March 14, 2012

Internet Addiction #SXSWi

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 1:06 pm

The following are facts learned at SXSW this year, during a session entitled Digital Divas.

There is such a thing as internet addiction. It is a defined clinical disorder. And women are more likely to internet addicts than men. Two-thirds of women claim to be addicted to the internet, while only half of men claim this. Signs of internet addiction include:

  • Checking your smart phone before getting out of bed (34% of women do this).
  • Sleeping with your smart phone and waking up to check Facebook in the middle of the night (21% of women do this)
  • Checking Facebook while on the toilet (27% of women do this).

It is this last fact that has spurred the following internet sensation:


How Much Is It Worth? #SXSWi

Filed under: Social Media,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 7:35 am

If you’ve ever wondered how much mention of a brand by a consumer through social media is worth, you are in luck. Someone has done the math:

  • A Facebook like is worth $8.
  • A Facebook share is worth $14.
  • A Twitter post is worth $5.

There you go.

Social Media: Which Comes First, Creativity or Metrics? #SXSWi

Filed under: Social Media,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 7:28 am

No one has quite figured out the perfect way to report on the success (or failure) of social media campaigns. That much is clear from my five days at SXSW this year. Followers, likes and clicks are not going away. Facebook has a new way of measuring “engagement” which is basically “shares” of the content, and this is helpful. But how do we know that we are connecting with the right audience?

We will know by the way the audience engages with the campaign and the overall word-of-mouth generated to help it spread online. You can measure all the clicks and likes and followers that you receive, but if the message you are communicating is off-brand, all wrong for your audience and similar to others in the marketplace, can the campaign really be considered a success because of clicks, likes and followers?  Too many brands are jumping into social media campaigns to do something “cool” and “fun” and “different.” But they are forgetting to define the basics for any communications campaign:

  1. Brand message/overall communications goal
  2. Target audience
  3. Competitive landscape

I sat in on a great session at SXSW entitled Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social where the panelists shared examples of “epic wins” and “epic fails” in social media campaigns. The theme among the wins was:

The brands knew the campaign basics (outlined above) and measured each and every creative idea against those objectives to ensure the output was on-brand.

It is a simple as that. And it makes so much sense.

Examples of “epic wins” shared by the panel:

  • Barbie introduced a new career for the doll: computer engineer. Fans on the internet started Photoshopping Barbie into photos iconic technology events and posting them online. Mattel let it happen and started providing all the images for people to use. Once they embraced what the audience was doing and gave them the tools to help do it did they saw the creativity go to a whole new level and engagement spread like wildfire on the web.
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Ape”s movie was about to launch and they wanted to engage with 18-34 year old guys who weren’t familiar with the original. They produced a video with a trained ape shooting an AK-47 and put it on YouTube, with the theme being “apes are getting smarter.” The video got over 20 million view on YouTube. The comments on YouTube indicated they had definitely hit their target audience.
  • Chevy during the Super Bowl knew that Twitter was where the talk would be occurring about the commercials. So they bought out Twitter advertising stock and owned that space.

Examples of “epic fails” shared by the panel:

  • Crocs was targeting moms who were buying shoes for their kids. The brand produced a video to the song Yellow Submarine and placed it on YouTube. The video got one million views, but was totally not the right target given the content of the video and did not see sales results. They weren’t disciplined in the message to the target audience and they could tell this by the comments on the video.
  • A large (unnamed) consumer electronics brand that had five objectives with one creative message. They needed different messages and creative, each aligned with an objective in order for it to be successful. It was a massive fail.

Knowing the target audience and where they spend time online and understanding what might engage them takes research on the front end. Just because social media is nimble, does not mean that it should be executed with reckless abandon. Research thoroughly upfront, agree on how the campaign will be measured, check every creative execution against the campaign objectives and audience, and don’t be stupid.

