Mindshare’s Antony Young on Cannes: Smart Brands Find Ways to Plan Campaigns Less

Reflecting Events in Real Time and Adapting to Consumer Response

 Published in Ad Age: June 25, 2013

The music business was arguably the first industry to be totally disrupted by the internet. It’s had to re-invent itself to be more lean, more relevant, more creative and more savvy about marketing. And at one of the most interesting sessions I saw last week during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I began to think other kinds of marketers could learn a lot from the music industry’s eventual response.

Interscope Records doesn’t over-plan its campaigns, said Jennifer Frommer, a senior VP of branded content and culture at the label, whose artists include Gwen Stefani and Eminem. Listening to the social signals and reaction on the street very much steers its next steps. Unlike most major marketers in other categories, which demand and exert total control over new product rollouts, Interscope almost always “leaks” a song or video — and tries to adapt its plans based on the response. The label had three goes at marketing Robin Thicke, for example, each time making adjustments, before “officially” launching “Blurred Lines.”


When Interscope was promoting the soundtrack to “The Great Gatsby,” Fergie and Q-Tip’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” started getting pick-up. That helped the label convince Samsung to co-promote it, shoot a full musical video within a week and release it as a single. The mantra, according to Ms. Frommer: “Listen, adapt, adjust and shift.”

I saw some evidence at Cannes that many brands are already following similar paths. During the red carpet lead-in to this year’s Oscars, for example, Pantene had an artist on hand to sketch pictures of stars’ hairstyles, originating and posting content in real time on how to replicate the stars’ look with Pantene products.

One Cannes panel described Miller Lite’s work with Brad Keselowski, the Nascar driver who added more than 100,000 new followers on Twitter by tweeting photos from inside his car during a delay in the 2012 Daytona 500. Nascar had responded to his Daytona stunt by banning smartphones from race cars, so Miller Lite let him dictate tweets during this year’s race.miller

But marketers’ new approach is broader than a social media stunt; we are starting to see more sustainable programs that contribute to hard sales. Our team in the U.K. picked up a Gold Media Lion for Kleenex work using Google data on searches for “flu and cold remedies” to help understand where to shift TV and radio media budgets. These efforts were rewarded with 40% uplift in sales. Getty Images’ campaign by R/GA also capitalized on searches, evaluating the images people were looking for and inserting relevant images into ads.

Twitter Chief Media Scientist Deb Roy, meanwhile, used Cannes to pitch its new product allowing brands to target promoted tweets toward people who tweet about particular shows — and therefore probably saw brands’ commercials there.

In many ways the industry is shifting toward planning campaigns lessCoca-Cola Global Content Director David Campbell said in one Cannes workshop that that execution should shape strategy in real time. And as a planner — okay, a former planner — I’m excited how this emphasis on response and speed is challenging conventional norms of planning. We all need to be more fluid. How you respond could well be more important than what you plan.


Native Advertising Is Making Media Brands Count for More, Not Less

The Media World Is Going ‘Native’ and That’s Good News for All of Us

By:    Published in AdAge.com : May 29, 2013


You’ve no doubt heard the term “native advertising” in the past few months — possibly far too often for your taste.

Internet Week, most recently, teemed with native-ad mania; I counted at least half a dozen panels entirely devoted to the subject last week in New York. Some pundits are heralding native advertising as the commercial savior of social media and mobile advertising, while others make the (related) claim that native ads will mean the death of the banner. BuzzFeed’s president and COO boldly declared that “Native advertising is going to be the only advertising.” …. All this when few can actually event agree on the definition.

I personally like the description, from Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg, of “ad strategies that allow brands to promote and weave their custom content into the endemic experience of a website or app.”

Native ads differ from traditional ad formats by adopting the visual design and content feel of a publisher’s site or technology. Examples include Facebook’s sponsored stories, Twitter’s promoted tweets and of course BuzzFeed’s sponsored posts (in which BuzzFeed now offers a program to train agencies).

But I would not limit it to digital media. Broadcasters have been effectively doing something similar for brands. Take for instance ESPN’s play for Coors Light, working its “Cold Hard Facts” into game coverage. Radio has helped deliver very localized forms of content to national brands. And advertorials and sponsored sections within magazines and newspapers have always been an option for brands.

