Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr: Which Platform is Right for Your Brand? #SMWNYC

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth ten thousand words."  And in social media, no truer words were spoken.  With a plethora of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, the power of visual marketing is abundant.  In fact, Facebook has more photos uploaded than Flickr, Instagram and even the Library of Congress.  So how can brands harness this power and gain more brand affinity and engagement through visual marketing?  The truth is, most marketers are missing the point. 

We have a lot of bad habits from our traditional media practices that we hold onto that are really ineffective in this new medium.  It seems like mass media, but the rise of social networks and digital media has created an opportunity to create real and meaningful dialogue with our audiences on a one-to-one level through technology.  That technology has become ever-present and critical component to everything we do.  But while the technology is key to distribution, the story is what matters to the audience.  And this is something we must not take lightly.  Combine that with the right visuals in photos, videos, infographics, and you're onto something.

So how to you get there?  First you have to uncover the underlying motivations of why people share in the first place.  To give value and entertainment to others, to provide a sense of who we are, to stay connected and build relationships with others, to create personal involvement and stay connected with others, and to persuade others to care about what we care about.* 

*Source: NYTimes Customer Insight Group study

It's the content, in the right context, that will ultimately drive conversation. The intersection of where you (as a brand) can share what you want to say and what they (as your audience) are interested in consuming.  Relevance is key to great content.  Timing is also extremely important.  You must consider how the consumer is bombarded with content and navigate the right communication path to ensure your content gets seen, heard, read and shared.

To address which visual platforms would work best for your brand, it would be best to ask yourself these questions - What are your brand's goals? What are your brand's resources? Where is your brand's audience?

Then you can decide which platforms make the most sense for your brand's content.

Here's the lowdown on the platforms:

Pinterest: Reflects aspirational desire and "want" - intent to purchase with aethesthically beautiful photos.  For Brands - huge opportunity to express brand ideals, authenticity and style. 

Instagram: It's about art, not ads.  Be the brand, not the product. Fuels into other networks so use as an opportunity to cross-promote.

Tumblr: Blogging platform; social network; content distribution platform - use when you are trying to young adults.  Most popular with 13-25 year olds.  "Facebook is where teens and young adults connect with family and friends - Tumblr is where they connect with like-minded people about topics they care about" - Tim Peter

Key Takeaways:

• Use images that are beautiful/eye-popping/funny/inspirational/emotional/relatable/shareable (that you have rights to) and distribute them across social platforms
• Think about streams: timing of publishing and catching people’s attention
• Think MOBILE
• Cross-promote and repurpose
• Think about your brand and your audience

You can get the full presentation on slideshare and watch a video recapping the presentation below. 


#CES2013 – The Year Everyone Got Smart (and a pair of big headphones)

2013 CES is over for me…I’m heading back to Atlanta as I write this blog still feeling energized from all the great new connections and amazing things I saw at CES.  I have to say the highlight was the Twitter Party Wednesday night.  High above the Vegas Strip in the Cosmopolitan Penthouse, Twitter put on a great event.  Lots of old friends, and a few new ones….there was something amazing about seeing David Blaine incognito quietly performing magic tricks for Damon Wayans and a JoBro.  Conversely, there is something somewhat concerning about being in a Vegas penthouse with Mike Tyson, who was also in attendance.

As far as the conference, as I mentioned in my previous post, the next evolution seems to be smart devices.  More and more companies are finding ways to build in real competitive advantage to their products by connecting them to the internet.  Consumers are starting to grasp the real advantage to sharing data about product usage and getting personalized experiences in return. 

So what’s the impact on marketing organizations of all this connectivity?  "Ironically, the Cloud has made the sun shine ever brighter on marketing,” said Michael Kassan, CEO of Medialink and moderator for the Brand Matters Panel.  Representatives from American Express, AT&T, Coca-Cola,  Salesforce and Unilever were all there to share some great stories of how this change has impacted them.  In reference to the benefit of the cloud for companies, Marc Benioff reminded us that, “Manufacturing has become a commodity.  Customer Service is how you really can differentiate.”  Marc also hit a chord when he said "If trust is not your #1 value as a brand, and as an individual, in this economy…its over.”

Joe Tripodi, CMO of Coca-Cola, talked a lot about ensuring his company continues to invest in innovative ideas.  He suggested that it can be easy for companies to be “seduced” by all of the data out there in the cloud, but that last little bit is about finding real insight and new, innovative ideas. "If you're not interesting to the consumer it doesn't matter how targeted it was." Joe also spoke a lot about the importance of marketing to learn to work closely with the technology people in the organization.   At the same time, several panelists discussed the Gartner study  that CMOs will be responsible for purchasing more technology for their organizations than CIOs, which is a huge shift and truly highlights the convergence of our industry. 

Of course the gadgets, devices, and applications were all amazing.  The energy and excitement at this conference is also very impressive.  It probably had something to do with the fact that it was the birthday of the Vegas. I wish I would have known it was his birthday though so I could have got him some Beats by Dre.  I think he would have liked those.