For your entertainment, here is the “Planet of the Apes” video:

March 13, 2012

Thinking Visually #SXSWi

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 7:57 am

One of my favorite sessions yesterday was Shut Up & Draw: A Non-Artist Way to Think Visually. The crux of this session was that drawing an idea leads to improved thinking; it allows for filtering of information to get to the heart of the idea.

The panel talked about “visual literacy” and how much easier it is to understand ideas through drawings. To demonstrate that you don’t have to be an artist (or have any kind of drawing skills at all) to express thoughts and ideas visually, they had the audience draw on napkins. It was quite fun (you can see mine below). And I loved the little doodle books they distributed:

The Data Quest Continues #SXSWi

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 6:37 am

Stories. Storytelling. A narrative. Context. A collective understanding of events. These are the things that really make data relevant and why we want and should study, analyze and interpret it.

I attended several sessions on Monday at SXSW in Austin that again talked about data and what to do with it. And it all comes back to the stories that we can tell with the data and that being the true value of the data, not the data itself. And while crunching the data might be done by a machine, the story has to come from a human. One presenter aptly said:




It is really as simple as that. We might be on a quest for the perfect measurement dashboard (which is still desperately needed), but how we tell the story with the data that is displayed is what is going to really matter, whether that is visually through information infographics (interactive or not) or through words. It is all about the story.

March 12, 2012

Video: #SXSWi, So Far

Filed under: SXSW,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:02 am

At about half-way through SXSW 2012, here are some of the things we are hearing a lot about.

March 11, 2012

Location, Location, Location #SXSWi

Filed under: Social Media,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 10:52 pm

I know this is not the first time I have used that headline on this blog. But location doesn’t seem to be diminishing in importance when it comes to mobile technologies, social sharing and finding cool stuff.

The trend in location is discovery. Discovering places, discovering people and discovering other stuff like deals, information and suggestions from your networks.

Yesterday at SXSW, we heard Dennis Crowley talk about the future of Foursquare. The service is going to continue evolving for its users, reading into the context of users’ activities to make recommendations for places to “explore.”

Today, we heard from keynote speaker Amber Case (founder of Geoloqi) as she talked about ambient location (location services always running in the background of your smart phone) and the the ways we can use it to learn more about our surroundings. And influence our surroundings (i.e., your house lights automatically come on when you–and your phone–get within a specified distance of your house).

Then here in Austin, we are surrounded by new ambient location apps that promise to connect us to new people who are in our near vicinity, provided we have something in common (friends, followers, mutual friends). These apps–like Highlight and Banjo–notify you when people are close. (Not going to lie: this creeps me out a little bit so far.)

It remains to be seen which of these apps will survive and the users will decide how the can best be used. But regardless, it is fair to say that location services are not going away and are only gaining in importance. Consumers are obviously looking for was to discover new places, people and experiences. They are asking for the information. For marketers, this is great news. It is simply a matter of being active in those spaces and sharing the information in the ways the consumers want to digest it.

Photo Sharing Madness #SXSWi

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 9:58 pm

Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Google+, Facebook, Twitter. All these services either feature photo sharing or highlight photo sharing in a big way that is only getting bigger. What is up with all this photo sharing?

It is so easy to share photos now: the cameras in phones are high quality, we always have them with us, we have become accustomed to sharing moments of our lives, and photos tell stories beyond what we can do with words. It makes sense for consumers to share in their everyday lives, but how are brands using these photo sharing sites?

Today, Instagram founders participated in a discussion about their service today at SXSW in Austin, TX. They announced that the service now has 27 million registered users worldwide. And this is only on through iOS devices and without a website. With 67% of the people who used it this week, used it yesterday there is huge engagement. The Instagram founders call this Facebook-level engagement. Then today they announced that they will have an Android version of the app ready very soon.

When it comes to brand engagement, Instagram has found a successful model. The volume of brands that have signed up for Instagram and use it on a daily basis is amazing. Burberry has 200,000 followers and they are showing them new lines, behind the scenes of the fashion shows and sharing details consumers couldn’t find elsewhere. Brands also include Kate Spade, Starbucks, Audi, and Tiffany, just to name a few. It is working really well and fans like it; they are inviting these brands into their streams.

