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MITX FutureX Summit - Summer 2020 Recap

Recapping MITX’s FutureX Summit


2020 continues to be a year unlike any other, forcing brands and companies to reexamine their own values and make sharp pivots in the face of public demands. To help make sense of it all, we joined the FutureX Summit to hear marketers, including AMP Agency’s VP of Strategy Greer Pearce, share how they are fostering creativity within remote teams, discuss how advertisers can improve their diversity efforts and cover what trends are on the horizon.

 

Keeping The Creativity At The Kitchen Table

Panel Participants:

-    Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy at AMP Agency

-    Liz Paqette, Director of Brand at Drizly

-    Dustin Devlin, Co-Founder/Creative Director at VAGRANTS

As advertisers, creativity is the foundation of great work. Many of us were drawn to the profession with the promise of a creative environment, impassioned and starry-eyed at the thought of brainstorm sessions backdropped by exposed brick and whiteboard illustrations. Those things are now a distant memory, but the demand for impactful campaigns is as pressing as ever. So how do we cultivate creativity in working environments that are so vastly different from the spaces that we signed up for? Here is what we heard:

Lean into Tech

To start, each speaker agreed that they are now leaning more heavily into tools like Slack, Google docs and video meetings to help foster connectivity between teammates. Greer noted, though, that it’s important to switch things up once video fatigue kicks in. For a change of scenery, she recommends picking up your cell, leaving your home and going on a “walking meeting”. 

Step Away

In fact, getting out of the house is one of the primary ways that Greer finds inspiration. “My space is utilitarian,” she explains, so her creativity is sparked by getting out of the workspace versus attempting to turn it into a creative hub. In the old world, we could happen upon inspiration unexpectedly: on the bus, grabbing lunch down the street, bumping into someone we haven’t seen in a while. Now, we have to be more deliberate about making those moments happen. Set time aside to step away from your working environment, Greer suggests. Your creative side will thank you for it.

Implement Workflow Optimizations  

Thinking positively, Greer also discussed the ways in which working remotely can benefit a company’s workflow. AMP has offices nationwide, and previously, each office held all-staff meetings for that region only. Now, those meetings have merged into one nationwide sync that creates a sense of unity across each region. In Greer’s words, going virtual serves as an “equalizer” across locations, departments and individuals because we’re all experiencing it together.

Reexamine Your Strategy

There are also examples of this “new normal” playing a beneficial role in strategic thinking. For an AMP client in the home storage industry, a marketing campaign was nearly ready to launch when the pandemic hit the mainstream. As countless other brands also experienced, this disruption rendered the original campaign obsolete and the approach needed to be reevaluated through the lens of this “new normal”. The final result was something even more impactful, featuring “real people” in their homes (one of the only ways to safely film content) and leaning into the deeply relatable desire to declutter one’s space during quarantine. 

Strategic thinking demands creativity, which Greer believes everyone should hone. “Just because your title doesn’t say ‘Creative’ doesn’t mean that you’re not creative,” she explains. Everyone in advertising, from producers to designers to strategists, needs to exercise their creative muscles in order to solve complex problems for brands.

That said, with inspiration playing hard-to-get these days, we might just need to look a little more closely for it.

 

Time for Action: How the Digital Marketing Community Can Work Together to Build a Diverse Workforce

Panel Participants:

-    Corean Canty, COO at Goodway Group

-    Melanie Liu, Video Producer at Digitas

-    Noor Naseer, Host/Producer, Adtech Unfiltered and Senior Director of Media Innovations + Technology at Centro

-    Jayme Washington, Founder & CEO at Washtone

Advertising is rooted in an acute understanding of the people that make up our society and creating campaigns that reflect their values. Because of this, advertisers play a crucial role in shaping the way society thinks and behaves. One major problem, though, is that the advertising industry has historically suffered from a lack of diversity in its workforce, with diverse candidates brushed off under the guise of limited talent in those spaces. So how do we break the cycle of non-diverse thinking in advertising?

The first step is education. Before diving in and standing for something you don’t fully understand, Noor explains that brands and individuals need to take a step back and map out their approach. Here are three steps that she recommends taking to foster diversity in the workplace:

Set Intentions 

At the risk of jumping on a bandwagon when diversity is mainstream in conversation, advertisers need to examine why they are interested in championing diversity in the first place. You’ll be better equipped to make an impact once you have a firm understanding of what you want to contribute to the diversity and inclusion conversation.

