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Posted by Karl Taylor on

Team Ann Lewnes Is Crushing It.*

*Even If They Should Be Forming Deeper Relationships With Folks Like Team Mark Brickey.

One of my favorite parts of what I do is getting to answer questions.

I get questions from content creators about infrastructure and getting to the “next level.” I get questions from recruiters looking for help writing role announcements that can attract high-quality technical talent during a time when the landscape is shifting. I get questions from businesses about how to best navigate the complexity of a digital transformation.

But there are some questions, I’ve never quite grown comfortable with enough to “expect.” One such question: “what marketing do you like?”

The trouble with a question like that, is that so many decisions about what work gets to go “live,” happen in a venue that you just don’t have the ability to parse from the outside. Good work gets killed for curious reasons all. the. time.

It’s just hard to make judgments when you don’t have the necessary context.

The question is made even more difficult to answer given the way my role has evolved as we’ve grown. A few years ago, I could spend 100% of my time searching for great work.

I did, too.

The trouble is, as you scale, your attention just has to be drawn towards other directions. One of the easiest ways to “cut through the noise,” is to shift your focus. When you’re competing in a space full of hurried competitors, you want to build your marketing strategy where you know the world is headed.

The digital media landscape is one such battleground.

In part, that’s because clients expect you to demonstrate deep understanding of the space, and aren’t so quick to understand that not every platform you package your business on will be a platform they should present their business on.

This makes a sort of intuitive sense to communications civilians, who I’ve often heard address the phenomena by asking “well, who would buy a workout product from someone who is out of shape!”

Which is precisely why I’ve been so enthralled by the work of Team Ann Lewnes and the wondrous folks at Adobe.

there are worlds of possibility hiding inside of the Adobe product catalog. Breaking into each product line in depth would quickly balloon this post far beyond the “readability” threshold, so I’m going to keep my work “high level.” If you’re curious, however, spend some time exploring the offerings starting here.

The current approach seems to be breaking the offerings up into a handful of different “clouds.”

You’ve got your “Document” cloud including powerful tools for getting deals signed digitally.

That unique selling point lent itself well to becoming a focal point of this delightful spot:

You’ve got the “Experience” cloud, designed to help provide consistent cross-channel interactions, putting an end to troubling customer interactions like this:

(also I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an honorable mention for this delight)

In a recent Forbes interview, Ann explains that everything is content. For many businesses (particularly those undergoing digital transformations) matching that urgency with a measure of attention devoted to asset management is a struggle.

When you’re trying to change the way your business represents itself online, it’s easy to fall into the trap of applying your “old world” processes to new problems.

That’s understandable enough, but it will not and cannot work for long. It’s asking your team who is already struggling to keep from falling behind to take on a series of tasks they really ought to have been addressed further up the organizational ladder.

If, for example, you’re asking your design team to 10x the platforms they’re designing for, are you making arrangements for 10x the reporting debt? If not, can you really blame the team for the emergent reporting bottleneck?

While I’ve picked a “productivity” example to make this point, the truth is that the same temptation to apply the “old” models to the “new” world can result in leaving opportunity on the table, too.

There’s a lot you can learn about how to do this right by studying the work of Team Ann Lewnes — but I want to highlight the details of just one case.

There’s a lot of great things that can be said about this effort by team Daniël Sytsma and the wonderous folks at mcgarrybowen Amesterdam. So much so, that I’m sure a number of teams would have stopped their execution here — content to have made a well received, light hearted spot perfect for an industry that is often anything but.

But for Team Ann Lewnes, it was here that the magic really started.

A few weeks later, Adobe and the fine folks on the mgb team followed up with a solicitation for quotes from art directors they could record and use in an upcoming collectible.

A project like that does more than simply “extend” the cycle of coverage surrounding your spot.

Ask yourself, who might submit a funny quotable from an art director?

People who work underneath and directly above art directors — that’s who!

With a robust email list of in-industry and aspiring talent in that niche, the team has access to some of the best audience targeting capabilities modern marketing platforms can offer.