#CES2013: The Year of Smart, Connected Devices

CES 2013 is amazing so far. A great number of people from all different industries have gathered here in Las Vegas as we watch this moment of transformation together in the world of technology. If the last 3 years have each been "the year of mobile", then 2013 is shaping up to be the year of smart. Smart, connected devices are everywhere. Cars are connected, appliances are connected, my guitar is connected--I even found a fork that is connected. It has been a great show so far, and it is still early on. Keep an eye out for more exciting things to come from CES 2013.

Get a behind the scenes look at the Red Touch Social Lounge.



AMC’s #ThePitch – Why The Wrong Agencies Win Every Week

So, like every other self-respecting modern-day MadMan (and woman), I’ve become totally hooked on AMC’s new show, “The Pitch.”   Because who doesn’t like to look at themselves in the mirror while simultaneously being filled with pride and revolted in disgust and self-loathing?

Three episodes in and there are numerous things I have found fascinating about the show.  One is how un-fascinating the show is to non-industry people (“Wow…all these people sound boring and I have no idea what they are talking about… kind of like you” – My girlfriend).  I’ve been impressed with how well the producers capture a few specific moments, like the excitement around getting the initial brief, the struggle of moving from ideation to execution, the battle between creativity and strategy, and the anticipation of the team walking into the board room for their moment of judgment.  

What I’ve been amazed by so far is in the three episodes I’ve seen (I missed the “Mister Sparky one”), the wrong agency has won.  Sure, I know this is my opinion and I don’t have the whole story, but based on the tweets of my peers, I don’t think I’m alone here.  With the parts of the brief that were seen on air, the agencies that lost absolutely had the best ideas and they delivered the strongest results against the brief.  So where’s the disconnect?  Am I (and all of these other agencies) that far out of touch with what our clients really need?  Why do so many agency people think the wrong agencies were awarded the business? 

The answer is presentation.  The agencies with the strongest presentation won.  This creates a couple of problems…the first of which is that clients need to be able to see through some of the “dog and pony” show (or as we like to say at Definition 6, “the cotton candy and frozen margaritas”) to understand the idea and select the agencies that understand the objectives and the brand the best.  I have been confident of the outcome at the end of the presentations, saying to myself, “The winner is obvious…there is no way they can select the other agency,” only to find myself shocked by the moment of truth.  Maybe that’s just good editing, but each time the client has said basically the same thing…”The other group really took it farther and thought it through more.”  That’s really not a true statement.  In each case, the other agency simply did more free work and more spec creative.  I would actually say the losing agency thought through the idea more carefully and found more insight and opportunity for the brands.  Unfortunately, the time spent developing that insight left less time for the creative executions.  That requires more imagination from the client to see the vision.

However, let’s be clear that the reverse is also true – presentation IS important.  Conveying an idea or concept that can be digested and understood easily is critical to winning the business.  These agencies have done a great job finding insight in the audiences of these brands, but they have failed in gaining insight into their own target audience…the brands themselves.  These brands need to not only hear the idea, but see it, feel it, and touch it.  A lot is decided in that two hour presentation.  Brands need to know that the idea is more than just an idea, and the agency has the ability to execute that idea and make it come to life.  To a brand, the ability to execute can be just as important as the idea itself, because the best idea in the world, if poorly executed, still won’t work.

Create that balance between good ideas based on strategy and insight and good execution across a multitude of platforms and tactics…that is what brands want to see and what agencies need to deliver.  Now, go make life pop…and don’t be a zAMbie.


#SXSWi: 99 Problems but a Blog ain't one

I’m back in Atlanta after attending my first SXSW Interactive festival.  Wow.  It was like a four day fire hose to the face.  So much information.  So many people.  So much excitement.  So much food out of so many trucks.  Overall, I had an amazing experience that showed me a few things.

First of all, let’s talk about the people.  If you are reading this blog, I’ll assume you are in “the industry” in some way.  And if you are in digital marketing, technology, advertising, or social media, then you know we as a collective tend to be a little “snarky” and jaded at times.  One of my biggest observations was how far away everyone was from that at SXSW…the feeling of a community coming together to learn, to share, and to collaborate was pouring out of Austin faster than Blue Moon Draught.  I was inspired as much by the general attitude and approach people had with each other as I was in the sessions.  Bad weather, long lines, closed sessions, cab drivers who all had a “broken credit card machine,” and late nights could have had everyone on edge and ready to pounce but instead, everyone seemed to take it in stride and make the absolute best out of a bad situation.  It really was nice to see and feel the sense of positivity, optimism, and hope coming from my peers.

Now, let’s talk about the sessions.  In just a few days, I heard so many unbelievably good presentations that informed and inspired me.  My favorite I think was Kevin Smith…his presentation really served as a great reminder to everyone that you have to do something you love.  Most of us do this job because we love doing it…we love innovating, we love creating, we love the challenge, we love pushing ourselves.  Kevin told us that through a very heartfelt and personal story about the death of his father that “We’re all gonna die screaming, so make sure you accomplish all the things you want to in life.”  He also reminded us to “listen to our muse and be sure to honor it.”  The overarching message was “stick with what’s personal to you and your business will find a way.”  The presentation felt very honest and organic, so much so that “Silent Bob” didn’t introduce the moderator until about 45 minutes into the session, and then ran 30 minutes over…but nobody seemed to mind too much.

