SXSW: A Clever Targeted Ad

Being in Austin for SXSW means getting target with a ton of ads… Usually not great ones.

However, this PizzaDrone.info ad caught my eye. What happened after the click was even better… though disappointing for someone who wants to see a marriage of two of his favorite things.

  
And after the click…

  

The Next Creative Battleground: Video Captions?

With Facebook’s move to auto-displaying captions on videos in the Feed, the creative has a new place to flex their muscles – good old fashioned text.

The latest creative use of subtitles comes from Dos Equis as they bid farewell to “The Most Interesting Man in the World” as he presumably is bound to become “The Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy” or something else… That isn’t the point. The point is Dos Equis is using their captions in Facebook’s caption on default land of the Feed to drive people clicking to expand or unmuting: 

  
    
 
Now, admittedly, this isn’t the most ingenious use of captioning to drive home a point, but it’s a start. 

Hotels.com used their “Captain Obvious” character and their own captions to create a fun experience with sound off a while back, but now that Facebook allows the uploading of .SRT files for on-video captions, that means a similar experience for uses across videos.

Fun story about .SRT files + Facebook – they’re finicky. We just ran a global video campaign with 50+ .SRT language caption files – hard work but the campaign was awesome and a ton of fun.

When will Twitter jump on board the no sound + caption train? Has to be soon, right? 

BuzzFeed Invites Users to Binge On with new Video App

BuzzFeed’s videos have quickly become some of the company’s best performing content, with viewers coming back for episode after episode of videos from Tasty and the likes.

Capitalizing on this, BuzzFeed launched their own standalone video app at Mobile World Congress – the event that’s quickly becoming as important for product announcements and launches across verticals as CES once was.

The app, which is devoid of ads right now, is perfectly poised for regular ads (think pre-roll) and native content either created by brands or with BuzzFeed’s internal studio.

Users are met with a Trending view when entering the app, showing that BuzzFeed’s technology for picking up trending content is at the heart of everything they do. There’s also a “Shows” view where users can discover and subscribe to shows they’re into. Imagine all the binge watching and then binge eating you can do with Tasty videos now!

I’m pretty stoked on the Corgi in the icon, myself. 

  
   
 

Advertisers’ Notes: Facebook Launches Sports Stadium in Bid to Win Live Sports Convo Battle Royale

  
Twitter gets a lot of credit for being the place for “live” social commentary, whether it’s about moments in time (elections, etc.) or sporting events. However, Facebook has been really keen the past few years to tell advertisers they have a much larger volume ofnconversation around events… the only problem is that Facebook’s security features and the nature of the algorithmically-curated News Feed mean that users are rarely seeing conversations about an event from outside their friend circle.

Facebook is taking a step toward creating a space to watch, participate in, and curate conversations around events — starting with the launch of Sports Stadium

With 650 million sports fans, Facebook is the world’s largest stadium. People already turn to Facebook to celebrate, commiserate, and talk trash with their friends and other fans. – Facebook Sports Stadium Press Release 


The What

Users will be able to see stats, clips, expert commentary, and posts from other fans in the experience, which is launching for “American Football” now.

The So What?

While this is relegated to sports right now, it’s easy to see how Facebook could easily port these moments-based conversation extravaganzas to things like the Academy Awards, political debates, and national events/holidays. 

Why Should Advertisers Care?

These new experiences provide the future opportunity for sponsorship of events (think Red Bull having Stadium-like events for their Soap Box Derby thing), ad inclusion via sponsored content within the experiences (think stats brought to you by Bing), and through more traditional display-type ads within the experience (think Click Here to Win an iPad).

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.

Audi Uses Snapchat for Latest Social Campaign

It may be filled with selfies and slightly NSFW content, but brands are starting to dip their toes in the Snapchat water… or, in Audi’s case, they’re taking a flying leap off the diving board and doing a cannon ball.

Their latest use of the ephemeral, image-and-video app is called:

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Here’s the full snap:

Audi’s use is pretty great. Brands like Taco Bell and Nordstrom are playing with Snapchat, but this is perhaps one of the better campaigns/contests I’ve seen.

Location: The Last Piece of Twitter’s Success Puzzle

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Twitter has been eating Facebook’s lunch recently – and I’m loving it. They’re moving quicker and breaking more things than the Facebook crew… and those things they’re breaking are barriers and ad revenue goals.

One thing, though, stands in the way of Twitter and true success in the ad space – Location.

They’ve Been Thinking About Location Before
It’s something the Twitter team dealt with even before Twitter was Twttr – back when it was a Jack/Noah/Ev concept. At that time, Dodgeball was buzzing in NYC, letting people drop notes to their friends, via SMS telling them where they were. Odeo was dying and Apple was gobbling up any podcasting goodness out there as the “status” idea started to morph into something.

Dodgeball, as we all know (or maybe not because I’m learning not everyone is a nerd like me) was eventually bought by Google – which them shut it down. However, it was resurrected as another playground game-named service as (you guessed it) Foursquare!

