April 19, 2012

Video: AdAge Digital Conference Summary

Filed under: Video — Emily Reeves @ 8:21 am

Here is a quick summary of what I am taking away from the 2012 AdAge Digital Conference.

April 18, 2012

My Favorite Quotes and Facts from the AdAge Digital Conference 2012

Filed under: Advertising,Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:08 pm

Here is a round-up of things heard at the AdAge Digital Conference that resonated with me in some way, shape or form:

  • “Snow White” was the first full length feature animated film. It was also the most financially successful film when it came out. (“Gone With the Wind” beat it next year.)
  • Stop thinking about the technology and instead think about the purpose.
  • Go back to your startup mentality. What was it that excited you? Don’t think about digital as something you do to stay relevant; think instead about how to communicate your message.
  • Every marketer mines data. It is how you use the data that makes the difference.
  • People would rather give up their toothbrush than their mobile phone.
  • People look at their mobile phones an average of 40 times a day.
  • Over 50% of Facebook users are accessing the network via mobile device.
  • Social is not a what, it is a where things happen.
  • We have to scale platforms for two-way engagement with consumers.
  • Consumers now have the power of media and a consciousness of marketing. Consumers talk about how they know what a brand is doing with its marketing. Keep this in mind.
  • Don’t reduce the whole world of social networks to two or three social networks.
  • Consumers talk about brands as “they” rather than “it.” Brands have to figure out how to behave as people. Brands are positioned as people on social networks, so they should act like people.
  • 80% of consumers are using their phones to shop smarter, sometimes on the spot, at the shelf.
  • Learn what people are engaging with and build content to match.
  • People don’t change their TV very often, only every five to seven years. A tablet probably gets upgraded very 18 months.
  • Customers are lazy, stubborn and loyal. Don’t force them todo things they dont want to do.
  • 500 million people listen to music online illegally.
  • Viral ads are no longer a happy accident. Every campaign today needs to be interesting enough to be passed around and shared on digital networks.
  • The definition of content has changed. It used to take money and power to distribute content. Now the cost is practically none. Content distribution is happening in mass scale. It is about empowerment and democratization.
  • The challenge is now the curation of content. How do we find what is meaningful to us? We are increasingly using Facebook and other places like it: we turn to friends for what to read, listen to, watch, eat, buy, etc.
  • Social technologies change the way the stories are seen and shared.
  • Consumers are 50% more likely to remember an ad when they see a friend’s name associated with it (socially annotated ads).
  • Technology is enriching and enhancing our experiences.
  • Beer is the original social network.

Stay True To the Core Brand Idea

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Online Advertising — Emily Reeves @ 6:52 pm

Today I had the opportunity, at the AdAge Digital Conference, to watch the premier of the Google Project Re:Brief documentary film. It was inspiring and I can’t wait for everyone I know in this business to watch it. But, the value of watching at the conference was the discussion with the people behind the movie after it showed.

{Again, the crux of the conversation was about finding an idea true to the brand and figuring out how best to execute that through channels that are best for the brand’s consumers.}

The stray away from this as a strategic approach to communications is apparently rampant given the frequency of the discussions among marketing professionals.

At a glance, here are some of the highlights from the post-film discussion:

“Technology is an enabler to the story. It is not the story itself.”

“It is the story. We all know this, we’ve just been ignoring it. We are all so distracted by the technology.”

“Digital is the layer that connects everything together. It is not a channel.” {my favorite}

The problem is that people are afraid to take risks on the web. They are being way too conservative. That is why Google did this experiment. To show it can be done.”

Note: The film was shown for the first time at our conference (they said they literally finished editing it late last night in LA and ran to the airport to make the flight to NYC for the showing at our conference; true or not, it makes for a good story and made us feel special). It is supposed to be available to the public in the next few months (they claim to have not this far in advance yet, so they are not sure how and where and when it will be available).

April 17, 2012

Approaching Digital Strategy: Know Thy Brand and Stay True to It

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 10:23 pm

This week, I am at the sixth annual AdAge Digital Conference in New York City. This is my first time to attend this conference, I am here with approximately 650 other ad agency-type folks and day one is complete.

The themes that are being discussed here are the same as the themes I heard at SXSW this year. Because the audience is made up mostly of agency people, the twist is a little different, the stories are a little more relevant and the audience has questions more like the ones that I have, too, as compared to SXSW that had a broader swath of attendees.