One of the more impassioned and polarizing sessions was the #EndofUsual with Brian Solis interviewing Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.  Billy had some really strong opinions on the state of the music business, the relationship between artists and record companies, and the role fans should play in supporting artists in the digital world we live in today.  The result of the opinions shared was strong reaction in both directions…one audience member told Billy to “F*** off, you whiny little Rockstar,” while a larger portion of the crowd gave the Smashing Pumpkins front man a standing ovation.

One other session I found particularly engaging was Brands: The Cost of Being Human from Jen Van der Meer of the Dachis Group.  Jen talked a lot about how to effectively monetize the value that social brings to brands to help manage the inevitable conflict that is created when budgets are needed.  One of the best points Jen brought up was that the “Top 50 Brands pursue fundamental human values that improve people’s lives.”  I thought this was a great observation and really hit close to home with some projects Definition 6 has been involved, like Coca-Cola’s "Where will happiness strike next?”  Jen also pointed out that “a lot of what passes as brand strategy these days is copy strategy.”  She also pointed out that social media’s real value was not at the individual transaction level but at a long term spend and referral level.

But you know SXSW isn’t just about panels…it’s about parties, too.  And there were some great ones.  Obviously, the gang at Mashable knows how to throw a great party.  The event at Buffalo Bills was great fun.  One of my greatest learnings from SXSW this year is that I am a heck of a shuffle board player.  The line to get in to the party was wrapped around the building.  The other big event was Jay-Z to help promote the American Express Sync program.  I have to say, in the past I think it’s always been some start-up who became the big winner at SXSW (Twitter, Foursquare, GroupMe).  But I think this year, American Express showed us established brands can still be innovative enough to attract the attention of the hipster digital marketing community.  Everyone was talking (and synching) about the program AmEx was doing, how great it worked, and how it is a WIN on so many levels.  Of course, AmEx may have 99 Problems, but money to hire Jay-Z to promote this new feature ain’t one.

Now I’ve returned home, with a bag full of swag, a belly full of food from a truck, and my tweet-stream still full of #SXSWi insight.  All in all a great trip…I’m already looking forward to next year.  Until then, keep Austin weird.


You say you want a Revolution: The #SMSS battle cry

SMSS Las Vegas 2012
I just got back from the Social Media Strategies Summit on Las Vegas, a great event put on by GSMI.  Our VP of Strategy and Account Services, Paul McClay and I Paul McClay of Definition 6  presented on “How to Create Content That People Want to Share” to a highly engaged group of people that are all doing some amazing things in the social media space.  We talked a lot about how creating shareable content really starts with understanding your audience, understanding their persona, and realizing the core needs that sharing content really helps to satisfy.  We used some great examples where we have been successful with this like HBO’s Trueblood campaign, Coke’s Happiness Machine, and our collaboration with Facebook on the Timeline Movie Maker project.




My main take away from this conference is that there is still a great deal of resistance to the idea of social media being effectively used as a core communications tool in a lot of larger organizations.  People in this field still struggle to get the budget, commitment, and trust from their organizations to effectively wield the tool.  There was a lot of conversation around the role legal reviews play in trying to protect companies who are in his space.

One of the best analogies I heard was from Jason Seiden from Ajax Social Media, who equated the current social media revolution to the period following the invention of the Gutenberg press…a time of significant change in how people communicated, how information was distributed, how we consumed information, but also a time of much uncertainty, doubt, and fear.  The analogy did a great job of demonstrating how that fear of the unknown and fear of change in people’s roles and responsibilities is very similar to what we see today with social.

Jeffrey Hayzlett did a very inspirational key note, reminding us that as marketers, it’s our JOB to push our companies to the edge, and reminded us it’s legal’s  job to keep us fromSMSS in Vegas falling off that ledge.  Hayzlett’s stories of his time at Kodak also did a great job of demonstrating how we, as marketers, still lose sight of the forest for all the trees. 

The other hot topic of conversation continues to be around measurement…how can companies measure the impact and ROI of their social media efforts?  What are the right KPIs for measurement?  How do you target the right audience to the impact of your efforts?  Is ROI even the right measurement to be using?  I’m not sure anyone came to a consensus as there was much debate over the many theories and approaches put forth by the presenters.  

All in all, a great conference, that filled the tank of inspiration and was a great setting collaborate with others in the industry for new perspective and fresh ideas. 

SMSS Las Vegas 2012



And the Winner is...

You know, I’m a big believer that the most important thing we do is deliver work that creates measurable results for our clients.  That’s why we do drive our clients towards their business goals. But when we are able to create that kind of positive impact AND be recognized by the industry for our creative achievements, well, that’s even better!