Not surprisingly, it is also these brands and those similar to those that jumped on Pinterest quickly. And they are reaping the rewards of telling their story through photography in the places that consumers are also sharing their photography: people are shopping directly from these photo links.

If brands can tell their stories and make them interesting through photography, that is reason enough to play in the same spaces that consumers are sharing their photography. In fact, consumers are embracing it and helping spread the brand messages.

So Much Data #SXSWi

Filed under: SXSW,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 8:21 pm

An inforgraphic example, SXSW-style:

It seems that everyone is trying to figure out what to do with data, how to show it, and how to analyze it. There is data available in abundance with people sharing more than ever across social channels, mobile applications and web traffic.

At SXSW today, even in sessions where data wasn’t the topic, data came up in the discussions. From journalistic storytelling to digital sports, participants were curious about what could be done with the data being captured. Even panelist from EA Sports said there is no such thing as too much data, they have a ton of it, but now they are trying to figure out what to do with it. Then, I ended the day with a session dedicated to data called Beautiful Data? No, that Data is a Sex Machine.

In a room with everyone from hardcore developers to brand marketers, we had a discussion about how to mine the data and how to display the data. In general, displaying the data visually makes it easier for people to consume and comprehend the data (and when they can manipulate it themselves, it is even better). But how do we decide what data to visualize? Stew Langille, CEO of said that infographics are not about the design, but rather about the story that the data can tell. We must look for the story, then wireframe it out and put it together like you are putting together the front page of the newspaper. Infographics should first be approached withan editorial mindset, a journalistic approach. This makes so much sense, yet most are not approaching it this way; instead they are approaching it as pretty pictures, making the data less meaningful.

So this sounds really interesting and exciting, but how can marketers use data to engage their audiences? Langille and have been working with ad agencies and brands to figure this out. He gave the great example the Showtime series “Shameless”: they worked with to create a application that allows users to create a “Shameless” character using their Twitter content. I don’t watch the show, but I played with the application. For fun, you can see my “shameless” character here (though it is quite wrong!):

Not only does data visualization have a role in consumer-facing communications and engagement, but using it inside organizations for metrics dashboards is a huge need. No one has the perfect model yet and everyone is still trying to figure it out. Companies like are providing tools to get closer to the product desired for visually tracking varying measurements and providing differing views depending on the user (i.e., CEO views vs. marketing views vs. digital strategy views).

The bottom line is that everyone, from brand managers to consumers, are interested in looking at data in varying ways. Consumers are willingly sharing their data and enjoy seeing it fed back to them in interesting ways. As marketers, we need to be looking for the stories that we can tell within the data and then sharing those stories with anyone who will listen.

March 10, 2012

Why Use Google+? #SXSWi

Filed under: Social Media,SXSW,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 11:18 pm

I signed up for the Google+ as soon as I received one of those coveted invitations. But, once I got there, I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. A lot of people I knew were signing up, too. But no one was posting or sharing, we were all just kind of, well, there just to be there. So my profile has been sitting there, sadly unused since last summer when I registered it. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, at SXSW, I listened to Guy Kawaski grill Vic Gundotra about Google+. And during this grilling, Kawaski revealed his passion for all that Google+ offers as a tool for sharing. In fact, at the close of the session he announced his new book, “What the Plus?” The book is an e-book, available for immediate download and I decided to read it. It is a quick read and when I was done, I decided to give Google+ a second chance.

