I talked to Athena D’Amato one of the founders and the Director of Operations of Angle Media Group a little while ago about the changing world of rich media. Angle Media Group is a company that helps companies leverage the power of online video.
With an entire generation living in a world of screens that include televisions, computers, mobile devices, tablets and more it isn’t hard to see why video today is an essential element of any firm’s communication plan.
In our talk a few weeks ago Athena said that Angle Media creates videos, does motion graphics and helps clients get their videos online on the right platforms. They have called Research in Motion, Porter Airlines and Scotia Bank among others as clients.
Recently Scotia Bank hired Angle Media Group to do the training videos for their credit card services and once the videos were done Angle helped Scotia Bank by creating an online training platform where the videos would live. The platform allowed Scotia Bank to streamline the entire training process and provide the flexibility they didn’t have before.
Athena said that one of their passions lies with entrepreneurs and they work with the University of Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre to help start-ups turn cold leads into warm ones through video. Angle Media Group uses twitter and social media as a way to engage with their audience digitally.
Their video blog called Expert Angle is where they share the spirit of entrepreneurship through interviews with experts in their respective fields. Angle Media Group’s next step is to build of the foundation they have established and extend their business with their new web training platform that came out of the work they did with Scotia Bank.
Athena has had many interns hang their hat at Angle Media Group and believes strongly in giving them the chance to expand on their experience. Interns become part of the family and if Angle Media Group has work that meet’s a former intern’s skills they are contracted out for the work. Athena who runs the intern program at Angle wants to empower their interns to go out on their own to create, contribute and grow so they are more at the end than they were at the beginning of the internship.
Josie Chung as an online business development intern from Centennial College helped to manage their online and offline marketing activities and communications. She said that it has been a wonderful experience where she was able to be involved in events like Social Media Week while “learning the ropes of video and photography”.
She joins a great family of interns who have come through Angle Media over the last 3 years. Included in the roster is Wes Bos who got the entrepreneur itch to start his latest venture Deal Page, a deal aggregator for all the Groupon clones that have set up shop over the last year.
Angle Media’s Jordan Monaghan their Director of Accounts said that one of the most challenging things when pitching clients is to understand where their clients are at. Jordan says that “this occasional uncertainty makes it really hard to give specifics in a presentation or make a direct proposal”.
I asked Jordan through email about what was the one video they have done that received the most unexpected reception? He said that a fun, short and simple one minute video they did for themselves got a great reaction from the community. It was a reminder to clients “that when your audience is watching online with 6 other windows open, it’s often best to keep it short and direct.”
Jordan said that according to comScore online video views from September 2010 to March 2011 grew 37% and that Canadians watch more online video than their American counterparts. Jordan says that online video for marketing and communications is “less of an option than an expectation”.
Angle Media Group continues to help their clients with their video needs be it for messaging, training to everything between. Athena, Jordan and Company have built a great company build on the spirit of entrepreneurship that continues to advice and help clients to create powerful video that standout among the noise.
It took a bit of time to get this up but we want to thank to Athena for talking with us, Jordan for his great perspective and Angle Media Group for continuing to do what they do. Remember to check out their video blog to learn how entrepreneurs are getting things done in the industries they love here.
At the Ad Week Presentation on the Future of Interactive Marketing Microsoft showed Pivot. This is an experimental technology that allows data visualization, sorting, and categorization on the fly.
The example they showed us at Advertising Week in New York was taking all the covers of Sports Illustrated throughout its history and having the ability to sort them based on content, like how many football covers they have had in the last ten years or by how many Issues had Tiger Woods on the covers. That is only the beginning of how Pivot can be used.
They say that Pivot could allow agencies that have a deep catalogue of assets to sort it based on how many impressions each piece had or by any other metric that they have on the creative executions.
What Mark said was that Pivot allows you to take large sets of data and organize them in a visual way. This has not been the first time that they have demoed the Pivot technology. In a TED talk Microsoft Live Labs Director Gary Flack demoed the technology to show how you can “interact with data in a way that is powerful, informative, and fun.”
The technology allows the viewer to arrange the data to common characteristics and like Deep Zoom allows you to get in for a closer look. Pivot can work with any kind of data and the uses are as varied as the information itself.
Below is the TED Talk that explains what Pivot is and how it can be used better than I could and here is the link to the article that explains it all from Microsoft’s website.
Adobe presented a panel with Steve Nesie, ECD of Deutsch NY, Philippe Meunier, CCO and Founder of Sid Lee, Tom O’Keefe, ECD of Draftfcb North America, Dave Schiff, Group CD of CP+B and Michael Lebowitz Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship.
The conversation started with what is a creative and what came out of it all was that creativity can come from anywhere. Creativity isn’t limited to creative and Mike said that creativity is the price of entry no matter what role you fill at Big Spaceship. It is fundamentally about creating a creative culture that breaks down the silos which are the bane of creativity in an organization.
