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Creating branded content well requires that you serve two masters, both the brand and the audience. However, if you’re able to create something that adds value for both, you’re really doing something special. This week’s guest, Otto Bell, Chief Creative Officer, CNN’s Courageous, not only understands this, but has become a true expert.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Otto after he spoke on one of our panels during SXSW. His panel explored how content is the next jump after advertising, the room was packed, the content was inspiring, and the dialogue was incredibly valuable. I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Otto as much as I did.

We unpack how to create content that is rich in emotion,  sensitive and thoughtful, but also explains and deepens someone’s understanding of how company is making a tangible difference. Plus, who doesn’t like talking about Van Morrison? Take a listen below.


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If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About page. 

Want to know more about what we do at SXSW? Check out our recap page.

In order to advocate for your brand you must understand it, once you understand it, loving it most likely will follow. This week’s guest Adam Rosenberg, Brand Engagement Manager of PR & Digital Content at Kingsford Charcoal, has done this time and time again during his career.

During our chat, Adam and I discussed how he’s worked to understand brands, how that’s made him a strong advocate, our mutual affinity for grilling, and Pearl Jam. Take a listen below.


 If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About page. Don’t miss an episode of What2Knowsubscribe to our podcast!

All eyes on social media! Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are finding new ways to ensure users are seeing the most valuable content. Facebook recently announced a series of exclusive, funded news programs featuring top outlets to be played on Facebook Watch. Instagram is giving its Explore page a makeover, allowing users to choose what they see based on their interests. For brands, Instagram is introducing a feature that allows past organic posts to be repurposed into targeted ads. LinkedIn’s new carousel ad feature provides a dynamic way for brands to spread their messages on the newsfeed. Read on below to learn more about these new updates in the social world!

Facebook Announces First Slate of Funded News Programs

  • In an effort to bring trustworthy, informative news to Facebook, the social platform has introduced a new slate of exclusive programs to be played on the Watch page, a tab found on the left side of the newsfeed. This section will replace the Trending page on Facebook and feature content from outlets such as ABC News, Fox News, CNN, Univision, ATTN:, and more. The shows will be hosted by both award-winning journalists and new faces. Viewers can expect a mix of daily briefings, weekly deep dives, and live coverage.
  • What it means for brands: According to Pew Research, 45% of American adults find news content through Facebook, proving its legitimacy as a news source. This feature will allow Facebook to better contain the spread of “fake news” and allow publishers editorial control over their programs. Brands can feel more confident that their content is being accurately discussed and shared through this platform. These shows also provide brands with a fresh opportunity to engage audiences that are actively looking for information on Facebook.

(via Social Media Today)

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, WeRSM

Instagram Revamps Explore Page to Highlight Custom Interests

  • Instagram wants users to see what interests them and them alone. The new Explore page will be organized into topical channel segments based on individuals’ likes and interests. Instead of scrolling through themes of generalized topic areas, users will refer to the horizontal row at the top of the page to find various buttons of personalized recommendations. Users can now directly engage with the content they want, instead of the content Instagram thinks they want.
  • What this means for brands: The new Explore page encourages brands to create content that their audiences will truly enjoy, given that users will have more control over the posts they view. This will make it easier for followers who are engaged with a brand’s content to see it on the page. By understanding the interests of their key demographics, brands can capitalize on this new feature to increase awareness for their product or service.

(via Later)

Additional Resources: TechCrunch

Turn Organic Instagram Posts into Ads

  • Instagram’s latest feature allows business pages to turn their organic posts into ads. This can be done through Facebook’s Ads Manager, and is a step above the current option of simply hitting the “promote” button. Organic posts can be optimized for brand awareness, post engagements, reach and video views through “auction buying” in Ads Manager. Currently, this feature is only available for single video or single photo posts.
  • What this means for brands: This feature allows brands to capitalize on their most successful organic posts. Content that performed well in the past can now be repurposed as an ad to reach an even larger audience. Additionally, brands will be able to achieve more specific objectives regarding awareness, engagement, reach, and video views by utilizing Ads Manager as opposed to a typical organic post.

