Our Marketing Blog

Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.

Backyard Games To Remain Popular Post-COVID

In times of social distancing, how can we still connect with friends and play sports and games? We looked to Google Trends to find out which backyard games were more than just a COVID fad. We found that both cornhole and pickleball saw highs in search volume in the summer of 2020, and we predict that they will continue to trend up in 2021. Pickleball Pickleball had a spike in the summer months of 2020 and continues to rise in popularity through April 2021. According to Google Trends, the keyword “pickleball” had its highest search interest over the past 5 years in late April/Early May 2021. Users were mostly interested in the rules of the game and how to play. Some of the most popular pickleball keywords and questions were: Keyword April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 pickleball 246,000+ queries 201,000+ queries 550,000+ queries what is pickleball 22,200+ queries 18,100+ queries 60,500+ queries how to play pickleball 6,600+ queries 8,100+ queries 18,100+ queries pickleball court near me 6,600+ queries 6,600+ queries 40,500+ queries how to score in pickleball 320+ queries 390+ queries 880+ queries   Cornhole Looking at Google Trends over the last 5 years, we’ve seen seasonal spikes for cornhole searches in the summer months. However, cornhole saw its largest search interest in June 2020. As of the end of May 2021, this trend looks like it will continue – and potentially even pass – the volume of searches that we saw in 2020.  Keyword April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 cornhole 110,000+ queries 135,000+ queries 135,000+ queries how to make cornhole boards 5,400+ queries 18,100+ queries 8,100+ queries how to make cornhole bags 1,300+ queries 4,400+ queries 1,900+ queries bean bag toss 12,100+ queries 14,800+ queries 9,900+ queries custom cornhole board 8,100+ queries 12,100+ queries 14,800+ queries Yard Games Lastly, we found that people were searching for yard games in general, which may have led them to find cornhole or pickleball if they were previously unaware. Consumers were searching for any ways they could get outside and have some fun while social distancing. Some of the most popular keywords related to yard games we found were: Keyword April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 yard games 18,100+ queries 33,100+ queries 22,200+ queries lawn games 9,900+ queries 14,800+ queries 14,800+ queries backyard games 8,100+ queries 22,200+ queries 14,800+ queries backyard sports 1,900+ queries 6,600+ queries 2,900+ queries diy yard games 1,000+ queries 1,900+ queries 720+ queries   Game On What may have started out as a socially-distant, at-home activity novelty in the summer of 2020 has progressed into a behavioral change. These backyard games and sports have taken on a life of their own as more people become aware of the fun that could be had in their own yards. Will this trend continue beyond 2021? We can’t say for certain; but as for this summer, the popularity of these backyard games is increasing. Like how we pulled these insights from search data? Learn more about our SEO agency services.

