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$50,000, three-year commitment to develop future leaders

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–W2O Group today announced a $50,000, three-year commitment to The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) to fund the Future Leaders in Healthcare Fellowship Program targeting ethnic minority candidates pursuing careers in healthcare communications.

Spearheaded by W2O Group Founder and CEO Jim Weiss and TLF Chairman and CEO Mr. Kim L. Hunter, the program will build on TLF’s mission of increasing the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations.

“Given our expertise and focus on healthcare we are looking to ensure the next generation of leaders are ready for the challenges ahead,” said Weiss. “This partnership with TLF will result in a more diverse workforce, work with client partners to increase diversity in their communications functions, and provide more robust insights and results to clients from a diverse perspective.”

W2O Group launched the program with a $50,000 donation to TLF that will be dispersed over the course of three years, placing two fellows per year. The program will be a 10-week, paid fellowship in one of the following offices: New York, San Francisco, Austin, Boston or Minneapolis.

The program will expose the fellows to careers in healthcare communications and give them the opportunity to work with major organizations including Shire, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

“A program this dedicated to increasing minority representation is certainly beneficial to the PR/Communications profession and the healthcare industry,” said Gwen Fisher, head of global portfolio communications at Shire. “I applaud TLF and W2O Group for their partnership in making this a reality.

Vicky Najar, a senior at California State University Dominguez Hills majoring in communications is looking forward to applying for the fellowship: “Being a Latina, I understand the impact health companies can have on someone like me and the unique perspective I can bring to them. I see this program and future career path as a way to help others in a truly meaningful way through my work.”

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving with a focus on patient care. In order to stay relevant and have the ability to target a wide range of patient demographics, health-focused agencies need to reflect diversity in their workforce to provide maximum value to their clients. The partnership with TLF illustrates W2O Group’s commitment to provide culturally relevant campaigns and services targeting the nation’s diverse population.

“Given the significant demand by both agencies and clients, this action–oriented fellowship program will be designed specifically to develop the next generation of healthcare communications and marketing professionals to meet the current and growing demand,” said Hunter.

Visit the W2O Group Common Sense blog to learn more.

For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.lagrantfoundation.org. Engage with us on: Facebook, Twitter andInstagram.

For more information about W2O group, please visit sentw2ogroup.wpengine.com. Engage with us on: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF)

Since its inception in 1998, The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) has provided 331 scholarships and $1.83 million to continue its mission to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations. With the generous support of its major donors and supporters, TLF provides students with career & professional development workshops, scholarships, internships, entry-level positions and mentors to African American/Black, Alaska Native/Native American, Asian American/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino undergraduate and graduate students.

About W2O Group

Founded and led by chairman and CEO Jim Weiss, W2O Group is an independent network of complementary marketing and communications firms focused on integrated business solutions that drive change and growth for the world’s leading brands and organizations. W2O Group firms employ proprietary analytics to ensure precise communications in today’s social and digital reality. W2O Group serves clients through a network of firms – WCG, Twist Mktg and BrewLife – via offices in San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Silicon Valley, Boston, London, and Basel.

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Last week, W2O Group won one of the most prestigious awards in marketing research: an Advertising Research Foundation Ogilvy Award. These awards are unique because the entries are judged on the basic fundamentals: the insight, the creative, and the campaigns’ impact on an audience. It’s not about the bells and whistles that typically adorn other research and analytics award submissions. The “bigness” of the data doesn’t matter, nor the does the “advancedness” of the data analyses. All that matters is the research team’s ability to discover a novel truth about the target audience, and the creative team’s ability to execute a great campaign based on that knowledge.

At W2O, we believe one of the most important factors determining the success of creative execution, is the speed at which an insight is uncovered and made actionable by the research and creative teams. The speed of delivery is just as important as the correctness of the results. This is why we tend to favor social and digital data-driven insights in conjunction with panel-based survey data over slower research methods like focus groups and field-studies. If the insight is correct, it doesn’t matter if it’s delivered after the campaign has been executed.

David Ogilvy, who the award is aptly named after, was a huge proponent of “good enough” research. He used to say that many agency researchers favored slow, methodical perfection, over faster, sometimes sloppier, but directionally correct research methods. In his classic book On Advertising, Ogilvy argued that the later type of research was the only useful kind advertising since creatives can rarely wait four months for the research team to come back with insights about an audience. Most agency research needs to happen in a matter of weeks, if not days.

Ogilvy would have been pleased with the fast, directionally correct, and “good enough” research we conducted to win our Silver award in the “new audiences” category.

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The work was done for Western Digital, who was looking to increase awareness and consideration for its personal cloud storage product MyCloud audience segments beyond the traditional tech-savvy, IT-professional. Using social media listening and monitoring techniques (imperfect, but directionally sound), we found a valuable target of personal content “curators,” consisting of 60% women, with an average age of 42, and those who made household purchase decisions. Through research and analytics, WCG, a W2O company identified that this audience segment prioritized security and control when it involved their personal data – photos, videos and personal documents.

W2O’s creative team, led by Creative Group Director, Walt Whitman, created content that was visual, consumable and sharable by capturing life moments that our target audience would relate to personally, including imagery like the sexy selfie, awkward family photos and pet portraits. The #KeepItPersonal campaign was executed across multiple channels both online, and offline (you can see much of the creative content here).

The campaign was a huge success, exceeding targets for engagement with campaign content and conversion rates through e-commerce.

Fast, good-enough research was important 33 years ago when Ogilvy wrote On Advertising. It’s even more important today in a fractured media landscape where brand’s best chance of winning market share is through highly targeted, highly relevant, and timely content that works across traditional broadcast, social, and digital channels. The researcher’s luxury of arriving at insights in weeks or months is quickly becoming a thing of the past. As creative teams produce more content, far faster (and cheaper) than ever before, researchers will increasingly feel pressure to deliver insights at a faster pace as well. That’s exactly why social and digital data are at the center of the agency’s new research toolkit and why they’ll likely stay there in the years ahead.

 

Our PreCommerce Summit started off our events with a bang. Hard to believe, but 2016 marks the 6th annual version of the summit. We built it around a series of 10-minute Ted-style talks, and rounded it out with a few panel discussions and a couple of fireside chats.

These discussions featured insights from executives and leadership from some of our top clients and partners. It’s a view into what’s next, the technology that’s impacting all of us, how its changing business, as well as other aspects of our lives outside of work.

  • Lord Peter Chadlington, Founder of Shandwick and Huntsworth Group; See Lord Chadington’s preview interview here.
    Lord Peter Chadington discussed global communications trends with our own Bob Pearson. In terms of global trends, Peter pointed out that 50% of the world’s population have just started getting access to the Internet.  Lord Chadlington is someone who’s dedicated much of his work to politics and shared his thoughts on the impact that social media is having on politics. According to research they did in the UK, 72% said social media and the Internet made them more involved in politics. They feel empowered. You can watch Bob’s interview with Lord Chadlington at about 33:15 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

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  • Amy von Walter, EVP Global Communications and Public Relations, Toys ‘R’ Us
    During Aaron’s introduction, he shared the news that Amy is now EVP at Toys ‘R’ Us. Amy gave a powerful talk about first impressions. She’s passionate about encouraging confidence in her employees. It’s an extension of her confidence which comes from her experiences overcoming first impressions.  And she’s an expert there, based on her reality of being from South Korea and raised in Minnesota by her adopted parents. She referenced the work of Dr. Hendrie Weisenger’s about the many ways you can build confidence. You can watch Amy’s session at 58:04 in the PreCommerce livestream.

Amy von Walter - SXSW -SXW2O

  • Manny Kostas, SVP and Global Head of Platforms & Future Technology, HP
    Manny discussed breaking through silos to get into more conversations with customers. He’s a person with unique perspective since he’s been CMO at both Symantec and a division of HP and now he’s responsible for 3,000 engineers working to reinvent HP’s printer business. Manny’s passionate about not imposing our business structure on our customers, which breaks the dialog with our customers. You can watch Manny’s session at about the 1:07 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Manny Kostas-SXSW-SXW2O

Before the first panel, my friend and someone I really respect, Robert Scoble joined Aaron on stage to share his recent news that he will be joining UploadVR as their Entrepreneur in Residence. All the best to you in the new gig Robert. Your early work at your Channel 9 days at Microsoft and you (and Shel’s) book Naked Conversations helped me prepare for taking the reins as Dell’s chief blogger back in 2006, Onward and upward, my friend! You can watch Scoble’s news at about the 1:24 mark in the PreCommerce livestream. Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang for the live pic.