I am once again thrilled to be a part of this great company, a company that was just named one of the best places to work in Atlanta.  From Emmy nominations to Clio finalists and Webby awards, we love to share this news with our clients.  Creating great work, award-winning work, is our mantra here.  Don’t believe me?  Just take a look at this list for awards coming up over the next 30 days:

  • 2 Daytime Emmy® Award nominations for Sesame Street




  • 2 Webby Awards



  • National round of the ADDY® Awards for Coca-Cola’s “Happiness Machine” (after already winning a Gold and “Best in Show” ADDY® in the Atlanta competition and another Gold ADDY® at the District 7 gala earlier this year).



  • 4 Promax BDA awards
    • David Foster Inspiration - Art Direction & Design: Special Events Promo - General Entertainment
    • Coca-Cola Happiness Machine - :30 - On-Air Commercial Advertisement
    • Definition 6 Journey - Self Promotion/Show Reel/Company Image
    • Spike Re-Brand Pitch - Salon de Refus




  • 3 American Business Awards (Stevie Awards):
    • Coca-Cola’s “Where Will Happiness Strike Next” Campaign: Marketing Campaign of the Year – Food & Beverage
    • Mitsubishi Electric Website: Web Site or Blog Awards Categories: Manufacturing
    • Bliss Flooring Website: Web Site or Blog Awards Categories: Consumer Products – Durables




  • 2 Telly Awards
    • Coca-Cola "Happiness Truck" Silver Telly
    • Coca-Cola "Happiness Truck" People's Choice Telly Bronze

It’s so exciting to see so many components of what we do for so many clients recognized.  Definition 6 is fortunate to work with such great, collaborative clients that partner with us to create great work together.  Win or lose, we truly appreciate the recognition from our colleagues and peers. 



The Wild West of the Content Business - #DigitalHollywood

 I’m just back from spending a week in L.A. for the 2011 Spring Digital Hollywood Conference…my first time attending the show.   So many panels, fascinating people, and great topics of conversation.  The biggest crisis that seems to be facing this industry is one of identity…when I can get content anywhere on any device any time I want it, can I still say I am in the TV business? 

Having been raised on the digital side of this equation, I found it fascinating to see what an internal struggle this issue has become.  In my mind, production of good content continues to be the real source of value.  Good content will usually rise to the top.  Technology has simply increased the number of opportunities to consume that content, as well as the number of opportunities to monetize that content.  It also has introduced measurement into the equation.  Measurement puts pressure on the content providers to prove they are delivering the audience advertisers want and need.  You also hear a lot more about how targeting is so important…why waste advertising dollars on the people who aren’t buying or will never buy your product?  Well, in my opinion, reach still matters because everyone has the opportunity to be an influencer.  Whether or not you buy my products, you can still help influence someone else who does. 

One of the biggest things I took away from the event was a quote from Adam Carolla, who noted following one panelist’s description on the state of the industry, “Do we really need ‘wild, wild west?’ Doesn’t one ‘wild’ really encapsulate everything we want to say?”  The second biggest take-away was a quote from Stan Kurnit of AdKeeper and founder of -  He said, “It’s not that consumers don’t like advertising, they just don’t like how we are doing it.”  With the changes in technology and content distribution, consumers have choice. They have control.  That doesn’t mean they don’t want or even sometimes enjoy advertising…it just means we, as advertisers, need to do a better job at creating ads that add value, that entertain, and that truly inform.  It’s easy to say consumers aren’t impacted by advertising anymore, but that is far from the truth.  They just aren’t impacted by bad advertising anymore.  The expectation has been raised significantly.  There are plenty of interesting examples of companies doing it right now.  But the industry definitely continues to evolve at the intersection of content and context.


Happiness Strikes Again #WWHSN

Today Coke released the “Happiness Truck”, a new online video that features a Coca-Cola delivery truck delivering doses of happiness in the streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This video marks the first stop for the “Happiness Truck”, created by Coca-Cola and Definition 6.

The award-winning “Happiness Machine” left over 3million viewers with the question, “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?”. Coca-Cola has since launched more than 25 videos around the globe that took inspiration from the original “Happiness Machine”.  Watch the original piece produced by Definition 6 below.  Also, check out Coke’s Where Will Happiness Strike Next Facebook Hub to see happiness strike all over the world. 


6 Posts Read the Most in 2010

It’s that time of year again. A time for reflection and a time for predictions. On the outside chance you did something this year besides monitor your RSS feed from Defining Insights, we thought this would be a good time to reflect on the top posts of the last 12 months.

For those of you that don’t know, Definition 6 has a very open corporate blogging policy. All of our employees are welcome (and encouraged) to contribute to the blog. With a team that spans many different areas of expertise, we find this is a great approach to keeping our customers and other friends up to date on the latest trends in digital marketing and emerging technology.