What can be done to engage those prospects? What can be done to message to an audience of users like those prospects?

How about a series of no-nonsense tutorials each about one specific use case that we can track and develop a greater understanding of the needs of our customer base?

Something like this, perhaps:

Or this:

How do we activate those engaged prospects and turn them into leads?

What about sponsoring a series of in-depth webinars explaining how we made our work and showing our audience how they can do the same?

Perhaps something like this:

Or this:

How do we identify the leads that are marketing qualified: people who are ready to do more than “talk” about what they’re interested in and are ready to get to work?

What about a contest, like this one?

Submission via social with a hashtag?

That’s a pretty clever way of highlighting the unique social listening features that make Adobe Experience Cloud so powerful. It’s a great way to ensure your activity has some inherently social sharing, too.

I think that one of the things that makes marketing marketing such a challenge is that it can feel a little bit like dancing about architecture.

But really, there just aren’t many better ways to show off what you do than having the courage to do it for yourself.

And that’s why I think Team Ann Lewnes is crushing it.

Team Ann Lewnes Is Crushing It.* was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

Why You Need To Pay Attention To Social Engagements.

or:; “How Do We Do Things That Get People To Share Our Promotion!?!?!?!?!?”

What if I were to tell you that there’s one surefire way of increasing your organic share rate on social — and — that the only thing you had to do to get there was to do a bit of math and spend a little money?

Earlier this week, I noticed our instagram reach dropped from 200% to 20%, which told me that the fine folks at Facebook had been making platform changes.

As I’ve worked out the necessary adjustments to our strategy, I’ve had a lot of time to think about one phenomena I’ve never quite understood: the misunderstanding of the value of engagements.

In large part, this is a failing of people like me who ought to be doing a better job of explaining how the part of this industry that isn’t magic works. The trouble is, more often than not, clapping back “What’s the ROI of your mom?” feels easier than taking the time to run through the unique calculus for each business you encounter.

The trouble is, something being “complicated” to “understand,” isn’t the same thing as being impossible to understand.

We all learned it the same way: one step at a time.

Facebook reports a handful of different numbers on a post-level export of data.

The trouble with this is that unless you’re already familiar with the peculiarities of the measurements offered up by the platform, it’s really really easy to miss an insight that could change the way you conduct business on the platform.

One of my favorite examples of a “useful” metric no one seems to know about is “Lifetime People who have liked your Page and engaged with your post.” (In the post level XLS export, this information is generally hiding out around column X.)

Let’s say you have a page with 1,000 likes and a LifetimeLikerEngagedPost # of 31. That means that 3% of the audience of your page has “engaged” with your post.

On Facebook “engagement” signals the creation of a story.

If you’ve ever watched your “recent activity,” (that tiny box above the “chat” dialog) you’ve seen this happen first hand.

Each reaction be it a comment or share pings the network of some percentage of the person doing the activity’s network.

The people you follow the most closely are the same ones who end up in the “top stories” view of your newsfeed. The recent activity tracker (and the “most recent” tab for those who hate reading small boxes/want to waste hours) show you the “firehose” of what’s going on. The activity log shows you precisely what stories you’ve generated as you’ve been browsing the platform.

So, when Facebook tells you that 3% of your audience has engaged with your content, you should be asking yourself another question immediately:

How much of my audience saw my post?

To find that answer, you should look for “Lifetime Post Reach By People Who Like Your Page” (Generally Column U) as well as “Lifetime Post Reach” (Generally Column J)

Let’s pretend you had 459 in column U and 468 in Column J.

You know that 459/1000 likers reached means that half of the audience of your page saw your content — and because you already know you had 31 engagements from page likers, you can work out what that means as a percentage.

You have a 6% engagement rate by people who have liked your page.

You can also compare that number to the % of non-liker engagements.

In the case of our example, the numbers are likely too small to be diagnostically useful but add a 0 to your reach number: they will be.

At this point you might be asking:

“OK, but how do I make the numbers go up?”

The first thing you can do is boost the % of your page audience that saw your post. You can accomplish this by creating an ad targeting people who are connected to your page.