Robert Scoble #SXW2O

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  • Susan Glasser, Editor in Chief, Politico and Peter Cherukuri, EVP Audience Solutions & President, Politico
    Susan and Peter discussed the evolution of sponsored content. Interesting perspective from the two of them and how they’ve made a new publishing model work for Politico. To do it, they re-invented what it means to be an online news platform in an era where journalistic speed a given in the space. That meant diving deep into new types of stories and experiences to stay ahead of their competition. You can watch their session at about the 2:16 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Susan Glasser-Peter Cherukui-SXSW-SXW2O

 

  • David Kirkpatrick, CEO, Techonomy, author of The Facebook Effect and Graham Weston, Founder/Chairman, Rackspace
    David sat down with Graham to get his take on where the cloud was headed. Before jumping into the conversation, Graham took a minute to thanks Robert Scoble for his 7 years at Rackspace. Rackspace is a $2B company who provides cloud infrastructure and integration services for AWS and Azure clients. His company’s still focused on providing “fanatical” support in the midst of a changing competitive landscape. Lastly, David asked Graham about his considerable community efforts in the city of San Antonio and beyond. You can watch their fireside chat about the 2:47 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Graham Weston-David Kirkpatrick-SXSW-SXW2O

  • Jeremiah Owyang, Founder/CEO, Crowd Companies
    My good friend Jeremiah spent a few minutes getting into the future of Crowd business models. He shared examples of how the collaborative economy is already disrupting traditional businesses and also shared his take on how it would evolve moving forward . Key takeaways 1) Common digital technologies empower people to get what they need from each other. 2) The crowd is becoming like a company—bypassing  inefficient corporations. 3) Like the Internet and social, corporations must use the same digital strategies to regain relevancy 4) This requires a business model change: Product>Service>Marketplace>Repeat. You can watch Jeremiah’s session at about the 4:08 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Jeremiah Owyang-SXSW-SXW2O

  • Greg McCullough, Senior Director Partnerships, Medtronic and Gail Day, VP, Publisher Harvard Business Review
    Greg and Gail sat down to discuss what’s next in brand/ media partnerships. Gail attributed part of HBR’s success to the organization’s commitment to a goal to rid the world of bad management. That focus also extends to their partnerships. They’re strict about working with their brand, and that’s why they choose to work with limited partners. Medtronic was one of those partners. Their collaboration resulted iYou can watch their session at about the 4:31 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Gail Day-SXSW-SXW2O

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  • Becky Brown, VP Digital Marketing & Media Group, Intel
    Becky spent a few minutes discussing The New Digital. Becky reiterated that marketers are all aware of consumers’ aversion to ads—look no further than ad blockers and the fact that they are willing to pay a premium for services without ads. Intel is answering this co-creating with companies like Buzzfeed and Mashable. And now, taking that idea with new ESPN where they integrated technology into the X Games, which allowed both companies to create new kinds of content. And they are building on the success of their online magazine called Intel IQ, where they will introduce original programming next month. You can watch Becky at about the 5:28 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Becky Brown-SXSW-SXW2O

 

  • Amy Hoopes, CMO, Wente Vineyards
    Amy took some time to discuss how user experience is becoming the new marketing. The family Amy works for has been in the wine industry for 133 years, in the Livermore Valley area of California. They were always good at making great wines. To understand the history of Wente Vineyards, Amy did extensive interviews with the family. Through that research, it was clear that the Wente family had been doing many innovative things, like operating a full-service white tablecloth restaurant that recently celebrated it’s 30th birthday. Amy talked about here SMS strategy: Simplify, Motivate and Share. You can watch Amy’s session at about the 5:43 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Amy Hoopes-SXSW-SXW2O

  • The third panel of the day, All Hype Aside featured 1) Michael Putnam, SVP Consumer Marketing, AmericanWell 2) Lorie Fiber, Global Corporate Communications, IBM Health and 3) Jeroen Brouwer Director of Marketing, Sales and Business Development, Philips
    Our own Rob Cronin moderated this esteemed panel of guests to discuss how digital health will impact our lives in the future. You can watch the panel discussion at about the 6:20 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

#SXW2O_2016_PreConference Summit-7731

  • Alex Gruzen, CEO, WiTricity Corporation
    Alex discussed the future of wireless charging and how it will impact us with all the smart devices we carry with us every day. When he says wireless, he means it. Their technology doesn’t require a charging pad to be plugged into on outlet. It’s about moving power over a distance. WiTricity Corporation’s technology works with all kinds of devices: from Bluetooth headsets, to laptops and tablets, and event electric cars. You can watch Alex’s session at about the 6:56 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Alex Gruzen-SXSW-SXW2O

  • Amber Naslund, SVP Marketing & Chief Evangelist, Sysomos
    Amber used her time to discuss the Future  of Analytics: Social Data and Beyond. She started by talking about how much customer expectations have changed. They expect answers in 30 – 60 mins, and they also expect those answers on nights and weekends. She  also talked about how creative design is even more important as a way to reach customers. Then, she discussed the importance of bridging the gap between data scientists and marketers or communicators. Analytics is currently a specialized skillset. But back in the 50s, typing was a job that was done via dedicated employees. Amber argued that data analysis will ultimately become a core skill just like typing did. You can watch Amber’s session at about the 7:10  mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Amber Naslund-SXSW-SXW2O

  • Shiv Singh, SVP Global Head of Digital & Marketing Transformation, Visa
    Shiv discussed how to open source your brand.  He started with a simple but painful premise: that customers don’t trust your brand. And then he offered examples of how Visa reached out to the startup community for innovative ideas. One outcome: they are opening up the Visa network as an API for developers. You can watch their session at about the 7:20 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Shiv Singh SXSW SXW2O

  • Hugh Forrest, Director, SXSW Interactive and John Battelle, CEO of NewCo and co-founder of Wired Magazine & The Industry Standard
    This fireside chat was a blast. John interviewed Hugh on the past, present and future of SXSW. See my earlier blog post here for a much more detailed summary of that lively discussion. The interview covered a lot of ground. My favorite quote from Hugh? “TED is this finely curated meal. And that’s wonderful. [SXSW] is a 24-hour all-you can eat buffet, and that’s wonderful at times too.” You can watch Hugh Forrest’s interview at about the 7:40 mark in the PreCommerce livestream.

Make sure to tune into W2O Group’s Movers & Shapers event.

 

As I mentioned in my kickoff post, we will host a series of blog interviews over the next two weeks with speakers from our upcoming PreCommerce Summit (March 10) and Movers & Shapers Summit (March 12). Today’s interview is with long time friend, author and Principal Analyst at Altimeter, Brian Solis. Brian will be doing a featured fireside chat at our Movers & Shapers event on Saturday. His session is will be right after lunch at approximately 1:15 PM CT.
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According to Brian’s LinkedIn profile, he is “globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders, speakers, and published authors in new technology, digital marketing and culture shifts. His new book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, explores the importance of experiences and how to design them for customers, employees and human beings everywhere. Solis also designed the book to be an experience as a physical example of what’s possible when you take a step back to rethink products, services and models in a new economy (and world).” Some of the skills he’s been endorsed for by his peers are social media, digital strategy and marketing.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into our five questions:

    1. Aaron: How do you define innovation?
      Brian: I believe we live in a time where we need a balance of iteration and innovation to break free from “business as usual.”
      – Iteration is doing the same things better.
      – Innovation is doing new things that creates new value.
      – Disruption is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.
    2. Aaron: What are you or your organization doing to drive innovation?
      Brian: I start by observing technology’s impact on business and society. I then look at how behavior, expectations and values are evolving. I study problems and approaches to solving them. I also study how innovation plays out in terms of challenges, opportunities, successes, people, etc. I then share my perspective on everything in the form of research reports, books and speeches to inspire people to drive change.
    3. Aaron: Who is someone in your industry (or outside) that you admire? Why?
      Brian: I admire anyone in any organization stepping outside of their roles to take on the great task of change. It’s political. It can be demeaning. It’s frustrating. It makes you want to quit. But it is because of these people that any form of transformation can see the light of day.
    4. Aaron: Where do you see your industry being in 3 years? 5? 10?
      Brian: Change is now a constant. Disruption is now a choice. We either disrupt ourselves or the gift of disruption is given to us. Here are some of the things I’m thinking about over the next 10 years (also embedded below).
    5. Aaron: For fun: what three things would you make sure you brought with you in a zombie apocalypse?
    • Milla Jovovich aka Alice
    • Water
    • Perishables
    • Tools/supplies
    • Documentation
    • First aid supplies
    • Effective weapons
    • Delorean

Okay, that’s eight. But always a good choice to pick more rather than less. And smart vehicle choice with the Delorean. Assume that’s because it runs on nuclear power.

As some of you know, we host a series of events leading up to (and slightly overlapping) SXSW Interactive. Two of our most popular events are our PreCommerce Summit held on Thursday, March 10 and our new(ish) Movers & Shapers event on Saturday, March 12. Both feature a variety of brand leaders and thought partners — all focusing on how business is changing. Or put in simpler terms, innovation.

Over the next two weeks, I will feature a variety of those speakers here. First up is from Mark Young who is the CMO of Sysomos, one of this year’s premier sponsors and a close partner of W2O Group’s. I’ve asked each of our speakers the same five questions (plus a fun/bonus question). Of course some will adjust the questions to be more germane to their talks/business but ideally at least in the neighborhood of what I asked.