It’s also an opportunity for us to share successful approaches to unified marketing, helping you develop and leverage strategies that deepen relationships and improve marketing ROI. Without further adieu, here are the 6 most-read posts of 2010:

#1 “Nike ‘Write the Future’ Ad Breaks Viral Video Record” by Jon Accarrino

It should come as no surprise that the leader of Definition 6’s social media operations published the most-read post of 2010. Before joining Definition 6, Jon launched many of NBC’s first social media initiatives, including the Twitter accounts of many of the Today Show stars you know and love.

Leading up to this year’s World Cup action, Jon had the foresight to write a quick review of Nike’s ‘Write the Future’ ad. As fans took breaks from vuvuzela tooting to search the Web, many stumbled across Jon’s post.

You can read the original post (and watch the video again) here.

#2 “Best Practices for Facebook Pages” by Ashley Reed

Definition 6’s social media team must know a thing or two about producing and sharing content on the Web, because its Atlanta-based social media manager Asheley Reed wrote the second most-read post of 2010, “Best Practices for Facebook Pages.”  Ashley’s post was jam-packed with practical information top brands can use to get more out of their Facebook marketing efforts. If your organization has a Facebook Page (or is thinking about launching one), you may want to check out Ashley’s post here. Of course, you might also find value in here “Why People Like Brands on Facebook” post as well.

#3 “How You Like Me Now?” by Matt Timpson

Matt Timpson gives us a great argument for why companies should open blogging to more employees. Matt doesn’t work in marketing, he’s not a client manager or on the sales team, he works in the engineering department.  But he contributed one of the most-read blog posts of 2010, an in-depth analysis of Kia’s 2010 Super Bowl ad (you know, the one with the Sock-Monkey, Squeak-Monster and the Robot?). With an unassuming title “How You Like Me Now?” (a nod to the music used in the spot), his post climbed the charts. If you are familiar with the commercial, you might find his analysis interesting. It’s hard to believe Super Bowl spots are right around the corner.

#4 “Babes... And Some Other Basic Truths About Re-Connecting With Audiences Online” by Al Leach

Al Leach leads the national strategic communications practice for Definition 6. Needless to say, he has a way with words. While the content of Al’s post is written from the point of view of a veteran communications professional, the lighthearted headline and lead demonstrates a point about capturing attention in a short attention span world. Al’s post presents 4 self-proclaimed “truths” about communicating with audiences today - a great read for any communicator. Read Al’s post here.

#5 “The Gap Logo Fiasco” by Chris Wojda

Work for an iconic brand? Want to generate a lot of buzz this year? Have an intern redesign your logo and swap it out on your website - the blogosphere will go wild and you’ll be top of mind for a couple of weeks (at least). While that’s not exactly how it played out, some suspect Gap’s re-branding efforts from this past summer were a publicity stunt. With ‘serious’ re-brands, you would typically see signs at stores change. In this case, it was really just the logo on Gap’s website. Regardless of what the strategy really was, Gap made a lot of noise with its logo ‘fiasco’ this past summer. One of Definition 6’s leading brand strategists, Chris Wojda, couldn’t resist chiming in with his ‘two cents’ on the whole mess. Read his take on Gap’s logo swap here.

#6 “Unified Marketing: A New Model for a New Era” by Michael Kogon

One of the most significant events for the agency this past year was our own re-branding effort. As most of you know, Definition 6 is now a Unified Marketing Agency. Definition 6 CEO introduced positioning and why we feel so strongly about this model in all that we do. The fact that this post rounded out the top 6 posts of 2010 shows that not only did the message resonate with you, but also that we continue to see coincidences with the number “6” in everything that we do. To get the full scoop on what our Unified Marketing Agency positioning is all about, read Michael’s post here.

Chris Thornton is Chief Marketing Officer of Definition 6 and was recently named “CMO of the Year” by the Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Technology Marketing Association. Chris also serves on the board of the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA). When he’s not blogging, you can find Chris tweeting at @CMORocks.


Betting on Real-Time Bidding for 2011

Well, it's that time of year again...time for all the marekting prognosticators to begin the arduous task for predicting the future.  Who am I to be left out on this annual tradition?  One of the things that I think will be a focus will be the continual evolution of media, specifically how we buy and target using digital media.

real time bidding online adseMarketer recently highlighted developments in real-time bidding and audience targeting in its “2011 Trends: Future of Ad Buys” article - one of 11 trends the research firm will highlight in an upcoming report. 

This report only reinforces my belief that we’ll see a significant shift in how marketers target and purchase online ads in 2011 - some opting for leveraging real-time bidding to better target audiences, while others will leverage better data and targeting technologies to serve ads to targets as they move site-to-site.

Several of our clients have successfully leveraged real-time bidding for online ad buys in 2010, helping them to more effectively target audience segments. Real-time bidding will become more mainstream in 2011, changing the way ad networks, publishers and advertisers work.

Real-time bidding makes sense for a few reasons, but most significantly it helps advertisers buy audience instead of inventory. Rather than plan your media spend based on available inventory, you can adjust your budget allocation by bidding on impressions based on the location of the ad or the number of impressions desired (or use tracking cookies for retargeting or other segmentation).

