Tag Archives: Advertising

Too Punchy apparently…

I originally wrote this for a university blog who asked for some tips for their students on breaking in and succeeding in the advertising industry. Apparently this candid account of my journey so far is too punchy, they asked me to ‘tame it down’, I said NO! I have just the audience who might appreciate this as it is. So I’m publishing it here.

It’s longer than my normal posts, so grab a brew, take five and I hope you find some of this useful…

My Seven Tips for Survival

My job didn’t exist when I was at uni, it barely existed five years ago. I didn’t grow up thinking ‘One day I shall be a Transformation Strategist, or a Creative Technologist’. The reason I studied Art & Design at college is because I liked my teacher who taught design at school and I wanted to create beautiful things.

When I went on to university, the degree was titled ‘Graphic Design and New Media’; my first lesson was on search engines, an introduction to Google, my degree introduced me to Flash, Quark, InDesign and Freehand and on the day I graduated all of those skills were already out of date.

The reason I’m telling you this is that my first tip for stepping into our industry is to understand that it moves and evolves at breakneck speed, there’s a new start up every two minutes and a new technology every one. You have to be on your game every second to stay ahead.

What I did learn during my studies was that design and creativity is a fluid process; the principles of craft, attention to perfection (not just detail) and experimenting with how far you could push the boundaries would always deliver a result. Following graduation I found that print quickly bored me, so I taught myself to code and started to design interfaces, basic brand websites back then, and got excited. Code seemed to not only bend the rules but break them entirely, what you could achieve with dots per pixel rather than dots per inch seemed to know no boundaries, the only limitations were those of my mind. This brings me to my second tip, always push the boundaries and seek terrain unexplored.

Having realised this I quickly sought out the best agency in my area to learn how to do just that, I lived in Leeds at the time. I waited for a vaguely relevant job to come up, then when it did, I hounded them to employ me. I got the job, my first proper footing on the ladder (this was about two years after I graduated), that first foot is the hardest but most important one you’ll ever take.

The job was as an Account Executive, I didn’t exactly love booking rooms and making the tea, but I was surrounded by clever, fun people and quickly identified who I wanted my mentor to be, the smartest most rock ’n’ roll guy in the building who also happened to be leading the digital transformation for the whole agency. I stuck to him like glue for the following four years and he helped me become a savvy client facing strategist, adept in the rapidly changing world of digital. Tip three, surround yourself with the people you aspire to be and don’t be afraid to ask them to mentor you.

When it was time to move on life took me to London. I got a job at one of the leading UK agencies where I learnt how to manage big platform projects and start up enterprise solutions. I worked 12-18 hour days, every day to cram 3 years of progress into 18 months. It paid off, one of the top agencies in the world head hunted me into their team.

From then it was about jumping in with everything I had and pivoting my way through the most breakneck world I had ever experienced. I said yes to everything, then worried about how afterwards. I pushed myself to be the best at everything I took on, failure was not a situation I would accept. Tip four, do whatever it takes, if you don’t someone else will.

The hard work paid off when six months into the job I got a real chance to prove my abilities, arguably the turning point that made my career. Following leading a successful series of workshops I was asked to move to Japan and run the resulting global project for a major client. I had one week to pack up my life, lock up my flat and get on a plane, I didn’t even have an address to go to, it all happened so quickly my living arrangements were being organised whilst I was on the 13 hour flight to Narita.

48 hours later I found myself in an alien environment; I was half the age of the people around me, western, female and not able to speak the language. Was I nervous? Hell yes. I was amongst an incredibly intelligent bunch of people who knew this organisation inside out. Japan is a culture that lends to following a career path within the same company for the span of an entire career, these guys had started on the factory floor and worked their way to the top, then here I was to lead them through a massive change program. I swallowed the nerves, rolled my sleeves up and threw myself in. Tip five; if you’re not shi*tting yourself slightly, then you’re not pushing yourself enough.

Over the next six months I had to adapt daily to navigate many challenges. I started to build a strong team around me and the agency team back in London were nothing short of amazing. We spoke every day, we tackled problems together, when I got stuck they were there, when they couldn’t tell what was happening where I was, I brought them in, it was fluid, with many highs and lows but collectively we succeeded by working tightly together. Tip six; you are only as good as the team around you.