Does that mean the media business is trying to affix a new label onto an old idea? Perhaps some may be, but overall I’m seeing some fresh views of how the media, marketers and agencies are choosing to evolve the business. Existing media are challenging long-held, idealistic lines between editorial and advertising. Emerging media are inventing new forms of brand messaging. Whatever label you want to use, I very much like the idea of native advertising and where it potentially is taking our business.  Here’s why:

Marketers will truly have to think about putting consumers first. 
The premise of native advertising is for brands to lead with content. To succeed, marketers need to develop content that consumers actually want to see in the context of the environment where they find it.

The most successful example of native advertising is Google Adwords. Consumers recognize it as advertising but respond to it because it’s useful to them in the context of what they’re searching right then. Native advertising starts with the question, “Why are consumers spending time here, and what can we do to engage them in this place and time with our brand?” That’s in stark contrast to the pure advertiser-driven model of putting the brand first and pushing it at them.

Media brands are going to count for more.
Forbes BrandVoice works for advertisers because of the equity that Forbes has established with its audience. The location within Forbes.com and the print edition lends credibility to companies that participate in this program — but only so far as Forbes’ credibility remains. Intelligent consumers also know that Forbes won’t want to damage the trust in their brand.

This approach is valuable to the media brands looking to distinguish their offering and value and that fear they are being commoditized in a marketplace where real-time bidding on ad inventory and automated ad networks are growing.

Native advertising is generating innovative ways for brands to partner with media.
When American Express partnered with Twitter, it looked to identify areas where the brand and the medium might marry. The result was Amex Sync, where card members could get products and special offers with their synced American Express Card by tweeting special hashtags. (Amex is a Mindshare client, but we didn’t handle this specific program with Amex Sync.)

Native advertising is helping drive adaptive marketing. 
I’ve written on numerous occasions here about adaptive marketing, where marketers respond rapidly to events. AOL’s Huffington Post development of its Newsroom product is a great example of how native advertising can facilitate this. In case you missed this, the Huffington Post is allowing brands to tap into topical and relevant news content that breaks, by developing related native brand messaging and posting it on the site’s home page within two hours.

The ad industry has successfully built a business out of being highly creative with a handful of standard formats … the 30 second spot, the full page print ad, the 10×20 billboard. Native advertising challenges us all to be as creative in thinking outside of those boxes.

If you have any examples of great native advertising, feel free to share them in the comments box below.

Antony Young is CEO of Mindshare North America, a WPP strategy and media investment agency. He recently wrote “Brand Media Strategy,” a Palgrave MacMillan and Advertising Age publication offering strategies on communications planning in the Google and Facebook era.

Going Beyond the 30 Second Ad is Not Only Desirable, it’s Now Essential

How a Content First approach to brand communications is creating more engagement

By Antony Young, CEO Mindshare North America

The 30 second ad has served us well as the staple for awareness building and driving brand familiarity.  However, the speed at which media is being viewed across multiple devices; the increasing scale and influence of social platforms; and how consumers now more than ever are dictating where, when and what media they choose to consumer is causing us to re-think how brands need to engage them.

That’s why I think that one of the most important ideas that agencies will have to adopt is a Content First approach to media.  If our role is to figure out how best to influence consumers, then we have to take a more strategic perspective on where to deliver ads as well as what type of content and content formats are best placed to meet brand communication goals.

Using Longer Form Content To Drive Reappraisal

royal carribbeanWhen Royal Caribbean looked to get first time cruisers to book, this presented them some real challenges.  A 30-second spot alone would not be enough to overcome all the misconceptions about cruises with which the brand needed to content.  Long form story telling was necessary to draw the consumer into the true onboard experience and shift consideration and reshape perceptions.  So Royal Caribbean agreed to develop two short films shot on their flagship “Allure of the Seas: ship featuring Jenny McCarthy and James Brolin.  The storyline incorporated their amenities onboard and gave viewers a more entertaining and organic view of the onboard experience.

 Shorter Form Commercials Are Increasingly becoming As Important

With 1 in 3 digital minutes now spent on a mobile device, when advertising a brand there’s a fine line between annoyance and acceptance that needs to be managed.    During College Basketball’s March Madness, the NCAA pushed out via Twitter live video game highlights of plays as they took place.  Followers could click on to the tweeted link that ran 5 second AT&T spots before the content.  A thirty or fifteen second spot would have certainly been a turn-off, but a short 5 second spot close up, seemed an acceptable trade for real time content in providing a positive consumer experience for basketball fans.   A Content First strategy ensures the consumer experience decides the messaging formats.