Here’s the list so far along with a few I know who will be contributing over the next couple of days:

  • Mark Young, CMO, Sysomos [interview here]
  • Javier Boix, Senior Director, StoryLab, AbbVie  [interview here]
  • Brian Solis, Author & Principal Analyst, Altimeter [interview here]
  • Lord Peter Chadlington, former CEO of Huntsworth PLC and founder/former Chairman of Shandwick Int, PLC [interview here]
  • Chris Heuer, CEO of Alynd and founder of Will Someone [interview here]
  • Patrick Moorhead, Founder of Moor Insights & Strategy [interview here]
  • Julie Borlaug, Associate Director, Borlaug Institute [interview here]
  • Kyle Flaherty, VP Solutions Marketing, Rapid7 [interview here]
  • Amy von Walter, VP, Best Buy
  • Alex Gruzen, CEO, WiTricity
  • Manny Kostas, SVP and Global Head of Platforms & Future Technology, HP

It’s rare that we have an opportunity to find out more about what makes CMOs tick, and more importantly to share what’s on their minds. Today, we had the rare privilege of having our W2o Group President and Chief Innovation Officer, Bob Pearson, sit down with three marketing leaders at Overstock.com, Interstate Batteries and Accel Partners at the Holmes Report’s In2Summit.

Here are quick questions and answers (with a huge infusion of wisdom) from Natalie Malaszenko (Overstock), Dorothy Jones (Interstate Batteries) and Larry Yu (Accel). Enjoy!

in2summit panel pic

 

Background and Thoughts on Being a CMO

Natalie: Over my career I have realized the importance of following my heart. Early on, I underestimated how important it was to be happy and passionate about your work. Having that alignment with your job is critical to getting to the next level. During my time at Hewlett Packard, I also learned how important it was to stay focused. Ignore the politics. Do a great job and concentrate on leading the people you lead courageously.

Dorothy: I have led marketing in three very diverse business. My key learning over those three opportunities has been to work with a purpose and to maintain a work life balance. It took me taking two years off to really understand what I wanted to do. During that time, I realized I had a choice regarding the people I wanted to work with/for.

Larry: The length of time people stay at organizations has changed. Making sure that you are picking companies to work for on paper as much as you are picking the people you will work for is underestimated. I’ll talk more about this later but during my early days of Facebook, it was clear that Facebook had a real mission and I now realize the criticality of this to a successful company.

Scouting Emerging Talent (Keys to)

  • No “one type” of marketer. Key to find story tellers. (Natalie)
  • Find people that have flexibility and multidisciplinary experience. Other key is leadership. Can’t teach people to have drive or to think ten steps ahead. When you see the raw gem, you take it. (Dorothy)
  • I have a communications background with a marketing title which speaks to the ambiguity of marketing these days. I like to look at people’s ability to take in data and translate that into the best possible story. Problem solving is also a needed skill. Do employees have the mental agility to figure things out? (Larry)

As we shift toward digital, what are we learning?

  • Everything is measurable which is a good and bad thing. And we are now looking at experience and journey versus single channels/pathways. Sometimes we can over-analyze and make the wrong decisions. (Natalie)
  • Data is your friend. But you can spin it however you want. And Digital is changing so rapidly, it’s critical to stay on top of it/out ahead of it. The whole purchase life cycle has changed. It is more important than ever to be in tune with what’s happening. Brand trust/positive sentiment can change overnight. I learned this firsthand at Susan G. Komen. (Dorothy)
  • How do you protect certain brand assets online? Example: trying to update your company’s logo on Wikipedia. (Larry)

What do you read? How do you learn?

  • I never miss an opportunity to learn from m,y network. At the same time, time is precious. I can’t read my daily “8,000” emails. Instead, I rely on my team to help me filter/seek out the most relevant topical ideas and news. (Dorothy)
  • When I am teaching classes/companies, I tell teams that if you aren’t willing to say, “I don’t know the answer,” you aren’t really learning. (Bob)
  • I ask experts, “who are three other people I should meet/talk to” about a particular topic. I also leans on social/aggregators to stay abreast of current topics. I have also found out how important it is to pick the people with whom you spend your time. (Larry)
  • Everything impacts ecommerce these days (Superbowl, Star Wars, David Bowie’s death so I am a student of pop culture. I also study business people intensely. (Natalie)

Additional Keys to Picking Best Talent

  • Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. (Natalie)
  • Keep language simple and being mindful of not using terms like, “change management” while doing change management (it’s construed as a negative term). I also think about using language I would use with my grandmother who was not college educated to explain things. (Dorothy)
  • Great leaders keep messages clear and simple to make them understandable and repeatable. (Bob)
  • Organizations are very decentralized these days. People work from home more than ever. Orgs are also global. So it’s very important for companies to lock down the values and clearly communicate them. As an example, when Facebook did their IPO, it didn’t go well and employees were rattled. What helped keep the troops together was having  values (and a mission) as a touchstone. Even the leaders at the time were scared and didn’t want to let employees down. But the leaders got out there and helped bring everyone along. One other point is that values need to be organic. They can’t be handed down from the top leaders. (Larry)

Most pivotal part of your career

  • Mine wasn’t magical but was pivotal. “Peace in the midst of a storm” during time at Pepsico in the middle of a divorce. Had a baby (single mom) and working 75+ hours a week. Running a $2 billion division. Remembers running to pick up daughter from daycare, went to networking event with her girl. Took her back to office. At midnight, couldn’t find her and panicked. Realized she had crawled up under desk and fallen asleep. This was not a good “mommy” moment. It was pivotal because it taught her balance. (Dorothy)
  • Got to leave everything digital at HP. No politics among digital leaders within all the divisions at the company. Digital people find digital people and work hard to avoid politics. Had one mission and one cause. Lesson was, independent of companies goals/mission, you can always find people with a common cause. (Natalie)
  • Don’t judge people too quickly. Remembers seeing Zuckerburg at Web 2.0. Saw him on stage with hoodie and was wondering, “who is this guy?!?” Fast-forward two years, I followed my boss to Facebook. I remember one of Mark’s first internal Q&A sessions and was blown away by what he heard. (Larry)

What do you want your department to focus on?

  • What is the mission? A lot of time is spent focused on product but not on the “why” of the brand. (Larry)
  • Be idea generators. Money follows ideas. (Dorothy)
  • Don’t be afraid to kill things that are stale. The world is constantly changing so it’s okay to pause and sometimes weed. (Natalie)

How do you mentor?

  • I make time on the front end while being mindful of time and I always try hard to be willing to take calls/emails or even set up 30 minutes meetings at Starbucks on the way into the office. Sometimes I find just referring someone to the right person or providing the right business insight can be enough. (Dorothy)
  • I choose people that I can ultimately help be happy. My message is keep it simple. And then I work to make them feel comfortable with the idea of finding their own path. (Natalie)

Social media enables celebrities to have intimate and frequent contact with fans. In particular, Instagram has served to give us a glimpse inside the daily lives of our favorite stars. Social media has also given birth to an entirely new breed of celebrities, YouTube “content creators,” who have a huge impact among tweens and teens.

When a celebrity endorses a product via TV commercial or infomercial it’s obvious that it’s an advertisement. Now the lines are blurred. In order to protect the general public and ensure that online influencers are transparent about payment and gifts, in 2009 the Federal Trade Commission issued Endorsement Guides. The FTC clearly explains the rules and makes it easy to accomplish by simply using #ad, #paid, #sponsored or #promoted in a post.

Beyonce 7

Beyonce is Crazy in Love with Airbnb

After the Super Bowl, Beyonce shared on Facebook a photo with the caption, “It was a Super weekend Airbnb” with a link to the Airbnb Facebook page. Neither the superstar nor the company will confirm if she was paid for the endorsement or comped the accommodation. If this was the case, then Beyonce would need to disclose that on the post.

Another example is Reese Witherspoon who has started a company, Draper James, and on Instagram frequently shares images of herself wearing the clothing. None of these indicate that she has a financial involvement in the company.

Best FDA Letter Ever

In August 2015, Kim Kardashian and Duchesnay admitted that she was paid for her endorsement of morning sickness medication, Diclegis, via Instagram. The post initially received attention for resulting in a letter from the Food and Drug Administration regarding her lack of fair balance in the post. Kardashian also did not note that there was a paid relationship.

Will the FTC Respond?

These are only the most popular examples, but a few months ago Jezebel identified many more personalities who are ignoring the FTC guidelines. Beyonce, Kardashian and Witherspoon are extremely sophisticated marketers with carefully curated social feeds, so it surprises me that they haven’t been made aware of the potential issues with the FTC. Perhaps it will take the FTC going after a high profile personality to make others compliant.

This post, written, by Dr. Augustine Fou, Chief Marketing Science Officer for The Advertising Research Foundation is part of our CES-Inspired blog series.  This topic is our first, Geo-location.  My related post is here.  

What?

As more and more consumers spend more and more time on their mobile devices (even exceeding their time in front of computers) we are aggregating a massive new data set — geolocations based on the GPS locations in their mobile devices.

There are obvious benefits to having this data. Waze (Google) uses real-time speed information to crowdsource traffic stats that inform navigation systems. Ads for the closest barber shops or listings for restaurants in the vicinity can be brought up based on where the user actually is. Furthermore, geolocation can be used for additional context to understand the meaning of users’ searches. For example a search for “pizza” on a Friday night from home, usually means the user is looking for home delivery of pizza for dinner; while the same search for “pizza” at noon from an office location might mean the user is looking for a restaurant near the office to go to for lunch.