Since starting my career I’ve been a designer, a coder, a planner, a strategist, a client lead and half of a creative team. I’ve built teams, projects and many, many beautiful, useful things. I’ve changed minds and lives, kickstarted businesses, led huge programs, mentored, managed and broken every rule in the book. Most of all I’ve taken risks. Tip seven; don’t be afraid to take risks, it’s how we improve ourselves.

The words of my mentor when I left that first job in Leeds still ring true today, ‘Why will Karen succeed? Quite simply, because she has no fear’.

So my advice to you as you start on your journey in a particularly exciting but turbulent industry, is ‘Just say yes, be brave and jump in’.

What’s the worst that can happen…

jumping-off-a-cliff.jpgimage found on https://developingourwings.wordpress.com/ – thank you

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getting native ads right

There are so many ways websites can generate revenue through ads, personally, like many people I find 99% of them irritating, but as an advertiser I also know the importance they have for businesses selling and buying the spaces. 

With the rise of ad-blockers the focus on making creative work harder and better has never been more prevalent and one of the biggest digital marketing trends continuing this year are custom-made native ads, designed to appear as part of a website’s standard content.

Beyond just the aesthetics, native ads are also created to integrate seamlessly into the functionality of the site, which means they impact the customer journey, particularly if the buyer is taking over a lot of space. This can have a negative effect especially if the branding isn’t clear, which is often the case as they normally contain content relevant to the site rather than an explicit ad message. 

Native ads aren’t necessarily immune to ad blockers, the execution of them varies greatly but fundamentally they are not published as the site’s editorial so the tech is still ad serving. You only have to block ads on Forbes to see this happening, and those native ads are created for Forbes.

So how do you create a good native ad?

First and foremost, think about the behavior you’re targeting on the site through the content you choose rather than the demographic. For example, if it’s an automotive site, create refreshing content relevant to the cars or consideration process of buying a car, not the ‘ABC1’ you might be hoping will see it and be distracted by your set of golf clubs because you’ve assumed as a demographic that’s what he wants to see instead.

Secondly, don’t be deceptive in the customer journey. Native ads are generally accepted more than traditional ads because they are more trusted, this is because of the relevancy not just at first view level but of the journey in totality. Don’t abuse this, keep your click destination as relevant as the core content. 

Finally, keep it considered and polished. Native ads aren’t a home for any old crap, brand metrics show that they are considered to be more premium from discovery through to purchase. Stay true to the above  points and you will see a greater halo effect on your brand without having to be shouty about your brand presence. 

Simple really; know what your audience want to see, make it worth them seeing and follow that thought through to purchase. 

Stick to these principles and avoid the display pondweed caught in the ad blocker net.

Don’t be this guy…Polar-Bear-in-Fishing-Net-MAIN

image found on the daily mail. thank you

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FFS

For many businesses I’m working with at the moment memberships are becoming the new subscriptions. The bar for a credible value exchange is set higher than ever before with freemium models saturating the market, so our hungry audience are no longer satisfied by exclusive content and a glossy cover, pixel enabled or not. 

Today wants tailored and timely, relevant and resonating. Brands are expected to know what their audience want, on a 121 basis, which is fine if you run the coffee shop round the corner and you’ve been there for 20 years watching the town around you grow up and evolve. It’s not so straight forward when you’re scaling beyond your inner circle into a model that not only makes money, but enables you to create a viable business that pays other people money too. 

This shift from having customers to members is a step change for how businesses build everything from their CRM programs to their technology stacks, because in today’s world every piece of data matters, because those pieces of data allow you to be relevant, to everyone. 

It’s easy to get dragged down into the detail, so I’ve put together a little checklist to help:  

Be Focussed

Decide wich parts of your paid membership are going to add the most value and invest on making those amazing first. If you do too many things at once it will not only cost a lot in production, but also in technical development and promotion. 

Be Frictionless

Make it really easy for your audience to receive, digest and share. There is nothing more disappointing to users, or more costly to you, if this doesn’t meet expectations. 

Be Selfless

Listen, analyse and adapt your model as you go. The most successful businesses are those that put their audience first and their business second. Think of them as your insight tool, fusing the next phase, they are not the end game. 

I appreciate the last one is the hardest, especially with financial goals and deadlines, but it’s the most important in the long run. 

We should all be thinking FFS for the right reasons. 

Image found on Pinterest via wework.com - thank you

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A view on the programmatic semantics of binary trading predication

What the..? You may ask.

Well, I’ll tell you… you see most of my meetings this week have been about the uptake of programmatic, commonly I’m being asked; Is it robust? Is it robots? Are the robots robust? How do I plug it in? Do the robots plug it in? Are the robust robots plugged in?

