October media trends & insights

Updates to both the local and national media landscape can help shape our marketing strategies and ongoing recommendations for our clients. Take a look at this month’s Trends & Insights as we explore growing and changing media partners, the takeoff of the cable hit “Fear the Walking Dead,” new consumer offerings from Hulu, and a creative launch from our very own MGM National Harbor.

LAS VEGAS MEDIA PARTNER UPDATES

What’s On Magazine Launches Bilingual Format

What’s On magazine, a bimonthly reference guide providing the latest travel information for Las Vegas visitors, has launched a new bilingual format in both its print publication and website.

The bilingual print format features a high-gloss cover with content covering entertainment, dining, shopping, city highlights and snapshots of celebrities. The content and redesign include a long-form cover story, larger imagery and a new type font. Major features in the publication will now be in both English and Spanish.

What’s On additonally overhauled its website, relaunching with bilingual content under the new domain whatsonlv.com on Sept. 14.

With a circulation of 100,000, What’s On magazine is a free publication distributed via magazine racks and bell desks in the major hotels/casinos on the Strip, as well as in select hotels along Paradise and Flamingo roads. The publication is additionally placed inside Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty rental cars and within locations along the I-15 between Victorville, Calif., and Las Vegas.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.53.30 AM

Source: Notified by What’s On via email Sept. 1

iHeartRadio Introduces Las Vegas Hip Hop Station

real

Real 103.9-FM was introduced to the Las Vegas market in early September. iHeartRadio’s newest hip-hop and R&B station is available on-air and online through the iHeartRadio app and website.

Artists featured on the station include Drake, Fetty Wap, Chris Brown, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, YG, J Cole, Kid Ink and more.

NATIONAL MEDIA PARTNER UPDATE

Media General to acquire Meredith Corp.

Traditional media giants Media General and Meredith Corp. announced an agreement to merge into a new, even more giant entity that will be known as Meredith Media General. While Meredith, with some of the best-known consumer publishing brands, gets top billing in the agreement, Media General is effectively acquiring Meredith via a cash and stock deal, putting its outstanding common stock value at $2.4 billion.

Media General is one of the nation’s largest cross-screen, multimedia companies that operates or services 71 television stations in 48 markets, including KRON-MY San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose and KXAN-NBC, KNVA-CW and KBVO-MNT in Austin.

Meredith Corp., a publicly held media and marketing services company, operates national media publication such as: EatingWell, Parents, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Shape and Allrecipes. On a local level, the corporation includes broadcast stations such as Fox 5 Las Vegas.

NATIONAL INDUSTRY UPDATES

‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Pulls Largest Audience Ever for a Cable Premiere

dead

The Aug. 23 premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead,” the spin-off prequel of cable’s top-rated series, drew 10.1 million viewers, becoming the top cable premiere of all time. The 90-minute episode also drew 6.3 million viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18 to 49 demographic—surpassing “Better Call Saul,” the “Breaking Bad” spin-off that debuted earlier this year with 4.4 million—to rank as the top cable premiere in that demo as well.

The flagship “The Walking Dead” premiere drew 5.4 million total viewers in 2010. It has since gobbled up considerably more viewers, ranking as the most viewed series on cable and the most viewed in the 18-to-49 demo in all of TV.

“Fear the Walking Dead” will run for five more episodes leading into the Season 6 premiere of “The Walking Dead” in October. AMC has already ordered a 15-episode second season.

Hulu Announces Ad-Free Service

On Sept. 1, Hulu announced that it will open an ad-free version of its service. At a monthly price of $11.99, users will have the ability to view 99-percent-plus of the service’s content ad-free.

The ad-free tier, however, will still include 15-second pre-roll and 30-second post-roll on shows, including Fox’s “New Girl,” NBC’s “Grimm,” ABC’s “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Once Upon a Time” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

hulu

The move should boost Hulu’s competitiveness among consumers picking streaming video services as it tries to expand its subscriber rolls beyond the nearly 9 million people in the U.S. who currently pay for its $7.99-per-month, ad-supported service.

Neither Netflix, which seems to dominate the binge-watching market, nor Amazon’s Prime Instant Video interrupt paying customers’ viewing with ads.

