Not this.Not this.Our deﬁnition of Hybridity owes the most to biology: “the offspring that cross breeding produces.”In a discipline that has historically housed two distinct functions (writing and art direction), it’s an easyconclusion at which to arrive.But anyone who’s worked with me will tell you i’m more a novelist than a copywriter, and this preso alonedemonstrates my dearth of design skills.So what’s a comms director doing in a creative department?
More like this.No, i’m not laying claim to unmatched genius.But i am making a case for a philosophical approach owing to Frank Lloyd Wright: organic architecture.I’m here to ensure that our work is in harmony with humanity and its environment.i believe we’ll make better work as it becomes:More responsive to need state.More recognizable.Easier to use.Sturdier.More seamless.More efficient.More accountable.More textured.More inclusive.More magical.
The things I care most about.Just to be clear, this is what i really care about the most.But, have speciﬁc topics germane to our craft that receive my most focused effort.a word of caution: this list is not exhaustive.I value a number of things not on this list, but either because they are not my expertise, or because i feel thatthey are more than covered by our standing expertise, i’ll leave them off.Neither is this list exclusive: the things that are on this list are in no way mine alone. Many we’ll share, and ionly highlight them to make a point about my personal contributions and what they ladder to.
Inputs.The necessary conditions for ideal output.
Stability. Sound, well-balanced communication structures that account for all processes, actions, and participants.should be self explanatory. The reason it’s here: it requires more rigor and bolt tightening in the creativeprocess, pre-production. some might describe this as “being in the weeds,” which i’m not condoning. Butbroader ecologies require better integration and more processes than narrow ecologies. they don’t call itintelligent design for nothing.Ever moreso, the notion of “dead simple” ideas will only be brought to bear with a bunch of unseen,complicated systems running in the background, in part, because channel neutrality will help deﬁne “deadsimple” big ideas moving forward.Because they have such impact on the ﬁnal creative product, systemic considerations should not be limited tothe purview of dev teams, media teams, and “others outside.”
Connectivity. Appropriate user inputs to affect beautifully orchestrated, user- sensitive output across all media.What this doesn’t mean is “matching luggage.”What it does mean is work with clearly established user signals and appropriate response postures thereto, andthe ability to optimize all channels from a central control desk.depth for the divers.message connection for the casual passersby.audience training for those in the middle.having comms that talk to one another, rather than a bunch of stuff thrown at a wall.these guys did it with superlative ﬂair: what could have been an internal dashboard was skinned and turnedoutward; baked into the execution so that users could watch along.analytics as branded expression? bonkers.
Findability. Application of structural precepts that increase our chances of being heard.This is: tagging. SEO. PR. Nomenclature. Pixeling. Remessaging. Media prescription. URL sniping. Hashtagsniping. Single-asset aggregation. Off-channel engagement aggregation at your chosen ﬁreside. letting go ofﬂash development, or at least mapping it for the crawlers well.I can’t stress enough how mission critical this becomes as we move into a fully user-dictated media experience.“chord cutters” are coming. be where they land.
Imperialism. An active agenda of inﬂuence expansion, with both current and prospective clients.Tomorrow solving.Scholarship. Brokerage. Consultative posture. Dot connecting.Educating clients away from facebook “like” generation (for the sake thereof).not just done because were awesome, or smarter than our clients.it’s done because to move quickly enough to be effective, you need decision makers concentrated and empowered, and you can’tdo that without trust.trust won’t come without us stepping up: of course we eat what’s on our plate, but we ask for (and sometimes reach for) more.this is especially true as the philosophy of storybuilding comes into sharper focus, and user inputs have greater impact on thestory to be told.also, a staging operation for the next thing (grace).
Efficiency. Grace. Processes that minimize friction and deftly distribute onus across the smallest possible team.Small teams=less signal interference+better division of labor=easier attribution=top shelf performance.
Notability. Indelible impact on culture.Not just measurement of, but optimization to, cultural resonance.