As ad networks continue to evolve, we’re now seeing opportunities to reach audiences by targeting specific demographic groups, serving ads across multiple sites where targets traffic. Essentially, you can target audiences by demographic and have your ads served across multiple sites they may visit.

There is some debate over which approach is more effective, but by leveraging real-time analytics and insight, it’s now possible to maximize campaign performance ongoing.

 It’s exciting to see all the developments in display advertising heading into 2011.

There are more opportunities than ever for advertisers to more accurately (and efficiently) reach their audiences wherever they are.

 To learn more about how you can leverage display advertising and the developments in real-time bidding and targeting to reach your audiences, please contact one of our media subject matter experts.

Chris Thornton is Chief Marketing Officer for Definition 6.

Conversations at Connections

As the CMO of a unified marketing agency, I attend a lot of marketing conferences (more than you would believe). You get to a point with marketing conferences where they all start to look the same - and it takes a lot to surprise me. I was surprised twice last week.

First, I attended the best marketing conference I've ever been to... and it was in Indianapolis. Second, it was hosted by a software company. The ExactTarget User Conference, Connections 2010, was an outstanding educational, inspirational and impressive experience. I was blown away.

Then again, it's hard not to be moved when you have conference speakers like Sir Richard Branson. He is an amazing guy. He really believes he cannot fail at anything - and therefore rarely does. He spoke of commercial flights to space NEXT YEAR on Virigin Galactic. 

I mean, I still am impressed I can to the Internet when I am on a plane.  He also gets it.  My favorite quote was “Conversations can change the world, one person at a time, one moment at a time.” Branson has built his success by bringing the right message at the right time to the right people. Which is fascinating, because historically brands have felt consistency and repetition were keys to success. But Virgin’s founder has built a brand based on collective and dimensional experiences.

There were several other fascinating speakers who contributed as well…Andy Sernovitz, author of “Word of Mouth Marketing  was spot on in his thinking when he said, “Advertising is the cost of being boring ” - and that earned media was gained by creating things worth talking about. Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, is always entertaining and did great on his panel. 

From an educational standpoint, the guys from ExactTarget did great showing us not only where they are taking the platform as a centralized location to manage the conversation, but also backed it up with some wonderful research on email and social media…reminding us yet again, that social media only increases emails importance vs. kills it. 

I also enjoyed some great insight from Michael Donnelly of The Coca-Cola Company (disclaimer: they're a client). He reminded us of the power of Metcalfe’s Law: “Fans aren’t necessarily there to share with us, fans are there to share with each other.” He also made it evidently clear to one audience member that you should not misquote him on Twitter. 

Overall, Connections 2010 did a great job of really demonstrating this brave new world of marketing…one defined not just by the message, but the intersection of message, context, and persona.  Conversations with your customers are what matter.  Real-time relationships are how you move the bottom line.  Are you ready to change your approach?  Your customers are moving with or without you.  In the immortal words of Richard Branson, “Screw it…let’s just do it.”


Connecting People and Brands in Real-Time

Unified marketing is our strategic framework for creating experiences that deepen the emotional connections between brands and people. It sounds easy enough, right? Consumers are a moving target. Brands move fast too. At some point, they interact – you need that experience to be a meaningful one.

Thinking in terms of campaigns is short-sighted. I believe successful brands need to think more in terms of unified experiences – across any interaction a consumer has with your brand, regardless of medium, stage of the relationship or any other factor you can think of.

How can you get into the unified marketing mindset? It all starts with insight. Insight is essential to everything we do with unified marketing strategy development. We believe to truly optimize your marketing, the effort needs to mirror the environment – in this case, always-on and always-evolving.

The art and science of creating brand impact and enduring customer relationships revolve around immersive experiences. Here’s how we approach unified marketing for our clients:

  • Find & Define the right target audiences. It’s not just about demographics, but rather about understanding the nuances within your customer base and targeting the right segments of your audience based on behavior and psychographics.  Go after the right audience at the right time with the right message.
  • Engage and Connect to create brand engagement through rich experiences that add collective value and resonate with your audiences on an emotional level.
  • Build and Maintain customer relationships through the use of brand nurture relationship marketing and social relationship environments and tactics.  It’s about continual and on-going value in an always-on, always-changing world.
  • Understand and Optimize for maximum impact. Improve your media mix and strategic messaging by incorporating appropriate testing, analytics, monitoring and intelligence to make more-informed business decisions in real-time.
Unified Marketing Strategic Framework enables us to more effectively plan, execute, and dynamically optimize your marketing initiatives.  It links our marketing strategy and our creative design to our technical planning, development delivery and optimization. Through this approach, we help clients build more meaningful brand experiences that unite brands and people in motion, driving more interaction and transaction.

Learn more about our unified marketing approach in What We Do or see the results of our programs in Our Work. Thanks!

Like It Or Not, I’m for Fans on Facebook

Facebook has become a critical component to the marketing plans for companies, particularly in business-to-consumer segments.  The value companies get from the highly-engaging social network is hard to match through other media.  