Along with these enormous benefits there are new risks that should not be overlooked. For example, knowing that someone is not home during certain hours every weekday could allow bad guys to easily burglarize the house. Knowing someone’s favorite restaurants, bars, or home address may present personal safety risks if that information falls into the wrong hands. So it really boils down to who has access to what information about individuals’ locations, at all times based on their mobile devices.

So What?

For the most part, the forerunners in the mobile data space like Foursquare, with location-based “check-ins,” have done a good job protecting users’ privacy by careful handling of their geolocation data; these were “walled gardens” with unique, custom data sets. But more recently, data management platforms, which sell user targeting data to programmatic ad exchanges, collect users’ place-based information via their mobile devices, often without their knowledge. They collect this information on users via many partners, from mobile apps, analytics packages, and even telecom providers (that pre-install tracking on locked phones).  Then they sell the data to drive prices higher — i.e. higher premiums associated with greater targeting, because advertisers are willing to pay more for users whose locations are known.

But while these members of the ad tech supply chain are making higher profits from the buying and selling of user data, most users are not aware of the extent to which their data is being used, nor do they have any means to determine that and control their own information. That leads to bigger questions — who owns this geolocation data — the users or the companies that collected it? What rights do users have and what can they do if they wanted to “get their data back?” There is clearly enormous value in that data; but consumers are not getting any value from it at this point, while companies are profiting from it. Is this sustainable or does it have to change?

Now What?

History has shown that any significant imbalance of value must ultimately be rebalanced in order for a healthy ecosystem to persist. We see this in physics – areas of high energy will balance with areas of low energy. We see this in nature – ecosystems with an explosion of invasive species will rebalance and settle into a new steady-state. In our digital advertising ecosystem, as consumers continue to gain power, they will also start to exercise their rights to see what data is being collected of them and demand the ability to control, edit, take it back, or delete it.

Other ecosystems have had to “rebalance” and acknowledge the rights of the consumer – think, Do Not Call List. There is already the digital equivalent called Do Not Track and Ad Choices, pioneered by digital advertising trade associations. Facebook and Google both now allow users to download their own data from the cloud — from emails to photos to videos, and every other type of asset — if they so choose to take their data with them.

Further, past analyses of how ecosystems evolve show some consistent patterns: 1) when a new market is being developed, pioneer companies create walled gardens in their attempt to set and become the standard and own the entire market, 2) then in order to continue to achieve growth, fast followers promote interoperability in order to gain access to previously established walled gardens — the interoperability increases the value of the network effect, and 3) once most players are interoperable, most of them no longer have unique, defendable competitive differentiation, which leads to waves of consolidation and eeking out more efficiency.

In the programmatic ad tech ecosystem, we may already be in phase 3 and some consolidation has already been witnessed. But the companies in the ecosystem that can most proactively make changes to empower consumers to know and control their own data will likely be the ones that succeed long term.

 

On Twitter, as on many social channels, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get organic engagement.  Twitter has a suite of ad offerings designed to help gain followers, video views, app downloads and more, which pharma brands have started using more as part of their social strategy. To encourage greater brand engagement, Twitter recently launched “conversational ads” that include call to action buttons with customizable hashtags.

Below is an example from Twitter showing how these ads work. When a call to action button is tapped, the tweet composer opens with a pre-populated message accompanied by the creative and hashtag buttons. The user can then personalize the tweet and share it with his/her followers, and then receives a thank you.

phone 2phone 1

A tool for biopharma?

There is no question of the value to consumer brands…but pharma?  Could pharma really use this advertising option?  While it may appear impossible or even a little anxiety provoking, closer examination reveals that it may be more feasible than we initially thought – for the right content.

Consider, for example, a disease awareness campaign in which a thought-provoking question about heart disease is posited with two options for patients to tweet and that tweet includes a link to the disease awareness web site for that campaign.

Let’s also consider the benefit for broader corporate campaigns that enable companies to directly engage potential employees for recruitment purposes or drive thought leadership.  Not to mention the potential application for philanthropy or CSR programs.

Finally, there could be great potential to use this platform at popular healthcare conferences like JP Morgan, AHA or ASCO.   Companies can pose questions to attendees and drive followers, booth visitors, presentation attendees or attendees to other company-sponsored programs.

We know what you’re thinking…this all sounds really exciting but what about our responsibility for the content pushed out by those who interact with the conversational ads?

Per the FDA draft guidance issued in January 2014, a company is generally not responsible for user generated content (UGC). This is the case even if the UGC is on the company’s social site. So a biopharma company would need to ensure that the Tweet, as well as the pre-populated response Tweets, were fully compliant. If a user then chose to revise that message this would be UGC and outside the firm’s control.  And companies would also continue to employ whatever AE monitoring protocols have been established.

Used appropriately, conversational ads may be a direct and engaging addition to a brand – or corporation’s – PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) strategy.

Twitter is currently offering conversational ads in beta for select advertisers. If you are a W2O client and are interested in learning more, please contact your account team.

-Eileen O’Brien and Molly Stock


WCG_BobPost_640x420_v1

I have a lot of respect for the pioneers of advertising who created a discipline that has shaped how we communicate, market and sell.  Bill Bernbach, one of three founding partners of Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1949, was one of those amazing people.  His impact lasts well beyond his own lifetime.

Bill wrote an impassioned letter to the management of Grey Advertising where he was creative director in 1947.  Here we are in 2016, 69 years later, and we’re about to host a roundtable at CES on Wednesday with top thought leaders in this same world to discuss what is relevant to our future.  In preparation for our roundtable, I thought I would “respond” to Bill’s note due to its timeless common sense.

Here are quotes from his letter and my response.

“I’m worried that we’re going to follow history instead of making it, that we’re going to be drowned by superficialities instead of buoyed up by solid fundamentals.” 

Agree.  In today’s world, we can spend too much time analyzing every new social media channel, start-up, unicorn or new technology.  The fundamentals of marketing and communications have not changed.  However, they do evolve.  The key is to stay focused on solid fundamentals, e.g. how we tell a story, how we handle an issue, how we build a brand’s reputation as we concurrently evolve that same model via new technology.  What matters is how we evolve the fundamental models.  If we focus on chasing each new butterfly, e.g. new channels, start-ups and technologies only, we do simply follow history as it is created.  It’s our job to think ahead, yet slow down enough to realize what will actually work in the marketplace.  Don’t let the endless parade of new innovations distract us.

“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

Times have changed.  Great stories now combine science and art to optimize their ability to persuade.  You can create the coolest ad in the world, but if no one sees it, who cares.  In today’s world, we focus on audience architecture, so we know where our customers are, what content they prefer, when they go online, which media outlets matter to them and who influences them.  We can see how persuasion works in a market without advertising.  Now, it is becoming our job to catalyze interest in topics, pull through stories throughout the ecosystem of a customer (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and mainstream media outlets) and identify those customers who are as persuasive as any ad could ever dream of being.  Science shows us “where”, “who”, “how” and “when”.  Great content provides the “why” and that can come from agencies or customers themselves.

“In the past year I must have interviewed about 80 people……..But look beneath the technique and what do you find? A sameness, a mental weariness, a mediocrity of ideas.  But they could defend every ad on the basis that it obeyed the rules of advertising.  It was like worshiping a ritual instead of the God.”

Agree.  In 1947, agencies could defend their actions with their own persuasive arguments.  In 2016, we don’t care, since we can see what our customers think about our campaigns, stories and general content.  Mediocre ideas are exposed for what they are in hours, not months.  Bill would probably love the fact that all of those arguments he thought were bogus would now be exposed.    Our ability to listen to our customers and create agile content that shapes behavior every day is replacing the long-winded, hard to produce campaigns that are outdated the day they hit the streets.  This raises the game for all of us.  Our only ritual now is to listen, learn and act on what the market needs and wants (or could want) each and every day.

“All of this is not to say that technique is unimportant.  Superior technical skill will make a good man better.  But the danger is a preoccupation with technical skill or the mistaking of technical skill for creative ability”. 

Well said.  The answer is never just a data scientist just as it is never just a creative director or never just a consultant.  We now live in a world where we must have the most relevant and timely insights about our target audience from data scientists to inform agile content that is informed by the industry and client knowledge of the consultant.  Creative, Data and Consulting all live as one team.  The speed of the market due to technology and the ability of customers to act self-sufficiently without any intervention from a brand demand that we all get along to build a new approach to creating, delivering and evolving persuasive content.  This is a journey with no end.

“We must develop our own philosophy and not have the advertising philosophy of others imposed on us.”

Agree 100%.  Bill left two years later to start his own firm in 1949.  Entrepreneurs know that they must respect the fundamentals of marketing and communications, yet never just accept what worked yesterday as being good enough.  In fact, those folks who say “well, we used to do it this way at our firm” are often the ones holding back innovation.  The most creative people in our world are forward-leaning in how they apply data and ideas.  They know that Insights + Industry Knowledge + Ideas = Innovation that matters.

“Let us blaze new trails.  Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art and good writing can be good selling.”

One of his most famous lines of all time and his closing sentence.  Insights differentiate.  Being dissatisfied and always searching for the edge matters.  No matter how big or how small you are, nothing changes in this reqard.  We should always “blaze new trails”.