Google Search Trends Insights March 2021

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 March 2021. 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. The Cruelest Month Is March We know that T.S. Eliot, in his poem “The Waste Land”, stated that April is cruelest month, but we beg to differ–and we aren’t the only ones. Here in the Northeastern part of the USA, winter sticks around too long and the thought of being cooped up in the house for another month is enough to make us loathe March. Last year, the lockdown started in March, so we can add to the list of bad stuff that happens in this month. Luckily, there were more things to distract us this year, like The Grammys, movie releases and NCAA basketball. Let’s take a look at what drove people to search last month. Here are the top Google Trends keywords of March 2021, as analyzed by AMP Agency. March 13th - Wha’ Happened? March is so cruel, Google Trends skipped a day. For some reason, Google Trends didn’t post any information for Saturday, March 13th. There appears to have been a glitch that lasted over 24 hours. From the screenshot, you can see that March 14th was also affected. Typically, for any date, the top 20 phrases are posted in the Trending Searches module. On the 14th, only the top 5 were reported. It’s a good thing we don’t use Google Trends in place of our calendar because we would be at least a day behind while writing this article.   Coming In Like A Lion Along with the March 13th glitch, we had a doubled query count on the first of the month. Dr. Seuss - 3/1/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dr. Seuss - 3/1/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries The announcement from Dr. Seuss Enterprises stating that they will stop publishing six of its books did stir users to search for more information but we’re not sure why this query had to be published twice. March is so cruel. What Keywords Were Searched The Most in March There were four phrases that drove over 10 million queries in March 2021.  Texas - 3/2/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Meghan Markle - 3/7/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries St. Patrick's Day - 3/16/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Spring season - 3/19/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Texas was hit with extremely cold temperatures and massive power outages in the beginning of March. The Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was quite the bombshell and people wanted to learn more about it. This interview drove a number of related phrases that will be examined in the next section. The other two phrases were driven by Google Doodles where clicks on the altered logo are registered as queries.  About That Oprah Interview As stated, the Oprah Interview had some lasting effects in the daily top 3 most searched keywords: Meghan Markle - 3/3/2021 - 200,000+ queries Piers Morgan - 3/8/2021 - 500,000+ queries CBS Oprah interview - 3/8/2021 - 500,000+ queries Piers Morgan - 3/9/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Piersmorgan - 3/10/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Before the interview aired, Meghan Markle was in the news because an investigation was started into her alleged bullying of two personal assistants that forced them to leave their positions. After the interview aired, the UK broadcaster Piers Morgan reacted to the story Good Morning Britain, which led to him walking off the set and quitting the show. Other Holiday Queries St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of Spring were the most popular dates, driven by Google Doodles. Here’s the list of the other top searched March holiday related keywords. International Women's Day - 3/7/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries St. Patrick's Day 2021 - 3/16/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries St. Patrick's Day - 3/16/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Leprechaun - 3/17/2021 - 200,000+ queries April Fools pranks - 3/31/2021 - 500,000+ queries International Women’s Day gained in search popularity year over year. Looking at the 5 year trend, there were more searches for the holiday in 2021 than in 2020 and 2019. AMP Agency celebrated the day this year and you can read more about it in this post. Entertainment There were a few movies that were released during March 2021 that made the daily top 3. Also, the Grammys were held last month, which is unusual because they are typically held in late January or early February. Raya and the Last Dragon - 3/5/2021 - 500,000+ queries Coming to America 2 - 3/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Grammys 2021 - 3/15/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Justice League Snyder Cut - 3/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Godzilla vs Kong - 3/31/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries The four movies that are listed above had the highest search volumes in the month of March. We like to use the search interest in films on their opening days as an indication of how many people are going to watch, either in theaters or at home. It’s curious that Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon did not make the 2 million plus query mark.  The 63rd annual Grammy Awards reportedly had less than half the audience tune in to watch the show live in 2021 vs. 2020.  The search volume was down year over year but not by 50%: According to the same reports, streaming of the event was up 83%. From our search data analysis, it appears that audience interest in the awards show is down but not dramatically so. Politics Thankfully, with no raid on the Capitol or impeachment trial this month, there were much fewer keywords related to politics making the daily top 3 in March 2021.  Kyrsten Sinema - 3/5/2021 - 500,000+ queries Covid relief bill - 3/10/2021 - 200,000+ queries Matt Gaetz - 3/30/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries The senior United States Senator from Arizona made headlines with her vote on the minimum wage bill last month. The H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 became law on the 11th and the announcement that Matt Gaetz is facing an inquiry from the Justice Department made headlines on the 30th. NCAA Basketball We guess they don’t call it March Madness for nothing. The NCAA Basketball tournament was back this year and queries related to it took up a lot of the top 3 this month. Check out the timeline of these 15 keyword phrases as the tourney progressed. Michigan basketball - 3/12/2021 - 200,000+ queries March Madness 2021 - 3/14/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries NCAA Tournament - 3/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Oral Roberts - 3/19/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Syracuse basketball - 3/19/2021 - 500,000+ queries Abilene Christian - 3/20/2021 - 500,000+ queries VCU basketball - 3/20/2021 - 500,000+ queries Oral Roberts - 3/21/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Illinois basketball - 3/21/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Michigan basketball - 3/22/2021 - 500,000+ queries Oral Roberts - 3/27/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Syracuse basketball - 3/27/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Alabama Basketball - 3/28/2021 - 500,000+ queries Gonzaga basketball - 3/28/2021 - 200,000+ queries UCLA basketball - 3/30/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries The maddest thing about the tournament? The champion isn’t crowned until April. We’ll have to wait until the next article to discuss it. So cruel. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.

