Monthly Archives

6 Articles

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

“I am told it works, even if you don’t believe in it.

I’ve just found a unicorn.

I took the opportunity to walk through my neighborhood last evening. I couldn’t help but notice this wonderful bit of old-world advertising while I was out and about. Here’s a closer shot:

Do you believe in magic?

It must have been rough trying to sell ads back when there was no real way to guarantee who saw them. In deference to my lack of experience with this rather…dated…medium, here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed.

How Billboards Work

(to be honest, I always describe it this way)

So, they know I’m walking towards Safeway…where’s the magic?

I don’t know — but as soon as I crossed the street, I got a push notification from the Starbucks App on my phone.

arguably MISSINGNO. is the OG QR Code.

The wondrous folks at CreativeOutdoor.Com aren’t the only ones to try and get scrappy about the online-offline problem.

This is a pretty common problem. How can a business know that they aren’t wasting their money on advertising?

The problem with billboards like this one: they ask the wrong question.

The right question?

“What should we say on the street corner?”

I think that’s the problem with QR Codes, too.

Our job is to find the customer where they are. Once we do that, we need to deliver something they find valuable — especially if we’re going to ask them to go through the trouble of scanning a code they walked past.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what is literally the only functional case of QR code usage I have ever seen — @50Back

50 Back – The Brew Of The Brave

Empowering socially conscious consumers to “Buy a Beer” for a Soldier (or other charity) by scanning a code on the bottle makes sense. It meets the customers where they are, and it gives them a reason to engage.

“I am told it works, even if you don’t believe in it.” was originally published in Fits About Prints.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

How I Would Use Data To Open A Restaurant.

I’m a big fan of data driven decision making. In my job as a marketer it’s extremely important to separate myself from my work. After all if I’m trying to advertise a product that is clearly not aimed at my demographic, going with the kind of messaging or work I would like is just submitting to personal cognitive bias. Instead, I have to put myself in the head of the consumer. You have to do this at every step of the process, and even at the phase where you’re deciding what kind of company you even want to start.

I love the City of Denver. After moving here 4 years ago I still excitedly call it my home. One of the things that I love most about Denver is the diverse and growing culinary scene. From Rosenberg’s Bagels to Lo Stella Ristorante to Zengo, there’s so many great restaurants that have broadened my palate in many ways.

Want to know a secret though? If I was going to open a successful restaurant in Denver tomorrow, I wouldn’t base it on the foods I like but rather data.

Restaurants after all are a business. Personal preference doesn’t always translate to professional success. It may seem boring, but by using some simple quantitative and qualitative data we can make an informed decision about what is actually an underserved market in the Denver metro area.

So let’s first see where people are moving from. According to Zillow, 65% of newcomers to Denver are in fact from Colorado. Of the 35% of people not from Colorado the largest county that people immigrate from is Cook County, Illinois. (City of Chicago).

Now, qualitatively speaking there’s a few foods Chicago is known for. 1. Deep Dish Pizza. 2. Italian Beef. 3. Chicago Style Hot Dogs. The question becomes how does one decide which of these are the most popular? Well using social data we can infer some things.

We’re going to start off by using the world’s greatest free market research tool. The Facebook ad builder. Yes I am 100% serious. If you go into Facebook and begin to build an ad, before you pay for anything, you’re taken to an audience builder that will estimate the size of your audience in a geographic location before you buy on literally millions of data points. Now not everything will be on there, but this can help quickly see if there is a market available. For example, here’s the audience I’m going to start with for Deep Dish Pizza:

Here’s Hotdogs:

Finally, here’s Italian Beef:

As we can see, Deep Dish Pizza is quite popular, but Italian Beef is just on it’s heels. (I’m using Estimated Daily Reach). Let’s check out the competition in the area. According to yelp there are:

1. 141 places with “hotdog” on the menu

2. 71 places with “Italian beef”

3. 187 place with “deep dish”

Finally, we’re looking for qualitative data. I’m going to search on Twitter for the following keywords: Chicago, Denver, (name of food). Since I want relevant results, I’m going to accept items that appeared this year.

1. “hotdog”

There are no results during 2016.

2. “deep dish”

4 results of people asking for deep dish. Here’s an example:

3. “Italian Beef”

1 (very enthusiastic) result.

