Brand Publishing: Talent, Team, And Tools

It’s impossible not to have noticed that the publishing world, both consumer and B2B, has fallen on hard times. Publications have up and died, publishers have closed down and failed. Thank the Internet.

While this is certainly a calamity for the media industry, it is something of a boon for savvy brands and marketers, who are realizing that this is their chance to fill the content void left by the disappearance of newspapers and magazines—a chance to, well, become publishers themselves.

Now, if being a publisher were easy, everybody would be doing it. But it’s not. Being a publisher requires the right talent, team, and tools to get the job done, and not every enterprise is willing to make that happen. For those that do, however, an opportunity to shine awaits.

Today, in the new digital world, content-creation and content-production tools that were once the province of publishers are available to all enterprises, large and small. Content-management systems and content-curation technology can help turn brands into publishers overnight.

But here’s the catch: None of these tools or technologies helps with the creation of good, worthwhile content. That’s up to the CMO and his or her marketing team. Everyone has been creating lead- and demand-gen content for years now—musty white papers that potential customers have to provide name, rank, and serial number to get the privilege to receive.

That’s not being a publisher, and that’s not content marketing.

Being a publisher means looking at content 180 degrees differently. Good content is about what the customer is interested in, not what you and your marketing mission statement says is interesting. It’s about them, not about you. This is probably the main impediment to brands truly becoming publishers.

At some conference in the recent past, I was listening in on a discussion with a brand marketer who “got” content marketing and one who was struggling. “Who is a good example of a company that does content marketing well?” asked the rookie. “Well,” said the sage, “you have to look at Red Bull to see how far you can take this. The fact is, Red Bull is a media company that just happens to make an energy drink.”

You might not want to take it to Red Bull extremes, but are you and your team ready to create something new and valuable and interesting and entertaining for your customer?

All the tools and technology in the world won’t make you a publisher; thinking like a media company, a storyteller, and an editor will.

Here are some links to recent articles on about content marketing and brands as publishers that might get you going:

Four Predictions For The Future Of Brand Storytelling

Marketers And Journalists – Joining Forces To Create Killer Content

Content Marketing: Focus On Quality Over Quantity

Brand Newsrooms: THE Model For Real-Time Content Marketing

Competition On The Content Battleground

CMOs Buy Into Content Marketing

About the Author

Tim Moran,

Tim Moran, Editor in Chief,

Tim Moran is the editor in chief of by Adobe. He has been with the site since its inception. Before that he spent 20+ years in the B2B technology press. [Read more]

Think With Google: The Creative Shortlist: Real Time Remixed

Presented by

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

From BBQ to Burns: 5 Hot Summer Trends to Plan For

Presented by:

Think with Google





As the weather changes, so does digital behavior. People are out of their houses and on their smartphones, looking for places to go and things to grill. What they’re searching for (and how) provides a window into consumer interests this season and beyond. We looked at Google data to see what’s on the rise for summer (besides the temperature, that is). From the best BBQ to the most sunburned states, here’s what’s trending and what it might mean for your business.

1. Mobile: So hot right now

People are more likely to use a mobile device to go online in the summer months than in other seasons. Whether they’re traveling on vacation, lounging on the beach or grilling in their backyards, U.S. consumers are constantly connected.

As they fire up their outdoor grills, more people are searching for “recipes” on a mobile device—the new cookbook. Mobile’s share of searches is up 44% year-over-year.

Mobile Share of “Recipes” Searches

Source: Google Data, 2013–2014, Mobile Share Query Volume, United States.

Mobile Share of “Hotel” Searches

Source: Google Data, 2012–2014, Mobile Share of Search Query Volume, United States.

During summer travel season, searches for hotels go up. While we’re seeing a general shift to mobile, this shift grew 86% faster in the summer months than any other time last year. People are looking for everything from deals to directions.

Are you capturing demand across screens? Are you showing consumers the type of content they’re looking for? Is your marketing contextually relevant?

2. Burnt out on summer, people are looking for relief

What are people looking for when it’s warm out? A nice tan, of course. At the start of summer, we see a bump in searches for “suntan.” But as the weather heats up, so do searches for “sunscreen,” followed closely by a big spike in “sunburn” searches. Now consumers are in the market for “aloe vera” to soothe those burns.

The ways the consumer journey so clearly plays out on search are fascinating. So are the regional differences. Google searches for “suntan” are most popular in Kentucky, while Hawaii is tops for “sunburn” and “sunscreen.” Californians appear to look after their skin the most, searching for “sunscreen” and “aloe vera” more than people in most other states.