The Intersection of Relationships and Empathy in PR and Influencer Marketing

The Intersection of Relationships and Empathy in PR and Influencer Marketing The nature of the job for public relations professional and influencer is to inform, drive and capitalize upon trends and insights, but the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the tumultuous political landscape in 2020 resulted in a re-evaluation of how we approach important conversations and relationships with media contacts, influencer partners and all of their respective audiences, and that is bleeding into how we march forward in 2021. Understanding the intersection of new and continued relationships and cognitive empathy will drive success in 2021 across all marketing disciplines, especially within the public relations and influencer marketing world. Here are five important pillars that reflect what we learned and applied throughout the course of last year, and how it can help move brands forward: Build Solid Foundations for Trust Whether it’s in developing trust with new press contacts or influencer partners, the first step to truly building a solid foundation for trust is demonstrating an understanding of workload and being transparent surrounding your goals or those of your clients. This can be accomplished from the very beginning by developing a thought-out program brief outlining everything from content usage and timeline requirements or even priority storylines to help streamline any work that needs to be completed on the partners’ end. These first steps serve as a kicking off point for continued conversations and a mutual understanding that their time is valuable, ultimately gaining points and trust with any type of partner. Utilize Shared Experiences and Values While it can be difficult to break through to new contacts, what better way to get someone’s attention than to start up a conversation about a shared experience or value you may hold? Perhaps you recently saw an article pointing to a product or service you chose to try thanks to the very media contact you’re reaching out to, then mention that. Or maybe you saw the influencer you’re working to secure visited that donut shop you’ve been meaning to try—use that as a starting point for your potential relationship. Utilizing shared experiences and values is an approach that can humanize the person behind the email and show a media contact or influencer that you took the time to be thoughtful in your engagement with them. Prioritize Personalized Communications In 2020, it became blatantly clear that pitching products or generically conducting outreach to influencers just wasn’t enough anymore, not when there was so much noise to break through across all industries. On top of that, media newsrooms shrunk dramatically, making it more difficult, and even more important, to prioritize personalized communication. Dedicating time to researching each and every media contact and influencer, followed by tailored outreach, is a sure way to balance the messaging you’re trying to get across while also remaining human and showing that you’ve paid attention. An example would be to put yourself in the shoes of an influencer partner you’re trying to reach who you know just recently had a new baby. How would you approach communication with someone that likely has a lot on their plate but would benefit from a partnership with the brand you’re representing? Prioritize a hyper-personalized note that will mutually help you gain perspective on their current situation while also educating them on how you’re here to potentially help make their every day easier. Understand Transparency Openness, clear communication and accountability all factor into understanding transparency, and ensuring this pillar is a part of all relationships you curate is paramount. When it comes to any media or influencer relationship, being up front and clear about your goals, expectations and preferred outcomes helps guide conversations and educates both you and your contact. As it pertains to influencers, we found it was particularly important to be in tune with upcoming local and national events to appropriately communicate any needs to shift posting dates. Being empathetic and mindful of the larger cultural atmosphere ensures that both the brand and the partner do not risk coming off as tone deaf during a sensitive time. Develop Genuine Long-Term Humanized Relationships Once a solid foundation is built and trust has been established, development of that genuine long-term humanized relationship isn’t as difficult as it might seem. At the end of the day, behind every screen is a person, just like you, curious and happy to be asked about their day or their recommendation for a fun at-home activity they recently enjoyed. Staying in tune to what is happening in the media or influencer’s life can be a great way to do this, i.e. sending flowers for an engagement or sharing condolences on a recent loss. Authentic and continued empathy is the key to developing genuine long-term humanized relationships. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that people like to be acknowledged for their work and capabilities, but through a humanized lens. Finding the right intersection between new and current relationships and cognitive empathy has the legs to make anyone a great communicator, not just a skilled public relations or influencer marketer. When we put people at the center of our business we are all better together and can prioritize a listening first approach to further foster unconventional ideas that will grow brands.

