The Next Big Ad Innovation: Stop Stealing My Time

by Lizzie Widhelm, Senior Vice President, Ad Product Sales & Strategy, Pandora

I think about time, all of the time. With a busy career, spouse and three young sons, I often feel like I have very little of it. So little, in fact, that I’m relentless about choosing who and what gets my attention.

Do I sound like anyone you know? The quest for time and attention is a hot topic in our households as well as every marketing meeting. Now more than ever, consumers are taking control of their time, so capturing it has become exceedingly difficult for brands. They want attention but it’s not surrendered easily.

The last decade has been a boom-town for content that does capture attention. Time spent on linear, appointment-based viewing and broadcast listening has been replaced with more personalized, choice-based content. Share of ear is moving away from broadcast radio to streaming music platforms; share of video viewing is moving away from TV to on-demand services; some would even say our social time is moving away from real life to social networks like Snapchat and Instagram.

We all have the ability to discover and personalize the content we consume. The only problem is the advertising experience has not kept pace. Many publishers still choose to create more inventory by increasing ads and the number of ways they’re served. The worst offenders place ads on top of entertainment content, training young generations to completely disregard and avoid.

The Solution: Earn Quality Time by Giving Back Control
I joke that my job at Pandora is to take something very special and not ruin it. Nearly 80 million listeners spend 24 hours a month tuned in to Pandora, enjoying their favorite music. That’s a level of time and attention almost unheard of in digital media. But music isn’t all they’re listening to. They also hear ads, which is the oxygen that keeps our service free and available anytime, anywhere.

Our challenge today is the same as when Pandora first started: how do we integrate ads without disrupting time and attention?

We’ve learned that consumers need to have a sense of control–or at least influence–over how brands interact with them. Unwanted interruptions and intrusive, bothersome ads are no longer acceptable. A recent Millward Brown study confirmed that users are nearly 4X more receptive to brand messages when they have control over the ad experience1.

But the truth is consumers don’t always feel like they have control, which is why ad blocking is such a hot topic in the industry right now. Recent eMarketer estimates show that a quarter of internet users (26%) have ad blockers enabled on their devices2. While this is concerning for the industry, the reasons are exactly what you’d expect. According to a recent Facebook survey, people use ad blockers to “stop annoying, disruptive ads” 3.

Publishers Must Respond With Better Offerings
The good news is that this movement to give users more control is already here. Publishers are offering better ad products, more sophisticated targeting and improved ad serving methods. Facebook recently improved the relevancy of their ads by offering users more tools to control the experience3. Similarly, Google announced changes to the way it collects data to result “in more personalized ads by connecting data across products and devices”4. Even news publications, like The Economist and Financial Times made headlines last year with guaranteed, time-based ad models.

When a user can authentically express intent towards a brand, engagement, attention and resonance follow naturally. This is the future of advertising.

We recently embraced this new future at Pandora by announcing new features on our ad-supported service. For the first time ever, listeners can unlock additional skips and replays by engaging with 15 seconds of video ads. This is the latest iteration in an ongoing effort to give both listeners and advertisers more control and flexibility. Advertisers not only get to support an enhanced listening experience, but they also connect with more deeply engaged listeners. With this approach, users will no longer feel the need to avoid advertising. In fact, it’ll be just the opposite.

At Pandora, we adhere to the philosophy that “what is good for the listener, is good for the advertiser.” I’m happy to see the industry adopt a similar mindset, responding with solutions that put more control in people’s hands, while creating a better user experience.

Yes, the struggle for time and attention is real, but smart solutions that capture attention for brands are equally as real–so long as an organization is willing to stop stealing time and start giving back control. I promise, it will only improve performance for your brands. As for gaining more time at home, I’m still accepting suggestions…

Sources:
1 Millward Brown, “AdReaction: Video Creative in a Digital World,” October 2015
2 eMarketer, US Ad Blocking Users and Penetration, June 2016
3 Facebook Newsroom, “A New Way to Control the Ads You See on Facebook, and an Update on Ad Blocking,” August 2016
4 AdWeek, “Google Wants to Give You Better Control Over the Personalized Ads You See,” July 2016


Join Lizzie Widhelm and other advertising innovators as they are inducted into the Advertising Hall of Achievement on November 15 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. Learn more and register here.