Additional Resources: Later, Business Insider

(via Later)

LinkedIn Introduces Carousel Ads

  • LinkedIn is now providing a Carousel Ad feature for Sponsored Content. Similar to Facebook and Instagram, this feature allows brands to add up to 10 custom images for users to swipe through. 75% of beta test companies saw an increase in engagement and click-through-rates after using this feature when compared to standard content campaigns. LinkedIn is offering two styles of campaign set-up. The first directs clicks to the brand’s website or content and the second collects leads through LinkedIn’s lead generator.
  • What this means for brands: The carousel feature gives brands a new, compelling way to tell a story. This feature is eye-catching and likely to grab the attention of scrolling users. The interactive feature encourages audiences to engage with the brand. By utilizing this new feature, brands will be able to positively distinguish themselves from other content on users’ newsfeeds.

Additional Resources: Marketing Land, MediaPost

(via Media Daily News)

As marketers, we are constantly being asked to do more with less — whether it comes to paid media campaigns, email marketing or creating world-class websites — so how do we maximize our return on investment?

Adam Cossman, Chief Digital Officer of W2O, Chuck Hemann, Managing Director of Analytics at W2O, and Jessica Williams, Senior Director of Global Brand and Digital Products Marketing at Visa, share proven strategies and illustrative case studies focused on employing data-driven approaches to maximize return to your marketing investment. Check out the webinar below!


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page or learn how analytics powers everything we do.

The recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook crisis and expansive GDPR regulations are sending shock waves throughout the ad industry—particularly within pharma, where personal health information is especially sensitive, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. What do pharma brand marketers need to know, and what steps should be taken to ensure safety while still benefitting from the powerful …

The recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook crisis and expansive GDPR regulations are sending shock waves throughout the ad industry—particularly within pharma, where personal health information is especially sensitive, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

What do pharma brand marketers need to know, and what steps should be taken to ensure safety while still benefitting from the powerful technology? Spitz, our Practice Leader in Strategy, recently addressed these challenges at DTC National 2018.

Check out the summary or stream the presentation below.

You’re a superhero

Give yourself a round of applause! From deep marketing experience to vast clinical and regulatory expertise, market research to content strategy to multichannel activation, today’s pharma brand manager must know more and do more than ever before—and often with less: less budget, less time, and less security.

Every superhero has a nemesis, and yours is called “VUCA”—a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Global competition, mounting drug pipeline, pricing, market access, and generics concerns keep you up at night. Everyday obstacles await each morning, including accessing HCPs and engaging patients as scopes shrink and the need to substantiate ROI grows.

These pressures build, making your commitment to emerging technologies like digital appear riskier. Although healthcare spend totals more than $3.2 trillion a year in the US and amounts to nearly 20% of GDP, digital ad spend remains at the bottom compared to other top industries:

Falling back on more comfortable yet less efficient channels results in lost opportunities and a suboptimal media mix. The challenge isn’t unique to healthcare, as Adam Cossman, our Chief Digital Officer has observed. Despite confusion and continued skepticism, the future looks bright for digital marketing, especially in healthcare and pharma, and here’s why.

Welcome to the digital marketing revolution

Many predicted flying cars and bases on the Moon, few foreseeing microcomputers in our pockets enabling instantaneous and global two-way communication.

The ability to receive and transmit data has made everyone a content creator and distributor, transforming entire industries and giving rise to on-demand services that have dissolved the traditional boundaries between brands and their consumers. From Amazon to Netflix, today’s top brands engage consumers demanding unprecedented convenience, immediacy, and personalization.

Bob Pearson, Chief Innovation Officer at W2O describes the inexorable evolution of advertising into Storytizing—where thanks to the power and ubiquity of digital, brands must now create and disseminate an ongoing narrative to consumers anytime, anywhere.

