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Redmond Calling

Like I said in my previous post, my decision to leave the agency world and to come back to Seattle from London was one I made to be closer to family. My next gig, gets me back closer to that world.

Starting July 6, I’ll be working at Microsoft as part of the Global Campaigns and Brand team, specifically focusing on social and mobile advertising. I’m incredibly excited to flex my creative side again in working with Microsoft’s creative network (IPG) and Microsoft teams around the world.

If this might seem like a bit of career déjà vu, you’re definitely right. In fact, I’ve spent the majority of my career working with Microsoft teams like Windows, Office, Windows Phone, KIN (RIP), Xbox, and Internet Explorer in the digital space. At one point, I spent 36 straight hours answering questions from users on Twitter and Facebook when Windows 7 launched and helped launch a campaign where we sent random fans pizzas with the number 7 on them in pepperoni.

2000px-M_box.svgMicrosoft has changed a lot since then – and that’s actually what drew me to that little company in Redmond. There’s a different feeling when you talk to people at Microsoft now – it’s electric. You get the sense the “One Microsoft” mantra is more than words in emails from CEO Satya Nadella. I found myself getting, even before this role was a possibility, getting fired up just listening to him speak or reading one of his emails. The guy is the type of person I’m sure many would run through a wall for – not just a motivator, but a doer as well. In fact, he recently brought Microsoft’s updated mission statement to the public: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. I was the perfect consumer target when Microsoft launched the Xbox. I’ve spent the majority of my life as a Windows user/evangelist. Today, though, I can say (without a doubt) I’m more excited than ever before about where Microsoft is heading – and I’m excited to be a part of it.

I’m also jacked up about the area I’ll be spending my time and efforts on – mobile and social. Working alongside Microsoft and other brands in EMEA and APAC during my time in London (with trips to Singapore), I had the chance to be part of some incredible campaigns – my favorite being the Xbox #keycode campaign in the UK. I’m looking forward to working with Microsoft’s agency partners to create ads that engage, entertain, and enhance the experiences of consumers around the globe.

We’re living in an incredible time where technology and media are a constant part of most people’s lives. That means we have the opportunity to tell a story about brands that is not just another ad, but a real story that does more than shout a price or drive a point home, but actually engages and enhances a consumer’s experience. Because consumers are living this digital first lifestyle, they’re seeing ads every day. Our goal is to cut through that ad clutter and deliver an experience that brings consumers closer to the brand.

I’ll push Microsoft’s agency teams hard, but expect them to push me equally as hard – all ideas are welcome. I’ll always fall back on something I learned from an advertising professor – constantly critiquing ideas based on if they accomplish three things well: Can we get someone to feel something? Can we get someone to say something? Can we get someone to do something?

I’m really excited about this next step. To steal a line from my old boss and friend, Clay McDaniel – onward!

Also, this:

Moving On

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When I left London in March of 2014, I knew I was headed into something different – something outside my previous world of agency work. I didn’t know I’d love it as much as I have. The team at Simply Measured is one of the best I’ve ever worked with, which makes what I’m going to say next all that much harder. I’m leaving my role as the Director of Professional Services at Simply Measured, effective June 30, 2015.

I came here, about a year ago, to help Simply Measured deliver custom reporting solutions and strategy for its top clients – brands like Microsoft, Chipotle, and Alaska Airlines. Having the chance to work with brands like that is something that I’ll never forget. Their teams and the teams at Simply Measured are pushing the idea and practice of social analytics forward in a time where marketing in the digital space is moving at breakneck speed. We, as a Professional Services team, were on the front lines a lot of times, building things that help take our core product and elevate it in the minds of our customers. We didn’t always have the easiest road, but we pushed forward (with the help of the extended team at Simply Measured) to create experiences for our customers that helped meet goals and bring value.

The decision to leave Simply Measured hasn’t been an easy one for me. I loved the work so far. I love my coworkers (Seriously, Simply Measured is a great place to work and the people are hands down the most passionate team I’ve worked with. They have open roles. You should check them out). As I looked at where I am in my career and what I want to be doing a few years from now, it became obvious to me that I needed to get myself on that trajectory.

I made my last decision to leave a job (and a country) when I took this role at Simply Measured to be closer to family here in Washington. I’m making this decision for myself – to set myself up for the next 10 years of my career and life.

I’m still Simply Measured’s ‘#1 Fan’ – that’s not going to change. Their products are incredibly valuable and I’ll continue singing their praises after I walk out the door, just like I did before I ever walked in. I’m excited to see what’s next for the team as they continue to define the social analytics space and show enterprise brands what it means to take control of their data. I have complete faith in the leadership team to continue driving Simply Measured toward the greatness they’re bound for. I’ve even told the marketing team they can call me up for a guest spot on the podcast anytime. I can’t miss a chance to hang with Kevin and Lucy.

I want to thank my colleagues here at Simply Measured for welcoming me and helping me grow, especially my manager Mari. Mari believed in me and helped grow the role of Professional Services from non-existent to a fully-fledged (but still scrappy as all hell) team. Kristin and Lauren, the two people I worked with most on the Account Services team, showed me what it meant to understand and be a voice for our customers, and along the way we became friends. Avenicio and Dylan (+David before), the longest running PS team members created great work for our customers day in and day out – often in the face of challenges. There are too many others to mention, but everyone I worked with here helped and challenged me along the way – something we should value in colleagues.

