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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

Strengthen Consumer Engagement Through Ad Tech and Marketing Collaboration

In today’s always-connected, on-demand digital world, consumers can choose where and how they get their media, like never before. This creates a big challenge, as brands need a constant stream of content to address their audience’s needs. However, it also opens new opportunities for marketers to establish stronger personal relationships between brands and consumers.

Brands need to be prepared to engage with their target audience across a wide spectrum of media at any time, in any place. This can include a video or photo that pops up on a social channel, an article on a favorite news site, blog posts or podcasts on a company web page or a digital ad that appears while doing an online search. Continue Reading →

ThinkWithGoogle: Building a YouTube Content Strategy: Lessons From Google BrandLab

Mobile, video, and programmatic. These are all top of mind for brands. But where does content development fit in? Kim Larson, global director of Google BrandLab, shares how her team helps marketers improve and streamline their YouTube marketing strategies and feed the proverbial content monster.

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As the director of Google BrandLab, where we help marketers think digital-first, there are three words that rule my day, every day: mobile, video, and programmatic. With Mary Meeker predicting that, by 2017, 74% of all internet traffic will be video, and with mobile watch time on YouTube already surpassing desktop in 2015,1 the time for brands to make sense of what mobile means for their video content strategy is now.

At Google BrandLab, we get two primary questions from marketers about how they can keep up with the ever-increasing demand for video in this mobile revolution: “What video content should I make to best engage my audience while staying true to my brand?” and “How can I create that video content at scale?” In Part 1 of our “Lessons from Google BrandLab” series, I’ll answer both of these questions by taking you through two frameworks we use every day at the Lab.

What types of YouTube videos should I make?

To answer this question, we start with a Venn diagram. The first circle represents what the brand’s target audience cares about; the second represents what the brand stands for. To get to this kind of thinking, we ask folks in BrandLab to think about:

  • “What’s truly unique and different about our brand?”
  • “What’s truly ownable for our brand?”
  • “What right does our brand have to play (and win) in this content space versus our competition?”

Once the answers are in the Venn diagram, the overlapping circles provide a window into the sweet spot for developing a video content strategy:

Sweet Spot: Where Brands and Their Audiences Intersect

Think With Google

As you consider what your audience cares about, think about the micro-moments they might be experiencing. Micro-moments are the I-want-to-goI-want-to-doI-want-to-buy, or I-want-to-know moments when people are turning to devices to find answers, discover new things, or make decisions. Johnson & Johnson Consumer, for example, took these kinds of moments into consideration as it built its video content strategy for CLEAN & CLEAR®. The brand had always been about teen friendships, and the team’s research showed that teen girls were turning to YouTube in moments when they needed inspiration, community, and support, so CLEAN & CLEAR® built a channelaround the confidence-boosting mission SEE THE REAL ME®.

How can I create online video and other branded content at scale?

Here’s the hard truth: There’s no way a brand can create all the content needed to feed consumers’ voracious appetite for video, especially on mobile devices. There isn’t enough time, money, or resources. The trick is to create content gradually and build an engaging library over time. That might sound daunting with a traditional production mind-set as a reference point. But to produce at scale requires rethinking that production process, and getting a little help while you’re at it.

Think With Google

That’s where the Create, Collaborate, Curate—or what we like to call “CCC”—content framework comes in. The idea is to use this framework to “feed the content monster,” so that content creation—video production, specifically—no longer feels like a barrier to entry into the video marketplace. As we take you through each “C” in the framework, we’ll share examples of how one brand, Mountain Dew, is using CCC to streamline its video creation and engage the mobile audience.


The first type of content in the CCC framework is created by the brand. It feels like the brand, captures the brand’s tone, and offers a more traditional creative polish. It tells a story about the brand that’s entertaining, educational, or inspiring. “Create” content might simply be entertaining video that gets people’s attention, or it might deliver on the specific micro-moments we talked about earlier, such as how-to content in an I-want-to-do moment.

Mountain Dew®, for example, released an extended version of the team’s Kickstart™ “Come Alive” spot on YouTube, entertaining audiences with a longer, more interactive story than television allowed. But the brand team didn’t stop there. They worked with our Art, Copy & Code team on the firstUnskippable Labs experiment to figure out how to improve the video for mobile viewers and make it undeniably “unskippable” content people would choose to watch.