Searches for Suntan, Sunburn, Sunscreen and Aloe Vera

Source: Google Data, January 2011–June 2014, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

How is weather affecting demand for your products? What can you learn about the consumer journey based on search patterns? How are you using this information to shape your messaging and distribution strategies?

3. Kansas City wins the BBQ battle

Summer is BBQ season, and it’s a hotly contested cuisine. Which town is most popular this summer? If we look at searches, Kansas City is the clear winner, with Memphis and Austin vying for second place. Interestingly, Buffalo, New York (home ofOinktoberfest) makes the top five.

Top Cities for “BBQ” Searches

Source: Google Data, May–July 2014, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

Can you nuance your messaging or tailor your product offering based on location?

4. A taste of summer throughout the year

Grilling is certainly seasonal, but it’s becoming less so. More people are looking to get a taste of summer in the colder months. Meat lovers seek out the top BBQ destinations year-round, especially during events such as the World Series of BBQ and SXSW.

“BBQ” Searches by City

Source: Google Data, January 2013–July 2014, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

They’re also grilling more during non-summer holidays, including on Thanksgiving, President’s Day and even Christmas.

Searches for “Grilling”

Source: Google Data, 2012–2014, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

This opens the door for marketers to promote these traditional “summer” activities during new moments of consumer interest.

Similar patterns occur across products, and finding them can help you extend the life of a seasonal product. Look at ski towns. During summer travel season, searches for hotels go up. While we’re seeing a general shift to mobile, this shift grew 86% faster in the summer months than any other time last year. People are looking for everything from deals to directions.

Searches for Major Ski Towns in the U.S.

Source: Google Data, January 2010–July 2014, Indexed Search Volume, United States

If your product is seasonal, can you make it relevant during other times of the year? Are there new moments of consumer interest that you can explore?

5. Gaming becomes a daily habit

Views of video game content on YouTube, such as trailers and walk-throughs, go up a bit in the summer—no surprise there. What’s more interesting is when. During the school year, views of gaming content spike on weekends. But when kids are home from school, gaming content is watched much more consistently throughout the week.

Average Views of Video Game Content on YouTube

Source: YouTube Data, January 2013–June 2014, Indexed Video Views, United States

Has your media strategy shifted with consumer behavior? Are you accounting for seasonal changes in media consumption?

Each season brings interesting, nuanced market dynamics that businesses need to consider. The key is to plan accordingly. Dig into the data to uncover seasonal trends in your category while keeping your eye on broader shifts in behavior. Develop a strategy based on what you’re seeing, but allow some flexibility to adapt as new opportunities arise.

The Creative Shortlist: Connecting the Global Community

presented by:

Think with Google




The Creative Shortlist is a new series that looks at the trends and themes informing innovative digital campaigns. This month we spotlight truly global campaigns—creative ideas that are so big, so fundamentally human, that they inspire people around the world to share, connect and come together.


See what Creative Sandbox campaigns we’re talking about.
This edition’s guest curator is Ben Malbon, director of creative partnerships, Google.

Language barriers. Vastly different time zones. The pain of managing multiple agencies. Egos. Control. Cultural nuances. Brands have plenty of reasons to shy away from big “global” campaigns, but if you’re able to find the right ideas and execute them well, they can be worth the slog.

Global moments like the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil—which it’s safe to say will be the most connected sporting event in history (it’s currently the fourth most searched event on Google Trends)—offer tantalizing opportunities for brands willing to take the plunge. The world won’t just be watching and partying and shouting at the screen. They’ll be on their smartphones and tablets, creating massive digital and social energy spikes. Smart brands will both fuel and harness that energy.

Take Coca-Cola. It kicked off its “The World’s Cup” campaign back in April. The centerpiece, “One World, One Game,” developed by Wieden + Kennedy, uses a new roll-over Engagement Ad to showcase five digital films about football players from very different parts of the world. In featuring these deeply personal, yet universally relevant stories in one place, Coca-Cola benefits from both the power of an individual story and the connective tissue: the triumphs and ambitions that make us human.

These kind of global campaigns are about more than brands exercising their creative and media muscles. They’re tapping a world itching to connect, to be part of something bigger and more meaningful. They’re on the forefront of something big—connecting people by building on human truths that can cross geographic boundaries (joy, peace, understanding, justice, love, loss, and so much more).