While advertising has always been about the story in an age where platforms seem to be created overnight it is as much about the story as it is about the technique. Steve noted that in today’s world a brand’s story cannot be told through only one channel. Mike said that while TV will continue to light the way for the foreseeable future, it acts as the dynamite with the other channels being the fuses that will magnify the impact of a TV spot more than it could do by itself.
At this point they started talking about the conversation that happens around all the touch points of a brand. The conversation about the product will happen whether a brand is there or not and that conversation can often become what defines the brand to the audience not the communications around it. A brand is not just a story told by the corporation but it is the sum of its customer service.
In order to function in this dynamic and multichannel world brands need to embrace the loss of control. An example that Philippe gave was Best Force by Best Buy where a customer could text any employee at any time. This was an idea that shows the living link between customer service and a brand is more important than ever.
Mike gave an example to showcase the extremes of control that brands must let go of was Nestle saying don’t mess with the logo. Brands have no social graces and if you consider a brand to be the sum of all their actions then you have to know consumers will be the ones to call a brand out for their flaws and mistakes.
While the companies may be the brand stewards what I got out of this was that they need to understand that the consumer owns the brand just as much and in a much more personal way than the corporation does.
The conversation turned to who should be the brand steward. Often this happens to be the agencies who lead the creative charge. If there is one person or group in charge that can also be a detriment to all the partners involved and limit what they can do. A lead agency can’t do it all and as much as anything what you do must be driven by a brilliant and simple strategy you can take to your partners. Dave said that he thought that strategy was one of the most creative things you can do.
Brands need a soul they are not perfect, it isn’t about making no mistakes but using those negative experiences as opportunities that can lead to a positive experience for the consumer. Philippe said that in the digital world the key is to go fast, this is something I have heard again and again. Online you can make plenty of mistakes and improve as you go. You can’t be too rigid or else something is going to break.
What Mike said is that that do a lot of things fast because there has never been a cheaper time to fail than now. At Big Spaceship they prototype every day and sometimes a lot of small ideas as a whole can be even more successful than a single big idea.
This is a new age for brands as people can respond in real-time to issues they have with a brand and that is scary for these brands. The final question was if you could abolish anything what would it be? Mike said he wanted to kill the term lead agency, that agency supremacy should be constantly challenged so that you can get the best work.
To sum it all up agencies need to empower all their people to be problem solvers and have a culture of creativity that allows for ideas to come from anywhere and anyone. You have to do this faster than ever and not be afraid of failure because it has never been cheaper. Always challenge the lead agencies because that is how the best work rises to the top and it will keep those AOR’s on their toes and this never a bad thing.
I have heard all of this before in some shape or form and as they all talked you can see a division between traditional agencies and the digital ones in how they responded. How do traditional agencies breakdown the silos they created so long ago and can they move fast enough not to be enveloped by the waves. That is a question that remained unasked but one I which we all have to face at some point in the not too distant future.
The ICA held the Innovation Mandate Presentation and Out of Home event last Thursday on September 23rd at Andrew Richards Design in Toronto, ON. Chris Strutzman a former agency guy and now a Principal Analyst at Forrester was the headline speaker. He took his research in marketing and presented the case for what innovation means to brands, agencies, and marketers today.
Chris has had the chance to speak with the CMO’s of some of the world’s most well-known brands to understand how disruptive innovation like social media and mobile is changing the rule book that brands and agencies play by.
This experimentation in media has also put pressure on the traditional agency model which is in a state of flux due to the changes in communications. This is the chance for agencies to experiment with their very business model and is a necessary step in the industry’s transformation.
If all this innovation is happening then why do marketers often stumble out of the gate? Chris asked marketing leaders if they were a change agent and only 16% said that they were. What it comes down to is that sometimes following isn’t always the safe play and innovation is as much about starting the trend as it is about following it up.
How do you lead the trend and accelerate marketing innovation? To be an innovator you have to have a framework. This will help to prevent some of the stumbles and agencies must play a role in all the 4 P’s not just one or two of them. An example he gave for product innovation was HP working with designer Vivian Tam to have their netbooks make a statement; another would be CP+B’s contribution to the creation of Burger King’s chicken fries.
Promotion is what marketers and agencies are known for and something as simple as allowing the package to speak to consumers can make a difference. His example is what Heinz telling all ketchup lovers to unite on the label of the product itself, creating a story that envelopes the entire brand.
Place or distribution innovation is happening in Japan where brand experience machines are locally dynamic; knowing the weather and local events so each visit is different. Best Buy is working on creating rewards when you are in the store through an iPhone app that knows when you are interacting with products through the mic and ultrasonic frequencies.
The final P is price and one example of innovation that Chris gave happened in MLB where the San Francisco Giants introduced flexible pricing. This is pricing that changes based on the weather conditions or the opponents being faced. It provides an incentive for consumers to watch a game even if the weather may have a risk or showers or they may be facing a less popular opponent.