Top 10 Takeaways From The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer

2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Reveals Brand Leaders Expected to Take Lead on Social Issues Each year, global communications firm Edelman releases its Trust Barometer — a survey-driven report of how trusted governments, NGOs, businesses, and media are around the world. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer draws on survey responses from 33,000 individuals in 28 countries. It reveals insights about both the general population (ages 18+) and informed public (college-educated, ages 25-64, in the top 25% of household income in their country’s age group). This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer notably uncovers a growing distrust of government in the U.S. and China, and increased expectations for business leaders. Here are 10 key takeaways for brands, marketers, and advertisers: Business is more trusted than government, NGOs, and media in 18 of 27 countries surveyed. Community organizations, local leaders, and scientists are more trusted than government leaders, religious leaders, journalists, and CEOs. CEO credibility has dramatically declined in India, Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina, Russia, France, and Japan during the past year. Trust in search engines, traditional media, owned media, and social media has declined. People are placing more importance on information literacy. 68% of those surveyed believe CEOs should step in when the government does not fix societal problems. 66% think CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for the government to impose change on them. 65% believe CEOs should hold themselves accountable to the public and not just to the board of directors or stockholders. 86% expect CEOs to speak out publicly about one or more of these societal changes: pandemic impact, job automation, societal issues, and local community issues. 68% agree that consumers should have the power to force corporations to change. So what does this mean for your brand? With consumer trust in business and expectations for brand leaders steadily rising, it is essential that you understand how to build trust with your audience. Read on to learn how you can inspire confidence and loyalty among your current and potential customers.   Get involved with grassroots organizations that your community cares about. Partner with local non-profits, small businesses, and community leaders to engage with social causes that matter to your audience. Make sure you’re reaching out to organizations and influencers who can authentically connect with your brand. For example, during International Women’s Month,  AMP helped create PUMA’s “Do You” campaign, which sparks conversation around female empowerment. The campaign features professional basketball player Skylar Diggins-Smith and New York City Ballet principal dancer Lauren Lovette, athletes who volunteer with programs that uplift young women. When you have a great brand-cause and brand-influencer fit like this, authenticity is sure to follow. Invest in influencer partnerships. According to Business Insider, brands are projected to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. And that’s no surprise given that 1 in 5 Gen Zers and millennials in the U.S. and UK makes purchases inspired by influencer or celebrity social media posts, as evidenced by a 2019 survey from GlobalWebIndex. Influencer partnerships are so much more than the stereotypical pastel aesthetics and travel photos we often associate them with. They are powerful resources that can humanize a brand and give your company access to a devoted, loyal fanbase. And fortunately, influencers are not one size fits all. Smaller companies might consider micro influencers (1K to 100K followers) or nano-influencers (under 1K followers), who have the power to attract niche audiences on a lower budget. You don’t need a Hadid sister to make a splash in this industry!  Be transparent and hold your brand accountable. It is no longer enough for brands to exclusively talk about their products and services. Consumers want to know that the companies they buy from have values that resonate with their own. In fact, up to 83% of millennials say it’s important to them to buy from companies that align with their beliefs and values, per the 5W PR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report. When you’re planning your marketing strategy for the 2021-2022 year, consider how and where your brand might appropriately express its values. Which social media platforms are your customers most present on? Which current events are they following? Keep in mind that what matters to the average Gen Z customer may be different from what the average baby boomer cares about. Research and relevancy are essential. Diversify your workforce. Representation among brand leadership teams has been a hot topic this past year. A new Instagram account called True Colors highlights the lack of diversity among top brand leadership by re-imagining logos based on the whiteness of their leadership teams. Beyond enriching your brand with new ideas, skills, and perspectives, diversifying your workforce can also improve your standing with consumers. In fact, 38% of consumers are more likely to trust brands that do well with showing diversity in their ads, according to a 2019 Adobe research report. Creating nuanced, inclusive representation in your marketing requires diverse leadership and supporting teams. Consider who your audience is and who is creating their ads. It may take time to increase diversity among your brand’s teams, but it’s an effort well worth making. Click here to discover more insights from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. And remember, with great brand, comes great responsibility.

How Social Media Saved Us & Brands in 2020

Despite a difficult year, we made it through 2020 with the help of playful distractions like memes, dance crazes, and viral challenges. Oftentimes, brands want to tap into these cultural phenomenons in order to humanize their voice on social media. Marketers frequently question, 'How does a trend become a viral success?' and, 'Who creates these trends?'. Let's take a look at the various key players that come together to create these trends and learn how your brand can capitalize on them and join the conversation. The Innovator If we think of social media challenges holistically, the template is always the same: innovators create the idea, influencers make it popular, and the rest of the social community joins the trend. By definition, an innovator is ‘a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products’ In every viral equation, there needs to be an innovator to help spark an idea/challenge.  The innovator is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle when it comes to viral trends. For example, Renegade creator Jalaiah Hermon had the most prominent dance on the internet in 2020, but most users didn't even know who she was. Unfortunately, content creators are often not given credit for their original ideas and are seemingly left in the dust. However, that isn't always the case; skateboarder Nathan Apodaca quickly rose to fame when his Ocean Spray video went viral, and others recreated the video with their own flare.    The Influencer Spark Influencers help set the standard of "cool" within the digital world and help push the innovators' ideas in front of fans. TikTok influencer Charli D'Amelio was named ‘C.E.O.’ of the different dances similar to the dance craze Renegade, which she popularized.  If the concept is unique and interesting, other influencers and celebs will begin to jump onto the new craze. Once a trend becomes popular, users recreate the template with small differences while always keeping the overall idea the same. During the pandemic, the ‘Don't Rush Challenge' became very popular amongst all different audiences - make-up artists, celebrities, students, and more. Less than a month later, the ‘Wipe it Down Challenge’ went viral; both of these concepts had the exact same template with small variations.  Brands and Trends Being authentic on social media will encourage consumers to follow, engage, and ultimately purchase products, assuming that's the end goal. Consumers align their personal values to those of brands. Once brand values are established, a fundamental building block for brands is to showcase their personality through their content – tapping into cultural trends is a great way to humanize themselves. From a brand perspective, capitalizing on viral trends shouldn't be a hard selling point but instead, a chance to connect with your audience and showcase your brand's personality. In the summer of 2020, Twitter began to flag misleading messages about COVID-19 and the 2020 Election with 'This claim is disputed' warnings. After the Election, the disputed claim Tweet type evolved into a popular trend on the platform. Brands like Oreo, Burger King, and Maruchan saw an opportunity to participate in the pop culture conversation and added humor to the political trend. Viral memes are also a great way to highlight the brands' wit and humor. Just For Men participated in the ‘How it Started vs. How it's Going,’ and it showcased the brand's growth, wittiness, and personality. A brand can even use pop culture to sell a product when it feels native to the platform. For example, Invisalign used a soundbite from a popular viral video to help promote its product.  All things considered, this doesn't mean that every viral trend is an opportunity for a brand to enter the conversation. Sometimes jumping into a conversation that isn't authentic to your brand will feel forced by consumers; for example, in 2014, DiGiorno accidentally used the hashtag ‘#WhyIStayed,’ which was about domestic violence. Prior to your brand joining a viral trend, consider the following questions: 1) Will this feel authentic to the brand's audience? 2) Can this help support the brand's values and develop the brand's personality? 3) What value will this content add to the social media space for your brand? 4) Is this the appropriate social channel for the brand? 5) Is this something you should test into first before diving in? And lastly, remember to have fun and tag the innovator to give them credit for their work!