About the Author

Lizzie Widhelm, Senior Vice President, Ad Product Strategy, Pandora

 

Lizzie WidhelmLizzie Widhelm is a storyteller. She believes that good stories and good conversations make lives better. People want to build meaningful connections with other people. The desire for those connections extends to products and brands. For Widhelm, advertising is the ability to have those conversations, to tell those stories. Facilitating those conversations through music is a career-defining passion, combining the rhythm of great songs with the heartbeat of great advertising. The earliest stories of our time were told through music, and today a great and vast generation of consumers is changing the rules and its attention span.

Today, as the Senior Vice President of Ad Product Sales and Strategy for Pandora, the go-to music source for fans and artists, Widhelm brings ad products to life that enable marketers to tell their stories and build connections with consumers. She has been with Pandora since the company’s formative moments over a decade ago. Throughout her time at Pandora, she has built not only ad products, but also an industry-leading company with her focus, tenacity, and unparalleled passion for advertising.

As Pandora has grown, Widhelm has proven she can do anything and everything — sometimes all at once. She started at Pandora as the company’s very first salesperson, selling “digital audio”…a product that no one had ever heard of. After cracking accounts with some of the most prominent advertisers in the country, Widhelm became Pandora’s Vice President of West Coast Sales and Vice President of National Entertainment Sales, driving Pandora’s success with entertainment, film, and TV advertisers. Next, she was Vice President of Digital where she was responsible for Pandora’s digital advertising positioning and oversaw the advertising sales strategy team. Widhelm has continued to rise and has seen more success thanks to her unique understanding of Pandora’s listeners and how to translate listener insights into engaging products and campaigns for advertisers.

Prior to Pandora, she worked with startups such as Broadband Enterprises and game companies (iWin, Uproar, and Flipside) before and subsequent to their sale to Vivendi Universal. Widhelm received a bachelor’s of science in finance and accounting from the University of Arizona. Outside of work, she enjoys being a mother to three wild boys and a wife to her loving husband Ben.

Follow Widhelm on Twitter: @LizzieWidhelm.

Two Lessons From the Road: Never Get Comfortable and Always Look Up the Hill

I’ve worked for the same company for 14 years.  Crazy, right?  When you start early at such a dynamic company like PepsiCo, it’s hard to make a change.  But, it’s more than that.  Throughout those 14 years, I can honestly say I’ve transformed.  And I’ve had to because the company and industry have moved so fast.  It’s been exciting to run, or in my case, cycle, at that pace.  I’ve been an avid cyclist for many years, so I tend to appreciate high velocity.  I’m inspired daily by my colleagues, who are pushing the beverage category and consumer marketing to the next level.  This is why, 14 years later, it still feels just as exciting as it did in the beginning.

So, that got me thinking about the keys to create a culture within a company that inspires and encourages transformation.  What have I learned from my own career path at PepsiCo and my passion for being an ever-evolving employee?  It’s interesting — two lessons that immediately came to mind are also true in cycling; never get comfortable in the saddle and always look up the hill.

Never Get Comfortable

Think about it: Nearly 10 years ago, the idea of Twitter — using 140 characters to communicate in real-time — was not even on the radar.  Fast-forward to today and you can’t imagine life without it.  Actually, I just became more focused on my own social media, and as a non-digital native, I’ve really had to push myself to jump in and not be afraid.

In today’s environment of 24/7 connectivity and real-time communication across multiple platforms, we need to constantly transform the way we speak to our fans.  We’re not only finding innovative and unique ways to engage with them, but to give them one-of-a-kind experiences unlike anything they’ve seen before.  The truth is, we don’t have all the answers and not everything we do will be 100% perfect.  However, we’re taking risks, we’re learning and we’re evolving our marketing practices to make products and programs even better for the future.