Facebook recently decided to change a key component of its advertising platform to increase interactions with brands, by eliminating the “Fan” function and moving to the tried and true “Like” function.  The rationale behind this move is simple: Facebook users use the “Like” function everywhere in the platform, therefore the expectation is that users will be more likely to “Like” a brand because it is more intuitive and familiar.  

The “Like” functionality of ads is powerful because it increases interactions between consumers and brands.  The bad news is this behavior sets out to destroy a lot of the value brands can get from social media.

Let me explain. For starters, we all know marketers face enormous pressure to deliver quantifiable results.  The number of “Likes” or “Fans” is an easy number to throw on a spreadsheet with a whole bunch of other stats to show your boss you’ve done more that play Farmville all week long.  

“We’ve increased the number of people that like our brand by 10.357% this week.  Looks like I’m getting that bonus and retiring toTahiti!”  I think that’s the wrong mindset to encourage.  I do agree that “Becoming a Fan” of a brand seems more committal and that it would be much easier to get numbers up by driving “likes” instead…but do I really want that?  Wouldn’t I rather have access to a group of influential people who really believe in my brand, who truly have brand love and want to shout it out from Mount High?  I think the answer to that is “Yes.”I want to know who my biggest brand advocates are, not just the casual, “Yeah, I like you…you are cool”-type of people.  There are plenty of other ways to find them.  

When it comes to my “Fans,” these are people who really love me.  I want to turn these people into brand ambassadors, enable them, engage them, and encourage them to share their love with their friends.  For the people that simply “Like” me, the opportunity is lower to create that kind of interaction, not to mention I now have completely muddled my group of hardcore fans with casual ones.  The result?  We’re right back to measuring based on size instead of substance.  

So instead of making this change, why can’t Facebook bring back the “dislike” button, so I can “dislike” this change?  I want to know who the real fans are, not just the people who like me today.  Like what I do, but be a fan of the brand I am.  If you like this blog post, please click thumbs up.  


Integrated Marketing Strategy: Tying It All Together

I recently had an opportunity to participate in a webinar about the current trends and thinking around integrated marketing strategy, particularly in the areas of interative marketing.

The digital evolution has completely changed the way companies interact with their customers.  Companies can longer push their agenda to drive business, but must find ways to add value at every single touch point.  How can companies effectively create a unified message across so many disciplines to evolve the way consumers think of their brand?

A good part of my strategic discussion revolved around reinvention of the idea of brand, and what it means to be a marketer for a company in the 21st century. Some specific takeways I think I cover in this presentation include:
  1. How to organize and integrate your marketing operation to create a cohesive message
  2. How to identify early in the process if you are achieving your goals
  3. How to optimize your branding efforts and align them with your sales organization

If you're thinking about integrating your marketing programs, or just looking to improve the performance of your existing integrated marketing programs, perhaps you'll find the presentation relevant to your current discussions.

To view my presentation from the webinar, please click on the presentation below:
Questions or comments about the proposal? Please feel free to reach out to me through Twitter.


Marketing Integration. Technology Innovation. Building Brands that Matter.

And so it begins...

Over the past 15 years we have seen the rise of the digital age.  Well, we’ve seen the rise, fall, and rebirth of digital over that time frame.  Out of the ashes of the dotcom bust came a stronger, smarter marketer.  A marketer that understands the importance of measurement, ROI, brand, and business objective.  Also, out of the ashes came a smarter consumer.  A consumer who suddenly realized they have a voice, and the power to initiate change.  This combination has resulted in interactive marketing going from an afterthought in a CMO’s marketing plan to a focal point.  The web is now the hub of most marketing initiatives.  It is the place where we can create the deepest engagement, measure the most activity, and impact the audience the most by creating true brand experiences and real interaction with the brand. 

So traditional is dead, right?  Wrong.  Traditional mediums continue to be important. I have not thrown my HD flat screen out on the lawn yet.  My IPOD and my radio take turns in my car.  Occasionally, I still even read a magazine.  The real problem for marketers now is this: the interactive medium has gone from the smaller part of the overall mix, to the key driving factor that is the glue that enables a truly integrated experience for the user.  The advertising and marketing world has gone from a push to a pull.  Marketers need agencies who can execute a truly integrated plan by developing real interactive strategy…one message, one brand, many channels, multiple experiences. 
This fact has been the driving force for the recent growth and expansion of Definition 6.  For 13 years, Definition 6 has been creating interactive solutions that deliver measureable results for our clients.  We have taken great strides to build integrated strategies that work with our clients’ entire marketing plans.  And so today we announce the next evolution in Definition 6.

Definition 6 has acquired Creative Bubble  – A New York Based video design, production, and editing firm.  Creative Bubble is an Emmy Award Winning agency working with some of the best and brightest networks in the entertainment field including Nickelodeon, HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and USA Networks just to name a few.  This acquisition means a several things for Definition 6 and our clients...