Managing Director Chuck Hemann also describes how on the back-end increasingly sophisticated digital marketing analytics not only help marketers deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time, but enable precise modeling to optimize results, maximize spend, and substantiate investment.

How digital marketing and healthcare converge

That’s good news for digital marketers—and even better news for pharma marketers like you. Often overlooked and rarely discussed, the connections between digital marketing and digital health are deep and particularly meaningful.

From precision targeting to personalized engagement, predictive modeling to real time optimization, digital marketing has driven astonishing advances in identifying and engaging consumers—while digital health, evolving in parallel, has utilized similar tools, tech, and even lexicon to help in the next generation of diagnosis, management, prediction, and even the prevention of disease.

Eric Topol’s Creative Destruction of Medicine describes how digital tech and digital health have “super-converged” to precipitate a new era of the quantified self and transformative healthcare:

The super-convergence has also ushered in a new era of digital pharma marketing—where the necessary synergy of healthcare, communications, and technology expertise gives your brand the unfair advantage you need to succeed.

Privacy concerns and the deed for a trusted partner

The power of data has proven itself, but every action engenders an opposite reaction. The inverse relationship between privacy and convenience—alongside the aggressive monetization of personal data by Facebook and other platforms—recently exploded with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Zuckerberg’s two-day testimony before Congress reassured stockholders but raised even more questions about data privacy, and what the government intends to do about protecting it. The EU has already expanded GDPR guidelines, triggering a cascading effect throughout the world, marketers beware.

Here at W2O Group we gauge our “Unfair Advantage” in how we ensure not only effectiveness for your brand, but our commitment to privacy, security, and reputation. Driven by data, integrating insights from analytics through activation, we’re an award winning partner dedicated to accountability, responsibility, transparency, and creative innovation.


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page.

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Personalization is the name of the game! Recent updates from Facebook and Instagram are focusing on making its interfaces more user-friendly. Facebook is rolling out new features in Ads Manager, with capabilities centering on personalized reporting. Instagram’s updates will add a mute button for users to hide friends posts from their feed, while still following them, as well as a feature that alerts users when they have seen all the content from their feeds from the last 48 hours. Instagram is also working on showcasing user insights to allow users to see how much time they are spending on the app. Learn more below about these backend app updates!

Facebook Adds New Elements to Ads Manager

  • Earlier this month, Facebook started rolling out new options with Ads Manager to help advertisers get the most out of their ads platforms. The update enables the user to customize the report by adding the ability to reposition the metrics. Facebook is also adding a new campaign structure for users to view and edit campaigns in one place. Lastly, a “creative reporting” feature is being added which will help users determine the most effective element in each ad when the same creative is across multiple ads.
  • What it means for brands: With analytics becoming a more integral part of social campaigns, it’s imperative that every company has easy access to the data they collect from social advertisements. With these new features on Facebook, healthcare companies will be able to compile and customize their analytics in the backend by allowing users to pick and choose the most important data points to view. While exporting data from Facebook has been relatively simple in the past, these new features help users save time by making those changes upfront instead of in the exported report in Excel

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Adweek

(via Social Media Today)

Instagram Adds Mute Button

  • With Facebook having the feature to “snooze” friends without unfriending them, Instagram is following suit with the “mute” button. In the coming weeks, users will be able to remove a specific user’s posts or both their posts and stories from appearing on the main Instagram feed. A muted user’s profile will still be visible and the user will not be alerted that they are muted. Once the update is fully implemented, when clicking the three dots on the right side across from the handle, the new option will come up third from the top, below the Unfollow button. After the user clicks the “Mute” button, Instagram will confirm that they want to mute this accounts photos, photos and stories, or the cancel.
  • What it means for brands: As social media moves more towards personalization within the feed, Instagram is the latest media to allow users to follow people or brands but not see their content. More and more options are becoming available and users have wanted some control over what they are seeing and how they are seeing it. Whether it’s an imaginative cover photo update on the corporate Facebook page or aesthically pleasing content on a disease awareness Instagram account, personalization is more important than ever for healthcare. It’s going to mean that healthcare companies will need to continuously post compelling, targeted content organically to avoid getting muted.