The results:

With audiences that are within 1500 people of one another, but with half the competition, I would personally choose to open an Italian Beef Restaurant. As the pace of migration from the Chicagoland area only increases, and with a lack of a Portillo’s or other iconic Chicago brand in the market, there is ripe opportunity to build and grow a restaurant that not only uses Chicagoans as a base audience, but also expands to Coloradans from other walks of life.

In the future, I’ll show you how to use just a few hundred dollars to test and validate whether these assumptions are true, again, using social media.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

How I Would Use Data To Open A Restaurant. was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

Gatherings In Open Air Retail Settings

If you’ve been paying attention to the massive number of articles on the topic this week, you’ve likely seen Randy Nelson’s look at the average time spent in the app. Close associates will know that we’ve [lovingly] questioned the validity of Hugh Kimura (SensorTower) public data in the past, but that’s generally been under the context of clients and teams trying to make App Store Optimization decisions without thinking through the problem. We love this article, and we wanted to share our own bit of foot traffic analysis that we think drives this point home.

ScreenGrab From Randy Nelson’s Article

A few days ago, we stopped by Osaka Ramen just off 3rd Avenue in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood to continue our experiments with Pokémon Go. We found what we believed to be a triumphant explanation of what happens in that 33 minutes, 25 seconds.

If you’re not familiar with the in-game items in Pokémon Go, you’re probably baffled by the 33 minute number. If you are, you’ll know that popular items like Incense (an item that increases the spawn rate of random Pokémon) Lures (an item that increases the spawn rate of rare Pokémon for all players in an area) and Lucky Eggs all have a half-hour timer attached to them.

That suggests that an average play episode involves launching the app, using an item or walking around to a site where an item is being used, playing for the duration of that item and going on to something else.

We stopped by Osaka for lunch, and at 3:14 PM, we dropped a lure at the Bike Windmill Pokéstop off Denver’s 3rd Avenue.

Approximate Location of PokéStop

At the time we dropped the lure, there were already three or four players in the area hanging around the intersections. Once we dropped a lure, these players made their way to the spot, engaged with the game for a few minutes and then moved on to another intersection.

As near as we were able to determine, this pattern of stopping by spots while canvassing an area seems to be a popular play style.

In the first five minutes, three men and three women joined the group already touring the area and walked past our Pokéstop before continuing on through the region.

Over the next 10 minutes, five more women and one man stopped for a few moments by our Pokéstop before continuing on their way into one of the shopping centers of restaurants in the area.

As we approached 3:30, we noticed that two families (mothers and early teenage children) also stopped through the general vicinity of the Pokéstop. No stop lasted longer than two or three minutes — about the time it takes to catch a wild Pokémon in the game.

At 3:35, we noticed a woman we had seen before. She was in exercise clothes and circling the block. Each time she passed the PokéStop, she’d pause for two or three minutes, and then carry on her way, phone in hand.

Excluding the players that were already clearly in the area, our Osaka lure attracted 15 people in the time it was active between 3:14 and 3:44.

What we learned was that when you are including a PokéStop in a high traffic area, you’ll likely want to include some element of a promotion that increases staying power. If you don’t give players a reason to stop, they likely won’t — and will instead carry on in their play session.

Gatherings In Open Air Retail Settings was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

On Pokémon Go For Fun And Profit

For the non-marketer, our obsession over ROI is baffling. The truth is, it’s rather confusing to us, as well. Most ROI calculations aren’t particularly complex. Measure the number of people who could take an action. Measure the number of people who did take that action. Measure the impact of their behavior. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Of course this assumes that your business has a working understanding of each step of your sales cycle. The only way you can know the value of an action like a page like, is to understand what percentage of people who like your page move on to the next step of the process. Not all teams have invested the resources necessary to collect the data needed to have access to these insights. If you’re working on a team in that situation, you’re likely no stranger to basing your marketing decisions on statistical inference.

If you’re not a marketer, that probably all sounded like applesauce, but we hope you’re still with us, because this article is for you.

See, the truth is that the best companies with the savviest people have been working tirelessly to figure out how to convince the people they work with that real people are tired of scammy advertising. (Members of our team included!)

We know that people think marketers ruin everything. At S&T, we believe that bad marketers ruin everything — and it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. Good advertising is supposed to be fun. It’s a company’s chance to show off personality, and forgetting that has become all too common in our industry.