On Wednesday, we’ll discuss how we stay true to the fundamentals of our business as we absorb the continual innovation of industry and blaze new trails that are relevant to today’s brands.  Our job is to stay focused on pragmatic disruption of the status quo.  Innovate where it improves sales, leads to a better health outcome or it makes a difference that our clients and our customers care about.  The rest is just noise.

Thank you Bill for a timeless piece.

Note: My next book, Storytizing (available March, 2016) will discuss more on the history of advertising and its relevance to today’s digital world. 

Column published in the November 23, 2015 issue of PRNews

It’s relatively easy to anticipate macro trends in technology for 2016.  It is much harder to predict how those trends will change the communications profession.  Based on work with large brands and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, here is a list of top trends that will matter most for the Chief Communications Officer and his/her team.

  1. Audience Architecture Starts to Replace the Coverage Model: We now can see exactly who our audience is online (all social media channels and mainstream media), so we can listen to its needs, align our story with its desires and measure our success in reaching the target market for our brand or topic. Getting coverage is only one piece of this puzzle. Why? Blogs and Twitter drive 2/3s of content flow. Mainstream media has become a catalyst that blogs and Twitter drive. Think of the audience as becoming more important than the outlet. When you get coverage, the PR pro’s job is just beginning.  He/she needs to ensure that this coverage reaches the audience; the job calls for sharing it via social channels so it gets to the right people.  The end game used to be coverage itself. No more.
  2. Responsive Experience Replaces Responsive Design: Since more than 50% of content is consumed via phone and that figure will rise to more than 75% in three years or fewer, we have to provide the right experience the first time our customer looks for it online. If we direct people to a website and make them hunt for the desired information, we will lose most people and they won’t come back. We have to deliver the exact content right away.  Since people tell us what they want via search, e.g. “company x, product y pricing”, we can deliver this exact content on the first visit.  The search words serve as a trigger for the right content, which you have pre-packaged, to show up.  Imagine preparing for ten types of customers to visit your site.  Once you know who they are via their search terms coming into the site, the content changes to meet their needs.  This is simple technology we can all use today.
  3. We are Entering the era of the 9%: In the 1,9,90 model, fewer than one percent of people create content, approximately nine percent share the content and 90 percent lurk and learn, benefitting from the 1 and the 9. The first ten years of social media have been about the 1 percent. Now, technology advance has made it super easy for the 9 percent to share content, add comments and continue the conversation in any channel and on any device.  This is the second sales force for a brand.  We must know who they are and start building far better relationships with the 9 percent.  They are the best friends of the one percent and should be of us as well.
  4. We Have Fewer Than Three Seconds to Make an Impression via Video: Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day, so it knows a thing or two about how users react to video. Its data show that we have fewer than three seconds to grab the viewer’s interest. The result is how we produce video must change. We need to create a strong first impression and should be investing in a wider range of lower cost video, not longer, expensive video.  Disagree? OK. But I usually avoid arguing with what we learn from 8 billion views per day.  That’s a big enough focus group for me.
  5. Internal Communications will Start Learning from External Audiences: We have long made the mistake of examining only internal metrics to measure internal satisfaction of our employees. Now, we realize via new models that we can identify what matters to specific employee groups by analyzing their external activities: where they hang out (social channels, forums, blogs), talk, share and learn from each other.  The answers to how better align with employees can be found outside of our walls and inside their tribes.
  6. The Full Story of a Brand Must be Delivered to the Customer: We can now use technology platforms to deliver the full story of a brand (think 4-6 articles and 2-4 links) directly to our customers in any social channel. We can then watch what they like, what they share and dynamically change the content in all channels in seconds. Interactive storytelling is emerging as a new discipline, since we can deliver content anywhere, any channel, anytime.  It’s time for us to go to the customer, not ask him/her to visit us.
  7. The Agile Campaign Starts to Replace the Traditional Campaign: Since we now can see what our audience is doing and thinking in close to real-time, we can introduce the right content into the market based on their current needs. This means that we need to proactively build out libraries of content, so we have pre-approved material ready to share. The days of spending 6-9 months to create a campaign, get approval for it and then enter into the market are ending.  In the future, we’ll only do that when we have a specific end date, e.g. when we have a product launch or a drug approved.  When we have a choice, we’ll move to agile campaigns 365.

Overall, communications is moving into an era that I call Storytizing, which represents what is possible beyond advertising.  We can align directly with our customers via earned, shared and owned media and supplement these interactions with the strategic use of paid media.  Our job now is to meet customers on their home turf and pull our stories through the customer’s entire ecosystem in full alignment with their needs.

A new era calls for new techniques and the full embrace of what technology has to offer.

Contact: @bobpearson1845

Note: Bob Pearson’s next book, Storytizing, will be available in March, 2016. 

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel titled, Millennials Unplugged: What Are We Learning from Millennials? Moderated by my colleague, Bob Pearson, the panel was part of an event put on by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and hosted at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Joining Bob on the panel were Natalie Malaszenko, SVP of Marketing at Overstock.com and Founder/Provocateur of MoStrategy, LLC, Maureen Craig.

Bob-Natalie-Mo panel

As the title suggests, the focus of the panel was what we (brands/marketers/communicators) can learn from Millennials. It’s clearly an important topic due to the fact that in the U.S., Millennials just overtook Baby Boomers as the largest demographic in the country. This not only changes the way marketers need to market, but also how employers think about the needs of their employees. I spent a little time covering this very topic in one my recent Marketingland articles discussing the real meaning of what it means to be “mobile first.

During the panel, Bob asked (and occasionally answered) questions of Natalie and Maureen. All three did a great job keeping their answers informative and pithy. A few of the key soundbites I took away were:

  • Millennials want to engage with brands differently. They are willing to do it emotionally.
  • It’s important as a brand to have heart, soul, purpose when story telling with Millennials. The key is to the find balance of analytics/insights with gut instincts.
  • Bob mentioned a recent article where Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest announced the visual search tool for the social image site making it a “search engine for experiences.”
  • Metrics are important to understand how customers are consuming content along their journey – but how does this impact how we measure?
  • With so much data, importance on using gut to guide is stronger than ever. Also critical to look at how the consumer’s (and in particular, Millennials) media is shaped.
  • At the end of the panel Q&A, Bob referenced the impetus of the panel which is a blog series he created with his 19 year old daughter, Brittany. The format for Millennials Unplugged is that they pick a topic and then both answer from their own points of view, often with other Millennial voices pulled in.

For the second half of the panel, Bob fielded audience questions through a tool called Pigeonhole. Not only was it a cool technology but made it easy to field questions from the audience in an orderly and weighted fashion (the audience gets to vote on the relevance of each question).

Here were a few that piqued my interest:

How has cutting the cord impacted TV advertising dollars when engaging Millennials?

  • Mo – Millennials get a kick out of Boomers and GenXers anachronistic use of tv (similar to land line phone).
  • Natalie – key word is storytelling. Ads need to be created with storytelling in mind and that ads could/should have life beyond tv.

Beyond the headlines of 3-second attention spans and lack of brand loyalty, what are some positive opportunities for marketers in learning from Millennials’ habits and expectations?

  • Natalie – key is to enable Millennials’ behavior vs. trying to change it.
  • Mo – takes offense at the idea of a three second attention span (not accurate). She thinks of Millennials as t-shaped – tremendous depth and huge reach (via new social/digital platforms). Can apply what they’ve learned from Call of Duty to shopping for groceries. What can we do to congratulate that and take advantage of that?

How do you value sharing vs. reach & frequency?

  • Natalie – don’t diminish importance of reach and frequency but sharing is the ultimate metric. It is a sign of passion.
  • Mo – her company is constantly looking at what it takes to encourage a climate of sharing.

With this quote by Jack Welch, Bob Pearson finished his talk at the W2O PreCommerce Summit in London today. The President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group, encouraged the audience to remain nimble to be able to adapt to future trends and changes and shared some of his insights into tomorrow’s world of brands, customers and media.

As described in his book PreCommerce, Bob sees the biggest value for brands in decreasing the distance to their customers and focus on pre-commerce phase vs. the actual point of sale: Only those who are able to listen, will be able to respond and adapt to market needs – maybe even before those needs actually exist.

The digital age definitely enabled brands to be much closer to their target audiences than ever before; however, the structures, relationships and stakeholders, as we have known them for years, will no longer exist in the future. Bob Pearson summarizes this development in four key game changing trends:

  1. Our Definition of Audience Is Changing

If we look at the 1-9-90 model, we can clearly see the former content creators and outlets are no longer as relevant in the online conversation as the 9%, which we define as brand advocates, those who spend their time inside social media channels, who are part of strong peer groups and, who add their views to existing content, that will share the future of your brand’s or company’s story. With this development, the audience is now more important than the outlet.

  1. The PESO model is flipping

As the 9% grow in importance, so does earned and shared media. This requires us to integrate a new media planning model that defines an insight-driven social media channel and influencer strategy, which roles out into campaigns, content and experiences. As part of this model, paid media amplification remains an important part to break through the “noise”, but it will follow conversations and communities more than news.

  1. Markets Don’t Wait for Campaigns Anymore

Digital conversation is dynamic and to be able to participate, brands need to be agile. Providing customers with what they need, where they need it and when they need it, is a challenge that includes our creative approach. Those brands who are able to use data and respond to trends in real-time, with content dynamically changing based on interest, will make the 365 campaign become real.