Speaking of “future” … Whether it’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Back to the Future” with the limited-edition release of Pepsi Perfect like we did in October or tapping into moments that focus on the happiness that Aquafina brings your body after consumption with our “For Happy Bodies” campaign, we’re always looking for new ways to bring people closer to our products in organic ways.

Always Look Up the Hill

Consumers think and act differently today, which means we need to pay close attention.  For more than two decades we’ve transformed the products we offer, expanding beyond our iconic soft drink brands to give consumers choices for every lifestyle and occasion, including tea, water, sports drinks, ready-to-drink coffees and premium juices.  Why?  Because we’re listening to consumers’ needs and then creating products around those needs.  If we don’t, we’re not staying ahead of the game.

We’re also transforming by building teams of individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets and passion areas who are capable to make this ride; together, they experiment, they explore, they push the boundaries and facilitate change.  For example, our Creator group explores the edges of culture to co-create innovative experiences such as the Pepsi Art Dome at the recent Voodoo Music and Arts Experience in New Orleans.

There’s no telling what changes will happen next.  But as the saying goes, the only thing that is constant is change.  And that’s what makes it fun.  At PepsiCo North America Beverages, we’re all in for the ride.  And like our consumers, we’ll keep on transforming.


You can hear more from Seth Kaufman at AAF’s Digital Conference in Chicago, IL! Learn more and register here.


About the Author

Seth Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo North America Beverages

Seth Kaufman, PepsiCo

Seth Kaufman is the Chief Marketing Officer for PepsiCo North America Beverages (NAB), where he leads the holistic business, brand and consumer agenda across the company’s beverage portfolio in North America. This includes popular and iconic brands such as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Aquafina, Lipton iced teas, Sierra Mist and Starbucks ready-to-drink iced coffees. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Achievement in 2015 and will deliver the opening keynote on February 16 at the Edge Effect: Media Meets Technology in Advertising conference in Chicago. Prior to his current role, Kaufman served as Senior Vice President of Pepsi and NAB’s Flavor Portfolio and before this, he was Vice President/General Manager of the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between PepsiCo and Starbucks.

Kaufman received his Bachelor of Science in Television, Radio & Film Management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and his MBA from The Ross School of Business at The University of Michigan. He is a Board of Trustee member for the Immune Deficiency Foundation, is an avid cyclist and lives in Northern NJ with his wife Faith and their daughters Emma, Noa and Samone.

Follow Kaufman on Twitter: @SethAKaufman.

Seth Kaufman, PepsiCo to Keynote AAF’s Digital Conference

Seth Kaufman, PepsiCo to Keynote AAF’s Digital Conference

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 9, 2015)—Today, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) announced that Seth Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer for PepsiCo North America Beverages  will deliver the opening keynote for AAF’s Digital Conference, Edge Effect: Media Meets Technology in Advertising.

The conference will bring together Senior- to Executive-level marketing, advertising, advertising technology and media professionals from major brands, agencies and media companies to address important topics emerging out of the shift to advertising technology and its uses across industries. The powerful line-up of speakers, preceded by Kaufman, will explore topics, such as best practices and business models for brands onboarding new technologies for advertising in “Brands As the New VC’s,” what we can power and create with technology in advertising in “Truth, Lies & Advertising Technology,” what a tech-driven future looks like in a Fireside Chat and the role of video in the future of digital advertising with AOL. Through keynotes and exclusive one-on-one networking sessions with AOL, Pandora, Starcom MediaVest Group, Yahoo! and other industry pioneers, the conference will deliver an enriching and unique experience for attendees.

“Our industry is on the brink of a complete overhaul in the way we do business with consumers and each other,” said Kaufman. “This conference will provide an important look at how we need to navigate the intersection of traditional media and innovative technology to create an integrated, consumer-relevant, cross-platform media model to drive our businesses forward.”