First, we now have full in-house video production and editing capabilities, from script to screen.  As the lines between digital and traditional continue to blur, content becomes king.  We now have the ability to 100% in-house develop rich video content, coupled with our digital experience, enables us to develop and execute full integrated marketing campaigns that can be distributed across multiple mediums…Definition 6 has the capability to develop across the three screens that really matter: TV, Internet, and Mobile.  We also now have a fully functioning office in New York, the epicenter for the media world.  Again, with our existing strategy, social media, and analytics practices, we can develop more effective campaigns more efficiently that deliver real, quantifiable impact to the businesses of our clients. 

There will certainly be more news in the coming months from Definition 6.  But we are beginning to see the vision we’ve had for years come to fruition and we are very excited.  Marketing Integration.  Technology Innovation.  Building Brands that Matter.  That’s what Definition 6 has set out to do for our clients.  The game is changing everyday…and we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.


How can I test the social media waters?

The easy place to start is by analyzing your current position in the social landscape - and chances are, someone's already talking about you online. Take a look at what's being said, and analyze the impact of those conversations.

You also need to understand your motivation for using social media. Rather than taking an ‘everyone is doing it' approach, you'll need to clearly define your goals and outline what you believe social media will help your organization achieve.  All social tools are not created equal, and some work better than others depending on the desired outcomes and target audiences. There are numerous inexpensive tools that can help you create a launching pad for a social media presence that will, over time, be effective.


Improving Email Opt-Ins

I came across a great article yesterday on which summarized some very practical and useful tips on improving email opt-ins.  Below are 10 low-cost tactics collected from past MarketingSherpa case studies including how to’s on boosting referrals, establishing co-registration barters, optimizing registration pages and using offline channels for email address collection.

Low-cost Tactics for Opt-in Growth


1.     Increase incentive for referrals - offer a discount coupon to encourage your customers to recruit new opt-ins to their email newsletter and promotional messages

2.     Highlight relevance in co-registration placement - find relevant partners and present your offer in a compelling way

3.     Create co-branded sweepstakes – recruit partners to share the promotion with their own customers and in exchange, trade opt-in checkboxes on one another’s sites.

4.     Combat email address typos – conduct tests to capture email typos before they reach your database

5.     Test a delayed intercept for opt-ins i.e. test a version of on overlay that appears only after your visitor spends 1+ minute on the site.

6.     Test additional locations for opt-in checkboxes i.e. add them on higher traffic web pages

7.     Test small tweaks of registration form such as offer type, images, required fields, amount of information and submit button copy

8.     Use telesales and customer service reps to collect opt-ins – have your inbound call center representatives ask for email opt-ins during calls

9.     Print an opt-in URL on receipts for POS registrations – let customers enter their own information through a custom URL on a sales receipt

10.   Add change-of-email address form to site - place reminders throughout your site that ask customers to report a change of address.


Definition 6 leverages expertise in website integration, managed computer services, design, marketing and consulting to create solutions that help our clients increase revenues and reduce costs to build competetive advantage,


Building a SEO Friendly Mobile Site

Our SEO/SEM Specialist, Lori Willard comments on a post in SEOmoz blog about mobile search.

I recently came across a blog posting about how to build a mobile site that is SEO friendly. The mobile search landscape is changing rapidly with more and more normal internet users purchasing web capable phones such as the iPhone and the Blackberry. With many business owners are considering building mobile sites for their businesses the question becomes what guidelines should we follow with mobile sites to ensure that we are search engine optimization SEO friendly?

How to build a site that does well in mobile search

  • Small, lightweight and fast-loading site (< 20kb / page)
  • XHTML Mobile 1.0 Doctype
  • UTF-8 character encoding
  • JPEG / GIF images
  • Content including "mobile"
  • On-site key word optimization with a focus on short titles, and small amounts of   body copy
  • Follow the same best practice SEO search engine optimization rules as you do for standard internet sites.

Visit the SEOmoz blog post for more information on mobile search.


Optimizing Video For Organic Search

Lori Willard, a Definition 6 SEO Specialist, recently came across an article in Marketing Sherpa that offered a few excellent pointers on optimizing your videos for internet search engine optimization.

Here are a few key points to take away:

  • Host an SEO 101 Class for your video production team. Identify the keywords you would like to incorporate and discuss where they can be included.
  • Include the term "video" as a modifier in some of your keyword terms. When people search for videos they will typically include the term "video" in their search query.
  • Host each video on its own landing page. This gives you the opportunity to add keyword rich META tags in the html along with a unique URL for that page that includes specific terms related to your video. 
  • Write compelling titles and descriptions incorporating targeted keywords that add interest to your visitors.
  • Add a transcript or summary of your video in text along with the video itself. This is a great way to add additional content to your page and further incorporate your keywords.
  • Add an XML video sitemap to your website. Google will allow you to submit a list of URL's that contain your videos, video titles, along with a brief description.

In closing, video files are not only a great way to add another level of engagement to your website, they also can be an integral part of your websites search engine optimization solutions.

Read the complete Marketing Sherpa article here