Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Freaked-Out Photos

Remember the old adage, "A picture's worth a thousand words."? I've been a believer in the power of visual brand awareness since the days of Dr. Suess, Tom Terrific and The Captain & Bunny Rabbit entered my life. 

And how many of you are old enough to recall being concerned over Big Brother? No, not the awful guys on one of the most-amazed-it's-still-onTV shows, but the Big Brother concept that was kicked off by the novel, "1984". 

Now it looks like our social media pals are the "real" Big Brother. All those darling selfies and more are being mined for lots of data for advertisers. 

Every Nike swish is being tracked. The ad world will know what brand of beer is in your boyfriend's hand. And that you probably shop at Target since the bullseye is behind you in your profile picture…ever so slightly. Yep, this trend really is freaking out folks just a bit - even those guys who take their iPhones to bed with them. 

Once that data's all mashed up and spit back out, you'll be even more specifically targeted. Makes you think - do you really want to wear that Polo shirt anymore?

Check out this article:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is Facebook Out Like the Plague?

Researchers at Princeton University have predicted the demise of Facebook by the year 2017 – a short three years from now and 13 years after the February 4, 2004 launch of the social media giant.

This bold statement was concocted by comparing the growth curb of epidemics like the bubonic plague to that of social media networks. In the beginning, ideas spread through communicative contact, similar to the spread of a virus. Soon, those original idea developers end up losing interest, therefore no longer manifesting the idea, ultimately developing an immunity to the idea.

While Facebook has thus far “outlived” several other networks (remember MySpace?) and stockholders aren’t yet running for the door, it can’t be overlooked that Facebook’s CFO admitted to seeing a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens.

I have to agree that the number of teenage users dropping is a red flag, however; I don’t see Facebook fading away just yet. Historically, Facebook hasn’t had a problem updating the platform to stay current with the new social media trends of the day, from the early expansion beyond just college students to the adding of hashtag searches. It has also established itself as a viable and user-friendly platform for businesses to keep up with their followers on a more regular basis than the traditional website.

Whatever happens with Facebook’s plague-like tendancies in the next three years, count on us to be keeping track of the epidemic-style growth curve, and more importantly, what new ideas will infect and spread through our population.
For more, check out the full article and study.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bye-bye dropshadows, hello hero areas. Web trends, 2014

Enjoyable read on the web design trends to expect in 2014. Many that made the list are design elements we've seen steadily creeping in for a while. If you want the "down & dirty," here's the top 10!

1 - Non boring typography (sweet!)
2 - Flat design (sounds bad, it's not)
3 - Large hero areas ('I need a hero'... <insert that 80s song, here>)
4 - Mobile-centric (dare we say, "duh")
5 - Videos in place of text (yes)
6 - Long scrolling sites (love it!)
7 - Simple color schemes (segueing into Pantone 2014 color of the year...)
8 - Simplified content (sounds smart to us!)
9 - Dropping the sidebar (interesting concept)
10 - Manipulated imagery (thanks for the influence, Instagram!)

For the bonus, 11th trend, you totally have the check out the article!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Can Amazon Save the Postal Service?

Our country's classic Postal carrier system has been losing ground - and lots of money - for years. Not too long ago, they tried to cut out Saturday delivery to trim budgets. Seemed like a pretty sound idea to me based on the extreme uptick in other forms of communications. Met with a myriad of protests (some from the union?), Saturday was back on the ticket.

But Amazon just announced what I think could be a possible savior for the PO - or at least a nice test-crutch for the holiday season. You guessed it - Sunday package delivery of products purchased through Amazon will be delivered by Postal carriers (even in the rain, sleet or snow!)

As someone who's into my AARP-eligible years, I have to admit, I'm encouraged to see this throw-back. Guess we'll wait and see how it goes and if they expand beyond LA and NY in the future.

But now that younger consumers are moving away from stores like Abercrombie & Fitch and doing more shopping on-line where every three-dimensional item they purchase needs a delivery mechanism, we just may see more of those little white trucks on the roads. Be careful out there since the PO is always the winner if there's a crash - or is that just an old rumor?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Thank You Howell Creative Group!

Without sounding like I’m giving a graduation speech, or taking a sad trip down memory lane, it can’t be overstated how great of an opportunity it is to spend a couple of months working for this company. If you don’t mind being passed a fast paced share of work then you’ll love what Tiffany has lined up for you. It has been a blast, and I’ve gained tons of experience in advertising. If all of that interests you then you should contact the company about an internship, and hopefully you’ll get a chance at a great opportunity like I did.