Seth Kaufman is the Chief Marketing Officer for PepsiCo North America Beverages (NAB), where he leads the holistic business, brand and consumer agenda across the company’s beverage portfolio in North America. This includes popular and iconic brands such as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Aquafina, Lipton iced teas, Sierra Mist and Starbucks ready-to-drink iced coffees. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Achievement earlier this fall in Los Angeles, CA. Prior to his current role, Kaufman served as Senior Vice President of Pepsi and NAB’s Flavor Portfolio and before this, he was Vice President/General Manager of the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between PepsiCo and Starbucks.

Edge Effect’s speaker line-up and supporting participants promises to provide attendees with the most powerful content and highly coveted networking opportunities. Session speakers include Jim Norton, SVP, Global Head of Media Sales, AOLStarcom MediaVest Group; Gui Borchert, Creative Director, 72andSunny; Heidi Browning, SVP, Strategic Solutions, Pandora, Ron Young, Founder & CEO, Shocase, Inc.; and Marcy Samet, EVP, Global Chief Growth Officer, MRM//McCann. Lunch round table discussions will provide premium ticket holders with the opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversations with influential brands, such as 72andSunny, CMO.com, Heat, MRM//McCann, Pandora, Shocase, Inc., and Zocalo Group.

Edge Effect: Media Meets Technology in Advertising will take place on February 16, 2016 in Chicago, IL. Tickets are now on sale with limited quantity, premium tickets and discounted rates available. Sponsorship opportunities are still available and can be found here.

To learn more about participating in this conference, please contact cungar@aaf.org.


 About the American Advertising Federation

The American Advertising Federation (AAF), the nation’s oldest national advertising trade association, and the only association representing all facets of the advertising industry, is headquartered in Washington, DC, and acts as the “Unifying Voice for Advertising.” The AAF’s membership is comprised of nearly 100 blue chip corporate members comprising the nation’s leading advertisers, advertising agencies, and media companies; a national network of nearly 200 local clubs representing 40,000 advertising professionals; and more than 200 AAF college chapters with more than 5,000 student members. The AAF operates a host of programs and initiatives including the Advertising Hall of Fame, the American Advertising Awards, the National Student Advertising Competition, the Mosaic Center on Multiculturalism, and summer AdCamps for high school students. For more information on the full range of AAF programming, visit membership.aaf.org. For the latest news and updates, connect with us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Interview with Emmanuel Seuge of The Coca-Cola Company

emmanuel

2013 Advertising Hall of Achievement Interview: Emmanuel Seuge, Vice President, Global Alliances and Ventures, The Coca-Cola Company

In 1997, Emmanuel Seuge, then 21 years old, took a break between his fourth and fifth years at the École Supérieure de Commerce business school in Paris to complete a yearlong marketing internship with Coca-Cola. Emmanuel, a Paris native, helped with the beverage giant’s marketing push for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.

Early in your career you managed to combine two of your greatest passions, football and marketing, and spawn what must have been a vastly rewarding opportunity. When did you begin to develop a passion for marketing?

Very early. Even though I was born in Paris, I grew up in the US in the early 80′s. This was the time where Nike started to use [Michael] Jordan in their advertising; I remember very well understanding the role that this had in me asking my mom to buy my first pair of Nike shoes–and from them, I stayed very interested in brands. So very naturally when I had to chose a major in business school in Paris I chose marketing strategy. I think it’s easier to act as a marketer for a brand that you love and admire to a certain extent. I have been a fan of Coca-Cola since I was a young child so for me joining Coke after school was a unique opportunity, and everyday I remind myself of the honor it represents to work on a brand that generations of marketers have worked on successfully in the past 127 years.

What was it that attracted you to a career in marketing? Was it the opportunity to reach large audiences, the psychology of consumer engagement or something more?

Innovation is what attracts me to the field of marketing. Progress and the art of inventing new things and finding new needs that consumers might not be aware of is the most exciting part to me. I believe powerful marketing can change people’s lives. Nothing less!

