Tag Archives: Marketing


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]


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]


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.

Marketing, Monetization and Privacy, oh my!

WAP’s and apps seem to be top of mind for clients, marketers and industry experts alike for the last 6 or 12 months.  This sort of focus tends to cause us to rush into mobile development without a clear strategy and solid privacy policy.  Earlier this month, I was able to attend the Digiday Mobile Summit in order to ensure we weren’t blindly following this trend just because.

One speaker really stuck out to me because of his candid views on mobile and its current role in marketing.  Matt Szymczyk of Zugara stated that marketers tend to only think as marketers and gloss over the needs of the consumer.  His exact statement was “Think like a consumer, not a marketer.”  While it seems like a pretty obvious statement, I think we, as marketers, are always chasing that next big idea that’s going to wow our clients or the industry.  This blind ambition comes at the expense of catering to our consumers.  The main question we need to ask ourselves is “What problem does this ‘next big thing’ solve for the consumer?”

QR codes are a perfect example.  In their infancy, I prepared a deck that discussed what they were and how we could utilize them to help tie the online experience to the offline world, dragging metrics and analytics behind it.  In my excitement I had failed to consider that the consumer wasn’t educated on this new technology and assumed adoption would be as inevitable as the demise of feature phones.  My mistake was solving for a marketing need, not a consumer need.  To this day, QR codes aren’t widely used or even understood by the vast majority of the population (except for young affluent males, according to ComScore) because they don’t solve a problem or enhance the consumers’ lives in any significant way.

One company that has enhanced consumers’ lives is Kiip.me.  Brian Wong (CEO of Kiip) sat on a panel discussing what publishers could learn from gaming.  Contrary to what his young age would imply, he had some unique insights into marketing that I found interesting.  If you’re unaware, Kiip (pronounced ‘keep’) goes beyond standard banner ads to provide consumers tangible rewards in a virtual environment.  For example, if I’m able to clear an Angry Birds level with 3 stars, I could be shown a voucher for a small order of fries at Carl’s Jr. (Hardee’s for you Midwest folks), where I’d simply have to provide my email address to obtain.  As Mr. Wong put it, the moment you reach the achievement is euphoric and Kiip monetizes that moment.

As a gamer, I can appreciate the moment you unlock an achievement and the feeling associated with it.  While the achievement itself is intangible, everything leading up to that achievement makes it a sensational moment.  Whether you’ve battled your way through a dungeon for 15 hours or you were finally able to make the cement block fall on top of the little green pig, the accomplishment makes all the effort and frustration worth it.  Adding to the elation by giving me something I can actually use?  That’s absolutely amazing and I will likely always have a positive perception of the advertiser, despite having to provide a small bit of personal information.

I must caveat that by saying that I’m in the minority when it comes to privacy and personal information.  To me, providing a bit of personal information in return for free content is a tradeoff I’m willing and able to accept.  I’m even fine with companies tracking my behavior online to help target ads that they think I’d be more inclined to be interested in.  However, the discussion by Chris Babel (CEO of TRUSTe) and Leslie Dunal (VP of Privacy, Policy and Trust at Yahoo) really make me question my previously held beliefs (a discussion with my director about privacy and worst-cast-scenarios afterwards didn’t help).

What has caused me pause, both personally and professionally, was the realization that the vast majority of mobile applications (and even some websites) don’t have a privacy policy and those that do have more holes than Swiss cheese.  Take that and compound it by the ability for nefarious types to hack into databases on a whim (not even government databases are safe) and I’m taking my online privacy a lot more seriously.  I will actually read through privacy policies now, looking not only for how they’ll use my information, but how long they intend to keep my information on file – which is the bigger threat, in my opinion.  Marketers need to also ensure the companies they are working with and the applications/websites they may represent have a solid privacy policy.  If you’re considering building your own application and/or mobile site, I encourage you to visit www.truste.com/mobile for more information on privacy.