  1. Micro Segmentation Replaces “Personas”

Or in Bob’s words “We always knew that top-down persona-driven segments of “five audience types” was wrong”. With each person and each audience having their own media ecosystem, the roll-up of these ecosystems defines the media network. In order to customize content to their target audiences, brands need to understand how the audience and their attention are fragmented. Therefore, the future media leaders will excel in audience architecture.

About Bob Pearson

Bob Pearson is President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group. Bob has a unique combination of social media, marketing and communications skills acquired during nearly 25 years at three Fortune BobPearson500 companies and a major consultancy. In 2011, he published his book “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together”, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. He is currently working on his next book, which will be available in March 2016. “Storytizing” will focus on the importance of creating a compelling and at the same time relevant narrative for your brand.

Fireside chat with Bayer’s Jessica Federer and W2O Group’s Annalise Coady at the 2nd Annual #PreCommerce Summit in London.

Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer

At last year’s W2O Group’s London Summit, Jessica Federer talked about the origins of social intelligence and the need for Pharma to adapt to digital changes. Today, she shares insights of her one year journey in her new role as Chief Digital Officer at Bayer.

Bayer’s Biggest Transformation in 150 Years

In the last year, Bayer went through the biggest transformation in 150 years, incorporating digital into its DNA: a top-down, CEO-prioritized digital strategy. This change has been implemented with a digital council, a digital circle and digital transformation teams. According to Jessica, priorities lie with the creation of digital structures, enabling great people to do great work. In other words, the secret for digital transformation is money and people.

While not naming explicit inspirational companies, Federer highlights the impact of partnerships with big, established digital leaders that help Bayer find specific solutions. Equally important are cooperations with start-ups, such as “Grants4Apps”, an accelerator program by Bayer that gives start-ups a space for collaboration – currently one of Jessica’s favorite initiatives.

jessica bayer

Insider Goodies

Lastly, Jessica Federer provides two health-care insider treats; the first being the importance of reading The Economist and The New Yorker, but also Vanity Fair, as digital transformation is driven by society and cultural trends. As her second “audience treat,” Jessica spills the secret that despite strict healthcare regulations, talking to regulators will drive innovation, as they want to innovate just as much as you do. Nonetheless, it is crucial to “follow the rules”.

Stopping the focus on digital

Ultimately, Federer hopes to soon end this newly adapted focus on digital. She continues to explain this seemingly paradox statement: “What you do well, goes away,” meaning that digital transformation teams won’t be necessary once all marketing becomes digital and a natural aspect of Bayer’s business.

 


About Jessica Federer

Jessica Federer works at Bayer, a global enterprise of 113,000 people focused on advancing ‘Science For A Better Life’ through health care, agriculture, and high-tech polymer materials. Within Bayer, Jessica has held positions in Regulatory Affairs, Market Access, Communications and Public Affairs. She received her Master of Public Health degree from the Yale School of Public Health, and her Bachelors of Science from The George Washington University. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Jessica now lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. Jessica is passionate about translating digital developments into public health advancements, and is an avid supporter of global childhood education.

 

 

 

 

 

Lifecycle of a Technological Revolution_today

With the revolution of media and technology disrupting the marketing industry, and business models altogether, marketers are trying to navigate through the storm. On the communications side, TV dollars are shifting to digital. But, digital ads aren’t nearly as effective nor transparent as we want them to be. The traditionally distinct and siloed roles of marketing communications (once upon at time, just known as ‘advertising’) and PR are converging.

Because of the advent of social media, and the frustration with traditional and digital advertising, marcomm is moving into earned media with influencer marketing, native advertising and more responsive campaigns and editorial content teams. Because of the rise of the new influencer – everyday people and celebrities using blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, Periscope and other platforms to create personal media companies – PR is expanding beyond traditional media relations and ‘the pitch’, and into influencer marketing, sponsored content and responsive editorial content teams as well. It’s a race to the middle where the lines are blurred. That’s why agencies and publishers are partnering to create wholly new content companies that service brands.

If we take a step back from the race, though, things haven’t changed much since 2009. The big three: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had launched and matured as three distinct and valuable social communications platforms for users. Since then, other social platforms have launched – Foursquare (and Swarm), Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, SnapChat, Meerkat and Periscope being the most touted. But, each of these just feels like an iterative evolution of the discontinuous leaps that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube made. Platforms, and the content they enable, shifted to become more visual, shorter and ephemeral. When Meerkat and Periscope launched, didn’t it feel like they already existed? And, the fundamental rules for how to engage audiences on those platforms is the same; we must adhere to the Reciprocity Theory.

So, I actually take a contrarian point of view: innovation has slowed in media technology. We’re at the tail end of our current technological revolution’s lifecycle, moving past the discontinuous revolution and into the iterative evolution. While folks in the industry are making claims that: “Advertising is dead.” Or that, “Data will tell us what content to make, so we don’t need creatives anymore.” I’m claiming that we need creative more than ever. The discipline just needs to evolve too. As the roles of advertising and PR converge, storytelling becomes an even more critical discipline for marketing.

Just pushing the message through TV and radio and print and display ads is lazy creative and lazy advertising. Great creative has always been about great storytelling. Now we just tell that story across new media platforms/channels in partnership with the new social influencers and in partnership with our customers. Sometimes those influencers and customers are the same. Great creative (‘the story’) is the glue that holds the story together, wherever we’re telling it. It’s what inspires people to participate.

In the late 2000s in the entertainment industry, we began exploring transmedia storytelling. This is where we would develop a core story – characters and the world in which they lived. And, then we’d plan out those stories across media (books, graphic novels, movies, TV, web series). It was a shift away from the linear model of: writer publishes book –> studio buys book and makes movie –> network turns movie into TV series. Instead, we developed it all at the same time. They lived together as extensions, or chapters, of the same story instead of separately as different and distinct adaptations of the story. This style of storytelling became particularly popular in the fantasy/gaming/comics genres, as we could delve deep into the story of a world we were creating.

Now, in marketing, we have the opportunity to take the same approach. How do we create a core story – the story of our brand, which reflects the story of our customers and employees – and tell that story through new (and traditional) media platforms and people? Like a vision, the story we tell requires an intuitive leap of faith. It must inspire. It must create new possibilities. Is that so different from great advertising fifty years ago? Maybe. Maybe not. But, in an increasingly ephemeral world, wouldn’t it be nice to have some moments that impact and last?

—–

This post originally appeared on The ReciprocityTheory blog.

And just like that, the social updates you knew from June are tweaked, more defined and bound to change again before next month. It’s a beautiful world of social that we live in, but you’ve got to keep up with the trends. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have made some big changes to their platforms in July and we’re sharing the Social Scoop here!

Facebook: ‘See first’ -Good for Users, Bad for Marketers?

What It Is

Last month, Facebook announced it was launching a new feature called ‘See First’ in which users can select who/what they want to see at the top of their News Feed. The concern for brands, is will your Page be on users’ ‘See First’ list

How It Works

  • ‘See First’ allows users to prioritize up to 30 Pages, friends, and/or groups they want to see first in their News Feed
  • Everything is set up through the user’s News Feed preferences, where they can:
    • ‘prioritize who to see first’
    • ‘unfollow people to hide their posts‘
    • ‘reconnect with people you unfollowed’
    • ‘discover new pages’

What It Means For Brands

While this new feature is great news for consumers, it’s not so great for brands. Quality of content is always key, but brands will have to revisit their social strategies and step up their game in order to avoid falling by the wayside. Getting content in front of your followers will be the challenge, but once your brand has made it into your followers ‘See First’ list, you’ll know that your content is impacting the right people. While brands cannot tell their followers to list their Pages as ‘See First,’ there is a twist here. This new update brings changes to Facebook’s algorithm, in which Facebook’s “Discover New Pages” will choose similar pages as suggestions for users based on the Pages they have liked. Brand recommendations are based on user experience now, so targeting the “Discover New Pages” section should be part of your strategy.

Facebook: The Floating Video Has Arrived

What It Is

Video, on video, on video. Facebook understands the power of the video and they’re letting everyone know. This month Facebook is testing out a new feature that allows users to detach a video from their News Feed and move it to a different location within the browser to view while scrolling through other content or to save for later. This is only available on desktop as the feature rolls out to some users.

How It Works

  • The option will be built into the video player so that when users click the icon, the video will detach from it’s original source, and allow users to drag the video to a different/preferred section of the website browser
    • Users select the small box, within the larger box on the video screen in the lower right corner to detach the video and enable it’s relocation

What It Means For Brands

Users can watch more videos at one time, as they can continue to scroll through their News Feed, and pull out the videos they want to reserve for later viewing. This feature encourages users to view longer and remain on Facebook “video” for all of their video viewing needs, so the more video content you produce and share on Facebook, the great chance you have that consumers are watching all of your content.

Facebook: Taking Another Step Forward In E-Commerce

What It Is

Facebook is building shops within Facebook Pages that allow brands to showcase their products directly on their Page. This is another part of Facebook’s push into e-commerce, which also includes money transferring through Facebook Messenger and the buy-button, introduced earlier this year to increase the online experience, from discovery to purchasing on one platform.