Accountability. Crisp articulation of goals up front. Appropriately diverse optimization strategies in ﬂight. Honest and exhaustive reporting on the back end.Could have just as easily been an input, but i ﬁnd this more journey than destination.Spun right, you’ll ﬁnd yourself with fresh, unexpected revenue models...and equally importantly, the credit to spend when it’s time to take calculated risks with your clients’ money,effort, and brand.
Panache. Conviction in our ideas, absent of any precedent that supports them. Underwritten by our commitment to accountability.Henry Ford said:“if i had asked people what they wanted, they’d have said faster horses.”the more you can demonstrate that a risk is well-calculated, the better. but at some point, you have to step offthe ledge.I bring Isaiah into it because cincinnati was having none of this when the Old Spice team at Wieden ﬁrstpresented him.“global brand,” they said. “the russians aren’t too keen on the brothers,” they insisted.But the team was able to weather these protestations, guide their client, and now look. you can’t imagine anyother way.
The Skinny -New IP -Questionable Quality -“Proof of Concept” Marketing Approach -Single Console Opp Window So: -Maximize Ship Window -Sell Hell, not Gameplay -Bubble Up, not Trickle Down -Go Hard on X360this case study i’lll show won us a best integrated cyber lion. but i assure you, we had no idea that thecampaign would get this big--we really had to build the demand ﬁrst, absent of any funding. We got 100K todo the entire highway to hell, and EA didn’t turn on the spigot for a wider campaign until three months beforelaunch.
Dante’s Inferno http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wBx0vEE94oHere’s the whole campaign at a glance.I’ll take you through highway to hell, because that’s where the unduplicatable, real magic happened; and forthe ﬁrst half, we thought it’d be all we could do for the title.
Month One: Limbo Challenge: Grab chat value at E3 with very little budget, no in-arena support and no assets. Solution: Stage a protest outside of E3, that identiﬁes Dante’s Inferno as the most beastly creation that could ever stain your soul.We killed it. Tons of chat value on the ﬂoor, writeups on all the major doors that had to go back and beupdated when the news broke that we were behind it.Our ﬁrst taste of the coveted “double-tap” PR exposure: we fell in love.That said, the real learning here: give people something to argue about. And leave the window open as long aspossible before you resolve (if at all).What’s the trick?Stay in character.Commit to a slow burn.Don’t market the marketing.What didn’t we do?Own the conversation with realtime digital.
Month Two: Lust Challenge: Conquest another notable gaming event with an analog stunt, against the heightened skepticism the fake protests generated. Solution: Get people on the ground at Comicon to create spinoff content tied to the game, being active proponents of their descent into sin along the way. Forget suspended disbelief, and go for shock. We win again. People get mad. Others laugh at them.We wind up on the yahoo front page and inspire broad conversations beyond the target group 8 months beforelaunch....Much to EA’s PR department’s chagrin, though the delight of our direct client.Deﬁnitely delivered something to argue about, but as we found, ethical quandaries simply aren’t as interesting asempirical quandaries.In part, because there’s no real resolution--just comment-ﬁeld-bound arguments between trolls.where’d we fall short? we didn’t study the conventions of the platform well.We weren’t rting. we were asking people to @mention us directly instead of leaning into the hashtag. etc., etc.Why? I was a late adopter of the platform, and as such, underdelivered for the campaign.I personally should have tightened that bolt.As lead comms planner, I fall on this sword. but i learned.
Month Three: Gluttony Challenge: Continue the HtH momentum with a now gun-shy client, and without the aid of a major industry event. Solution: Send key gaming bloggers a decadent lunch, then pin on a totally gross dessert as “punishment” for their gluttony.The bloggers barely picked it up; most that responded at all just sent us thank you notes.The few that did publish got very little engagement from their readership, and what they did get wasoverwhelmingly negative: “LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME.”So what went wrong?Mainly, we overestimated our cultural relevance. Because we had made so much noise, we ﬁgured people wouldpick us up just for continuity’s sake, even if it was a groaning: “look what those fools at EA are doing THIS month.”We failed to put this execution through the WWIC ﬁlter: anyone likes a free lunch, but it’s not necessarily fodder foraddressing and engaging your audience.Moreover, it was just a weak execution: our targets were gaming bloggers: it’s tough to gross out people whostereotypically live off of Doritos and cold pizza.Lesson learned.