“Rather than using video exclusively as a storytelling mechanism, think of it as a tool for storymaking, in which consumers get to take part.”


This content is the product of the brand’s collaboration with digital influencers. It’s often content that features a YouTube creator and is produced and promoted in partnership with the creator’s channel. Ultimately, the goal of “Collaborate” content is to help brands broaden their relevance and connect with a uniquely engaged fan base while leveraging the expertise of experienced creators.

Devinsupertramp, for example, has more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube. Mountain Dew partnered with him to create a series of stunt videosfor #DEWroadtrip. They cross-posted the videos on both Devin’s channel and Mountain Dew’s channel to engage Devin’s audience.


The third and final content type is crafted by consumers and is the product of an audience call-to-action. Rather than using video exclusively as a storytellingmechanism, think of it as a tool for storymaking, in which consumers get to take part.

Audience participation keeps your message authentic and relatable and can be gathered across social channels. And consumers want to interact with brands: According to brandshare 2014, 87% of people feel they should be able to communicate, share opinions, and interact with brands in real time. Mountain Dew got the message and made fan stories a critical part of its content strategy with the “Art of Dew” video series.

Don’t overthink your YouTube content marketing strategy

You already know why you should be prioritizing online video: because consumers are. As Mary Meeker pointed out in May, more than half of mobile data traffic is already from video.2 Consumers turn to devices in all kinds of micro-moments; they’re flipping to YouTube to help them feel entertained, complete tasks, and make purchase decisions. And yet, Meeker also says advertisers aren’t putting their money where consumers are. Even though mobile commands about a quarter of media time, it only accounts for about 8% of ad dollars.2

Where’s the disconnect? I suspect it’s twofold, actually. First, I don’t think brand marketers are sure what content to make. And second, they aren’t sure how to make it. Don’t waste time overcomplicating it: Video is what consumers want on mobile. Make more of it with a little help from the Venn diagram exercise and the CCC framework.

Think With Google: The Creative Shortlist: Real Time Remixed

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Think with Google


The Creative Shortlist is a series that looks at the trends and themes informing innovative digital campaigns. This month we spotlight campaigns that are leading the next wave of social through more collaborative relationships and an evolved real-time approach.


See what Creative Sandbox campaigns we’re talking about.
This edition’s guest curator is Marvin Chow, global marketing director for Google’s social products.

The holidays. The Oscars. The World Cup. To stay relevant, brands have always taken advantage of big consumer moments such as these. Now that consumers are constantly connected, there are many more moments that matter, and brands can join them in real time. But that’s just the beginning. Getting an audience to engage with your story beyond a mere “like” or a generic retweet is what makes a brand a meme of its own.

Last year’s widely talked about Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout was a wake-up call to traditional marketers. It showed the true value of being nimble, insightful, creative and—above all—first. But as we saw with this year’s Super Bowl, similar efforts without a higher level of engagement and conversation were short lived. Enabling the audience to create the conversation that follows is critical to really capture the moment.

From YouTube to Twitter to Google+, an entire generation is putting its own spin on brands through memes, remixes, hashtags and more. Smart brands are making this part of their marketing strategies. They see their audience as the creators; they’re just the enabler. Nike’s “Phenomenal Shot” campaign during the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a fresh example that exemplifies this thinking. Nike set out to let fans create their own version of winning moments during the tournament. The centerpiece of the campaign was a suite of 3D avatars that fans could “remix” by adding headlines, filters and stickers to create their own digital posters, just moments after something amazing happened during a live game.

Taking conversations further, brands can create ambassadors and foster even more meaningful relationships with consumers. Understanding that your brand is the enabler and the audience is the creator will help you win in the long run. For 20% of the work, they can get 100% of the credit, all in the name of your brand’s story. Taking this approach, you can establish a more fulfilling social media environment for people and for your brand. Everyone wins.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Share your #brandremix thoughts and favorite examples and get the conversation started. Follow us at+CreativeSandbox and @CreativeSandbox for more ideas that blend creativity and technology.