What are your thoughts on the disruption vs. distraction paradigm? How can we toe the line between ads which enhance the overall experience, and those which take away from it?

Today’s world is so cluttered, content for communication needs to be meaningful, genuine and extremely well targeted to the consumer in order to have an impact. Disruption only makes sense if you’re trying to capture the consumer in a different way or ensure that you put their mind in a different kind of setting to be receptive to the message. Advertising for the sake of advertising in today’s world doesn’t mean anything—it’s just apiece of the bigger puzzle. At Coca-Cola we often speak about Earned, Paid, Owned and Shared media. Finding the right balance of these media to engage our consumers is key. Marketing today is about the right message in the right occasion with the right media.  Disruption, even if powerful, done at the wrong moment or with the wrong media will come unnoticed. 

Where did you draw the inspiration for launching Marketing Ventures for Coca-Cola, and how does someone in your position, or any position in this industry, put aside thoughts of failure and avoid making business decisions based on fear?

Partnerships have always been at the core of how we operate and grow as a company. The marketing venture work came out of a belief that we needed to evolve the way we think about partnerships. When our chairman announced our company’sambition to double the size of our business by 2020, we knew we would need to capture growth in a new way. The world of start-ups became quickly an inspiration for their ability to act fast, nimble, creatively, fail and get back up fast and we thought it would make sense for us to partner with these young entrepreneurs to address some of our key business needs. With our venture partnerships, we are able to bring our marketingreach and scale to the table, and the risks we take are rewarded by the equity we take in these companies. I believe that when you operate in a risk taking culture, it decreases your fear of failure.

We have now 5 start ups with which we have a venture partnership with including Spotify, Backplane and MisfitWearables.

Can you tell us a little about Coca-Cola’s relationship with Spotify? How did that develop and what sort of marketing tactics have you deployed to create a mutually beneficial partnership?

We began our partnership with Spotify to address a core business need to better engage our younger audience. We wanted to connect with our consumers on a daily basis and there is no better way to do that than to leverage music. Wherever you go around the world, teens listen to music every single day. Daniel Ek, the founder of Spotify, often speaks about making music available for free to over 500 Million people, making it completely accessible. We want to help them in that journey and that is why in any market that Spotify enters, we are at their side and put our marketing in motion to promote this service and offering. We recently launched together in Mexico and it is today the most successful streaming platform in the country.

We also want to enhance the Spotify experience by creating specific programs. This year we launched Placelists, an app that allows people to align songs and places and make connections with their friends, and we are launching something similar around the World Cup.

Sports, music and film are three universally adored mediums that can be adapted across language barriers and appeal to large audiences. Marketing platforms on the other hand, are not always so universal. Gaps in technology advancement, differing social platforms, government interference, and other factors must make it difficult for a globally minded person like yourself to develop such broad and ubiquitous branding campaigns. What sort of challenges have YOU faced, and how have you managed to overcome them?

That is the beauty of working with a global organization. At the core, we are a global company that is operated locally. We build our global programs with insights from our markets to make sure our campaigns are locally relevant. We create global programs that are 60-70% finished, and then markets put a localized layer on top of it. More and more our global programs are really co-created with the local teams and the worldwide consumer passion for sports, music, gaming, the Olympics, the World Cup and others allows us to have a global reach and connect with people on a global level. We had over 100 markets activate the Olympics for London and we will have over 180 markets amplifying our “World’s Cup” Campaign for the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

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Interview with Tara Walpert Levy of Google & YouTube

TaraWalpertLevy2013 Advertising Hall of Achievement Interview: Tara Walpert Levy, Managing Director, Ads Marketing, Google & YouTube

Tara Walpert Levy brings 17 years of experience to Google, where she leads Ads Marketing for Google and YouTube. In this role, she is responsible for the company’s communications and market development for Google and YouTube’s advertising offerings, globally. On Tuesday, November 5th, Tara will be inducted, along with six others, into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement.