Turn to Existing Resources

A lot of work has already been done to promote diversity and inclusion, so in many cases, advertisers should turn to the experts instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, Melanie explains that “It’s a marathon not a sprint”, and people who are new to the conversation should be okay with the fact that they won’t have an advanced vocabulary compared to those who have been involved in the conversation for years. To make a bigger impact, seek out experts and industry-specific resources.

Be Proactive

In terms of hiring diverse talent, the work doesn’t start with existing applicants. Companies should reach out to individuals as early as high school to spark interest in advertising. In doing so, they will help foster diverse talent from the start so that companies don’t get to the point where they are rejecting diverse applicants because they don’t have the right skills. Furthermore, Melanie explains that if you are telling yourself that there isn’t enough diverse talent out there, you aren’t looking hard enough. There are numerous organizations dedicated to fostering diversity in advertising, such as Bid Black and Free the Bid to name a few.

It’s easy to think about diversity as a pie chart, but companies “have to understand all of the variables”, Corean explains. The most important part of diversity in the workforce is diverse thought rather than just numbers, so companies need diversity in every department rather than just the organization as a whole. Finally, once diverse talent has been placed, leaders need to create an inclusive environment that encourages them to stay. The first step is here is awareness and ensuring that you can identify your own bias as well as bias within your team.

 

Brands and Social Justice

Panel Participant: Dipanjan Chatterjee, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.

Historically, brands weren’t playing a public role in social justice and most would intentionally shy away from the topic. Clearly things have shifted dramatically, but what’s so different about 2020? Dipanjan Chatterjee tackles this question by examining the “three agents of change”:

A Different Type of Brand 

In the early 2000s, transactional brands like ExxonMobil and Citigroup were king. Now, relationship-driven brands like Apple and Facebook have taken the lead with campaigns and products that evoke emotion. As brands became more humanistic, consumers began to expect something greater than just function.

A Different Type of Consumer

In decades past, brands wouldn’t touch social justice with a ten-foot pole. Now, 60% of consumers expect brands to take a stance on racial justice – a percentage that increases when looking specifically at younger consumers. Based on this, brands will be under increased pressure to champion social justice as the younger generation assumes more buying power.  

A Different Type of Employee

It might not seem this way at first, but employees are more of a stakeholder than customers. That’s because as a brand, virtue signaling might fool your consumer, but it will not fool your employee. Individuals identify themselves with their employer more so than the type of soda they drink or credit card they use, so if an employer doesn't do the right thing those individuals are likely to move on. In fact, 39% of all job seekers have chosen not to pursue a job because of perceived lack of inclusion.

So, how should companies champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Dipanjan’s first piece of advice is to be honest. Most brands have skeletons in the closet, but if they don’t clear them out the brand cannot be credible. Clear the air, get involved, establish values and be true to them moving forward.