 Hulu expects “a significant majority” of the nearly 9 million people who currently subscribe to Hulu will remain on the paid, ad-supported service, according to Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins.

“People who avoid ads at all costs were never going to do business with Hulu to begin with, so now we have an entry point to them,” Hulu’s Senior VP of Advertising Peter Naylor said. And it can now sell advertisers on the notion that the people who access its ad-supported service will typically be more receptive to their ads—because those less tolerant of ads have filtered themselves out.

3 trends from Digital Summit 2015

Hashtags, culture and trends, oh my! The world today is a fast-paced, ever changing marketplace that we continuously strive to understand. R&R Denver attended Digital Summit 2015, and left with these three integral industry trends:

1. “Unperfection”
Long gone are the days of perfect people ruling the planet. Our culture is obsessed with documentation (because if it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen, right?), and we have come to accept that not every “in-the-moment” moment is picture perfect. We find failures and flaws to be funny, and encourage behaviors that showcase humanity. Campaigns like #nofilter and the Don’t Judge Challenge succeed because the general public now values hilarity and honesty over posed and processed media. What does this mean for brands? Wrong theory (an intentional asymmetry) can finally be utilized to our gain and, finally, mistakes will be embraced … as long as you catch them on Snapchat and they go viral and they are actually completely hilarious.

DEN1

2. Everyday Stardom
Consistent with our obsession to share, we also believe that we are the stars of not only our own story, but everyone else’s too. We Snapchat our road rage and Instagram our protein shakes because we think that everything we do is worthy of being shared. The growth of personalization and everyone’s secret desire to become “instafamous” means that brands need to find new ways to make everyone feel like a celebrity. The takeaway? Offer your clients a VIP experience based in reality to ensure that they know they are a celebrity − at least to you.

DEN2

3. Branded Benevolence
Being a globally conscious brand is SO IN RIGHT NOW. Research shows that young people take a big issue with brands who only value their bottom line. Even more, young talent actively searches for charitable actions in future employers. Our challenge? Find tangible ways to give back that align with our brands’ values. Even better, make these efforts visible, fun and contagious. Now let’s go change the world!
With these insights, we feel armed and ready to reach people in thoughtful and innovative ways. We now understand that 1) unperfection is not only acceptable, but embraced, 2) everyone wants to be treated like a star, and 3) the heart and soul of what we do is now more important than ever. Armed with these insights, we’re ready to connect, understand and conquer!

Recapping the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session

As is the case every two years, R&R’s Nevada GPA team was deployed to Carson City for the Nevada Legislative Session.

And while this in now way comparable to the troops to who protect our freedoms daily, whose service we can never repay – we can in some ways relate to what it’s like to spend several months away from home, on a mission to protect our clients and what we believe in. And we did go through quite a few battles in the process.

The 78th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature began February 2, 2015 and concluded in the early morning hours of June 2. Throughout the session, the Assembly introduced 498 bills and the Senate introduced 515 bills, for a total of 1,013 for the Legislature to consider.

The 2014 general election had a strong impact on the 2015 session. While the “red wave” caused an unprecedented number of Republicans across the country to be elected, Nevada experienced some of the highest turnover in the nation. For the first time since 1929, Nevada has a Republican Governor and Republican control of both Houses.

The makeup of the Legislature became very important since the main priority of the Governor, most of Legislative leadership, and much of the business community was to raise additional revenue to ensure that education and essential services were properly funded. With a two-thirds supermajority required to pass any revenue or tax proposal, the Senate needed 14 votes of its 21 members, and the Assembly needed 28 votes from its total of 42 members.

During the State of the State speech, the Governor presented his vision for a “New Nevada,” declaring education to be a top priority, outlining reforms and calling for a significant tax increase to fund those reforms. Consequently, the session primarily focused on various K-12 education reforms, including: expanding school choice; improving under-performing schools; increasing English Language Learner (ELL) programs; creating a “read by three” program; enhancing teacher incentives and professional development; reducing class sizes; and expanding breakfast in the classroom, among others. The 2015 Legislative Session was historic due to passage of a nearly $7.4 billion budget with between $1.3 and $1.4 billion in additional revenue with a focus on investing in education.

