If this is the future of social media…

April 23, 2014

If social media becomes bad photoshop with tenuous copywriting (aka “real time marketing”) and brands talking to other brands, I quit.


Simple answers for common social media questions

November 14, 2013

No matter how many years we are into the post-social world, every new platform (pinterest, snapchat etc) brings with it a raft of new questions, based on niche use-cases hungrily reported on by a sensationalist media corps. This fantastic checklist is here to help!

Simple answers to common social media questions

Radar 10am One Thing: ASICS Treadmill Challenge

November 7, 2013

The following is this week’s 10am One Thing that I wrote for the DDB blog.

asics treadmill challenge

For most people, a marathon is a passive event that we observe on TV. Perhaps we make a flippant comment about how we “could do that” (if we had the time) or about how “they aren’t running that fast, are they?”. To answer both those comments, ASICS marathoner Ryan Hall has an average pace of 4’46” per mile. I don’t know how long I could last running a marathon pace 4’46” per mile but that’s what ASICS challenged consumers to do in its treadmill challenge. The running brand set up a treadmill, and the necessary safety equipment, to run at Hall’s pace and then put the best results of its experiment on YouTube. As one would suspect, 4’46” is a really really fast pace, one that many of the participants failed (and flailed) to match for any length of time:

The idea of taking real world events, augmenting them with digital technology and amplifying through online video is a tried and true tactic in this post-social world, but that doesn’t make this any less effective or awe-inspiring. As an aside, this execution itself is an evolution of a 2011 initiative that saw Ryan Hall’s digital self challenge consumers in the subway to keep up with his pace. [as a caveat that didn’t make it into the blog, his pace has remained the same, a solid 4’46” since 2011]

The One Thing is a result of the weekly 10am meetings held in the DDB Canada offices, where our teams meet to discuss new online trends, tools and technologies. For an archive of the 10am links, visit our Pinterest board. Follow Radar on Twitter

That social media feeling

October 16, 2013

Social media is so nascent as a marketing discipline that it is sometimes (only sometimes) surprising we are so jaded. But sometimes you see something and it reminds you that what social media does best, is connect people on a very human, very emotional level. Sometimes brands play a role and even connect with people, but sometimes its best to make an observation and then get the hell out of the way.


What the rush towards native advertising really means

October 15, 2013

It means that earned media is more powerful than paid placements. It means that interactions (participation) make everything better. It means that endorsements from your network are more influential than not. It means everything is coming together as a paid, earned, owned, shared media matrix.

The trick with native advertising, to make sure it doesn’t go the way of straight up paid advertising, is to not make the ultimate consumer of the ad unit feel like they’ve been tricked into seeing it and engaging with it.

How big is the rush towards native advertising? This big.

Are we losing our attention?

October 7, 2013

Twitter. Vine. GIFS. Listcicles. The rise of these content types would all point to the inexorable erosion of our collective attention span. We can’t sit in meetings or classrooms for as long. We flit from task to task to app to web. ADHD is on the rise. Technology is fragmenting our attention and we as a society are suffering from it.

Or so the accepted narrative goes. And this flows into our work as marketers – make the headline snappier. Make the copy less challenging. How can we cut this video down to 30 seconds…45 seconds. That’s the way to capture the attention of the audience.

Or is it?

Along with the rise of short form, bite-sized, snackable content, we’re also seeing the rise of #longreads, binge watching and extended video on YouTube. A few facts and personal anecdotes:

40% of all YouTube video views are now on videos more than 40mins in length. And they aren’t just looped cat videos, movies or TV shows. Gamers are creating full-length (or longer) feature movies out of the interstitial clips in games like Injustice: Gods Among Us (below). 2 hours of content. 2 million views. Amazing.

The #longreads hashtag is mentioned more than 100,000 times every 3 months, according to Sysomos, and the twitter feed has that many followers again

The breakout TV shows of the few years have all been enabled by bingewatching, either after the fact or through design – think how Breaking Bad benefited from distribution on Netflix and how House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black have captured our collective conversation.

With connected and synched devices, I can now read longer articles, albeit in shorter sessions, across my desktop, mobile and tablet

Since I bought my iPad and subsequent iPhone, I’ve not only been consuming more content (in the online sense) but have been reading a lot more books. Rather than having to lug a paperback, or worse, hardback, book around, I can now carry thousands of books on my devices and dip in and out accordingly. Whatsmore, by using something like Readlist, I can take the #longreads I find and turn them into ebooks for my Kindle or iBooks app.

