Ages weren’t that dark. There was classic thought and art created. But, if the flower sprouted during the Dark Ages, it bloomed in the Renaissance. Compare the two periods and you realize why the Dark Ages gets the bad rap.

The digital age is our Renaissance. It is a palate of options that at first is overwhelming and then enthralling. Teressa Iezzi, editor of Ad Age sibling Creativity, has brought this opportunity into focus in her book, The Idea Writers: Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Era.

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The Most Dangerous Expression in Advertising

And How to Separate the Good Ideas From the Bad

The most dangerous expression in advertising may be “I like it!”

Whether those words come from a creative director looking at work for the first time, or a seasoned client, that’s the expression that often launches new creative ideas into the world.

Unfortunately, one person’s enthusiastic first impression doesn’t tell you whether the work is actually good or bad, or how it will resonate in the marketplace. Without some criteria to guide our decisions, all of us who make creative decisions can speak too soon. Even the best creative minds occasionally like really stupid ideas that a larger audience doesn’t get or appreciate.

There’s some great advertising and there’s some awful advertising, and most reasonable people find themselves in agreement as to what’s inspired and what’s horrible. But the world is divided into Yankee fans and Red Sox fans for a reason. People have different tastes. Some of the fiercest agency battles I’ve witnessed have been heated debates focused on creative ideas and whether they’re brilliant or mere garbage. We’ve all stared at campaigns in disbelief and wondered who approved the multimillion-dollar media budget to communicate the incomprehensible, the offensive or the ridiculous.

Over the years I’ve found myself on every possible side of the creative fence. I’ve passionately lobbied for work that hit the market with a big resounding thud. I’ve cringed at work that went on to produce excellent results for clients. I’ve rolled my eyes as creative teams have vehemently argued for work that I thought was just in bad taste. Knowing the good from the bad is no easy matter.

Most of us are going to make some good calls and some bad calls. That’s life. But no matter what the call, we should apply some criteria, which should be quantifiable outside of our own idiosyncratic tastes.

I don’t believe there’s a magic checklist for making creative decisions, but here are some of the qualities I think about when deciding whether work is worth seeing the light of the day.

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Five Reasons You Need to Focus on Earned Media

The Most Trusted Information Comes Not From You, but From Your Customers

Marketers currently face a barrage of challenges and shifts in the way consumers engage with their brands. But earned media is gaining momentum, and for good reason. Today, it’s earned media impressions that are building brands and paving the way for an open dialogue between companies and their customers.

If you’ve been ignoring this trend, then you’re missing a critical piece of the revenue puzzle.

Here are five reasons to start thinking about it.

1. Earned media is the most trusted and credible form of content for a brand

2. Social media has amplified the sheer quantity and reach of earned media

3. Conversion rates are higher and ROI is undeniable

4. Earned media lasts

5. Earned media is measurable



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4 Ways to Keep Subscribers Clicking

After 4 months, the average click rate from the average subscriber drops to less than 1%.

That’s pretty low. But you can avoid such an extreme click-through crash, if you know how.

You see, your 4 month-old subscribers probably get the same emails as your newest readers. But 4 months in, they’re at a different stage in their relationship with your brand. So are readers-turned-customers. So are those who’ve stopped reading.

So send different versions of your emails (and maybe even entirely different emails!) to subscribers at each stage. Here are four easy ways to send stage-sensitive emails.


Feed the Babies With Follow Ups

New subscribers are excited about your brand. They’re anticipating good things. So make sure you have good things waiting: set up a few follow up messages to meet them.

Introduce them to your business and get them used to your emails. You can even set a message schedule to ease them in gently.

For example:

Yolanda wants subscribers to her yoga studio’s emails to get familiar with the studio so they’ll feel comfortable coming in for classes. So she sets three follow up messages. The first explains the studio’s philosophies and type of practice, the second introduces each instructor and the third has photos of the studio, including changing areas and storage spaces.

For Yolanda’s readers, signing up for a class is naturally the next step to take.

To send follow ups with AWeber, follow these instructions.

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Your Brand’s Facebook To-Do List

Your Brand’s Facebook To-Do List

May 13th, 2011 • By: Kaila StrongSocial Media

Facebook To-Do List

You’ve read it, you’ve heard it: your brand needs to have a Facebook presence. Sure, seems easy enough – you build a Page, tell your friends and family to “Like” it, add some social buttons on your website, send out a few status message updates, then sit back and wait for the magic to happen. That magic, however, doesn’t just happen.