When we first learned of businesses using Pokemon lures to draw foot traffic, that’s what we saw. A way to share real fun with the people who support the teams we work to support.

So we aren’t going to start releasing our data by talking about the numbers or the conversion rates or any of the other things that marketers talk about amongst themselves. (Don’t get us wrong, we’re working to release real data, and you’re welcome to even help us out here.)

But we feel like we have an obligation to our team mates playing the game. That’s why we’re going to start by talking about an activity no business would ever support — gatherings in public places.

We conducted two experiments in popular gathering places in Denver.

On Saturday, June 9th at 3:50 we made our way to Denver’s scenic Cheesman Park. We dropped out first lure at 3:55.

The Pin Shows You Our Selected Site

In the first five minutes, players who were already in the park, began to congregate towards the site we had dropped out pin at. Four players found the lure immediately and made their way to the site.

A migration of any number of people across a park, is likely to attract attention, and by 4:15, we had 12 people gathered around the Cheesman Park Gazebo.

At 4:17, two other people happened on our scene. At 4:24 five more showed up. (That’s a total of 19.)

An Early Gathering Of Players At Cheesman Park

We were surprised by this as our lure ran out at 4:25. We left for our next site before we could see how many players hung around, but we had a great idea.

What if a higher density of lures was more likely to gather a crowd?

We Didn’t Wait Long To Find Out

On his way back from the office last night, our Creative Director noticed that a few players had placed a lure at the footsteps of the Colorado Capitol. Our whole team has been fired up about this project for some time, and so recognizing the opportunity to test our Cheesman hypothesis, Karl set about mining the Capitol building. At 9:09 all 7 Pokestops on the grounds had a lure.

Because of the size of the turf, we weren’t able to collect data down to the five minute interval level, and instead were forced to continually canvas the site.

From 9:09 to 9:49, we counted 58 people on the grounds of the Capitol.

At 9:49 when our Lure spread ran out, we were amazed to discover that two other players had dropped lure chips of their own to replace the two that had expired in front of the Capitol building. By 9:53, three chips had been dropped to replace the chips that had expired at the back of the capitol building.

That’s what we advertisers call viral engagement. It’s usually a good sign. It means that people are actually interested in the thing we’re doing, and they’re sharing that enthusiasm with the people around them.

After that drop, we counted an additional 9 players that were drawn onto the scene. Lures were once again replaced by the community of players at 10:12, and at 10:31 we noticed 8 more players had joined the throng.

Trainers At The Capitol

When the lures finally wore off at 10:55, we witnessed some 75 players make their way off the capitol grounds.

So, what’s the take away?

If you’re a player looking for people to play with, look for sites with a higher density of lures. If you’re looking to start a scene, you can easily do so with 1–7$ worth of lures, depending on where you’re playing.

If you drop a single lure in a site where people are already playing the game, you’ll likely concentrate those players in that area — like we found at Cheesman Park.

If you’re looking to get a gathering of a ton of people together, you’ll need to drop your lures in an area that people can easily get to. By creating a destination event, you’ll give people a reason to venture out and see what’s going on. Parts of town that have a high density of Pokéstops are a great candidate for this!

We think it’s important to remember that the point of a game is to be fun, and the point of a brand engaging with a game isn’t to sell the product. Get out there, and catch them all.

Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing more advertiser friendly selected findings from our experiments. We hope you’ll join us!

On Pokémon Go For Fun And Profit was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

We Need Your Help To Measure The Return On Pokémon.

Those of you who follow us closely, know that for the past week, we’ve working on a study of the return on investment associated with the use of Pokemon Lures.

We’ve logged more than 35 hours of playtime — and we’ve spent most of it tracking other players.

Over the next few days, we’ll share some of the best practices we’ve collected as well as some of the raw foot traffic data for the collection of PokeStops we had access to.

We’re going to need more data that we have to make stable ROI calculations for a market outside of Denver. That’s why we want to make sure as many people as possible have an opportunity to contribute to this growing data set.

I’ve set up a google form that I’ll be monitoring throughout the day as we collect more field results.

We expect to start releasing some preliminary findings by mid-week.

If you’d like to help, here’s a link to the form.