Content is About Really Putting the Consumer First

In truth, while we in the ad industry talk about putting consumers first, the reality is that creating ads is really about putting the brand at the center.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Content, however, plays a different role, in that rather than being focused on brand wants, it is targeted to consumer needs…for information, entertainment, expertise, etc.

HSBC’s Commercial  Banking group wanted to attract small to mid-size companies seeking to expand their business internationally.  Business without Borders – an online platform was created for businesses looking to expand outside of the U.S.

With HSBC we worked with the The Wall Street Journal, Economist Intelligence Unit and Bloomberg to curate business tools, global trends articles, and market analysis and complemented it with relevant financial information and resources.  LinkedIn provided an additional platform to connect this content to the right people, and activate a community of business professionals.

Business without Borders has become a meeting place where members develop relationships and share their experiences as part of the global economy.

In this case, thinking Content First helped to create utility, offer expert advice and help business professionals, exactly the brand proposition that HSBC are looking to establish.  That would have been difficult to achieve with traditional advertising.

Technology is fueling numerous new content opportunities

Some evolving technologies are helping us to create more powerful and relevant advertising opportunities.  When SAP tweeted links to New York Times content they felt was relevant to their CXO followers , SAP through a technology called Ricochet was able to own all the display ad positions around these articles on the NY Times web page.  This not only provided branding of valuable content to their customer, but click through rates that tracked 14 times higher than their response norms.

 makersBranded Content Needs to be Both Social and Shareable

One of the important pay outs in a Content First strategy is driving earned media.  It’s a universal truth that consumers are going to be more likely to share content than ads.  I really loved how Unilever teamed up with AOL and MAKERS Founder and Executive Producer Dyllan McGee to develop its Makers.com program for facial skincare brand Simple.  Simple’s goal was to celebrate women whose authenticity, ideals and pioneering spirit inspire others every day.  AOL helped develop a video platform to produce and share some 160 amazing stories of empowering and inspirational women that helped to make America … from Hillary Clinton to Hope Solo and Ellen DeGeneres.  The content program, TV special on PBS and surrounding events for the program drove advocacy amongst opinion formers, delivered this at scale generating over 200 million earned impressions via editorial, social mentions and raging endorsements from top beauty magazine editors to influential bloggers.

Data is Creating Adaptive Content Marketing Opportunities

We are seeing examples of how marketers are adapting their messaging by combining data and creativity.  Take what The Home Depot is doing with The Weather Channel.  Tapping the Home Depot banner on the Weather Channel’s mobile app sends you to their mobile ecommerce site, which dynamically showcases products extracting weather conditions and location data of the user.  Very cool.

Today’s crowded market creates more obstacles than ever before for advertisers, making it an increasingly difficult task to stand out and be heard.  The answer doesn’t start in the boardroom with a handful of executives creating an ad that is then pushed out.  It starts in the world, with a single consumer looking for information and entertainment, and a brand that is listening.

[An edited version appeared in Adage.com http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/30-ad-a/240857/]

Media provides marketers into cultural and consumer insights …

The Rise of Pinterest and of Image-Based Tweets Shows New Movement

By:  Published in Ad Age: March 06, 2012
There was a time when media planners’ role was limited to determining where marketers should advertise. The world has so moved on.

Today media agencies and media departments are wonderfully placed to deliver a richer understanding of consumer viewpoints, shopper intentions and cultural trends.

Each year I make it a point to attend MTV’s upfront presentation — and not because its party has the best headline acts. (Last year it was Bruno Mars, the year before it was Train.) MTV more than anyone else really “gets” millennials — the largest and most important consumer segment. The popularity of shows like “16 and Pregnant” and its “Teen Mom” followup helps us understand a generation that is embracing responsibility and social issues. MTV’s revival of “Beavis and Butthead” supports another trend we’re seeing among millennials: the popularizing of the 1990s as the hip decade.

TV of course has always been a barometer for popular culture. When “Friends” first the air in 1994, it offered a window into Gen X-ers at a time when they were exploring a new kind of tribal bonding. The quick popularity of “24” showed a hardening of the public’s stance on security post9/11. And popular shows such as “Modern Family” and “Glee” include prominent portrayal of lead gay characters in interesting stories, indicating something of a coming out for Middle America.