On the home front, I’d like to thank my wife Camille for her support – always – through moves, job changes, and everything in between.  She’s amazing in her unwavering support, even when I’m unsure of things myself. I’d also like to thank my past colleagues and sounding boards Clay, Kevin U., and Kevin D. for listening to me (and offering great advice).

While I have a new adventure ahead of me, I wanted to focus on the team I’ll be leaving. More about what’s next coming soon. Until next time.

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#ChevyGoesEmoji for Launch of New Cruze

Emojis are everywhere. They’re in your texts, in your Instagram feeds, all over Facebook, Twitter, and now… they’re in press releases too.

Chevrolet has been using the #ChevyGoesEmoji hashtag for a few days, bringing celebs and the likes into the mix with coded emoji messages turned into branded content videos.

They’re going full emoji, though with the release of yesterday’s all-emoji, all the time press release:

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You’ve got about 5 minutes to decode the release before they give the answers. So, get at it!

NYT, BuzzFeed Going Native on Facebook

Facebook’s new Instant Articles have arrived. After being a major driver of traffic for publishers the world over, Facebook now has a way to make a little money out of that relationship, while also creating a more seamless user experience. 

  

 The program, which began today with the New York Times, also includes BuzzFeedNational Geographic, NBCthe Atlanticthe Guardian, and BBC News.

The experience is great, from a user perspective. There’s a nearly-instant transition from the enhanced content in the News Feed to the article, which goes full-screen and includes high-res imagery and in-line video. 

 
Sharing directly from the content is easy as well and actually includes Twitter!?!

In my mind, this is a great move for Facebook on a number of fronts:

  1. Better user experience through inclusion: Users have a smooth transition that doesn’t rely on kicking them to another site.
  2. Repurposing some work: It’s hard to look at the full-size articles and not see a bit of Facebook’s Paper app in them. Facebook has done a great job of solving small problems and then bringing those learnings into other aspects of their apps.
  3. Keeping users in the app: The less friction users feel when navigating content in and out of the News Feed, the more likely they are to stay in the app. This ultimately means more cumulative time on Facebook and more opportunities for ad serves, which means more ad revenues.

I’m excited to see how implementations from BuzzFeed and others roll out as the NYT, style wise, isn’t a big leap.

Stay tuned.

Facebook Just Built an Airplane

Facebook’s F8 is a news-packed event that used to really focus on how developers could work with Facebook’s ever-expanding platform. When they announce Internet.org a few years ago, F8 also started to take on this future vision role that continued today as Mark Zuckerberg announced their latest endeavor. Click the image to go to the full post:

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Meerkat Just Ruined my Sunday… and I’m Not Even Mad

I woke up this morning with the intention of getting a lot of stuff done… then I heard about  Meerkat.

The live-streaming app seemingly exploded this morning and I’ve seen more tweets about Meerkat in the past couple hours as more and more tech/digital people are jumping on.

I’ve admittedly been lurking a bit and watching people experiment with the app for the most part.

One of my favorite marketers, Apple’s Musa Tariq , just hopped on and was taking about how he’d love to see DJs (the radio kind, but sure, others could join in) use Meerkat as they’re used to sort of rambling and not having any audience feedback. I added that reporters could use Meerkat to keep people engaged as stories are developing or between live pieces.

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You can bet the next few days/weeks will be filled with brands jumping in and I’m sure the executions will range from meh to bleh to awesome – let’s hope there are some good use cases.

I was a Qik user and checked out a number of streams from people on there back in the day, but the combo of bad data speeds and poor cameras definitely didn’t make for a great experience. Today, now that tech has progressed and people’s familiarity with live streaming, web personalities, and the idea of “lifecasting” (ugh… Did I just say that?) is fairly advanced, it could mean a whole new way of engaging and interacting.

I’ll definitely be watching to see how this goes.

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Pinterest Goes All In on New Ad Messaging

Pinterest’s opportunity for paid media has been apparent ever since numbers of sales originating from pins on the site started to circulate.

Why is Pinterest so good at conversion compared to the more mature, larger networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram?

Pinterest’s head of operations, Don Faul, gives his two cents to the WSJ (and they’re good ones):

“Pinterest is not a traditional user-generated content platform, it’s a place where people are coming to discover new businesses, new brands and new products… Our users are expressing their future intent. It’s not the shoes they bought last week, or where they went on vacation six months ago.”

It’s that last part that really shows you the “why” in the explanation of Pinterest’s paid media opportunity – relevancy not just to users’ interests, but actually being at the right point in a user’s purchase journey.

Think about it – how often do you go to Twitter with the intent to buy something? You might be thinking about buying something and head to Twitter to ask friends (and complete strangers) for their input. Likewise with Facebook, you’re not going on Facebook to buy something – or to make a final decision.

However, with Pinterest, users are often collecting and narrowing choices between products (via their pins or those of others) they actually intend to buy (or want to at least).

Additionally, the fact that you can actually see an pin, click it, and be adding that item to your shopping card within seconds puts Pinterest ahead of the other image-laden social network out there vying for ad dollars – Instagram.