Month Four: Greed Challenge: Shore up the waning conversation around the campaign using controversy as an accelerant. Double down on the WWIC aspects. The solution: Use live checks as open-ended solicitations for content, using conversation around the new FTC rules on disclosure as a backdrop. Follow-up with user-speciﬁc assets that beg a second post.The insight here was audience centric: the new FTC rules on bloggers’ disclosure were a big deal, and worthexploring.We knew we were giving people fodder with which to create, not merely report.This one blows UP.Crazy exposures, a bunch of (necessarily) distinct responses, then of course, the double tap when we followedup with the user-speciﬁc “sentencing.”In short, everything we could hope.What we didn’t know, but got lucky and hit on: transparency is key to getting the best reaction.the bloggers that did the best were all in the second half (of the responses): they were trying to top oneanother.here’s my favorite of all:
Month Four: Greed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-yo_2s-bO8The campaign takes off from here, in part because we were learning to ﬁnd a voice in pre-existingconversations. It guided the rest of the campaign.Instead of trying to have the conversation be about our IP, we chose to stoke an already importantconversation, with our IP along for the ride.
Month Five: Anger Challenge: Capitalize on the new followership and favorable light shed on EA by the Greed stunt. Build unique reach by targeting new bloggers. Solution: A Rickroll. In a box. That won’t cease till you break it apart with the supplied hammer. Angrily. A note inside saying you’ve been damned for the sin thereof. Duh.Continued success, even with the new bloggers, who weren’t (necessarily) attuned to the campaign as it hadbeen developing so far.again, we join a preexisting conversation, employing well known internet memes (unboxing, rickrolling) toencourage interaction among key tech inﬂuencers like boing boing and ars technica.once they participated, the onus was on them to decode the execution, and rebalance their world.We knew that in their writeups, they had to make mention of broader campaign elements to provide context.we had to trust them to do it.and they did.
Month Six: Heresy Challenge: Increase the volume of the Dante’s stunts against the masses. Develop and syndicate the comms ourselves, using audience as media, but not collaborators. The Solution: Create all necessary marketing materials for an earnest attempt at digitized piety. Seed via PR. Let the commenters to ﬁght it out. Reveal quietly.probably the most offensive thing we did, mainly because it was so low-ﬁ, that it was terribly convincing: itcreated false hope among evangelicals that someone had developed it in earnest.we got tons of letters of support, even a few offers for donations (that we declined of course).also one of the most successful.Classic bait and switch, yet incredibly resonant.gaming sites picked up both the ruse and the reveal, while mainstream culture sites only responded when thefull story broke.This one went pretty wide.
Month Six: Heresy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRMiRFJzIKAThe offending video asset.
Month Seven: Violence Challenge: Stay top of mind as we entered the wish-list period pre-holiday. Drive excitement for the demo, especially on X360. Solution: Invite bloggers to select a real Christmas ornament, excruciatingly harvested from a human body. Invite gamers to see all the grisly detail in high ﬁdelity via their consoles.Introducing paid media support for the ﬁrst time, but staying true to our roots, we decided to feature our HtHstunt in on console media.the awareness weight (banners) focused on a cta of “download the demo,” and we resisted EA’s urge to stuffthem in here, but we included this content to consume in a branded environment as your demo loaded on XBL.it was our way of providing some context for johnny come latelies, and training them to look back across theprevious months, in anticipation of the big launch. by this time, dante’s had enough traction within ea tosecure a meaningful launch budget, so we knew we had more in store.