Location. Location. Location.
Since early on, Twitter’s mobile applications (and indeed its API) have let users share location data with Tweets. How much that actually is used varies depending on which report/study you read (and how they’re done). A USC study and resulting app says one in five tweets carry identifiable location data – either actively shared or in metadata. That number seems much higher than the previously assumed 1-3% that’s been discussed around the net for years.

That low number starts to provide a hurdle when looking to have an active part in that all-important proximity to point of purchase for Twitter.

The Mobile Holy Trinity
They’re already pushing hard in the mobile game with their MoPub buy (which will bring rich content experiences to the mobile Twitter feed soon – and holy crap it’s going to be awesome) and their opening up the ability to created Tailored Audiences, essentially bringing actual retargeting to mobile devices via data partners.

If Twitter could (and it’s going to take more than tech – a change in user behaviour) connect the three: rich ad units, retargeting, and location… you might as well just give them the advertising prize for a social network right then and there.

So, how do they do this?
That’s a tough question, and one that teams at Twitter are no doubt toiling with. Content that’s being targeted to users based on location now is only taking into account location data entered by users in their profiles – an imperfect targeting solution, but effective enough for brand campaigns aimed at increasing recognition and other “softer” metrics.

If Twitter wants to build confidence among traditional retailers and businesses, they’ll need to get closer to the register.

Change The Rules
While not ideal, changing the terms of service to allow Twitter to use real-time mobile device GPS coordinates to serve content is a way forward. The company is already testing a “Nearby” function that lets users see content being published in their vicinity. It’s only a short step from that to using the same location info for ads.

Likelihood: Medium

TwitSquare
Buy ’em. Foursquare has been struggling the past few years. The app is great – don’t get me wrong. They’re just not proving a great platform for brands to bet on. Crawley is trying his ass off and I think they’ll get it right eventually, but will it be too late?

If Twitter could buy Foursquare and get some of the “here I am” goodness from that platform to rub off on Twitter (not to mention all the local business recommendations, etc.) it could offer a whole new dimension to their platform.

Likelihood: Low/Medium

Get Physical, Physical

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I probably talk about these at least once a day, but iBeacons! iBeacons! iBeacons! If Twitter invested in this technology and linking it with their platform, push messages could be sent to users when they were browsing near products.

Likelihood: Medium

The Full-on Dream Sequence Scenario
This is how it’d go down in a perfect world, a literal combo punch of everything above.

It’s June 2014. Twitter, having just bought Foursquare in February is rolling out the latest version of their app – complete with Foursquare’s location-aware push notifications. John is walking near Regent St. and gets a push notification from Twitter: it’s a rich ad unit showing the nearest Gap stores to him (there are 3) and advertising their 30% off sale. John clicks he location that’s also right next to an Itsu because he is craving some sushi.

When John enters the Gap store, his phone vibrates, welcoming him to the store and reminds him that he was looking at some of the new 1969 Original Skinny Jeans and a cardi on the website earlier – then it points him to where they are in the store.

When John wanders over to the denim section, the iBeacon near the Original Skinny Jeans beams info on the jeans to his phone along with a special, Email subscriber only deal for an additional 10% off denim (because Gap knows John loves denim).

John goes to the register, pays with his phone (because I’m pretending we’ll all be doing that next year), and leaves the store. Since his digital wallet is linked with his email and store accounts for brands like Gap, H&M, JCrew and more, John gets a Tweet after he’s a block away telling him to drop them a Tweet about how the new jeans fit and linking him to a customer satisfaction survey.

At the End of the Day
We may be a little further off from that than I’d like, but right now Twitter is flying toward that reality at full speed. If they can crack the location issue, I think they make an incredibly strong case for being one of the most-important marketing tools of our time (even more so than they already have).

Timehop Ending Daily Emails

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Timehop, the dino-powered app that lets users see what they were up to one, two, three, or more years ago, today announced they would be stopping their daily email service in order to focus on their app. Here’s the email:

Dear Timehopper,
You’re receiving this email because you’re subscribed to Timehop’s daily email service that tells you what you did 1 year ago today on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.

We wanted to let you know about an important change. We’re sunsetting the Timehop daily email and pulling all our efforts behind the Timehop mobile app. We appreciate your support and hope you’ll understand that as a small startup we have to pick our battles carefully.

We’ll stop sending the daily Timehop emails in 5 days: Wednesday July 17th.

If you have an iPhone/iPod/iPad? Get our app: timehop.com/iphone
If you have an Android or another phone, we don’t currently have an app for you but hopefully we’ll get there in the future. If you’d like to help us with this, we’re hiring — get in touch!

Thanks for your continued support — and see you on mobile!
Team Timehop

What’s next for the team? Would be great to see them picked up perhaps, but how many users do they have and what’s the monetization plan (beyond slapping banners put there)? I’m excited to see.

What’s Next?

Where We’ve Been

Over the past three years and nine months, I’ve had the pleasure of working at one of the smartest, quickest, most-fun agencies around – Spring Creek Group. I started my first day all that time ago as an Engagement Lead (entry level position at SCG at the time) after spending three years climbing the ranks at a PR agency (where I was told social wouldn’t be that big of a deal). It was a bit of a step back, but one I was willing to take to be part of what SCG already had going on.