The Nevada Revenue Plan, the Governor’s compromise tax plan, blended elements of the many different proposals considered during the session. The new plan sets the Business License Fee at $500 for corporations and $200 for all other businesses, increases the Modified Business Tax to 1.475 percent of the total wages paid by businesses that exceed $50,000 quarterly, and increases the payroll tax on mining companies to 2 percent. It also enacts Nevada’s Commerce Tax, applicable to businesses whose Nevada revenue exceeds $4 million annually, but allows a 50 percent deduction of the Commerce Tax for businesses which also pay the MBT.

One of the major issues of the session was whether or not transportation network companies (“TNCs”) such as Uber and Lyft could legally operate in Nevada. Met with strong opposition from the heavily-represented cab companies, the Uber lobbyists were ultimately successful in legalizing TNCs, with widespread support from Nevada residents and bipartisan support from Legislators.

The GPA team hit the ground running, covering several hundred bills for approximately 25 clients during the course of the session.

A few highlights include:

Passing laws to help children…

One of Governor Sandoval’s signature legislative priorities this session was strengthening Nevada’s anti-bullying laws. The Governors proposal created the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment within the Nevada Department of Education, established a 24-hour hotline to report incidents of bullying, and imposes strict requirements on school officials to investigate and report bullying. The budget allocates $16 million for a grant program for schools to provide a social worker in each school to help carry out the new provisions, while a companion bill created the “Safe to Tell Program” which requires the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment to establish a program enabling any person to anonymously report any dangerous, violent, or unlawful activity which is being conducted or threatened to be conducted on the property of a public school.

Passing laws to help animals…

To create consistency with federal guidelines, Nevada limited the state definition of “service animal” to conform to the federal definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Only dogs or, under certain circumstances, miniature horses can qualify as service animals under this definition. This prevents people from seeking to bring animals ranging from cats to pythons into hotels and casinos and claiming that they must be allowed to do so because they are service animals.

Even passing laws on ourselves…

The legislature also placed significant limitations on lobbying expenditures. The bill prohibits (effective January 1, 2016) a lobbyist from making a gift to a member of the Legislative Branch or a member of his or her immediate family, whether or not the Legislature is in session. “Gift” is very broadly defined to include “any payment, conveyance, transfer, distribution, deposit, advance, loan, forbearance, subscription, pledge or rendering of money, services or anything else of value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is received.”

 

Media: Monthly media trends & insights

What trends are shaping media buys and our clients’ industries? We’re taking an inside look at online gaming legislation, Nielsen’s findings on the LGBT consumer, Millennials and their media consumption habits, and a recent press release event hosted by the agency.

INDUSTRY TRENDS UPDATE

California Skies Blue, Online Poker Gray

Currently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are the only states with legally regulated online gaming. January 2015 saw California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduce a bill known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015, hoping to bring California out of the gray area, described as not illegal but unregulated. Simply, the bill would regulate online gambling while ensuring the protection of California players. In the beginning of August, many world-reknown poker players gathered for a tournament in American Canyon Napa to support the initiative “Let California Play.” However, with all the support this movement has gathered, there are still many obstacles in the form of Native American tribes, backlash from opposing politicians, and even disagreement within the pro-iPoker camp. While progress has been made, California still faces an uphill battle.

NATIONAL MEDIA TRENDS

Millennials, Growth and Media Consumption

Once a neglected and possibly underserved target demographic, the latest U.S. Census data reports that Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) now outnumber Baby Boomers 83.1 million to 75.4 million. Representing more than one-quarter of our nation’s population, Millennials are more diverse than previous generations with over 44 percent belonging to a minority race or ethnic group.

The currency of the media industry is attention and with media consumption habits varying across different age groups, it is imperative to recognize and then segment the target demographic(s) accordingly rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The following graph displays the percentage of time spent per day with each medium, comparing Millennials versus the overall population.