Yes, our attention is fragmented and it is harder for marketers to earn from their consumers but we are also being bored of the short-term “sugar” rush of snackable content. We are craving something more substantial and we’ll get it where we can. Hopefully marketers can start providing high quality, compelling, interesting content that can satisfy this craving.

To paraphrase an old football saying:

If its good enough, its long enough.

Winning and Losing in Real Time Marketing

September 29, 2013

iMedia Connection recently ran a piece on Real Time Marketing and they graciously featured some of my thoughts. Obviously only the best bits got into the article but here’s all the stuff I submitted to iMedia.

What is real-time marketing?

The inception of RTM came when brands and agencies realized that they could not create social content to scale by employing the same process used to create TV ads. Real-time marketing recognizes that brands must become part of their consumers’ lives and in order to do so, the brand would have to take on human qualities.

What types of goals should a brand be looking at from real-time marketing? In other words, what can a brand realistically hope to achieve in real time?

Aside from the usual social metrics, namely engagement, companies that do well with RTM will transcend being brands and become part of the cultural fabric that their consumers operate in. They will become talked about, as opposed to simply having their messages broadcast. Ironically, becoming part of the cultural fabric is exactly what great TV and print ads have always strived to do.

What’s been the biggest (or most common) misunderstanding you’ve seen with respect to real-time marketing? Or, put another way: what’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to explain to clients about real time?

It’s easy to get excited about the promise of RTM but the reality is, that it takes a long time, hard work and buckets of trust to get to a place where everyone feels comfortable about operating in real-time. I read that it took Oreo 17 months to get to its Super Bowl tweet, which demonstrates that brands should plan for a long haul. The vital element is being agile enough to support your output with paid media – otherwise it may not matter how relevant or how human you are, you will not achieve the sort of scale required for your business.

Real time can be a tricky thing because it obviously means doing away with, or at the very least streamlining, approvals. While nobody wants to make mistakes, it seems like they come with the territory. What’s most important for a brand in terms of responding after a real-time mistake?

Social media is simple and we make engaging with it far more complex than we should. RTM humanizes brands, and humans make mistakes. Obviously, brands are held to higher standards than humans, or at least their mistakes are more obvious because they reach so many people. Nevertheless, they should act as humans do: ‘fess up, apologize and try their hardest not to do it again. Humans are a forgiving species, and we reward honesty and transparency.  

It’s been more than six months since Oreo’s famous Super Bowl tweet, and yet we’re still talking about it. Does our industry have an unhealthy obsession with real time?

I don’t think that obsession is the right word. Even if it is, I don’t think that it’s a bad thing. From a creative standpoint, we always look to do things that have never been done before and now RTM is a tactic to achieve differentiation, moment by moment. “Firsts” in competitive categories typically outperform the norm. Therefore, RTM can still work for brands and agencies – the first brave financial services or pharma company to do RTM in an authentic and successful way will be able to differentiate itself from its peers.

With so many brands competing in real-time, do you have any concern that consumers will suffer from real-time fatigue?

Facebook’s newsfeed announcement revealed that each user could see 1,500 potential pieces of new content every time they update their experience.  All of this is being done in real-time. Brands need to be relevant to their audience and RTM is one tactic to help achieve relevance. Brief-driven work will not go away. It is, however, now being complemented by relevance and humanity.

Five ways brands win (or lose) with real time marketing on iMedia Connection

Vines and thoughts on Vine

February 7, 2013

Per the BBC, ad agencies are getting a little obsessed with Vine – demonstrating professional amateurism in the creative and creating process. Here are some of the experiments I’ve created or been featured in:

Office decor has been a popular subject

Vine has been a good decompressor during meetings

Naturally, food has come under the microscope

I said goodbye to the Canadian penny

…and played with my kid’s toys

As with all new technologies, I can’t help but wonder if this is a fad that will rise up and then fade away. Given Vine is developed by the folks that brought you Twitter, I’m curious to see how this will play into its future product development and advertising plans. For now though, I’m enjoying playing with Vine and, more than that, enjoy looking at the world through a new lens – would that make an interesting six seconds? – which makes me feel more creative, rather than be a creative.

New from Twitter: Vine

January 29, 2013

Instagram vs Vinevia @paullyoung


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