Some ideas have life beyond their own backyard, and brands can use the web to spread their big creative ideas across borders. Here are four strong examples from the Creative Sandbox gallery of brands that are reaching the world through their digital campaigns:

#1 Coca-Cola: The Happiness Flag

A crowd-sourced mosaic flag unites football fans around the world

#2 Manchester United/Google+: Front Row

A Hangout to bring faraway football fans to Old Trafford

#3 Burberry: Burberry Kisses

A letter sent to loved ones around the world, sealed with your digital kiss

#4 Embratur – Brazilian Tourism Board: The World Meets in Brazil

An interactive tour introducing World Cup fans to Brazil

March Madness: A Full Court Press for Marketers

Presented by:


March means one thing for college hoops fans: March Madness. But the NCAA tournament, which kicks off next week, isn’t just for diehards. It’s a mainstream event and one of the year’s biggest marketing moments. The web makes it easier than ever to get into the action—whether you’re a pro bracketologist or casual fan. Here, we look at last year’s numbers and the early trends for 2014 to help predict the field for marketers.

Watching at work

Live streaming of the games has grown the March Madness audience dramatically, shifting much of the watching online. Last year’s tournament delivered record-setting video consumption across digital platforms. According to Turner Sports, which manages NCAA March Madness Live, there were 49 million live video streams. That’s 14 million hours of video.

Fans never have to miss a game—even when they’re at work. Last year, we saw a 26% growth over the previous year in various searches for where to watch the game online. On the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament, a disproportionate number of those searches, 82%, came from desktops (Google Internal Data, 2013). Surely, the “boss button” came in handy. This might meanlost productivity, but for the enterprising advertiser, it’s two more days each week to score points with customers on digital.

Mobile has changed the game

When they’re away from their desks, fans turn to their mobile devices so they don’t miss any of the action. Most often, they search for terms such as “scores,” “results,” “highlights” and “news.” Visuals are especially compelling for fans, so we also see a lot for searches for “videos,” “images,” “pictures,” “photos” and “reactions.” In 2013, searches for these terms grew 120% on mobile, compared with the previous year (see chart below). We especially notice an increase on weekends when fans are watching from the couch or while they’re out at bars. Brands and publishers will want to keep this in mind as they generate NCAA-related content and ensure it’s accessible across all devices to reach these constantly connected fans.

Mobile Searches for March Madness News, Information and Visuals

Source: Google Internal Data, March 13-19, 2012, and March 19-26, 2013, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

It’s Merch Madness during the finals

If a team makes it to the Elite Eight, we see a spike in the demand for its branded merchandise, such as jerseys and t-shirts.

Apparel Searches for Teams in the 2013 Final Four

Source: Google Trends, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

This demand is strong year-round for perennial sports powerhouses such as Louisville and Michigan, but more ephemeral for those Cinderella stories. As you can see in the graph above, apparel demand rose for last year’s breakout star, Wichita State, as it made its way to the Final Four. Demand fell once the team was eliminated, but it’s on the rise again thanks to the team’s record undefeated regular season heading into this year’s tournament. This goes to show the power of March Madness as a brand builder—one that retailers and universities alike can take advantage of.

The tournament can also be a boon to local business. Last year, Final Four host city Atlanta enjoyed its highest weekly demand for local tourism searches—a 22% rise (Google Internal Data, 2013). This year, fans will be descending upon Arlington, TX to see the final games.

Brands cashing in on brackets

For some, the fun of March Madness isn’t about watching the games, it’s about predicting the winners. Searches for brackets leading up to Selection Sunday have grown fourfold since 2008 (see chart below).

Searches Related to Brackets

Source: Google Internal Data, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States

Brands are fueling this trend by sponsoring contests. A great example is Quicken Loans’ Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, which the company is doing in partnership with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. We’ve seen huge growth in searches for this branded bracket; “Warren Buffett ncaa” and “quicken loans ncaa” are both top NCAA-related searches (see below).

Top Trending Google Searches Related to NCAA

Source: Google Internal Data, March 1-7, 2014, United States

Look for bracket searches to spike on March 16, Selection Sunday, and the day after as people research teams and place their wagers before the tournament begins.

Marketers can bet that these trends—streaming, mobile, merchandise and brackets—will continue to grow this year. UPDATED: To stay on top of what’s trending during the tournament, keep tabs for the latest.

A Look at New and Emerging Ad Formats

Presented by:

By Andy Wiedlin, Chief Revenue Officer, BuzzFeed

Today, as we consider new formats for digital advertising, I’m reminded of the famous Einstein quote on the definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

From the origin of the consumer Internet, banners have been the primary advertising vehicle. They’ve been ignored, maligned and largely ineffective. In a mobile/broadband world, we have virtually unlimited supply and decreasing demand. This is an economic prescription for disaster.