Google+ is this interesting mix of Facebook and Twitter, with a layer on additional features on top. It is not exactly intuitive, but once you understand the differences compared to the other social networks and practice with it a bit, it is fun to use. (Though a social network that needs an instruction book doesn’t feel very social.) Really, Google+ works a lot more like Twitter in terms of how people follow you and the more public nature of it compared to Facebook. The benefit of Google+ over Twitter is the long form posts with embedded links, images and videos right in the stream and aggregated comments, which are Facebook-like functions. For me, Google+ is going to be a place to share interesting finds that aren’t necessarily blog-worthy, but need more commentary than allowed on Twitter. The circles are greatly valuable for segmenting the messages you want to share and really giving you a way to use one social network for all your different audiences. Google+ has the potential to be a regular source of news and information for me as I find more people to add to my circles and I love that my using it can make my overall Google experience a better one eventually.

Check out the video from SXSW of Kawaski interviewing Gundotra about Google+:

Remixing and Stealing #SXSWi

Filed under: SXSW,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 9:52 pm

“Everything has been said before but no one was listening the first time”

A couple of weeks ago, I posted here about the book “Steal Like An Artist.” It is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and I’ve referred to several times since to inspire creativity in my own thinking. At SXSW today, I had the pleasure of listening the author banter with the Everything is a Remix creator in a session about demystifying creativity.

The two men talked about the fact that there are no more original ideas, we are all doing one of the following when in our creative processes:

  • Copying
  • Transforming
  • Combining

Their discussions covered rip-offs versus remixes, filering and curating versus creating, and wanting to be unique while also wanting to be a part of something. But the best demonstration of principle was when they played a segment from one of the Everything is a Remix web videos. I’ve embedded a full video here and it is worth watching, especially if you are a movie buff.

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Doing Transmedia Right #SXSWi

Filed under: Marketing,Social Media,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 9:21 pm

Transmedia is about storytelling across multiple platforms, or basically, integrating online and offline experiences. “In transmedia, elements of a story are dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms, each making their own unique contribution to the whole.“ And when done right, transmedia puts a brand message on surround sound with the audience right in the middle.

At SXSW 2011, there was much talk about transmedia as an up-and-coming trend. But this year, there are brands that actually have transmedia case studies to share. I sat in on two sessions today where brands shared how they executed transmedia experiences successfully:


The standard audience for a BBC documentary is 55+ year-old males. They needed to broaden their audience and BBC decided to do that with a documentary called “The Code” by making it a transmedia experience. To pull this off, they partnered with a company that specializes in transmedia storytelling, Six to Start. Adrian Hon from Six to Start presented the story of “The Code” to the SXSW audience today.

Hon described how they took a traditional documentary (about seeing code and patterns in nature) and added the following elements to it to create the surround sound experience of transmedia:

  • A treasure hunt (overarching puzzle/game/theme)
  • Opt-in communication to tease the upcoming show/hunt with clues (direct mail, opt-in from existing Twitter audiences of Six to Start and BBC) (the direct mail pieces were numbered and recipients ended up forming a Facebook group to figure out how all their postcards fit together and what the clue was)
  • Hidden clues within the documentary (television)
  • Online videos with hidden clues (YouTube)
  • Online games with hidden clues (syndicated across the web)
  • Code breaker (Flash application for website)

BBC worked hard to keep the barrier to entry very low: it wasn’t hard to start playing the game or find the clues across the various channels. But, there were tiers to the reveal as BBC carefully considered the difficulty curve. Once a player put the first round of clues together, he or she unlocked an 86-page puzzle book. Solving the puzzle revealed more clues. On their own, players created a Facebook page and a wiki for helping each other piece together the clues.

Ultimately, the viewership of “The Code” documentary tripled viewership numbers of the traditional documentaries, tens of thousands of people participated in the wiki puzzle book conversations and a woman actually solved the puzzle first to win the “treasure” (a unique, 3D printed trophy made of varying medals).


The panel from Bravo said they turned to transmedia out of desperation. They were basically using “Top Chef” leftovers online and gaining very little traction or engagement from fans. They needed something that could carry the show through fans’ lives more than the one time a week it aired on television. They set out with a transmedia plan hoping to generate about a million streams online.