AMP Agency Client Eastern Bank Wins 8 MarCom Awards

Congratulations to our client and partner Eastern Bank for winning 8 total MarCom awards for their important Color & Capital For Good campaign, an initiative dedicated to closing Boston’s racial wealth gap. The Eastern Bank campaign won seven platinum awards and one gold award.  Platinum awards:  Digital Media | Social Media | 209c. Social Campaign Digital Media | Social Media | 210c. Social Ad Campaign Digital Media | Social Media | 211c. Social Engagement Digital Media | Social Media | 213. Social Content Digital Media | Social Media | 222. Influencer Content Strategic Communications | Marketing/Promotion Campaign | 147c. Digital Marketing Strategic Communications | Marketing/Promotion Campaign | 152c. Special Event Gold awards:  Digital Media | Social Media | 214. Social Video The campaign asked people to rally around Black and Latinx communities and join them in working to help close the racial wealth gap and achieve racial equity.  Learn more about the campaign and check out some of the awesome work here. Eastern Bank also took home 3 MarCom awards in 2019 for their “Join Us For Good” campaign that encouraged people to join them in protecting the rights of transgender people in Massachusetts.

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Oct. 19, 2020

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER SHARES INSIGHTS INTO HOW PEOPLE ARE COMMUNICATING DURING COVID-19 The team from Twitter UK has sought to provide some insight on this in their latest infographic, which looks not only at key conversation trends but also how brands can adapt their messaging in line with the same. Read more TWITTER ANNOUNCES NEW ELECTION INTEGRITY MEASURES AS WE HEAD INTO THE FINAL WEEKS OF THE US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN Twitter has announced a range of new measures designed to stop the spread of misinformation, including significant design changes that have been built into the tweet process, which should prompt users to think twice before amplifying certain messages. Learn more SNAPCHAT SOUNDS ROLLS OUT GLOBALLY WITH AN EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW OF JUSTIN BIEBER’S NEW SONG Snapchat globally rolled out its answer to TikTok and Instagram Reels Thursday, Snapchat Sounds, after testing the feature in Australia and New Zealand since August. Read more SONG STUCK IN YOUR HEAD? JUST HUM TO SEARCH Starting today, you can hum, whistle or sing a melody to Google to solve your earworm. On your mobile device, open the latest version of the Google app or find your Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say “what's this song?” or click the “Search a song” button. Learn more That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