Then last month, rather astoundingly, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” surpassed Fox “American Idol” in the ratings. Yes, this could be a sign that the longtime ratings king is tiring, but perhaps it’s also a validation that geeks and technology have officially become cooler than chasing fame and fortune.


But it’s not just TV anymore.

At Mindshare we’re seeing a consumer movement toward a more visual culture brought on by technology and media. Smarter devices are prompting more occasions for people to create and consume visual content, while social media is encouraging that content to be shared on multiple platforms.

This is manifesting itself in text-based tweets’ giving way to photo and video tweets, Google+ hangouts that facilitate group video, the proliferation of infographics at news outlets, viral sharing of Photoshopped images and, most recently, the rise of Pinterest, the online pinboard for sharing images and video — and currently the fastest-growing social-media platform.

Consumers are compiling and sharing photos and video, like an earlier generation collected LPs and bumper stickers, as their version of defining and projecting their individual identity.

Insights derived from the way consumers use media can help drive more potent communications. The breakthrough advertising idea for Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” to use real, life-size models, involved a lot of exploratory work with consumers. But one supportive insight came from the media, when the planning team learned that 80% of women felt worse about themselves after reading a beauty magazine.


When Estee Lauder saw how Facebook profiles were becoming an important social currency for young women, the cosmetics marketer made digital photographs available at in-store makeup counters so that consumers could post them to their profile pages.

The opportunities for insights are beginning to seem endless. If you want to know when to advertise to vacation planners or wedding planners, then check out Google to understand the patterns of when and what people are searching.

Before you advertise in media, see what the media can tell you about how to advertise.







Adaptive Marketing … How Brands Can Use Data to Personalize and Market Themselves

Google took a lot of heat last month when it announced its decision to incorporate personal data into its search results. The “Don’t Be Evil” people were vilified by commentators and competitors. But its move was just another step in a shift by many marketers toward more actively tracking and responding to consumers.

Amazon gives shoppers personalized recommendations. Nike lets runners customize their trainers via Nike ID. Coca-Cola has introduced Freestyle vending machines, which enable patrons to create their own beverage by mixing together existing Coke products and then sharing their favorite creations with their friends via Facebook.

Consumers are increasingly comfortable providing their information with companies they know will use it to help personalize their products and communications, or companies providing essential services such as insurance. According to a recent study in the U.K., 75% of consumers that have an existing relationship with a company are happy to share their information with it, while 62% would share their information with a company selling products or services they need.

At Mindshare we have a name for this accelerated data-driven and consumer-focused mentality:adaptive marketing. It’s an approach that enables marketers to truly tailor their activities in rapid and unparalleled ways to meet their customers’ interests and needs based on data. It’s not just about advertising, but adapting every part of the marketing mix as well as the product itself to connect more consumers with the brand, make it more relevant to everyone and deliver more benefits.

Why is this the most exciting development in marketing in decades?

Adaptive marketing allows you to create more personalized brands, thereby eliminating commoditization. Adaptive marketing rips apart the concept of “the consumer,” a label that marketers have used to conveniently aggregate a picture of who they are trying to sell to. It assumes a classic model of mass-production, mass-appeal products promoted in mass media. The problem with this model is that it speaks to the most basic of needs, resulting in lowest common denominator marketing. This drives brands towards commodification, resulting in downward pressure on pricing… every marketer’s doomsday scenario.

You can personalize your Kleenex box.

You can personalize your Kleenex box.

KLM lets you link your network with your seat.

KLM lets you link your network with your seat.

Adaptive marketing looks to debunk that model. Personalizing a product to a customer increases its relevance and customer satisfaction, making it less likely they will want to switch brands.

Kleenex has introduced personalized packaging to great effect. M&M’s allow you to order customized candies. Dutch airline KLM has just introduced a service called “Meet & Seat” to help travelers decide who they might want to sit next to by linking your Facebook or LinkedIn profile to your flight. (Presumably, you could also use the service to decide who not to sit next to.)

Behavioral pricing is an interesting idea that’s being discussed where brands could differentiate pricing based on data collected. For example, consumers that “like” a brand could in theory conceivably be prepared to pay more. For prospects which have searched or visited a brand online, a marketer might be more willing to provide a bigger incentive to purchase.