You came to Google with a passion to bridge the digital divide. In the past two years, have traditional advertisers and technology companies been able to close the gap at all? What sort of improvements have you seen?

When I came to Google a few years ago, Mary Meeker was still showing the significant gap between the time people spent on digital and the attention marketers gave to the medium.  Time spent on digital was more than twice the budget brands were allocating. Since that time, the two are much closer to parity, so the gap is closing!

The traditional and digital worlds have evolved from fighting over which way is best to learning to take the best from each other. Digital marketing today retains a lot more of the beauty and insight of traditional creative than it did two years ago. Traditional marketers are using substantially more data and insights to influence their online and offline efforts than they did before.

So, the challenge today is less about bridging the divide and more about helping every marketer get the most out of the web. How to take advantage of the elements of digital that make it unique – the ability to reach a passionate audience, to tell your brand story in the most amazing ways, and to drive deeper engagement through participation. The big winners at Cannes the last few years have all taken this to heart – brands like Nike and Dove. But doing this at scale requires changes to organizational approach, to campaign strategy, and to measuring impact.

There’s no playbook; that’s the challenge. But the brands who are investing today in figuring out how to build their brands and businesses in a different way are the ones who in 3-5 years will have a competitive advantage others can’t catch. They will be to brand building what Amazon and Ebay were to SEM.  And hopefully we will have been a part of  to make the web work for them.

You’ve been spending a lot of time with YouTube lately. As head of B2B marketing for YouTube, what sort of information are you presenting to advertisers to convince them that digital is more than a secondary medium?

Honestly, I’m not sure we have to convince most marketers that digital is more than a secondary medium anymore. Most top brands have a deep understanding of their consumers’ evolving behavior and their shift to constant connectivity. We check our phones an average of 110 times a day. We move across devices 90% of the time before accomplishing a task. Marketers get that, and understand the importance of being where their customers are.

Honestly, I’m not sure we have to convince most marketers that digital is more than a secondary medium anymore.

One of the challenges that pops up though is when marketers themselves are not using the platforms their customers are using. Marketing at the end of the day is often personal. I love ESPN, so I understand advertising on ESPN. I use Facebook so I understand how to advertise on Facebook. But when there’s a disconnect between user behavior and marketer’s personal behavior, you often see a bigger lag. YouTube is a great example of this. It reaches more 18-34 year olds than any cable network, but many marketers can’t name more than one YouTube channel, if that.

So, our challenge is helping marketers understand an experience that can be foreign to them, and understand content that doesn’t look like the content they grew up watching, even though millions of people spend billions of hours watching it every month. Tools like our quarterly report, YouTube Insights, or our weekly content digest, YouTube Re:View, aim to make it easier for marketers to “get it” if they’re not naturally drawn to the platform.

You’re a proponent of engagement over exposure, and you have said that the brands who buy into this philosophy will be the ones that come out on top. As leaders and prime examples of success in this industry, what have both Google and YouTube done, or what are they doing now, to put this into practice?

That one’s easy – Google was built on this principle. Here’s a quick test, to see if you agree. How did you hear about Google? Was it a TV ad? A billboard? No, it was almost certainly originally by word of mouth from passionate super-fans. In fact, Google didn’t run its first ad on TV until just a few years ago. Google was built by super-serving a core group of people, and then using the resulting insights and advocacy to grow out from there.

It’s not just Google who has used this approach successfully, btw. Think about many of the hot brands of the past 15 years: Amazon, AirBnB, Chipotle, Warby Parker. These are brands who grew up in a time when participatory, engagement-driven media were available, and that’s where they naturally gravitated because they had no legacy to overcome. Brands with longer history are now doing the same – think Nike, Samsung, P&G – but it’s harder because it’s a bigger change.