Untitled1

Proudly Setting Trends, Nielsen’s 2015 LGBT Consumer Report 

Nielsen recently released its LGBT Consumer Report in honor of this summer’s Pride celebrations. The goal, highlights the LGBT consumer and displays the impact they have on numerous industries. These consumers are described as trendsetters and tech-enthusiasts, showing “unique levels of engagement across various consumption areas.” This update illustrates the LGBT audience’s impact on media combined with their purchasing behavior as consumers in relative fields to the resort/hospitality industry.

Content is key in capturing an audience, cable and network TV and recognize that 72 percent of viewers are watching a show containing a lead, supporting or recurring LGBT character as outlined in the following graph.

Untitled2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across all music channels, the LGBT audience shows higher levels of engagement than non-LGBT. Overindexing in subscribing to streaming music services (126 i.e., 26% more likely) and going to see a DJ they know perform (150 i.e., 50% more likely) further solidifies their description as tech-forward trendsetters.

Transitioning from media consumption to a hotel-related consumer field, there was one purchase category (useful for when you have acquired this guest on property) that cannot be ignored − food and beverage. Alcoholic beverage categories within the audience showed a significantly higher household spend when comparing against non-LGBT households. Wine indexed at 148, liquor at 135 and beer at 127, prompting the question of whether there could be an introduction of a more diverse creative and content campaign in the F&B segment.

NATIONAL MEDIA UPDATE

R&R Resources+ MGM National Harbor Press Release Event 

Former Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford recently announced that his firm R&R Resources+ will lead the brand marketing efforts for MGM National Harbor, the $1.3 billion gaming resort under development in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The project is scheduled to open in the second half of 2016.

Through its status as an independently owned minority business enterprise (MBE), R&R Resources+ will be charged with a specific focus on diversity marketing, corporate social responsibility and workforce strategy, assisting MGM Resorts International (MGMRI) in developing authentic minority outreach and partnerships in the capital region. MGM National Harbor joins the R&R Resources+ portfolio of clients.

As a minority investor in R&R Resources+, R&R Partners will also join the MGM National Harbor project, bringing its unique brand of travel and tourism expertise. In honor of the new partnership, R&R Resources+ joined R&R Partners to host a launch event on the rooftop of the R&R Resources+ headquarters in downtown D.C., overlooking the Capitol Building. Among the guest list of more than 300 confirmed attendees were esteemed members of the media, political figures and MGMRI executives, all who gathered to celebrate the joyous occasion. See photos from the event below.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 4.52.22 PM

 

Media trends: A look at luxury purchasers, usage and more

What trends are shaping media buys? We’re taking an inside look at luxury purchasers, spot radio and some facts about how dialed in the 18-34 crowd is to radio that could surprise you.

HOSPITALITY TRENDS UPDATES

All luxury purchasers (adult consumers age 18+) who bought one or more luxury goods or services in the prior 12 months constitute almost 20%, or about 46 million, of the 239 million adults in the United States. Luxury marketers would be correct in surmising that as household income increases, the proportion of luxury purchasers rises.

Notably, though, luxuries were bought by almost as many mass-market consumers whose household income is less than $75,000 (20 million adults who are not typically classified as affluent by marketers) as by those with household incomes of $75,000 to $249,999 (about 22 million affluent consumers), plus the four million luxury purchasers in the upper-income segment of $250,000 or more. This being so, it’s our point of view that the luxury market is actually much larger than many luxury marketers currently believe.

As might be expected, a relatively large proportion, one in five (21%), of mass-market luxury purchasers bought luxuries just once in the past 12 months. In contrast, more than one-third of very affluent luxury purchasers bought luxuries six or more times.


Untitled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Mediapost.com

NATIONAL MEDIA TRENDS

Spot radio: Raring for a rebound

Spending and pricing were down in many of the top 10 markets during the first half of 2015, and inventory was readily available and negotiable in most cities. The second half of the year will see increased spending and perhaps higher pricing in a couple cities. Summers are generally tighter on radio, unlike TV, because people can listen while they’re doing outdoor activities such as going to the pool or having barbeques. This spending surge will continue into the fall, with back-to-school spending dominating late summer. Political will also give a year-end boost to a few markets. San Francisco and Philadelphia, for example, are holding mayoral elections this November.