The campaigns we’re featuring this month demonstrate the movement toward user-generated content by empowering people to express themselves through their relationship with a brand:

#1 Nike “Phenomenal Shot”

Memorable sports moments, remixed in real time

#2 Toyota Collaborator

A social shopping tool for designing cars

#3 Two Days Beat

A crowdsourced audiotrack

#4 Target Everyday Runway

A live runway show inspired by everyday tweets

AOL’s Digital Prophet, David Shing

The American Advertising Federation was honored to have several keyonote speakers at ADMERICA! 2014 who are innovative, insightful thought leaders in advertising. We were pleased to have David Shing join us in Boca Raton, Florida and are pleased to share a recap of his keynote with you. Watch Now >>

David Shing

David Shing is AOL’s digital prophet. Shing spends most of his time watching the future take shape across the vast online landscape. The rest he spends talking to people about where things are headed and how we can get the most out of it. Shing has spent most of his adult life in the digital world working for both large and small creative companies. He served as AOL’s European head of media and marketing before taking on his current mantle. Engaging, witty, and refreshingly candid, Shing provides both historical perspective and current context as he lays out his vision of the brave, new world of marketing to come – one he believes will belong to those willing to embrace change and take risks now, and one that he dearly hopes will suck a great deal less. The opportunities are incredible. The rewards are real. And Shing’s here to show you the way. That, after all, is what prophets do.

In the Crosshairs or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Targeted Advertising

By: Zach Glass, Director of Advertising, RED Interactive

When targeted advertising first crawled onto dry land many years ago, there wasn’t much to be said for it. Ads for muscle powder and dating websites crowded my (male aged 18-35) browser windows and while the industry “oohed” and “aahed” at its potential, most consumers perceived it as a nuisance.

The next step in the evolution was retargeting, which felt like getting chased around a used car lot by an overzealous salesman. (“I see you just glanced at that Prius! Let me tell you more about the Prius. No? Maybe tomorrow? Have another cookie.”)

But recently, it seems that targeted advertising is finally moving toward real relevance. I mentioned in an email that I needed a teakettle, and all of a sudden, here’s an ad in Gmail for teakettles from a store that I actually like. Useful, right? And, this phenomenon is not exclusive to text. I was just on Facebook and saw a suggested (sponsored) post in my feed for modern architecture that I was actually interested in. An ad on just asked me to get my Fantasy Football league back together—something I had been meaning to do anyway. In all three cases something magical happened: I clicked on an ad.

I know it sounds strange for someone in the ad industry to say, but I—like 99% of Internet users—very rarely click on ads (unless I’m doing it for testing purposes). So this was a big step. Targeted advertising is undergoing a metamorphosis— shifting from feeling goofy and nagging to being current and meaningful. It’s not just traditional product-based advertising either: Advertisers are developing branded content that’s actually worth looking at. Comedy Central posted a hilarious Vine for Key & Peele the other day, all sorts of advertisers are getting in on the 90’s nostalgia machine with native advertising on BuzzFeed, and Chipotle recently released a beautifully produced video and game about sustainable food practices.

This is all content I want to consume, and if I see it first in an ad instead of in a link from a friend, so what? I’d much rather see relevant content than something I couldn’t care less about. However, the industry still has some major limitations: Companies like Blue Kai and Rocketfuel allow advertisers to target specific user demographics by collecting information provided by partner websites, but most of that information can only be gathered when users are logged in or via cookies. Cookies, in particular, have fallen out of favor recently, as Apple’s Safari does not allow them, Mozilla’s Firefox plans to follow Apple’s lead, and most browsers have a “Do Not Track” setting, preventing advertisers from delivering targeted content to many users.

Having said that, things might be changing sooner than we think. A source at Google recently stated that they were exploring a method of tracking users without using cookies using an “anonymous identifier”. Google has stayed mum as to the technical details of such a system, but the emergence of this technology could carry many implications, not the least of which is that our phone, tablet and computer browsing habits will all be aggregated into one database. This information will be used to serve us even more relevant advertising and content. Privacy concerns will undoubtedly be raised, but if the Edward Snowden story has taught us anything, it’s that nothing we do online is private anyway. So Google, how about some rooibos tea for that teakettle?

Native Advertising Isn’t New, But It’s The Future

By Jonathan Perelman, VP, Agency Strategy and Development, BuzzFeed

Media consumption and consumer habits are rapidly changing. Look no further than your own behavior. Do you sleep with your phone by your bed? Sure, it’s your alarm clock, but do you check it before you go to sleep, or when you first wake up? Let’s be honest. The challenge for marketers today is to reach consumers in a way that invites them in, not distracts them from what they are doing.