Additional Resources: CNN Money, Slate

(via The Verge)

Instagram is adding a “You’re All Caught Up” Feature

  • Currently being tested by select Instagrammers, Instagram is rolling out a new feature to alert users when they have seen all the posts in their feed from the past 48 hours. Part of Instagram’s goal with this new update is to prevent so-called “zombie browsing” and assist those who are trying to see every last photo and video from the accounts they follow. Zombie browsing is a colorful term for passively scrolling through social media without truly retaining any of the information; the user is scrolling just to scroll. Actively communicating with friends and engaging with the content is a positive, enriching type of behavior, but zombie browsing is not, which is why Instagram and Facebook are trying to combat it. You can learn more about active versus passive social media usage here.
  • What this means for brands: With this new feature, users will finally be able to feel confident they saw all of their following’s content from the last two days. To be included in that batch, healthcare companies will have to ensure that they are posting at least every 48 hours to have their organic posts to be included. If a brand does not post within those 48 hours, users following them will miss their content and those posts will have fewer impressions and engagements. This new feature makes it crucial for healthcare companies to have a steady schedule of organic content being posted or the content won’t have as high of engagement numbers as it had previously.

Additional Resources: USA Today, Digital Trends

(via TechCrunch)

Instagram Confirms Upcoming Usage Insights

  • Instagram CEO’s Kevin Systrom confirmed that Instagram is “building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on” the app. This shift is in line with many other tech companies that are encouraging users to understand how much time they are spending on social apps. An app researcher found the feature hidden in the code of Instagram’s Andriod app and the Instagram’s CEO quoted the Techcrunch article, linked above, saying, “any time [spent on Instagram] should be positive and intentioinal…Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”
  • What this means for brands: Instagram and its parent company Facebook are striving to prove they care about their users after multiple breaches and misuses of data by helping users become self-aware of the amount of time they spend on Instagram. This could cause people to open the app less often, which could lead to less views, engagements, and less ad dollars spent. Healthcare companies should be prepared to see lower engagement numbers if many people decide to cut back after seeing their usage numbers. Many details about this feature still remain underwraps but this could allow for healthcare companies to gain a deeper insight about their target audiences based on how much time they spend on the Instagram app.

Additional Resources: Mashable, The Verge

(via TechCrunch)

Digital marketers intuitively know that a personalized and seamless customer experience is more effective, more engaging, and ultimately good for business. Personalization at scale is not easy though, and it’s a significant investment for brands in people, process and technology. To compound the personalization challenge, online privacy concerns are at an inflection point. GDPR regulations …

Digital marketers intuitively know that a personalized and seamless customer experience is more effective, more engaging, and ultimately good for business. Personalization at scale is not easy though, and it’s a significant investment for brands in people, process and technology.

To compound the personalization challenge, online privacy concerns are at an inflection point. GDPR regulations in Europe and any number of recent data breaches and privacy scandals in the United States are creating a situation in which the detailed individual data that brands need in order to achieve that personalization is becoming more expensive, legally tricky or impossible to get.

Does that mean brands should give up on personalization? Absolutely not!

To prove the point, the software and technology giant Adobe recently tried to quantify just how much more effective, engaging and good for business that personalized experiences can be. At their recent Adobe Summit Digital Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, they highlighted the performance of businesses that focus on customer experience over other priorities, and that they can expect serious results compared to companies that don’t. The report conducted in conjunction with Forrester noted that experience focused businesses saw a 1.6x increase in brand awareness, 1.9x increase in average order value, 1.6x increase in customer lifetime value, and 36% faster revenue growth rates among others.

Source: Adobe

Connected, consistent and memorable customer experiences that drive results like Adobe is touting require marketing technologies to know who you are and to be able to provide content that is relevant and personalized to you at that moment.