Source: MediaLifeMagazine.com

Surprising facts about media usage

More 18-34s listen to radio each week than use a smartphone. Nielsen’s most recent total audience report, a quarterly document that tracks media use by different age groups, shatters a number of misconceptions about new and old media use. For example, it might surprise you to know that more Millennials listen to traditional AM/FM radio each week than use smartphones. Nielsen found 93 percent of adults 18-34 listen to radio weekly, while just 80 percent report using a smartphone. In fact, radio is the most frequently used medium among Millennials. It’s well ahead of TV at 76 percent and PCs at 49 percent. Radio has been a part of people’s lives for so long it’s easy to take for granted. New technology has definitely become a staple of today’s media use, but it’s important to remember it’s not the only option young people turn to. Overall the report found that radio has the greatest reach of all media among adults, with 93 percent saying they use it weekly, compared to 87 percent for TV.

Untitled2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: MediaLifeMagazine.com

15/16 Broadcast Upfront

Every year in mid-May, agencies and clients flock to New York City to catch the new programming announcements from the major TV networks (and stand in lines to get their photos taken with celebrities). In the last few years, there has been rumbling that TV is dead and digital is the way of the future. Let’s review some stats, then dive into some programming updates.

Untitled1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viewing Trends

There is no question that the media landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, and with the evolution comes changes in consumer behavior. TV content is no longer being consumed just on a TV. There are countless ways to access it, although the TV still remains number one. Although number one, in the last few years, research shows that time shifted and smartphone usage is growing and taking shares from live TV viewing (albeit still the most heavily utilized).

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.08.34 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.09.30 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multiscreen

The technology boom has had its impacts on the broadcast world in many ways. The rise of socially interactive programming (voting, checking in and show-specific hashtags) is one way in which consumers are encouraged to multiscreen. According to the iab, 78 percent are using another device while watching TV – most commonly a smartphone (69%); computer and tablet nearly tied (54%/53%).   While show engagement is one type of multiscreening usage, two research sources show that what people are doing most, while using multiple screens, is not interacting with the TV or its content – they’re doing nonrelated tasks. This multitasking activity poses a challenge for advertisers across all platforms – not just TV, where creative must be attention grabbing and engaging and media placements must pop in front of engaged viewers.

Untitled5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.04.16 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upfront Announcements

So, onto the fun stuff … what will you be watching this fall? There were some themes that emerged across the week of presentations:

  • Everyone was No. 1 overall in something (except Fox, although Empire was the No. 1 new program):
    • NBC is No. 1 in adults 18−49.
    • CBS is No. 1 in total viewers and adults 25−54.
    • ABC is No. 1 in 18−49 when you remove all sports shows.
  • Networks taking on digital
    • If we had a dime for every time a presenter said the words “data,” “viewability,” “premium content,” “transparency” and “no bot traffic,” we’d be able to throw one hell of a party.
    • ABC spent time discussing its On Demand viewership and equated it to the third largest cable network.
    • Turner/TBS went as far as to say “dayparts are dead” and pushed audience guarantees, data, analytics and advanced targeting.
  • Programming trends:
    • Live shows
      • NBC
        • It’ll follow its formula with the Sound of Music and Peter Pan, and release The Wiz.
        • Undateable (comedy) – after the success of its live show a month ago, it’ll do this next season.
      • Fox (stealing from NBC’s playbook) will have a live performance of Grease.
      • ABC will celebrate Disney’s 60th anniversary with music.
    • Sports – key to live viewing since it’s DVR-proof.
      • CBS hung its hat on the NFL.
      • NBC is proud to have the Olympics in Rio.
      • ABC will air ESPN programming.
    • Even more diversity (from 14/15 season)
      • Success with Empire, Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat has pushed networks to add more diverse cast members in a variety of shows.
    • Reboots
      • X-Files, The Muppets, Supergirl, Coach, Limitless and Minority Report will all get a second go-round on TV.
    • Less reality
      • Not one new reality show is on the fall schedule for any network.
      • Continuing series such as Dancing with the Stars, The Voice and Survivor will be back.
      • Has the day really come?! American Idol will end its run in the 15/16 season.
    • Fewer comedy blocks
      • NBC has nearly abandoned comedy after many failures.
    • Rebrands
      • TBS/TNT are doubling original programming over the next three years.
      • TBS repositioning itself to be younger and more male, closer to Adult Swim and its Millennial core.