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Google Search Trends Insights August 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for August 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. August 2020 Overview In August 2020, many keywords related to politics made the daily top 3 as both the Democrats and Republicans held their National Conventions to elect their candidates for U.S. President. Sports-related phrases made up a higher percentage of the keywords we collected as compared to July. Out of the 93 phrases we collected, 34 were about sports subjects, with the majority related to the NBA and European soccer. Keyword phrases related to the entertainment industry were a popular subject matter with a few movie trailers driving searches. Lastly, August had a few breaking news stories that compelled users to seek more information via Google.     Google Doodles As is typical, many of the keyword phrases that drove over 10 million queries in a day were connected to Google Doodles. These queries are recorded whenever a user clicks on the Doodle and is brought to a result page for the user to learn more about the subject. Vicki Draves - 8/2/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Julius Lothar Meyer - 8/18/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Barbara Hepworth - 8/24/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Vicki Draves was the first Asian American woman to win an Olympic medal, and the Doodle was published to celebrate the day she won gold in the women’s 3-meter springboard event at the London Summer Olympics. Julius Lothar Meyer was a German Chemist who had a hand in developing the periodic table of the chemical elements. The Doodle was in honor of his 190th birthday. Barbara Hepworth was an English abstract sculptor and the Doodle commemorated the day that she established her art studio. Although there is no marketing angle to these types of phrases, it is notable how many queries are driven by users interacting with the Doodle.  Political Queries Since this is a Presidential election year, we are seeing an increase in the number of queries related to US politics making the daily top 3. Here is the list of the most popular ones from last month:  Kamala Harris - 8/10/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Michelle Obama - 8/17/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Steve Bannon - 8/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Kellyanne Conway - 8/23/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Kimberly Guilfoyle - 8/24/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Kamala Harris drove the most queries on the day it was announced she would be Joe Biden’s running mate. Michelle Obama and Kimberly Guilfoyle made the top 3 on the days they made speeches during political conventions. Steve Bannon was arrested for fraud and Kellyann Conway announced that she was leaving her post in the Trump administration. We will continue to monitor phrases related to politics and report if their query volume continues to increase as we get closer to Election Day. Breaking News Topics   As news breaks and people seek more information on topics they learned from other media or from word-of-mouth, queries surge in Google. In August, we had a good number of queries that had over 5 million queries in a day.   Beirut explosion today - 8/4/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Beirut - 8/4/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Kenosha shooting - 8/23/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hurricane Laura - 8/25/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hurricane Laura - 8/26/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries The Beirut explosion drove two queries on the 4th, and we found it interesting to see the search refinement of “explosion today” had more reported volume than the city name. We believe the results returned on the city-name only keyword of “Beirut” were not matching the intent of the query and users were refining their search to find results related to the devastating explosion. The shooting in Kenosha and Hurricane Laura over two days received over 5 million queries. Google continues to be a resource for people to find more information for important news stories. Entertainment Industry Keywords In August 2020, the top queried terms were related to new movies, an awards show, a marriage, and the sad news of actors’ deaths. Wilford Brimley - 8/1/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries The Batman - 8/21/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Batman Trailer - 8/22/2020 - 500,000+ queries Bill and Ted - 8/28/2020 - 500,000+ queries Chadwick Boseman - 8/28/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries VMAs - 8/30/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Niecy Nash - 8/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries The newest Batman reboot’s trailer hit the web last month and made the daily top 3 across two days. The third Bill and Ted film was released in theaters and on video-on-demand platforms.  Usually when we see queries related to films make the daily top 3, it means the film will be successful. We’ll have to wait to see how successful these films are in terms of profitability. MTV’s Video Music Awards are a perennial top query. This year, the awards were a little more popular than they were last year in terms of search volume. Although the awards show saw an increase in 2020, it has been driving less queries over the past 5 shows with a peak in 2016.  The remaining top Entertainment Industry related phrases are driven by celebrity news. Specifically, Niecy Nash got married and users wanted to know more about her nuptials. Lastly, as we have reported in the past, celebrity deaths are big drivers of search queries and the passing of Wilford Brimley and Chadwick Boseman were the most noteworthy last month.   NBA Dominating Sports Queries As stated in the overview, sports-related queries took up a third of our overall list of keywords we captured from Google Trends last month. Of the sports-related keywords, the NBA was a top topic. Here are the phrases related to the NBA from August 2020: Lakers vs Pacers - 8/8/2020 - 200,000 Blazers - 8/13/2020 - 500,000 Grizzlies vs Trail Blazers - 8/15/2020 - 500,000 NBA Playoffs - 8/17/2020 - 1,000,000 Clippers - 8/17/2020 - 500,000 Lakers - 8/18/2020 - 2,000,000 Clippers - 8/19/2020 - 500,000 NBA Draft Lottery - 8/20/2020 - 1,000,000 Lakers - 8/21/2020 - 500,000 Kobe Bryant - 8/22/2020 - 2,000,000 Luka Doncic - 8/22/2020 - 500,000 NBA boycott - 8/26/2020 - 1,000,000 Cliff Robinson - 8/29/2020 - 1,000,000 It’s interesting to note that in August, two other major sports leagues (MLB, NHL) were playing live games. If search query volume can be used as an indication of popularity, the NBA is the most popular of these three leagues. With the NFL kicking off in September, we’ll see how the NBA fares in the daily top 3. Stayed tuned for next month’s article to see for sure. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services,  Until next month.

