Allow me to rant about YouTube for a few minutes. I consume a lot of media via YouTube. I’m insatiably curious. I watch all kinds of media from all kinds of publishers from all over the world. Maybe you do too.
YouTube is sort of like TV, but worse in its use of advertising. TV has gotten bad; in fact, it is a shambles because they lost the narrative. Like many others, I cut the cord. Instead, I’m paying more for 4 or 5 different streaming services. The programming tends to be better overall. The user experience is not convenient. I want to pay less, have better programming and greater convenience.
TV used to have them on convenience, everything they offer all in one place, minus the pay walls. YouTube is convenient. I’m talking about the allegedly free version, but the user experience is horrible. Some of the content posted for free by its creators is awesome. Most of it is crap, but I get to choose what I watch and find programming I value and enjoy. The options are far greater and geekier than any traditional TV programming.
There is a more organic relationship on television between show creators, advertisers and the networks. They’re all in on the gag together. The use of advertising on YouTube is a vulgar onslaught, a cold, ill-timed smack in the face.
The internet serves up great ads and the worst dreck I’ve ever seen. Your perfectly executed idea is surrounded by crap. Rarely is any of it delivered with respect for the programming or the audience. It’s a race to the bottom.
The ad servers have control and have no issue slapping you upside the head with an ad right in the middle of an extremely poignant moment. It may be a powerful interview, artist portrait, great musical performance, film, cutting edge news broadcast, you name it; but the robots and the people that built them do not give a damn about the quality of the experience.
There are no gentle hand-offs between programming and advertising. It’s hideous. I find it so annoying that it makes me dislike the brands involved. Advertisers beware, you are turning off your potential customers because the ad servers that you pay to deliver impressions don’t really care about you or your customers.
The system is gamed against us both. Advertisers pay for impressions and the impression is, “go piss off.”
The latest trick of the platform is to have advertisers create short ads that the user is not allowed to skip. These ads are just as annoying. Recently, I noticed that it takes multiple taps on the skip button before it skips. Frustrating. I can’t skip fast enough and I’m not alone, and they know it.
Then there are the long form spots, the 15-minute variety. Some of these spots are longer than the programming. If you let these play the entire way through, you no longer remember the sentence or whatever, when the ad cut off your program. The people behind these platforms do not care about your brand, about your potential customers, or your sales. They only care about their sales; not about the negative impression they are fomenting about your brand.
When programming, networks and advertisers work together to create a quality experience everyone benefits. This is the power of the traditional broadcast model. It’s not too late to fix it, to get back to delivering a quality experience. The broadcast networks need to fight back with better programming. YouTube needs to go to school. Netflix is now entering the fray with the “free version.” Perhaps they’ll do a better job.
In the meantime, we’re all paying the price.
What was true during the American Revolution is still true today and applies equally well to the media. Better together.
The hyperbolic segmentation of media is a landscape of diminishing returns. With some notable exceptions, media performance reviews leave more questions than answers.
The ideal scenario is one of ever improving ROI as refinements are made, not only in the creative, but critically in the media buy. To optimize results also means lowering costs.
Media technology companies have extraordinary ability to target and segment audiences and should generate strong results. At least that’s the goal. Conversely, too much segmentation can drive up costs, reduce ROI and add to the confusion.
Media-tech is very good but, in their ambition to drive their technology forward they have lost the thread. Media strategists and buyers have a tough challenge to untangle the gordian knot. Brands deserve optimized ROI, not more ways to spend money on media.
The right media mix is not a kitchen junk drawer of guess work. The right mix more closely resemble a well-organized silverware drawer.
Too often, media cannot explain itself and the default is to start faulting the creative work. It may indeed deserve the criticism, but it should not be the first place we look for improvement.
Here’s why, media spread sheets look like certainty but just as often, turn out to be an inexplicable hot mess. All you need do is ask a few probing questions. Don’t take my word for it.
Before the creative ever hit the media, it has been developed with audience insight and research and goes out into the world with some earned confidence.