Month Eight: Fraud Challenge: Maintain all gains in HtH storybuilding while opening the the traditional EA spend. Continue to spin the conversation toward the software. Solution: Supplement bought inventory with some HtH tactics. Aside, take full advantage of the monthly theme, including fraudulent press releases for non-existent IP3, and “leaked” internal documents.Banner campaign begins here in earnest, still pushing the demo and now preorder.Even though we had a high enough frequency to justify allocating some weight to the HtH efforts, we knew that this month’s tactics couldn’t be advertised and maintain their integrity.despite repeated overtures from the client, we stood our ground and resisted the urge to market the marketing, reaching an accord by developing something just for use in traditional media(the circle cycle).As far as the fradulent content, the pickup wasn’t lax, but we didn’t get the coveted “double post” we had grown accustomed to. It really pointed out that the entire industry was onto us: wefaked everything, which they knew, so the reporting was basically: “here’s ea again, hoping we’ll bite.” Almost no one was duped. This was probably mainly due to the fact the story was moresoftware focused, and we were getting pickup from engines that had followed the story for some time.silver lining: we did get one angry ﬁnger-wagging letter from the nanny association of america, who took umbrage with the fake “bad nanny” acheivement, which you got for killing 50unbaptized babies in the limbo level.The marketing manager made sure the software included it before the title shipped. :)that aside, the ﬁx was in: our reserve of plausible deniability around anything regarding the software was exhausted.so we took it to the next level to ﬁnish things.oh, by the way, the game launched.
Month Nine: Treachery Challenge: Reheat HtH conversation around the title, to dim cool critical reception in the 2 weeks post-launch; cap off the campaign. Solution: Find the douchiest looking guy possible, and get him to shill a self-help program for would-be homewreckers. Put it on the biggest screen possible to convince viewers of its earnestness. For anyone who winds up at his site, damn them to hell for the gravest of all sins.We chased the product launch with a big TV placement for the ad for Hawkpanther.com, a site that supposedlyhelps you learn to steal a friends girlfriend, ﬁancée or wife. (For the ladies, there was also a Hawkpanthrasystem "coming soon.")The microsite and its related Hawkpanther social-media accounts didnt seem to get much notice when theylaunched, but that all changed when the TV ads hit the air. It quickly became the talk of Twitter, as viewersclicked through the site and eventually stumbled across a Dantes Inferno splash page accusing them oftreacherous intent "for conspiring to steal thy friends soul mate." Worked like a charm, but why?because people werent’ used to seeing “tricks” on a stage like national TV.they invested more faith in the earnestness of the speaker because they had an innate understanding of theexpense to get on TV.we cap it off with a big win.
Highway to HellTakeaways:•If you’re going to crash a party, bring a bottle of wine.•You don’t have to be at the center of every conversation in order to reap something valuable.•“Social” DOESN’T EQUAL “Facebook.”•Know when to call it a miss. Adjust accordingly.•Look for partnerships with (and develop opps for) “scrolling” PR engines (as opposed toconventional journalists) as you build. They’ll help you with both frequency and discovery.•When you get a bite, double down.•Adopt different expectations for passive and aggressive audiences. ...and program accordingly.•Appreciate and leverage audiences’ innate understanding of media selection: the cost, the assumedaudience, etc.•Don’t rush to take credit. Sometimes, when people ﬁll in the blanks, they come up with better stuffthan you would have.
Stuff in my more recent past.this is where it gets nerdy.i knew that the description of “the application of bespoke networks in modern comms” was a bit heady, but a) it’s actually quite complicated and b) i’ll rap at theend.First, let’s talk about EA: EA’s Ricotello will tell you they are an electronic entertainment company.That could be a CPG company or a media company.THe win, in either case? they have the budgets and desire to create immersive experiences, and the splashy panache of brand marketers.but their business model is sliding away from retail, and toward digital fulﬁllment.so we needed to get them ready to exploit this opportunity.We had to develop the muscle groups that downfunnel marketers were using to convert online, because we were going to be asked to do that ourselves...or worseyet, they’d ask someone else.The biggest move that downfunnel marketers made, that will affect us all at some point, is the move to audience centrism.audience centrism is about adopting new occassions to speak (really, using other, audience driven signals to guide you); and the practice of ensuring that you hadthe right thing to say when you do (based on those signals).