The plan included:

  • A web video series called “Last Chance Kitchen” where eliminated chefs could compete to get back on the show. These online events impacted the final outcome of the on-air show.
  • Online fan voting for favorite chefs
  • Contestant social media activity, allowing fans to get to know their personalities
  • Game layer on the “Top Chef” website where fans accumulated points for activity on the site (reading the blog, voting for their favorite chef, watching webisodes, etc.)
  • Social media integration at all levels (moles, tweet battles, etc.)

Bravo executed this with one person dedicated to social media, but a full team of approximately 25 people helping to pull it all together. The web series got over eight million streams. It was the highest streamed series on NBCU ever and 26% of on-air show watched “Last Chance Kitchen.” They are still trying to understand the metrics for impact to their sole sponsor of the entire experience, Toyota, and are undergoing their most ambitious research effort ever to put together a full measurement report.

Because of the success with “Top Chef,” Bravo is looking across its other shows to determine how to create transmedia experiences for those audiences, as well. Up next: co-creation with and by fans with a social game for “Real Housewives of New York.”

Based on the level of complexity, the number of moving parts and the number of people that need to be involved to pull of a transmedia experience, embarking on a transmedia campaign can seem daunting. But, based on the results with the increased audience engagement, its seems an expense worth investing.

Read more about transmedia here:

March 9, 2012

Creating Content-Relevant Ads #SXSWi

Filed under: Advertising,SXSW,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 10:08 pm

{Shaking It Up}

“Blending commerce and content can build an experience that speaks to both sides of the target audience needs.” ~ Keeping Loyal Customers Engaged by Shaking Sh*t Up

Today was the first day of SXSW 2012, so it was short (cold and rainy) day of only three sessions. But in two of the three sessions I attended today, there was discussion about content-relevant advertising and how it improves the user experience.

Thrillest co-founder and CEO Ben Lerer gave a presentation titled Keeping Loyal Customers Engaged by Shaking Sh*t Up. Lerer told the Thrillest start-up story from a single site to what is now an integrated media group. At the core of the success of the Thrillest properties is advertising that complements the content, making it uber-relevant to the user consuming both that content and the advertising. To make sure this symbiotic relationship was created, Thrillest created content for its advertisers, integrating it into Thrillest’s content offerings beyond a display ad.

{Ben Lerer}

An good example of content and advertising integration on Thrillest was the launch of McDonald’s McRib sandwich. McDonald’s placed display advertising on Thrillest’s site, but Thrillest took it to the next level by creating a vintage-esque McRib tshirt in a limited quantity and sold it on the site with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House. It helps that the Thrillest audience is young males who dig on McRibs, so the match was a perfect one.

{Guy Kawasaki Interviews Vic Gundotra}

The second session in which this content-relevant advertising was a topic was the Fireside Chat with Vic Gundotra of Google+. Gundotra described Google+ as “a social layer across all of Google’s services.” What it turns out this really means is that Google’s goal is to make ads into content by making ads relevant and serving them at the point of commercial intent (aka, search). Gundotra described it as “marrying the best of social with the best purchase intent.” Basically, this boils down to feeding the user filtered search results based on his or her Google+ content/activity and the content/activity of his or her circles on Google+. He rattled off a quite impressive statistic to support this practice: if an ad is socially annotated (tagged with a note that a specific friend has already liked this product/service/site/etc.), there is a 5-10% click through uptick. Ultimately, Gundotra said that advertisements are going to get more relevant across all Google services because of Google+ and become part of the content the user is searching.

{Visual Notes From The Fireside Chat}

All of this is good news for advertisers: the more integrated the advertiser’s message can be with the content, the more likely a user is to pay attention to it and engage with the message. But, it means that advertisers must continue to refine their target audience definitions and recognize that one ad version doesn’t work across all channels. This can get expensive and time-consuming, but will produce better results and build favorability with the target audiences.