By far, the best presentations of the day were given by two major brands: GAP and Gatorade. And though the two stories were different, the lesson was the same:

{Approach digital communications looking through the lens of the brand position.}

While this seems so obvious, it appears that most brands are not doing this. Rather, brands and agencies are reacting to the need to be in digital channels and coming up with reasons to be there that aren’t true to the brand. They are throwing out ideas that might work for the digital space but don’t make sense for the brand. Or that don’t relate to any of the other communications strategies being executed for the brand. Stand alone executions aren’t getting the brands anywhere. The overall communications strategy must work together, be integrated and be true to the brand.

The GAP Story

Seth Farbman, Global CMO of Gap, presented the Gap digital story. Farbman hadn’t been at Gap long before he made the big proclamations that they had to do two things: (1) return to the roots/heritage of the brand and (2) go digital. He said that it turned out, these two were not independent actions.

Farbman’s thesis for his presentation:

{Stop thinking about the technology and instead think about the purpose.}

Farbman told the origin story of the Gap brand. It stood for optimism, democracy and individualism. It was founded during a generation gap and the founders were filling a fundamental need for basic customer satisfaction and delivering a reliable product at a reasonable price.

So, how does the 42-year-old company remain relevant today? They realized that the company values and what people want now are still the same as they were when the company was founded. (I loved the visual example that he gave to help make his point: a Woodstock photo from 1969 taken with Kodak film and one from Coachella last week taken with Instagram were almost identical: the technology is different, but experience is the same.)

The idea of the individual when they started was important. Individuality is about how you express yourself and the GAP brand simply accessorizes you. But, people seek other like-minded people to reinforce their sense of individuality. In another word, they are seeking “communities.” This is how GAP decided to use digital channels: to use the connected web to do more together.

Farbman went so far as to say that today at Gap, digital is dead. If a strategy or execution wouldn’t have met the filters of the founders 42 years ago, then it is just technology for technology’s sake. Everything they do at Gap has to tie back to the brand purpose.

How is Gap doing this in practice? They are finding partner companies like Styld.by and Refinery29, where users can create outfits and share them with them friends. They are giving customers control of their experience, those customers are spending four minutes with the brand, they are sharing their created looks and they are buying the clothes. Gap is creating and allowing for community. They are not pushing the message.

They are also working with Threadless, a tshirt company with a designer community. Gap sends a challenge to the the Threadless community and the designer community submits designs for the community to vote on. The selected shirts are sold on the Threadless site and in Gap stores.

Farbman’s parting advice:

  • Go back to your startup mentality. What was it that excited you (or your founders)? Don’t think about digital is something you do to stay relevant. Think instead about how to communicate your message.

The Gatorade Story

Randall Brown, Global Director of Digital Strategy for Gatorade, presented the Gatorade story. Gatorade had made a brand shift from a hydration product to a more holistic approach of partnership with athletes. In 2010, the brand had 500,000 people across its networks, but the posts were not from their core target audience. Instead they were from 30-something’s reliving their heydays, talking about hangover cures. Today, Gatorade has five million people in its networks and those people are their core target audience: athletes.

Brown outlined the Gatorade approach to digital communications:

  1. Define social purpose and brand behaviors. With this, you have to go back to the brand essence and core brand behavior before thinking about the social channels. Brown says that once you have this defined, it becomes really easy to show, demonstrate and define those behaviors. Remember: brand purpose = social purpose.
  2. Live your ethos daily. This is about planning and executing a systematic approach to engagement. Additionally, you should understand and accept the consumer antes with social: they want you to answer questions and to deal with complaints. Most companies have the infrastructure to deal with these types of customer requests, and just because you are not ready to respond to those through social channels does not mean that you can’t enter the social channels (you can still refer them to the traditional response channels).
  3. Purposeful experimentation and measurement. Here, you should use the scientific method. State a hypothesis. Define your variables. Test and experiment often. Then you start seeing key levers you can pull to drive consumer behavior. This should happen at least monthly.

Brown’s parting advice:

{Don’t reduce the whole world of social networks to two or three social networks.}

{Social media is a new place, but people haven’t evolved. Social is a new place for old human needs, wants and behaviors.}

While the approaches by Gap and Gatorade were slightly different, they were each telling us the same thing:

{Approach digital communications looking through the lens of the brand position.}

April 12, 2012

Why do we care that Facebook bought Instagram?