Some time later, plus an office relocation from Westlake to Pioneer Square, I’d moved into a different role as the types and sizes of clients SCG started to take on evolved. We still had one of the best teams around and it was showing in our work every day.

Also around this time, I met the woman who would (as of August) become my wife – Camille (Carette) Schott. Regardless of what I have and what I do, I have her to thank for always being my inspiration and my cheerleader. She’s also had to be a one-person couple many times thanks to work and the constant relationship I have with my phone/computer. There’s actually a great quote in a George Lois book I just read:
A quote from George Lois' book "Damn Good Advice for Creative People"

I have to say, without Camille’s support and help, I wouldn’t be where I am today… and I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m about to be.

In 2011, right around my birthday, Spring Creek Group became part of Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands family of companies – something we were all really excited about. We’d grown incredibly quickly as an independent and scrappy agency, but we all knew there was more out there for us.

I can say right now that the experience of being acquired by a large holding company is definitely interesting – great and frustrating at times. Everyone at IPG, Mediabrands, and our partner agencies has been an absolute pleasure to work with. We’ve got some incredibly smart people at these companies putting out some seriously amazing work in social, digital, search, and mobile. That’s not just in the U.S. either, it’s all over the world.

Since being acquired, we’ve had the ability to spread our thoughts on social as a viable marketing channel far and wide with companies like Kia, HTC, IHOP, and more. We’ve been at the ignition point of industry-leading integration between traditional and digital advertising. We’re pushing further and further, everyday, toward new standards for measurement, activation, and customer interaction. It’s all incredibly exciting and I’m glad to say that I’ve had the chance to be a part of it.

Where We’re Going

A couple weeks ago was one of the toughest weeks of my professional career. You may have heard that Spring Creek Group, along with a number of our Mediabrands partner agencies, experienced a round of layoffs. No one likes layoffs – not the employers, not the employees that get laid off, and not the employees that are left behind. The changes made focus on the future as we look at the market and needs of our clients, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

I had to say goodbye to great coworkers, but even more than that – great friends. People I’ve worked with since starting at SCG. People that helped get SCG where it is today – one of the leading social marketing and strategy agencies in the world.

Along with that incredibly hard day, came some news concerning me and my role at Spring Creek Group… and that gets us to where we are today.

Soon, I’ll be relocating to London, England and taking the position of Head of Spring Creek Group, UK. I’m incredibly excited for this opportunity as, and this isn’t a big surprise to anyone who follows me on social, I love SCG and believe wholeheartedly in the leadership and direction of the company . Having the chance to take everything we’ve built here in the U.S. and expand that model and culture across the pond has been something I’ve long thought about.

The UK, much like the U.S., is moving along the maturation scale fairly quickly and the need for SCG’s unique skills and experience is definitely an opportunity for SCG and Mediabrands. I’ll be working within MAP (the Mediabrands Audience Platform) and with our partners at Ansible, Cadreon, and Reprise to continue what our group started out to do: improve insights and results for clients by helping brands find, buy and engage their most valuable audiences in real time.

We’re (both Camille and I) very excited for this opportunity and we thank IPG, Mediabrands, and Spring Creek Group. One of the hardest parts about making this move has been taking Camille away from a job at a company she truly loves – Blanton Turner. After a not-so-great experience at her last employer, Camille found an incredible company with a leadership team that truly cares about their employees. So, to the team at Blanton Turner – thank you and I’m sorry I’m stealing Camille away. If you want to open a BTUK, I’m sure she’d be down.

As you may (or may not) know, we both have relatives living the the UK and it’s been a goal of ours to move abroad for some time now. We’re looking forward to experiencing the expat life while still staying connected to our friends and family back home (thanks to the fact that I’m addicted to technology). I’m still trying to figure out ways I can watch Cougar Football while in Jolly Old, so you may get frantic calls from me trying to access your Xfinity account in order to watch Pac 12 Live.

Our friends are our family, as we don’t have very big families. We’re definitely going to be missing each one of our friends as we make this move, but we’ll have an extra room. Believe me when I say we’ve been dreading leaving you all here in the States as our lives just won’t be the same. Flights to London come on sale every once in a while 🙂

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be travelling back and forth to London setting up there and looking for housing. I’m sure you’ll all be annoyed by FB, Twitter, and Instagram posts.

More to come…

Social Media Awesomeness: UPS

The other day, I did something I rarely do: I stopped to let a pedestrian cross in front of me at a marked crosswalk that didn’t have a light. As much as it surprised me, it definitely surprised the UPS driver behind me…

Not only did he yell at me, he had a few choice words for me as well – probably nothing I haven’t yelled at another driver before.

Not really expecting anything from it, I tweeted about my experience.

Much to my joy (remember, I work in social media), UPS responded fairly quickly.

So, major props for catching the tweet and responding go out to UPS. Like I said, I’d never expect anything and certainly don’t think the driver was terribly horrible or anything – guy was probably at the end of his route and wanted to get home. I know I did.

The whole experience just reinforced what I tell clients day in and day out – people just want to know you’re there and that you give a shit about the experience they have with your brand.

While getting yelled at wasn’t rad, I’m definitely a bigger fan of UPS after the interaction with their social team.