How It Works

Within the “Shop” section of the Facebook Pages, businesses now have the opportunity to showcase their products directly on the Page. Users can make their purchases without leaving the site.

What It Means For Brands

This new feature gives brands a secondary platform to connect with its primary audience. Users spend roughly 80% of their time on mobile apps, smartphones, tablets, or computers and Facebook has created a way for brands to utilize this by putting buying options on the Pages platforms.

Snapchat: Talk About Updates!

What It Is

Snapchat is making a LOT of moves (at once)! The days of ‘hold-to-view’ is a thing of the past, users can now “Add Nearby” friends (in bulk) to their snap contacts when in close proximity of others, and a new two-factor security authentication feature makes it harder to hack another user’s account.

How It Works

  • Viewing: Users can simply tap on a snap they want to view without holding down on the picture for the entire viewing time. Users can also tap through snaps or swipe down to close the story.
  • “Add Nearby:” Under ‘Add Friends’ there is now a tab called ‘Add Nearby,’ which allows users to add contacts (either one at a time or in bulk) who are in close proximity to that user.
  • Security: The newest security feature can be enabled from the ‘Login Verification’ menu in the app’s main settings.

What It Means For Brands

This new update makes it easier for users to view content on Snapchat. Again, content is key – advertisers don’t want to worry about their ads being skipped over because users can tap through or swipe down to exit their content without actually viewing it. The ‘Add Nearby’ is a nice opportunity for brands that are using Snapchat to connect with users who are in close proximity to their businesses, and in return, users can discover brands that are on the platform that they may not have realized have a Snapchat presence. Additionally, the new security authentication should be built into a brands social strategy and required for all community managers and admins to keep accounts safe and hack-free.

Snapchat: ‘Stories’ Has A New Look

What It Is

Snapchat has redesigned their Stories section, prioritizing content from media partners over pictures from a friends.

How It Works

  • When users open Snapchat, the updated Stories ‘tab’ features (in this order) personal stories, ‘Discover,” ‘Live,’ recent updates and all stories
  • Users will still see friend content, but they will have to scroll down to find it
  • “Discover’ content still exists on its own tab

What It Means For Brands

Now media content very hard to ignore. Snapchat is continuing to find ways to monetize its app and this is their way of boosting engagement without disrupting the activity from it’s core user base. Surfacing content in more areas of the app will help with ad revenue (more viewing opportunity) as well as boost user interest in branded content.

Twitter: Are Your Tweets Being Indexed On Google?

What It Is

In May, Google and Twitter announced their partnership, enabling tweets to show up in Google search results on mobile devices. Since then:

  • Stone Temple conducted a study that looked at several factors which may be influential in Google’s tweet selection
  • The data showed that tweets from profiles with higher follower counts were appearing more often in Google search results
  • Tweets with higher social authority based on Followerwonk’s metrics for social authority also showed up more often

What It Means For Brands

Of course it wasn’t going to be as simple as just tweeting and having your content show up on the top of Google search results! Google has made it clear that a brand’s Twitter presence and authority will provide major value to SEO. It also means that handles with a lower following and less authority may still be missing out on having their tweets indexed.

Twitter: Say Hello to Auto-Expanded Link Previews

What It Is

Twitter continues to strive for visual excellence, rolling out auto-expanded link previews (to a small amount of users) that will show content previews automatically for links provided in tweets.

How It Works

  • Expanded previews are a new Twitter card opportunity that the platform has rolled out to advertisers (Summary card with a large image)
  • Advertisers must enable the card in order for users to see the auto-expanded links

What It Means For Brands

Brands have a higher chance of engagement when posts include a large image. Tweets with auto-extended links will allow brands to tweet out richer content that’s more visually appealing to followers, but keep in mind, it’s going to cost you!

Twitter: What’s With All the White Space?

What It Is

Twitter has removed wallpapers from users’ home and notification timelines – everything is white. Users can only see background images while logged-in and on public pages (i.e., Tweet pages, list pages, and collection pages).

What It Means For Brands

By removing the ability to have user’s change their background, Twitter has taken away the uniqueness of each user. They have essentially unbranded everyone – so once again, your content is key. There is nothing else that drives people to your Twitter Page at this point, other then your content and brand interest.

YouTube: Mobile Videos Are Lookin’ Good

What It Is

YouTube is focused on ‘mobile, mobile, mobile’ and their latest update reflects just that. They have redesigned their mobile app to optimize a vertical video mode to display better content. In addition, they have streamlined their app to include tabs that focus on a user’s homepage, videos users subscribe to, and account pages.

What It Means For Brands

More than half of YouTube’s views come from mobile devices. With this new update, brands have the opportunity to engage more users with mobile friendly versions of their videos, keeping users on their channels longer from their mobile phones, and giving them the freedom to continue to explore brand channels directly from their mobile device. YouTube (and the rest of the video sharing world) has discovered that vertical videos better fit the aspect ratio of smartphones and now brands have the ability to utilize this to optimize video viewing. But just keep in mind – you’ll have to size your videos to ensure they match the new mobile sharing specs.

Special contributions to Chantelle Patel, W2O Shared Media Intern

 

 

Snapchat has increasingly become a topic of discussion among brands in terms of driving business value and ROI. It has evolved since our initial evaluation of it in 2014, citing it’s lack of data tracking and its ephemeral nature, but it still has some gaps to fill. Our team has some strategic ideas around optimizing the platform currently and some that could hopefully come to life in the near future. You can view the complete list of insights here and below:

 

#1 If Snapchat can provide full transparency on users of their service, advertising can be done in an appropriate and highly focused manner. The data can be anonymized to respect privacy, while still achieving targeting goals. This data must be accessible to the brands advertising. It cannot be held only by Snapchat, since it is critical for planning.

  • IDEA — Open up a limited API, ala Facebook’s 30 days of data – brands must be able to access anonymized data to plan. Facebook has shown the way on how to do this and still preserve the integrity of the data.

#2 – Work with brands to develop relationships with Snapchat Stars – we all know the power of influencers. The stories feature of Snapchat is where influencers are emerging that have major impact for a brand. These stars are similar to what is occurring on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other channels. For example, if BRAND X focused on beauty brands and emerging influencers for make-up tips, how- to’s for skin care and other related topics, this increases authenticity, supports the drivers of Snapchat traffic and helps your brand understand who has influence in Snapchat vs. other channels.

  • IDEA– Enable a brand to work directly with influencers in a category – this leads to more targeted earned and paid media; it helps the influencers gain additional influence; and it adds much needed authenticity for any advertiser. It is widely believed that advertising alone will not be accepted by the Snapchat audience, so new models of partnership are key to success.

#3 – Create a “Snap to Buy” feature – we need ROI. If Snapchat creates a “snap to buy” feature where users can purchase products or download important buying information for later use, we can better track funnel activity. This can work for a brand by partnering with emerging stars, “map” them discussing a topic, provide the option to buy direct (within the chat), and deliver directly or to a local outlet. For consumables, this scenario could generate simple couponing or co-marking opportunities.

#4 – Develop new content partnerships between talent, media networks and brands – a traditional ad won’t work in Snapchat. However, new models can open up opportunities. In other words, brands will sponsor other brands. Snapchat’s new media service called Discover, which will host branded propertieis for Yahoo, People, Cosmopolitan, the Food Network, Daily Mail, Vice, CNN and others.

  • IDEA – an example can be given for a TV show and a BRAND X brand. BRAND X works with the talent on a TV show. The talent on this show then Snapchats on a key topic that also includes the BRAND X brand. This would be a powerful way to integrate great content, keep the topic aligned with Snapchat user’s interests and work in a brand appropriately.

#5 – Innovate in geo-location – Snapchat is already innovating with picture filters automatically uploaded from your location.  Since interaction with geo-location based content is already accepted by Snapchat users, we think of new ways to build value.

  • IDEA 1– this is purely a matter of creativity.  We could create a contest based on geo-location use of certain backgrounds.  Once a certain level of use is reached, prizes are made available.  New filters that are highly topical could be provided by BRAND X brands, e.g. Olympics and any sports-related shots for certain sports, however the backgrounds feature the local athletes for that user to make it more personal. Or BRAND X sponsors Movember with idea that men are all shaving in the near future.  And on and on.
  • IDEA 2 – align Snapchat content from brands down to the store level.  If the retail networks of a country are aligned to geo-location, BRAND X can offer unique content and coupons/offers at the zip code level and you can snap to buy and it goes right to your closest store.

#6—Improve how “Stories” is handled within Snapchat – the “Stories” experience does not appear integrated with how users typically use the app, which is to interact with friends.

    • Stories are essentially paid content from brands in the Snapchat app
    • Most of the time, people use Snapchat to interact with friends
    • Stories do not appear “inline” when you interact with friends, but rather only if you go to Explore —> Discover in the app, which is a couple clicks off the beaten path
    • This is like moving paid content on cnn.com off the front page and into a section called “Paid Content”
    • If brands are having success, that’s what matters — but it’s an odd way to integrate paid

#7 – Partner with users to create a “brand studio” – populate the studio within Snapchat with brand content (images, video, quotes and other content) that can be used by anyone.  And encourage users to add their own ideas, make requests and participate in making each brand studio as cool as it can be.

  • IDEA – co-create content with communities directly.