Native advertising is a hot topic in marketing today and for good reason. Unlike intrusive banner ads, native advertising does not distract consumers from what they are doing, but adds to the overall experience.  With all the attention recently given to native, we should remember that native advertising isn’t new in digital. The most well known is search, as the ads are native to the environment of the search results. However, the convergence of content marketing and native advertising provides an organic way for brands to enter the conversation with consumers.

Throughout the history of advertising, we have taken the type of ads that have worked on one platform, and tried to make them work for the new technology. The first radio ads simply were the audio of a print spot. The next evolution were TV ads, which were radio spots with an image. Today, standard banner ads are the most prevalent ads, but that doesn’t make them good.  Ask yourself, what’s the last great banner ad you’ve seen?

As the digital advertising ecosystem has evolved from Portal -> Search -> Social, online ads need to evolve as well. As mentioned earlier, native advertising isn’t new, but can be broken into two categories, 1. Utility 2. Content. If you’re in a new city and need to find a coffee shop, you’re likely to search for one. Maybe you launch the maps function to search for directions to your desired location. But, what happens after you find that shop, and you’re the 15th person in line for that latte? Most likely you take out your phone to snack on content until the milk is steamed and your caffeine is ready. Increasingly, the type of content that people are consuming is branding, as it is as equally captivating as editorial.

The challenge for advertisers today is to be seen and stand out in an environment where social is the new starting point online. Creating social, shareable content to be served in a native environment allows the advertiser to tell a story, and to engage the consumer in the natural environment of content.

Native ads are even more important when we talk about mobile. The promise of mobile appears to be unfulfilled from an advertising perspective. Simply repurposing ads from desktop onto a smaller screen doesn’t work. A recent study* found that 40% of clicks on mobile banner ads are a result of fat-finger clicks, or mistakes. At BuzzFeed, we see more sharing of content (including ads) from the mobile device than we do on desktop. We don’t consider mobile as a separate platform, we think mobile web first.

Native advertising isn’t new, but the convergence of factors leads to native being the perfect type of advertising for this stage of the web. Combining the elements of social, brands as publishers and the importance of the mobile web are all factors that lead to the prominence and opportunity of native advertising.

This article appeared as part of the AAF’s 2013 Digital Resource Guide, which can be downloaded here.


Study Results Show Parents/Adults For Expansion of COPPA

Results from a recent study commissioned by the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Sense Media were released today, showing strong disapproval (80 percent) from parents and other adults over a variety of digital marketing techniques currently being used to collect information from children online. According to the study, 91 percent of those surveyed were opposed to advertisers collecting and using information about a child’s location via their mobile phone, and 96 percent of parents (94 percent of adults) responded against websites asking children to provide personal information about their friends online.

The study—conducted in November by Princeton Research Associates International—comes just before the Federal Trade Commission’s likely expansion of the 1998 Childrens Online Privacy Act (COPPA) which requires marketers to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. This expansion of COPPA would extend the FTC’s authority to include mobile devices and would make targeting children online and via mobile devices much more difficult.

As expected, the online advertising industry has lobbied heavily against this proposed expansion, which would essentially collapse a massive ad market consisting of tech-savvy children carrying mobile devices in their pockets and using mobile technology daily.

Also see: Study: Parents Concerned About Digital Marketing Practices Targeting Kids from

Webinar: Should Technology Dictate Creativity?

AAF Thought Leadership presents:
Innovative Ideas in Digital Advertising: Should Technology Dictate Creativity?

When it comes to advertising, digital is king. It isn’t just the extra point capping off a game winning touchdown drive — it’s the 80 yard bomb to the corner of the end zone. Digital isn’t simply a piece of your ad campaign. It IS your campaign.

Thanks to new innovations in digital technology (paired with an enormous availability of consumer insights), advertisers are reaching their target audience with lightning speed and pinpoint accuracy. Yes, Madison Ave seems to have found its renewable source of energy…in Silicon Valley.

But as digital advertising grows, so too does a dependency upon technology to meet client advertising goals — a dependency which brings forth a new dilemma for agency creatives:

To what extent should technology dictate creativity – or should it at all?

Thursday, September 6, 2012
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Panelists include:
Jason Dailey, Director of Bing Evangelism at Microsoft
Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development, Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Moderator: Shane Santiago, President and Chief Creative Officer at SBS Studios.

This free webinar is brought to you by the American Advertising Federation’s Thought Leadership program.

Register Now!