Now I’ll quickly take that trip down memory lane, and save whoever’s reading this from my rambling. I’d like to thank Kathy, Tiffany, Kelsey and everyone else at the company for the sense of welcome that they have demonstrated over the last three months. I felt like part of the team from day one, which makes contributing ideas and work infinitely easier. I’ve been continually impressed with the creative work being done in the office every day, and it’s great to have worked with people who love what they do, because that’s what’s most important about a career.  The company is in great hands, and is on the right track for great things to come.

I look forward to seeing more of the world with a touch of HCG on it, and wish everyone in the company the best of luck in their careers. I look forward to working alongside every one of you sometime in the future.  

See y’all soon,
Josh Wallace

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pre-Roll Ads Can Be Effective, They Just Need A Big Makeover

We’ve all experienced the awkwardness of playing a Youtube video for a group of people and have faced the grueling five-second wait until you can skip the pre-roll advertisement. Your group of friends could care less about an ad for a Craftsman table saw when they want to watch a video of the kung fu bear (Link). Even with targeted advertising, people still dislike pre-rolls because the ads get in the way of instant gratification. Companies and advertisers are continuously missing opportunities to make pre-rolls effective, and are wasting resources as viewers instantly skip over the ads without hesitation.

A Great Opportunity
Pre-roll ads give advertisers the opportunity for millions of people to view their product or brand, and are one of the fastest growing methods of advertising. Pre-rolls have great potential because the ads reach the people who are now devoting more and more time to watching online videos, and less time to watching television, while costing less than TV spots, too.

Low Performance
The big problem is that pre-rolls annoy the overwhelming majority of viewers, and if they’re not annoyed, they tolerate them. The way most pre-rolls are formatted now lead to very low click through rates, and incredible amounts of viewers who do skip the ads after the five-seconds are up. On a platform of video content that users seek out themselves, traditional advertising sticks out like a sore thumb, and it has the potential of rubbing off onto the products and brands it is promoting.

Get Creative
The solution to the problem then, is to drop everything you know about traditional advertising, and to develop completely new strategies for online video advertising, which operates in a different world. For example, if advertisers have five seconds to capture the attention of the viewer and give them a reason to not click the “Skip” button, why do they use an advertisement that is made with a balance of beginning, middle and end? The first five seconds of the pre-roll ad should be devoted to convincing the viewer that the advertisement is worth putting off the Youtube video for a couple more seconds. The horror movie Evil Dead executed that strategy perfectly with their conversion of their standard movie trailer into a pre-roll ad, which you can watch here (Link). (WARNING: Graphic Content).

Lastly, and most importantly, pre-roll ads should engage the viewer. The Internet is full of funny, cool, emotional and educational videos that people choose to watch. The key word is choose, and online ads should make the viewer want to watch more, not click "Skip." Users seek out videos because the content engages their interests on some level. Generally, things that are over saturated with commercial content and reek of advertising are not favorable with users. Effective pre-rolls must  break the mold of traditional advertising, and be used creatively to fit in with everything else on the Internet. When users start to seek out interesting advertisements to view is when advertisers will see positive results from those millions of impressions.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Big Deal With "Skinny"

The newest trend in restaurant cocktails involves slimming down everything but the profits.

Skinny kicks up sales
Cocktails with the word “skinny” in their name have jumped a staggering 44% in the Q1 at the top 500 restaurant chains, and have more than doubled in each of the last three quarters, according to an industry study. Skinny has quickly become the “it” word in cocktails, popping up everywhere imaginable, but what is the buzz about?

What’s skinny?
Skinny refers to a cocktail that contains fewer calories. They often are made with mixers that have fewer calories, but still pack a punch of flavor. For example, a Red Lobster Lobsterita packs an astounding 890 calories per glass, while a Chili’s Skinny Margarita comes in at a mere 110 calories.

It’s not diet, it’s skinny
Diet implies sacrifice, where as skinny signifies aspirations and intent. Utilizing the term is a smart move especially since sacrificing drinks is the last thing restaurants want patrons to do. Cocktails have a higher margin than food, so using a name that implies guilt-free indulgence instead of sacrificing, is key. Admittedly, calorie counters like me feel at ease ordering these skinny drinks and won’t be afraid to go for a second round since they perceive less of an impact on their diet. More drinks equals more money for the business, and less calorie counting for those enjoying the tasty concoctions. Winning

In terms of marketing, the re-branding of diet drinks by removing the negative associations and using a lighter feeling word is brilliant, and judging by the bottom line, effective. The cost of the name change is minimal while delivering a revenue stream that is anything but skinny. Talk about “fat “results.

Read more on the subject at AdAge