To be clear, this isn’t about digital vs. TV, or even engagement vs. exposure. It’s about a prioritization and sequencing. It’s about answering the question “what would my media plan look like if engagement were my top objective?” Exposure is still important, and most brands will still benefit from a mixture of both traditional and digital media, but what we find is that by asking that simple question, a light bulb goes off and marketers start thinking about things differently. It’s about engaged reach, vs simply reach alone.

I could bore you for pages about all the thinking on this, but it’s probably easier to check out our collection of articles from industry leaders at the Engagement Project.

What are your thoughts on the whole “disruption vs. distraction” paradigm? How can we toe the line between ads which enhance user experience, and those which take away from it?

There’s an easy way to determine which ads create value for users and which ones don’t; let people choose whether to watch or engage with your ad. At Google, we believe deeply in the power of choice. Search began by allowing for user choice and favoring the results that users choose the most often. It creates better value for users because the results that get clicked on the most rise to the top, and it creates value for marketers because they only pay to get interested parties. We’ve now extended that philosophy to video and display. Already more than 75% of the advertising on YouTube is choice based.

We believe most advertising will be choice-based in the near future.

We believe most advertising will be choice-based in the near future. In many ways, it already is. People are already making a choice by DVRing, picking up phones, or just ignoring. The difference is, by building choice deliberately into the ad mechanism, brands can benefit by not paying for un-interested users – and by gaining insights on what interests people and what doesn’t. And as for users, they benefit because the tension between disruption and distraction will slowly fade away.

Google has always been a leader in data insights, but Creative Sandbox (part of Google’s Think Insights platform) shows off a completely different side to the company. What challenges (if any) did this foray into creative present to a company so built on numbers and algorithms?

Ha, that’s funny.  It’s true, it’s taken us some time to understand and embrace the art of marketing with the same passion we did the science. But there’s nothing like a convert! We’ve definitely come to embrace the value of combining traditional and new approaches to make it easier for brands to do what they’re trying to do in the simplest, smartest, most compelling ways.

Creative Sandbox was one of the first examples of how we celebrated creativity and data coming together for marketers. Check out Art, Copy and Code, a series of experiments to re-imagine advertising for some of our latest thinking that really pushes the boundaries of what’s possible.

What these efforts have taught us is that marketers value Google not only as a place to be relevant and precise and insights-driven, but also as a place to tell beautiful, seamless stories.  The ability to take a creative idea and bring it to life in formats that are native to the experience, direct to the consumer, unfettered by typical creative constraints, across each of the moments that matter to people as they go about their day is pretty unique.  And as brands’ stories matter to people more than ever, there are incredible opportunities to offer content people value as core to how they live their lives.

And for those who still aren’t “feeling it” from a visceral, emotional standpoint? Well, we just show them the data on the difference seamless storytelling can make!

Can you tell us which industry trends or concepts you are most intrigued with currently? Where is digital headed in 2014-15?

Well, there’s always the hot buttons of social, mobile, and local. The evolution of the web to be much more visual and the unprecedented access to video. Those are important trends and platforms to understand. But what excites me most are the opportunities these trends create. Trends like these mean that people are constantly connected and as a result, we as marketers can be part of people’s lives at more of the moments that matter.

As both a marketer and a consumer, I’m excited to see a move toward greater value – to creating significant utility for people through marketing. Let’s face it, we are very good at ignoring things that aren’t interesting to us, and technology has only made it easier to tune out. This forces us as marketers to think about not only how we will get in front of people, but why they should listen, care, and respond. It’s helping us to raise our game.

As devices become more personal – first it was the phone, soon it will be glasses, watches, and other wearable technology – marketing can become more personal. 100 years ago, brands and marketing were intensely personal. It was the relationship between a merchant and his customers. Then the broadcast age came along, and the relationship with our customers became more distant, as communications went from 2 way to 1 way. We now have the opportunity to bring back that personal touch, at scale.

Finally, digital has brought us into the participation age. It’s a return to two way engagement. To knowing the customer, listening and responding to their needs and interests. To helping them be part of the conversation. A dialogue is much more exciting than a monologue.

These are the things that make me hurry to work every morning.

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