Stuff we knew. Unaware! Awareness! Want ! learning! Engagement! Need convincing! Direct! Want to purchase!We considered the proverbial funnel.It begged a lot of epistemological questions of us:How much of this do we control?How much should we control?Where does our job stop, and someone else’s begin?What are our core capabilities?where does branding happen?What should we care about?What role should we take in capitalizing on the demand we build?
How we (all) respond. Awareness! Engagement! Direct! TimeWe knew our normal response was incomplete (just ﬂipping the funnel on it’s side).Because we knew we wanted answers that model couldnt’ provide.How do you decide when someone is ready for the next message?you don’t; you try to time it based on the movements of the whole group (at best), but probably moreso on your marketing calendar, which in tandem withyour media measurement toolkit, is telling you when you get to message penetration at a wholesale level.how do you differentiate between people that you have to chase, and those who are chasing you?You can’t. you’re forced to treat them all the same.what signals are you paying attention to judge your efficacy?delivery, engagement, conversion....in aggregate.Where’s a smart place to hand off to other parties, if you need to?*shrug*#failas we discussed this challenge, we found a good metaphor for discussing this with our client and our broader team.
Finding love before the web. You’d go where the good looking people were. You’d approach who you could. You might see them again, but you never know when or where. You’d rarely be prepared to share something new & relevant if you saw them again. And if you weren’t careful, you wasted time and money on people that weren’t really cut out for you.this works if you’re javier bardem, and you catch them in a moment where their guard is down.but if they don’t leave with you that night, you strike out.most people don’t have their guard down.and most brands aren’t as sexy as JB was when he walked up on Vickie and Christina.
Finding love after the web. You still frequent the good spots …BUT... You can swap social details and learn about their behavior. Think Facebook. You can also pre-determine who will work based on known shared interests. Think Match.com. You start a conversation when you meet. You continue the conversation when you meet again. When you want, where you want, how you want … at the investment you want. sounds simple, right?sounds, reasonable, right?so what’s the catch?
Here’s the catch. You’ve got to learn all this shit.and this isnt’ the historical domain of brand advertisers: this is the nerd space: the domain of the “lab rats,”who treat comms like daytraders treat stocks. these guys are talking a totally different language, and they’renot used to adapting their offerings to work for the cause of storytelling (let alone story building).They’ve only been there for a few years, and they only exist to capitalize on demand built in other channels.Could we bring the polish and ambition of upfunnel brand advertising into this space? What would we get?was it worth it?The big win is:phasing on an individual basis.And how’s it achieved? by employing common denominators.
What we did. Site Unique Unique User User ID Proﬁle in Exposure Preferences Display Consumption Genres Engagement Video Spend Need State Searchusing common denominators between channels that were optimized individually, you can establish much richer understandingof audiences.this offers you control.control that you can use to merely program better (which we did).but it points to a major opportunity to story build.it removes question marks about audience posture. it identiﬁes differences between individuals you can’t see otherwise.It opens an opportunity to build the appropriate story for the user in question (microprogramming).And for EA, it opened the opportunity to have one title piggyback on the previous title’s learnings in almost realtime.Taking Madden to market became much easier when we could pick up NCAA football fans where we left off, instead of ﬁshingfor them all over again.It helped us target, allocate, and negative target with conﬁdence.
What we learned. Audience Targeting! Real-time Inventory! Dynamic Messaging! Action & Attribution! ! ! ! ! Use technology to Purchase known and Serve message based Produce desired delineate new desired inventory real- on consumer journey action and attribute prospects and those time for ideal price moment.! the message & previously interested.! against deﬁned channel that impacted.! audience.! in reconnect!The ﬁve major tenets of a bespoke network.not just limited to digital display, but it is easiest here.