Knowing who you are across every digital device you interact with is no easy feat – and MarTech is now rising to the challenge with CDPs (Customer Data Platforms), DMPs, and more advanced CRMs. These platforms organize first, second and third-party data cross-channel and cross-device, and attempt to link it all to unified customer profiles. Even when on a different device or logged out, these systems will attempt to identify website visitors via other identifiers such as browser configuration, social handles, behavioral patterns and so on.

While knowing who you are is key, companies then need to be able to deliver relevant and personalized content to you. Massive content libraries with proper taxonomy and meta data are needed to meet the needs of 1-1 personalization at scale, and that requires significant investment in content itself in addition to new systems technology. AI and Machine Learning tools are now starting to play a role in creating all that content, enabling companies to generate the needed content in far more efficient and surprisingly automated ways.

Once a brand has a centralized view of their customers, and has the content to deliver to them, then they can take advantage of the thousands of solutions that connect to and use that customer data and content to personalize the customer experience. This kind of ecosystem is what drives significant business results.

All that being true, in an age of increasing privacy concerns it makes sense to now consider the balance between expected privacy and the personal data required to deliver highly personalized experiences.  The European Union’s GDPR regulations become enforceable this May, and they very clearly state that explicit permission must be given to collect and use personal data. Marketers may be wise to assume that similar regulation will happen eventually here in the United States, and this will put second party data sharing and third party data under the microscope.

If that happens, we can expect that audience and customer data will become less accessible due to the difficulties in obtaining and documenting consent. The large martech stacks have already begun making potentially sensitive data less available – reports now indicate that Google will no longer let buyers pull DoubleClick ID from DCM. While they point to GDPR as the reason, this move will certainly result in other large vendors making similar moves, and this will start pushing brands more fully into their ecosystems in order to continue to take advantage of personal data.

In addition to vendor consolidation, websites and owned digital properties – which primarily rely first-party and completely anonymous behavior tracking data for personalization and optimization – will become even more important in ensuring the quality of the overall digital experience. Consider these changing privacy concerns when designing your brands personalization data, tech and content strategy.

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Video continues to be a social media staple that brands need to keep up with! With updates from Facebook and Instagram all about video capabilities, it’s clear that the social landscape isn’t moving away from video any time soon. Facebook expands on their video capabilities by offering a new way to watch pre-recorded content and …

Video continues to be a social media staple that brands need to keep up with! With updates from Facebook and Instagram all about video capabilities, it’s clear that the social landscape isn’t moving away from video any time soon. Facebook expands on their video capabilities by offering a new way to watch pre-recorded content and by implementing new AR video experiences for consumers on Facebook Messenger. Instagram has created a new way to group call in direct message streams, further encouraging users to want immediate video interaction. Instagram also quietly expanded their in-app purchase feature to more users late last week. Learn more below about these video and payment updates in the social sphere!

Facebook Adds New AR Business Tools to Messenger

  • Mid-last week, Facebook announced that they are expanding their AR capabilities to allow brands to build their own digital AR experiences in the Facebook messenger application. This new tool allows businesses to fully immerse their consumers in their brand and available products, while utilizing interactive AR capabilities. Though Messenger may not seem like the ideal place to host this feature, research shows that interest is growing on Messenger for brands to expand their product promotions on. With messaging apps seeing more users than other social media platforms, brands need to consider all available platforms and apps to promote their products.
  • What it means for brands: With the introduction of yet another way to promote brand identity, businesses need to consider if this will be a viable option for them. Determining if your audience is on Facebook messenger, as well as what the potential ROI could be, are both questions brands will need to consider before investing in this AR experience. With the future of social media platforms moving towards AR, this could be an interesting way for brands to update their marketing strategies and encourage engagement.