Digital Sports Activations In The COVID Era And Beyond

Whistles blow (then are quickly sanitized), sneakers screech an ex-ballroom-parquet, and broadcasters emphatically argue a holding call from thousands of miles away, but sports are back. As it has with many other industries, COVID has spurred innovation and creative problem solving this summer in the sports world, leading to the delivery of some atypical but surprisingly engaging broadcast demonstrations.  Just as in-game atmospheres have grown with the times (gone is the cigarette-smoke filled old Boston Garden where an NHL player once beat a fan with his own shoe), so too must the elements of broadcast.  And while look and feel may be different, the canvas for marketers to engage with fans and generate value for brands is now more expansive than ever. A Jumping Off Point Professional leagues around the world have done everything in their power to prevent their products from appearing lonely and silent - most leaning into digital enhancements.  When the Premier League returned in May, producers borrowed audio stems from the FIFA video game to add crowd noise to make broadcasts feel more natural (and drown out mouthy players). A few months later the NBA followed with an even bolder auditory demonstration and virtual fans lining the (branded) courtside.  The MLB is serving digital display ads in foul territory and even the pitcher’s mound.  And the NHL has filled its two bubble arenas with “mega screens” meticulously developed to serve an immersive visual experience with 12 new camera angles (NHL).  These new opportunities will only offer more creativity in the space, which has already seen its fair share of genius. Why Should Advertisers Get in the Game? AMP published an article in May postulating about what the COVID sports solutions would look like and raising the question of whether $2.5B in lost ad dollars could be saved in a condensed fall slate.  While we don’t yet have an answer, brands, properties, and talent alike have reached into their respective bags of tricks to try and make the most of the circumstances.  But what makes the sports world such a valuable platform for advertisers?  The answer is quite simple: a captive audience.  In the "olden times" four TV stations with a few hit shows dominated the airwaves.  Viewers needed to be in their seats at 8pm sharp, millions locked into their favorite program at the same time guffawing at Marcia Brady.  A marketer’s dream.  Today’s content consumer, however, is able to tune in and out of a Pandora's box of entertainment options, flying through ads on their favorite pre-recorded sitcom, and deftly transitioning from Hulu show to Twitter video during an ad break. Sports are considered to be a last bastion of the engaged, connected viewer.  These events must be watched live, else one risks water cooler ostracization.  The connection between viewer and  competition also creates an especially powerful association with partners and sponsors who share the screen with a fan’s favorite players and teams. Furthermore, sports highlights are gluttonously consumed long after a game’s result is known.  This is especially true as more leagues allow their content to be freely shared on YouTube and Instagram in an effort to make their products more accessible to an interconnected global audience. The benefit to marketers is not immaterial, as stadium display assets, logos, and broadcast clips will likely serve millions of additional impressions after the final whistle. Making The Most of Playing Time Smart digital players can find a multitude of ROI opportunities across the sports industry value chain -- A fan watching Tuesday night's game will likely be simultaneously following along the conversation on twitter, bleacher report, and fantasy sports apps.  74% of fans under 35 watch sports on a smart device and 66% use mobile apps to supplement gameplay with additional content according to Immersiv.  These individuals are engrossed in a vast ecosystem of fandom, and marketers can add immense value to brands and customers alike when they can seamlessly offer relevant content and facilitate relationships across these platforms.  According to research from Cap Gemini, 70% of fans say emerging technologies have enhanced their overall viewing experience and 92% say if they enjoyed their tech experience, they would spend more on online subscriptions. Brands that embrace this digital transformation will create economic benefits and acquire high LTV consumers while powering a new chapter of fandom. These multi-device aficionados are the future of sports/entertainment consumption: introducing a “second screen” creates more dynamic broadcast opportunities and enlightens new formats and fan interactions that blur the line between advertising and content. Data points towards a desire for new types of engagement as well -- Tech Radar research indicates that four out of five consumers expect their sports streaming platform to offer “different” ad experiences.  Advertisers have begun to find native opportunities in the “Last 5 Minutes Presented by Rocket Mortgage” or “Free Throws sponsored by Alaska Airlines” (a logo & broadcast deal with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm that will also donate one million airline miles to the “Free Throws for the Future” program benefitting various youth organizations), but there is a blue ocean of non-disruptive creative activations.  When messages are integrated into the broadcast and serve to present, rather than interrupt, brands are able to avoid such negative correlations, and even embed themselves into the popular culture lexicon.  Sports viewers also understand the financial importance of advertising to their favorite clubs, and the positive correlation these deals (both broadcast and sponsorship) have with their team’s ability to pay the most talented players.  Increasingly, sports gambling plays a part in the viewing experience, which only enhances the need to see every second live.  These activities also shorten the psychological distance between sporting event and commercial transaction, and thus purchase intent -- this may open the door even more for brands to tie in offers natively to the vast ecosystem of a sports fan’s content consumption. Because of this inherent value to sports marketing, the vertical has been a hub of digital invention for years and is now entering a new era thanks to advancements in technology and a rapidly changing entertainment environment.  The best of such concoctions, whether they be from brands, teams, or leagues put user experience first and allow personalization and control for every fan’s unique preferences.  More connected, fluid viewer engagement can only lead to better leads and customer relationships for sponsorships and advertisers, creating a space where incentives are aligned to make fandom ever more exciting.  Best In Show Here are 4 cases from the past decade that showcase exemplary digital marketing activations in sports, and some postulation of what we can learn from these efforts. Burger King & Stevenage FC https://www.sportbible.com/australia/football-gaming-news-burger-kings-genius-marketing-strategy-to-team-up-with-stevenage-20200924 On Saturday evenings, Broadhall Way lights up for 2,700 supporters to watch Stevenage Football Club play League 2 football.  