Filed under: Current Events,Social Media,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 8:26 pm

Everyone is talking about Facebook buying Instagram this week, and not just the tech geeks. Why are people talking about, even those seemingly not of the geek mindset? Because everyone uses these two services. Well, maybe not everyone, but a lot of people: Instagram has 30 million users and Facebook is creeping up on on 900 million users. The real question is: why do people care that Facebook purchased Instagram (for a whopping $1 billion!)?

First, let’s talk about why Facebook (probably) purchased Instagram:

    “Photos for Facebook are already a huge driver of both interactions and data. But while users often upload photos to Facebook, they actually take them with Instagram. The amount of data generated from a mobile device’s camera is significant, from location to time of day to any number of data points that can be associated with a smartphone’s sensors…

    “Instagram itself was not in a position to capitalize off of its data. It did not have ads and it provided its API for free (with the right to charge the heaviest users if it deemed it appropriate). Implementing ads would be a recipe for disaster for Instagram and its fickle, emotional user base. But what if Facebook can take that data and provide ads against it without actually putting advertising into the app itself?

    “Here is the trick: Facebook has the ability to grow Instagram’s user base by tens if not hundreds of millions of users. The more people use the app, the more of that rich metadata Facebook generates. Facebook can then turn around and serve ads against that data on both the Facebook desktop and mobile clients. It is a matter of linking the back-end infrastructures of the two companies without overtly changing the Instagram user interface.”

      “In a general sense, this acquisition on the heels of the dramatic growth of Pinterest in the last few months is a massive reflection of just how fast the Social-Stream is becoming visual in nature, meaning evolving social engagement driven purely around visual media, not text – and just how valuable that will inevitably be to every major participant in the social media landscape,” Downing said. “This is a huge endorsement of the shift to the visual web and visual conversation in a social media framework.” {source}

      And, Instagram really makes our photos better, especially those of us that aren’t great photographers. “In the end it really is the actual image under the electronic processing that counts. Most of the time the filters are covering the shortcomings of the original photograph and the person behind it.”

      Then, there is the fact that Facebook really wants to be your main site for photo-sharing. As Instagram continued to grow, Facebook probably saw the writing on the wall for competition. “Facebook is making sure all those images don’t end up on Flickr or in some other storage cloud.”

      • Leverage mobile growth. Instagram is a mobile-only app. Facebook’s mobile app has always been less than stellar. Maybe Facebook is hoping to learn from Instagram.

      “Instagram was beating Facebook at its own game, and the social network needed to stop it before it was able to do more.

      “The photo-sharing app is essentially everything Facebook wants to be on your mobile phone. Facebook wants people using its mobile app to share photos of what they’re doing with friends and to share their location -– something Instagram users have no problem doing.”

      “Smartphones are everywhere now, allowing apps like Foursquare and Path to be self-contained social worlds, existing almost entirely on mobile devices. It is a major change from just a few years ago, underscoring how the momentum in the tech world is shifting to mobile from computers.

      “Cellphones are also prompting a shift in how people want to share things online, creating a market for apps that make instant sharing easy, said S. Shyam Sundar, a director of the Media Effects Research Lab at Pennsylvania State University.

      “In other words, many people want to post a photograph of themselves right from a sun-drenched beach in Bali, rather than waiting until they are back home to upload all 50 pictures onto Facebook.” {source}

      Now, let’s talk about why some users are so upset about the purchase:

      • Instagram was relatively private; Facebook is known for constantly-changing privacy rules.

      “The app was limited to smartphone users, and there was no built-in way to copy or repost pictures — lent it a sense of privacy and intimacy, separate from the rest of our online lives. Its ability to let its users delicately toe the line between public and private gave us a little breathing room from the all-pervasiveness of Facebook, and to see it whisked away feels like a tangible loss.

      “The sale of Instagram brings a harsh reality into focus, the realization that the secret rooms or private spaces online where we can share, chit-chat and hang out with our friends are fading.” {source}

      “Part of the concern is that it’s Facebook,” says Chris Conley, an attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “And their history of privacy and respecting user choices is mixed.”

      “That mixed history includes Facebook’s repeated changes to the default settings of user accounts to make more user data public over time — a practice that has vexed advocacy groups, drawn charges of being overly confusing, and culminated in a settlement last fall with the Federal Trade Commission. Meanwhile, Facebook’s user count has continued to grow, and now surpasses 845 million.

      “Instagram users thought they were signing up for a simple service, of relatively little utility to advertisers or government. Now that data is likely to be combined with an entire social graph. I picture the consumer happily paddling down a data rivulet only to find themselves suddenly on the open waters of the social sea.” {source}

      • The potential for limited sharing. Instagram has always encouraged sharing across a range of networks, with Twitter listed first. Users are worried that Facebook would limit that sharing to only Facebook.