NETA Digital Marketing Webinar Recap

Our own Samantha Thu, Media Director, recently led a webinar for The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), a professional association representing 277 member public broadcasting stations in 46 states, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. NETA provides leadership, general audience content, educational services, professional development and trusted financial management services, including human resources and benefits administration, to individual public media licensees, their affinity groups and public media as a whole. The focus of the webinar was on today's ever evolving media landscape and examining digital media specifically as it has become an essential element in marketing strategies, esp. for public broadcasting which historically relied on public relations, community outreach and traditional media channels to promote programming, events and fundraising efforts. Many of the stations handle their marketing needs in-house with limited resources and small budgets, with few having the expertise and opportunity to test into paid media.  With limited funding, stations primarily utilized organic social and Google Ad Grants for nonprofit organizations.  The burning question at hand was “where to start?” With nearly 130 registered individuals from various roles ranging from Marketing Operations to Analytics to Communications and Public Relations, the session kicked off with a simple poll to gauge how familiar people were with digital advertising. An overwhelming majority of attendees were not familiar with digital paid media advertising; 80% responded they know enough or a little.  Meanwhile, 50% responded that they handle all digital advertising in-house, with only 2 responses that noted they actually partner with an ad agency for their media efforts. To bring it back to the basics, the development of a digital media strategy was the first topic discussed, covering how to understand and research current media consumption trends, remaining nimble in your channel presence to capitalize on where the eyeballs are and when they are most engaged.  There are key questions that must be addressed to ensure there is alignment with not only goals and objectives, but how this will be accomplished from a targeting, messaging and measurement perspective and the applicable roles and responsibilities within the organization who will be the subject matter experts for each of these focuses. The webinar continued to dive into various buying methods for digital media as many attendees expressed being overwhelmed with the multitude of options out there, such as direct digital buys vs. programmatic, paid social vs. boosted posts, and how to remain current with trending advertising options and find the best ad placements.  A high-level punch list of digital media buying tips included the following: 1.) Start with a general focus Rather than pay for large inventory, advertisers hoping to reach consumers’ interest can bid for the right audience and the right time. Programmatic not only makes ads more relevant to consumers it also helps publishers to sell inventory in a more valuable way for advertisers. 2.) Identify your target As with any advertising strategy, digital or otherwise, marketers need to establish clear objectives and a well-defined target audience. If you have a specific product or service to promote, or if you’re simply trying to amplify brand awareness on social media, you need to make sure that you’re reaching the audiences that are most apt to listen to your message. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. Start by determining demographic data, such as the gender, age, and location of your audience. After gathering that information, you can begin planning how and where to allocate your ad spend. 3.) Prioritize transparency Most digital media buyers don’t bid on blind inventories; you should know where you are running, for brand safety purposes but to also ensure premium content environments. For that reason, it’s important to segment your audience and provide buyers with as much data as possible. 4.) Don’t Overlook Mobile  The behavioral capabilities of programmatic buying technologies are strongly linked to cookies. Which is a problem when it comes to mobile, since there are no cookies on mobile devices. Time on mobile increased 18% in 2019 compared to the previous year and 77% of all Internet time is spent on a Mobile device. This is why it’s important to adapt all creatives to mobile devices before starting your next digital ad campaign. 5.) Identify what ad formats are growing Video generates double the engagement that traditional banner ads generate but typically come at a higher price (CPM). Even interstitial ads (advertisements that temporarily take up an entire device’s screen) have average bidding prices that are 60% higher than those of banner ads. Banner ads are one of the cheapest inventory and most prevalent formats in digital media. In addition to their creative capabilities, new and more captivating ad formats like dynamic creatives, can be programmatically delivered to the user in real time. 6.) Maximize Impact with Optimizations One reason to consider digital is because of the real-time tracking and reporting capabilities, unlike anything in traditional media. These functions give you the data needed to determine if your campaign is successful and when to make changes.  Optimization is the real-time process of viewing and analyzing advertising campaign metrics, such as impressions, CTR or conversions and then making changes to the campaign in order to improve the results. The nature of print makes campaign optimization a long-term process, if not an impossible one. But in the online world, it’s not only feasible, it’s expected. So marketers must plan time and resources into the ongoing campaign for optimization. While there isn’t a golden rule for determining when the right time is for making changes to your campaign, the move to optimize should always be informed by metrics. To wrap up the presentation, the benefits of utilizing a media agency were covered; while these highlights may be bias coming from a Media Director, subject matter experts do add value and intangible benefits to an organization trying to get a handle on an ever-changing landscape.  