Adaptive Marketing is about being more responsive to customers more quickly Communication is an essential part of the approach. Whirlpool responds individually to people complaints raised online about their appliances. Companies such as Starbucks and Apple for years have been crowdsourcing for new product and service ideas within communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Today’s media, technology and data provide the channels to facilitate adaptive marketing. In a way media has always been integral in steering marketing strategy. National broadcast TV helped broad branding and awareness drive advertising. Magazines create opportunities to segment the market and promote products to niche targets. The early days of the internet ushered in e-commerce marketing.

Of course direct-response agencies have preached some element of response-based marketing for years. But the coming availability of addressable TV, location-based and hyper-local media platforms, digital out-of-home and the multitude of tablet and mobile media devices is making adaptive marketing a universal brand marketing opportunity.

Becoming an adaptive marketer can require serious structural changes. The entire media process — budgeting, planning, buying, and optimizing — needs to become more fluid and “always-on” rather than static and sporadic. Brands need to develop a library of creative assets — images, calls-to-action, applications — that can instantly be deployed into advertising units when required.

Aggregating, then mining, buyer and audience data to allow personalized product development, marketing and messaging is the key to unlocking adaptive marketing gold. That’s going to be the next space race for marketers and their agencies. We hope you’re ready.

Antony Young is CEO of Mindshare North America, a WPP media strategy and investment agency. Norm Johnstonis co-global digital lead of Mindshare Worldwide.

Why Marketers Had to Be at CES

Immersion Is Worth the Trip, Says Mindshare CEO Antony Young

By:  Published in AdAge.com : January 18, 2012
In a world where everything at CES is blogged, posted on YouTube or tweeted, you could be excused for questioning the value of making the trek to the scrum in Las Vegas each January.

But the difference between attending CES and reading about it is like the difference between going to a football game and watching it on TV. Like a football game, actually, CES offers massive crowds, underwhelming food and good odds you’ll miss something from your limited perspective. All that said, however, nothing beats just being there.

The visibility and insight you garner from being up close to the players, sharing conversations with other knowledgeable spectators and the encounters outside the main event, in my mind, make this a “must attend” venue for marketers.

So why is CES a valuable event and what does it bring for marketers?

It’s a tech show, but really it’s about understanding how content will be consumed
CES 2012 really hammered home to me just how technology and media continue to intersect in new ways. Tablets, smartphones, notebooks, TVs and the odd internet-enabled fridge are portals to entertainment, media and social interactivity. Smart mobile devices are poised to become the lead media consumption platform sooner or later. With a truckload of smarter, interconnected, smaller and cheaper mobile devices being showcased at CES, consumers will expect content to be smarter, on the go and 24/7. This is disrupting the way marketers have to think about creating and distributing marketing content.

But consumers are also going to be seeking free content to make the most of their new devices’ capabilities. I predict this will be the biggest opportunity for marketers in 2012.

There’s value in getting wet
Across their busy work schedules, marketers have been accustomed to getting information in drips: The odd article off a news feed, a chance meeting or visit by a vendor, a one-off panel at a conference or a half-year agency update on the latest media trends. Information comes dribbling in like a leaky tap. But CES is like standing under a high-pressure shower head that immediately gets you totally soaked. That’s when you really start to immerse in the media world and think more about taking action instead of being a spectator.

Speed dating … CES style 
It’s what happens outside the exhibit halls that really adds value to the week. The likes of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft and Twitter were all in attendance again this year, bringing their top execs to town. The clients that chose to attend the conference got to hear firsthand the latest offerings in a Silicon Valley-meets-upfronts-style event. I was impressed with AOL’s Huffpo HD, its venture into online social TV, a fresh alternative to a tired television model in need of updating. There were plenty of sidebar conversations that offered more individual and specific conversations for clients’ brands.

A chance to set New Year’s resolutions
Because CES takes place in early January, it gives marketers and agencies the opportunity to jointly engage in discussions at the start of a new year and lay down some resolutions. It’s a great platform to set some big goals about how you’re going to change and embrace the shifting landscape … a potential catalyst to make one or two big ideas happen.

I’ll see you again next year.



22 Hot New Social Media Tools Worth Exploring

A pretty good up to date list of the most current social media tools and services from the writer team of Social Media Examiner.

They range from blogging, twitter support.  To measuring and tracking results.  To helping users manage content.