Nestled into the borough of Hertfordshire 29 miles north of London, the team currently sits a respectable 5th in the table, and would be largely unknown to the general population had it not been for a prescient $50,000 shirt sponsorship investment from Burger King in 2019.   Why would a brand invest (admittedly frugally compared to Fly Emirates $70M deal with Real Madrid) in such a property?  For digital marketing purposes of course.  Knowing their logo could be served to many more if gamers in the much anticipated FIFA 20 release chose to play as Stevenage, Burger King devised a campaign to invigorate a sizeable portion of the 10 million FIFA 2020 players to choose to compete with the club: The #StevenageChallenge was born, a promotion in which gamers unlocked special Burger King deals & prizes, such as “A Nutmeg for Nuggets,” when they shared highlights of their goals using the club on Twitter.  The effort became a viral sensation as bloggers and casual gamers alike delighted in “vundergoals” from their new unlikely heroes.  During the week-long campaign over 25,000 goals were shared, the club became the most used team in Career Mode and on Twitch (serving exponentially more impressions), and for the first time in club history, team shirts sold out (The Sun).  This activation showcases the mutually beneficial relationship brands and sports properties can have. Matisse Thybulle – Brand Building Through Content The 3 and D specialist from Philly was a rookie on the court, but a clear veteran of digital media off of it.  His masterfully edited YouTube series on life in the NBA bubble was an instantaneous viral success.  Thybulle’s videos invited viewers to an intimate behind-the-scenes of NBA life in Disney World, and profoundly catalogued many of the invaluable discussions happening around the NBA’s continued support in the fight for racial justice.  Matisse was the MC of the NBA world to millions who tuned into his channel to experience a season unlike any other.  This position grew his brand immensely (although he had already begun to turn heads as a Tik-Tok extraordinaire), landing him a (distanced) interview on Jimmy Kimmel, and setting up a new series of videos about life away from the team during the off-season.  Matisse is an incredibly gifted natural storyteller and videographer, but athletes everywhere can, and have taken note (see copycats in the NHL and elsewhere in the NBA) of how to use these platforms and their positions as community leaders to share their experiences and raise awareness about important issues. MLB Road to The Show In 2013 AMP Agency supported Playstation’s effort to own Opening Day.  The campaign began months before the season opener, however, with a simulated season, projections, and highlights to spur debate among ultra fan "seam-heads” about BABIP regression and wRC+.  Geotargeted "hype" videos for each team, powered by the game's graphics engine, gave fans the opportunity to share highlights before a single pitch was thrown, and a real-time content studio during Opening Day games distributed celebration footage for the victors to share and bask in. The activation culminated in the creation of lifelike digital baseball cards for influencers on Vine which were shared out the next day to command attention and expand the network of impressions after the games. Unibet Live Odds and Match Insights Sports fans are some of the most knowledgeable data junkies out there.  Ever since “Moneyball” led to the proliferation of quantifiable performance metrics, major sports leagues and teams have invested heavily in real-time movement data collection, not just for teams to make personnel decisions, but to share with interested fans via broadcasts and beyond, in no small part due to the potential gambling applications.  Message boards are filled with spreadsheets painstakingly created to analyze exit velocity patterns or player impact estimates, and fans happily spend hours consuming such investigations to base their wagers on.  Unibet taps into this knowledge-seeking endeavor by using display advertising that engages in a real-time data conversation with the customer.  Especially with sports gambling, the odd data anomaly and hint at arbitrage spawns an instantaneous interest.  A simple click thru to Unibet’s Match Insights widget then presents access to an entire sports data suite, a persuasive tool to convert this user into a new Unibet customer. Orlando Magic App Even in the pre-COVID era, sunny Orlando was also a hub for the NBA’s inventive digital capacities.  In 2014 the Magic launched the Fast Break Pass (a tiered monthly ticketing subscription program as opposed to single game/season ticket packages) along with an advanced mobile app developed by VenueNext that gave fans more choice and personalization than ever before.  Through the app, individuals can upgrade their seats in-game, use location tracking to receive turn-for-turn directions within the stadium, order in-seat concessions, and convert unused tickets into “Magic Money” for concessions, merchandise, and even parking.  A whopping 90% of season ticket holders use features of the app, which allows the team to personalize communications and distribute demographically relevant and timely offers to each of these valuable fans.  That platform is also a meaningful advertising platform and drove $500k in ad sales in 2016 to FanDuel and Sun Pass (Florida’s prepaid toll program).  This model is also used by the NFL’s San Francisco 49’ers, who sold $750k of advertising packages to eSurance during the 2014 season according to Mobile Sports Report.  These numbers have likely grown in the years since as usage expands. Now What? Now that we’re all thoroughly convinced of the efficacy of digital sports activations, here are some parting learnings to inspire your 2021 campaigns: Real Recognize Real -- Giving something of standalone value (chicken nuggets) as opposed to worthless trinkets (think branded foam fingers) can drive user participation.  Keep customer lifetime value and acquisition costs in mind.  Leverage the Nuances of Each Platform -- A knowledge of customer usage patterns is imperative.  Brands must know why the consumer is there in the first place if they are to communicate productively.  Free agency news is almost always broken on Twitter while trick shots are gobbled up on Tik Tok.  Not only does it inform the context in which a brand meets a consumer, but it also can indicate the type of advertising fans are likely to partake in: Challenges on Tik Tok, hashtags on Twitter, and photo-sharing to Instagram.  Campaigns should always be tailored to take advantage of the network effects specific to each desired action. Remember the Game -- The best digital sports activations are based on the endemic capacity for sports to exhilarate and connect.  If an activation does not involve the thrill of victory, agony of defeat, or inspire a collective pride you may have wasted your $$$.  These emotions are hard to construct in the commercial world, so do your best to harness that passion!