Happy viewing!

 

 

Still Flipping the Script

It’s been more than five years since our CEO, Billy, came into the office after a rash of teen suicides caused by bullying, and said “we need to do something.” Flip the Script was born, and dozens of employees from across disciplines and offices got involved with this R&R-created campaign that is still near and dear to our hearts.

While the creative team came up with ads, the media team got space donated, and the PR team got press coverage, the Nevada government affairs team worked to strengthen anti-bullying laws in the state. In baby steps, we helped pass legislation that proclaimed the first week of every October the “Week of Respect,” established school safety teams, strengthened reporting requirements on bullying incidents, and more. But it wasn’t enough. Parents weren’t hearing of incidents involving their kids, and the new laws were tough to enforce.

image1

On May 20, Governor Sandoval signed into law Senate Bill 504, the strongest anti-bullying legislation Nevada has ever had. The bill revises the definition of bullying, creates a separate anti-bullying office within the Nevada Department of Education, strengthens reporting requirements for bullying incidents, and creates a 24-hour hotline and a website for submitting complaints. R&R’s efforts kept this issue front and center in the last three legislative sessions, and working with the school districts and elected officials, we helped make changes that will directly impact Nevada students.

There are many campaigns of which we are incredibly proud. Flip the Script symbolizes the passion of our employees for social causes that create real, meaningful change and help the communities in which we work. Below is a link to a story on Governor Sandoval’s signing ceremony for the bill:

http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/nevada-gov-brian-sandoval-signs-anti-bullying-legislation

The Return of the King

Content is King. But it hasn’t seemed that way. As we crossed into “Web 2.0,” every user with an opinion was King. Not long after, we entered into the “Age of Apps,” which created a true give-and-take between brands and consumers. Simultaneously, consumers started having conversations with the universal megaphone of social media. These empowered consumers started talking about our brands more loudly than our brands were talking about themselves. So we joined in, bringing every brand that might have something to say to the social media party, jumping into conversations, hoping not to get kicked out for rudely interrupting. But the rest of the world figured out that we were only waiting for someone to ask us “what do you think?” so we can reply with “we think you should buy Brand X!” So now what do we do? We return to the universal truth …

You have to give before you get.

Content marketing is generous King. But it’s rarely been the first thought of any brand; “How much can we give away for free?” We know the Groupon Effect causes a temporary bump in sales without a gain in long-term clientele. Giving temporary deep discounts is really only an effective short-term strategy. Giving away product in a sweepstakes is GREAT for lead generation, but who’s going to buy if there’s a chance they’re going to win? So that is how we’ve returned the marketing crown to its rightful owner, content. But remember …

The value of content is that it informs, entertains, or reflects an identity. But it does not sell.

Content marketing is not direct response. It’s not instant gratification; it’s the long game. Content does not inspire conversion it inspires conversation. Good content inspires consumers to talk to the brand, about the brand, and even for the brand. Better gets a Like, Favorite, stars and hearts. The best gets the envious Share, Tweet, Post, Repost, Retweet, Wundertweetpostbump, etc., until the amplification turns your initial $1.25 per engagement of paid media spend into an $.04 eCPE (effective Click Per Engagement). These numbers happened for our Las Vegas Kiss Cam animated gif on Tumblr.

tumblr_nlbqe1D31l1u4ta7do2_400

We entertained. And for a brief moment in time, some users out there laughed enough to share us with their friends. All over the world, even in China where our client didn’t spend a dime, Las Vegas brought a smile to people’s faces.

That’s the real way to a consumer’s heart. Give without asking, entertain without selling. Because our only focus was on the giggle chamber (the left ventricle, technically) of the consumer’s heart, our content succeeded. We weren’t kicked out of the social media party; we were passed around like a [insert inappropriate party drug reference].

Campaigns succeed by converting. Content succeeds by being engaging.