Thanks to vast segmentation and targeting, media today needs to be considered within the discipline of direct response. Direct response methodology would employ control and test groups to refine the mix and optimize results to a final plan. Then, with incremental decisions, make adjustments with A/B splits of media and creative to achieve optimization.
This approach at first appears more costly but in the long run achieves optimization with assurance. Quarterly readouts of media performance are insufficient for the dynamic nature of media today. Monthly readouts in context of a rolling 30-day strategic plan that seeks optimization and learning offer brands increased efficiency and confidence.
If done correctly, ROI modeling utilizes segmentation as a tool and not an end in itself.
Are you creating killer content?
Is your content engine in overdrive? A boiling, overheated, over expressed machine. Are you choking the very channels from which you hope to win new customers and build deeper relationships?
Not all content is created equal. And not every potential consumer touch-point warrants the presence of your brand.
The buyer’s journey is almost always a process of discovery, investigation, ingestion, peer-to-peer consultation, more investigation, purchase consideration, then the purchase of the winning brand. It’s not a linear journey.
Consumers need downtime. They need free space to think, confer with friends and thoughtful consideration of their options. They need ad free, clutter-free space. They need respect.
Robotic ad buying and over-zealous social media content stuffing can destroy brand engagement.
Too much, is well… too much. And enough is enough. Brands that lack insight and deep strategy default to polluting their own channels; paid, owned and earned.
Clients are spending untold amounts of money on bad content decisions. Content strategy should be a very direct and meaningful extension of your brand idea. Your brand idea needs to express the desires of your customers.
The story of your brand is the story of your customers.
Telling this story in the most meaningful, relevant and respectful way is the ultimate expression of your brand.
This compilation video offers a nice snapshot into the connectivity we discovered between the creative pursuits of these artists and the work they do 9-5, in short, creativity in the workplace. If you have not seen the show at the Spring Street Gallery in Saratoga Springs you should stop in to the gallery. The show will be up a few more weeks, catch it if you can. The video linked here is a compilation of videos about the show, you might enjoy watching it. It’s too short for popcorn but important enough to leave you with something stuck in your head, if not your teeth.
It would be great to see more people expressing themselves through the arts, to put away fear and self-doubt and to create for the simple act of creating itself. It is powerfully liberating. The journey of any passionate artist is one of both refinement of skill and changing conceptions. Skill and creativity do not necessarily travel hand-in-hand. Some artists are much more advanced in their skill level than others but this by no means diminishes the power of self-expression of artists with lesser skill.
I’d like to personally thank the following people and organizations for their help and support in bringing this show together; Charles Wait, Chairman and CEO of Adirondack Trust Company, Mayor Joanne Yepsen of The City of Saratoga Springs and Angelo Calbone, President and CEO of Saratoga Hospital, their employees and in particular their internal communications, HR and marketing people who’ve been instrumental in getting the word out. Lori Goodale was not only one of the catalysts in the creation of the show, she has also been integral to the successful implementation, execution and coordination all communications with the participating organizations, as well as external media relations. Thank you Lori, for wearing so many hats, including the time coding of the video edits.
I also have to give thanks to Augie’s Restaurant for agreeing to supply their great food so we can all sup while we enjoy the show. Thank you to Gabby Delattibodier Wright for her art promotion and event planning support in bringing needed resources to the show. To Benj Gleeksman for picking up the ball and running with the design of the promotional materials to bring further awareness to the show — go Benj! Thanks also to Belinda Colon, for her excellent sense of story and translating that to the mounting and exhibition of the show. This is no easy task with a mix media show such as this. I hope you take the time to appreciate not just the work but the presentation as well.
Thanks too, to Ed Murphy, Executive Director of Workforce Development Institute for the enthusiastic support of his team as well as their financial assistance to offset some of cost of the show.
Thanks to these members of the extended Brandforming team, Erica O’Rourke and her team at Social Radiant for taking on the task of sharing the idea and promotion of the show through social media channels. Thank you to John Wager and his team at Galileo Media Arts for lending their talents to film the leadership interviews and other certain aspects of the show. Thanks in this regard must also go to Hudson Payer a very talented senior at Saratoga Springs High School, who jumped in last minute and agreed to film some of the individual artist interviews.