      “As regular Instagrammers know, one of the first choices you have to make in sharing your photo — after you’ve applied tilt shift and filters — is which social network you’re going to share it with.

      “The two big sharing choices? Twitter and Facebook. No prizes for guessing which of those options may disappear, should Facebook get its way.

      “Of course, Facebook has gone out of its way to assure users that sort of thing won’t happen. ‘We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks,’ wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his blog post announcing the acquisition.” {source}

      • Instragram will be ruined by advertising. (Well, come on now, it was bound to happen!)

      April 6, 2012

      This Week’s Reading Themes: SEO, Facebook, Content

      Filed under: Miscellaneous,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:26 am

      Looking at my bookmarked articles from the week, I can tell I have really been focused on creating relevant and engaging content to pull consumers into brands’ messages. I still love Delicious for bookmarking interesting finds across the internet every day.  Looking back across the articles that I flag and tags that I create each week starts to reveal the web of where my thoughts have traveled and the areas I tend to be focusing on that week. The themes I saw in this week’s bookmarked articles were:

      • SEO
      • Facebook Optimization
      • Content Creation

      All of which roll up under that umbrella of creating relevant and engaging content to pull consumers into brands’ messages. Here are some details of what I learned this week and links to the articles I found most interesting.


        This Google video sums up SEO pitfalls and tricks nicely.

        {Facebook Optimization}

        I’ve posted here several times over the last couple of weeks that brands should be wary of relying on “likes” as a measure of Facebook success and reach to their fans. This is because most posts by pages are seen by less than 10% of their fans. And, on average, only 1% of total fans actually “engage” with the posts (like, comment, share).  But, one of the articles I stumbled upon this week notes that:

        “…friends of fans represent a much larger set of consumers than a brand’s fans – 81 times larger, on average, for the top 1000 brand pages. The link to this extended network occurs when fans engage with your messages, thereby sharing the message with their friends.”

        So that 1% engagement doesn’t look so bad anymore. Though it is still not great. And Facebook has done this to brands on purpose in an effort to drive revenue:

        “Facebook first degraded brand content over the last year, and has now released advertising products to let companies pay to offset the changes they’ve made.”

        “Mid-way through 2011, the company changed its approach to determining what people saw in their newsfeeds, with the result that the number of people seeing posts from brands dropped significantly – by up to 75%, in fact.”

        “Enter Facebook’s new advertising products. Distilled down to two points, the latest advertising announcements from Facebook are: putting Page content as a core component of Facebook Ads and allowing you to reach more fans through the “Reach Generator.”

        All of this makes it critical that the content posted to Facebook is interesting, useful and stand-out from day one.  If you are trying hard for engagement, consider posting more on Sundays: it turns out, Sunday is the most engaging day on Facebook. And if you really need people to click on your Facebook ads, you should run them in South Dakota, Tennessee and Colorado, where users click through on ads in record rates.

        {Content Creation}

        This article does a nice job of summing up the basics, step-by-step, to developing a content strategy and then executing it.

        You can follow all my bookmarking here.

        April 4, 2012

        Presentation: SXSW 2012 Lessons

        Filed under: Digital Strategy,Presentation,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 8:59 am

        Yesterday, I gave a summary presentation to our agency to share the lessons and learning from SXSW Interactive 2012. Here is a copy of the presentation:

        April 2, 2012

        Facebook Timeline For Brands: Not All It Is Cracked Up To Be?

        Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 4:51 pm

        A conflicting study to the one I mentioned here last week says that brands using the new Facebook timeline actually saw a decrease in fan engagement. A report released today says:

        “Ultimately, Facebook users interact with brands on their own newsfeed and rarely, if ever, visit a company’s timeline.”

        Given these results, the report supports the learnings from the book The Like Economy:

        “Regardless of how Facebook changes the appearance of a page, this should rarely have a significant impact on engagement. This also suggests that brand managers must continue to focus on optimizing engagement within the news feed as usual.”

        There is no doubt that implementing Facebook Timeline for a brand and using all the features available within it will present the brand better to those fans that visit the actual brand page. Though the words of caution still stand: it is not a build and they will come tool when using Facebook. Rather the content produced by the brand must be relevant to the users targeted and interesting enough to engage with it for fans to continue seeing it in their news feeds.