We Need Your Help To Measure The Return On Pokemon. was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

A Jog Through The Story of The Origin Of That Black Flag You’ll See Today

A Jog Through The Story of The Origin Of That Black Flag You’ll See Today

If you’ll forgive my click-baity headline, I promise it really will be worth the time. See, I am horrible about not working on holidays. A few years ago, I came up with a technique to try and be a little bit better about it. From time to time I put together an email highlighting a detail from history I found worth remembering, and a few links to read further. I figured this Memorial Day, I’d share.

“It took me four days to find a bad job at low pay” -Newt Heisley, on finding work in advertising.

When I first read that quotation, I knew that the story of the POW/MIA flag had to be a little more exciting than what I’d always heard.

The version of the story I knew growing up, went something like this.

On January 7, 1970, LtCdr. Michael Hoff was launched from the USS Coral Sea as the pilot of a Sidewinder A7A Corsair aircraft. His mission was to perform armed reconnaissance over Laos.

I’m borrowing the in-line quoted portion from here.

You can read more about the aircraft here. (and an image credit.)

The weather in the area was clear and visibility was about 10 miles. Hoff’s aircraft was completing a strafing run near the city of Sepone when Commander Hoff radioed that he had a fire warning light and was going to have to bail out. The flight leader could not see the aircraft at that time. The leader did sight the aircraft just as it impacted in an area which was flat with dense vegetation and high trees.


The pilot of another aircraft reported sighting Hoff’s aircraft below him, when it was approximately 2,000 feet above the ground. The aircraft at that time commenced a roll and, prior to reaching an inverted position, a flash was observed which was initially thought to be the ejection seat leaving the aircraft. Immediately afterwards, the aircraft impacted and exploded. No parachute was seen, nor were emergency transmissions received.

During ensuing search operations, aircraft reported that they received heavy enemy automatic weapons fire. Two aircraft were able to make repeated low passes in the crash area looking for a parachute or survivor, but the results were negative.

As near as I’ve been able to find, it is here that the story of a woman known to readily Googleable history as Mrs. Michael Hoff, begins.

History has questioned Mrs. Hoff’s motives.

(To some she is said to have only noticed around 1971 when one of America’s oldest flagmaking shops, Annin Co published an article in the local press about having recently offered to design a flag for every country in the United Nations. To others, the very idea of the flag is at best an empty gesture of bureaucratic handwringing. I don’t find either of these positions particularly exciting, so I’m not going to mention them again — but I offer the dissenting critiques in the spirit of full disclosure.)

But I like to think that when she reached out to the Annin Co, Norman Rivkees was savvy enough to recognize what a good idea it was.

Military families have long shared in the military’s rich tradition of pageantry. (While it’s too much story for this post, if you’re interested you should check out the story of the Service flag designed by Robert L. Queissner, which pops up in some amazing places.) And Mrs. Hoff was right to note, there simply wasn’t a comparable expression for families who had sacrificed loved ones in service of the contemporary conflict.

According to Annin, Rivkees reached out to a New Jersey shop that as it just so happened had a connection to the service.

The official story from the Congressional Record is below.

Heisley joined the Army Air Force some time after graduating from Syracuse’s fine arts program. At the time of the design of this flag, Heisley was still working for an east coast agency, but sources suggest that by 1972 Heisley had built up enough of a reputation to move to Colorado Springs, Colorado and launch his own boutique shop.

The design is simple, and the three elements have been interpreted by many more qualified critics than I. (And even Heisley’s own words on the story are worth a read.)

The guard tower, the barbed wire and the enfirmed soldier. Even the copy at the bottom of the illustration was drawn from Heisley’s own experience.

Which is precisely what I’m thinking about this Memorial Day. Because while we may think of this flag now in many different ways, it’s origins are one of the most American sort of stories I can think of. The way that Mrs. Hoff thought to contact a flag maker she had learned of reading a paper, that the project landed on the desk of a small advertising agency, that the work was powerful enough to give the designer the freedom he had earned at the end of a long career to start his own shop — that after serving half way across the world, it was that experience and perspective that let him build here, in the great state of Colorado.

That members of three of the most forgotten groups (military spouses, graphic designers, and flag makers) found a way to make use of the talents at their disposal and in doing so were able to accomplish this historically thankless task of acknowledging society’s most forgotten sacrifices is a reminder of our shared responsibility to do what we can with out voice where we are to make our communities more like the places we want to be.

A Jog Through The Only Story of The Origin Of That Black Flag You’ll See A Lot On The Fourth Of… was originally published in Fits About Prints.