In many ways, this is a show about community, about the people and organizations that make Saratoga Springs such a wonderful place. Spring Street Gallery is a unique space, that is entirely not-for-profit. This makes it very liberating but also challenging for Maureen Sager to achieve the kinds of results that she does; shows that are wonderful examples of art, artists and the relationship of art to our lives. Shows that wake you up to the power of the arts, that challenge thinking and that inspire you to walk out a bit differently then when you walked in. This is one of the great purposes of art curation, if not of art itself. I, for one, walked into Spring Street Gallery a different person than I am today and for this I can not thank Maureen enough for her trust and her steady hand as she continues to guide, challenge and inspire me in all aspects of this show.
Last and most certainly not least — but most of all — thank you to the brave and creative artists who put their heart and soul into everything they do.
Head For The Heart.
We all know the story about how creative we are as kids and by the time we’re adults most of us lose it all. The arts in our schools are often the first thing to go when budgets are tight and the emphasis has always been in favor of the other core disciplines. But now it seems we’ve taken it all a bit too seriously and downgraded the arts in school to the point that is becoming a blind spot on the national agenda.
The major effort in our schools is to ground our children in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM for short. This is a great curriculum with a noble goal, to make sure our future leaders are at the top of their game to help keep our country and our economy a vital global resource. There is only one thing missing from this concept and that is the arts. STEM to STEAM is the mantra many have adopted to overcome this direction. But are the arts and creativity really missing altogether, or just under appreciated?
To put the Arts back on the table as a priority for our children we need to recognize the arts as essential in driving creativity across all disciplines. I hope when you see the show and read about these artists that you will see for yourself the important connection between the arts and these other forms of knowledge that are represented by STEM. By leaving out the Arts we are in fact doing a great disservice to our children and our future. It is for this reason that the show will benefit our local schools through a matching donation to the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning.
The program is the spearheaded by Michael Piccirillo, Superintendent of Saratoga Springs City School District, and it was borne out of the need he and his team identified to push the envelop and constantly look for ways to innovate in the education of our children. I had the chance to spend some time speaking with Mr. Piccirillo and I can say we are very fortunate to have him at the helm of our schools. Mr. Picirrillo is full STEAM ahead. You can see the discussion here. I hope you’ll come to the show and drop a few dollars in the bin so the foundation can keep doing great things for our kids.
In addition to seeing Mr. P’s video, check into our social media and keep an eye out for a series videotaped discussions with a few of the artists in the show. These video discussions will become available during the lead-up up to the show, follow the story here.
We solicited participation of artists from three large employers here in Saratoga, The Adirondack Trust Company, The City of Saratoga and Saratoga Hospital and we started with the leaders of the organizations. Through a series of one-on-one conversations with the executive leadership it was immediately apparent that not only did they enthusiastically support the idea and the participation of their employees in the show, but that they were highly attuned to the benefits of the arts and creativity in the lives of their teams and their organizations as a whole. You can see the conversation here.
To date, we have work from more 50 artists enrolled in the show with a healthy mix of creativity from original music to painting, photography, poetry, quilting — a tour-de-force of artistic and personal expression.
To be continued…
Earlier this year I was asked to curate an art show. I’ve never done this before, and leapt at the opportunity to get involved.
People who don’t work in traditionally defined creative roles are quick to point out how little creativity they have, in a very self-diminishing sort of way. This became the inspiration for our show.
We are all inherently creative and even those of us who work in jobs and careers that are not defined as creative, use creativity every day. To be human… is to be creative.
Many people go through their day-to-day lives without noticing just how creative they are and how their creativity helps them with everything from washing dishes, to driving the car, to helping their children with their homework. Creativity, in one very big sense of the phrase, is problem solving and how we innovate. Certainly, this is how it is thought of in commercial terms. But in a purely artistic sense, as a mode of expression, it gives us so much more. Not enough of us engage our senses in the sort of self-expression that makes the arts such an incredibly rich part of world culture.