Of course, sales matter. You don’t win Effies by not moving the needle. But we can’t push our sales messages into conversations anymore. There are tons of bad blogs out there, brands telling only their own story, tricking people into swallowing a soft yummy shell of content around a hard-selling nutty center. We can’t do that to our consumers anymore; they’ll choke. Then they’ll sue for negligence because they have nut allergies and we didn’t warn them first. They, at least, sure won’t take anything we give them in the future without questioning our motives.

Corporations are now people; brands are now friends. Social media made that happen long before SCOTUS.

You do not have a single person in your life with whom you do not have an emotional bank account. Every relationship is ruled by these accounts. Every brand has one with consumers too. Your next sale isn’t just about quality anymore, or value, or cost, or history, or whether your widget weighs a quarter gram less than your competitors. Your next sale is about your relationship with your consumers and your potential consumers. Do you make them laugh? Do you inspire new ideas? Do you bring them flowers “just because?” When you give good content, listen and tell their story, without asking for anything in return, that emotional bank account grows an until that consumer just loves you. Then comes the conversion.

“Business moves at the speed of ideas. And you don’t have to like it, but you can’t ignore it.” – Gottfrid, Happyish (Showtime)

Happyish is showing off agency life in a way that’s both current and OMG too real. The young bucks are brought in to usher a long-established, large agency into the digital world, and the old guard has two choices: pivot or perish. Being a user experience designer of a certain age, I find myself identifying and empathizing with both sides. OF COURSE our brands need social media accounts and strategies, but I reacted like Thom (the protagonist OG) in that I couldn’t understand why a brand like Pepto Bismol has a Twitter account or why 7,400 people would want to follow them. But then it hit me like a burrito bomb. And I have to give Pepto’s agency respect for both responding smartly to Happyish and for having the most subversive social campaign I’ve ever seen. Pepto, as you might imagine, doesn’t have a lot to say about or to the world. But it doesn’t fall into the trap of selling its product on social either. Instead, it creates observational (and occasionally funny) content. A lot of it is about pizza. A LOT. And sausage and bacon and quesadillas and all kinds of delicious food that, if you’re inspired to eat it, will make your stomach revolt. Should you indulge, you’re eventually going to need Pepto Bismol. And THAT is the long game of content marketing, the game we all had better be playing now.

Long live the King.

How have you enacted content marketing for your or your clients’ success? If you haven’t yet, what’s holding you back?

D.C.: Where Energy and Exports Meet

It’s May in D.C. The year is 2015, but the subject of conversation was the fate of a 40-year-old ban on crude exports, or what most of us laypeople refer to as “oil.” To spotlight this discussion, R&R Partners, along with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) and the Energy Independence Coalition (EIC), brought attorneys general and energy leaders to the nation’s capital for the Energy Exports Summit.

To export U.S. oil − or not to export − is a highly debated issue among policymakers today, hence the focus of the Summit. One side makes the case that exporting U.S. oil abroad will allow other nations to partner with the United States instead of hostile countries like Russia, ultimately making America and the world safer. The other side argues that exporting U.S. oil will drive up U.S. gasoline prices, hitting Americans where it hurts most – their wallets.

The Summit explored this issue.

Writes the Washington Examiner, “States, industry and energy security advocates are converging on Washington this week to add strength to a growing effort in Congress to kill a federal ban on oil exports.

“The centerpiece of the week’s push will be an ‘Energy Exports Summit’ on Tuesday organized by a group representing Western state attorneys general and a relatively new organization called the Energy Independence Coalition.”

Arguably, the conversation has never been so relevant. Today’s abundance of domestic energy is a stark contrast to the 1970s’ Saudi oil embargo, which caused mass gas shortages and had Americans lining up to fill their gas tanks.

Predictions made by the International Energy Agency suggest that the United States could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017. Similarly, the Energy Information Administration says that the United States could become a net energy exporter in the near future, ending a 50-year track record as a net energy importer.

The summit featured dueling views from Jamie Webster of IHS Energy and Jay Hauck of The CRUDE Coalition. Other highlights included an introduction by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

FullSizeRender (6)

Writes the Washington Examiner, “The North Dakota Democrat told a group of state attorneys general that a lot more education has to be done to bring lawmakers and the public up to speed on the positive effects of removing the export ban before it can be repealed. The attorneys general were in Washington for a two-day summit on energy exports.