How we responded then. incomplete conﬁdence in a given user’s need state, before you decide what (or whether) to say.
The Changes EA Needed. Raw impression accounting Unique impression accounting Creative phasing by marketing calendar Creative phasing by individual need state Attribution by last touchpoint/click (channels, Cross-comms attribution (channels, audiences, creative) creative) Siloed reporting/optimization Integrated reporting/optimization Reporting at campaign level Reporting at advertiser level Macroprogramming Microprogramming Audience qualiﬁcation by current activity Audience qualiﬁcation by historical activity Tactical engagement Evergreen engagementThis isn’t going to be necessary, or even desirable, for everyone. Let’s remind ourselves: BESPOKE networks.
The Changes the Industry Needs. Mastery of Auto-delivery mechanics Mastery of user-initiated mechanics Audience capturing Audience training Ogilvy on advertising Williams on storybuilding My story Our story Disparate data Integrated dataThe philosophy behind bespoke networks: it’s not all about cookies, or OLA, or data management.it’s about an approach that allows you to present your best self every time.
The Ten Tag Commandments. http://wws.do/8yI promised you i’d rap, and i will.Plenty of you will know the source text, and plenty won’t.ask your neighbor if not, but the takeaway is worth noting.Source text here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOo8byrYz80&feature=fvstdude made a pop hit out of a really murky, technical line of work.I just versioned on it about a(nother) really murky, technical line of work.i’ve also translated to simpler, less stylized speech for people who don’t think smart stuff gets said in couplets.The ﬂuid planning teams at WK still use this as the playbook today.
A few things to knowbefore we get started.Tags=cookies=pixelsSpotlights=the tags used in outbound media (ﬁreon exposure)Floodlights=the tags used in site-side media (ﬁreon conversion)Midtail=the time and exposures between your ﬁrsttouch and your last.Reserved buy=any ad spend you lay out inadvance of served impressions.I’m not mispronouncing “digital” when I say“dagital.”
Prologue. Trust me, I’m qualiﬁed.These are the top considerations to deploying an advertiser-speciﬁc digitalnetwork.
Tag Commandent #1. Don’t share the size of your pool of addressable uniques with anyone. A lot of sites get pretty put off that you can raise qualiﬁed audiences outside oftheir inventory, let alone reach them repeatedly without those sites seeing anymoney.
Tag Commandent #2. Your reserved site partners have no right to know, but remarketing off of ad impressions alone can be fruitful, especially if you have a tightly focused reserved buy.
Tag Commandent #3. Be more skeptical of numbers the more you deal with data-driven companies. Some—and I do mean just some—will rob you blind, ﬁle chapter 11, andreopen under a new name just as quickly as playing square.
Tag Commandent #4.Remarket against your site (and brand channel) visitors where possible. It’s a no brainer.
Tag Commandent #5. Don’t be so hasty with new users that you pay for useless clicks.When they’re ready to take a meaningful action for you, you’ll see it in theirsignals.
Tag Commandent #6. Be persistent when an audience is showing signals of tipping. Consider this your “this is happening, just don’t mess it up” phase. Go at a slow simmer until they convert.
Tag Commandent #7. Your ad and creative posture should pivot ONLY on how (or whether) a user hasinteracted with you to date. If you manage this effectively, you’ll have more money and insight to invest infostering more users.
Tag Commandent #8. Super-rich display ads in midtail are generally unnecessary. Use the space to communicate simple ideas visually. Think of it like (most) out of home.
Tag Commandent #9. Video is a probably the best way to quickly educate audiences who are playing harder to get (i.e. not maturing). Use preroll like TV when you need to to push messages to reluctant audiences.
Tag Commandent #10. Where it regards privacy, err on the side of caution. Congress is gonna skewer someone eventually. Shame on whoever they pick. Don’t let it be you.
Epilogue. Do these things, and you’ll be able to see your audiences and opportunities clearly.If you don’t, your analytics are meaningless.Purer analytics are at your ﬁngertips.Embrace them, and build better stories......as I will.