What you can see from all this is that innovation never occurs in isolation but really where the P’s overlap. Marketers and agencies must be media transformers and work where these elements crossover because that is where innovation lives. Agencies are becoming marketing communication agencies more than simple ad agencies that take a look at the entire picture not just pieces of it.
As agencies change Chris found that 75% of marketing leaders are planning to re-organize by 2011. Marketers realize what worked yesterday may work today and will definitely not work tomorrow. To thrive in the world of innovation you need to be an adaptive organization that strikes down the silos which are no longer a benefit but a curse to your success if you want to follow the innovation mandate.
I got the chance to talk to one of the headliners in the Creative Genius roundtable at CMA’s Marketing Week Rob Tarry a Partner and Associate Creative Director at Rethink Communications in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I asked beyond the work he brought what was his favourite piece he saw at the panel. It was a 600 meter projection installation on a series of grain silos by Sid Lee on the St Lawrence River called the image mill in Quebec City first done for their 400th anniversary. The sheer technical marvel of it and the fact that it earned a home in the 2008 Guinness book of world records made it a showstopper to everyone who could see it.
The focus of the panel was on the need for creatives and media to work collaboratively. The work that Rethink showed off at the panel tended to be for rather small, local clients. Rob found that smaller clients “were more likely to say yes because they were only on the scale of Vancouver or maybe BC wide” as opposed to trying to convince a large firm to do this type of thing nationwide which would be incredibly expensive.
Rob said that when you as a viewer just get an idea, where they are coming from, the point they are trying to make and you get it so well that you are ready to anticipate what comes next and you are looking for it. When you can let yourself go and anticipate where you are being taken that is what a good idea is all about.
I asked where is great work being done he said that it used to be that when he got started in advertising 10 to 12 years ago everyone had euro envy because they were the ones doing innovative, edgy fun things but it is different today “everywhere is Europe, everything is without borders and if it is a good idea it can play anywhere.”
He says that it is to the point now where you can’t tell where an ad is made for now it is just good or bad. In the old days it could feel that the strategy for “a campaign came down from the mountain top” whereas today it is definitely more collaborative at the better shows where it is much more collaborative at the beginning with the client, creatives and account people working together.
Rob said that he wants twitter to become something more than retweeting other people’s hilarity and for more home grown hilarity. To Rob the Internet in general is where your judgement and opinion can be spread far and wide with the click of a button and if you make a misstep you can get crucified. It is the nature of the internet according to him that forces people to become more polarizing than they might be normally. The internet in general tends to inflate both positive and negative opinions artificially.
Those that do blog and tweet know that in order to get noticed they have to get more and more extreme and even if they don’t feel that way they do it to get noticed by the masses online. Instead of bringing people together it can be unnecessarily combative jut to get noticed and even then the notoriety is fleeting.
Looking back on Marketing Week I found that even though each day had a different focus day one on digital day 2 on media they tended to blur into each other. Rob says while the Internet is infinitely capable is the audience willing to do these things? That is not something that cannot be assumed because like he said in the round table people can be lazy.
That is why small simple ideas like the camera in a banner ad that followed your mouse (was one of his examples) as it moved on screen could be successful. Whereas more elaborate ideas like mafia wars that require more effort may require more time and effort than most are willing to spend.
There is a segment of the population that are joiners and the Internet is inspiring more people to be joiners. Rob said as we all know that early it was thought that people wanted to be in these neatly trimmed walled gardens to then the Wild West where people would “be awash in a sea of data and didn’t know who to trust.”
To today where he feels we are in a happy middle ground where the Internet has found its biggest success. Where things are still vaguely familiar but you can go back to facebook and it is pulling things in from all over. People online don’t want people telling them where to go they want to aggregate it themselves.
What does Rob like creatively is when you have given people something to get where you have left a trail of breadcrumbs and they start following them and they want to know where it leads and “you’re having some fun, you’re playing a game, telling a story, you have a premise, you have action and it comes to a conclusion and people are interested enough to find out where the story goes that to me is a lot of fun.”
The challenge today is that there are no limits; no parameters at least before with a 30 second TV spot you have to be brief today the shackles are off. His thought echoes through the minds of marketers and advertisers as there are more and more channels to deal with which is one reason why collaboration between media and creatives will continue to be important and more abundant.
A great idea can travel and that is what everyone in the room at the panel is in search of, something that can stand tall and be heard. Marketers need to anticipate trends in the digital space and look for ideas that can travel because no matter the platform be it traditional or new media it will be the idea that will get people to pay attention.
I just wanted to thank Rob from Rethink Communications for taking the time to talk with me at Marketing Week about creativity and the Internet.
So my latest article for techvibes. I had the chance to talk with Rob Tarry from Rethink Communications. I learned a lot from him as someone who is trying to break through in the business. He is the type of guy I would love to grab a beer with. Hopefully it won’t be too boring for people to read.