‘The policy of prohibiting exports of oil is wrong, wrong, and wrong on so many levels,’ she said. ‘So, why isn’t this a no-brainer?’

‘Heitkamp said the “number one reason” for not supporting a commonsense reversal of the policy is the belief “that if they vote for this and gas prices go up” they will pay a political price.’”

Also spotted at the summit were reporters with Reuters and the industry trade E&E. They were joined by speakers from ANGA and the National Bureau of Asian Research, among others. Not to be overlooked were our 10 AGs from states as far as Oregon to the Northern Mariana Islands, in addition to U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

Yet perhaps the hottest “ticket” during the two-day event was the after-hours reception hosted at 101 Constitution Avenue, R&R’s D.C. office. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) kicked off the night offering introductory remarks to the crowd comprised of numerous AGs and their aides, along with other notable players.

meissner gardner

THE AGENCY MODEL: EVER EVOLVING AND STILL THE SAME

The most recent iMedia Agency Summit focused on the agency model of the future. This tends to be an ever evolving debate in an ever changing marketing universe. Do you specialize in one area? Be all things to all people? Partner with other shops or go it alone? With the rise of procurement departments at the same time as programmatic solutions that promise efficiencies, there seems no better time to have this conversation. 

imedia 1[1]

AGENCY ONLY DAY

This conference always kicks off with a special day dedicated solely to agency folks. Most everybody in the room is a Director or higher, from agency’s owned by holding companies down to 10 person independents. The basis of the day is to have an open and honest conversation about this great industry in regards to the conference topic. 

Once again this day did not disappoint, you could feel the passion among these agency leaders which lead to some spirited conversations and great learning. One area of concern in the ad community continues to be training for staff and finding the right talent. While a number of folks resorted to the usual comments such as, “we don’t have time” and “we run so thin, it’s sink or swim”, a handful of people had some great solutions. One that stood out was an agency’s no interview rule. They simply have a handful of people come in with each getting pared up with a mentor and begin working. Every 4 hours the mentor checks in with the department head and makes the decision to keep going or cut bait, eventually landing on one candidate. They are in a sense looking at two things, how does this person fit within our culture and what is their work product like?

Next up was a great conversation with Jon Raj from Cello Partners, discussing the agency search process and what brands are looking for and saying. Turns out it’s a little of everything. You have Best Buy and other brands moving away from the standard AOR model and going towards project work. You have more and more brands embracing independent agencies that display great thinking, along with a certain level of trustworthiness. Two things that can get lost at times. The bottom line: build trust, be transparent and collaborate internally to bring great ideas forward.

imedia 2[1]

EVOLVE OR DIE

The theme over the next two days focused mainly on evolving the agency model and the ways in which we target consumers. Lots of insight from the clients in attendance continued to focus on building trust, bringing good ideas forward and providing real insights, not just data. One quote in particular stood out, “the difference between agencies is declining, so it’s not what I require but more about how you can solve my business needs”.

In terms of building out your agency team with focus on specialty areas, some agency leaders found it hard to grow the knowledge while maintaining the current level of work. The solution in these cases centered on finding a niche agency, buying them and folding it into the current shop. The main concern in these cases was clashing cultures and how to mold together. The consensus was to include more people in the process and get them working together early, before a deal is even done to ensure a cohesive environment.

The other big discussion revolved around Millennials and Gen Z and how they will not only impact the marketing business but also from a consumer standpoint. Ann Mack, the Director of Global Content and Consumer Insights for Facebook was on hand to present a recent study on these two groups. The results were very telling of how the industry is, but still needs to shift in terms of thinking and engagement. The top three areas of focus for these two groups were Family, Friends and Music. It was also noted that online has surpassed the mall for places teens hangout. FOBO (Fear of Being Offline) is the new FOMO, and it’s a real thing that’s not going away, especially with the digital first world we now live in.

We as marketers need to evolve the way in which we operate our businesses and think more from a digital first mindset. We can’t simply apply old techniques to new technology. You must embrace digital, stop supporting silos and invest in vision. Those who do will continue to build trust and thrive.