Some people are much more tapped into the energy of their creativity and express themselves in all the ways that society enjoys so much through the arts. Most of us sit on the sidelines because it takes a great deal of courage to express ourselves in this way. Perhaps by drawing out the connection between the arts and creativity and the jobs and careers so many of us have, we may gain deeper insight into who we are and inspire more people to express themselves through the arts.
The creative work in the show is the product of individuals who are inspired by their own need to create. These are individuals that have overcome the self-doubt and the insecurities that hold so many people back, especially when we’ve been taught from a very young age that perhaps we are not very creative. I’d like people to think about this when they see the work because the show is going to feature the creativity of people who are not normally considered creative, especially in their day-to-day roles. We’re going to explore how the creative work they produce informs their day jobs, be they bankers, surgeons, nurses, tellers, engineers…whatever they do during the day…they are artists through and through.
To be continued….
In late June Brandforming was in engaged by Maserati of Albany to help launch their dealership. There are currently only 18 dealerships across the US that represent Maserati of North America. Compare this to Chrysler which, by one account, has 2,390 Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealerships in the United States or BMW with 350 and right away you see the exclusivity of the offering. Maserati is one of the great marquees of the auto world, sought after for their combination of high performance and luxury.
The challenge for Maserati of Albany is that the dealership officially opened with the arrival of their first cars in June, however, the dealership retail store will not be completed until some time next year.
So how do you launch a dealership without a destination worthy of the cars themselves?
The Brandforming team sat down with the owners of the dealership, the DePaula family, to discuss some ideas and gain some insight into their approach to running one of the most successful Chevrolet dealerships in the entire country. During our conversation we were interrupted by a number of calls from customers. Every call was answered and every need attended to by a member of the DePaula family. This was a great example of why DePaula were awarded one of the few Maserati Dealerships in the US, impeccable service.
As members of the community, the DePaula family support a number of charitable organizations. From these insights was born the idea for the introduction of the Maserati brand to the Albany Capital Region.
La Dolce Maserati and the #DePaulaDriveForACause were conceived as a way to link the charitable works of the DePaula Family with their love of automobiles.
The program consists of an auction prize, La Dolce Maserati, presented at a series of Gala events in Saratoga as part of an on-going charitable program call the DePaula Drive For A Cause.
La Dolce Maserati features 2 packages for 4 people, a total of 8 from each event, to experience the sweet life. On Oct. 4 participants will board the scenic Saratoga-North Creek Railway. They will ride in a vintage art deco dining car with a glass viewing roof and take in the views as they travel north into the mountains. The train ride was donated by the Saratoga and NorthCreek Railway. On board the train, participants will be served fine Italian delicacies compliments of Mazzone Hospitality. Upon arrival in North Creek, guests will be greeted by members of the Maserati team. Once checked out with their cars, participants will head off for a spirited drive through the mountains. On the return trip, guests will receive more food and beverage and a gift bag to continue La Dolce Vita at home.
We developed the package and set to work creating the content to drive the engagement. Activation consisted of placement of content about the event in Gala brochures, placement of cars at key venues around Saratoga, plus an exciting public relations package. The package included test rides for the media at opening day of the the horse track in Saratoga. This highly engaging content became the backbone of the social media strategy.
The Brandforming team executed this with flawless precision. The DePaula Drive For Charity continues to receive enormous support from the community; with nearly $20,000 raised for various charities, including Saratoga Hospital. The Oct 4 train ride is sold out with 50 participants. Maserati of Albany went from near zero awareness to being top of mind and the talk of the season. Best of all, they sold a number of these very fine automobiles and elevated support for their favorite charities.
People love knowing they can have fun and help their community at the same time, we couldn’t agree more.
A great deal of what the team achieved can be found on the event Facebook page The page and various posts reached well over 3 thousand people, achieved 450 likes and it’s been followed by local media. In addition, we achieved media pickup during a national horse racing broadcast, primetime news coverage and front page press coverage — you can find it all on the Facebook page.
This case proves, once again, that when you #HeadForTheHeart, great things happen. Look for another blog post about this project as we move into the fall.