Breath in.

So, having explained this a lot, I find it’s easier to start with what it is not:

It is not: Real Time Bidding (RTB)

It is not: A new type of media

It is not: A new format, a new device, a new tactic, a new insight or a new inventory. 

It is, quite simply put; AN AUTOMATED PROCESS.

Programmatic Trading simplifies the buying and selling process by digitally connecting the buyer and the seller of the ad space. This brings automation to the process adding operational and pricing efficiencies which take the mundane and repetitive tasks away from humans.

It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that creative is any less important, studies show that creative is still responsible for 70% of the effectiveness, the placement and timing making up the other 30%.

Marketing is, and will always be, about getting the right piece of content to the right person at the right time. Programmatic quite simply means we can be quicker, more effective and therefore scale in a more structured and relevant way. 

I love this example from Nike and Google, it’s a great demonstration of what can be achieved with clever design and RTB, and just recently Unilever have explored the use of video in their Romeo Reboot campaign.

So in summary, you still need a wicked idea, a clever plan and some digital genius behind it, but if you embrace the fact that you can’t be in total control of the real time exchange and you’re prepared to sit back and enjoy the ride, then some really cool stuff can happen. 

And contrary to the title of this post, it’s not that tricky…

image found on adweek.com - thank you

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OMMMMMM G

We’re living in an omnichannel world, but what does that actually mean?

I’m getting a lot of questions around this at the moment, whilst the concept is fairly easy to understand, the minutiae of what it means to a brand is not quite so simple to grasp, so here’s a quick digest…

The word itself is derived from the word Omnis which can mean all or universal. And rather than linear use of channels, most of us are used to cross channel planning so really, omnichannel is the evolution of cross channel planning, done really well. 

To take that one step further, I would summarise it as; the true continuity of a brand or content experience that extends beyond a single place and crosses through multiple channels.  

Consumers are exposed to brands at multiple touchpoints, often at once, they could be looking at something on a mobile whilst in a physical store for example. As a brand therefore, planning for both the mobile experience and the physical store experience to be consistent would be part of omnichannel planning, it should be woven together with an invisible thread.

Essentially those brands that connect the components of an experience and the data around them; research of product, purchase, price, customer service and so on, will be the ones that shape a new dimension of customer decision.

It is indeed an intricate web we must weave.

Spider_Web_by_Autar

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The future belongs to connectivity

I spend a lot of my working life developing strategies for brands that need to move from broadcast, through audience engagement, to immersive connectivity, thinking three years into the future as a minimum, then I leave work and step into a broadcast heavy advertising bombardment and it saddens me.

That’s not to take anything away from the clever ads out there, but just imagine a future where advertising is intelligently informed, rewarding at just the right moment rather than randomly broadcast in a vain attempt to get your attention. 

Imagine that subtle product placement is integrated into how you live your life; your fridge is able to provide branded recipes based on it’s contents, your car can recommend a restaurant based on the time of day and your preferred driving routes, that restaurant then has your cocktail waiting on arrival with your preferred gin of choice.

It might sound mildly creepy to some but to me this everyday surprise and delight is an ease of living I am waiting to embrace.

I want brands to enable me to accomplish more, more seamlessly. We’re a few steps away from living in a truly connected world so every exchange between me and any brand should be streamlined at the very least. 

All we’re missing is the common language that connects all our smart devices but this will arrive soon and brands that adopt this thinking now, will be the ones that write the first chapter. 

Brands need to understand that they should be replacing my behaviours, not reinventing them; my ask is simple really, get to know me, then make my life better. 

gin cocktail

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It’s Hard to be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World

Meet ‘The Millennial’; a sophisticated and digitally savvy shopper, looking to be excited as much by the product as by the experience of researching it and flaunting it.

For today’s time poor, money flirtatious audience this is no longer just about Tiffany earrings Dahling; it’s also about the ‘to die for’ set of champagne flutes, the ‘totes in’ beach bag and even the simply ‘must have’ centre piece for the dining table.

The make up of luxury is getting a make over, and if it’s not pixel perfect then brands will need to prepare to be considered mainstream. 