You can further expand on this work by creating an ad that targets people like people who are connected to your page, and friends of people who are connected to your page.

What sort of ad?

Your mix should include a blend of engagement, reach and conversion.

Earlier on, “engagement” will help to cement the social signals that people expect to see on a post when evaluating the validity of a piece of content. Because you’ve already put in the hard work of building a page* you’ve got a readily available targeting source no one else in the world* can access.

  • if you haven’t put in this work, all isn’t lost, but getting engagements as a rando will always take more time/effort/capital to do right.
  • Rand owens has a pretty handy walkthrough of sniping competitor traffic.

When combined with “reach” ads you can encourage the platform to share “suggested” engagements — growing the footprint of your work exponentially as it gathers engagements.

A layer of “conversion” ads allows the platform to do the heavy lifting of looking for users likely to engage with the content for you.

Because you’ve already gone through the effort of building the audience, you should find that the adsets you hit edge out cost and performance metrics when compared to ads that target people who have no relationship to your brand.

This potent approach to looking at what it means when someone engages should help to put you in a position where you can calculate just how valuable any given activity on your page is — but you’ll still need to decide if the math makes sense for your business case.

Why You Need To Pay Attention To Social Engagements. was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Posted by Karl Taylor on

TV Ads Are Endorsements Too, Tho.

I’ve been watching with a great deal of intrigue as practitioners across the landscape of the communications industry struggle to derive tactics and strategies that can meet the spirit of the FTC’s fairly clear guidelines that “material relationships” must be disclosed in a manner that is “clear and conspicuous.”

I should revisit that statement.

I’ve been watching as digital marketing practitioners struggle to derive tactics and strategies that meet these guidelines, and I’ve been shocked to find far fewer voices in communities made up of traditional marketers.

Join me, if you will, in imagining a hypothetical spot that will feel immediately familiar.

There’s a catchy tune playing as we fade in on a close up of a well known chef, sweat rolling down the brow as the camera follows the path of the chef’s arms. We’re next greeted with a pan across a series of knives, followed by a close up of the blade of one knife in particular where a brand logo is visible for the first time. We’re then presented with a bit of knives being used to cut food. vegetables, probably — you know, prep work.

after that we see our chef dashing about the kitchen, flipping pans. we see another cut of knives. we see another cut of chef-ly behavior, another pan across the field of knives and a fade to tag line.

an announcer tells us:

“KNIFEBRAND. For When You’re Ready To Get Serious About Your Cooking.”

I can imagine a number of circumstances where precisely this request comes across the desk of a CD/ACD because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked for it.

I usually just say “no,” but that triggers the “karl is mean” reaction, and so I’m trying to get a little bit better about highlighting the “why.”

Let’s revisit that example.

The hypothetical ad wants us to remember a tag that associates the line of knives with “serious cooking,” and uses the presence of a professional chef to highlight just what is meant by “serious.”

The juxtaposition of shots of knives being used for prep work, the knives themselves and the chef suggest that these things belong together.

Chefs are rather peculiar about the knives they use — and I’ve observed this behavior in every business we’ve worked with across the category. The trouble is, does the chef actually use the knives?

It’s ambiguous.

Would the chef ever use the company’s knives?

No way of knowing.

Did the company pay the chef to claim to use the knives knowing full well that the Chef had a different preference?

That would be sinister, but from the outside, a viewer has no way of knowing.

It doesn’t matter that in our hypothetical ad the chef didn’t say anything, because the implication of the framing was that our Chef used these knives, and, if you’re serious about cooking, you should too.

Why does that matter?

The fine folks at the FTC have an answer.

“Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser. Furthermore, an endorsement may not convey any express or implied representation that would be deceptive if made directly by the advertiser.”