An Einstein companion quote is “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Social, mobile and video make the world of banners obsolete and dead.
Yet some advertisers and publishers insist on doing the same thing and expect better results. The newest savior is “Big Data”: if we just use more data we’ll get this broken down jalopy to run.

Many advertisers and publishers continue to support the Banner Industrial Complex because of inertia and apathy. “It’s easy”, “there is a marketplace” and “it is standard”. We’ve known for years that the emperor has no clothes, yet we continue to invest in a broken system. It’s as if advertisers and publishers joined hands at the top of the John Hancock building, jumped over the side and, as they plummet toward the inescapable end, they murmur to each other “ok so far…ok so far…”. Continue Reading →

How Technology Makes Creative More Intelligent

Today’s technology can target and customize ads with unparalleled precision. At the same time, busy consumers expect ads to be both incredibly compelling and highly relevant. With consumers using multiple devices, creative must seamlessly move across them. Marketers also need to measure and optimize faster than ever. Google’s Creative Platforms Evangelist, Pete Crofut, talks about how new tools and platforms can address these challenges, helping marketers create “intelligent” ads that are engaging and meaningful to consumers in the moments that matter.

Intelligent, engaging, creative. This may sound like a personal ad, but it’s also the future of ads in general. In fact, advertising is getting more personal, more engaging, more interesting and more thought-provoking than ever.

Today’s technology can target and customize ads with unparalleled precision. At the same time, busy consumers expect ads to be both incredibly compelling and highly relevant, and thus meaningful to them at that moment. This means that while the opportunity is bigger than ever, the stakes are higher too. If your brand “matches” with a potential consumer, you might have one chance to make a first impression, so it had better be a good one.

Adding to this are technological obstacles. With consumers using multiple devices, creative must seamlessly move across smartphones, desktops and tablets, a demand that can seem daunting to marketers inexperienced with HTML5 and the coding needed for such content. Marketers also need to know a campaign’s effectiveness and be able to scale it more broadly when it succeeds.

To overcome these challenges, we need to change the traditional way of reaching audiences by prioritizing focused engagement over broad exposure. We also need to rethink how we talk to audiences. Once your brand is in front of the best people, are you delivering the most relevant message? Are you catching and holding their attention?

To do so, a good place to start is to leverage the technology and platforms available to you. They can be used to develop creative solutions that are engaging, relevant, measurable and scalable—in a word, intelligent. But how do creatives actually use technology to build more intelligent ads? And how do marketers piece together the right joint media and creative solution to make the message relevant for every viewer? Continue Reading →

CEA Chief Economist on 2014 Tech Trends Every Retailer Should Watch

Since 1967, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has been hosting the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a global trade show that highlights innovation in consumer technologies. Beyond this yearly event, taking place this week in Las Vegas, the CEA plays a crucial role in the industry, sharing market research, forecasts, legislative news, and more. Helping guide these efforts is Shawn DuBravac, the CEA’s chief economist and senior director of research. If you want to know what’s happening in technology and consumer behavior (and what marketer doesn’t?), DuBravac is your man. He spoke to us about the impactful trends he’s watching, including the explosion of sensors, the digitization of information, mass customization and the “third industrial revolution.”

Part of your job is directing market research initiatives for the CEA. What are the big trends you’re seeing among your 2,000 member companies?

One of the most impactful trends I’m seeing right now is the digitization of everything. This trend is being empowered by the sensorization of consumer technology. History shows us, when things move from scarcity to surplus, we begin to waste those resources. This is especially true in technology. Continue Reading →

Targeting – The New View of the Consumer / Why Geography Matters

By: Beth Keegan, Sr. Vice President, Marketing Solutions, Valassis

Targeting. Everyone in marketing knows the word and has a clear definition of what it means. But something has happened over the past several years, two definitions have come into the mix- one for digital and one for traditional media. For decades whether an advertiser or a retailer, targeting was defined in geographic and demographic terms. The internet has added contextual and behavioral to our targeting vocabulary. Now what?

Let’s start at the beginning. First, we are talking about consumers. No matter what we market or sell, not all consumers are our target – some are, some are not. The core question – how do you find the ones who are and focus marketing efforts on those most likely to buy? Second, consumers use a variety of different media, offline and online. Demographics, context and behavior are key descriptors in selecting media. Third, consumers are local with the majority of their shopping done close to where they live or work. That introduces geography into the discussion. Even for national advertisers, some markets are more valuable than others. So in the rapidly changing world of integrated media, we need it all – geography, demographics and contextual/behavior. Continue Reading →

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.