Not only do consumers want to be enveloped in a beautiful, seamlessly immersive experience, they expect it, so when working with premium brands, I have these three key points as my guide:

  1. Are we sparkling: To be a cut above the rest, we must have the edge when it comes to going from design diamond in the rough, to top quality grade. If we can’t cut through and achieve stand out, we’ll quickly become mediocre. 
  2. Size matters, but not in the traditional way where whoever shouts loudest wins. Today consumers can access content wherever they are and will do so with whatever they have to hand, so our diamond needs to make the most of every screen size out there. I aim to be creating for 5 screen optimization at least, and an extra little tip; think mobile first, and mobile last. 
  3. Less is more. If we haven’t got something interesting to say, then I encourage not to say anything. With the rise of social continuing to grow it doesn’t mean copy and paste everywhere, we don’t have to be ‘always on’. We should be authentic, inspiring, but most of all we must be relevant, be always there, when our consumers want us to be. 

Getting it right takes research, time, dedication and constant evaluation. We must know and understand our audience in order to take our brand to their space in a meaningful way. 

No pressure, no diamonds.

pixie dust

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Technology enables, trust endures

I’ve been handed an influx of briefs recently from brands wanting to adopt copycat approaches, spending their budgets on stepping into their competitive space with ambitions to shout louder and ‘become the authoritative voice’, it’s sadly reminiscent of the work I was doing ten years ago.

Every brief looks the same; ‘we want to drive traffic to our website’, ‘we want to increase our share of voice’, we want consumers to buy our products and love us for it.

Technology has given us access to anything we want, whenever and wherever we want it, which should be exciting. Yet in this increasingly cluttered space, brands have reverted to vanity exercises based on the assumption that their consumers have the time to seek out their content and care enough to do so.

Technology needs to be respected as a powerful enabler, it means so much more to consumers to have a personalised and useful experience in our immersive Internet of Things, so the focus for brands has to go beyond content.

Leading brands to understand that content and functionality must work together to reflect what consumers are trying to achieve is a key part of my everyday, yet convincing key stakeholders to put the needs of their audiences first in order to serve them is hard.

I truly believe that the brands who don’t make consumers the focus of their decisions will continue to drown amongst those who do. Those that succeed will command attention through engaging and value adding experiences.

In today’s omni-channel world great consumer experience is both necessary and advantageous, the bar is set high, it’s no longer about developing loyalty schemes, today an engaged consumer is worth more than a loyal one.

An engaged customer is one that has had an expectation met, which for a brand means, being relevant and adding value.

Less noise and more cut through is called for.

image courtesy of http://zeteo.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/silence-conserve.jpg

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Does your Ad Add?

Because if it doesn’t, then it’s just pollution.

Brands broadcasting their message online; from TV ads whacked on YouTube to tiny irritating banner messages (that are frankly a bit like an annoying buzzy mosquito), have been the advertising stance for too long.

Before you ask, yes, I hate banners. (Oh c’mon, when did you last click on one??).

Give me a brand genuinely willing to listen to their consumer, rather than trying to out shout their competition in a vanity exercise, any day of the year.

It’s refreshing when you finally get to ‘engage’ with someone in their moment of need online and help address that ‘Oh Crap, I just need to cook something quick, scrummy, yet healthy for the kids’ moment, or the ‘Bugger, my skin is rivalling a prune this morning’ moment… or the ‘What the hell is twerking??’ moment (yep, I’m in Google’s annual report for this one).

Taking that first step to move beyond an arbitrary KPI that doesn’t prove a thing, to owning a moment that lasts beyond the search result is the single bravest decision any brand can make.

So as a brand, are you ready? Not sure? Then simply ask yourself; as an individual, if you were a brand, what would you want people to say about you if you weren’t around to broadcast yourself?

The power of impression influences the conversation. Conversation is a two way thing. Oh, and it often happens ‘offline’.

Add, don’t Ad.

Think consumer first.

A Cool Add

This is a cool Add

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What is Google AdWords?

Google run a suite of tools and my clients are forever flummoxed as to what they are, recently I’ve been asked a lot about Google AdWords so I felt it only appropriate to outline exactly what Google AdWords is in a couple of simple sentences.

Firstly, by using Google AdWords, you can create display and text ads which then run across Google, it’s quick and easy (even for me). There’s no minimum budget (there is a small set up charge though) and as with Pay Per Click (PPC) you only pay when someone clicks on one of your ads.

Secondly, once up and running the AdWords ads are displayed within search results or you can choose to display your ads on content sites in the ever-expanding Google Content Network (GCN).

That’s it (honestly), plus when you are happy with the campaign you can use Google Analytics to look at how your campaign is performing and identify areas that might need optimising.

See, simple!

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