How To Create Voice Marketing Strategy For Brands

Many brands are beginning to look at how they can express their brands through voice apps. With the maturing of voice to text technology and the growing prevalence of voice activated devices in our homes and pockets, the time is now to create a voice marketing strategy. In this article, we discuss the steps a brand can take to best express itself through a voice experience and explore some real-world examples.  How To Create a Voice Marketing Strategy At its core, a voice marketing strategy is defining how a brand can reach its audience as they interface with voice-enabled technology.  To set up this strategy, three main areas need to be discussed and understood.   A brand should have a good sense of how their audience is using voice technology in their day to day.  Knowing what the audience is seeking via voice queries or commands will help to shape the brand’s strategy.   A brand should understand what part of its overall marketing and/or communication strategy would work well on voice-enabled technology. If there is information that has been deemed important in other marketing channels  to deliver to the audience that can be satisfied by answering natural language questions, this type of communication may be a good candidate for a part of a voice marketing strategy.   A brand should bring to light any part of the marketing strategy that would fit in the unique format of a voice-enabled experience. Using the framework of voice technology can provide brands with new touchpoints to increase and strengthen audience engagements. Examples of Voice Marketing Strategies In Action Brands often find inspiration for their own strategy (or counterstrategy) by reviewing other applications already in the marketplace. Here are some examples of voice strategies in action.  Voice Marketing In Customer Service Voice assistants by definition are set up to “listen” for input from someone asking a question or stating a command and providing a response through the interpretation of that input. Backed up with AI, voice enabled technology can provide great support for your brand’s customer care unit.  They can handle many of the frequently asked questions from your audience, providing quick answers when needed. Typically designed as chatbots, these applications can improve your brand’s efficiency and productivity.  Since they can be available 24/7. Voice enabled services can provide helpful services to your audience whenever they need them. Chatbots can save up to 30% in customer support cost and can help businesses save on customer service costs by speeding up response times and answering up to 80% of routine questions.  In addition to the efficiency that comes from the speed of answers and “always-on” services, the audience queries can be used to create helpful content in other areas to improve customer relations in other brand touchpoints. Voice Marketing In Search Optimizing your website for voice activated searches is becoming more important than ever as more people use devices with Google Assistant by speaking their queries. Most often, a featured snippet in Google’s search result is the answer to a voiced query. Featured snippets appear at the top of organic results and receive an 8.6% click through rate.  Conducting research on natural question queries that are related to your brand is the first step for voice search.  Once you have a list of query targets, you can use a tool like SEMRush to see which of those queries trigger a featured snippet result.  From there, you can make changes to your site so that your site’s information is presented in that spot of Google results; therefore, putting your brand’s content as the script that Google reads back to the person who asked the query. Some of the changes to the site you can make include creating bullet point lists that answer natural language questions succinctly.  Beyond this initial strategy, brands who are focused on a voice search marketing strategy make a plan to create pages that are designed to quickly answer important audience questions as they discover them through analyzing their site’s data and audience surveys. Voice Marketing In Applications Brands are developing applications that are made available on marketplaces such as Google and Amazon. Each of these marketplaces have different names for the applications that live on their platforms - Skills are for Alexa and Actions are for Google.  These applications are stand-alone entities and can be used to expand the brand’s reach in new ways. Many voice apps provide information that compliments the products they sell like Tide with their app that has advice for removing 200 different kinds of stains or Patron Tequila’s app that has personalized cocktail recipes. Other apps like Domino’s allows people to order a pizza and get it delivered to them with a voice command. The landscape for voice apps is still in its early stages and is ripe for innovation for brands that want to take advantage of this new frontier. Voice-enabled devices and applications can provide brands with another intimate touchpoint to reach and engage their target audience.  AMP Agency can assist any brand that is looking to create their voice marketing strategy along with developing and implementing a plan to make it come to life.