{Best Presentation Close Ever}

March 8, 2012

Why I Moved To A Digital Role

Filed under: Personal — Emily Reeves @ 3:08 pm

Over the last 11 years at Stone Ward, I have grown up, learned a lot and had many life-changing experiences. I have valued every minute of my time in our account management department and have especially enjoyed leading a group of talented people as we evolved the group into brand managers over the last four years. Stone Ward has always provided me with the opportunity to explore my interests and passions and apply them to our work and to our clients’ communications efforts. Several years ago I was able to add our research responsibilities and management to my account management work which allowed me to work on a broader range of clients and to think differently than in the traditional account/brand management role, which I have enjoyed immensely. And now, Stone Ward has again providing me with the opportunity to follow my interests and passions and lead the agency in a different role as Director of Digital Strategy and Planning.

My specialty has always been to take massive amounts of seemingly unrelated information, process it and distill it into something that makes sense and is actionable. I enjoy the challenge of overwhelming amounts of data floating around me and figuring out the patterns within it. This is how I ended up “following my nose” (as my dad would say) into the research part of my current job. In my new role, I am excited that I will continue with my current research responsibilities (that’s the “planning” part of the title).

The process for digital strategy is very similar to developing an overall communications strategy and distilling information from research, but in addition, there must be a working knowledge of the tools, an understanding of how they can work together and a passion for the technology and its possibilities. And as interactive marketing channels (websites, display ads, search, social, mobile, etc.) have come onto the scene, each has been added as another tactic to coordinate under the umbrella of integrated campaigns. But we need to take a step back and think about how the work together, feed into each other, complement each other and ultimately roll up to accomplishing an overall communications goal. My skill set, interests, experience and client knowledge make the transition to a solely digital role make sense.

Why do I want to focus on digital strategy now? We know digital marketing works – for new customer acquisition, lead generation, and brand building. However, given the speed at which the interactive marketplace has evolved many organizations now find themselves with sprawling, disjointed digital marketing efforts that sometimes lack a central vision and useful measurement systems. There is an opportunity to make digital communications into a meaningful framework for planning, execution, and measurement. And that really excites me.

This change not only represents a shift in my roles and responsibilities at the agency, but also a shift for Stone Ward to a more concentrated focus on integrated digital engagement as a driver in marketing communications for our clients. I want to thank Millie and Larry for believing that I can lead this effort and giving the opportunity to do that. I also want to thank our entire Leadership Team at Stone Ward for the support in my making this transition and in the agency focusing on digital.

Goodbye, Brand Management

Filed under: Account Management Training,Personal,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 2:12 pm

Hello, Digital.

My role at Stone Ward has officially changed. As of today, I am the Director of Digital Strategy and Planning. And I couldn’t be more excited about taking on this challenge at our agency. I hope to bring my passion for all things digital to the experience and knowledge I have about all our clients and work with them and our agency to make their digital presences more robust, integrated and successful. And, I’ll be taking the research part of my last role with me as I continue to manage the “insight” part of our process (which is the “planning” part of my new title).

As I leave our Brand Management group, I am reflecting on the things I will miss and those things I won’t miss at all. I will definitely miss working with and coaching the talented group that I am leaving (though I’m not going far, in fact, my office isn’t even moving).

I strongly believe in the importance of leadership in an agency’s brand management department. This group is the hub of all communications, efforts, knowledge and relationships related to our client work. At Stone Ward, we have great people that make up this group, each bringing and contributing different skills and experiences, and they learn from each other to make the group stronger each and every day. They work hard to earn the trust of clients and the respect of their agency colleagues. They are smart and confident in their advisory roles and strategic contributions. And they are just generally likable people. I’ll miss the day-to-day interaction that I get to have with them all, though I know we will still be collaborating on client projects and learning to work together in a different way.

I’m kicking off my new role in digital with the annual trek to South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, TX. Be on the lookout for updates from Texas over the next week.

And cheers to new beginnings!