They continue:

“When the advertisement represents that the endorser uses the endorsed product, the endorser must have been a bona fide user of it at the time the endorsement was given. Additionally, the advertiser may continue to run the advertisement only so long as it has good reason to believe that the endorser remains a bona fide user of the product.”

and state:

“An advertiser may use an endorsement of an expert or celebrity only so long as it has good reason to believe that the endorser continues to subscribe to the views presented. An advertiser may satisfy this obligation by securing the endorser’s views at reasonable intervals where reasonableness will be determined by such factors as new information on the performance or effectiveness of the product, a material alteration in the product, changes in the performance of competitors’ products, and the advertiser’s contract commitments.”

Our hypothetical Chef ad would have a few other problems. That’s because:

“Whenever an advertisement represents, directly or by implication, that the endorser is an expert with respect to the endorsement message, then the endorser’s qualifications must in fact give the endorser the expertise that he or she is represented as possessing with respect to the endorsement.”

In our example, we’d have skirted this guidance by selecting a “popular chef,” but that isn’t really accomplishing any work to qualify the credibility of our expert.

Why is that a problem? The FTC once again provides a bit of guidance:

“Although the expert may, in endorsing a product, take into account factors not within his or her expertise (e.g., matters of taste or price), the endorsement must be supported by an actual exercise of that expertise in evaluating product features or characteristics with respect to which he or she is expert and which are relevant to an ordinary consumer’s use of or experience with the product and are available to the ordinary consumer. This evaluation must have included an examination or testing of the product at least as extensive as someone with the same degree of expertise would normally need to conduct in order to support the conclusions presented in the endorsement. To the extent that the advertisement implies that the endorsement was based upon a comparison, such comparison must have been included in the expert’s evaluation; and as a result of such comparison, the expert must have concluded that, with respect to those features on which he or she is expert and which are relevant and available to an ordinary consumer, the endorsed product is at least equal overall to the competitors’ products. Moreover, where the net impression created by the endorsement is that the advertised product is superior to other products with respect to any such feature or features, then the expert must in fact have found such superiority.” (emphasis added)

Now that is not to say that an ad such as this is entirely unworkable. Say we had managed to recruit a chef who actually did use KNIFEBRAND, and had settled on it after years of searching for the perfectly weighted blade.

Pretend our team at KNIFEBRAND kept detailed records on our customer, and we knew that influencer chef frequently wrote in with detailed questions about materials. Pretend that those detailed questions later became part of the customer discovery interview process and that ultimately we decided as a team that it made sense to employ our loyal customer in a marketing capacity.

Pretend that the fine folks on our team at KNIFEBRAND knew that their knife was superior because of a proprietary application of a bit of science — and that the organization kept detailed records about the general applicability of each of the claims our chef had made.

Well, in those circumstances, you could probably imagine a much stronger treatment of the endorsement, couldn’t you?

Generally by the time you’ve gotten to the place where you’re regularly producing spot, you’re working inside of an organization where you already have a legal review capacity — but as startups increasingly incorporate programmatic TV buys in their marketing trenches, we are likely to see an unfair application of enforcement budgets as it’s simply more practical to start online.

Pure speculation, but the 90 day letter sent out to 90+ Influencers is a pretty good indication of where the priorities are. I expect that as we near August we’ll learn more about just how these rules will be put into effect.

While there is certainly a reasonable debate to be had amongst industry professionals and legal experts about the extent to which it’s right to consider a website an “ad,” and what should be done to reign in the copious abuses of the spirit of the regulatory framework readily observed between any block of television content, the agency has put a tremendous amount of work into assembling a rather helpful collection of resources that explain precisely what they think is and isn’t “ok.”

If you’re somewhere along the path of building a business out of the ethereal world of ideas, especially if you are doing so the “old fashioned way” where “labor” is more readily available than “capital,” it’s a good idea to start brushing up (and for that matter, scheduling appropriate conversations with experts who can guide your specific circumstances.)

“where the message is advertising, online disseminators have an obligation to ensure it is not misleading, just as marketers using traditional media do. This includes, when it’s not otherwise clear from the context, identifying when the endorser has a relationship with the marketer.”

Mary K. Engle, Letter to IAB

TV Ads Is Endorsements Too, Tho. was originally published in Multimedia Marketing.