Innovative ways brands are using Snapchat:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the best,

Bob Pearson

This column first appeared in the June 1st issue of PRNews

The new definition of owned media is simple: If we create and approve content, it’s owned. It wasn’t long ago when owned media simply was the content on our website. Today owned media has moved from being a site to becoming how a customer experiences the brand’s voice in any channel

The paradigm has changed so dramatically that we as PR pros are required to meet customers and prospects at their favorite online hangouts. We can and must share the same content that is housed on our website on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and with key bloggers. After all, we are in the business of storytelling and story distribution. Facebook, bloggers and other platforms consistently reach more potential customers than our website. The good news is that our voice has become portable. Good and bad news: we control the official, but often not the initial, experience with our brands.

On the positive side, our websites can do almost anything we want. They can serve as a company store or teach consumers about an issue, a technology or disease.

The goal itself hasn’t changed too much really. We still want to take the company’s story and share our version of the truth directly with customers in the locations they prefer to hear from us.  

Timing has become important. It’s critical to reach customers throughout their PreCommerce journey, while they are learning, sharing or just having fun. Waiting until they visit our website compromises our ability to influence the final outcome. It’s imperative that we touch the majority of conversations, buying decisions and search behavior occurring outside of our official company channel well before final decisions are made about a purchase or even our reputation.

Customers learn about a new product via search, explore what others believe about it in forums, ask friends on Facebook about it and visit a company website to confirm what’s already been learned. After all that, the customer who decides to buy the product will usually do so at a site offering the best terms.  

How effectively we use owned media defines its success and proves our value. Here are five key examples of how to optimize the new version of owned media. 

 

1. Supply chain of language. Normally there are 15 keywords or phrases that the majority of customers are searching for to find your story or a related topic. It’s more important than ever that you develop a supply chain of language, so that you use the same keywords on your website, in social channels, as tags for new content and in press releases and statements. If you coordinate across the owned media supply chain, you’ll greatly increase search engine optimization results.  

Communicators are becoming the new search experts by necessity. Telling a good story is only as helpful as a potential customer’s ability to find it.

 

2. Network coordination. Are you sharing the same messages and a similar story across your website, social channels and via spokespeople? How do you offer different content by channel to match the customer’s journey?

We must become experts in how customers choose to learn about our brands to develop the right network strategy. We need to work as one team. 

 

3. Understand the role of each media channel. Are we teaching customers and prospects via YouTube, answering questions on forums and posting interactive contest on Facebook? What is the role of each channel? Can we imagine the customer journey, document what really happens online and ensure that what we provide matches with the customer’s needs? 

 

4. Ensure visits are customized. When we shake hands, we are connecting with another person. Customers search for certain keywords that lead them to our site. It’s a digital handshake. This little bit of information enables us to provide the exact content they want when they visit our site. 

Are you doing this? Imagine having 10 experiences available to match up with different keywords, so if you are looking for a job, you get the job site right away because you were searching for “company x, engineer of abc.”

 

5. Focus on the customer experience. Are we consistently monitoring all media we own to ensure the consumer’s experience is consistent?  How do we know? When I think of doing this effectively I recall advice from Gayle Fuguitt, president-CEO of The Advertising Research Foundation, who said, “Brands are built in the brain.”

 

Customer’s brains involve ten channels of online media, plus mainstream media, ranging from audio to search to video (see PR News, May 26, 2014). Are we building brands in the brain or are we simply sharing content and hoping for the best?  

 

3 Ways Owned Media Saves Money

Here are three ways I’ve learned to save money via effective use of owned media:

1. Use ads strategically to drive earned and shared media. Facebook ad buys are a great example. Don’t saturate your audience. Use ads strategically to drive your owned media story to the right people. Remember what Daina Middleton, head of global business marketing at Twitter, says: “Marketing through persuasion is over. Marketing through participation is here to stay.” Make it easy to find content you want to participate in.

2. Responsive experience improves conversion. When you provide the right content the first time via a website, your conversion is far higher. Dramatically. Create libraries of content based on the type of person who will visit your site and use targeting expertise to match visitors with the right experience.

 3. Content ‘capsules’ can replace Websites. You can now embed the equivalent of a portable website in any social channel, for example, via Business Wire’s news capsule.  If you take your best content for a story and create this type of portable website, you avoid the costs of driving people to your website and it costs a fraction of what you normally pay.                                      

 

All the best, Bob  

I always enjoy speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference, which is the largest e-commerce meeting of its kind in the world.  This year,  I was asked to discuss “how to choose the right social media partners”.   My deck is here and below if you’d like to read it.

I was a client for many years at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi), Novartis and Dell.  And, today, I’m often asked by our clients who they should consider for various social media activities.

Here’s a brief summary of what I believe we all can do to improve the search process and identify the right partners.

We need to acknowledge that the current way that most agencies are selected is a broken process.  We have checklists, requests for information (RFI) and requests for presentation (RFP) documents that ask the same questions each time and check off the same boxes over and over again.

When questions are predictable, so are the answers.  Think of when you were in school.  If you just have to memorize material for a test, you may pass, but you didn’t learn much.  We know that is not the right way to go.

Instead, we need to move from an RFP to a Request for Knowledge or an RFK.  Clients need to test the working knowledge of the agencies who may be hired.

Every agency says “I wish they would give us a chance to show them how much we know on X topic”.  Well, in an RFK scenario, you sink or swim on what you know, what you have done and how you will innovate in the future.

My presentation walks through 12 areas that are important to address.  In each case, you’ll see the questions I recommend asking of agencies to assess who will be the best partner.  You don’t have to use all of them every time, but it is important to learn about each other in new and more effective ways than we often do today.

I look forward to your ideas on how to further improve the process.

Enjoy, Bob

Let’s begin with an oversimplified summary of marketing macro-trends from the past five years. Advances in technology have led to rapid innovation cycles, an open door to startups, and greater competition in virtually every major industry. Increased competition places greater pressure on marketers to successfully position, target, and reach new (fickle) consumers, thus leading to increased budgets but greater scrutiny. Concurrently, channels of distribution and social media proliferation have reduced the overall effectiveness of traditional paid media (TV, radio, print). Investments in digital media continue to rise, but these tactics run the risk of becoming just another billboard until a standard measurement scheme is adopted…impressions no longer count, folks. Marketers find themselves faced with too many options but the same old dilemma…how to reach the right eyeballs with a relevant message to drive funnel activity? Relax, you don’t have to do it all alone…

Your Brand is No Longer Yours

As mentioned above, the proliferation of digital media has become an open invite for informal journalism and product critique. Consider your personal news feed, anyone with a Twitter handle, Pinterest page, or YouTube channel can pose as a resident authority for a given topic. Combine this with a human tendency to seek recommendations from trusted networks at the speed of “fiber”, and all of a sudden pay-for-play review services like Zagat, Forbes, and Michelin become a little less relevant. Similarly, a brand’s ability to tell their own story objectively is in itself oxymoronic. Consumers yield more power than ever in curating brand experiences for rebroadcast with greater organic reach than any single brand or network can provide. So how can you make heroes out of your customers and are you comfortable with passing the mic?

beck song reader site(ex: Beck’s Song Reader)

Never Discount Vanity

We are all a few clicks away from becoming professional storytellers, kickstarters, and journalists…and some clever folks make a pretty good living doing so. Since we all now have the ability to live in bits and bytes, we also own digital brands to build and protect. Consumers tend to curate the best of themselves in photo, video, and text, and if advocating your product or service can help them in their quest, you just earned more efficient advertising than you could ever pay for. Yes, altruism still exists and deep-down most of us share information with the hope of helping others. But there is also selfish pride in being viewed as a source of discovery for news, humor, products, or deals, which can double as brand sponsorship. Do you have the ability to locate your top advocates, make them feel special, and hand off something exclusive enough to share? Does this help them build their individual digital brands?

warby parker 2

(ex: Warby Parker’s Home Try-On)

Just Cause

If traditional media effectiveness is in perpetual decline, you no longer own your brand, and customers control their own path to purchase, how can you win? The most progressive brand marketers recognize that modern consumers, specifically digital natives, want to elevate beyond the transaction and require their share of wallet contribute to more than corporate profits. This can be a win-win for both brands and consumers, with corporate cause efforts (CSR) are perpetually constrained by resources and priority, when aligned with marketing they can build brand equity and also contribute to customer acquisition. As mentioned above, if this also helps consumers attach altruism to their digital profiles with minimal keystrokes, they will support your cause through commerce.

toms

 (ex: Toms Improving Lives)

In the grand scheme of advertising, digital media is still in relative infancy. This is precisely why I find it so valuable to study patterns of communication and subliminal intent to predict behavior. One thing is for certain, no single brand can afford to continue feeding the diminishing returns meter, a.k.a. traditional paid media. In order to scale your brand message in the most organic way, you must enlist your customers (and their respective networks) to participate. Word-of-mouth still happens largely offline, but online sharing platforms are fertile ground for brand advocacy. However, this must be a true value exchange, whereas if a consumer offers you a piece of their digital real estate, your product or experience must deliver incremental value in their personal brand building campaign.

Google cause

 (SOURCE: LBGT Advertising, How Brands are Taking a Stance on Issues)