So what can you do? The process might seem overwhelming leading you to believe giving up is your best option. I’m here to tell you, don’t give up! Working through our to-do list can help even the most unorganized get their Facebook act in check.

Research (Quarterly)

One of the biggest marketing faux pas is assuming you know what your audience wants without proper research. Quarterly research such as social listening and competitive audits will help you answer the essential question: Why would users want to interact with my brand? Spending a few hours evaluating your competitors, figuring out what your audience is talking about, looking both onsite and offsite, and checking out industry studies is recommended before checking this off your list. Below I’ve listed a few great resources to help you research: – Search status message updates by keyword or topic, and sort by gender. – Has its limitations, but includes the most common indicators of social media activity. – Get the latest buzz on any topic.

Twitter Search – Sure, you’re looking for information to help you with Facebook, but Twitter Search can provide real time search you’re looking for.

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4A’s:Agencies Must Obtain Feedback From Clients Post-Pitch

Consultants Say It’s Good Idea, but Practical Issues Remain

For the third time in the past several months, the 4A’s has released a directive, with this one focused on agencies obtaining feedback from clients at the conclusion of an agency review. The trade group circulated the document to all its members as well as the search consultant community, and is touting it on its website.

“Surprisingly, many agencies do not have formal protocols for consistently obtaining learning feedback from their new business-agency review activities,” the document states. The 4A’s suggests a three-pronged approach to post-review feedback that includes: agencies conducting a self-assessment immediately after the final review; agency search agreements between clients and shops including a commitment from the advertiser to provide frank feedback after the pitch; and use of a standardized questionnaire to help collect information about client searches.

According to Tom Finneran, exec VP of agency-management services at the 4A’s, agencies need more feedback because of discrepancies between what agencies think clients want and what clients actually want during a review process.. For example, he said, “Agencies talk about pitch theater — like it’s a Broadway show — and clients say they don’t want that shit. How do agencies get that learning and internalize it unless clients say there was sizzle but not enough steak, and you’re too showy?”


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The Demographics of Social Media

Ad Age Looks at the Users of the Major Social Sites.

In this week’s Ad Age, we collected a lot of social media demographics based on actual user profiles, not just Web traffic. But knowing how you love to pass around your #infographics we thought we’d pull it all into one handy file for you. And also knowing how you like deep-dive data, here’s a more detailed table of the age breakdowns of Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.


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#Winning on Twitter: the Top 10 Promoted Tweets

VW, Papa John’s — and Twitter — Win by Keeping it Real, Using Links and Launching New Products

Ads on twitter are a funny hybrid, a combination of paid and earned media. You can buy a bunch of keywords on Twitter, but a promoted tweet won’t do much unless it resonates with consumers and they are inspired to pass it around.

Five Rules to Rule Twitter

BE TWEETING. The best advertisers are already using Twitter organically.

USE A HASHTAG. It connects the ad to the broader conversation.

INCLUDE A LINK. Most of the top 50 paid tweets used one.

KEEP IT REAL-TIME. About 70% of top tweets connected to something happening now.

LAUNCH A PRODUCT. Most of the top 10 were revealing something new.

From the start, Twitter has charged for promoted tweets on what it calls “engagement” or user action — a retweet, response, click on a link or when a user marks a post as a “favorite.” Marketers don’t pay when the tweets go nowhere. Twitter also only charges for the first retweet of the original; subsequent retweets are “earned” and free.

As sales chief Adam Bain says, “Marketers are rewarded if they are good, not just if they’re loud.” While ad spending on Twitter is expected to grow to $150 million in 2011 from $45 million in 2010, according to eMarketer, brands are still working out how to use the platform effectively. Twitter provided Advertising Age with the top 20 tweets of the past year, and we pulled the best from each of the top 10 marketers on that list based on the rate of engagement.

The top marketers represented a broad cross-section of auto, tech, fast-food and media marketers with a wide variety of products and messages. Some were obvious (the Old Spice Guy), some weren’t (Papa John’s). Some had repeat hits: Google, for example, had four tweets in the top 20; Conan O’Brien’s production company Team Coco had three and Volkswagen had two.

From those, we drew some lessons. Twitter has said publicly that the average “engagement” on promoted tweets is 3% to 5%, but for the top paid tweets engagement is eye-popping for any kind of digital ad. For example, the top tweet of the year, from VW, had a 52% engagement rate, meaning of all people exposed to the ad, more interacted with it than ignored it. VW’s six promoted tweets for the New Beetle and one promoted trend reached 90 million people. No. 10 on the list is a promoted tweet from Twitter itself, with a 25% engagement rate, far greater than the norm.

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