Eastern Bank: 2020 Shorty Social Good Award Finalist

A big congratulations to our client and partner Eastern Bank for being a Shorty Social Good Awards finalist in the Best in Financial Services category for their important Color & Capital For Good campaign, an initiative dedicated to closing Boston’s racial wealth gap.  The campaign asked people to rally around Black and Latinx communities and join them in working to help close the racial wealth gap.  Learn more about the campaign and check out some of the awesome work here, and check out Adweek’s announcement for the full list of finalists for the fifth annual Shorty Social Good Awards. The Color & Capital For Good campaign also won 8 MarCom awards. Eastern Bank also won an audience honor in last year’s Shorty Award show in the LGBTQ Community Engagement category for their “Join Us For Good” campaign that encouraged people to join them in protecting the rights of transgender people in Massachusetts. Check out our strategy, creative & social media services to learn more.

We Are Zillow’s Digital Agency - AMP Agency

It’s Official: We’re Zillow’s Digital Agency If you’ve ever gone apartment hunting or simply enjoy scoping out homes on the market, then you probably have some familiarity with Zillow.  As the leading online real estate and rental marketplace, Zillow is transforming how people buy, sell and rent homes by creating virtually seamless real estate transactions for today's on-demand customer. With such prominence in the real estate category, we couldn’t be more excited to announce that we’ve been named Zillow’s digital agency. The Pitch Before the Partnership This opportunity to work with Zillow was by no means a casual one. We had to earn it by proving our agency’s capabilities. So, we participated in a four-month-long competitive pitch process managed by Mercer Island Group, a business management consultancy based in Washington. An abundance of hard work undoubtedly went into those four months, but in the end it all paid off. “The AMP Agency team is the right digital agency at this critical point in time for the Zillow Group,” noted Robin Boehler, founding partner of Mercer Island Group. “They bring exceptional technical expertise, strong strategy and creative capabilities, and are the perfect culture fit for this innovative market leading client.” Rolling into Our New Role This new partnership comes at a time when Zillow is evolving from a search-and-find platform to an end-to-end real estate transaction company. That’s why as we work to support Zillow in this digital transformation, our efforts at AMP will be focused on customer experience strategy, design and personalization. “Zillow has committed to dramatically expanding their business and creating innovative customer offerings going forward, which is why we sensed a natural fit early in the process of earning this account,” says Gary Colen, Chief Executive Officer at AMP Agency. “It is an exciting time to be working with Zillow as we support their formidable business goals.” Now, the Hard Work Begins With our partnership in place and Zillow’s business goals top-of-mind, we’re ready to help Zillow transform the way people buy, sell and rent homes. “Zillow is in the midst of a significant, transformative chapter in our company’s history as we move to make it easier for people to buy, sell, rent and finance homes,” says Aimee Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at Zillow Group. “The customer is our North Star and the AMP team has a proven track record of delivering creative and meaningful customer experiences, all while working in complex and evolving conditions. We’re excited about what our new partnership can achieve, together.” https://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/zillow-sends-digital-to-amp-agency/162572/ https://lbbonline.com/news/zillow-names-amp-agency-as-digital-agency/ https://adage.com/article/agency-brief/tbwaworldhealths-social-media-stories-reveal-disturbing-healthcare-discrimination-against-black/2241461 https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/347761/zillow-taps-amp-to-handle-digital-duties.html

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