Additional Resources: Variety, The Verge

(via Social Media Today)

Facebook Tests Out New Video Format for Communal Viewing

  • Facebook has been testing out a new video feature to increase engagement and video views by allowing creators to publish pre-recorded videos within the Facebook Live environment. This new capability called ‘Premieres’ gives brands the opportunity to upload pre-recorded content through Facebook Live. The videos would be seen as ‘Premiere’ as they played, as opposed to ‘Live.’ Facebooks VP of Product describes this new feature as a way for users to “experience Premieres of videos like movie trailers, new episodes of Facebook Watch shows, or new content from their favorite creators, alongside other fans together in real time – just like watching a Facebook Live video.” These videos will look similar to Facebook Live, offering the same formatting for engagement and views, the addition of the ‘Premiere’ stamp will conveys to users that the video is not live.
  • What it means for brands: As users shift their viewing mentality to wanting more live content, healthcare brands can offer its audiences that authentic look and feel, without having the worry of an actual live video. Though this new feature may seem a little deceptive due to how similar its appearance is to the Facebook Live video feature, it allows brands to provide pre-recorded videos with increased engagements.

Additional Resources: MarketingLand

(Social Media Today)

Instagram Adds Group Video Calling Within Direct Messages

  • At Facebook’s annual conference, the company announced that they will be expanding Instagram’s capabilities by offering a group calling feature within messaging streams. Currently, Instagram has the “live video” capability where a user can live broadcast what they are doing, which is available for their followers to watch. Now, users can utilize direct message streams with multiple people and group call within the direct message. To start a video call, users will tap the camera icon in the top right corner of any direct message to chat with someone one-on-one or with a small group, with no limit to how long the call can go for.
  • What this means for brands: With video capabilities continuing to dominate social media networks, brands will need to continue to find relevant ways to keep up with the trends. Healthcare brands can consider tapping into this feature through the implementation of real-time video customer service support. As customer service evolves from call centers and emails, to chatbots and Messenger support, brands now have the opportunity to provide personal support exchange through one-on-one direct video calls.

Additional Resources: The Verge, The Next Web

(via Social Media Today)

Instagram Slyly Introduced In-App Payment Capabilities

  • Instagram introduced in-app payments in a quiet fashion. This new feature lets users add their credit/debit card to their Instagram account, allowing for direct purchases within the app. Some users were already able to use the app Resy to directly book appointments within Instagram, but now the feature seems to be spreading to more and more users. Given the number of influencers and brands on Instagram looking to share and promote their products, this feature could completely change how Instagram is used as a platform.
  • What this means for brands: Instead of brands or influencers posting photos of their advertised products and saying “swipe-up to buy,” users could simply swipe up to purchase within the app. Though healthcare brands will not be able to use this feature for prescription treatments, beauty and health brands with over-the-counter products will be able to promote a seamless user experience from advertisement to purchase. With this additional feature, brands will need to update their marketing strategy to include in-app purchases as a relevant KPI.

Additional Resources: TechCrunch

(via The Verge)

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Everyone says they want to build a customer-centric brand, but are they actually taking the steps? From customer service to crisis communications, every touchpoint you have with your current and potential customers is paramount and speaks volumes to whether or not you’re really putting their needs at the forefront of your business. Pete Blackshaw, Head …

Everyone says they want to build a customer-centric brand, but are they actually taking the steps? From customer service to crisis communications, every touchpoint you have with your current and potential customers is paramount and speaks volumes to whether or not you’re really putting their needs at the forefront of your business. Pete Blackshaw, Head of Digital Innovation & Service Models at Nestle, dives into this deeper on this week’s episode.

Pete kicked off our #W2OSXSW programming this past March by discussing Concierge Marketing: Customer Experience 3.0. During this panel, he outlined how marketers should react in today’s digital economy where consumers are proactively reaching out to brands more than ever before. During our chat, we extend this conversation and unpack how brands can truly be customer-centric. Plus, you won’t believe Pete’s connection to avocado farming and Pulp Fiction. Take a listen below.

Dont miss an episode! Subscribe to our podcast.


If you’re interested in knowing more about what we do at SXSW, check out our recap page. If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About page. Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast!

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